Four Down Territory: Big Game Hunting In South Bend, Seattle, Lubbock, Death Valley and White Out Co

First Down: #4 Ohio State at #9 Penn State: College Football’s Woodstock: Gameday, the Whiteout Game, a primetime kickoff….So what do we know about these teams? Penn State can score against defenses that rank 84th nationally on average. Ohio State can score against defenses that rank 94th on average. Where are the differences? Penn State has trailed both Appalachian State and Illinois in the second half. Ohio State trailed TCU in the 3rd quarter but stomped everyone else. Ohio State’s linebackers are more active. While Trace McSorley is a far more experienced big-game player, the receiver corps has got to be more consistent catching the ball. Dwayne Haskins has a strong accurate arm and unless Penn State can pressure him, he and his receivers can make explosive plays. Playing the OSU offense is playing every play on the razor’s edge because one missed tackle may mean 7 points.

Second Down: Penn State Students Camping Out--The Rest of The Story: By now it is well known that PSU students camp out to get the best seats for every home game. But for decades small groups of students did it without much fanfare. That exploded on a Sunday night in 2005 when we noticed tents outside the student gate around 11 p.m. (SIX full days before the OSU kickoff). Sunday night and Monday morning Penn State's Guido D’elia alerted media members who ran with the story. The story created a land rush of students grabbing the best camp sites for the best seats. Rather than risk chaos like in the book Lord of the Flies the students appointed a Mayor and President to keep order. But let’s say that there were no restrictions on drinking or other activities…College Football’s First Woodstock. By the following year the University’s risk management implemented oversight and rules hoping it would go away….it only institutionalized it. And so the tradition endures…..

Third Down: Big Pac 12 Games: #7 Stanford at #8 Notre Dame: Notre Dame appears to have found their QB. New starter Ian Book passed for 325 yards and 2 TDs while also gaining 43 yards and 3 TDs on the ground. That combination of a running and passing QB was a problem for Stanford last week at Oregon. If Stanford’s tall WRs and TEs can challenge Notre Dame’s secondary that should open up running room for Stanford’s electric RB Bryce Love. #20 BYU at #11 Washington: BYU has won at Wisconsin and a win at Washington could help make their case for a New Year’s Six Bowl. As in their win at Wisconsin BYU’s defense will have to tackle well and limit the big plays. But Washington QB Jake Browning and their WR corps will present a big challenge to the Cougars.

Fourth Down: #12 WVU at #25 Texas Tech: WVU QB Will Grier can make a statement on a game that kicks at 11 am local time. Heisman voters stationed all over the country covering a strong slate of primetime games will have plenty of time to watch Grier. After a bad opening game loss to Ole Miss, Texas Tech has rebounded with a win over Houston and a 24-point thumping of Oklahoma State in Stillwater. West Virginia’s defense will get its sternest test yet. If they can keep Tech off the field Will Grier will have plenty of time to score points on the board and with Heisman voters against a Tech defense yielding 31 points a game against FBS competition.

Flag on the Play Repeat Fourth Down: Syracuse at #3 Clemson: Who knew that Syracuse and Clemson would be the ACC Atlantic Division’s last two remaining unbeaten teams in week 4? Clemson is starting true freshman QB Trevor Lawrence in his first start. If Syracuse is to have a chance they will have to pressure him, disrupt his timing and accuracy and try to get some turnovers. Clemson’s defense did show some vulnerability against Texas A&M’s attack. If a Syracuse offense that averages just over 45 points a game against FBS teams can duplicate A&M’s success this could be one to watch.

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© 2014 Jay Paterno