Under The Radar: Big Ten East vs West, Inside PSU Numbers, Hoos' Rising & Quick Playoff Hits
Big Ten East Dominance? Not so Much: With all the preseason hype about whether the Big Ten East was the best division in college football, now they may not even be the best division in their conference. This past weekend the West swept all three crossover games and now Iowa and Purdue are surging to give the West strength and depth. For the season the series is tied 6-6 with 9 games to go. Of the remaining games the West team would be a favorite to win 4, the East team 2 with 3 toss-ups.
More Big Ten--Inside The Numbers for Penn State: Penn State’s defense played 100 plays on Saturday and yielded 554 yards of offense. They were strong in the red zone and helped get a 33-28 win. But inside the numbers, the worry is that the 100 play total is a big number when it comes to fatigue entering a critical 3-game stretch of games against physical football teams. On top of the 100 plays against Indiana PSU's defense was on the field for 89 the week before against Michigan State. Iowa is up next and has a rested defense. The Hawkeye defense has played just 104 plays the last two weeks (39 vs Maryland and 65 plays vs Indiana the week before) yielding just 445 yards combined in those 2 games. PSU then goes to Michigan. Michigan's totals the past 2 games: 100 total plays yielding a miserly 377 total yards (49 plays against Wisconsin and 51 against Michigan State). And Michigan has a bye week before playing PSU. At a time of year when hits add up and fatigue can be a factor those numbers start to add up and for PSU those numbers are mounting.
Hoos’ Rising? Virginia: The Cavaliers are now 5-2 and 3-1 in the ACC after consecutive wins over Miami and Duke. After throwing 7 INTs in the first 6 games QB Bryce Perkins and the offense did not turn the ball over in a 28-14 win at Duke (who entered the game with a 5-1 record). They held Duke to just 58 yards rushing on 27 carries. Looking ahead, Virginia controls their own destiny in the Coastal Division with conference games at home against UNC, Pitt and at Georgia Tech (combined record of 7-13) before playing Division leader Virginia Tech.
Quick Playoff Hits: If the playoff committee met today they would have a hard time keeping LSU out of it today based simply on strength of schedule. Ohio State is still in the playoff hunt. People citing last year’s loss at Iowa and drawing a parallel to Saturday's Purdue loss are forgetting that OSU was a 2-loss team last year. But putting the horse back before the cart Ohio State has to win out. Texas looks like a strong contender for a playoff spot if they can win out. Yes they lost to Maryland in week one but if they are Big 12 Champs riding a 12-game win streak they are in. Why does Alabama's Nick Saban hate the fawning media coronation of his team? Every year for the past 9 seasons we've heard about the Crimson Tide’s infallibility and every season for the past 8 years they’ve lost a game along the way. Nick Saban knows that the next win is not promised to his team simply because they show up in Alabama uniforms and he doesn't want that attitude to creep into his locker room.
Screen Shot of The Week: October 20, 2018 in Madison, Wisconsin. This is one of the things that people arguing for an 8-team playoff should sell—first-round home games for the higher seeds. Who wouldn’t want to see what an SEC team would do on the road in December in a place like Madison?