Four Down Territory: Beantown Showdown, Big Ten Battles, Bama's Work Not Done & Other Tests
First Down: Beantown Showdown #2 Clemson at #17 Boston College 8:00 (ABC): Boston sports fans are enjoying a good fall….and they will need some of that magic to beat Clemson. The ACC’s top two rushers in BC’s AJ Dillon (128.1 ypg) and Clemson’s Travis Etienne (110.9 ypg) are squaring off in this game. BC's hopes rest on their defense’s ability to get to Clemson’s Freshman QB Trevor Lawrence. The BC defense ranks 13th Nationally in sacks, 20th in pass efficiency, 4th in Interceptions (14 INTs) and 13th in Turnover margin (+8). Rattling the young QB will be vital if the Eagles are to have a chance to upset the Tigers. Keep in mind the last 2 years Clemson has been upset by Syracuse in 2017 and Pitt in 2016.
Second Down The Big Ten: Key Division Battles: #10 Ohio State at #18 Michigan State 12:00 (Fox): The Spartans remain barely alive in the race for the Big Ten East but have to beat the Buckeyes to stay in the hunt. Last week Ohio State won a sloppy, turnover-plagued game against Nebraska. If they are to win they cannot turn the ball over. The Spartans #1 Nationally-ranked run defense also figures to make the road to recovery for the Buckeye run game a bumpy one. Northwestern at #21 Iowa 3:30 (Fox): The Wildcats are alone atop the West division as they travel to take on #21 Iowa. In 1995 Northwestern LB Pat Fitzgerald and his teammates snapped a 21 game series losing streak to Iowa. Since then the Wildcats have gone 12-9 against the Hawkeyes—including a 7-5 mark since Fitzgerald became the Head Coach at his Alma Mater. Iowa has had a frustrating season with all 3 losses having been winnable games, and Northwestern has a way of frustrating opponents into narrow losses. The Cats have won 10 straight against Big 10 West foes.
Third Down: Tide’s Work Not Done: #16 Mississippi State at #1 Alabama 3:30 (CBS): After what has been a seemingly softer Alabama schedule last week the Tide played #3 LSU and this week plays #16 Mississippi State. Alabama’s offense faces a stern test in the Bulldog’s 6th ranked defense. They also face one of the better running QBs in Mississippi State’s Nick Fitzgerald. Although he’s struggled to throw the ball consistently, the hard running signal caller has racked up 839 rushing yards. If Mississippi State can grind out yards and hold the ball, they can keep Alabama’s explosive offense standing on the sideline. A good offense may be the only defense against ‘Bama this year.
Fourth Down: Potential Tests for Ranked Teams: #24 Auburn at #5 Georgia 7:00 (ESPN): Just when you think the Tigers are gone and done they come back and beat Texas A&M. While Georgia is locked into the SEC Title game a loss to Auburn would just about sever the playoff hopes of the Bulldogs. Oklahoma State at #6 Oklahoma 3:30 (ABC): The Cowboys’ offense could take advantage of the Sooners’ defensive woes to win a shootout in bedlam. #19 Texas at Texas Tech 7:30 (Fox): The Longhorns need a win here to stay in the Big 12 Title hunt. In games against teams ranked in the current College Playoff Poll the Red Raiders and their opponents have averaged a combined 81 points. #8 Washington State at Colorado 3:30 (ESPN): WSU Coach Mike Leach spent a few minutes extolling the virtues of Colorado’s live mascot Ralphie. Click here to see the beauty of his musings.
Fifth Down: Wisconsin at #20 Penn State 12:00 (ABC): For the third straight week Penn State’s defense faces a physical run-first offense. Badger RB Jonathan Taylor may lead the nation in rushing but the Badgers play 3 RBs behind an O-Line that has combined for over 190 starts. As a team they’re averaging 6.24 per carry (#4 nationally). The Badgers are built for the type of cold windy weather forecast for Penn State and have a 16-1 November record the last 5 years. QB health is also a concern as Penn State’s Trace McSorley has a gimpy knee and Wisconsin’s Alex Hornibrook is questionable for the game after entering concussion protocol last week.