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Four Down Territory: Big Ten Strength, Rivalry's Last Ride, Quick Slants & 150 Relic

Pigskin Stew makes a rare Thursday appearance this week but returns to our regular Friday slot next week.....

1st Down: Big Ten Steps Up: The Big Ten is an impressive 22-3 in non-conference games through 2 weeks BUT…..they are just 2-2 in games versus power-5 teams. This week there are four games versus Power-5 Teams…. #19 Iowa at Iowa State: Iowa has handled their business the typical Iowa way; methodical efficient offense and stout defense. Iowa State needed extra time to defeat Northern Iowa in OT. ESPN’s College Gameday will be in Ames for the first time ever. It's sure to be the biggest show to hit Iowa between now and the Iowa Caucuses in 2020….TCU at Purdue: The Boilermakers are dangerous at home but will need to throw the ball effectively to keep TCU’s defense off balance. If QB Elijah Sindelar isn’t healthy look for them to find creative ways to get the ball to dangerous WR Rondale Moore...Arizona State at #18 Michigan State: Last year the upset in Tempe sent Michigan State’s season off-kilter. This looks like a very different Spartan team. Through 2 games MSU held opponents' running game to -6 yards total. Offensively Michigan State has made progress from a year ago but the climb gets steeper this week. Of Note: With a win MSU Coach Mark Dantonio becomes the all-time winningest coach in MSU history (he's currently tied at 109 wins with Duffy Daugherty).

2nd Down: One Last Time: Pitt at #13 Penn State: These two teams meet for the 100th and final scheduled time on Saturday. Penn State has won the last two games powered by Pitt turnovers and mistakes. In their only game against an FBS team Penn State’s offense was reliant on the big play and good field position to pull away from Buffalo in the second half. The average PSU TD drive was just 51 yards. That mirrors the last two PSU wins over Pitt when the average TD drives were just 47 yards in 2017 and 49 yards in 2018. Pitt’s best chance will come if they can eliminate the turnovers and special teams miscues that cost them the UVA game when UVA's average TD drive was just 25 yards. Pitt’s defense has played well enough, but will the new Pitt offense make a big jump this week?

3rd Down: Quick Slants: #2 Alabama at South Carolina: Alabama starts SEC play in Columbia. A step up from playing New Mexico State but the Tide should continue rolling…. #9 Florida at Kentucky: Was last season an aberration or does Coach Stoops have the Wildcats on another level permanently? Kentucky lost starting QB Terry Wilson for the year and his replacement Sawyer Smith must hold onto the ball against a Gator defense that is loaded with ball hawks who hunt turnovers……Florida State at #25 Virginia: UVA is trending upwards and Florida State not so much. A UVA win would give them a second ACC win already in this young season and put them in the Coastal division driver’s seat for now….#24 USC at BYU: A funny thing happened on the way to USC Coach Clay Helton’s imminent “firing”--they beat Stanford with a freshmen QB who looks like he can potentially be the guy for USC. Going to the altitude of Provo is no easy feat so this is a good road test for the Trojans.

4th Down: ESPN Top 150 Teams by Coaches: 3 Coaches lead the way on ESPN’s top 150 teams of all-time. Joe Paterno (Penn State), Paul “Bear” Bryant (Alabama) and Nick Saban (Alabama & LSU) each have 7 t