4 Down Territory: October Blizzard in Happy Valley, Pac 12 Twin Bill & Southern Cooking
1st Down: Pac 12 Twin Bill: This week the Pac 12 is the only conference with two match-ups between ranked teams.....#12 Oregon at #25 Washington: Oregon has emerged as the Pac-12’s leading playoff hope which has been something of a curse for this conference. However, the Ducks seem to be hitting their stride.The big surprise has been Oregon’s defense which has yielded just 52 points all year…#17 Arizona State at #13 Utah: While Utah was a team many picked as a possible playoff contender, a sloppy and surprising loss to USC derailed those hopes for now. But they’ve rebounded nicely. These two teams appear to be the best among four Pac-12 South teams tied at 2-1 in conference play. This one could come down to which QB avoids the big mistakes.
2nd Down: Southern Cooking: #3 Clemson at Louisville: Clemson’s march through unranked ACC opponents continues. Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence has thrown 6 interceptions which has some of the Tiger faithful worried. But their running attack has taken over with THREE running backs averaging over 6 yards per carry…..The 3rd Saturday in October: Tennessee at #1 Alabama: Tennessee picked up a much-needed win versus Mississippi State last week but this is a whole other mess. Alabama’s offense continues to scheme multiple personnel sets with varied formations and motions which gets their large group of WR and RB playmakers into the open. There has also been a shift this year to more of a power-run attack which gives defenders even more headaches.
3rd Down: Best of The Rest: #18 Baylor at Oklahoma State: Oklahoma State provides a stern road test for the undefeated Bears. The Bears have shown amazing resilience and have gotten some outstanding WR play in the clutch last week……#9 Florida at South Carolina: Despite a setback at LSU last week, Florida remains a playoff contender and has the schedule to get them there. But they have to take care of business in Columbia. The Gator defense will rebound making it a tough go for South Carolina's offense. South Carolina upset Georgia in Athens because of turnovers which they will also need this week if they are to pull off the upset.
4th Down: The Main Event: #16 Michigan at #7 Penn State: While Michigan’s defense is showing more varied fronts and coverages than they have in the past, what hasn't changed is their CBs pressuring the outside WRs. That has given Penn State QB Sean Clifford problems the past 4 weeks. In two games against teams who play soft CBs he's racked up 662 yards, 6 TDs, completed 77% of his passes with a QB rating of 195.6 while getting sacked just once. In the two games against aggressive coverage his numbers fall to just 339 yards, 1 TD, 48% completions with a QB rating of 106.9. That coverage also made him hold the ball longer resulting in 6 sacks. Against Michigan's pass rush holding the ball is never a great idea so the PSU WRs will have to get loose quickly. Michigan's offense started the year as a spread team. But last week against Illinois they committed to the run game using a fullback and a bunch of two Tight End sets. Which approach will they take this week against Penn State's stout run defense? Michigan QB Shea Patterson has yet to look comfortable in the new Michigan offense and it is unlikely that PSU will try to make life easy for him. If Patterson can get comfortable and have time the Michigan WRs can make plays against the PSU secondary. And on special teams look for Michigan to try and block a punt against PSU's punt team. Iowa got close a few times last week and a punt block is a good way to quiet the White Out.
College Football 150 Relic of the Week: Since it is the third Saturday in October that means Alabama versus Tennessee. This week we peak inside Bob Gilbert's Book "Neyland" about Legendary Tennessee Coach General Robert Neyland. Coach Neyland was the driving force in Tennessee’s greatest years and the Vols home stadium bears his name. Here is a shot of his team celebrating a win over Alabama in 1948. In the gallery you’ll see a newspaper clipping diagramming a 75 yard run for a TD against Texas in the 1951 cotton bowl, as well as a diagram of a single-wing play that would look exactly like a spread/shotgun QB counter play in 2019. The newspaper clipping was the Youtube or Sportscenter highlight of the time showing you what happened on the biggest plays of the games.