4 Down Territory: Best Conferences, Divisions, Games & Amazing 19th-Century Football History

With a relatively down week of match-ups we've got the big games, a look at the conference's strengths through 9 weeks and a gallery of amazing pictures. Nine of the Top 25 teams are off this week including #1 LSU, #2 Alabama, #3 Ohio State, #5 Penn State, #10 Oklahoma and #13 Minnesota.

1st Down:The Cocktail Party: #8 Georgia vs #6 Florida: These teams meet again in Jacksonville in a game between two strong defensive teams that should decide the SEC East. In defensive showdowns the games are often lost by mistakes. Georgia will need to have a good day from Quarterback Jake Fromm and that could be the difference. He has shown the ability to have big days in big games. But in their only loss of the season he turned the ball over. If that happens Saturday the Gators should win.

2nd Down: Around the Horn: #15 SMU at #24 Memphis: Before the season no one saw this one coming. Given the points allowed by each team, the winner may need to break 42 points to bring home the win.....#9 Utah at Washington: This is the first of two big North/South Pac 12 match-ups. The best outcome for the PAC 12's Playoff hopes would be for Utah and Oregon to both win. For Utah to stay relevant they'll need to stop Washington QB Jacob Eason.....#7 Oregon at USC: The Trojans have played a murderer's row of a schedule with this being their 5th game against a ranked team. Despite injury problems at quarterback they've shown the ability to throw the football very well. If they can throw it as effectively as Washington State did in a near upset of the Ducks, the Trojans could derail Oregon's playoff hopes.

3rd Down: Conference Strength: With Michigan's blowout win over Notre Dame the Big 10 improved to 33-8 (80.5%) in non-conference games, the best record among all Power-5 Conferences. They are followed by the Big 12 (24-6/ 80%), The SEC (31-11/ 73.8%), The ACC (31-13/ 70.5%) and The Pac 12 (24-11/ 68.6%)..... Who's Got The Best Division? In the Big Ten the East has a 3-game advantage in games against the West, The SEC West is +2 vs the East, The ACC Atlantic is +2 vs the Coastal and the Pac 12 South is +2 vs the North. But which Division has been the best? The Big 10 East racked up an 18-3 record in non-conference games and the SEC West has a 17-4 non-conference record. But take the standings for a hypothetical Big Ten East/ SEC West Challenge and the SEC looks like a clear favorite in at least 4 of the 7 match-ups with the other three being toss-ups.

4th Down: Cornering the Market: Watching college football it seems as though the level of play at the cornerback position is stronger than it has been in years past. "Appears" is the operative word here. What gives that impression? More teams are playing aggressively at corner with more pressed coverage on the outside receivers allowing for more disruption of routes. Why is that? First big-time CBs want to play in systems where they press, believing it gets them ready for the NFL. But also there are more offenses in "No-Huddle/Spread" systems. These systems are often limited in their ability to motion WRs, making them sitting ducks for aggressive CBs. WRs in motion present a challenge as they become moving target for CBs to bump.

College Football 150 Relic: This is the 1891 Book "American Football" written by one of the true fathers of the modern college football game Walter Camp. It is a description of the game, the players and the various positions played in the game. In the gallery are some outstanding photos from 19th-century football. Picture #1 Is The Field diagram from 1891. Note there are no hash marks so when a player was tackled 1 yard from the sideline, that is where the ball was placed. Picture #2 Is William A Howard of Harvard who played at Harvard before coaching the team to an 11-2 record in 1894. Picture #3 Is Henry Lamar a member of the 1884 and 1885 National Championship teams at Princeton. Picture #4 is Princeton All-American Edgar Allen Poe. He is the great nephew of the original Edgar Allen Poe. He was a member of Princeton's 1890 National Championship team, coached the 1893 team to a title before going on to become the Attorney general of Maryland from 1911-15.

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