4-Down Territory: Breaking Down PSU vs OSU, Division Races Heat Up & More Great Football History
With just two weeks to go there are still seven of ten Power-5 Conference Championship Game berths still up for grabs. Who’s In? SEC East: Georgia, ACC Atlantic: Clemson, Pac 12 North: Oregon. That should keep us all tuned in the next two weeks.
1st Down: The Pac 12 Race in The Grand Canyon State: #7 Utah at Arizona: The Utes lost to USC this year which means they must win out if USC beats UCLA on Saturday. Despite a slew of injuries at the QB position USC has kept the pressure on Utah. Arizona is on a 5-game skid where they’ve allowed 223 points (44.75 per game). Utah should roll.…..#6 Oregon at Arizona State: With Oregon having the North Division title clinched, the second of two big Pac-12 games in Arizona impacts Oregon’s College Football Playoff hopes. The Ducks are playing the third of three straight games against the Pac 12 South. After routing USC and Arizona, this 7:30 Eastern ABC prime time game can showcase Oregon to the nation. Look for the Ducks offense to post some big numbers against the Sun Devil defense.
2nd Down: Looking West: #10 Minnesota at Northwestern: The Gophers have a one-game lead in the West and even if they were to suffer a major upset in Evanston, they still can win the West by beating Wisconsin next week. The Wildcats’ offense has struggled this year. A Minnesota defense that feasts on turnovers should make life difficult and move the Gophers to 10-1……..Purdue at #12 Wisconsin: If the Badgers lose the Gophers are in. If the Badgers win they play for the title at Minnesota next week. Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor has amassed 1473 yards and 17 rushing TDs about as quietly as it can be done. Look for the Badgers to ride that run game to a chance to win the Division next week. Arkansas at #1 LSU: Look for the Tigers to score early and often and essentially clinch the SEC West by halftime with a blowout win.
3rd Down: ACC Coastal & Big 12: Pitt at Virginia Tech: Three ACC Coastal teams enter week 13 with 2 conference losses –Pitt, Virginia and Virgina Tech. Because Virginia Tech closes with the other two contenders they control their own destiny in the Division. Pitt’s pass rush, blitz scheme and talented secondary will be a problem for the Hokies. Pitt’s offense has been solid but red zone troubles cost them the Penn State game and the Miami game. This one should be close and relatively low scoring. UVA plays Liberty and holds the tie-breaker over Pitt. Texas at #14 Baylor: The Bears will need to rebound from a disappointing second half loss to Oklahoma. Win and they are in and that same also goes for......TCU at #9 Oklahoma: OU overcame some early mistakes at Baylor before QB Jalen Hurts led the biggest comeback in OU's storied history. If OU's defense matches last week's second-half intensity they should win and they are in.
4th Down: Big Ten East Showdown: #8 Penn State at #2 Ohio State: If Ohio State wins they’re in. If Penn State wins they have to wait a week to clinch. Ohio State has rolled all year winning every game by 24 or more. The big number to watch is OSU’s run offense at 287.4 per game. Here’s the challenge for teams playing OSU’s offense. In their one-back set they have 2 big-time run threats in QB Justin Fields and TB J.K. Dobbins. The WRs and TE to the field present a threat in crossing routes, RPOs and WR screens. And then there is a 6-4 WR that creates jump ball issues. PSU's secondary has been scorched of late as well. Their best bet? Take away the run game, pressure Fields and hope to force turnovers. Speaking of turnovers the Ohio State defense has created 22 turnovers setting up 135 points—meaning the OSU defense has set up more points than they’ve allowed (135 to 98). Against OSU’s man coverage QB Sean Clifford can run the ball and throw play-action to the tight end over linebackers who have to play run and pass. OSU is unique on defense in deploying a true cornerback to cover the slot receiver. If PSU’s outside WRs can’t get open the free safety will be free to help with the TE and the Slot. Oh and then there is that Chase Young guy playing Defensive end for Ohio State that can create problems too.
College Football 150 Relic: The Road To Number by Ridge Riley (1977). At the time it was a definitive history of Penn State football. On January 6, 1976 Riley died of a heart attack at the home of Penn State Head Coach Joe Paterno. Penn Staters John Morris and John Black helped bring the project across the finish line. There are great PSU pictures and even play diagrams from this book in the gallery below.
Picture 1: 1887 Penn State's First Official Football Team
Picture 2: 1911 National Champions Penn State versus In-State Rival Penn
Picture 3: The Undefeated 1912 National Champion Penn State Nittany Lions
Picture 4: The 8-0-2 1921 Penn State team
Picture 5: Penn State Coach Bob Higgins
Picture 6: The Hugo Bezdek Shift
Picture 7: Plays from Bob Higgins' Playbook
Picture 8: Plays from Rip Engle's Playbook