4-Down Territory: ACC & SEC Headliners, Red River Recedes & Ultimate PSU Season Rolls On
1st Down: ACC Week in the Spotlight: #19 Va Tech at #8 UNC: Remember those who thought Mack Brown was too old to be relevant again, let alone bring relevance to UNC Football? You can show yourselves out—for this week at least. This is the first and only currently ranked team the Tarheels play until November 27th when Notre Dame comes to Chapel Hill. UNC’s defense has proven itself through two weeks. Keep an eye on LB Chazz Surratt who has proven to be an effective pass rusher with 3 sacks through 2 games....Duke at Syracuse: Both teams have made progress in recent years but this year they’re both struggling…..Basketball season can’t get here soon enough…..
2nd Down: Border Wars: #14 Tennessee at #3 Georgia: Georgia seems to have found their guy at QB in Stetson Bennett. Traditionally Georgia likes to run the ball but they've yet to really break out this year with the run game. That will be tested by the Vols' defense. During Tennessee's current 8-game win streak only one team has gained more that 126 yards on the ground. This is a true measuring stick game for Tennessee after losing to all three ranked opponents last year by a combined 82 points. #2 Alabama at Ole Miss: Everyone knows the Saban assistant coach jinx is real (he’s 21-0 vs former assistants), but can it last forever? Ole Miss is allowing a boatload of points and given Alabama’s firepower that does not look likely to change this week. But Ole Miss has scored a lot of points too. Alabama's defense has been vulnerable to the pass at times--most notably with play-action passes working on the linebackers. Ole Miss will need to win the turnover battle, fake a punt or go for some fourth downs to try to steal a few extra possessions. Doing that gives them more chances to score and keeps Alabama’s offense sidelined. And since no one is expecting Ole Miss to win, Lane Kiffin can roll the dice playing with house money.
3rd Down: Longing For The Good Old Days: Oklahoma vs #22 Texas (in Dallas): Like many events in 2020 this game will be a shell of its former self. The State Fair of Texas has limited tickets, Big Tex is masked up and they'll be no packed house in the Cotton Bowl Stadium for the Red River Rivalry. Texas is coming off an upset by TCU (Last week’s “Hangover alert” warned you) and Oklahoma has a two-game losing streak. Both offenses can score points quickly so this one may come down to which defense can force more field goals in the red zone…..Florida State at #5 Notre Dame: This could be dubbed the ACC “Covid Bowl” as both Notre Dame and Florida State have suffered notable outbreaks. While NBC is hyping this prime time match-up with images of past games, Florida State is a team trying to find their way. A win in South Bend would be a great start, but they will need to be much sharper of offense than they’ve shown in the first three weeks.
4th Down: Hurricane Warning: #7 Miami at #1 Clemson: The “Hurricane Warnings" are sounding after wins against Louisville and Florida State—wins that don’t seem quite so impressive now. We will definitely what category hurricane this team is after this game. Miami has had an extra week to get ready. Miami’s defense has given up yardage but has thrived off turnovers. Clemson’s offense is stingier with the ball than Ebenezer Scrooge before he was visited by three ghosts. If Miami wants to revive the ghosts of Hurricanes' past, they will need to pry the ball loose from a Clemson offense that racks up explosive plays quickly. As for the Miami offense, Quarteback D’Eriq King has yet to throw an interception, but you can expect the complex Clemson blitz scheme to storm the pocket and create mistakes.
Hangover Alerts: Last week’s Hangover Alerts were Texas and Mississippi State and both not only struggled but also lost. This week no real Hangover Alerts but the Arkansas at Auburn game provides a possibility. With the Razorbacks celebrating an upset over Mississippi State they go face an angry Auburn team that could be nursing a post-Georgia letdown.
The Ultimate Penn State Season Continues Week 5: For those just joining “The Stew” this week, we’ve been compiling an ultimate Penn State season with the best wins between 1966 and 2019—(the best wins as determined by highest ranked opponent in games won in week 1, week 2, week 3 and so on). The schedule does not allow for any repeat opponents so this week the 1997 win over #7 Ohio State is replaced because the ultimate schedule already played the Buckeyes.
The Ultimate Penn State Season Week 5: October 5th, 2002 (21) Penn State 34 at (15) Wisconsin 31: How can an ultimate Penn State season NOT include a trip to Mad-Town. Seriously, Madison is one of the best road trips any fan can make. On a beautiful Autumn Saturday with a packed house of 79,403 red-clad Badger faithful, Penn State and Wisconsin put on a great show. Penn State kicker Robbie Gould (still in the NFL) kicked clutch field goals of 33, 40, 42 and 51 yards. QB Zack Mills threw for 287 yards, Larry Johnson ran for 111 yards. The Johnsons—RB Larry, WR Tony (his brother) and WR Bryant (no relation) were PSU's top three receivers. Penn State’s pass rush racked up 8 sacks on the day with All-American and future NFL first rounders Jimmy Kennedy (4 sacks) and Michael Haynes (2 sacks) leading the way. Two other future NFL players added sacks: John Bronson and Pro-Bowler Cameron Wake. The 2002 season was also notable for Penn State because 10 of the team’s 13 games were played in front of crowds of over 100,000 fans setting an NCAA mark for total season attendance playing in front of 1,142,118 fans.
If we allowed repeat teams on this schedule: October 11, 1997 (2) Penn State 31 (7) Ohio State 27: After falling behind 27-17 Penn State rallied behind the strong one-two rushing tandem of fullback Aaron Harris and tailback Curtis Enis. The Nittany Lion defense shut down the Buckeyes and by Monday the lions found themselves ranked #1 in the country.
The Ultimate Penn State Season So Far:
Pre-season 1996 (11) Penn State 24 (7) USC 7 Giants Stadium
Week 1 1999 (4) Penn State 41 (3) Arizona 7 Beaver Stadium
Week 2 1977 (10) Penn State 31 (9) Houston 14 Beaver Stadium
Week 3 1978 (5) Penn State 19 (6) Ohio State 0 Ohio Stadium
Week 4 1982 (8) Penn State 27 (2) Nebraska 24 Beaver Stadium
Week 5 2002 (21) Penn State 34 (15) Wisconsin 31 Camp Randall Stadium