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4-Down Territory: Animal House Weekend

This is a big week for Oregon football as they travel to Seattle to take on Washington in the biggest game of the weekend. Because Oregon is the place where the movie Animal House was filmed as the fictional Faber College (school motto: Knowledge Is Good), any time we can pull up some Animal House references we are going to do so……You’ve been warned. And while we’re discussing the Pac 12, while the focus has rightfully been on the league’s array of talented QBs, there are some stellar defensive units in the league as well. Half of the league’s defenses rank in the top tier nationally.

1st Down: Pledging Delta House: For the playoff contenders playing at noon they’ll be playing conference opponents they outmatch.…….Stanford (1-4) at Colorado (4-2) Friday 10:00 ESPN: Colorado can score a lot of points and Stanford allows 34 per game. It will be tough for the Cardinal to keep pace in this one……#1 Georgia (6-0) at Vanderbilt (2-5) 12:00 CBS: By destroying Kentucky, Georgia quieted a number of the doubters that were looking for cracks. Offensively Vanderbilt wants to pass the ball, which means they’re throwing into a defense that not only gets interceptions, but also knocks a lot of passes away. Georgia’s offense should have a field day against a suspect Vanderbilt defense……..Indiana (2-3) at #2 Michigan (6-0) 12:00 Fox: Michigan continues to roll, but last Saturday Minnesota did become the first team to get to ten points against the Wolverines defense. With an offense that is struggling, Indiana may be hard-pressed to match that number. On offense Michigan RB tandem Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards have yet to really breakout, but they haven’t needed to…….#3 Ohio State (5-0) at Purdue (2-4) 12:00 Peacock: The Ohio State defense has been solid all year and has been doing so despite not racking up big sack numbers or turnover numbers. Some of that changed against Maryland. The concerns are with the OSU running attack. Finding the run game this week will be critical in getting ready for the stretch run when Penn State comes to Columbus next Saturday……Syracuse (4-2) at #4 Florida State (5-0) 12:00 ABC: Syracuse QB Garrett Shrader is the kind of mobile QB that has given the Florida State defense some problems. And speaking of mobile QBs, FSU QB Jordan Travis has been careful with the football and has consistently found his tight ends and running backs in the pass game. That diversity in their attack makes them hard to defend…..Arkansas (2-4) at #11 Alabama (5-1) 12:00 ESPN: Alabama is in the old school Al Davis Raiders “Just Win Baby” mode these days. They aren’t flashy, but they get the job done. Arkansas has shown some potential offensively, but they’ve been hampered by throwing interceptions and taking sacks—which is a bad sign. Alabama’s defense has cranked up the pressure netting 14 sacks and 5 INTs the last 3 weeks.

2nd Down: Double Secret Probation: UMass (1-6) at #6 Penn State (5-0) 3:30 Big Ten Network: UMass has some good WRs including transfers from Miami and Arizona and a good RB that transferred in from Rutgers. They are unsettled at QB and rank 129th on defense in yards per play allowed (7.46). That permissive defense may be just what the doctor ordered for a Penn State offense that is looking for big plays. Of the 203 points scored this year for PSU, 78 of them have come after an Interception, fumble recovery or a turnover on downs. The lack of deep passes (just three attempts over 20 yards the last three games combined) has been a bit of a testy subject of late. Look for PSU to remedy that on Saturday……Arizona (3-3) at #19 Washington State (4-1) 7:00 Pac 12 Network: Arizona has lost three close calls, including an OT loss to USC. That makes them better than their record would indicate, and it makes them a dangerous foe. For the Wildcats that means closing out in the fourth quarter. For WSU, QB Cameron Ward’s play will be the key…..Auburn (3-2) at #23 LSU (4-2) 7:00 ESPN: Auburn is 0-2 in the SEC and much of that can be attributed to an inconsistent offense that lacks balance. But in a 27-20 loss the #1 Georgia they may have found some hope. They’ll need more than hope if they hope to keep pace with LSU QB Jayden Daniels and an offense that has been posting big numbers all year. The question for LSU remains on defense. But the Auburn offense will have to play well enough to take advantage of that unit……#25 Miami (4-1) at #12 UNC (5-0) 7:30 ABC: No one deserves double secret probation more than Miami this week. By now all of America knows that they could’ve iced the game against a less than stellar Georgia Tech team by taking a knee. But they didn’t and now they face a must-win game against UNC. For UNC this is their moment to tell the country that they are a legitimate playoff contender. UNC QB Drake Maye has been great, but where UNC has improved is on defense. If that defense is good enough to slow down Miami and get the win, UNC becomes a dark horse stalking the pack for a playoff spot…..Missouri (5-1) at #24 Kentucky (5-1) 7:30 SEC Network: Both of these teams had chances to step into the limelight last week, and both fell flat. Missouri has thrived by scoring lots of points. But they’ve allowed a lot of points as well. Kentucky likes defense first and they will need to play their best in this one.

3rd Down: Food Fight: These games could descend into defensive close-quarters food fight combat. #18 UCLA (4-1) at #15 Oregon State (5-1) 8:00 Fox: Oregon State has a balanced offense, BUT they’re facing a UCLA defense that is 5th in total defense and leads the country allowing a miserly 3.74 yards per play. UCLA’s offense has committed 10 turnovers, a pace they can’t afford to extend if they want this win. The difference in this game may come down to the experience factor at QB which may favor Oregon State….Cal (3-3) at #16 Utah (4-1) 3:00 Pac 12 Network: Utah is another one of those dominant Pac 12 defenses, and they have carried the Utes while the offense has struggled to find its footing. Cal has struggled with consistency at QB and has turned the ball over. But they have run the ball well. But that is right in Utah’s comfort zone on defense. Expect this one to be a physical affair…..NC State (4-2) at #17 Duke (4-1) 8:00 ACC network: NC State has made a change at QB which helped them outscore Marshall last week. Duke is coming off a bye week with the hopes of having a fully healthy QB Riley Leonard ready to go. He thrives on being a run and pass threat and if he can go, watch to see how well he can move…..

4th Down: “Seven Years of College Down the Drain” The big games on the slate feature some quarterbacks who’ve been in college almost as long as Faber College Alum and Delta brother Senator John Blutarsky. As he was getting expelled from Faber, Blutarsky muttered “7 years of college down the drain.”: #14 Louisville (6-0) at Pitt (1-4) 6:30 The CW: Louisville QB Jack Plummer is a 5th year guy who is a relative youngster among the QBs in this section. And while Pitt has struggled this year, they hope a change in QB might spark the offense. Pitt remains a top-20 defense that likes to stop the run and get to the QB. They will have to do both AND get some turnovers to win this one….#10 USC (6-0) at #21 Notre Dame (5-2) 7:30 NBC: Notre Dame QB Sam Hartman is another all-AARP candidate. This week he can do himself and the Notre Dame defense a big favor by getting RB Audric Estime going. That chews up clock, shortens the game and keeps college football’s most dangerous player Caleb Williams off the field. USCs defense has allowed 110 points the past three weeks, while Notre Dame has allowed 111 points in seven games. This will be the Notre Dame defense’s biggest test of the year….. Texas A&M (4-2) at #19 Tennessee (4-1) 3:30 CBS: Staying with the older quarterback theme, Tennessee’s Joe Milton will need to avoid the vicious A&M pass rush and avoid the big mistakes. He’s done a good job with his feet getting away from the rush so far this season. Tennessee, despite losing to Florida, is still a contender in the SEC East mostly because they have been such a balanced offense. For Texas A&M QB Max Johnson must avoid the big mistake in this game. This is one where A&M’s defense may come up with a play to win it……#8 Oregon (5-0) at #7 Washington (5-0) 3:30 ABC: Oregon QB Bo Nix has been in college for six years, which for the brothers at Faber College’s Delta House, makes Bo a short timer. While he has been a big part of the story, the Oregon defense has been exceptional. They’re 6th in total defense and they yield just 4.02 yards per play (3rd in the country). Twelve different Ducks have sacked the quarterback this year because of their ability to pressure with different guys. And speaking of 6th-year QBs, UW QB Michael Penix is having a great year as well. Oregon is going to need to pressure him because he has a WR corps that is putting up HUGE numbers. The top 4 WRs for UW have combined for 95 catches, 1618 yards and 12 TDs in just 5 games (averaging 19 catches and 323 yards per game and a gaudy 17 yards per catch). And while UW’s defense isn’t quite like the Ducks, their secondary has picked off 8 passes and broken up 22 others. Turnovers could be a big deal in this one.


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