4 Down Territory: Big Ten Returns, Top Three Match-Ups & The Ultimate PSU Season Rolls the Tide
First Down: Big Ten Returns: The Big Ten returns this week….Nebraska at #5 Ohio State: Last year Ohio State was a complete team with a stout defense and an explosive offense. Will they return to that form to be a true National Title contender? Nebraska and QB Adrian Martinez will have to get very good in a hurry with a schedule that includes games against Ohio State, Wisconsin and Penn State in the first four weeks. For Ohio State the running back position will be one to watch to see if they can fully replace the contributions of JK Dobbins…….#8 Penn State at Indiana: Last year the Hoosiers made two huge special teams mistakes in their 34-27 loss at Penn State. Under Coach Allen, Indiana has made a specialty of close calls versus ranked teams. For them to break through they will have to see a return to form by Quarterback Michael Penix who posted very good numbers last year before an injury. Penn State probably has too much for Indiana but the Hoosier receiving corps will be an excellent early-season test.
Second Down: The Top Three: Syracuse at #1 Clemson: After a 73-7 pasting of Georgia Tech last week Clemson returns home to play a Syracuse team that lost at home to Liberty. The more you watch Clemson the more impressed you are with their strength on BOTH offense and defense….#2 Alabama at Tennessee: Tennessee’s wheels came off last week against Kentucky but a major upset against Alabama would certainly turn things around. If Tennessee is going to have a chance they will have to improve their pass rush to disrupt Alabama QB Mac Jones who has been nothing short of incredible this fall. If he has time this could be another stellar day for the Alabama receivers…….#3 Notre Dame at Pitt: If one of the Top 3 is going to get upset, this could be the spot. Last week Notre Dame struggled to put points on the board against Louisville. If the same Irish Red Zone shortfalls occur this week, Pitt has a real chance to beat a Notre Dame team that may be ranked a tad too high.
Third Down: The Overachievers Table: It’s a pretty safe bet that before the season no one thought that these three games would among the week’s best match-ups…..#23 NC State at #14 UNC: UNC had enough mistakes and dropped passes to lose three games last week. NC State had found their mojo with quarterback Devin Leary until he got injured. Bailey Hockman started the season as the starter, but interceptions were a problem. UNC will be looking to play a complete game after a terrible first half cost them last week…..#17 Iowa State at #6 Oklahoma State: Oklahoma State is the last undefeated team standing in the Big 12. This game will certainly tell us where they are. So far they’ve not had the type of big offensive production that the Cowboys have featured in the past. The Cyclones counter with a resume that includes wins over Oklahoma and TCU and a productive pass rush……#9 Cincinnati at #16 SMU: Cincinnati Coach Luke Fickell, a defensive mind by nature, would probably like to play this game at a bit slower pace than SMU. To win the Bearcats will have to slow down Shane Buechele because he has shown the ability to get the Mustangs up and down the field in a hurry.
Fourth Down: Big Ten, Big Game: #18 Michigan at #21 Minnesota: Michigan is starting a new era at Quarterback with Joe Milton who’s thrown just 11 passes coming into his first start. Minnesota QB Tanner Morgan is well known in the Big Ten, but the rest of the country will get to finally see in prime time why this talent was able to engineer wins over #4 Penn State and #12 Auburn last year. Minnesota WR Rashod Bateman averaged over 20 yards per catch last year and creates match-up problems for a Michigan defense that has traditionally thrived playing a lot of man-to-man coverage. Having lost spring practice is a real setback for a new starting QB, so look for Michigan to try to control the tempo of the game on offense.
The Ultimate Penn State Season Continues: This week we have the best week 7 game from 1966-2019 and this was a close call. In 1986 Penn State won at #3 Penn State and in 2016 Penn State beat #3 Ohio State….Based on the margin of victory, the 1986 National Title the nod goes to the 1986 win. As the schedule rolls on we find PSU on the road for a third straight week.
October 25 1986 (6) Penn State 23 at (3) Alabama 3: This was a statement game as Penn State rolled the Tide in Tuscaloosa. After falling behind 3-0, PSU scored 23 straight in a dominant road win. The Penn State backfield featured two future first round picks at Tailback in DJ Dozier and Blair Thomas as well as two pro fullbacks in Steve Smith and Tim Manoa. All of them got into the act both rushing and in the pass game. The run game pounded the Tide defense and paced Penn State’s five scoring drives. On defense a relentless Penn State pass rush forced several turnovers. Penn State linebacker Shane Conlan and Alabama linebacker Cornelius Bennett were two of the nation’s best that year and would end up as long-time NFL teammates in Buffalo. This game set Penn State on a collision course with #1 Miami for a National Championship showdown.
The Ultimate Penn State Season So Far:
Pre-season 1996 (11) Penn State 24 (7) USC 7 Watch
Week 1 1999 (4) Penn State 41 (3) Arizona 7 Watch
Week 2 1977 (10) Penn State 31 (9) Houston 14 Watch
Week 3 1978 (5) Penn State 19 at (6) Ohio State 0 Watch
Week 4 1982 (8) Penn State 27 (2) Nebraska 24 Watch
Week 5 2002 (21) Penn State 34 at (15) Wisconsin 31 Watch
Week 6 1994 (3) Penn State 31 at (5) Michigan 24 Watch
Week 7 1986 (6) Penn State 23 at (3) Alabama 3 Watch