4 Down Territory: Covid Takes Down 7 Top-25 Teams, But There's Plenty of Football Left
1st Down: Covid Shreds the Top 25 Schedule: As of Friday morning no less than 7 Top 25 teams have had their games cancelled. Michigan at #4 Ohio State, Ole Miss at #5 Texas A&M, #8 Cincinnati at #24 Tulsa, #11 Oklahoma at West Virginia, Purdue at #12 Indiana and #20 Texas at Kansas. This chaotic season continues to give fans whiplash with rapidly changing games and schedules. It may also portend chaos in the bowl season. Already Boston College with a record of 6-4 has opted out of playing in a bowl game. Given the long season and draconian (necessary but draconian nonetheless) restrictions expect more teams to opt out of lower-tier bowls. Also expect to see more bowls shut down as well.
2nd Down: What Happens Next?: There was complaining from many Big Ten fans about the conference changing the rules to allow Ohio State to play in the conference title game. There are things to consider. If I was a player or coach at Northwestern I would want to play Ohio State. No disrespect to the season Indiana had, but Ohio State beat Indiana and I’d want to win the title against the best team I could play. Secondly, the Ohio State players beat every team they played and only one of the three games they had cancelled was an Ohio State issue. Finally, the Big Ten is not dumb. Fox Sports pays a lot of money to televise the Big Ten Title game and an undefeated Ohio State team is not only deserving of that spot, but they also bring a lot of national fans to watch that game. As the Big Ten looks to its final week schedule here’s hoping that we get to see trophy games between Wisconsin and Minnesota (Paul Bunyan's Ax), as well as Indiana and Purdue (Old Oaken Bucket).
3rd Down: Let’s Play Some Football: Navy at Army: This is America's game. Army is having a strong season but they've also played a less demanding schedule than normal so that 7-2 record may be inflated.....#17 UNC at #10 Miami: After Army/Navy, this is the game of the day. Two teams whose exciting young QBs may represent the future of the ACC. Both teams boast explosive offensive talent. Defensively against ranked teams UNC yielded an average of 32.3 points while Miami allowed 38 per game. The winner of this game could be looking at a New Year’s 6 Bowl……#9 Georgia at #25 Missouri: Missouri is ranked at 5-3 after winning three straight against teams with a combined record of 5-22. The climb gets a whole lot steeper against a Bulldog team that many think may be ranked a tad high at #9…..#1 Alabama at Arkansas: Alabama looks to hang half a hundred as early as possible to rest the starters for next week’s SEC Title tilt versus Florida…..LSU at #6 Florida: Speaking of the Gators expect them to feast on a vulnerable LSU defense.
4th Down: Other Quick Hits: Illinois at #14 Northwestern: Illinois has improved dramatically since starting the season 0-3. Northwestern looks for some momentum before next week’s Big Ten Title game. In their last outing Northwestern's careless turnovers cost them in the upset loss to Michigan State. They’ll need to avoid that this week……Wisconsin at #16 Iowa: These two teams play for a brass bull. Nothing else needs to be said…….Michigan State at Penn State: PSU looks to keep the momentum going and Michigan State is a mystery. One game they lose to Iowa by 42 and another game they beat #8 Northwestern. With speed at WR, MSU poses a threat if their QB can play consistently. Penn State’s offense has yet to put together a full consistent 60-minute game yet……Utah at #21 Colorado: The Buffs are undefeated and unappreciated. In fact the whole Pac 12 has been completely discounted in the playoff discussion. And that brings us to……#15 USC at UCLA: Another undefeated Pac 12 team is USC. They are coming off their most complete outing of the season with a definitive win at Washington State. If both Colorado and USC win it leaves the Pac 12 with 2 unbeaten teams in the same division who never got to play each other.
The Ultimate Penn State Season Returns: At the start of the season when the Big Ten was postponed we started to construct the ultimate Penn State season. From week one through week twelve we chose the biggest win in each corresponding week in games from 1966 through 2019. Given the 13-0 record this ultimate PSU season has amassed it is time for round one of the College Football Playoffs….
January 1, 1983: The Sugar Bowl:
#2 Penn State 27 vs (1) Georgia 23: For the second straight year Penn State played and defeated the Heisman trophy winner in a bowl game. In this National title game Penn State quarterback Todd Blackledge was the MVP of the game capping a season where Penn State accomplished two firsts in NCAA history. Penn State became the first team to win a National Title while playing the Nation’s toughest schedule. That schedule featured games against Notre Dame, Nebraska, Alabama and against Dan Marino and Pitt. Penn State also became the first team to win the national title gaining more yardage passing than running. This win was a total team effort.
Penn State forced Georgia's Heisman Trophy- winning tailback Herschel Walker to run east and west and used their team speed to corral him. Penn State safety Harry Hamilton and defensive end Walker Lee Ashley had big nights. On offense tailback Curt Warner out rushed Walker while Blackledge made the big throws….none bigger than the game-clinching bomb to Greg Garrity down the left sideline in the 4th quarter.