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Four Down Territory: (Wild)Cats & Dawgs, Playoff Field Opens Up Again & All The Big Games...

After an epic weekend of college football, it seems that this weekend can’t possibly measure up. But one thing for certain in college football you never can discount the unexpected. All that said

First Down: Big Ten Work Stoppage: 4 Big Ten teams are furloughed this week: Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan and Illinois are all on bye weeks. Only two of the ranked teams are in action. Purdue at #2 Iowa: While Penn State fans point to the loss of QB Sean Clifford as the reason for the Iowa win, what has been overlooked was some of the offensive adjustments Iowa made. After a 1 for 9 start, Iowa QB Spencer Petras went 16 for his last 22 for 181 yards and 2 TDs. Turnovers continue to be the name of the game for the “Ball Hawks” as they grabbed 4 more INTs to raise their season total to national-best 16 (the next highest team is Kent State with 12). During the Joe Tiller years, Purdue was often an excellent defensive team. This year they are a top 15 defense in the country and should give the Hawkeye offense another stern test…….#10 Michigan State at Indiana: Michigan State has rebounded this year driven largely by their offensive balance. While most see the Ohio State QB, RB, WR combo as the best in the Big Ten, do not count out Michigan State. MSU is one of just 3 Big Ten offenses averaging over 200 yards rushing and passing per game. QB Thorne Payton has teamed with RB Kenneth Walker and WRs Jayden Reed, Jalen Nailor and Tre Mosley to give Sparty a dangerous big-play offense.

Second Down: Just Under The Radar: Pitt at Virginia Tech: If you’re looking for an ACC team that might surprise some people it might be one of these two teams. They are the only ACC Coastal division teams without a conference loss. Tech is always tough at home. If Pitt wants to be a contender they'll need QB Kenny Pickett to stay hot; he is the highest-rated passer at any power-5 school……..#13 Ole Miss at Tennessee: Ole Miss should be able to roll up points, the question will be whether or not the Vols can hope to keep pace…..Yale at UConn: This Nutmeg State showdown likely won’t register nationally. UConn has been in limbo since their basketball-centric decision to re-join the Big East conference. When both of these teams were FCS-level teams they played annually and mostly at the historic Yale Bowl. This one is in East Hartford and figures to be winless UConn’s best chance for a 2021 win. Editor’s note: The attached photo is from the 1993 UConn 25-14 win when our author was the WR and TE coach at UConn……

Third Down: I'm Still Alive: Cal at #9 Oregon—Friday Night: With last week’s chaos the door is once again open for the Pac 12. Oregon still holds a win over Ohio State but will have to take care of business. Cal has struggled this season to a 1-4 record. Look for Oregon’s offense to get back on track…….TCU at #6 Oklahoma: Oklahoma survived with an epic comeback over Texas. Suddenly the Sooners have QB drama and freshmen Caleb Williams has turned up the heat on Spencer Rattler –a player previously seen as a Heisman front runner. When Willams came into the game the team responded very differently…….#5 Alabama at Mississippi State: Late in last week's loss to Texas A&M Alabama’s blitzes stopped getting home and leaving DBs exposed and one on one. Early in this game look to see if the Tide pressures the air raid offense or if they drop into coverage and make them play patiently.

Fourth Down: Two for the Show: #12 Oklahoma State at #25 Texas: Can Texas bounce back from a massive disappointment? The Longhorns secondary and defense seemed to tire and gave up big plays late in the game. Look for Oklahoma State to attack them through the air. On offense Texas has star players at RB and WR. Can they score enough ? They may need a lot…….#11 Kentucky at #1 Georgia: The Dawgs are riding what may be a generational defensive unit. Halfway through the season they’ve yielded just 33 points. Everywhere you look on their squad you see speed on defense. Kentucky is THE surprise team in the SEC this year. They have won in several different ways. Last week as they trounced LSU, Quarterback Will Levis—a Penn State transfer—threw for 3 TDs and ran for 2 more. This will certainly be the biggest test of his career. The key for Kentucky to get an upset will be to force Georgia into turnovers and get a short field (Georgia has 7 turnovers in 6 games). That is the only thing that has helped teams against Georgia. They have only allowed 2 defensive TDs all year (One TD was an INT return by UAB by the Dawgs’ 3rd QB). While Kentucky has been a very good story so far, a win here would make them a GREAT story.


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