Forty names, games, teams and details that hit the headlines in college football, where coaches keep getting beat up and it’s not even November yet:
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THIRD QUARTER: BIG TEN EASTAPALOOZA IS HERE
The most interesting part of the sport is in full swing this weekend and will be the national focus until the end of November. the Big Ten East Division (21) Round Robin is here: four teams, six games, four different Saturdays. Championship aspirations are at stake in the division, conference, and college football playoffs. May the best team win. The list is as follows:
Saturday: Michigan (7-0) over Michigan State (7-0) Saturday noon ET, Wolverines preferred by 4 1/2; Penn State (5-2) in Ohio State (6-1) at 7:30 p.m. ET, Buckeyes of 18 1/2 preferred.
November 13th: Michigan in Penn State, time still open.
November 20th: Michigan State in Ohio State, time still open.
November 27: Ohio State, Michigan at noon; Penn State at Michigan State, time still open.
The Nittany Lions certainly did their part to undermine the drama by losing to Illinois at home in one of the more absurd games of the season on Saturday. But they still have the chance to at least play spoilers and maybe still win the division if they win and get help. So let’s not throw them out of the picture just yet.
But for now the limelight is shifting to the other three teams. A brief breakdown of each:
Ohio State (22) is the hottest team in the country, ousting the bottom three members of the division (Rutgers, Indiana, and Maryland) by an average of 44 points. The Buckeyes have played seven straight games averaging at least seven yards per game and six straight games exceeding 500 yards. If you want to know how impressive that is, consider: none of the last two national champions and their juggernaut offenses – Alabama 2020 and LSU 2019 – have such long streaks in either category. (Oklahoma 2018 had 10 straight games averaging over seven yards per game and nine straight playing over 500 yards. The Sooners also played in the Big 12 when the league was anti-defense.) They also have 230 consecutive games without a . Clicked Revenue dating back to the third quarter against Akron on September 25th.
Weakness: The defense was fragile through the air and ranks in the middle of the Big Ten in defense of pass efficiency. Before the Buckeyes played against Indiana quarterback in a bad weather game on Saturday, they gave up 256 yards per game. They were especially vulnerable when pushed back into the red zone, with opponents getting an efficiency rating of 220.3 in that area of the field.
Adam Cairns / Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK
Michigan averages the most points (37.7) and allows the least (14.3) since the 2016 JT Barrett One Inch Season. A defense led by the Senior End Aidan Hutchinson (23) leads the conference in as few points as possible. An offense led by running backs Blake Corum and Hassan Haskins leads the conference in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. After playing with the lead for most of the season, the Wolverines were able to play to their strengths in the second half and hit the ground. In the third and fourth quarters, they played the ball 23.7 times per game.
Weakness: The Wolverines threw it far more frequently in October – up to 33.7 tries per game, more than double the 16.3 in September – but not with great success. The efficiency rating fell from 168.2 to 124 in a month-on-month comparison; If Michigan has to throw to win big games, will it do it?
Michigan State was one of the biggest surprises of the season, scoring 16.3 points per game more than last year and 16.4 fewer. With 6.95 yards per game, the Spartans are eighth nationally. They are also the only team in the Power 5 with four street wins and they only have two street games left. Kenneth Walker III (24) continues to lead the nation in rushing (142 yards per game) and has the highest average per carry with 150 or more tries (6.56).
Weakness: Michigan State is last in the Big Ten in penalty shoot-outs and penalty shoot-outs, the kind of things that can thwart an upset offer in a close game. The Spartans’ offensive largely ceased in the two closest games of the season against Nebraska and Indiana, but still found ways to victory. (Special teams against the Cornhuskers, defense against the Hoosiers.) Can you rediscover your big play skills on Saturday and in the coming weeks?
Dash prediction for the game of Big Ten Eastapalooza: Ohio State 3-0, Michigan 2-1, Michigan State 1-2, Penn State 0-3. If the Buckeyes take over the division, will the Wolverines still have a chance at the playoffs?
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OTHER IMPORTANT GAMES THIS WEEK:
The cocktail party (25). Florida vs. Georgia in Jacksonville is the Red River Shootout of the Southeast with corresponding fan debauchery and emotion. This version comes with different storylines – the Gators trying to save a 4-3 season, the Bulldogs trying to extend their run towards an SEC East title and playoff bid. The line: Georgia at 14. (This line, if held, would be the largest in the series since 2009 when the Gators were favored at 14 1/2.) Dan Mullen can rally a team at the edge after a home loss to LSU? And even if he can, does Florida actually have a chance to win? Dash pick: Georgia 27, Florida 14.
SMU Houston (26). The competition for Cincinnati’s main pest at the American Athletic Conference is largely decided here. The line: Houston at one. The Mustangs are undefeated but have played the 128th toughest schedule out of 130 in terms of opponent percentage. The one-defeat Cougars aren’t much better at 118th. This is a classic strength versus strength match, with SMU holding the AAC’s top offense and Houston holding the top defense. (Dana Holgorsen, defensive mastermind; who knew?) Dash Pick: SMU 38, Houston 35.
Iowa-Wisconsin (27). This will go a long way in deciding how and by whom the Big Ten West will be won. (Minnesota is in the mix too, and maybe Purdue if things get weird.) The line: Wisconsin from 3 1/2. If you’re looking for quarterback artistry, don’t let your TV remote find this game. The Badgers are so restricted from throwing the ball that this was their pass line to hit Purdue Saturday: 5 out of 8 for 52 yards. They have developed into a service academy. The Hawkeyes lost their last game not least to four interceptions. I have no idea how both teams will score. Dash pick: Iowa 14, Wisconsin 13.
Mississippi-Auburn (28). The winner of that game will stay tied in the losing column with Alabama in SEC West, and if that winner is the Tigers then they will still determine their own fate. The line: Auburn at 2 1/2. Auburn head coach Bryan Harsin may have a vaccination drama to deal with, but this isn’t a Nick Rolovich situation and may never become one. (It’s rare, in fact, for Lane Kiffin to come into a game as the less controversial head coach, but here we are.) With all the fanfare over the Ole Miss passing game, the Rebels have run more yards than they won from that five of their seven games, including the last three. Which team is more successful will win this one. Dash pick: Mississippi 35, Auburn 31.
State of Fresno-State of San Diego (29). The Aztecs try to maintain their perfect record with the best defense of the mountain west against the best offense of the mountain west. The line: San Diego State after one. San Diego State likes a methodical and physical running game; Fresno State prefers more pace and more passing play. Dash pick: San Diego State 28, Fresno State 24.
Texas Tech-Oklahoma (30). Is this really an important game? Just from this point of view: With 5-3 the Red Raiders have the best record of all FBS opponents Oklahoma has played so far. Overall record of previous opponents: 20-29, worst of all Power 5 teams. The line: Oklahoma at 20. Texas Tech just fired its trainer Matt Wells on Monday. Three Power 5 teams fired their coach this season and two of them covered the spread in the next game (USC and Washington State) while one didn’t (LSU). Oklahoma hasn’t been great against the spread this season. Dash pick: Oklahoma 51, Texas Tech 35.
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