In 2008, No. Three Penn State arrived at 9-0, eyeing its first BCS championship sport look. The Nittany Lions led by 9 factors coming into the fourth quarter however fell 24-23 when Iowa’s Daniel Murray hit a 31-yard area objective as time expired.
9 years later, No. Four Penn State trailed 19-15 with 1:42 left, when quarterback Hint McSorley guided the offense downfield and located Juwan Johnson for a walk-off touchdown.
Excessive drama defines this sequence: 9 one-score video games since 1996, together with two that went to extra time and the well-known 6-Four last in State School in 2004. However Saturday’s sport between No. Three Iowa and No. Four Penn State will mark the groups’ first top-five assembly, and the primary top-five conflict at Kinnick since No. 1 Iowa beat No. 2 Michigan in 1985.
“Penn State performs in much more of those than we in all probability do, proper?” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz stated. “It is what you wish to play for. It is enjoyable when the chips are on the desk.”
At Large Ten media days in July, a number of coaches referred to as Iowa the league’s most difficult setting for visiting groups.
“What makes it difficult is the dimensions of the group, the depth of the group,” Penn State coach James Franklin stated. “The sidelines are tight, they’re proper on prime of you. Like our stadium, you’ve followers who’ve had season tickets endlessly, so that you began to form of construct a relationship with these individuals. their names, they usually know loads about you.
“It is a powerful atmosphere, however we’re trying ahead to it.”
In a university soccer season by which defenses are lastly flexing once more, Iowa and Penn State boast two of one of the best. The Hawkeyes lead the nation in interceptions (12), takeaways per sport (3) and factors off turnovers (75). Iowa collected 4 takeaways in a Week 2 win at Iowa State and 7 — its most since 1982 — in final week’s win at Maryland. Defensive again Riley Moss leads the Large Ten with three interceptions, returning two for touchdowns.
Penn State has 9 takeaways, a decent whole, however thrives within the crimson zone, the place it has allowed 5 touchdowns on 15 drives and prevented factors altogether seven occasions. PSU shut out Indiana final week and hasn’t allowed greater than 20 factors in a sport this season. The protection is skilled and sound, boasting a number of standouts in any respect three ranges.
Scoring probabilities might be in brief provide.
“Their scheme, extra occasions than not, permits them to capitalize on errors as a result of they’ve their eyes on the quarterback, in all probability as a lot as anyone in faculty soccer,” Franklin stated. “And so they clearly do an awesome job of teaching it and drilling it and instructing it.”
The quarterback Iowa might be watching, Sean Clifford, has improved this season beneath new playcaller Mike Yurcich, finishing greater than two-thirds of his makes an attempt for 1,336 yards with 11 touchdowns and three interceptions. Whereas Iowa has tormented quarterbacks and huge receivers this 12 months, it hasn’t seen a expertise like Penn State’s Jahan Dotson, who has 35 receptions for 446 yards and 6 touchdowns.
“There isn’t any wasted motion,” Ferentz stated of Dotson. “He is concise. Every little thing is admittedly sharp. I’ve to suppose the professional [scouts] watching him have to love him. He is a extremely decisive participant.”
Iowa would not wish to see Dotson in the long run zone Saturday, and particularly not late. If latest historical past holds, although, the sport will come all the way down to the ultimate play. — Adam Rittenberg
The massive video games
The Purple River Rivalry is again to regular this 12 months, after enjoying within the Cotton Bowl final 12 months with a 25% capability crowd in the course of a canceled State Truthful of Texas in what OU huge receiver Drake Stoops stated felt like a “ghost city” versus one of the crucial heated rivalries in sports activities. The groups will meet for the 117th time, however it’s a primary for Steve Sarkisian.
“I am fired up for the sport,” Sarkisian stated. “I really like the pomp and pageantry of school soccer. I really like the historical past and the nostalgia. We put in a lot work throughout the week so we are able to benefit from the expertise on gameday.”
There are all the time household ties examined on this one. Charles Thompson, the daddy of Texas beginning quarterback Casey Thompson, performed for Barry Switzer at Oklahoma. OU coach Lincoln Riley and Drake Stoops have identified the Longhorns QB for years.
“It is our rivals, so you realize, you by no means want an excessive amount of good upon them,” Riley stated. “Nevertheless it’s been enjoyable for me to see Casey do nicely. To see him cling in there and do a great job and profit from his alternatives is no surprise in any respect.”
All seven regular-season video games within the sequence since 2014 have been determined by one rating, probably the most within the nation between two FBS groups in that span. With Bijan Robinson powering the Texas offense on the bottom and Spencer Rattler and Oklahoma enjoying extra of a ball-control model than standard, one other tight one might be in retailer. — David Wilson
Georgia coach Kirby Sensible is not certain when quarterback JT Daniels will return to motion, however the Bulldogs are looking for recommendation from different groups which have handled related accidents, together with the Dallas Cowboys.
Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott missed a month throughout coaching camp with an analogous lat damage in his proper shoulder, though his might need been worse. For now, Daniels has been restricted to soft-tossing in observe as he tries to get again on the sphere.
“Something that does not hassle it, you wish to proceed to do,” Sensible stated. “So he was capable of exit and do some comfortable toss and it did not hassle it. That is the identical protocol they did with Dak. It isn’t an entire shutdown. There’s workout routines he can do in our coaching room which are bands and throwing motions and issues that do not harm him. They do not hassle him. So long as it would not hassle him, then we really feel like we’re getting enchancment, gradual enchancment.”
Senior Stetson Bennett IV is anticipated to make his second straight begin and third of the season in Saturday’s sport at No. 18 Auburn.
“Stetson’s a savvy vet,” Sensible stated. “He understands the defenses, he is very clever, and plenty of the soccer he is needed to study is thru different quarterbacks by sitting again and watching them. I believe he enjoys getting a possibility to go on the market and do the issues he is completed.”
Bennett made the primary begin of his profession towards Auburn final season, throwing for 240 yards with one landing on 17-for-28 passing in Georgia’s 27-6 victory. Sensible is not afraid to start out the previous walk-on as soon as once more.
“I imply, Stetson’s acquired thick pores and skin. He is a tricky child,” Sensible stated. “He is acquired good moxy and good confidence, good composure. You do not see him actual rattled fairly often. He handles success and ups and downs very well, so I believe he has acquired good wiring for a quarterback.” — Mark Schlabach
BYU’s quarterback scenario is the large query, as starter Jaren Hall (ribs) and backup Baylor Romney (concussion) are working their manner again, with Corridor seemingly nearer to returning towards Boise State. Romney began for Corridor towards South Florida and accomplished 80% of his passes for 305 yards and three touchdowns.
“We knew that Jaren was one thing particular, we knew that Baylor was one thing particular, and we nonetheless have plenty of confidence in our third-string quarterback,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake instructed ESPN final week. “There’s solely so many reps to go round, however it’s good to have a man like Baylor are available and be capable of begin a sport and never really feel such as you’re actually restricted within the playbook. It has been good having quarterbacks that may play, after which having guys in there who aren’t all the time about making an attempt to be the starter. All people understands their function, the competitors, and helps one another.”
Depth at quarterback and elsewhere has been the story this season for BYU, which misplaced 5 gamers to the NFL draft — together with quarterback Zach Wilson (No. 2 general) and offensive sort out Brady Christensen (third spherical) — and eight others who grew to become undrafted free brokers. The offense is not fairly as explosive because it was in 2020, however BYU has a strong energy run sport with Tyler Allgeier. The protection has allowed solely two passing touchdowns in 5 video games.
Sitake stated the 2020 schedule, which did not embrace BYU’s typical September/October gauntlet of Energy 5 opponents, helped the coaches get extra younger gamers expertise when video games had been determined.
“We have had years of this kind of schedule that basically impacts your depth as a result of it bangs individuals up enjoying P5s early within the season,” Sitake stated. “The season impacts everyone, however no one does it like we do. Final 12 months, individuals talked about our schedule, however Zach Wilson may have had higher numbers if we saved him in there. However we knew that we wanted him off to maintain him wholesome, and we wished to be sure that we get plenty of these youthful those that at the moment are beginning for us plenty of reps. That was an enormous profit for me.
“Final 12 months’s schedule might need value us some factors, however now it is serving to us win video games.”
Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson stated repeatedly all through the offseason he felt good concerning the veteran group he returned, however life at a small faculty within the ACC usually means discovering nice issue in persuading everyone exterior Winston-Salem to concentrate. Certainly, Wake Forest was picked to complete fifth within the Atlantic Division within the preseason ballot.
But the Demon Deacons are the one undefeated group left within the ACC, and are sitting at 5-Zero headed into their sport at Syracuse. Sam Hartman has drawn a lot of the eye because the returning quarterback, however it’s what Wake Forest has completed within the working sport that basically stands out.
Wake Forest is rotating three working backs practically evenly: Starter Christian Beal-Smith leads the way in which with 65 carries for 312 yards and 4 touchdowns, whereas Justice Ellison has 50 carries for 242 yards and three scores and Michigan switch Christian Turner has 51 carries for 205 yards and two scores. Wake Forest is the one faculty within the nation that has three working backs with at the very least 50 carries and 200 yards dashing. The final group to try this by way of 5 video games was Missouri in 2018.
“After we introduced Christian Turner in midyear, we have been hoping it may turn out to be a three-man function,” Wake Forest offensive coordinator Warren Ruggiero instructed ESPN. “Christian got here in and picked issues up instantly, and it is allowed these guys to all play. All of them knew going into the season that was the way it was going to roll. They’ve all been group gamers and know that the objective is for us to win and keep wholesome in the long run, and they usually’ve been on board with it.”
The matchup towards Syracuse’s run protection is the hardest up to now, however with Hartman and a gaggle of deep and gifted receivers, the Demon Deacons have made performs of their passing sport, too. Wake Forest has scored 192 whole factors, its most by way of 5 video games at school historical past.
“We have got plenty of expertise, and we have been capable of keep wholesome,” Ruggiero stated. “If we are able to hold staying wholesome and hold our foot on the gasoline, hopefully we’ll proceed it.” — Andrea Adelson
The losses hold piling up at LSU. After going undefeated and successful the nationwide championship in 2019, the Tigers are simply two video games above .500.
Final weekend’s loss to Auburn felt like a possible tipping level. A 3rd loss at Kentucky on Saturday would additional fan the flames now that coach Ed Orgeron finds himself squarely on the new seat.
His greatest downside: the offense.
On Monday, Orgeron stated LSU should recommit to the working sport, which isn’t one thing you’d anticipated to listen to from an LSU coach. However the Tigers rank next-to-last within the SEC in dashing yards.
Even so, for the working sport to work, you want a productive line, and that hasn’t been the case. Positive, there have been accidents, which clarify a few of their struggles. And shedding place coach James Cregg was an surprising setback. However nonetheless …
“We now have two guys on that offensive line that we gained a nationwide championship with,” Orgeron stated. “I believed that will’ve been one of many strengths of our soccer group, however it’s not.”
So LSU is struggling to run the ball and struggling to dam, and on prime of all that, the playcalling has come into query. Quarterback Max Johnson hasn’t regarded snug getting indicators in from the sideline. Both calls are taking too lengthy or they’re being modified on the final second. The outcome: The offense cannot go quick.
Bear in mind, this season was imagined to be a return to the Joe Brady model of offense in 2019, which featured a heavy dose of tempo. Orgeron employed Brady disciple Jake Peetz as offensive coordinator for that objective. However 5 video games into the season, handing the reins over to a first-time playcaller is not working.
Nonetheless, Orgeron stated he believes in Peetz.
“We simply have to cool down,” he stated. “Principally simply name the play and allow them to go and never attempt to change it; I believe that is after we get into most of our issues.”
Fixing these issues will not occur simply, although, as undefeated Kentucky has top-of-the-line defenses within the SEC, permitting the third-fewest yards within the convention. — Alex Scarborough
For all of the speak about Texas A&M’s woes on offense, the Aggies have not been excellent towards the run defensively this season, which is stunning given their expertise on the defensive position. That might be one of many key areas to observe on Saturday at Kyle Area.
Alabama’s offense has advanced considerably over the previous a number of years, and first-year beginning quarterback Bryce Young has definitely proven that he can throw the ball. However the one factor that hasn’t modified about Alabama’s offense is the Tide’s means to run the ball when the scenario requires it, and that is very true now that Invoice O’Brien is looking the performs.
The Tide’s general dashing numbers aren’t nice, however they’ve additionally had just one shut sport. What they did final week to Ole Miss with Brian Robinson Jr. dashing for a career-high 171 yards on 36 carries needs to be a warning to the Aggies. If they can not cease the run early on this sport, it may get away in a rush, particularly given Alabama’s stability on offense.
Texas A&M is tied for 71st nationally in run protection (142.6 yards per sport) after ending second nationally a 12 months in the past. The Aggies have given up greater than 170 yards on the bottom in three of their 5 video games. If the Tide get even near that quantity on this sport, it will not be a enjoyable night time in Aggieland. — Chris Low
Determining who the true favourite is within the Pac-12 South has been a sport of musical chairs. Utah dropped out rapidly. USC could not cling on. UCLA‘s optimism rapidly pale. For now, Arizona State stands alone.
After their emphatic 42-23 win towards the Bruins, the Solar Devils head into Friday seeking to transfer to 3-Zero in convention play for the primary time since 2012. This is not essentially a shock — ASU returned practically each starter, together with one of many nation’s finest quarterbacks in Jayden Daniels — however there was nonetheless a seeing-is-believing vibe coming into the 12 months. Thus far, so good.
ASU needs it may have a mulligan in its 27-17 loss to BYU, however it has gained by at the very least three scores within the 4 different video games. There’s nonetheless loads to show contemplating three of these video games got here towards genuinely dangerous groups (Southern Utah, UNLV and Colorado), and Stanford supplies an enormous alternative to try this.
The Cardinal have already knocked off two ranked opponents — USC and Oregon — and have gained six of the previous seven towards ASU. Stanford coach David Shaw stated he has burdened one factor to his group after its emotional 31-24 extra time win over Oregon — constructing off the victory, not being glad.
“With displaying which you could rise to the event, now there is a accountability to play that nicely within the subsequent sport,” Shaw instructed ESPN. “We do not wish to be the continuous inventory market group that is up and down on a regular basis. As I instructed the group, the Pac-12 North is a race. We’re racing Oregon. We acquired forward of them, however we have not gained the race but. Oregon State‘s forward of us. So we’re chasing Oregon State, we’re making an attempt to run away from Oregon, and proper in entrance of us is the group that is main the Pac-12 South. So we won’t have up-and-down performances. We now have to return out and are available to play.” — Adelson and Kyle Bonagura
New rivalry trophy dropped
On Saturday, the Campbell Fighting Camels and Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs will start a brand new period in Boiling Springs, North Carolina, enjoying for the Hog Trophy within the inaugural East/West Barbecue Bowl.
The 2 faculties, positioned about 200 miles aside (Campbell is in Buies Creek, North Carolina), first performed one another in 1929, however have performed simply twice, in 2019 and 2020, since they each grew to become four-year establishments within the 1970s. They’re now Large South rivals within the FCS.
The loser of the sport will provide a barbecue unfold to the winner, representing their fiercely debated regional types from every group’s finish of the state. Gardner-Webb, on the Western aspect, chosen Purple Bridges Barbecue of Shelby, North Carolina, for its meal, and Campbell has chosen White Swan Bar-B-Q in Smithfield because the East’s consultant. The massive ol’ pig trophy might be introduced by Bob Garner, a tv character and writer of two books on North Carolina barbecue. Garner defined the distinction between the 2 types in a release from Gardner-Webb.
“White Swan is complete hog barbecue with each drier chicken from the loins and hams and moist darkish meat from the shoulders, chopped collectively and anointed with a simple jap, pepper-vinegar sauce and accompanied by yellow-white coleslaw,” Garner stated. “Purple Bridges options luscious, juicy meat from pork shoulders, pit-cooked over dwell coals for hours, served with a warmed vinegar sauce to which has been added a small quantity of tomato to render it barely thicker than some variations, accompanied by spicy crimson ‘BBQ’ coleslaw.”
The groups will look to convey dwelling the bacon at 6 p.m. ET on Saturday. –Dave Wilson