What an incredible college football week has just passed! We told you last week that it could be the best September slate of college football games in years, and it lived up to the hype.
Guess what? This weekend won’t exactly be chopped liver. There are some excellent games on tap, and more conference games will be played this week.
First, some information about you guys and dolls. We asked you to go to our sister site at http://www.piratings.webs.com and tell us who your favorite college and NFL teams happened to be. We have received dozens of replies so far, and a pattern has developed.
Among the colleges mentioned, a large majority of you are Big Ten fans. The number one school mentioned so far, and by quite a large margin, is Ohio State. Number two surprised us, as we expected that an SEC school or six would be among the top ones you fine folks follow. No SEC team received more than three votes, and that three belongs to Florida. Number two behind the Buckeyes was their arch-rival Michigan, and in distant third place was the other Big Ten East biggie, Michigan State.
The NFL followed suit with upper Midwest fan support. In a close race so far, Cleveland, Green Bay, and Chicago rank one-two-three.
It could be that the PiRate Ratings have a lot of upper Midwest support. There are ties to Ohio State in a minor way, much less than the ties to Wisconsin, but it is there. However, we expected a lot more SEC support, and it just didn’t come. Wherefore art thou Alabama, Tennessee, LSU, Georgia, and Aggie fans?
Okay, now to get down to business. We will obviously comment on the 3 Big Ten schools first today, and then include other games of interest that you might want to follow this week.
The Buckeyes get a well-timed week off after picking up the biggest win of the NCAA season against the Sooners in Norman. Their next two games are home contests against Rutgers and Indiana, so Urban Meyer’s team will be 5-0 when they head up to Camp Randall Stadium on October 15.
The stats are intimidating to any future opponent: 56.7 points per game to 12.3 points allowed per game; 306 yards per game rushing to just 103 allowed per game; a total yards per game average of 545 to 279; the defense has intercepted nine passes in three games; and if that isn’t enough riches, the Buckeyes have the best kicking game in the nation so far with a 50+ yard punt average and a 47+ yard net punt average to go with perfect 100% accuracy on PATs and field goals.
The Wolverines spotted improved Colorado a quick two touchdown lead before getting down to business and posting an impressive 17-point win at the Big House. Penn State comes to Ann Arbor this week, after the Nittany Lions held off a pesky Temple team. The Maize and Blue defense and special teams have scored or set up more points than they have allowed with interception returns, punt returns, and three blocked kicks so far. At one time, in 1969, Penn State’s defense and special teams scored or set up more points than the defense allowed for the entire season. That Penn State team finished undefeated, and if this Michigan team can continue to replicate that great 1969 Penn State team, there is no reason to think the Wolverines cannot run the table–at least head to the Giant Horseshoe at 11-0. How much would another 11-0 vs. 11-0 matchup cost to purchase a ticket on the street this time? Prices were highly inflated in 2006, when these two teams were undefeated and ranked 1-2.
As for this week, We don’t think James Franklin’s Nittany Lions will roar much. They might hold Michigan under 40 points, but can they score more than 17?
The Spartans looked like a different team between game one against Furman and game two against Notre Dame. Now MSU hosts a Wisconsin team that must have overlooked Georgia State last week, but even overlooking the Panthers, UW should have won by 30. Sparty’s defense held Notre Dame’s rushing game at bay all night, and a repeat performance against the Badgers will mean a double-digit win. For the record, we do not believe they will stop the UW rush like they stopped the Notre Dame running game.
Tyler O’Connor looked like a pro prospect at times against the Irish secondary. His one interception came on a deflection, and if you remove that deflection, he had a night Connor Cook would have been proud of. Look for MSU to win another tight game by less than a touchdown. The last three times these schools have played, the margins were all under a TD.
Other Games of Interest
Clemson at Georgia Tech
The CU win at Auburn does not look all that impressive after Texas A&M looked better in their win at Jordan-Hare. The narrow win over Troy could not be erased by the slaughter over the FCS school that was so unprepared to play a Power 5 team, that their kick returner handed the Tigers a touchdown by tossing it to the back judge without downing the ball. This Clemson team has started to resemble the Florida State team of 2014. That FSU team was considerably weaker than the 2013 champion, but they still made it to the playoffs. We are not sure this CU team is playoff worthy, but they have time to right the ship.
Georgia Tech is 3-0 and looks like a defensive juggernaut in the process. However, a closer look shows their defensive performance has come against three teams that would have trouble scoring in 11 on 0 practice drills. Tech’s next three games could see a reverse in defensive performance. Still, the Yellow Jackets are mighty tough to prepare for, and when you take away two days of preparation, it could make this a rather interesting game to watch.
Florida at Tennessee
Butch Jones’ legacy in Knoxville is like an almost finished book. The one major chapter of his mystery novel is the one where you find out who did it. If Florida did it, ole Butch may not get a chance to write the sequel.
Florida has won 11 straight games in this series. The average score in this streak has been 29-16, although the last two have both been decided by a single point. The Gators are going to have to make due with Austin Appleby at quarterback after starter Luke Del Rio injured his knee on a cheap shot tackle by North Texas. Appleby would become the second former Purdue quarterback to start a game for an SEC team in the last two weeks (Danny Etling @ LSU). After replacing Del Rio, Appleby completed passes of 11 and 19 yards against the Mean Green in his four attempts. At Purdue, Appleby had a tendency to force throws where he should not have passed, and his interception rate was 4%, about 45% higher than the QB that sent him packing from West Lafayette.
Josh Dobbs has not been what he was expected to be this year. It looks like the coaching staff has put a governor on his scrambling and is not calling for Dobbs to keep the ball on many designed running plays. That might change this week, as the Vols need to pull out all the stops to move the ball against Geoff Collins’ defense.
Tennessee is not without major losses due to injury, and it affects a trio of excellent starting defensive players. All-American punt returner and very good cornerback Cameron Sutton will be out for several weeks. All-SEC weakside linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin should be able to play, but he will be far from 100%, and the Vols are hurting depthwise here, as middle linebacker Darrin Kirkland and backup hybrid linebacker/safety Quarte Sapp will miss the game.
Expect a low-scoring, hard-fought game that comes down to the final few minutes.
Arkansas vs. Texas A&M in Arlington, TX (Dallas Cowboys Stadium)–The Southwest Classic
What can these two former Southwest Conference rivals do for a second encore after the last two games in Jerryworld went to overtime? The Aggies won both games, and it would not surprise us again if the game was still to be decided late in the fourth quarter. Arkansas has not beaten A&M since the Aggies joined the SEC.
Both teams have big wins already this year. Arkansas won at TCU, while A&M topped UCLA, so they have been tested, and we expect a quality game from both sides. It was hoped that Austin Allen would be able to approach his graduated brother Brandon’s stats at quarterback, but through three games, little brother has greatly surpassed expectations. Add to this fact that running back Rawleigh Williams has done an admirable job replacing Alex Collins. It has been the Razorback defense that has not quite lived up to expectations.
As for the Aggies, Kevin Sumlin has dealth with his critics in recent years since Johnny Manziel left College Station, and most of that criticism has come from subsequently weaker offenses year over year. We may ask these critics why a 44-31 win is better than a 29-16 win? This Aggie team can play defense, as most defenses led by legendary guru John Chavis tend to do. Against Josh Rosen and UCLA, the Aggie defense produced five sacks and three interceptions. Auburn tried to throw short, and A&M didn’t give up yards after the catch.
Arkansas will try to combine pounding the ball up the gut with vertical passes to Keon Hatcher combined with spreading the field and finding Drew Morgan, tight end Jeremy Sprinkle, and Dominique Reed.
Stanford at UCLA
The must-win games continue to allow Stanford a chance to stay in the playoff hunt. A win over USC at home was just fine. A win at UCLA and by a larger margin than the Bruins fell at Texas A&M, gives the Cardinal the much-needed ammunition to fight against the Clemson’s, Louisville’s, and Houston’s. SU must run the table against a weaker Pac-12 slate, and a win at the Rose Bowl Saturday night pumps up their resume. A loss, and it’s all up to Washington and Arizona State to carry the Pac-12 banner.
Boise St. at Oregon St.
The Broncos are now in a multi-team battle with South Florida, Houston, Memphis, Central Michigan, Western Michigan, Toledo, and San Diego State for the NY6 Bowl Bid. For that matter, throw in a surprising Army team into this mix and don’t eliminate the other two service academies just yet.
This game is Boise’s best resume builder for the rest of the season, even though the Beavers are at the bottom of the Pac-12. It is almost required that BSU wins this game by at least 17 points, or they might have to be the last remaining undefeated team in December.
Here are this week’s PiRate Ratings
|48||North Carolina St.||106.9||104.7||106.3||106.0|
|49||San Diego St.||105.8||102.9||108.2||105.7|
|98||San Jose St.||89.8||89.8||90.0||89.9|
|122||New Mexico St.||75.4||78.0||76.2||76.5|
|23||San Diego St.|
|62||North Carolina St.|
|98||San Jose St.|
|115||New Mexico St.|
PiRate Ratings By Conference
|American Athletic Conference|
|Atlantic Coast Conference|
|North Carolina St.||106.9||104.7||106.3||106.0|
|Big 12 Conference|
|Big 12 Averages||107.0||107.9||106.3||107.0|
|Big Ten Conference|
|Big Ten Averages||108.0||106.7||107.3||107.3|
|Mountain West Conference|
|San Diego St.||105.8||102.9||108.2||105.7|
|San Jose St.||89.8||89.8||90.0||89.9|
|New Mexico St.||75.4||78.0||76.2||76.5|
|Sun Belt Averages||81.5||85.3||83.0||83.3|
|PiRate Ratings By Conference|
This Week’s Spreads
|Thursday, September 22||PiRate||Mean||Bias|
|Friday, September 23||PiRate||Mean||Bias|
|Saturday, September 24||PiRate||Mean||Bias|
|South Florida||Florida St.||-3.8||0.9||-1.5|
|Virginia Tech||East Carolina||22.4||19.9||22.3|
|West Virginia (N)||BYU||-0.1||6.0||0.1|
|Western Michigan||Georgia Southern||18.5||16.5||18.0|
|Iowa St.||San Jose St.||8.2||7.9||6.8|
|Texas A&M (N)||Arkansas||1.1||5.0||3.8|
|Troy||New Mexico St.||16.2||18.6||17.3|
|Utah St.||Air Force||-4.0||-1.6||-4.9|
|Oregon St.||Boise St.||-6.6||-12.8||-11.5|
|Florida Atlantic||Ball St.||-1.2||0.2||-0.5|
|Florida Int’l.||Central Florida||-6.0||-1.5||-5.3|
|Middle Tennessee||Louisiana Tech||6.7||5.8||6.1|
|FBS vs. FCS||Week 4|
|South Alabama||Nicholls St.||19|
|Arkansas St.||Central Arkansas||21|
|Northern Illinois||Western Illinois||13|
|Kansas St.||Missouri St.||42|