With another college football weekend nearing, another college football setback has occurred. Wisconsin can be added to the long list of names who have been affected by COVID-19. The Badgers reported 12 positive virus tests including head coach Paul Chryst and starting quarterback Graham Mertz, resulting in the program to halt all football activities.
Although the coronavirus has already put a damper on Wisconsin’s season, the Big 10 is prepared for another week of highly anticipated football. Let’s see where the conference falls in terms of the biggest matchups of the weekend.
5.) #8 Texas A&M vs Arkansas
This is the first time since November of 2016 that Texas A&M finds itself in the top ten as they ride a two-game win streak. The Aggies knocked off number four Florida three weeks ago as quarterback Kelle Mond put together his best performance of the season, where he completed 71.4% of his passes and threw for three touchdowns.
Through four games, running back Isaiah Spiller has been solid with 430 yards on the ground, along with four scores. Caleb Chapman has been their most reliable receiver as he has found the endzone three times while averaging 14.1 yards per reception.
While the offense has looked good, the defensive unit struggled against Alabama, which is not surprising, and Florida. However, in their matchup against Mississippi State two weeks ago, they kept the Bulldogs to negative rushing yards.
Following their victory against Ole Miss, Arkansas won their second SEC game of the season for the first time since 2016. The Razorbacks started the season off playing three straight top 20 opponents. Although they lost two of those contests they were able to capture a 21-14 win over number 16 Mississippi State.
Feleipe Franks is the most compelling piece to this team as he transferred from Florida last season. Franks has the ability to be an explosive quarterback as he passed for over 2,400 yards in 2018 as he added 24 touchdowns.
In this matchup, everything relies on Franks for the Razorbacks as their defense will not provide any help against the Aggies’ dynamic offense. Franks and this offense has the ability to knock off ranked opponents, but this game will be far out of reach.
Prediction: Texas A&M wins 38-24
4.) #13 Michigan vs. Michigan State
The Paul Bunyan Trophy will once again up for grabs this weekend when Michigan and Michigan State square off at The Big House. Michigan has taken three out of the past four matchups and they lead the overall series against the Spartans.
Michigan started off the season taking down number 21 Minnesota in a highly-anticipated game. Michigan scored 49 points on the Gophers defense as they put up 35 in the first half. Joe Milton looked the part as Michigan’s next starter at quarterback. He completed 68.2% of his passes and tossed a touchdown to tight end, Ben Mason.
Hassan Haskins and Zach Charbonnet once again shared the backfield like they did last season for the Wolverines. The duo rushed for 152 yards and added three scores in their route of Minnesota.
Michigan’s defense showed up big against a potent Minnesota offense as they sacked Tanner Morgan five times, including a forced fumble in which Donovan Jeter would take in for a score.
On the other side of this rivalry, Michigan State was handed their first loss to open a season since 2008. Yes, that loss, came against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights as they won their first Big 10 game since 2017. This was the first time since 2004 that the Spartans fell to Rutgers.
Michigan State has a long way to go following this loss, but wide receiver Jayden Reed was their only bright spot as he reeled in 11 catches for 128 yards and two touchdowns. However, Rocky Lombardi’s two picks were costly in giving Rutgers good field position.
With the inability to keep Rutgers’ rushers out of the endzone, Michigan will find similar success with their two dominant backs.
Prediction: Michigan wins 35-18
3.) #1 Clemson vs. Boston College
Clemson climbed to 6-0 following a 47-21 win over Syracuse. Although the Tigers looked dominant once again, Trevor Lawrence threw his first pick-six in his college career.
As Lawrence and the Tigers host Boston College this weekend, that one interception returned for a touchdown will not haunt the number one prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft. Clemson’s offense continues to flourish under Lawrence as they are averaging 48.2 points per game.
Running back Travis Etienne rushed for 86 yards and three scores in their win as he now only sits 42 yards behind Ted Brown’s all-time rushing record of 4,602 yards in the ACC. Etienne is one of the most elusive rushers in the game and continues to prove why he will be making a name for himself on Sunday’s for years to come.
Boston College and quarterback Phil Jurkovec will be Clemson’s toughest test for the Tigers’ secondary this season. Jurkovec ranks just behind Lawrence in almost every passing category in the ACC. The Notre Dame transfer has passed for 1,671 yards and 12 touchdowns. Cornerbacks Derion Kendrick, Andrew Booth Jr., and Sheridon Jones will have their hands full on Saturday.
In a year that was supposed to be dominated by David Bailey on the ground for the Eagles, wide receiver Zay Flowers, and tight end Hunter Long have both eclipsed 400 receiving yards in a dangerous passing attack.
The Eagles have lost both of their games this season against top 25 teams, however, they still pose a major and potentially overlooked threat against Clemson. It all comes down to who’s defense steps up.
Prediction: Clemson wins 30-24
2.) #6 Oklahoma State vs. Texas
Oklahoma State rolls to 4-0 for the first time since 2015 with their close victory over number 17 Iowa State, 24-21. Spencer Sanders returned for the Cowboys at quarterback and combined for two scores, including a 14-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
Chuba Hubbard also shined in their victory as he added 139 yards on the ground. In a season that was previewed around Hubbard and the run game, Oklahoma State’s defense has emerged as one of the best units in the country. The defense came up big throughout the game including lockdown coverage against the Cyclones top receiving weapons.
This defense will have to match up with one of the most explosive offenses in the country in Texas. Texas still remains at the sixth spot in scoring as they average 45 points per game. Sam Ehlinger has thrown for 17 touchdowns as their air game continues to impress with playmakers like Josh Moore and Brennen Eagles at the receiving end.
Oklahoma State has dominated the past decade in this matchup as they have taken seven of the past 10 from the Longhorns. Also, with Texas being no stranger to overtime this season, do not be surprised if this ball game comes down to the wire either in regulation or overtime.
Prediction: Oklahoma State wins 38-35
1.) #3 Ohio State vs. #18 Penn State
It’s only the second week into the Big 10 season, but this weekend will feature the biggest game in the conference this season as number three Ohio State marches into Happy Valley to take on number 18 Penn State.
Ohio State overcame a slow start against Nebraska in the first half of the game but outscored the Cornhuskers 28-3 in the second half. Justin Fields was almost perfect as he went 20 for 21 for 276 yards and two touchdowns in the air. Fields also led the Buckeyes on the ground with 54 yards and a score.
The Buckeyes defense recovered two fumbles in the second half. In arguably the turning point of the ball game, Jonathan Cooper popped the ball out from quarterback Adrian Martinez as Sevyn Banks scooped it and took it to the house.
The Buckeyes’ playmakers will have a tough test against Penn State as they look to avenge their controversial 36-35 overtime loss to Indiana. The Hoosiers won this game due to a matter of inches as quarterback Michael Penix Jr. reached for the goal line and barely broke the plane on a two-point conversion in overtime.
Penn State had possibly the best running back room in all of college football heading into the season. However, Penn State has gotten unlucky as Journey Brown will remain out indefinitely with an undisclosed medical issue, Noah Cain will miss the remaining of the season with a leg injury, and former five star Ricky Slade transferred to Old Dominion.
In the ball game against Indiana, Devyn Ford, now the number one back on the depth chart, made a critical mistake by crossing the goal line and scoring with 1:42 left in the game. At that point, if Ford would have gone to the ground, Penn State would have run out the clock as Indiana had one timeout left.
Ford’s mishap was not the only one of the game for the Nittany Lions as they were plagued with mistakes, including two picks thrown by Sean Clifford and a fumble by Will Levis’ in his only snap of the game at quarterback.
If Penn State can fix their mistakes, they can play Ohio State very closely. Three out of the last four games of this rivalry have been decided by three points or less. Expect this one to finish similarly to this rivalry’s previous contests.
Prediction: Penn State wins 31-28