Only two games from me this week, but I believe both games can be absolute dog fights with huge implications for not just heir conferences (Big 10 and the MAC) but playoff implications as well as the highly coveted Group of 5 New Years Six Bowl berth. That being said, here are my “Games to Watch” Week 8.
7 Penn State at #3 Ohio Sate
12:00PM Kickoff on FOX (10/21)
Penn State: 6-0 (3-0 Big 10)
Ohio Sate: 6-0 (3-0 Big 10)
Saturday’s slate of games opens up with a Big 10 showdown, the #7 team in the country versus the #3 team. This matchup between Penn Sate and Ohio State in my opinion could make or break either teams season. Lose here they fall behind in an incredibly strong Big 10 East, with both teams still having to play the juggernaut that is Michigan. While if they win they are in prime position to win said Big 10 East while also feeling confident going in to the back half of the season.
Penn State has its first real test of the season, though the Nittany Lions are 6-0 there are still questions on their strength of schedule. Their two best wins on the season are over WVU (Week 1, 38-15), and Iowa (Week 4, 31-0) who are now ranked #24 and only loss on the season is to Penn State, but holding Iowa to 0 Pts isn’t as impressive you would think (Iowa has its own problems). What is impressive is that the Nittany Lions have score more than 30 Pts in every single game this season (44.3 Pts a game), and also the fact they don’t play down to their opponents. I will say they got off to a slow start against Northwestern (10-10 at HT), they would then go on a 31-3 run in the second half. QB Drew Allar has been everything Penn State could ask in his first year as a starter: 118 of 181 (65.2%) for 1,254 Yds and 12 TDS no INT. The running back is also incredibly solid, Kayton Allen and Nicholas Singleton have been splitting the carries, (Allen, 78 car, 375 Yds, 3 TDs), (Singleton, 89 car, 363 Yds, 6 TDs), both back are sophomores too, so like Allar are only going to get better and better. This game is the perfect chance for these young stars to make a statement.
Ohio State is a team I still quite can place yet. Yes they beat then ranked #9 Notre Dame in South Bend in Week 4 (17-14) on a game winning drive. Not having 11 men on the field did not help the Irish, would OSU still have won had the Irish fielded the right number of players the last two plays? Who’s to say, but the Buckeyes are 6-0 and have a signature win (Notre Dame is #15 now and 6-2), which is something the Nittany Lions do not have. The big question mark I have for Ohio State coming into this game is injuries: the running back room was down after TreVeyon Henderson and his backup Miyan Williams were ruled out. Dallan Hayden took the bulk of the carries in the game against Purdue (11 car, 76 Yds, 1 TD), after he was/is expecting to redshirt this season. Number 2 receiver Emeka Egbuka also did not play against Purdue, but the wide receiver room is so stacked he really wasn’t missed. Marvin Harrison Jr took the lead as he always does, while Carnell State and Brandon Inniss picked up the slack of Egbuka;s role, Inniss sole catch was a 58 Yd TD catch while Tate went 3 catches for 79 Yds.
The defenses will be put to the test this game, mainly Penn State’s. Something to note: James Franklin has Penn State’s head coach has only beaten the Buckeyes once and never in the Shoe (where the game is this time). At the time of writing this OSU is 4.5 Pt favorites, I think that is a very solid line. Every time I have picked against Ohio State to lose they end up winning, but I real like Penn State this game. The Nittany Lions don’t have the same question marks Ohio State has. Give me Penn State.
Toledo at Miami (OH)
4:00PM Kickoff on ESPNU (10/21)
Toledo: 6-1 (3-0 MAC)
Miami (OH): 6-1 (3-0 MAC)
Wanted to quickly touch on this game, a matchup on what could be an early MAC Championship game and one of these teams has the potential to be that Group of 5 team in a New Years Six Bowl game.
Both Toledo and Miami are in their respective driving seats for the MAC East and West, Toledo most likely going to take the West while Miami has Ohio in their rearview mirror (they play 10/28). Both teams have one loss, both of which being to a Power 5 team (Toledo lost to Illinois, 30-28 in Week 1) (Miami lost to Miami (FL), 38-3 also in Week 1). Miami does have a Power 5 win, beating Cincinnati (31-24 OT), and have beaten all the MAC foes by over 7 Pts. Toledo has played a few tight games, last week barely beating Ball State (13-6), and in Week 5 also escaping Northern Illinois (35-33). Toledo has had a much hyped offenses, returning most of their starters from they MAC Championship team from just a year ago and most importantly their star QB Dequan Finn, you would think they would be really blowing past teams. While on the flip side Miami is in the position Toledo should be in, dropping points all over the place on their opponents.
Toledo is the favorite as of writing this: 2 Pts favorite. I do like the Rockets in this game, I also wouldn’t be shocked if Toledo gets ranked here soon AND both of these teams play again the MAC Championship. (Don’t let me down Ohio)
-Wil Weddington (@Wil_Weddington)