Well that wasn't fun. Buried in all of the bad were some positives though, so I am going to choose to focus on that. The defense looked great, the offensive line looks like a strength, and really bad interceptions aside, Clifford looks like he has taken some positive steps, even if he has a ways to go still. Penn State needs all of that and a lot more if they are going to pull the upset this weekend.
Let's dive in to the week nine Viewer's Guide though. This may not look like a sexy week, but there are a lot of intriguing matchups that might be flying under the radar.
Uh, Thursday is a go-do-something-else day. Last minute pumpkin carving, maybe?
- Minnesota @ Maryland (7:30 ESPN) - Two teams that kind of fell on their face in B1G week one will try and pull themselves up and get back on track in week two. Is Minnesota as bad as they looked? Can Tagovailoa bounce back from a really rough first start? Even though I think Minnesota should win big, there is still some intrigue buried in the game itself.
- Hawaii @ Wyoming (9:45 FS1) - As a general reminder, always watch Hawaii.
- Boston College @ No. 1 Clemson (12:00 ABC) - Boston College has done enough with Phil Jurkovec this year to warrant me paying attention to this game for at least a little bit. Unfortunately Clemson is still Clemson though, so an upset is unlikely.
- Memphis @ No. 7 Cincinnati (12:00 ESPN) - Cincinnati genuinely surprised me last week. They dismantled a really good SMU team to really separate themselves from the pack in the American. Desmond Ridder was a difference maker and will need to continue that trend against a Memphis team that will put up points even against a strong Cincinnati defense.
- Michigan State @ No. 13 Michigan (12:00 FOX) - Much like Minnesota v. Maryland on Friday I will pay attention to this game to get answers to questions I have following week one. There is no way Michigan State turns the ball over seven times again, right? Is Michigan finally rounding in to form under Harbaugh? This isn't a question but a request, can this end on a hilarious punt again?
- No. 20 Coastal Carolina @ Georgia State (12:00 ESPNU) - Coastal Carolina continues to climb the ranks. That is all.
- No. 17 Indiana @ Rutgers (3:30 BTN) - Two facts - Indiana won last week, and they also looked bad for most of the game. How much of that is Penn State's defense, or perhaps just rust? Outside of forcing seven turnovers, Rutgers didn't really impress that much, so if Indiana doesn't take care of business, then a looming date with Michigan just might be the end of that Cinderella story.
- TCU @ Baylor (3:30 ESPN2) - This is one of those sneaky potential good games. Neither team sports a good record, but both of them are really solid teams, and ESPN FPI has a slim margin on predicting this one. If everything else in this timeslot flops, this one is one to keep an eye on.
- LSU @ Auburn (3:30 CBS) - What once was slated to be a marquee matchup now pits two unranked teams that have looked terrible for long stretches at different points in the season. Bo Nix hasn't taken that next step and still looks an awful lot like a true freshman still, and LSU's defense has made life really easy for opposing offenses. It's probably still worth watching, but man, the luster has worn off both teams.
- Northwestern @ Iowa (3:30 ESPN) - In a shortened season, this is a huge matchup for the Big Ten West. Northwestern looked great against Maryland last week, but again, it was Maryland. Iowa on the other hand, looked really pedestrian against an ok Purdue team. Northwestern has a real shot to turn some heads in the west, especially with Wisconsin dealing with COVID issues. If Iowa has designs to stay in the race, this is must-win.
- Texas @ No. 6 Oklahoma State (4:00 FOX) - Well Texas is still decidedly not back, and Oklahoma State is coming off a huge win against a game Iowa State team. The Pokes' schedule doesn't get much easier either, with Kansas State and Oklahoma coming up the next two weeks. If they want to have margin for error, they will need to get past this week to still have a good shot at playing for the Big 12 title.
- Mississippi State @ No. 2 Alabama (7:00 ESPN) - Alabama should win comfortably, but I am interested in seeing how Mississippi State handles all of the bad publicity this week, and how Alabama handles the air raid, so I might watch like 20 seconds of this during commercial breaks.
- Missouri @ No. 10 Florida (7:30 SECN) - Is Missouri sneaky good? After beating LSU they beat a Kentucky team that soundly beat Tennessee the week before. They get a chance to prove they are for real this week against the pre-season East favorites who are still dealing with COVID issues.
- No. 15 North Carolina @ Virginia (8:00 ACCN) - North Carolina seems to have righted their wrongs after taking care of rival NC State last weekend, but I still am going to pay attention until they prove they can stop playing to the level of their competition.
No. 3 Ohio State @ No. 18 Penn State
A few quick thoughts on this game, at the request of avid Guide reader, my mother:
- Penn State needs to control both trenches. Ohio State showed they could potentially be a bit vulnerable on both lines, which could bode well for Penn State.
- Ball control is important, but not at the cost of being the aggressor. This was one of my gripes about last week. I am all for more efficiency in Penn State's attack, but sometimes you need to take it to a team, and Penn State failed to do that last week. You likely aren't going to be able to methodically move the ball like they did last week against Indiana against Ohio State. They need to take some shots.
- Sean Clifford needs to be locked in. It was fairly obvious to me that he has made some strides, but the lapses are still there, and that can't happen in this type of game. Penn State is going to go as far as Clifford takes them this year, and simply, he needs to be better.
|time slot||primary tv||secondary tv||mobile phone|
|nooner? I hardly know 'er!||Memphis @ No. 7 Cincinnati (ESPN)||Michigan State @ No. 13 Michigan (FOX)||Boston College @ No. 1 Clemson (ABC)|
|I need about 3:30||LSU @ Auburn (CBS)||Northwestern @ Iowa (ESPN)||No. 17 Indiana @ Rutgers (BTN)|
|Prime Time||No. 3 Ohio State @ No. 18 Penn State (ABC)||Missouri @ No. 10 Florida (SECN)||Miss. State @ No. 2 Alabama (ESPN)|