Philadelphia, PA – Ohio State is averaging 25 points-per- game, but that figure is still the highest the club has allowed since the 4 season in 2004. Additionally, the Buckeyes need to win their final two games just to match that record!
In comes Penn State, a school struggling in its own right, but not on the playing field. The Nittany Lions put forth a gritty effort last Saturday at home against Nebraska, losing by only a field goal. The view here is that taking their act on the road will be a blessing in disguise as the players will be further away from the mayhem that surrounds the institution.
The Nittany Lions should be able to hold down Ohio State's offense, especially since they have held six opponents to 10 points or less. They are third in the nation in scoring defense and tied for 12th nationally holding opponents to just 3.2 rushing yards per carry. Look for Penn State to corral Ohio State on the ground, which is extremely important since the Buckeyes run the ball over 70% of the time. And when they throw the ball, Buckeye quarterbacks are hitting at a 48% completion rate.
Will this game be one-sided? No. Penn State's offense is predicated on a strong running game as well, and Ohio State's run defense is just as good as Penn State's. Moreover, only four of the other 119 Football Bowl Subdivision teams have thrown fewer touchdown passes this year than the Nittany Lions.
Five of the last seven meetings between these two teams have gone under the total, and based on how both clubs have been playing this season, look for that statistic to jump to six of the last eight after Saturday's game.
Take the under in the first of three, Three-Star selections.
Boise State lost its first home game since 2005 last week when Dan Goodale missed a 39-yard field goal try as time ran out. Even though the circumstances in that defeat were similar to last year's failure against Nevada, it's obvious that this is not the same Boise State squad we have been accustomed to seeing the past few years.
Teams can score on the Broncos this season and TCU proved it with 36 points. In addition, first-year starting quarterback Casey Pachall threw for 473 yards and five touchdowns in the win. Air Force and UNLV both combined to score 47 points against Boise State in the two prior matchups so imagine what San Diego State will be able to do on Saturday, especially at home.
Running back Ronnie Hillman is second in the country in rushing, averaging 142 yards-per-game, while Boise State is allowing 3.8 yards per carry - almost a full yard higher than a season ago. Aztecs' Quarterback Ryan Lindley has struggled without his top two receivers from a year ago but he still operates behind an experienced offensive line that has given up just seven sacks on the year.
Boise State pounded TCU threw the air as Kellen Moore completed 74% of his tosses for 320 yards and two touchdowns. However, he'll be facing the league's No.1 pass unit as opposed to the seventh. The Aztecs' secondary (ranked 10th nationally) has allowed just nine passing touchdowns on the year and 174 yards per game.
San Diego State is not afraid of playing the big boys as the team has more than held its own against top-25 competition of late. The Aztecs lost by a combined nine points last year versus TCU and Utah, and they'll stay within the number against Boise State.
Take San Diego State plus the points.
Next week's Arkansas-LSU matchup is the game everyone is looking forward to. However, with all that pressure riding on a possible victory over the No. 1 team in the country, the Razorbacks must first contend with Miss State in Little Rock.
It's only natural for college kids to look past a certain squad when the biggest game of the season will be played only six days later. Furthermore, it's not as if the Hogs are unbeatable. They have won three of their last five games by five points or less. As for the Bulldogs, two of their three losses against clubs not named LSU and Alabama have come by a touchdown or less.
Take Miss State plus the points.
Go with Arizona State (versus Arizona), Stanford (against Cal), and Troy (hosting FAU).
Take Wisconsin (at Illinois), Michigan (versus Nebraska), Louisiana Tech (at Nevada), and UNLV (at Air Force).
AFTER 11 WEEKS
The overall 11-week total now stands at 53-75-1 (7-7-1 in week 11) with a .500 record (39-39-1) over the last six weeks. My Five-Star plays are 5-3, the Three-Star selections are 19-27-1, the Two-Star plays are 17-28, and the One- Star picks are 12-17.
As a reminder, the Five-Star plays are when my Power Plays and Key Plays coincide. The Three-Star choices are my personal picks, the Two-Star plays are the "power number" picks (games with at least a five-point differential between my line and the actual line), and the One-Star plays are my personal secondary selections.
THIS WEEK'S JEFF FRANK'S "DIRTY DOZEN"
1) LSU, 110; 2) Alabama, 109.5; 3-T) Oklahoma State, Oregon, and Stanford, 107; 6) Oklahoma, 106.5; 7) Wisconsin, 106; 8) Florida State, 101; 9-T) Boise State and Georgia, 100; 11) Houston, 99.5; 12) Arkansas, 99
(The Top 12 is not a reflection of a given team's won-loss record. It's based purely on power rankings used to predict spreads for the upcoming week. At the beginning of the season, all 120 FBS teams are assigned a power number, which then changes on a week-to-week basis depending on how each team played.)