Iowa at Penn State
Last year, Iowa’s last second field ended Joe Pa’s team bid for the national title game in a 24-23 win, and this year the Nittany Lions will probably be looking for some payback. The Lions have lost 6 of the last 7 this decade, and it would be a great time for Joe Pa to get over that hurdle, otherwise the fans will be very unhappy.
Leading the way for Penn State is Darryl Clark, the All-Big Ten quarterback from last year, and he has been pretty solid the first three games. Rick Stanzi has been serviceable for Iowa, who is coming off a very respectable win over the Arizona Wildcats. Royster and Green make for one of the best RB duos in the country, while Iowa has yet to find a full-time starter that can follow up Shonn Greene and Jewel Hampton. The receiving crew for Penn State has been better than expected, and Iowa has done pretty well for themselves as well. Penn State’s offensive hasn’t been pushing back D-linemen for rushing yards, but have protected the QB very well on pass plays, while Iowa’s offensive line have on and off, but played well enough against the Wildcats last week. Penn State’s defensive line continues to be top-notch, while Iowa’s D-line has proved porous at times, and it will be interesting to see who can perform better. Both teams boast one of the top LB crews in the country, and both sides will have to perform for their team to gain an edge on the defensive side. Penn State’s defensive backs have performed well despite their apparent youth, while Iowa’s experienced crew have seemed to perform just about as well, so it could be a push there. Since this game is in Happy Valley and revenge probably might on the minds of the Nittany Lions, I will give them a slight edge in the intangibles.
TCU at Clemson
TCU remains one of the non-BCS teams that still are fighting for a BCS berth, and the competition is lessened with BYU and Utah losing last week. The QB for Clemson, Willy Korn, has been at least serviceable, and the TCU QB Dalton has been at least just as good for his team. CJ Spiller has been more of an impact player for the Tigers, and Joseph Turner for the Horned Frogs leads the RB crew for a good running attack. The receiving crew for Clemson needs to grow some, and while they have done well enough for the Tigers, it is TCU that holds the edge with their top notch group led by Jimmy Young. Clemson’s offensive line is the most experienced they have had in three years, which will help them out some, and TCU offensive is a little less experienced but the returnees will help the newer starters in the transition. The Tigers have seven players with starting experience on the D-line while also adding VHT Goodman, and TCU delivers a less experienced but still very good defensive line that was extremely stout against the run last year. The entire 2 deep returns for the Tigers on the LB crew, but the Horned Frogs lose 3 NFL draft picks from their unit, but still should field another fine group. The Clemson Tigers have playmakers on their DB crew which is led by DeAndre McDaniel, and the Horned Frogs have the most experienced CB crew in the country, which has a combined 78 starts among the players. With this game being played at Clemson, it is hard to tell who has the edge in the intangibles factors, so I will call this a push.
Miami (FL) at Virginia Tech (Spotlight game of the week)
The Hurricanes are finally making noise in the college football world after being quite absent for the last few years, probably to the great annoyance to the faithful. QB Tyrod Taylor hasn’t been as good as the Hokies fans were hoping, but has performed better in the last couple of weeks, but on the other hand, QB Jacory Harris has been almost amazing for the Hurricanes in his first two games. The rushing attack for the Hokies is led by Evans and Taylor, and the Hurricanes having a solid duo in Cooper and James, and both sides could see some big plays out of the running game. Va Tech’s receiving corps hasn’t been overwhelming, but it has been improving, but the Miami receiving corps looks like it just caught fire and is hungry for the ball. The offensive line for Va Tech is getting to the point of great service, but you can see that Miami has a very athletic O-line that can move their men and block well. The D-line is one of Va Tech’s strengths and it has apparently shown, but Miami’s D-line is also no joke, and can rush the passer now with some continuity. Va Tech’s LB crew is a little more experienced than last year and is showing a little promise, and the Hurricanes’ LB crew looks just the same, so one of the teams will probably push harder than the other for an edge to be seen. Va Tech’s DB crew is just as strong as ever which has shown in the first three games, but it looks like Miami has found their usually stout crew after so long. With this game being played at Blacksburg and a little revenge on the Hokies minds, I say Va Tech has the edge by only a slight margin, and that is because the Miami Hurricanes are playing with confidence.