Saturday Football: LSU QB situation, Ohio State-Penn State and upset alert
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Good morning and happy Friday! There are three FBS games tonight, starting with a battle of 0-1 Big Ten teams in Minnesota and Maryland. Then, there’s a big Saturday of action across the country, and with only one matchup of ranked teams, there could be plenty of chaos.
Today, we’ll take a look at a potentially budding QB controversy at LSU. Then, we’ll preview the big Ohio State-Penn State matchup. Finally, we’ll take a look at which ranked teams are on upset alert. So, let’s get started with today’s newsletter!
LSU QB SITUATION
LSU QB Myles Brennan is dealing with a shoulder injury. Is his starting job in jeopardy?
The LSU Tigers got back in the win column last weekend against South Carolina, but they did so without starting QB Myles Brennan. Brennan suffered an apparent shoulder injury on this play against Mizzou. After returning for the second half of that game, he wasn’t able to take the field against the Gamecocks.
TJ Finley stepped in and played really well against South Carolina. He’ll likely start again this week at Auburn. So, let’s take a look at what is being said about LSU’s QB situation this week:
- First, let’s discuss the latest on Brennan and when he could be back. On Wednesday, coach Ed Orgeron said he hopes to have the starting QB back for the Alabama game on Nov. 14. That would mean Finley would likely start at Auburn ahead of Auburn’s off week on Nov. 7. Saturday Down South’s Les East writes that Finley’s great numbers against South Carolina — 265 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception — give Coach O some time to make sure Brennan is healthy before bringing him back. Coach O said he was impressed with Finley’s poise and decision-making as a true freshman on Saturday.
- But, if Finley plays well again, could Brennan lose the starting job? Coach O addressed that this week, saying Brennan is the starter. But, he didn’t rule out a change in the future. “The best man’s going to play,” he said. “Right now, it’s Myles Brennan. Myles goes in the game and he plays like he should, he’s our quarterback. If he doesn’t, I’ll put in T.J. It’s easy.”
- That hasn’t stopped some media members from speculating, though. ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky said the NCAA transfer portal throws a big wrench into this situation. Orlovsky’s argument is that Finley could look to transfer if he’s benched after two strong performances. Of course, that requires him to play well at Auburn on Saturday. SDS columnist Les East says offensive line play will be crucial for Finley at Jordan-Hare Stadium, where weird things can happen.
It looks like Brennan is going to get another chance to start for LSU when he’s healthy, perhaps against Alabama on Nov. 14. But, LSU now has confidence that Finley can handle the job, too. It’ll be interesting to see how things pan out for the Tigers at the most important position in the sport moving forward.
There is only one matchup of ranked teams this weekend (Ohio State-Penn State). That leads to the possibility for some major upsets, especially since there are some big-time favorites on the schedule for Saturday. It’ll be interesting to see how much chaos there is.
So, which ranked teams are big-time favorites and which look like teams that could be cruising for disappointment? Here’s a look at some of the key lines for Saturday:
- Michigan State at No. 13 Michigan (-24.5)
- No. 16 Kansas State at West Virginia (-3.5)
- Boston College at No. 1 Clemson (-31)
- No. 20 Coastal Carolina (-3) at Georgia State
- Memphis at No. 7 Cincinnati (-7)
- No. 23 Iowa State (-28) at Kansas
- No. 5 Georgia (-16.5) at Kentucky
- No. 4 Notre Dame (-20.5) at Georgia Tech
- No. 17 Indiana (-10) at Rutgers
- LSU (-3) at Auburn
- Texas at No. 6 Oklahoma State (-3.5)
- No. 25 Boise State (-14.5) at Air Force
- Mississippi State at No. 2 Alabama (-30.5)
- No. 3 Ohio State (-13) at No. 18 Penn State
- Arkansas at No. 8 Texas A&M (-12)
- Mizzou at No. 10 Florida (-12.5)
- No. 15 North Carolina (-7.5) at Virginia
- No. 24 Oklahoma (-14.5) at Texas Tech
- Western Kentucky at No. 11 BYU (-28.5)
For those keeping track, that’s four ranked teams as at 20-point favorites. Will any of them go down in upset fashion? How many others will lose?
- There are big passing numbers being put up across the SEC. There are a couple of Heisman contenders in the SEC, but there are also plenty of up-and-coming talents, too. How do the SEC quarterbacks stack up against one another? Saturday Down South’s Matt Hinton breaks it all down in his weekly QB rankings.
- The opening weekend of Big Ten play had a few surprising results. As the league (outside of Wisconsin and Nebraska) prepares for Week 2, it’s time to readjust our expectations for a few teams. Saturday Tradition’s Ryan O’Gara reacted to the Week 1 results with some renewed expectations for a few teams.
- Don’t look now, but the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers are 5-0. This is a historic start for the Sun Belt program, which is up to No. 20 in the AP Poll. ESPN’s Ryan McGee takes you on a journey inside the Coastal Carolina program, starting with the groundbreaking ceremony on football facilities in 2002 and continuing to where the Chanticleers find themselves today. How long will this Cinderella story continue?
- The College Football Playoff picture is slowly starting to become clearer. As we prepare to flip our calendars to November, though, there are still plenty of impactful games on the remaining schedule. Bleacher Report’s Kerry Miller ranks the nine games with the biggest CFP implications.
OHIO STATE-PENN STATE PREVIEW
Even with Penn State’s loss, Saturday’s game has huge B1G implications. Can the Lions upset the Buckeyes?
There’s really no getting around it: Penn State’s loss to Indiana in Week 1 took a lot of the luster out of Saturday’s game against Ohio State. But, if we’ve learned anything from this wild college football season, it’s that anything can happen on any given weekend.
Saturday’s showdown is still one that will draw a national audience and is bringing ESPN’s College GameDay to town. Penn State and Ohio State have played in some incredibly thrilling games recently, so there’s still an expectation for an entertaining game in State College.
As James Franklin pointed out earlier this week, Penn State is one of only a few teams that has taken down the mighty Buckeyes over the last five seasons. Can the Nittany Lions score an upset this weekend? Or is Ohio State still head-and-shoulders above the rest of the B1G?
- Penn State certainly isn’t lacking confidence. Players understand just how important Saturday’s game against Ohio State will be, essentially their final shot to remain in the B1G East race. Defensive end Jayson Oweh told reporters that he’s confident the Lions will bounce back after the loss to Indiana. Quarterback Sean Clifford made it clear that he didn’t go to Penn State to “hang with” the Buckeyes; he wants to beat them.
- Speaking of confidence, Ohio State doesn’t seem afraid of anything. Cornerback Shaun Wade told the media this week that he is disappointed that he’s not playing in front of a White Out crowd at Beaver Stadium this year. Do you understand how crazy that sounds? Urban Meyer has said multiple times that the White Out atmosphere is essentially a 10-point advantage for Penn State from the opening kickoff. But Wade loves to quiet that sellout crowd.
- Here’s a scary thought: Justin Fields thinks he can get better. Yes, you’re reading that correctly. The QB who completed 20-of-21 pass attempts for 276 yards and 2 touchdowns and rushed for an additional 54 yards and a score explained how he can make a leap from Week 1 to Week 2. If that’s actually possible, have fun defending that, Penn State.
- Kirk Herbstreit still seems excited for the B1G matchup. The ESPN analyst has a few things he’s looking for this weekend. Out of Penn State, Herbstreit wonders what the mentality is like after a gut-wrenching loss to the Hoosiers with so many missed opportunities and unforced errors plaguing the team. As for Ohio State, yes Herbie was impressed with the overall performance, but he has questions about the run game, which depended heavily on the legs of Fields against the Huskers.
- What are the predictions? ESPN’s SP+ has Ohio State winning the game by a score of 34-24. ESPN’s Football Power Index is also heavily favoring the Buckeyes, giving them a 79% chance of victory in Happy Valley.
Even though Penn State and Ohio State aren’t both entering this game 1-0 as nearly everyone expected, there are still major implications. If the Nittany Lions upset the Buckeyes, the B1G East race is wide open. If OSU takes down PSU for a fourth-straight season, things could derail quickly in State College.
It should be entertaining, even without a White Out rocking the stadium.
JUST FOR FUN
The top two quarterbacks in the SEC this year seem to be Alabama’s Mac Jones and Florida’s Kyle Trask. Jones has played in five games to this point, while Trask has only appeared in three, due to the Gators’ struggles with COVID-19. However, their stats are still pretty close. For today’s quiz, we’ll give you a few statistical categories. You tell us whether Jones or Trask is faring better in each category. Here we go:
- Passing yards
- Passing TDs
- Rushing yards
- Rushing TDs
- Completion percentage
Scroll down to see the answers to today’s quiz.
There are several potential “trap” games on the schedule this week. Which ranked teams will lose?
When the No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes and No. 18 Penn State Nittany Lions square off on Saturday night, it will mark the only matchup of ranked teams on the FBS schedule this weekend. That means we could be in for a weekend where several ranked squads lose to unranked opponents.
So, which ranked teams are most in danger of losing this weekend? Let’s take a look at a few teams that will need to bring their best efforts to avoid upsets:
- First, let’s start with a team coming off a huge Week 1 victory. After upsetting Penn State, now-No. 17 Indiana travels to Rutgers this weekend. The Scarlet Knights were once a Big Ten doormat, but they’re 1-0 after beating Michigan State last week. Doormats, no more. How can the Hoosiers avoid an upset and stay in the AP rankings? Saturday Tradition’s Kyle Charters breaks down five things Indiana must do on Saturday.
- Next, let’s take a look at the best Group of 5 team this year. The Cincinnati Bearcats are 4-0 on the season and up to No. 7 in the AP Poll — an impressive feat for the AAC squad. But, against Memphis this weekend, the Bearcats will have their hands full. Memphis’s only loss was at SMU (a team that is currently ranked) by 3 points. The Tigers recently beat UCF in a shootout, and UCF players had to be broken up on the sideline after a late field goal miss. These Tigers can’t be taken lightly.
- Oklahoma State doesn’t have its trademark explosive offense. The No. 6 Cowboys have only scored more than 30 points one time this year, and that was against the hapless Kansas Jayhawks. This weekend, they host a hungry Texas team. If the Longhorns fall to 3-3 on the season and 2-3 in Big 12 play, they can kiss any Big 12 title hopes goodbye. Oklahoma State’s surprisingly stout defense will have its work cut out for it against Texas QB Sam Ehlinger, Ehlinger’s 17 touchdown passes have him tied with Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence for most in the Power 5. Texas coach Tom Herman said you couldn’t have designed a better QB than Ehlinger in a lab.
- Sticking with the state of Oklahoma, let’s discuss the Sooners. Oklahoma is also 2-2 in Big 12 play and clinging desperately to title hopes. This week, though, the Sooners head to Lubbock, where anything can happen. Who can forget the 2016 matchup where Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield threw for 545 yards and 7 touchdowns and Tech’s Patrick Mahomes threw for 734 yards and 5 scores? More fireworks could be coming on Saturday.
It seems to be a safe bet that at least a couple of ranked teams will lose this weekend. Did we predict the losers here, or are more surprises in store on Saturday afternoon?
Here are the answers to today’s Mac Jones vs. Kyle Trask statistical comparison quiz:
- Passing yards: Jones (1,905 to 966)
- Passing TDs: Trask (14 to 12)
- Rushing yards: Trask (28 to -13)
- Rushing TDs: Jones (1 to 0)
- Interceptions: Trask (1 to 2)
- Completion percentage: Jones (78.8% to 71.8%)
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“There’s a team in Lincoln who wanted an opportunity to play, and they aren’t playing this week. When you’re the head coach and you have to look at your players and say, we aren’t playing, even though they did everything right, that’s hard to swallow.
“I thought they should have had the opportunity to [add an opponent].”
– Ohio State head coach Ryan Day offered his support to Nebraska after the Cornhuskers had their game against Wisconsin canceled this weekend due to COVID-19 concerns in the Badger program. The Big Ten denied Nebraska a chance to replace Wisconsin with FCS foe Chattanooga.
TWEET OF THE DAY
Let’s just say this (now-deleted) tweet from Vanderbilt’s men’s basketball team brought back some bad memories for Tennessee fans still recovering from the Butch Jones era.