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The Campus Read-Option: The Playoff Race Comes Into Focus On Saturday

With the initial College Football Playoff rankings set to be released after this weekend’s action, we’re in store for a blockbuster set of games on Saturday that will have far and wide ramifications. 

Here are the biggest games on the slate featuring ranked teams knuckling up against one another, with the Penn State vs Ohio State matchup being the one that should not be missed at all costs.

No.11 Oklahoma State vs No.22 West Virginia

This one features two of the nation’s most explosive offenses in a pivotal Big 12 matchup. There are five squads in the conference ranked in the Top 25, and we get two of them squaring off right here in a game that should be more explosive than a Donald Trump Tweet. 

West Virginia quarterback Will Grier leads the nation with a ridiculous 26 touchdown and he’s thrown just five interceptions. The transfer from the University of Florida is only a first-year starter, but he already owns the school record with seven straight 300-yard passing games to begin his career. 

Will Grier Highlights vs East Carolina // 19/25 352 Yards, 5 TDs // 9.09.17

Highlights from West Virginia QB Will Grier’s performance against East Carolina. Twitter: @SkyDesignsgfx Instagram: @skydesignsgfx

He’s also coming off of back-to-back five-touchdown games which is also a Mountaineers record. He’s thrown for 2,467 yards thus far while averaging 352.4 passing yards per game. 

Oklahoma State signal caller Mason Rudolph has been just as good. The senior leads the nation in passing yards and passing yards per game, with 2,650 and 378.6 respectively. He’s thrown 19 touchdown passes and only four interceptions. Over his prolific career, he’s completed better than 63% of his passes while accumulated 74 TD’s through the air and over 11,000 yards.

On the other side of the ball, the Mountaineers have surrendered 34, 31, 35 and 36 points respectively in their last four games, which does not bode well for the explosive unit that Rudolph engineers. The Cowboys’ have the better defensive unit, but it might be both teams’ running games that make the ultimate difference.

Mason Rudolph Highlights vs Baylor // 19/31 459 Yards, 4 Total TDs // 10.14.17

Highlights from Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph’s week 7 performance against Baylor. Twitter: @SkyDesignsgfx Instagram: @skydesignsgfx

OSU running back Justice Hill has posted four straight 100-yard games. WVU needs to get Justin Crawford looking more like the back who ran for 1,184 yards last season as opposed to the guy who gained  just 77 yards against Texas Tech and Baylor over the last two weeks. 

Despite both teams possessing incredible aerial attacks, the team with the stronger rushing attack who can slow things down and control the clock when they need to should come out victorious. With both teams having one loss in-conference, it’s pretty safe to say that whoever loses is essentially eliminated from being in the Big 12 Championship Game.

No.4 TCU vs No.25 Iowa State

This matchup didn’t seem like it would be particularly sexy when the season kicked off, but my-oh-my how things have changed. Thus far, TCU is undefeated with a serious shot at making the playoffs if they win out while the Cyclones are off to their first 5-2 start since Ja Rule was relevant. That’s 15 years, yo!!!

The Horned Frogs’ biggest win came on the road in Stillwater when they shocked everyone with their upset of Oklahoma State, while the Cyclones also landed their haymaker in the same state, with a 38-31 stunner in Norman over then No.3-ranked Oklahoma in Norman.

TCU vs Oklahoma State Football Highlights

Uploaded by Big 12 Digital Network on 2017-09-24.

TCU snuffed Kansas last week 43-0 with their defense giving up a mere 21 yards and -25 rushing yards. And their first four conference games this year have been won by an average of more than three touchdowns per game. TCU leads the conference in rushing defense, while Iowa State is third

To paraphrase Tommy Buns in Belly, “TCU’s good. TCU’s very good.”

Both teams have excellent defenses, a supposed anomaly in their conference, and are tied for first place in scoring defense in the Big 12 while giving up a supermodel-skinny-like 15.2 points per game. Unlike most other teams in the Pass-happy Big 12, TCU does the majority of its damage on the ground. But they also have a balanced offense and play great on special teams. 

Dual-threat QB Kenny Hill completes over 70% of his passes and he takes care of the ball, having not thrown an interception in his last 100 pass attempts while connecting on 15 TD’s, which is two shy of his entire total from last year. They also have depth and balance in the backfield with the running back tandem of Kyle Hicks and Darius Anderson, but the stud running back in this game is the Cyclones’ David Montgomery.

Iowa State at Oklahoma Football Highlights

Uploaded by Big 12 Digital Network on 2017-10-07.

TCU’s outstanding defensive line is not to be messed with though. They’ve terrorized more opponents this year than Bilal’s dragon breath in House Party. The speedy front seven has allowed just 2.6 yards per carry this season. ISU’s solid O-line is going to have their hands full trying to create daylight for Anderson to run through. 

No.14 North Carolina State vs No.9 Notre Dame

This is a definite playoffs elimination game for whichever team loses. 

Notre Dame crushed USC last weekend, jumping out to a 28-0 lead before running away with the surprising 49-14 win. 

NC State QB Ryan Finley hasn’t thrown an interception in 313 consecutive passes dating to last season. He has 11 TD passes on the year while running back Nyheim Hines has rushed for more than 100 yards in each of the past three games.

NC State QB Ryan Finley Shines vs. Louisville

NC State quarterback Ryan Finley shredded Louisville Thursday night. The redshirt junior threw for 367 yards and a touchdown in the Wolfpack’s 39-25 win over the 17th-ranked Cardinals. Finley has now gone 288 consecutive pass attempts without throwing an interception, the longest such streak in the nation.

The line of scrimmage is where the action will be at in this one as Notre Dame rushes for 317.2 yards per game while the Wolfpack’s rushing defense only surrenders 91.3. The Fighting Irish’s resume is looking more and more impressive, with their only loss coming by one point to No.2 Georgia. 

Wolfpack quarterback Ryan Finley has passed for 1,968 yards, 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions this year while completing 69.4% of his throws. They’re averaging 35.4 points a game and have nine plays of gaining 40 yards or more from the line of scrimmage. 

Fighting Irish running back Josh Adams has rushed for 967 yards and is the school’s seventh all-time leading rusher with 2,735 yards. 

Brandon Wimbush Highlights vs USC // 9/19 226 Total Yards, 4 TDs // 10.21.17

Highlights from Notre Dame QB Brandon Wimbush’s week 8 performance against USC. Twitter: @SkyDesignsgfx Instagram: @skydesignsgfx

QB Brandon Wimbush ran for three touchdowns in last Saturday night’s beatdown of USC. He has 902 passing yards and eight touchdowns but is most dangerous on the ground with 508 yards and 10 scores while averaging 6.2 yards per rushing attempt. 

No.2 Penn State vs No.6 Ohio State

By far, Saturday’s biggest game takes place in Columbus, Ohio, where the Nittany Lions vs. the Buckeyes is the hottest matchup of this entire season thus far. And as De La Soul had said, “The Stakes is High!”

The victor will have pole position towards the Big Ten Championship Game and more than likely berth in the College Football Playoff if they can win all of their remaining games.

Since their 31-16 loss to Oklahoma in their second game of the year, Ohio State has reeled off five straight wins by a margin of 30 points or more. In their past four wins, they scored at least 50 points and gained more than 500 yards with their latest smackdown being administered in a 56-14 blowout on the road against Nebraska.

The Nittany Lions beat the excrement out of Michigan last week due to a great defensive effort and monster performances from their dynamic duo of quarterback Trace McSorley and running back Saquon Barkley. 

Michigan vs Penn State Football Highlights 2017

19 Michigan Wolverines at #2 Penn State Nittany Lions

These squads are the Big Ten’s top two in scoring, total offense and passing. The man with the biggest national profile and the Heisman front-runner at this juncture of the season is Barkley, an amazing talent who leads the country in all-purpose yards and has scored a touchdown in 14 consecutive games.

McSorley has 1,879 passing yards, 14 touchdowns through the air and hes completing close to 67% of his throws. He’s also got some mobility with 254 rushing yards and seven scores on the ground. Their offensive line has been suspect at times in terms of pass protection. 

Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett has also been completing his passes at a near-70% clip while connecting on 21 touchdown passes. He’s only thrown one interception all year. And as good as Barkley is, Buckeye freshman running back J.K. Dobbins has rushed for 775 yards. That’s actually more than Barkley has on the ground.

Ohio State RB J.K. Dobbins Official 2017-18 Highlights

Jk dobbins is a all around beast

Penn State’s defense is vicious, leading the country in only allowing 9.6 points per game. Ohio State’s defense is no joke either, as they only give up a mere 15.4 points.

The Buckeyes will have their first true test since getting smoked by Oklahoma. They’ll also be the best team, on both sides of the ball, that the Nittany Lions have faced all year. This one should live up to the hype.

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