Big Ten Championship Preview

Penn State Nittany Lions vs Wisconsin Badgers

In a game that could be decided by who is not on the field rather than who is, a Big Ten championship title and possible berth in the College Football Playoff is on the line when No. 6 Wisconsin meets seventh-ranked Penn State on Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis (Enter Contest). Badgers quarterback Alex Hornibrook is questionable after suffering a concussion in the first half of last week’s win over Minnesota, while Nittany Lions star runner Saquon Barkley (1,219 yards and 15 touchdowns) sprained his ankle in the second half of last week’s 45-12 rout of Michigan State that secured the Big Ten East.

In order to gain a berth in the College Football Playoff, the winner will likely need a loss or two from No. 4 Washington and No. 3 Clemson in their respective conference title games, although an idle Michigan sits at No. 5 with wins over both Wisconsin and Penn State. After a 49-10 blowout loss at Michigan dropped the Nittany Lions to 2-2, fans weren’t pleased with third-year coach James Franklin. The following week against Minnesota, the game kick-started an eight-game winning streak that featured an offense that averaged 40 points. This stretch included Franklin’s signature 24-21 win over the Ohio State Buckeyes.

ABOUT PENN STATE (10-2, 7-2 Big Ten)

McSorley, who threw for career highs of 376 yards and four TDs last week, has completed 56.3 percent of his passes for 2,976 yards with 21 TDs against five interceptions , with just two of those picks during the winning streak. Junior Curtis Godwin is McSorley’s favorite target with 47 receptions for 762 yards and nine TDs, but Mike Gesicki set a Penn state record for tight ends with 44 catches, and DeAndre Tompkins, DaeSean Hamilton and Saeed Blacknall round out the conference’s best set of receivers. Since linebackers Brandon Bell (18 tackles against the Spartans) and Jason Cabinda returned from early-season injuries, the defense has moved up to 20th in total defense (346.8) and hasn’t yielded a touchdown in the last two games.

Penn State has won four of the last five with the last contest against the Badgers, being a 31-24 Lions victory in 2013. The Nittany Lions rank second in FBS in second-half scoring (22.83) and first in fourth-quarter scoring (13).

ABOUT WISCONSIN (10-2, 7-2 Big Ten)

Hornibrook lost a quarterback competition to Bart Houston in summer camp for the unranked Badgers, became the starter in a Week 4 win over Michigan State and held the job until Houston replaced him last week and rallied the Badgers to a 31-17 victory over Minnesota. Regardless of the quarterback, Wisconsin will try and batter the front seven of the Lions with Corey Clement (1,140 yards, 13 TDs), while the Lions will try and attack deep with quarterback Trace McSorley (Big Ten-best 150.9 passer rating and FBS-best 16.2 yards per completion) against one of the best overall defenses in the FBS.

After rambling for a season-high 164 yards in a 30-23 home loss to Ohio State, Clement ran for 100 yards five times during the Badgers’ season-ending six-game winning streak (657 yards, eight TDs). Hornibrook has completed 58.1 percent of his 179 passes for 1,243 yards with eight TDs and seven interceptions, while Houston is 69-of-108 for 912 yards with five TDs and three interceptions. The defense, spearheaded by outside linebacker T.J. Watt (9.5 sacks, 13 tackles for loss) and safety Sojourn Shelton (16 passes defensed, four interceptions) led the FBS in interceptions (21), ranked third in scoring defense (13.7), rushing yards allowed (100.8), third-down conversion rate (26.6 percent) and seventh in total defense (292 yards per game). Penn State will be a school-record sixth top-10 team that Wisconsin has played this season at the time of the meeting, going 3-2.

Posted in CFB

NCAA Preview 2016

CFB BIG TEN EAST

The NCAA football season is near.  Get ready to play CFB at FanPicks (click to play). With the impending kickoff in Sydney on August 26th, FanPicks will cover every NCAA conferences and their teams for the 2016 season. If you’ve missed the Big 12 CFB preview, click here.

The BIG TEN conference defending champions Michigan State are aiming for a third championship in four years. The Spartans were pummeled by the eventual CFP champions Alabama Crimson Tide in last year’s playoffs semi-final Cotton Bowl match. They’ve failed to register a single point in that game, losing 38-0 and putting a end to their season. It won’t be easy with East division rivals Ohio State in the mix. The Buckeyes won the CFP title in 2014. Two Big clubs, one spot in the finals. But will either of them make it?

Indiana Hoosiers Indiana logo

Indiana made it to the Pinstripe Bowl last year, earning its first postseason appearance since 2007 and just its second since 1993. Starting quarterback Nate Sudfeld is gone from last year’s team, along with leading rusher Jordan Howard. Strong-armed juco transfer Richard Lagow will be taking the reins of the team. He should pair up nicely with wide receiver Simmie Cobbs. Indiana led the Big Ten in scoring, total offense and passing yards last season and should continue to have one of the most potent attacks around.

Maryland Terrapins Maryland logo

The Terrapins finished 3-9 last season, including 1-7 in the Big Ten. It marked the first time in three seasons that they did not reach a bowl game. Maryland fired its head coach at midseason, and things didn’t improve much from there. Last year’s Michigan defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin steps in to coach this squad.

Michigan Wolverines Michigan logo

Michigan has yet to decide on a starting quarterback. Despite having as many as 16 returning starters, the most important position on the field is still a question mark. Coach Jim Harbaugh will eventually have to choose between leading candidates Wilton Speight and University of Houston transfer John O’Korn for the starting nod. With that being said, the Wolverines boast one of the best defensive line in the nation. This is enough to put them in contention for the national title.

Michigan State Spartans Michigan St logo

Several key position players are gone off last year’s Big Ten title winning team, but the Spartans have shown their consistency in winning at least 11 games in five of the last six seasons. It’s the coach Dantonio effect. Mark Dantonio has reached a bowl game in all nine of his seasons at Michigan State and finished in the Associated Press top 10 in each of the last three seasons.

Ohio State Buckeyes Ohio st logo

Expectations in Columbus are nothing short of a College Football Playoff appearance year after year, regardless of talent lost. Only a handful of teams in the country have recruited as well as Urban Meyer, who will have a cadre of blue-chippers at his disposal. Meyer also has the best returning quarterback in the Big Ten, J.T. Barrett. The junior QB chipped in 11 touchdowns in the air and another 11 on the ground last year despite splitting reps with the since-departed Cardale Jones for much of the season.

Penn State Nittany Lions Penn st logo

The Nittany Lions are coming off their third consecutive seven-win season. With running back Saquon Barkley, Penn State has a sensational athlete on an otherwise abysmal offense. He ran for 1,076 yards and seven touchdowns last season. His 15 runs of 20 plus yards tied for sixth most in the Power 5.

Rutgers Scarlet Knight  Rutgers logo

The Scarlet Knights won four games last year despite off-the-field controversies involving player arrests, their then head coach earning an in-season suspension for meddling in academic affairs, the loss of star defensive tackle Darius Hamilton to a knee injury and the continued error-prone leadership of former athletic director Julie Hermann. The school wisely cleaned house in the offseason, bringing in coach Chris Ash and reinforcing their defense.

NCAA CFB Previews

AAC Preview

ACC Atlantic Preview

ACC Coastal Preview

Big 12 Preview

 

Posted in CFB

Fanpicks.com College Football Bowl Game Preview

TAXSLAYER BOWL

Georgia vs. Penn State

We continue our College Football Bowl games roundup; Fanpicks.com is proud to preview the TaxSlayer Bowl featuring Georgia and Penn State.  What is there to say about the Bulldogs, Georgia  will triumph over Penn State 20-16.  Play the best fantasy college football contests at Fanpicks.com; the premiere and most exciting destination for daily fantasy sports.

For the first time since 2000, Georgia will take the field without Mark Richt patrolling the sidelines when the Bulldogs face Penn State in the TaxSlayer Bowl on Jan. 2 in Jacksonville, Fla. Interim head coach Bryan McClendon will direct the Bulldogs in the bowl game before Kirby Smart takes over at his alma mater, after Georgia fired Richt on Nov. 29. Preparations for the Bulldogs’ 19th consecutive bowl appearance have been different for a program accustomed to continuity, as most of the coaching staff is not expected to return for 2016.

The Nittany Lions have struggled offensively the past two seasons, ranking 106th and 114th in the nation in total offense and leading to the firing of offensive coordinator John Donovan. New coordinator Joe Moorhead will not take over until after the bowl game, leaving head coach James Franklin and quarterbacks coach Ricky Rahne to build the game plan against a Georgia defense ranked ninth in the country in points allowed per game (16.9). Penn State, which has lost three in a row, will rely on freshman running back Saquon Barkley (1,007 yards rushing, seven touchdowns) and junior quarterback Christian Hackenberg (2,386 yards passing, 16 touchdowns) to generate offense, but the offensive line must play better after allowing 39 sacks in 12 games.

Like Penn State, Georgia’s offense has struggled – in particular after Heisman hopeful running back Nick Chubb suffered a season-ending knee injury in early October. Junior quarterback Greyson Lambert (1,844 yards passing, 11 touchdowns) battled inconsistency, leading the Bulldogs to rely more on a running game now led by sophomore Sony Michel (1,076 yards rushing, seven touchdowns). The Nittany Lions, paced by defensive end and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Carl Nassib, lead the nation in sacks and are 14th in total defense (324.3 yards per game).

PENN STATE Season Overview (7-5, 4-4 Big Ten): Barkley provides some promise at running back, averaging 6.4 yards per carry while averaging 100.7 yards per game, but Hackenberg’s NFL prospects suffered as he completed 53.3 percent of his passes, throwing as many interceptions (three) as touchdowns in the past three games. Nassib led the nation with 15½ sacks and tied for the national lead with 19½ tackles for loss, but the Nittany Lions allowed 35.3 points per game in their final three contests. Middle linebacker Jason Cabinda moved from outside linebacker after a season-ending injury to Nyeem Wartman-White in Week 1 and excelled, leading Penn State in tackles (92).

GEORGIA Season Overview (9-3, 5-3 SEC): Lambert will start in the Bulldogs’ second appearance in Jacksonville this season; he did not play in the first game, a 27-3 blowout loss to Florida that many believe sealed Richt’s fate. Michel has been impressive in picking up the rushing load for Chubb, but Georgia’s defense has anchored the Bulldogs’ better play down the stretch. Jake Ganus, Leonard Floyd and Jordan Jenkins combined for 220 tackles and 9½ sacks while forming one of the best linebacker corps in the nation, and the Bulldogs held opponents to 10 points per game in winning their final four games.

 

Posted in CFB