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Friday, April 16, 2021
Penn State, Miami look to keep rolling

Daryll Clark: Penn State and quarterback Daryll Clark are ranked in the top 5 in both national polls.

Penn State, Miami look to keep rolling

With USC, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State making early exits from the top five, teams like Miami, Penn State and Mississippi are now receiving national attention. Will these teams keep their place atop the rankings or will they topple under the pressure?

Virginia Tech vs. Miami

Two dynamic quarterbacks headline a clash of ranked ACC squads as No. 9 Miami travels to Blacksburg, VA to take on the No. 11 Virginia Tech Hokies. The Hokies offense is run by junior dual-threat quarterback Tyrod Taylor, and the Hurricanes feature sophomore signal-caller Jacory Harris.

While Taylor is unpolished as a passer (his completion percentage for the year is 47.6) he can beat teams with his running ability and ability to escape the pass rush. Last year, Taylor rushed for 738 yards and seven scores. Harris is in the midst of a breakout campaign for the Hurricanes this year, throwing for 656 yards and six touchdowns and leading Miami to victories over ranked opponents in each of the team's first two games. 

Both teams have played very tough schedules early on in their seasons.

Virginia Tech (2-1, 0-0 ACC) lost a hard fought game to No. 5 Alabama in week one before dispatching Marshall 52-10 in week two. Last week, the Hokies found themselves trailing No. 19 Nebraska 15-10 in the fourth quarter. With 21 seconds left, Taylor kept third-and-goal play alive for several seconds before finding a receiver in the back of the end zone to cap off a dramatic win.

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Miami (2-0, 2-0 ACC) beat arch-rival and eighteenth-ranked Florida State in their first game, and dominated No. 14 Georgia Tech last weekend.

Texas Tech vs. Houston

If you are a fan of old fashioned smash-mouth football, you may not want to watch Houston and Texas Tech square off on Saturday night in Houston. After beating then No. 5 Oklahoma State 45-35 last weekend, the Houston Cougars (2-0, 0-0 CUSA) and their high-octane offense jumped in to the Top 25 this week, coming in at number seventeen. 

Texas Tech (2-1, 0-1 Big 12) was held to twenty-four points last weekend in a loss to No. 2 Texas, but is still plenty dangerous despite losing all-American wide receiver Michael Crabtree and veteran quarterback Graham Harrell to the NFL. 

Through their first two games, the Cougars are scoring at will, averaging 50 points per game. At the helm is junior quarterback Case Keenum.  After throwing for over 5000 yards and 44 touchdowns last season, Keenum is again off to a strong start.  Last week, Keenum threw for 366 yards and three scores in the Cougars win over Oklahoma State. 

On the other side, first-year starter Taylor Potts leads Texas Tech's explosive spread attack. The junior has thrown for over four hundred yards and attempted at least forty-seven throws in each of his first three starts. In a 55-10 victory over Rice two weeks ago, Potts went 36-57 for 456 yards and seven touchdowns. 

Adding to the scoring frenzy this weekend may be the fact that neither of these two teams have boasted particularly effective defenses so far. They have both been able to keep overwhelmed opponents in check, but have struggled against more competent offenses.

Both teams have plenty of firepower, and the points could come in droves on Saturday night at Robertson Stadium. 

 

Iowa vs. Penn State

In a matchup of two unbeatens, the Iowa Hawkeyes (3-0, 0-0 Big Ten) travel to College Station, Penn. to square off with the Penn State Nittany Lions (3-0, 0-0 Big Ten) on the opening weekend of conference play in the Big Ten. 

While neither team has faced a ranked opponent so far, both have posted impressive number on the defensive side of the ball. The Nittany Lions enter conference play ranked second in the country in scoring defense, giving up only 6.7 points per game.

 Their defense has not allowed more than seven points in a game so far this season.  The Hawkeyes have been very good overall as well. Iowa's scoring defense is tied for fifteenth in the nation, giving up twelve points per game.

 

On the offensive side of the ball, Penn State is very balanced. Their attack is directed by senior all-Big Ten quarterback Daryll Clark. Clark has thrown for 780 yards and eight touchdowns so far this season, though he has been intercepted three times as well. He was picked off only six times all of last season. The Nittany Lions also feature one of the country's best running backs in Evan Royster. The speedy junior got off to a slow start this year, but rushed for 134 yards and a score last Saturday. 

Ricky Stanzi is in his second year as the starting quarterback at Iowa, and has been aided by a productive running game so far. Freshman running back Adam Robinson has averaged 5.2 yards per carry so far, and reached one hundred yards for the first time in his career last weekend in a 27-17 victory over Arizona.

Mississippi vs. South Carolina

Ole Miss (2-0, 0-0 SEC) enters the weekend at No. 4 in the AP poll thanks to a USC loss last weekend. The Rebels, who have outscored opponents 97-20 this season, will face their first SEC foe Saturday when they travel to Columbia to take on South Carolina (2-1, 0-1 SEC).

Mississippi junior quarterback Jevan Snead has an impressive 145.51 quarterback ranking through the Rebels' first two games. However, Snead's decision making was lackluster in 2008 as he threw 13 interceptions. Entering SEC play, he will have to reduce his number of turnovers  to keep the Rebel's among the nation's elite.

The Gamecocks will look to improve their SEC record after a very close week two loss at the hands of Georgia. South Carolina's offense is led by sophomore quarterback Stephen Garcia, who is averaging just over 225 yards of passing yards per game.

Steve Spurrier has yet to have an overly successful year as the coach of South Carolina. His best season came in 2006 when he led the Gamecocks to an 8-5 record.

 

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