College Football

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Steelers-Titans: 3 Keys to Victory

By: Joe Smeltzer
It's Steelers-Titans. It's Thursday night. It's time for Pittsburgh's celebrated offense to finally score some points. Here are three things the Steelers can do to improve to 8-2 against Mike Mularkey's crew. Let's get into it.


Key #1: Contain the read option
Photo creds to Vikings Territory

A big reason why the Titans are 6-3 is that Marcus Mariota has developed into a solid quarterback. Mariota's talent, both in the air and on the ground, makes him a threat, but what could be even more troublesome for the Steelers is that the Titans offensive style is unlike any that Pittsburgh has seen this season. The read option is deadly when done well. So the Steelers defense has a lot of different things to watch out for. If defensive cooridinator Keith Butler has designed a scheme for the Steelers to snuff out the read option, Pittsburgh has a great chance of improving to 8-2. If not, Tennessee could light up the Steelers the way they did to the Seahawks and Jags, two of the leagues best defenses.

Key #2: Stop the run
Derrick Henry was a beast in college, and he's pretty good in the pros too. (Photo creds to Pro Football Rumors)

This past Sunday, the Steelers did a fantastic job of limiting Indy running back Frank Gore. Tonight, they'll have to contain DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry, in addition to Mariota's dual-threat capabilities. Pittsburgh's secondary has been struggling recently with allowing big plays, and Rishard Matthews, Delanie Walker and Taywan Taylor are all capable of gaining large chunks of yardage. To make matters worse, the Steelers are shorthanded in the secondary with Joe Haden out for the next few weeks and Mike Mitchell banged up. The Steelers defensive backfield has struggled as of late, and they are facing a good quarterback. Therefore, it would be unfair to solely rely on Pittsburgh's back line to contain Tennesse, and limiting the run will cushion any blows caused by Mariota and the passing game, as was the case with Jacoby Brissett and the Colts last week.


Key #3: Offense makes a statement 
Photo creds to BlackSportsOnline

This week, I wrote that Steelers fans are overly negative at times. But one criticism that people have that is valid is that the offense is underperforming. Tonight, the O needs to do something.
Whether  that'd be scoring in seven instead of three in the red zone, throwing to Martavis Bryant more often in those situations, using players like Jesse James and James Conner more often, or JuJu Smith-Schuster taking advantage of Logan Ryan's struggles with containing go routes, things need to improve. Ben Roethlisberger once stated a goal for the Steelers to average 30 points per game in a season. Pittsburgh has yet to score 30 in a game in 2017. That could change tonight, and I think it will.

Final Prediction
Tennessee is a promising team that looks primed to win the AFC South. But they are not as good as the Pittsburgh Steelers. I think the Steelers are primed to blossom into a team that not only wins games, but looks pretty good doing it. The Tennessee defense has been pretty rough at times in 2017, and it's up to Big Ben and co. to take advantage of that. Here we go!

Steelers 30, Titans 20

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Just enjoy the wins


Photo creds to ESPN.com 
By: Joe Smeltzer
Sunday's game in Indianapolis looked like so many others that Steelers fans have seen over the past three years.
Pittsburgh was playing on the road against a bad team and riding a three-game winning streak. So of course, the Steelers came out flat.
After three quarters, Pittsburgh was down, 17-9. Last year, this would have been a loss. Two months ago, this would have been a loss. But as sloppy as Sunday's game was for Pittsburgh, and as lucky as the Steelers were to get the W against a terrible Indianapolis team, this game signified that these are not the "same old Steelers." Or did it?
The Steelers are in a curious situation right now. They are 7-2, have won 16 of their past 19 games, and currently battling with New Englandto take the top seed in the AFC. That's pretty good, right? But it feels like for as much as the Steelers win, the outlook is gloomier than one would think. Pittsburgh still havsglaring holes.  The offense is not scoring the way it used to. Ben Roethlisberger and Todd Haley's sideline spat Sunday illustrated that. The defense has been fantastic all year, but their Steelers top corner, Joe Haden, is injured, so Coty Sensabaugh will have to step up for the time being. Pittsburgh is winning games, but hasn't looked dominant doing it, and has benefitted from a pretty weak schedule. My question is; why is the Steelers taking advantage of playing bad teams a negative?
We've heard so much over the past few years about the Steelers and, depending on who you talk to, Mike Tomlin specificially not being able to beat bad teams. If Pittsburgh beat clubs with worse records in recent years, it would have been the top seed in the AFC at least once, and probably wouldn't have had to go to Foxborough this January for the AFC title game. The Steelers have beaten four sub-500 teams this season,  and with four more on the schedule to close out the years, it is bigger than ever for the Pittsburgh to beat sub-par franchises.
It's not like Pittsburgh hasn't had impressive wins this season. The Steelers pounded a Minnesota team that is now 7-2. They beat Kansas City in Arrowhead, and they won a game in Detroit against an above .500 club in a game that, like Indy, the Steelers didn't play well, but still came away with a W.
For those complaining about the Pittsburgh's poor strength of schedule, it's about to get even worse. Of Pittsburgh's seven remaining games, three are against teams with winning records. Not only does Pittsburgh  have the benefit of playing all three of those teams at home, but it also has glaring advantages in two of the three games. Pittsburgh is  better than the Tennessee, who it faces at Heinz Field Thursday night, and the 5-4 Packers are without Aaron Rodgers. That leaves mighty New England eight days before Christmas, a game that will likely determine who gets the top seed in the AFC.
So to break it down, the Steelers will play three games against teams north of .500, with one of those games against an inferior opponent, and the other against a club without one of the best quarterbacks in league history. That leaves four dates with crap competition, with three being against divisional opponents, and of course, Belichick and Brady. Aside from New England, the Steelers shouldn't have much issue winning the rest of their remaining games. That is if they have learned to beat crap competition.
I get that the Steelers haven't yet proven themselves as anything more than a good football team. I understand that Big Ben isn't young anymore, and the offense doesn't have the flair that it did for the past five years.  But the facts are that the Steelers are 7-2. They have three quality wins against winning teams, and most importantly, they are at the top of the AFC.So fans, please let the players and coaches figure out the issues. While they do that, how about we just enjoy that we get to watch a successful franchise every week? Being 7-2 ain't isn't so bad, guys.

Five things from Steelers-Colts

By: Donny Chedrick
It took a second-half comeback, and a last-second field goal by Chris Boswell, but the Pittsburgh Steelers are 7-2 and remain in first place in the AFC along with a three-game lead in the AFC North. With multiple primetime games ahead for the Steelers, the AFC playoff picture will get hectic as weeks go by. But before that, it's time to take a look at five things from the Steelers win in Indianapolis this past Sunday.
1. Home field advantage on the road?
Photo creds to Pinterest 

It's always considered throughout the league that Steelers' fans travel well, and that proved to be true  at Lucas Oil Stadium. The crowd inside the stadium was near 50/50 with a strong presence of Steeler fans in the upper sections. At one point in the second half, the Colts had to move to a silent snap count, in their own stadium. That is almost unheard-of, but the strong presence of Steeler fans made a noticeable difference in the outcome of the game. With the Steelers inching back into the game in the second half, it seemed that the team picked up some momentum from the fans in the victory.
2. Vintage Ben
Photo creds to ESPN.Com

 Through a good portion of the season, Ben Roethlisberger hasn't been himself, and he even struggled throughout the first half of the game Sunday. But he showed up in the second half and looked like his old self. His ability to elongate the plays led to two Steelers touchdowns and also two plays that helped drive Pittsburgh down the field on the final drive. Ben connected on passes under pressure to Martavis Bryant on a third down, then one to Antonio Brown as he was being tugged to the ground. Ben finished 19 for 31 with 236 yards, two touchdowns and an interception early in the game. Although he has had better performances throughout the season, Sunday people saw a glimpse of vintage Big Ben in the clutch.
3. Play 4 quarters
Photo creds to CBS News

The Steelers have had games like this before where they play down to the level of competition and get caught with a loss. This time, the Steelers looked rough in the first half, but were able to wake up in the last two quarters of the game. The Steelers dominated the 4th quarter and took control of the game. The team yardage was similar, the turnover margin was even, the time of possession was relatively even, but the Steelers were the better team when it mattered.
4. Adapt without Joe Haden
Photo creds to WKYC.Com

Joe Haden has become one of the best impact free agent signings the Steelers have made in a long time. Since starting every game this season, Haden has been a rejuvenated player. According to Pro Football Focus, Haden has the lowest yards allowed per coverage snap of his career at 0.85, which is down tremendously from the past few seasons. Following Haden's injury that will leave him out for at least three weeks, Coty Sensabaugh will be the next man up for Pittsburgh. Sensabaugh had a few gaffes against Indy but was able to make a few nice plays as well. With Haden out, guys like Sensabaugh will need to step out over the next few weeks to keep the Steelers afloat. Sensabaugh will get to make his first start as a Steeler against the team that drafted him, Tennessee, when the Steelers host the Titans Thursday night.
5. Continue to limit opposing runners
Titans runningback DeMarco Murray will be a tough out (photo creds to Lincoln Journal Star)

There were a few times on Sunday when it seemed the Steelers let the Colts' runners go freely down the field, but overall, the Steelers yet again played very well against the run. Frank Gore was the Colts' leading rusher on Sunday with just 54 yards on 17 attempts. Gore was followed by Jacoby Brissett and Marlon Mack, who each added seven yards apiece. As a team, Indianapolis rushed for 71 yards on 29 carries, just 2.4 yards per attempt. That's pretty good for an opposing defense.

At 7-2 with a three-game lead in the AFC North, the Steelers are in a very favorable spot in the AFC playoff picture as the Titans roll into Heinz Field Thursday night. After that, the Steelers will get ready for a few more primetime games against the Packers, Bengals and Ravens all in consecutive weeks. If the Steelers run the gauntlet for the next few weeks, it will set up a showdown when the New England Patriots come to town in mid-December.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

NFL Week 10 Preview/Predictions

Graphic creds to Brad Stewart.
By: Joe Smeltzer
Hello, all. Week 10 is here. Bradley W. Stewart is off this week, while the rest of us are ready to roll. Let's get into it.
1:00 
Saints (6-2) at Bills (5-3)

Update: Matt Forte will not be playing for the Jets. But the Bucs are without Jameis Winston, so, yeah. Still go with New York. 
Talk about a toss-up game. New Orleans is the hottest team in the NFL, having won six straight after starting the season 0-2, while Buffalo has yet to lose at home this season. Although I love the Saints defense and think that they are a threat in the NFC, because of the home field advantage, I'm going to take the Bills in this one.
Before last Thursday's debacle at the Meadowlands, LeSean McCoy was starting to catch fire. I expect the Bills running back to get back on track Sunday. That, along with steady quarterback play from Tyrod Taylor and Buffalo's stout defense, will be enough for the Bills to get a big win in their pursuit of their first playoff berth in almost two decades.

Bills 24, Saints 21

Where's A-Rod?
Packers (4-3) at Bears (3-5) 
Ok, probably won't be this lopsided. (Photo creds to PackersHistory.net)

It's so obvious, but it's true. Green Bay is nothing without Aaron Rodgers. So get ready, Chicago. Your former "Monsters of the Midway" won't feel like little brothers Sunday, and could even finish ahead of the Packers in the NFC North. Bear down, Chicago Bears.


Bears 27, Packers 16

Will the Browns win?
Browns (0-1999) at Lions (4-4) 
Remember when Browns fans almost killed an officiating crew by throwing glass bottles? Good times. (Photo creds to Cleveland.com)

Two of the worst franchises in NFL history are in the Motor City this week. The difference between Cleveland and Detroit is that one of them is playing up to its reputation, while the other is halfway decent. I don't have to tell you which one is which, do I?

Browns Lose 

Bengals (3-5) at Titans (5-3) 
Photo creds to titansonline.com

I'm not crazy about Tennesse yet. The Titans don't  have that "it" factor that would establish themselves among the NFL's elite. However, they have a lot more going on than Cincinnati does. 

Besides playing at home and being an all-around better football team than the Bengals, another thing that the Titans have going for them is that Marcus Mariota knows how to do his job under pressure, which would neutralize one of Cincy's biggest strengths, which is rushing the quarterback. If Mariota can avoid Carlos Dunlap, Carl Lawson and the rest of the Bengals pass rush, Tennesse will be well on it's way to moving to 6-3. 

Titans 30, Bengals 21

Jets (4-5) at Bucs (2-6) 
Photo creds to NY Daily News

If somebody had told me before the season that the bloody Jets would go on the road to take on Jameis Winston and Mike Evans and be expected by me to get a win over Tampa Bay, I would have questioned that person's sanity.  But here we are.

I had high hopes for Tampa Bay going into the season. I thought that the Bucs had finally figured it out, and were poised to not only make the playoffs but had a reasonable shot at a Super Bowl berth as well. Dude, I was way off. 

Tampa stinks, and the Jets running back duo of Matt Forte and Bilal Powell doesn't. It's still a bold pick, but give me New York's other team in this one. 

Jets 24, Bucs 20

Vikings (6-2) at Redskins (4-4) 

I have a gut feeling about this game. Minnesota is a good football team, and they have been superior to Washington this season. But the Redskins might have something going. The 'Skins showed great resolve last week in Seattle, and maybe that will propel them to make some noise in the second half of the season. 

Since the Vikings have won five of their last six, I figure they have to come back to earth at some point. I think that Kirk Cousins will build off of last week's heroics, Washington will win a classic, and all of a sudden, the 'Skins will have won two straight. Might not be enough to scare Philly yet, but its a start.

Redskins 28, Vikings 24

Chargers (3-5) at Jags (3-5) 
Rookie RB Leonard Fournette is back (Photo creds to USA Today FTW)

Jacksonville showed tremendous character last week. Not only did Doug Marrone show who he is by benching Leonard Fournette, but his team showed who it is by pounding its opponent anyway, beating Cincinnati, 23-7. 

Fournette looks to be back Sunday, and I expect him to be back with a vengeance. The Jags are sitting pretty right now, and as long as Fournette and Jalen Ramsey don't prove to be distractions, Jacksonville will be good to go. 

Steelers at Colts
Donny Chedrick has that covered right here.


4:05
Texans (3-5) at Rams (6-2)
Aaron Donald is a hoss, in case you don't know. (Photo creds to Fantasy Pros)

LA is rolling. Arguably the NFL's biggest surprise this season, the Rams are in the driver's seat of the NFC West, and there is no reason to expect a Texans team that just lost to Jacoby Brissett to stop this train from rolling. The Rams will stay hot, while the Texans will be left to wonder what this season could have been if DeShaun Watson had stayed healthy. 

Rams 38, Texans 14


4:25
Cowboys (5-3) at Falcons (4-4) 
Photo creds to The Telegraph

Yes, Ezekiel Elliot is MIA. But believe it or not, I still expect the Cowboys to run the football. Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden are two established and capable running backs, and even if left tackle Tyron Smith can't go, the Cowboys still have an elite offensive line that will go against an Atlanta run defense that allows over four yards per carry on average. I also feel that while both quarterbacks will come to play Sunday, Dak Prescott will get the best of Matt Ryan with a thrilling game-winning drive in the final minutes. Love it or hate it, the boys will keep on rolling. 

Cowboys 27, Falcons 24


Who the Hell Cares?
Giants (1-7) at 49ers (0-9) 

Listen to the first 15 seconds of  "Puke" by Slim Shady. Then put it on a three-hour loop. That's probably a solid alternative to watching this game. 

Who cares what the score is? Or who wins? Honestly. 

Sunday Night
Patriots (6-2) at Broncos (3-5) 
Photo creds to pinterest
Remember in 2015, when Bum Osweiler ended the Patriots 13-game winning streak at Mile High on Sunday Night Football? Yeah, that's not happening again. After a rough start to the year, New England is back to being New England, and Denver will pay.

Patriots 34, Broncos 13


Whereeeeesssss Jay?
Monday Night
Dolphins (4-4) at Panthers (6-3) 
Photo creds to CNBC.Com

I have to tip my hat to Cam Newton. After that embarssing display in the Windy City Oct. 22, the Panthers have regrouped and won two in a row. The main reason for Carolina's success has been its defense. The Panthers have allowed just 20 points the past two weeks, and I can't see how Jay Cutler and the Jay-Ajayi-less Dolphins can score any more than 10 against Luke Kuechly and a fierce Carolina unit.

Panthers 24, Dolphins 9

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Steelers-Colts: 3 keys to victory

By: Donny Chedrick 
At 6-2, it may seem like the Steelers can afford "one of those games" since the rest of the AFC North is down and Pittsburgh already has a stranglehold on its division. However, the Steelers know this is a year they can play for first place in the entire AFC and not just win the division. To ensure they don't have a setback this weekend in Indy, here are three keys to a Steelers' victory in the Heartland.

1. It can't be "one of those games"
Photo creds to Pittsburgh Post Gazette Interactive

Given the situation, this is a perfect "trap game," or what Yinzers say, "one of those games" for Mike Tomlin's Steelers. They are facing an upstart backup quarterback on a struggling team, on the road and fresh out of a bye week. It happened last year when Pittsburgh laid an egg in Baltimore as well as many other times in the past against a bad quarterback on the road. Ryan Mallet, Terrelle Pryor (yes, when he was a QB) and just this season, Mike Glennon in Chicago, have all gotten the best of the Black and Gold. The Steelers have a chance this year to control their destiny and snag the number one seed in the AFC going into the playoffs. This seems like a different Steelers team with a more mature defense that has grown so much since that embarrassment against the Bears earlier this year. If the Steelers can control Jacob Brissett, they will be in good shape.

2. No drama
Photo creds to Blurred Culture

The Martavis Bryant saga has been one of the lone negatives the entire season. Bryant has not had a breakout game this year, which has led to his disgust. It appears that after his little arguments with the team and rookie wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster have been put on hold for now. Bryant is expected to be active Sunday, but something that would lead to a Steelers' loss would be sideline drama. That can't happen. Bryant didn't get traded before the trade deadline because the Steelers still saw his big-play ability and explosiveness that they hope to utilize when they play the big dogs in the AFC later in the season and in the playoffs. Proper sideline etiquette will help lead to a decisive Steelers' victory.

3. Blitz Brissett
Photo creds to CafePress

The Steelers defense has thrived in the past when it consistently blitzes a young QB. Last year, Pittsburgh pressured Scott Tolzien when he filled in for Andrew Luck on Thanksgiving night. Pittsburgh has gotten fortunate enough to not face Andrew Luck in their last three meetings. Two years ago, they faced Matt Hasselbeck, then Tolzien last year. Getting a consistent rush on young Brissett will fluster him and lead to mistakes. If Brissett can use his versatility, the Steelers could be in trouble.

Final prediction
I think the Steelers will be okay this Sunday in Indianapolis, but never say never. Mike Tomlin's team has disappointed us before. This group this year, seems different. More focused and more determined. So with that, I am picking the Steelers to win this week, and I expect somewhat of an offensive explosion. Here we go Steelers!

Prediction: Steelers 34 Colts 23

Sunday, November 5, 2017

NFL Week 9 Preview/Predictions



















By: Joe Smeltzer

1:00

Ravens (4-4) at Titans (4-3)
Line: Ten -3.5
Photo creds to Tennesse Titans

Yes, Baltimore won 40-0 last Thursday. But does that all of a sudden make it a good team? I don't think so. This week, the Ravens are away from M&T Bank Stadium. Baltimore has yet to win a road game in 2017. Tennesse is respectable, and considering that the Ravens lost 44-7 in their only other game against an AFC South team this year, I feel comfortable taking Marcus Mariota and the Titans Sunday.

Titans 28, Ravens 17

Bucs (2-5) at Saints (5-2)
Line: NO -7.0
Marshon Lattimore could well be on his way to Defensive Rookie of the Year honors (Photo creds to The Advocate

There's a good reason New Orleans comes into Week 9 as a touchdown favorite. I don't think it would be a stretch to say that this NFC South matchup could feature the NFL's most surprising team against it's biggest disappointment.
New Orleans is the real deal. They have a future Hall of Fame quarterback, solid skill players in Mark Ingram and Michael Thomas, one of the leagues best offensive lines, and for the first time in years, something that resembles a defense. Tampa, on the other hand, was thought to be a team on the rise. But things have gone awry for the Bucs this season, and because of how good this Saints team can be, I expect that to continue Sunday afternoon.

Saints 34, Bucs 14

Rams (5-2) at Giants (1-6)
Line: LAR -4.0
In what kind of parallels the Bucs-Saints matchup, this game at MetLife Stadium pits a pleasant surprise against a massive disappointment.

I do expect the Giants to compete at home Sunday. As bad as New York has been this season, they have improved in running the football, and the LA defense has struggled with stopping the run in 2017. But because an already bad Giants team will be without four defensive starters, including Pro Bowl corner Janoris Jenkins, I think Todd Gurley and LA will be too much for the Giants to overcome. Eli Manning will fall to 1-7, and that is something that I don't hate.

Rams 31, Giants 20

Broncos (3-4) at Eagles (7-1)
Phi -7.0

Philly could be in for a trap game. Halfway through the season, the Eagles surprisingly have the best record in football, and you have to wonder if and when the fun will stop. Playing against a defense as good as Denver's is always a challenge. Unfortunately for the Broncos, the offense has gotten to the point where Bust Osweiler is the best option at quarterback.

Sunday for Denver will be similar to what most of 2017 has been. The Broncos defense will play well enough to keep them in the game, but at the end of the day, that unit will tire out from being on the field too often.

Carson Wentz is da man. Bum Osweiler is not, and that will be the main difference come Sunday.

Eagles 24, Broncos 14

We are the runner-ups, my friend. 
Falcons (4-3) at Panthers (5-3)
Line: ATL -2.0
In this battle of the past two NFL bridesmaids, both Atlanta and Carolina have been among the most "ok" teams in the NFL. Both have the tools to be great, but neither has managed to be particularly impressive in 2017. Since the Panthers and Falcons have been so mediocre, this game could go either way.
I've been skeptical of Carolina, especially Cam Newton,  for a long time. But the Panthers showed me something last week in Tampa Bay. They proved that they can bounce back from a tough loss and that their defense can dominate.
For Newton, who has accomplished little and has been criticized a lot since Superbowl 50, this week is a chance to have some fun at the expense of his hometown team. I think Sunday will see a pissed off and useful Cam, and that, along with a good enough Panthers defense, will lead Carolina to a much-needed win

Panthers 24, Falcons 20

Bengals (3-4) at Jags (4-3) 
Line: JAX -6.0
Cincy had one first down in the second half against the Steelers two weeks ago. Could you see that offense doing anything against Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Boyue and one of the best defensive units in the NFL? I couldn't.

Jags 27, Bengals 10

4:05
Who the Hell Cares?
Cardinals (3-4) at 49ers (0-8)
The 49ers are due for a win, and I think they'll get their first of the year. Do I care about that? Nah.

49ers 23, Cardinals 20

4:25
Chiefs (6-2) at Cowboys (4-3) 
Line: DAL -2.5
I've been torn about this matchup all week long, but my final decision has been made. I'm taking America's team.

I like the way Dallas has been playing these past few weeks on the road, and now, they are back in Jerry World. I don't trust Kansas City as an elite NFL team just yet. I think Sean Lee with control Kareem Hunt, and that will take away a big aspect of the Chiefs offense. Since Hunt has cooled down, so have the Chiefs, and I think if Dallas can contain the rookie, they'll be fine.

Cowboys 31, Chiefs 21

Sunday Night
Raiders (3-6) at Dolphins (4-5) 
I know Oakland has crapped the bed all year long. But the preseason Super Bowl contenders can't be bad enough to lose to a team that just lost a game 40-0 and subsequently traded its best player, can they?




Other Games
Texans 20, Colts 17
Seahawks 30, Redskins 14
Lions 28, Packers 20


Saturday, November 4, 2017

Penn State-Michigan State: 3 keys to victory

Hello, all. Last week sucked. In case you've been living under a rock, the Nittany Lions blew 15-point fourth quarter lead to the hated Buckeyes in Columbus. It was my worst night as a Penn State fan in almost a decade, and hopefully, this week goes a little better. The final hurdle of Penn State's three-week gauntlet is the Michigan State Spartans. Here are three things the Nittany Lions can do to bounce back against Sparty this afternoon.

Key #1: Next man up
Photo creds to Philly.com

Not only did Penn State suffer its most crushing loss in years in Columbus last Saturday, the Nittany Lions also lost some key players on both the offensive and defensive lines. Left tackle Ryan Bates suffered a leg injury last week, and defensive end Ryan Buchholz was on crutches after going down in the first half. If neither Bates or Buchholz is ready to go, guys like Chaz Wright and Will Fries will have to step up on the offensive line, while Kevin Givens will see an increased role on defense. If Penn State is to further prove itself as a dominant program, it will need to prove that it can win without some of its best players. The Lions will have an opportunity to do that today.

Key #2: More consistency from #26
Photo creds to NCAA.com

I know its hard to criticize Saquon Barkley, but after taking the opening kickoff back for a touchdown the Ohio State defense, for the most part, held the Heisman front-runner in check for the rest of the game. Barkley is the best player in college football, but he tends to go quiet after one or two big runs. It would be helpful to Penn State, and to Barkley's future bank account if he can spread out his production more throughout the game. Barkley will have a tough assignment in linebacker Joe Bachie, so it will be intriguing as always to see what Saquon does, and how long he does it for.

Key #3: Play angry
Photo creds to Cleveland.com

Last week was brutal, and all Penn State can do is move forward. Both teams will be playing with a chip on their shoulder, as Michigan State suffered a tough triple-overtime loss to Northwestern. If Penn State plays with a bigger chip and shows that it is the better team, it could be a long and painful afternoon for Sparty.

Final Prediction
Penn State is the better team. This Nittany Lions team has shown that they can come back from adversity, and they are too talented and too angry to suffer another setback in East Lansing tomorrow.