Clemson vs Duke

Clemson vs Duke : The Clemson football team will host the Duke Blue Devils tonight in Death Valley. Here’s our final analysis and prediction for the game. The 2018 Clemson football home slate will finally get a night game.

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After several noon matchups this season, the Tigers were finally awarded two night games to close out the regular season: One against Duke and one against South Carolina next week.

The Tigers will close out the ACC regular season this week with the matchup against the Blue Devils.

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Here’s a look at our final analysis and prediction for the game.

Duke is one of the worst rushing defenses in the nation. The Tigers need to take advantage of that and run the ball early and often. I’d expect to see Travis Etienne get his fair share of touches early in the game and I think we’ll see him break off some huge runs.

Trevor Lawrence should be able to get going in the passing attack and it should be a fairly easy day for the offense.

Defensively, Clemson will need to key in on Duke quarterback Daniel Jones. Jones can make some throws and is capable of running the ball as well. The Tigers’ depth and experience should begin to take over as we hit the midway point of the second quarter and I don’t expect this one to be close heading into the third.

Overall, it should be a fun Senior Day. Those 2018 seniors have a chance to become the winningest class in Clemson football history with a victory against Duke. The class would also become the winningest class in the history of the ACC.

NEXT: Q&A: Jackson Carman’s dad is happy his son chose Clemson

Clemson 56, Duke 7

I think the Tigers take care of business, score a lot of points and get the job done. We should see a lot of guys get into the game and those seniors should walk away happy Saturday night.

Georgia vs UMass

Georgia vs UMass : This is another chance for Georgia to take a step in fixing its troubling trend of being unable to punch in touchdowns inside the 10-yard line. Keep your seats everyone, theeeee Redcoats are coming! And this week, the Redcoats can finally take on their longest-standing rival, the Minutemen.

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Ordinarily, we Americans would be rooting for UMass in this particular matchup, looking to gain independence from the Brits, but today, we hold these truths to be self-evident: King George III would also be a 44-point underdog if the Revolutionary War was played today.

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UMass is coming to town for a shellacking and a paycheck in Athens. Yawn. Whatever. Here’s some stats. Although they did meet in basketball last year in one of several games that ultimately cost Mark Fox his job. Speaking of basketball, did you know Kentucky assistant men’s basketball coach Tony Barbee went to UMass?

Know someone else who did? The late Hugh Loebner, a prominent activist for the decriminalization of prostitution. (Minutemen, am I right?)

Moving on.

The last team to beat the Bulldogs outside the SEC was Georgia Tech, all the way back at the end of 2016, Kirby Smart’s inaugural season in Athens.

Since then, Smart has put in a plan that sources say is a good idea: Don’t lose to those teams.

Those with knowledge of the situation say plans are potentially in the works to institute a similar policy with the SEC West, but it could be December before it gets implemented.

The poor Minutemen are 4-7 on the year, and their end-of-season reward is playing Georgia on the road.

One if by land, two if by Holyfield right hook.

Nevertheless, a win Saturday would be UMass’s first over a Power 5 foe since … well it depends on how you look at it.

If you consider BYU a “Power 5” opponent, even though the Cougars, like the Minutemen, are idependent, then we need to jump back to 2017, when UMass beat BYU 16-10.

Otherwise, we need to dive back to 1978, when the Minutemen knocked off Boston College, 27-0.

Since then, UMass is 0-(a lot) against Power 5 foes.

I choose this number because, well, that’s the where line opened to start the week, with the Dawgs a 44-point favorite.

Georgia already owns one win that would’ve covered such a spread (45-0 over Austin Peay) and another that was close (49-7 over Middle Tennessee).

Still, two 44-pointers haven’t happened since the most inexplicably mediocre year ever 2014, when the Bulldogs knocked off Troy 66-0 and Charleston Southern 55-9.

That team had Todd Gurley, Keith Marshall, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, and managed to finish 9-3. Ugh.

The Minutemen have actually graced the Peach State already this year, losing to Georgia Southern in front of an average Georgia Tech crowd of 15,071 fans.

That was back in Week 2, and the Eagles won 34-13.

General Washington was most displeased.

Yes, we are reaching very far into the bag for this week’s stats. Sometimes, we need a gimmick. (Speaking of, isn’t Tech next week?) The Minutemen have provided us with such a gimmick.

It’s been nearly two decades since a Team Without An S knocked off Georgia.

In the 1989 Peach Bowl, Syracuse, then known as the Orangemen but now known as the Orange, both of which work, knocked off Ray Goff’s first batch of Bulldogs 19-18.

Since then, Georgia is undefeated against the Marshall Thundering Herd (2004), North Texas Mean Green (2013) and Notre Dame Fighting Irish (2017).

Thus far in 2018, the Minutemen have been able to stop exactly two teams: Duquesne and UConn.

One of those is a school you probably weren’t even aware had a football team to begin with, and the other is Dueqesne.

Other than those two, UMass has given up at least 31 points in all but one of its regular season games, not to mention giving up half-a-hundred to Boston College, Florida International, Ohio, South Florida and Liberty.

Giving up 50 to Georgia would give the Minutemen a dubious honor they haven’t earned since Benedict Arnold … well, ever. The most 50’s they’ve ever given up is three, until this year.

But maybe we should say it would be the first time since 1896, when UMass lost to the Northampton YMCA, which has got to be worse than giving up 50 points six times, right? (And no, I’m not making that up.)

Yes, just what you all came here for: Politics!

If you’re like Nick Saban, who said this week that he has no internet and doesn’t read the newspaper and therefore was unaware that his team clinched the SEC West, then here’s a quick explanation of what a Midterm Election is.

(By the way, if you believe that, I’ve got an ocean-front condo in Kansas I’d love to sell you. Mark Mangino owned it once, and only ate half of it.)

Midterms fall every four years, two years before and after a presidential election year. We had a presedential election in 2016, which was two years ago if my limited math skills are accurate.

And to find an undefeated November in Midterm Year requires we go back to the Herschel era. In 1982, the Bulldogs went 3-0 in November, two years after Ronald Reagan won his first term in office.

Since then, Georgia has never gone undefeated in such a year, though it did finish 1-0-1 in the 1994 midterms.

Here’s another fun fact about the Minutemen: Their school was referenced in an early episode of Family Guy when Meg and Lois go on a spring break trip. Here’s the dialogue, as captured in the official Family Guy wiki page:

Spring Break Guy 1: Hey did you hear what happened to the dude from UMass? He got so drunk, he fell off his hotel balcony! He’s in a coma!

Spring Break Guy 2: Oh, man! I want to party with him!

As best as I can tell with my embarrasingly encyclopaedic knowledge of Family Guy the only other colleges referenced who’ve played football against Georgia in football are Harvard, Florida and Yale.

The 2016 Cocktail Party would, of course, be the most recent loss to any of those three. (Full disclosure: I haven’t watched the most recent episode of Family Guy which almost assuredly now contains a reference to Alabama, Auburn or LSU.)

If you’re unfamiliar the Mason-Dixon Line is, it was put in place in the 1760s to settle a border dispute between Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania, and would later be extended to include the southern borders of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Iowa, with slave-holding states sitting to the south and free states in the north.

The last school from north of that line to beat the Bulldogs was Boise State back in 2011.

Todd Grantham did his thing by providing absolutely no resistance to Kellen Moore and the Broncos offense, losing 35-21 in the Georgia Dome.

I had mono that day. It was happiness all around.

At last check, Georgia was a 43.5-point favorite.

It’s rare that the Bulldogs cover spreads that large, simply because they tend to get ahead in the second half and coast with the backups. I suspect the same will happen against the Minutemen.

Florida State vs Boston College

Florida State vs Boston College : Florida St. are hoping to patch up the holes in a defense that has allowed an average of 31.6 points per game before their next contest. They will be playing at home against Boston College at at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday. The point spread is more or less neutral, so fans should expect a close match. Florida State hosts No. 22 Boston College at 3:30 p.m. Saturday for its final ACC game of the season.

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The Seminoles (4-6, 2-5 ACC) are a 1.5-point underdog against the Eagles (7-3, 4-2 ACC). FSU leads the all-time series 11-5 over BC and has won seven of the last eight meetings. FSU won the last meeting in Tallahassee 45-7 in 2016.

The Eagles’ only win in that span came in 2017 with a 35-3 thumping of the Seminoles.

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FSU comes into the game needing two wins to get to a bowl game for the 37th straight season and needing a win over BC to avoid the worst ACC record since the Seminoles joined the ACC in 1992.

FSU has found success this season throwing the ball down the field.

The Seminoles are 26th in the country with 41 passes of 20 yards or more. Boston College hasn’t been great at stopping downfield passing attacks allowing 32 passing plays of 20 yards or more (65th).

If FSU can hit some big plays in the passing game, it has a chance to keep the game close late.

BC dominated the 2017 game by being more physical than the Seminoles and I don’t expect that strategy to change for this game.

FSU’s run defense has fallen off a cliff the past two weeks with North Carolina State rushing for 177 yards and Notre Dame rushing for 365.

The Eagles have a dominant offensive line and A.J. Dillon is one of the most talented running backs in the country. Both Dillon and quarterback Anthony Brown are expected to play.

On the other side of the ball, BC has one of the most opportunistic defenses in the country with 23 forced turnovers this season, which is sixth in all of college football.

FSU has been one of the worst teams in the country at committing turnovers and giving the BC offense a short field — as FSU has done for opposing offenses all season — would eliminate any chance FSU has of getting a win.

BC safety Hamp Cheevers — out of Trenton, FL — is tied for the most interceptions in college football this season with six. BC as a team has the fifth most interceptions with 15. FSU is 75th in college football with nine interceptions this season.

The FSU-BC game will be broadcast on ESPN2 and will be available on 103.1 FM in Tallahassee.

If FSU wants to have any shot of winning this game it has to find a way to stop the run.

The Seminoles were one of the best run stopping teams in college football through the first eight games, but have given up 542 yards rushing to N.C. State and Notre Dame.

If FSU can make the Eagles one-dimensional, BC’s passing offense hasn’t been stellar this season, but that’s a tall task for a reeling FSU defense.

I don’t have much faith that FSU can put the last three weeks behind it and get the win against BC. FSU’s struggled to deal with the physical rushing attacks the last two weeks and the Eagles’ offensive line dominated the FSU defense to the point that it quit during last season’s blowout loss.

I think FSU will score some points off of big plays in the passing game, but I also think FSU is going to turn the ball over too many times to have a chance to win the game.

I believe the Seminoles’ bowl streak will come to an end with a 31-21 loss to BC.

I believe this is the harder of FSU’s two remaining games to win. If the Seminoles manage to beat BC, the bowl streak and the rivalry vs. Florida next week motivates itself.

However, I just don’t see much leading into this game that leads me to believe FSU gets it done. Notre Dame and N.C. State exposed something in FSU’s run defense the last two weeks and the Eagles are maybe the most fit team on FSU’s schedule to take advantage of that.

Defending BC’s physical offense is a tough ask for a team reeling on a three-game losing streak, and I think Dillon is productive and ices FSU’s bowl streak with a late touchdown.

Notre Dame vs Syracuse

Notre Dame vs Syracuse : Pinstripe uniforms. The Empire State Building shining blue and gold . The marching band performing at Bryant Park and the drummer’s circle at Rockefeller Center.

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When Notre Dame plays in New York City it comes with fanfare and pageantry. This trip hardly needs the frills and extra-curricular activities to be a big deal.

The third-ranked Fighting Irish (10-0, No. 3 CFP) visit Yankee Stadium in contention for the College Football Playoff to face No. 12 Syracuse, the highest-ranked team the Orange have fielded in 20 years.

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Notre Dame is two victories away from an unbeaten regular season and an almost certain spot in the national semifinals for the first time in the five-year history of the four-team playoff. Those games will be played on two coasts as the Irish finish the season next week at rival Southern California.

Since before the season, the late-season travel schedule has been a topic of conversation. Now concern among Notre Dame fans about the long road trips has been exacerbated by the fact that Syracuse (8-2, No. 12 CFP) is the best it has been years.

The Orange are bowl-eligible for the first time since 2013, have won eight regular-season games for the first time since 2001 and have their best AP Top 25 ranking since 1998. Running coach Dino Baber’s fast-paced offense, quarterback Eric Dungey is averaging 288 total yards per game and has accounted for 26 touchdowns (14 passing, 12 rushing). Few teams operate faster than the Orange, and they are more balanced this season, with 32 rushing touchdowns and 216 yards rushing per game.

“They’re still up-tempo, but they can beat you with the quarterback running, the running backs running, but also with passing the ball on the perimeter,” Notre Dame safety Nick Coleman said.

The Irish counter with a top-10 defense (4.52 yards per play), led by linebacker Te’von Coney and defensive lineman Jerry Tillery. It is a rangy, athletic and deep unit.

“They’re really, really long and they have a really, really good scheme,” Babers said. “It’s the main reason why a lot of teams have a lot of difficulty scoring points on those guys.”

Syracuse has a large following in downstate New York and for years has promoted itself as New York’s college team. That might be true during basketball season, but there will be a distinctly partisan crowd in the Bronx. The game is part of Notre Dame’s Shamrock Series, so it controls the tickets. With so much at stake for the Irish, the field will be anything but neutral.

“We may have some fans there,” Babers said. “They’re the nation’s team, I guess you could call it.”

Things to know about the ninth game between Notre Dame and Syracuse and the first with both teams ranked:

Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book is expected to be back in the starting lineup after missing last week’s game against Florida State because of a rib injury. The Irish didn’t miss him, running all over Florida State for a season-high 365 yards with Brandon Wimbush at quarterback.

Book leads the nation in completion percentage at 74.5 percent, but the plan against Syracuse might be similar to what it was vs. the Seminoles. The Orange defense is so-so and the best part of it is the pass rush (33 sacks) behind defensive ends Alton Robinson and Kendall Coleman.

The Irish can lean on Dexter Williams (202 yards rushing vs. Florida State) and coach Brian Kelly said they won’t avoid getting Book involved in the running game. The junior has 218 yards and four rushing touchdowns.

“We wouldn’t play him if we had to put him in bubble wrap,” Kelly said.

The Irish breakout special uniforms for the Shamrock Series games, and this week they are going with a reference to the Yankees, working pinstripes into the uniforms and helmets.

Notre Dame is 16-6-3 all-time at Yankee Stadium, including 1-0 at the newest version. Most of those games came against Army from the late 1920s through 1946. The Irish and Syracuse played at Yankee Stadium in 1963. The then-Orangeman won 14-7 less than a week after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

Notre Dame and Syracuse last played in 2016 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, home of the Giants and Jets. Notre Dame won 50-33.

The last time two ranked teams played at Yankee Stadium was 1946, when No. 1 Army and No. 2 Notre Dame tied 0-0 in what was dubbed the Game of the Century.

Ohio State vs Maryland

Ohio State vs Maryland : Ohio State used their best defensive performance of the year, along with some pinpoint accuracy from punter Drue Chrisman to avoid the upset attempt of Michigan State last week. The Buckeye defense forced three turnovers against the Spartans, which marked the first turnover Ohio State has forced since the fourth quarter of the Minnesota game. The Buckeyes made the most of their opportunities against the Spartans, turning those three turnovers into 17 points.

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Saturday started off rough for Chrisman after the sophomore’s first punt only went four yards, but he more than made up for it in the second half, with all five of his punts being downed inside Michigan State’s six-yard line. For the game, Chrisman placed six of his nine punts inside the Michigan State 20-yard line. The accuracy from Chrisman’s punts put Michigan State in a deep hole that their struggling offense wasn’t able to dig out of without making mistakes, allowing the Buckeyes to pull away late in the game.

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The biggest surprise from Saturday’s game against Michigan State was Ohio State finding some success on the ground against the nation’s top rushing defense. Mike Weber continued his mastery of the Spartans, registering his third 100-yard rushing game against Michigan State. The Buckeyes are now 15-0 when either Weber or J.K. Dobbins rush for over 100 yards.

Despite Dobbins rushing for just 28 yards on 14 carries against Michigan State, the sophomore running back still leads Ohio State with 712 yards rushing this year. Weber is right on Dobbins’ heels for the team lead though, with the junior from Detroit sitting just one yard behind Dobbins at 711. While Weber is averaging nearly a yard per carry better than Dobbins, his four rushing touchdowns trail the seven ground scores Dobbins has this year.

If all goes according to plan, quarterback Dwayne Haskins should be able to set two more major single-season passing records on Saturday against Maryland. Haskins should have no problem getting the 51 passing yards he needs to move ahead of Joe Germaine’s school record of 3,330 passing yards which was set in 1998.

Haskins will need just a little more time to throw for the three touchdowns he needs to pass J.T. Barrett’s school record of 35 touchdown passes that was set last season. With at least two touchdown passes in all but one game this season, it’s hard to imagine Haskins heading into next Saturday’s game against Michigan without at least a share of the single-season touchdown passes record.

It was hard for Ohio State’s passing game to find traction last week in less than ideal conditions in East Lansing, as Haskins threw for a season-low 227 yards. Parris Campbell and K.J. Hill led the Buckeyes with six catches each, but the big story was Terry McLaurin. The senior wide receiver gained 63 yards on his five receptions, with the yardage being enough to put him over the 1,000 yard mark on his career. Now for the first time in school history, Ohio State has three receivers on the same team with at least 1,000 career receiving yards.

The Buckeyes receiving corps could add another member to that group if Johnnie Dixon is able to put together a couple of solid performances before the end of the year. Dixon is currently 143 yards away from 1,000 for his career, but he’ll have to do better than he did against Michigan State, when he didn’t record any catches. The senior wideout had come into the game against the Spartans with 154 yards receiving against Purdue and Nebraska, and he’ll be looking to return to form against Maryland.

Ohio State continued to struggle with their pass rush against Michigan State, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t able to put some pressure on the Spartans on Saturday. The Buckeyes weren’t able to record a sack in a game for the first time this season, and now have just eight sacks over the past five games.

The one source of constant production on the defensive line for Ohio State has been Dre’Mont Jones. While Jones failed to extend his streak of seven straight games with a tackle for loss last week, the junior from Cleveland set a bit of history for the Buckeyes. With his fumble recovery for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter against the Spartans, Jones recorded his second defensive touchdown of the year. Dating back to 1968, Ohio State hadn’t had a defensive lineman score two touchdowns in a season before Jones accomplished the feat.

With Maryland’s difficulties passing the football this year, the defensive backs figure to get a little bit of a break this week. Instead, this should provide the linebackers a chance to make some plays in trying to slow down the Maryland rushing attack, and build off of last week’s performance in which they only allowed 54 yards rushing to Michigan State.

Malik Harrison is currently Ohio State’s leader in tackles with 52 so far this season. After recording at least 10 tackles against Purdue and Nebraska, Harrison had just four stops against Michigan State. The lack of tackles didn’t mean Harrison wasn’t active though, as he was credited with two passes defensed.

After missing most of the early part of the season as he recovered from an achilles injury, Tuf Borland is starting to find his groove, with at least six tackles in three of the last four games. Borland now has 40 on the year, which is just two behind Pete Werner’s 42 tackles for second-most by an Ohio State linebacker this year. All three of the starting linebackers should see even more time this weekend, as Ohio State will be without Baron Browning, who will miss his second game in a row due to injury.

Ohio State will be looking to avoid their first-ever setback against Maryland, whom they have beaten in their four previous meetings since the Terrapins joined the Big Ten. The Buckeyes really haven’t been challenged by Maryland, winning each of the four meetings by at least 21 points.

The Buckeyes have been especially dominant over the past two years against Maryland, scoring 62 points in both of those games. The last trip to College Park saw Ohio State jump out to a 45-3 halftime lead in the 62-3 win over the Terrapins. Last year was much of the same in Columbus, as the Buckeyes were up 41-7 on Maryland at the break, before cruising to a 62-14 win.

Much like Ohio State, Maryland was embroiled in scandal heading into the season, but what the Terrapins were dealing with was even more serious than what we saw in Columbus. In late May, 19-year old offensive lineman Jordan McNair collapsed during workouts, and passed away two weeks later due to heatstroke.

Head coach D.J. Durkin was placed on leave prior to the season, but was reinstated for a day before eventually being fired. Durkin was found to be at the head of a physically and mentally abusive program, and in his place offensive coordinator Matt Canada has been named interim coach. A number of other key figures in Maryland’s athletic department have also either being fired or parted ways with the school.

With the focus during the season on issues that were taking place off of the field, it’s rather amazing the job that Canada has done in leading the Terrapins to five wins so far this season. Maryland started the year with a stunning win over Texas, and it only seems recently that the Terps have started to show the effects of a tough season off of the field, having lost three of their last four games.

As if Canada’s job wasn’t already tough enough, last week against Indiana, starting quarterback Kasim Hill suffered a torn ACL for the second straight season. Hill’s numbers weren’t flashy, but he provided a steadying influence behind center for the Terrapins, tossing nine touchdowns and just four interceptions.

Taking the snaps now for Maryland will be sophomore quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome, who started last year’s season opener against Texas for Maryland before suffering a season-ending injury in the second half. Pigrome impressed in relief of Hill last week, completing 10 of 13 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown in the 34-32 loss to the Hoosiers.

It’s not likely Maryland will put a lot on Pigrome’s plate though, as that isn’t really how their offense operates. The Terrapins want to run the football on their opponents, as evidenced by having 1,000 more rushing yards than passing yards this season. Including Pigrome, Maryland has six players with at least 150 yards rushing so far this year.

The most pleasant surprise for Maryland this year has been the performance of freshman running back Anthony McFarland, who is leading the team with 724 yards rushing this season. The 210 yards McFarland rushed for last week against Indiana was the most in school history by a freshman. The performance by McFarland marked his third 100-yard rushing game of the season, making him the first-ever freshman in program history to hit that number.

It would greatly help Maryland in their upset bid if running back Ty Johnson is healthy enough to play in Saturday’s game. After rushing for 1,004 yards in 2016, and 875 yards in 2017, Johnson was looking to close out his Maryland career with another big season, but injuries have derailed those hopes. Earlier this week, Canada said that Johnson would be a game-time decision for Saturday’s game against the Buckeyes.

The majority of Johnson’s 506 rushing yards on the season have come against Bowling Green, Minnesota, and Rutgers, where he rushed for at least 120 yards in all three games. Johnson has rushed for just 126 yards in the other six games that he has been available for. The senior hasn’t had much success in his three previous contests against the Buckeyes, with his best rushing total coming last year, when he ran for 57 yards in the blowout loss.

It’s puzzling to see just how ineffective Maryland’s passing offense has been this year, especially when considering that they have a couple of talented wide receivers in Taivon Jacobs and Jeshaun Jones. While Jacobs might not be on the same level as former Maryland wide receivers Stefon Diggs or D.J. Moore, he did pull in 47 catches for 553 yards and five touchdowns last year. This season though has seen a decrease in production, with Jacobs having just 21 catches for 253 yards, both of which lead Maryland.

Luckily for Maryland the future could be bright at wide receiver with Jones. The freshman leads the Terps with four TD receptions this year, and last week he hauled in a career-high six catches against Indiana. If Maryland decides to commit to throwing the football more over the next few years, Jones is a good building block to have at receiver.

Along with McFarland and Jones, another freshman making noise is kicker Joseph Petrino, who is the only kicker in the country to have not missed a kick so far this season. Last week against Indiana, Petrino converted all four of his field goal attempts, making him the first Maryland kicker to make four field goals in a game since 2011. Petrino is now 10 for 10 on field goal attempts and has made all 34 extra point attempts.

Maryland has been able to defy some of the odds this year because of their ballhawking defense. The Terrapins have picked off 17 passes so far, which is the most in the country, and is one of just three FBS teams to record at least one interception in every game this year. The pass defense of the Terrapins is second in the Big Ten with just 181.2 yards per game allowed, and five of their 10 opponents have failed to reach 200 yards passes.

The leader of Maryland’s defense is linebacker Tre Watson, who has five interceptions so far this season. Watson not only leads the Terrapins in interceptions, but is also nearing 100 tackles on the year. On three different occasions in 2018, Watson has recorded at least 13 tackles in a game, with his season-high of 15 coming against both Temple and Iowa.

Just on Watson’s heels in terms of interceptions is senior defensive back Darnell Savage Jr., who has four interceptions this year. Savage’s best performance of the year came against Rutgers when he picked off two passes, and he was also able to return an interception 23 yards for a touchdown in the loss to Temple. If Savage is able to pick off a couple more passes this year, he’ll hit double digits before seeing his Maryland career come to a close.

Savage has made plenty of plays in the secondary with his interceptions, but Antonie Brooks Jr. has been able to put some pressure in the backfield from that group. The junior defensive back has 9.5 tackles for loss this season, which has already matched his total for last year. Two and a half of those tackles behind the line of scrimmage were counted as sacks. Brooks can do some work in coverage as well, with three interceptions and six passes defensed over the past two years.

Compared to results against the Buckeyes over the past four years, a 12-point loss to Ohio State would have to feel like a win for the Terrapins. Ohio State looks to have righted the ship a bit after the embarrassing loss to Purdue last month, and the Buckeyes will want to put a sharp performance together before returning home to take on Michigan next week to close out the regular season.

Ohio State’s problems on defense aren’t completely fixed, but they have done a better job over the past two games at slowing down opponents. The biggest difference has been the improvement of the Buckeye defense on third down. Over the last two games, opponents have converted just six of 30 third down attempts.

The Buckeyes should be able to create a little more confidence in their running game after the strides that they’ve made in the last two games. Maryland is allowing over 160 yards per game on the ground to opponents, so expect Ohio State to send a heavy dose of Dobbins and Weber at the Terrapins.

Ohio State’s talent and depth is just too much for Maryland to handle on Saturday afternoon in College Park. The Terrapins are beaten up physically and mentally, and while they will give a better effort than the last two years against the Buckeyes, this one might not be as close as the experts think as Ohio State looks to give Michigan something to think about heading into next week.

Alabama vs The Citadel

Alabama vs The Citadel : As a final tune-up for rival Auburn followed by Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, No. 1 Alabama hosts FCS member The Citadel on Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium (11 a.m. CT, SEC Network).

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The Bulldogs run a triple-option offense, which none of the Crimson Tide players have seen since high school.

“It may be nerve-wracking for the coaches trying to come up with play-calling and stuff, but I am excited,” sophomore linebacker Dylan Moses said. “They’ll be running the ball the whole time. That’s what I live for. I am ready to run guys down, make tackles and celebrate with my teammates.”

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Alabama may be running a lot as well as starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and reserve Jalen Hurts have been dealing with injuries, and the last thing the Crimson Tide want is for either to have a setback prior to the Iron Bowl.

Tagovailoa, the Heisman Trophy frontrunner, has been hindered by a sprained knee suffered at Arkansas on Oct. 6. After taking numerous hard hits, he was pulled near the end of the third quarter against No. 21 Mississippi State last week.

Hurts has been out since suffering high ankle sprain at Tennessee on Oct. 20. Redshirt freshman Mac Jones had to finish the 24-0 victory over Mississippi State.

Nick Saban bristled at the idea on holding Tagovailoa back this week against The Citadel.

“Why would we do that?” he said. “I mean, to say this was not an important game or he doesn’t need to play?

“I think we need to do a better job of the people playing around him, doing what they’re supposed to do so he doesn’t get hit. And he needs to do a better job of stepping up in the pocket and getting rid of the ball, which he had several opportunities to do. Some of these hits could be avoided by better execution, and I think that’s what we’re going to focus on, not trying to take a guy out of the game so he can’t improve or do what he needs to do to get better.”

The Citadel (4-5) is coming off a 42-27 victory against Samford. Quarterback Brandon Rainey became the third Bulldogs quarterback to rush for more than 200 yards in a game and was named the Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Week. He had 207 of his 217 rushing yards in the second half and was also 5-of-7 for 88 yards and a touchdown.

He’s had 405 rushing yards over his last two games.

“We just want to go out there and make a good showing, compete our butts off as best we possibly can on such a big and grand stage,” Bulldogs coach Brent Thompson said.

“They’re a very, very good football. Probably the best I’ve ever seen.”

Alabama (10-0) hasn’t given up a point in November despite playing two ranked opponents. The Crimson Tide have been outstanding against the run of late, holding the last four opponents to fewer than 100 yards with Tennessee tallying 31 and No. 7 LSU managing 12. Both were playing on their home fields as well.

But the triple-option is different, and tough to get down in a week. For perhaps the first time this season, Alabama will mostly play out of its base defense and not the nickel or dime package with extra defensive backs.

“You really just have to play alongside each other and stick together,” said Moses, who took over the team lead in tackles last week. “You have to basically clog up the middle and have an alley player coming down, making sure the seams are protected as well.

‘There are a lot of things that go into play with a triple-option team. It’s a mind game. You do one thing wrong they’ll slice you right up the middle.”

That’s what happened in 2011 when Alabama last faced a triple-option offense. Even though the Crimson Tide managed to finish first nationally in all four major defensive categories — rushing, scoring, total yards and pass efficiency, they still got burned by Georgia Southern for 302 rushing yards and 21 points.

Of course, Alabama scored 45 and eventually won the national championship.

This will be the third time Thompson’s team will be facing an opponent coming off a national title, with Alabama following Florida State (2014, a 37-12 loss) and Clemson last year, a 61-3 victory for the Tigers.

“I think I’m over the national championship teams at this point,” Thompson said.