Sep 28, 2017

Big Ten & SEC Week 5 Preview: Alabama, Penn State Look to Keep Rolling in Quest for CFP Title

In the fifth week of the college football season, members of the Florida Citrus Sports Team Selection Committee are making visits throughout Big Ten and SEC country, meeting with fans across both conferences in advance of the Citrus Bowl on New Year’s Day.

Indiana at No. 4 Penn State – 3:30 p.m. on BTN

Indiana (2-1, 0-1 Big Ten) will head to Beaver Stadium this week as it takes on the No. 4 Nittany Lions (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten). Penn State is coming off an exciting win against the Iowa Hawkeyes that came down to the final play of the game. Wide receiver Juwan Johnson caught a 7-yard pass from Trace McSorley as the clock ran out, preserving the CFP hopefuls’ undefeated season. The unstoppable Saquon Barkley contributed greatly to the 21-19 victory, with 211 yards rushing, 94 yards receiving and a touchdown.

This will be Indiana’s first conference game since its season opener against Ohio State, which resulted in a 49-21 loss for the Hoosiers. IU has been resilient since, with wins over Virginia and Georgia Southern, the latter coming by a 52-17 margin. Return man J-Shun Harris, who won Big Ten special teams player of the week honors for his performance against Virginia, also returned a punt for a touchdown for his second game in a row, tying him with Rob Turner (1990) for Indiana’s single-season record for punt return TDs in consecutive games.

Indiana beat Penn State 44-24 at home in 2013, the team’s only victory over the Nittany Lions in 20 head-to-head matchups. Last season, the teams were neck-and-neck throughout the game until Barkley’s touchdown run with 3:58 to go put PSU ahead for good in a 45-31 win.

No. 24 Mississippi State at No. 13 Auburn – 6:00 p.m. on ESPN

Mississippi State (3-1, 1-1 SEC) is back on the road again this weekend as it travels to Jordan-Hare Stadium to face the Auburn Tigers (3-1, 1-0 SEC) in a Top 25 matchup. However, the Bulldogs are barely holding onto their AP Poll status after a 31-3 loss to Georgia, a game saw quarterback Nick Fitzgerald complete just 14 of his 29 pass attempts for 83 yards through the air, with two interceptions.

Auburn was more successful last week, churning out a 51-14 victory over Missouri. After missing two games with a hamstring injury, Tigers running back Kerryon Johnson ran for a career-high five touchdowns in the win, falling just one short of Carnell “Cadillac” Williams’ school record of six rushing touchdowns in a game. Quarterback Jarrett Stidham also added to the 37 point difference with 218 yards passing and a touchdown.

The Mississippi State-Auburn rivalry is one that spans 90 games dating back to 1905, with the two meeting every  year since 1955. The Tigers started out the series strong with a 10 game win streak, which is only their second longest in the series, the first being an 11 game streak from 1964-74. The series has been a tough one for Mississippi State, as Auburn owns a 62-26-2 record, but the Bulldogs did defeat the Tigers 17-9 the last time the two played at Jordan-Hare Stadium, in 2015.

Ole Miss at No. 1 Alabama – 9:00 p.m. on ESPN

The Ole Miss Rebels (2-1, 0-0 SEC) will kick off conference play in Tuscaloosa this weekend as they face the No. 1 Crimson Tide (4-0, 1-0 SEC). Ole Miss had last week off after its 27-16 loss to California. Despite the loss, quarterback Shea Patterson had two touchdown passes of at least 70 yards, helping him to a total of 1,281 passing yards for the season, a record among SEC quarterbacks in the first three games of a season since the league expanded to 12 teams in 1990. (The SEC later added Texas A&M and Mizzou in 2012.)

The Crimson Tide, meanwhile, remained untouchable last week in a 59-0 shutout against Vanderbilt, the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams. Running back Damien Harris ran for a career-high 151 yards and three touchdowns helping Alabama to its 19th straight win over the SEC East. The Crimson Tide also set a school record in their victory against the Commodores with 38 first downs, breaking the previous record of 36, which was set Nov. 22, 2014 against Western California.

This weekend will be the 62nd game in the Ole Miss-Alabama series, which began with a Rebel victory in 1894. Of course, Ole Miss has only won 10 times since, including just two wins outside the state of Mississippi, but few will forget the last one: A 43-37 upset of the No. 2 Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium in the teams’ last meeting, in 2015.

Here are the rest of the Big Ten and SEC games our selection committee members will attend:

No. 7 Georgia (4-0, 1-0 SEC) at Tennessee (3-1, 0-1 SEC) – 3:30 p.m. on CBS

Iowa (3-1, 0-1 Big Ten) at Michigan State (2-1, 0-0 Big Ten) – 4:00 p.m. on FOX

Vanderbilt (3-1, 0-1 SEC) at No. 21 Florida (2-1, 2-0 SEC) – 12:00 p.m. on ESPN

Maryland (2-1, 0-0 Big Ten) at Minnesota (3-0, 0-0 Big Ten) – 12:00 p.m. on FS1

Northwestern (2-1, 0-0 Big Ten) at No. 10 Wisconsin (3-0, 0-0 Big Ten) – 12:00 PM on ABC

South Carolina (3-1, 1-1 SEC) at Texas A&M (3-1, 1-0 SEC) – 7:30 p.m. on SEC Network

Other Big Ten and SEC games being played this week:

New Mexico State (2-2, 0-1 Sun Belt) at Arkansas (1-2, 0-1 SEC) – 12:00 p.m. on SEC Network

Eastern Michigan (2-1, 0-1 Mid-American) at Kentucky (3-1, 1-1 SEC) – 4:00 p.m. on SEC Network

Troy (3-1, 1-0 Sun Belt) at #25 LSU (3-1, 0-1 SEC) – 7:00 p.m. on ESPNU

Nebraska (2-2, 1-0 Big Ten) at Illinois (2-1, 0-0 Big Ten) – 8:00 p.m. (Friday) on FS1

No. 11 Ohio State (3-1, 1-0 Big Ten) at Rutgers (1-3, 0-1 Big Ten) – 7:30 p.m. on BTN

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