Friday night features four games on the college football slate, including a rematch of last season’s Big Ten Championship. Here’s a closer look at three of those matchups:
#4 Ohio State Buckeyes (-28) at Northwestern Wildcats, 8:30 PM:
The fourth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes travel to the campus of Northwestern for a rematch of last year’s Big Ten title game, when the Buckeyes defeated the Wildcats 45-28. This time around, both teams are shaped completely different, yet my expectation is a similar result.
#4 Ohio State improved to (6-0) after defeating rival #25 Michigan State 34-10.
Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback Justin Field put on yet another clinic completing 17-of-25 for 206 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, adding 11 carries for 61 yards and another score. The sophomore transfer from Georgia has 26 total touchdowns (18 passing, 8 rushing) on the season.
Northwestern (1-4) lost a third consecutive game despite a strong defensive effort, falling to the Nebraska Cornhuskers 13-10.
The Wildcats’ biggest issue this season has been figuring out the quarterback position. At Nebraska, Northwestern started junior Aidan Smith who struggled to get anything going in the passing game completing 19-of-32 for 136 yards and one interception, but was successful on the ground rushing 16 times for a team-high 64 yards and one touchdown.
Take the Buckeyes to cover (-28).
Ohio State is one of the most well-rounded teams in the nation with a dominant defense to match Fields and the offense. The Buckeyes have allowed 8.8 ppg which ranks fourth best in the country.
With the Wildcats’ offensive questions, my expectation is Ohio State will overpower Northwestern on both sides of the ball.
Pittsburgh Panthers @ Syracuse Orange (+3.5), 7:00 PM:
Pittsburgh avoided a near catastrophic loss and won a third consecutive game, defeating the Duke Blue Devils 33-30.
The Panthers (4-2) led 26-3 late into the third quarter, but allowed 27 unanswered points and trailed by four points with under one minute remaining in the game. Junior quarterback Kenny Pickett connected with V’Lique Carter for a 26-yard touchdown with 38 seconds to spare.
Pickett completed 29-of-48 for 268 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.
The Syracuse Orange (3-3) fell into a 13-0 half-time hole which proved to be far too big to overcome, snapping a two-game winning streak with a 16-10 loss to the NC State Wolfpack.
Sophomore quarterback Tommy Devito was held in check completing 29-of-39 for 300 yards and one touchdown. Junior wideout Trishton Jackson was Devito’s go-to target, catching nine passes for 106 yards and one touchdown.
Roll with the Orange at home (+3.5), and I’ll take the moneyline as well at (+145).
Three of the last four matchups between these two schools have been decided by one score. Syracuse is 2-1 at home with the lone loss coming at the hands of the #1 Clemson Tigers. The Orange are also averaging 33 ppg at the Carrier Dome this season.
Marshall Thundering Herd at Florida Atlantic Owls (-6), 6:30 PM:
Florida Atlantic (4-2) won a fourth consecutive game after a come-from-behind 28-13 win over Middle Tennessee. The Owls kept the Blue Raiders scoreless in the second half courtesy of a stout defensive effort led by three interceptions and a blocked extra point returned for a score.
Freshman running back Malcolm Davidson was a workhorse rushing 21 times for 149 yards and one touchdown.
Marshall (3-3) snapped a two-game losing streak with a 31-17 win over the Old Dominion Monarchs.
The Thundering Herd was carried by the efforts of sophomore dual threat quarterback Isaiah Green. Green completed 19-of-31 for 175 yards and one touchdown, adding 11 carries for 59 yards and one touchdown.
My pick is Florida Atlantic to cover the spread (-6).
The Owls’ only two losses on the season have come against top-20 ranked teams (Ohio State, UCF). My expectation is that the Owls’ defense will keep the Marshall rushing attack contained, and manage to score enough points through the ground game to defeat the Thundering Herd by at least a touchdown.
By Stephen Rodriguez