College Football on Sling: Heisman Hopefuls Lead Louisville vs. NC State, and Washington vs. Oregon State
NC State (4-2) vs. #7 Louisville (5-1) Noon ET Saturday on ABC/ESPN3
A week after an 24-17 overtime loss to #3 Clemson, the death march across the ACC continues for the North Carolina Wolfpack with a matchup against #7 Louisville and Heisman candidate Lamar Jackson.
The Wolfpack, led by QB Ryan Finley, had been averaging 34 points a game heading into the showdown with Clemson, but scored just half that many, with the 7 of those points coming courtesy an interception returned for a TD. Finley had a tough day, completing just 20 of 40 passes for 231 yards, 0 TDs and 2 interceptions, as well as having 5 passes deflected, while running back Matt Dayes ran 22 times for 106 yards and the ‘pack’s lone offensive touchdown. It probably felt like a huge comedown for NC State’s offense, but the truth is it was a pretty good showing considering that Clemson is in the top 10 in the land in points and yards allowed per game. And the NC State D did a great job of containing an offense, led by Deshaun Watson, that had been averaging 38.7 points, thanks to 3 fumbles and the INT.
While the game may have contained some small moral victories for NC State, it also showed that they are not in the same class as top 10 teams like, say, Louisville and Heisman contender Lamar Jackson, who are coming off a too-close-for-comfort 24-14 win over Duke, in which they gained “only” 469 yards of total offense. But even after the disappointing showing against the Blue Devils, the Cardinals still lead the nation in scoring at 52.3 points per game, and yards per game with 627.5. It was easily Jackson’s worst game of the year, as he connected on 13 of 26 for 181 yards and a touchdown, while rushing 21 times for 144 yards and a TD – again, that was easily his worst day of the season. In addition to being 21st in the nation in passing yards with 1,806, Jackson is also 5th in the nation in rushing yards with 832. That’s not 5th among quarterbacks, mind you, that’s 5th among everybody, and he’s #1 in rushing TDs with 15.
Oregon State (2-4) vs. #5 Washington (6-0) 6:30pm ET Saturday on Pac-12 Network
Watching a top-5 program go up against a team with a losing record and two hurt quarterbacks can leave you feeling a little uneasy, but if it means a chance to see a passing machine like Jake Browning ply his trade for a few hours on a Saturday night, you sometimes make exceptions.
Oregon State last week lost 19-14 to the then-#21 Utah Utes, in a game in which the Beavers also lost both starting QB Darell Garretson for the year with an ankle injury, and backup QB Conor Blount for at least this week as he hobbles around on crutches, wearing a knee brace. That leaves the play-calling duties to sophomore Marcus McMaryion, who, to his credit, entered the Utes game in the fourth quarter and engineered a 69-yard drive capped by a 14-yard touchdown pass to pull the Beavers within 5 with under 2 minutes to play.
In addition to a pair of banged up QBs, there’s the Beavers' leading rusher Ryan Nall’s questionable status for Saturday – even if they had a top-flight defense (they don’t), they’d be in big trouble against the Washington Huskies and Heisman candidate Jake Browning.
Browning and the Huskies are coming off a bye week, their last game a 70-21 annihilation of the Oregon Ducks, in which Browning hit on 22 of 28 passes for 304 yards and 6 touchdowns. Browning doesn’t put up gaudy yardage numbers because he doesn’t have to, thanks to a best-in-the-land 72.2% completion percentage, being 3rd in adjusted passing yards per attempt at 12.4, second in touchdown passes with 23 and throwing just 2 interceptions – he is the very model of efficiency. And he’s made all the more lethal to opposing defense by the fact that he’s backed up by one of the nation’s best ground games, led by Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman, that is 23rd in yardage with 229 per game, 10th in yards per carry at 5.9, and has just 2 fumbles on the year. Add it all up and you have a team that is #3 in the nation in scoring at 49.5 points per game, despite being just #25 in total offense at 481.2 yards per game. Oh yeah, Washington’s defense is pretty good, too, allowing 14.2 points and 317.5 yards per game, while forcing 2.8 turnovers a game, second-most in the country.
Here’s the complete rundown of top 25 NCAA action on Sling this week:
Thursday October 20
BYU (4-3) vs. #14 Boise State (6-0) 10:15pm ET on ESPN
Saturday October 22
NC State (4-2) vs. #7 Louisville (5-1) Noon ET on ABC & ESPN3
#10 Wisconsin (4-2) vs. Iowa (5-2)
Noon ET on ESPN
Eastern Michigan (5-2) vs. #20 Western Michigan (7-0) 3:30pm ET on ESPN3
Purdue (3-3) vs. #8 Nebraska (6-0) 3:30pm ET on ABC/ESPN2
TCU (4-2) vs. #12 West Virginia (5-0) 3:30pm ET on ABC/ESPN2
#19 Utah (6-1) vs. UCLA (3-4) 4pm ET on FOX
#17 Arkansas (5-2) vs. #21 Auburn (4-2) 6pm ET on ESPN
Oregon State (2-4) vs. #5 Washington (6-0) 6:30pm ET on Pac-12 Network
#11 Houston (6-1) vs. SMU (2-4) 7pm ET on ESPN
#2 Ohio State (6-0) vs. Penn State (4-2) 8pm ET on ABC
#16 Oklahoma (4-2) vs. Texas Tech (3-3) 8pm ET on FOX
#23 Ole Miss (3-3) vs. #25 LSU (4-2) 9pm ET on ESPN