College Football on Sling: Ohio State and Alabama Look to Stay on Collision Course

Oct 07, 2016 by Sling Staff

Indiana (3-1) vs. #2 Ohio State (4-0)
3:30pm ET Saturday on ESPN

The Indiana Hoosiers last week earned a rare victory over a nationally ranked team, beating Big Ten rivals the Michigan State Spartans 24-21 in overtime. It was no doubt a huge boost for Indiana, which has been one of the doormats of the Big Ten, and head coach Kevin Wilson, who came into 2016 with a record of 20-41. Making the win all the more impressive was the fact that MSU had jumped out to a 14-0 lead early in the third quarter, before the Hoosiers came roaring back to claim The Old Brass Spittoon, the trophy awarded to the winner of this storied showdown.

Indiana QB RIchard Lagow opened the scoring for the Hoosiers on a trick play, hauling in a 5-yard TD pass from wide receiver Mitchell Paige with just 52 seconds left in the 3rd to make the score 14-7 Michigan State. In the fourth quarter, Lagow led the Hoosiers on a 90-yard drive capped by a 22-yard TD pass to Ricky Jones, and a 70-yard drive ending with a 15-yard TD pass to Paige to give the Hoosiers their first lead of the day, at 21-14. The Spartans would answer with w 13-play, 75-yard drive of their own, capped by a 2-yard TD pass from Tyler O’Connor to Josiah Price to tie it up at 21-21. MSU opened OT by losing 7 yards on 3 plays, and then missing their third field goal attempt of the day, this one from 49 yards. The Hoosiers then took over, getting down to the MSU 16, where Griffin Oakes appeared to have shanked his third field goal attempt of the day. But Michigan State got called for a personal, giving the Hoosiers a second life, which they used to get down to the 3 yard line, and kick the game winner.

Lagow is having a pretty good season having completed 62.2% of his passes for 1278 yards, 9 TDs and 6 interceptions for a quarterback rating of 160.7, while running back Devine Redding is averaging 21 carries and 103 yards a game.

The Ohio State Buckeyes’ bruising defense continues to stifle offenses, most recently throwing a 58-0 shutout against Rutgers, lowering the team’s points allowed per game to a nation-leading 9.3, as they still have yet to give up a TD on the ground. The Buckeyes are dominant against both the running and passing game, holding foes to 140 yards per game through the air (sixth-best) and 97.8 on the ground (twelfth-best). And they don’t hurt themselves with penalties, getting flagged for just 35 yards a game, fourth-best in the land, while forcing 2.8 turnovers, third-best in the country. Trying to move the ball against these guys is a thankless task. And their offense ain’t to shabby, either.

The Buckeyes, led by Heisman hopeful JT Barrett, are third in the nation in points per game with 57. Barrett has completed 70 of 102 passes for 888 yards and 14 TDs, versus just 2 interceptions, while also rushing for 205 yards and and 3 more TDs. Barrett’s favorite target is Curtis Samuel, who’s caught 23 passes for 345 yards and 3 touchdowns, and has carried the ball 41 times for another 328 yards. But the leading the charge on the ground is 5’10, 212-pound Mike Weber, who’s run for 495 yards on just 68 carries. And Barrett’s secret weapon in the red zone is wide receiver Noah Brown, who’s caught just 10 passes this year, but 5 of them were for touchdowns.

Indiana should consider scoring against Ohio State a moral victory, and holding them to fewer than 40 a miracle. Best of the luck, men.

#1 Alabama (5-0) vs. #16 Arkansas (4-1)
7pm ET Saturday on ESPN

Since narrowly escaping a scare against Ole Miss in Week 3 with a 48-43 win, the Alabama Crimson Tide have outscored the Kent State and Kentucky by a combined 82-6, with an offense as all-consuming as the defense is smothering. QB Jalen Hurts has completed 84 of 135 passes for 989 yards, 7 touchdowns and just 1 interception, while also rushing 54 times for 276 yards and 3 TDs – the dude eats up yardage. Primary running back Damien Harris has 356 yards on just 42 carries for an average of 8.5, Joshua Jacobs has 250 yards and 3 TDs on just 34 carries, and has led the team in rushing yards in each of the last two games – Hurts, Harris and Jacobs all rank in the top 150 rushers in the nation. Hurts’ favorite target is Calvin Ridley, who’s pulled in 31 passes for 398 yards and 3 TDs. And they do it all with only one turnover a game. The Alabama D is incredibly disciplined, aggressive enough to hold foes to just 257 yards per game (8th-best in the country), while incurring the fewest penalties, 3.2, and penalty yards, 28.4, the latter a staggering number when you consider the mean is 55 yards and the next-lowest is BC with 32.8.

Arkansas had been riding high, going from unranked to #24 with a win over TCU, and to #17 with a win over Texas State, before getting a wake-up call at the hands of #10 Texas A&M, who beat them 45-24, after being tied 17-17 at the half. As luck would have it, Arkansas’ next game was a palette-cleansing 52-10 beatdown of Alcorn State, before diving into the fire pit that is the SEC, where they’ll play ‘Bama, #14 Mississippi, Auburn, and #18 Florida.

QB Austin Allen is having a fine season, completing 68% of his passes for 1,232 yards and 12 TDs against just 2 INTs, thanks to a trio of receivers – Drew Morgan, Keon Hatcher and Jared Cornelius – each with more than 250 yards. And the varied air assault is supported by a punishing ground game, led by Raweigh Williams III, who has carried the ball 101 times for 559 yards and 4 TDs. On defense the Razorbacks do a good job of not getting beat in the air, holding opponents to 211 yards and just .6 passing TDs a game, but they can be beat on the ground, where they surrender a lot of ground 164 yards and 2.2 TDs a game.

Watch the Indiana Hoosiers vs. the Ohio State Buckeyes at 3:30pm ET followed by the Alabama Crimson Tide vs. the Arkansas Razorbacks at 7pm ET Saturday on ESPN by subscribing to Sling Orange


#3 Clemson (5-0) vs. Boston College (3-2)
7:30pm ET on ESPN


Texas (2-2) vs. #20 Oklahoma (2-2)
Noon ET on FS1

Indiana (3-1) vs. #2 Ohio State (4-0)
3:30pm ET on ESPN

#25 Virginia Tech (3-1) vs. #17 North Carolina (4-1)
3:30pm ET on ABC/ESPN2

#21 Colorado (4-1) vs. USC (2-3)
4pm ET on the Pac-12 Network

#1 Alabama (5-0) vs. #16 Arkansas (4-1)
7pm ET on ESPN

#4 Michigan (5-0) vs. Rutgers (2-3)
7pm ET on ESPN2

#5 Washington (5-0) vs. Oregon (2-3)
7:30pm ET on FOX

#23 Florida State (3-2) vs. #10 Miami (4-0)
8pm ET on ABC/ESPN3

Arizona (2-3) vs. #24 Utah (4-1)
10pm ET on FS1

Washington State (2-2) vs. #15 Stanford (3-1)
10:30pm ET on ESPN

ESPN and ESPN2 are available to Sling Orange subscribers;
ESPN3 is available to Sling Orange subscribers with Sports Extra;
ABC is available to Sling Orange subscribers in select markets with Broadcast Extra;
FOX is available to Sling Blue subscribers in select markets;
FS1 is available to Sling Blue subscribers;
Pac-12 is available to all Sling subscribers with Sports Extra.

All stats courtesy ESPN and College Football Reference.

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