Sep 27, 2018

Big Ten & SEC Week 5 Preview: Top-10 matchup highlights huge weekend

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.

Here’s a look at some of the most highly-anticipated games on the schedule this week:

No. 4 Ohio State (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) at No. 9 Penn State (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) – 7:30 p.m. on ABC

This will be the 33rd matchup between Ohio State and Penn State. The Buckeyes lead the series 18-14 and are have won five of the past six games between the schools. The last two meetings between the Nittany Lions and Buckeyes were decided by a total of four points.

The Buckeyes will be hitting the road for a primetime matchup against another ranked foe for the second time in three weeks — Ohio State defeated TCU in Dallas in Week 3 — and for the second consecutive season and ninth time all-time, both Ohio State and Penn State will enter the matchup ranked in the AP Top 10. Both schools will also put undefeated records on the line for the first time since 1998.

Saturday’s game will also be a matchup of the highest scoring offenses in the nation, as Penn State (55.5) and Ohio State (54.5) rank first and second, respectively, in FBS.

No. 14 Michigan (3-1, 1-0 Big Ten) at Northwestern (1-2, 1-0 Big Ten) – 4:30 p.m. on FOX

This will be the 75th meeting between Michigan and Northwestern. The Wolverines hold a 57-15-2 advantage in the all-time series and has won 32 of the past 36 games played between the two schools. Michigan has also won 10 of the last 11 games in the series; the only setback came in a 21-14 affair played at Michigan Stadium in 2008.

Each of the last two meetings at Ryan Field have come down to the final play. Michigan took a hard fought 27-19 victory in three overtimes in 2013 and also claimed a 10-9 victory in 2014 when the Wildcats failed to convert a 2-point conversion that would have won the game.

Northwestern features four of the top 10 receivers in the Big Ten in terms of receptions per game in Flynn Nagel (6.7), Jeremy Larkin (6.3), Cameron Green (5.7) and Ben Skowronek (4.7).

Florida (3-1, 1-1 SEC) at No. 23 Mississippi State (3-1, 0-1 SEC) – 6 p.m. on ESPN

Saturday’s meeting will be the 55th meeting all-time between the Bulldogs and Gators. Florida leads the all-time series 33-19-2. This will be the first meeting between the two schools since the Bulldogs escaped Gainesville with a 10-7 win over the then-No. 22 Gators on Oct. 16, 2010. MSU is 7-4 against Florida in games played in Starkville.

Bulldogs quarterback Nick Fitzgerald is only the third player in SEC history with at least 35 career rushing touchdowns and 35 passing touchdowns, putting him in the company Tim Tebow (Florida, 2006-09) and Dak Prescott (Mississippi State, 2012-15)

The Gators defense, which had 17 takeaways in all of 2017, leads the nation with 14 takeaways, while quarterback Feleipe Franks ranks seventh in the FBS with 12 passing touchdowns — three more than he had in all of 2017. Florida AD Scott Stricklin and head coach Dan Mullen, were lured away from Mississppi State in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

South Carolina (2-1, 1-1 SEC) at No. 17 Kentucky (4-0, 2-0 SEC) – 7:30 p.m. on SEC

This is the 30th meeting between the Gamecocks and Wildcats in a series that South Carolina leads 17-11-1. However, Kentucky has won the last four meetings, with each game decided by 10 points or less.

Kentucky is nationally ranked for the first time in 11 years, 4-0 for the first time since 2008, and are 2-0 to start SEC play for the first time since 1977. UK has not allowed a point in the third quarter this season, and junior running back Benny Snell Jr. ranks third nationally in rushing yards per game (155.0) and total rushing yards (540).

A win on Saturday would give the Gamecocks back-to-back road wins for the first time since they defeated Missouri on Oct. 26, 2013 and Vanderbilt on Sept. 20, 2014.

Other Big Ten and SEC games being played this week.

Louisiana (1-2, 0-1 Sun Belt) at No. 1 Alabama (4-0, 2-0 SEC) – 12 p.m. on SEC
Arkansas (1-3, 0-1 SEC) at Texas A&M (2-2, 0-1 SEC) – 12 p.m. on ESPN
Central Michigan (1-3, 0-1 MAC) at No. 21 Michigan State (2-1, 1-0 Big Ten) – 12 p.m. on BTN
Indiana (3-1, 0-1 Big Ten) at Rutgers (1-3, 0-1 Big Ten) – 12 p.m. on FS1
Purdue (1-3, 0-1 Big Ten) vs Nebraska (0-3, 0-1 Big Ten) – 3:30 p.m. on BTN
Tennessee (2-2, 0-1 SEC) at No. 2 Georgia (4-0, 2-0 SEC) – 3:30 p.m. on CBS
Southern Mississippi (2-1, 1-0 C-USA) at No. 10 Auburn (3-1, 1-1 SEC) – 4 p.m. on SEC
Tennessee State (2-0, 1-0 OVC) at Vanderbilt (2-2, 0-1 SEC) – 4 p.m. on SEC
Ole Miss (3-1, 0-1 SEC) at No. 5 LSU (4-0, 1-0 SEC) – 9 p.m. on ESPN




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