#2 Penn State made easy work of Big Ten rivals #19 Michigan on Saturday before a record Beaver Stadium crowd of 110,823. The Nittany Lions’ first win against a ranked opponent this year delivered some validation to the team’s high ranking, and marks their 16th win in their last 17 games, the lone loss coming during the Rose Bowl in January against USC.
Penn State rushed out to a quick 14-0 lead in the first quarter behind a 69-yard touchdown run by Heisman Trophy frontrunner Saquon Barkley. Four minutes later, he scored again on a 15-yard running play.
But Michigan responded, scoring two touchdowns in the second to nearly level the score after a missed extra point 14-13. The Lions scored with under a minute to go before halftime, taking a 21-13 lead into the locker room.
Penn State added seven more in the third before taking control in the fourth. The clock hit zero with the scoreboard reading 42-13. The Wolverines entered Happy Valley with the nation’s top defense, but Penn State had no problems picking it apart.
Bettors in Las Vegas are beginning to come around to the chances of Penn State winning its first national championship since 1986. Prior to the Michigan game, the Westgate SuperBook had the Nittany Lions at 12-1. Those odds have been slashed by a third to 8-1 today.
Perhaps no team made more noise in week eight than #13 Notre Dame. Just four-point favorites at home heading into the matchup against #11 USC, the Irish hammered the Trojans with strong defensive play that allowed the offense to score easily and often.
Quarterback Brandon Wimbush passed for two touchdowns and ran for two more, and running back Josh Adams got into the end zone three times on Notre Dame’s 49-14 win.
Prior to Saturday, the Fighting Irish were a longshot to win the College Football Playoff National Championship at 40-1. After beating up on USC, Notre Dame’s odds have been slashed in half to 20-1.
PSU, ND Difficult Weeks Ahead
Penn State won’t take much time to celebrate their win, as they travel to #6 Ohio State this Saturday. The Buckeyes have opened as a touchdown favorite.
The Irish also get immediately back to work, as they welcome #14 North Carolina State. Unlike the Lions, the Irish are favored by 7.5 points.
Week 9 should deliver in terms of exciting games. In addition to PSU-OSU and NCST-ND, #11 Oklahoma State plays at #22 West Virginia, and #4 TCU visits #25 Iowa State.
After eight weeks, it seems that it’s #1 Alabama and everyone else. It’s almost unthinkable that the Crimson Tide won’t be included in the College Football Playoffs come January 1.
The Westgate has the Tide at 4-5 to win the title, which converts to implied odds of nearly 56 percent. A $100 wager wins the gambler $80 should Alabama claim their fifth title since 2009.
Despite having already lost to #10 Oklahoma (who later lost to a then-unranked Iowa State), Ohio State has the second-best title odds at the SuperBook. Westgate has them at 4-1, followed by PSU, Clemson and Georgia (10-1), Notre Dame, and TCU (20-1).