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Why Tampa Bay natives could decide Oklahoma vs. Texas and Iowa vs. Penn State

Our national look at the college football weekend also hits on a Jimbo Fisher remark he might regret on Saturday.
Penn State running back Keyvone Lee, a St. Petersburg native, could be an X-factor in today's top-five showdown at Iowa.
Penn State running back Keyvone Lee, a St. Petersburg native, could be an X-factor in today's top-five showdown at Iowa. [ BARRY REEGER | AP ]
Published Oct. 7

Iowa-Penn State has the makings of a stereotypical Big Ten slugfest. The Hawkeyes have the nation’s No. 2 scoring defense (11.6 points per game), and the Nittany Lions rank third (12.0).

In a physical game where depth could be key, Penn State running back Keyvone Lee is a potential X-factor. The St. Petersburg native from Clearwater’s American Collegiate Academy leads the team at 6.2 yards per rush as a valuable reserve behind starter Noah Cain.

Related: Can Florida Gators’ Dan Mullen win a title? Or is he UF’s Mark Richt?

Viewing guide

Lamest time window: Primetime. The early time slots are great, so take the night off, if you must.

Noon: No. 6 Oklahoma vs. No. 21 Texas in the Cotton Bowl is one of the best sights in the sport. No. 13 Arkansas at No. 17 Mississippi is worth monitoring, too.

3:30: Unless No. 18 Auburn can hang with No. 2 Georgia — possible, but we’re not counting on it — see if Florida State can build on last week’s success by knocking off North Carolina (again).

4: No. 4 Penn State at No. 3 Iowa is the game of the day. Hope you like defense.

7:30: Don’t be shocked if an improving Nebraska team hangs with or even upsets No. 9 Michigan.

8: Texas A&M hosting No. 1 Alabama is no longer the marquee matchup we expected a month ago, but it’s still worth watching.

Local of the week

Oklahoma's Mario Williams has played like a five-star freshman for the Sooners.
Oklahoma's Mario Williams has played like a five-star freshman for the Sooners. [ ORLIN WAGNER | AP ]

Oklahoma receiver Mario Williams (Plant City High)

His 20 catches are tied for most on the team leading into a matchup against a mediocre Texas passing defense. Keep an eye on the five-star freshman as he looks to help reboot an Oklahoma offense that has looked uncharacteristically plain.

Related: How Oklahoma and Texas joining the SEC will affect recruiting

GameDay breakdown

Something I never thought I’d write: Oklahoma’s run defense (12th nationally at 2.7 yards per rush) is better than its passing offense (tied for 54th at 7.9 yards per attempt). Texas will test the Sooners’ biggest strength. Longhorns running back Bijan Robinson is second nationally at 819 yards from scrimmage and looks like an early Heisman Trophy contender. The Sooners will have to slow him down if they’re going to win their fourth game in the series.

Related: Why Oklahoma leaving the Big 12 for the SEC matters to FSU

Jimbo vs. Saban

Jimbo Fisher remains winless against Nick Saban, including Fisher's time at Florida State.
Jimbo Fisher remains winless against Nick Saban, including Fisher's time at Florida State. [ JOHN BAZEMORE | AP ]

Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher made headlines in the offseason when he told the Touchdown Club of Houston that he was going to beat Nick Saban’s behind while the coaching legend is still at Alabama. Here’s your chance, Jimbo. Good luck doing so against a coach who improved to 24-0 against former assistants with Alabama’s 21-point win over Lane Kiffin’s Rebels last week.

Worst. Game. Ever.

That’s not hyperbole. UConn and UMass are two of the nation’s four winless teams. Both rank in the bottom four nationally in SP+ analytics. UMass has lost 16 consecutive games, while UConn has lost 16 of its last 17. The one exception: A 56-35 win over UMass in 2019. On the plus side, at least somebody is getting a win out of this!

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