NFL Week Three Report and College Previews
Breaking news …The Pittsburgh Steelers no longer have a big, fat zero in their “W” column thanks to Monday Night’s entertaining (if penalty-filled) 30-27 win at the 1-point favorite Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
So, bust out your “terrible towels” – yes, there were plenty of them inside Raymond James Stadium for the Week 3 road win just as there were thousands of ‘em way back in Super Bowl 43 when QB Ben Roethlisberger and that Steelers team won it all with a thrilling 27-23 non-cover triumph over the Arizona Cardinals.
Now, how’s that for a Super Bowl history lesson!
The here-and-now win gets Pittsburgh to 1-1-1 SU (straight-up) and very much alive in an AFC North that’s a whole lot better than you might have thought prior to the start of the 2018 campaign. Did you know that the quartet of AFC North teams – that’s Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland and aforementioned Pittsburgh -- is a combined 8-4 ATS (against the spread) this season and actually AFC North teams are a combined 6-2 versus the vig when playing folks outside the division.
Funny then, that money poured in on the Bucs for the MNF game as Tampa Bay opened as a 2-point underdog and closed as the tiny favorite – and even without malcontent RB Le’Veon Bell (say bye-bye to another $850,000!) the Steelers rock-n-rolled their way to their most important regular-season win in years as “Big Ben” threw for 353 yards and 3 TDs and was simply close-to-impossible to bring down for the TB defensive line while Steelers’ TE Vance McDonald had the straight-arm shiver of all time en route to his gangbusters 75-yard catch-and-run scoring play.
There’s still a pulse in the Steel City and there’s immediate home games against Baltimore and Atlanta these next two weeks: Can a Bell-less Pittsburgh squad string together a couple of more wins on top of this prime-time conquest? The Steelers may have to if they gonna keep up the pace in their division.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL UPDATE
There’s a batch of true marquee matchups on Saturday’s busy card and so let’s get you some sneak peeks:
#12 WEST VIRGINIA (our #10 team / 3-0) at #25 TEXAS TECH (3-1) – 12 p.m. ET, ESPN
If you didn’t believe in the here-and-now WVU Mountaineers, then check this out: The Morgantown men are 3-0 SU and 3-0 ATS after wins/covers against double-digit dogs Tennessee, Youngstown State and Kansas State. Note that West Virginia QB Will Grier (1,117 yards passing with 14 TDs and 3 INTs) has been razor sharp early on and watch here for WR Gary Jennings Jr. who’s averaging 16.1 yards a grab with 15 receptions and 4 TDs. First team to 60 wins?
TENNESSEE (2-2) at #2 GEORGIA (4-0) – 3:30 p.m. ET
Talk about two ships passing in the night! The Georgia Bulldogs have opened the season with four consecutive wins and by a per-game average of 31.3 points a game – va-va-va voom! Right now, the Georgia offense is gettin’ lots of love but check out the defense that’s currently ranked 12th in the land and has allowed 17 points or less in three of these four games. Did you ever think you’d see the day where the Tennessee Volunteers would be 32-point underdogs to anybody?
#4 OHIO STATE (4-0) at #9 PENN STATE (4-0) – 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC
Sure, there will be whiteout conditions in Happy Valley this Saturday night but the Nittanies – a 3.5-point underdog at last check – will only have reason to party if their defense gets a grip on Ohio State slinger Dwayne Haskins (11 TDs, 1 INT and 890 yards passing) who may just be headed to a Heisman Trophy ceremony come December. Haskins could be uber-dangerous with play-action passes here providing the Buckeyes’ ground game is purring but the flip side is this Penn State team scored the final 42 points in a 63-24 win/cover at Illinois last Friday night and QB Trace McSorley (8 TD passes / 2 INTs) will put O-State’s young secondary in a bind if he comes out hot here.
#7 STANFORD (4-0) at #8 NOTRE DAME (4-0) – 7:30 p.m. ET, NBC
Starting to get the feeling that this could be a really special season for the Stanford Cardinals – fresh off that dynamic OT win at Oregon last Saturday night and keep in mind star RB Bryce Love (just 254 yards rushing and 2 TDs) has yet to really get heated up; on the other hand, can’t blame the ND Fighting Irish fans for thinking this season could end up with a playoff berth especially now that Brian Kelly has settled on Ian Book at quarterback. The dude threw for 325 yards and ran for another 43 yards while accounting for five TDs (two via the air waves). Stanford’s won three in a row in this rivalry game – we say the winner is a sure bet to playing somewhere on New Year’s Day.