Get your weekend started early with College Football Thursday!
First, at 4:00 PM PT on CBSSN, the 5-2 Northern Illinois Huskies travel to Akron, Ohio for a tilt against the 4-3 Akron Zips. Although this game does not feature two heavyweight contenders, this game still has the potential to come down to the wire. The Huskies have been allowing only 21.1 points per game and giving up just 344.5 yards per game. On the other side, the Zips are giving up 23.6 points per game and 368 yards per contest.
Neither team’s offense is very good, as Northern Illinois has only been averaging 17.1 points per game and piling up a rather mediocre 284.3 yards per game. NIU’s best method of attack is on the ground, where they average 151.3 rushing yards per game. They have struggled through the air, as starting QB Marcus Childers has only thrown for 8 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. NIU averages 133 passing yards per game. Not great.
As for the Zips, their offense is slightly better, but not by much. They are averaging 23.6 points per game and 315.3 total yards. They have somewhat of a balanced attack, as they;ve been averaging 193.3 passing yards and 122 rushing yards per game. Much like NIU, their QB Kato Nelson has struggled to the tune of 9 touchdowns and 7 interceptions this season. It might be safe to stay away from this one tonight.
Also kicking off at 4:00 PM PT on ESPNU is the 5-3 Ohio Bobcats against the 6-3 Western Michigan Broncos. This game has shootout written all over it. The Bobcats come into this one averaging a whopping 38.3 points and 468.6 total yards per game. They are balanced offensively, averaging 234.8 passing yards and 233.9 rushing yards per tilt. Oddly enough, their starting QB Nathan Rourke is their leading passer (14 TDs and 5 INTs), and their leading rusher (569 yards and 6 TDs).
As for WMU, they also can put up points in a hurry as illustrated by their 35 points per game average. While the Broncos average 463.2 yards of offense, they also have a balanced offensive approach. The WMU Broncos average 254.1 passing yards and 209.1 rushing yards per game. The offensive identities of these teams are very similar. Starting QB Jon Wassink has enjoyed a solid year under center where he’s tossed 16 TDs compared to 6 INTs. Also, starting RB LeVante Bellamy deserves a ton of credit for the year he’s having. He’s rushed for 865 yards and 5 TDs and is one of the more underrated backs in college football.
Interestingly enough, both of these teams have won 4 of their last 5 games.
Lastly, kicking off at 4:30 PM PT on ESPN is the 5-3 Temple Owls against the #12 7-0 UCF Knights. Temple comes into this one as the heavy underdog, but that certainly does make for an intriguing potential upset. Perhaps. The Owls do a solid job offensively, averaging 30.5 points and 372.9 total yards of offense. However, their starting QB Anthony Russo has thrown more interceptions (10) than touchdowns (9) this season. That simply will not cut it against a UCF Knights passing defense that only allows 212.6 yards through the air. It is imperative to take care of the football, especially on the road.
As for the undefeated the Knights, they are a juggernaut offensively. They are averaging a ridiculous 537.1 yards per game while averaging 376 yards through the air and 261.1 yards on the ground. Starting QB McKenzie Milton is enjoying a huge season that’s seen him throw for 1797 yards and 16 touchdowns compared to 4 interceptions. He has a cannon for an arm. UCF has a bevy of offensive weapons that can destroy you, starting with their running backs. Adrian Killins Jr. leads the group with 91 carries and 4 TDs, but fellow backs Greg McCrae and Taj McGowan are lethal in open space. Both of them are averaging more than 7 yards per carry. Crazy stuff, indeed. UCF is so much fun to watch. This game is definitely worth your attention.
And that’ll do it for your College Football Thursday open thread!