Week 8 College Football Breakdown with Joe Lisi: Iowa vs. Northwestern & Pittsburgh vs. Duke

Northwestern Wildcats player in action

Joe Lisi

Friday, October 20, 2017 6:21 PM GMT

Friday, Oct. 20, 2017 6:21 PM GMT

Week 8 College Football breakdown with Joe Lisi: This is the companion article to Joe's picks on the Iowa-Northwestern & Pittsburgh-Duke game this Saturday.

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Iowa vs. Northwestern

Line: Iowa -1.0

Iowa has won 3 of the last five over Northwestern since 2012 and has won those games by 26.0 ppg. However, last season the Wildcats picked up the 38-31 win in Iowa City.

Iowa is coming off of a bye week, while the Wildcats are coming off of a double-digit win over Maryland 37-21.

Northwestern rushed for 238 yards against Maryland and will look to continue to the offensive consistency entering this contest. Quarterback Clayton Thorson is completing 60% of his passes for 1,496 yards with 8 touchdowns and 9 interceptions.

The Wildcats are averaging 267 passing yards per game and will look to challenge an Iowa secondary that is giving up 247 passing yards to opposing offenses in 2017. The Wildcats converted 10 of 21 third downs last week and will look to run an up-tempo attack that will force Iowa out of their game plan of running the football.

The key to this match-up will be the ability for Northwestern to run the football. In the Wildcats three wins this year, the offense was able to rush for over 100 yards in each game. In the team’s three losses, the team failed to rush for over 100 yards.

Northwestern won their three games by 23 ppg and lost their three games by an average margin of defeat of 19 ppg.

The Wildcats have played very well in run support over the past four games against Bowling Green, Wisconsin, Penn State and Maryland holding those four opponents to 96.2 rushing yards per game.

Northwestern held three of the four to under 100 yards rushing with Wisconsin being the only team to top the 100-yard rushing mark (109 yards).

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Pittsburgh vs. Duke

Line: Duke -8.0

Pittsburgh has lost to Penn State, Oklahoma State, Georgia Tech, NC State and Syracuse who are a combined 24-7 or .774%. Pittsburgh won this game last year in Heinz Field by a score of 56-14.

On the other hand, Duke is coming off of three straight losses to Miami, Virginia and Florida State. The last two losses against the Cavaliers and the Seminoles were by a combined 14 total points or 7.0 ppg.

The Blue Devils allowed 228 rushing yards to the Seminoles and can be a worn out football team emotionally entering this game. The offensive line is allowing 19 total sacks through the first seven games (2.7 sacks per game) and the offense has converted only 15 of 49 third downs or 30%.

Defensively, the Blue Devils defense has allowed 14 of 31 third downs the past two games or 45% and can be a critical factor this Saturday against Pittsburgh’s offense.

Pittsburgh is averaging 240 passing yards per game and will look to challenge a Duke’s secondary that is giving up 204 passing yards to opposing offenses.

The Panthers are holding opposing offenses to 4.8 yards per carry and will look to force Duke’s offense sin to long third downs this weekend.

Over the past four games against Georgia Tech, Rice, Syracuse and NC State the Panthers allowed 23 of 60 third downs or 38%.

Two keys to the Panthers road win will be quarterback Ben Dinucci and running back Qadree Ollison.

Dinucci has completed 56% of his passes for 612 yards with 3 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. On the other hand, Ollison leads the team with 266 rushing yards with 4 touchdowns and is averaging 4.0 yards per carry this season.

The offense has seven receivers that enter this game with double-digit receptions which can help put pressure on the Blue Devils secondary this Saturday. The ability for Pittsburgh to spread the football around and utilize formations to get their speed players involved in the offense can be the match-up to watch this weekend.

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