Last week was about as insane as it gets with Purdue knocking off Ohio State and Washington State staking their claim for the PAC-12. It’s going to make for some exciting championship-caliber football games in the coming weeks.
3:30 PM ET - #9 Florida at #7 Georgia on CBS - Who will reign supreme in the SEC under the big lights of ‘College Gameday’?
These two teams are both 4-1 in conference play and still in control of their own destinies despite having one loss. The Gators lost to Kentucky and the Bulldogs lost to LSU. Florida beat LSU just a few weeks ago and have a pretty opportunistic defense. Georgia will need to run the football in this game because that’s where they can maximize their potential to win. The problem is that the Bulldogs are hurting up front on the offensive line.
Big uglies facing some big challenges. Big Country Ben Cleveland is out. Andrew Thomasis still gimpy. Solomon Kindley isn’t 100%. Plus I’m sure there are other starters that are banged up or have something nagging them. With no idea if we’re going to run or pass, and apparently a different strategy at every possession, we’re going to need guys to step up. And by step up, I don’t mean Cade Mays coming in late to blindside someone and draw an unsportsmanlike penalty.
Florida defensively is only so-so against the run. And surprise, surprise, they give up more rushing yards per attempt on 3rd down than on 1st down. But they will dial up run and gap blitzes like nobody’s business. Speaking of which, the Gators are top 20 in the nation at the sack thing, and they’re #6 in passing yards allowed, good for first in the SEC.
What to expect: Georgia got outplayed by a hungry LSU team but I don’t see them losing this one. They are favored by a touchdown and expect them to win by seven in the emphatic Game of the Week!
3:30 PM ET - #18 Iowa at #17 Penn State on ESPN- The Hawkeyes are much better than the Nittany Lions were hoping when this one was scheduled
Penn State was supposed to be knocking on the door this season but have already lost two conference games. In walks 6-1 Iowa, whose only loss is to Wisconsin. The Hawkeyes have an intimidating defense and have found a passing offense with Nate Stanley. This game may not reach the 30’s on the scoreboard and Penn State has concerns on offense. Penn State has receivers dropping passes and questionable play-calling by their coordinator. Folks are pretty confident in Iowa taking this one:
Look, I like Iowa straight up in this game. The Hawkeyes are playing are playing better football, and they’re more balanced than a young Penn State team at the moment. Iowa’s got the defense to coral Trace McSorley and Penn State’s run game, as it ranks sixth nationally allowing 2.72 yards per carry. Just as importantly, the Hawkeyes have a QB in Nate Stanley capable of contending with the environment in Happy Valley. I’ll happily take the points with Iowa this week.
What to expect: Iowa is going to win this game in the fourth quarter by six when their defense makes a huge play.
7 PM ET- #14 Washington State at #24 Stanford on PAC-12 Network - All the pressure is on Mike Leach and his Cougars to keep the pedal down
Last week, we picked the Cougars to outplay the Ducks and we were right in that assessment. Now, the spotlight is on Washington State, and always entertaining head coach Mike Leach, to win the PAC-12. The Washington Huskies are right behind them at #15 and aren’t going anywhere yet. In Stanford’s two losses, to both Notre Dame and Utah, they were decimated by an average of 20 points. Outside of those two losses, Stanford has been able to limit opponent’s scoring. The Cougars will need to keep bringing it in the red zone:
They’re fourth nationally in TD%, allowing touchdowns on just a little over one in three trips by the opponent.
The Cougars, meanwhile, score TDs on 85% of their red zone appearances — second nationally.
Irresistable force, meet immovable object.
Last year, the Cougs scored on four of their five red zone chances against Stanford, including three touchdowns. The year before that, it was 5-of-6 with all five of those being touchdowns. It should be noted that Stanford wasn’t great in that category either of the last two years, but it should also ease any concerns that there’s something in the Air Raid that might prevent it from breaking through on Saturday.
What to expect: The Leach won’t fail us now, expect them to be only the second team this year to put up 40 points on the Cardinal.
8 PM ET- #6 Texas at Oklahoma State on ABC - Sam Ehlinger returns for a possible BIG-12 barnburner in Stillwater
Though Texas’ return to the top of the college world has been one of the best stories, they can’t afford to sleep on anyone. Fresh off their bye week, Sam Ehlinger returns to the lineup which is a huge positive for the Longhorns. Last time out, Shane Buechele was thrust into the starting role in the first quarter and they barely squeaked by the Baylor Bears. Ehlinger is the running game for Texas and without him, they just weren’t the same on offense. Oklahoma State’s powerful offense can be hard to keep pace with. The Longhorns must protect Sam Ehlinger to be successful and the Cowboys pass rush are no slouches:
The Cowboys also do their fair share of working in the opponents’ backfield, ranking No. 1 nationally in sacks with 30 total, an average of 4.29 sacks per game. The effort is led by junior defensive end Jordan Brailford, who leads the team with eight sacks, good enough to tie him for No. 7 in the country.
The Texas offensive line will have its work cut out for it against this Oklahoma State pass rush in trying to keep quarterback Sam Ehlinger upright and healthy after head coach Tom Herman said Thursday he expects the sophomore to start. Ehlinger will be without his favorite target for at least a series on Saturday, as Herman announced that Lil’Jordan Humphrey, Kris Boyd, and Davante Davis would all miss at least one series on Saturday due to arriving late to a team function.
What to expect: The Longhorns are not running away from anyone in this one but we’ll take them by four points in a Saturday shootout. Next week’s game with West Virginia will be a big decider in the BIG-12.
You can find the entire slate of games here.