12 PM ET: #19 Texas vs. #7 Oklahoma on FOX - BIG 12’s Red River Rivalry could be measuring stick for both teams
This game has plenty of drama already but these are two teams that could earn a lot from a victory. The Longhorns have three straight wins, two huge wins over ranked opponents, beating the Sooners will signify their return to the big stage. Oklahoma needs to win this game to further pad their playoff résumé but have struggled with big receivers as of late:
Texas’ scary receivers help mitigate some of Ehlinger’s limitations as a passer. This is a big, physical group of wideouts, and UT works to exploit their size versus defensive backs.
While Collin Johnson receives the bulk of the national attention, Lil’Jordan Humphrey is growing into UT’s most effective weapon out wide. Humphrey arrived in Austin as a raw prospect in 2016, but in the past two years, he has polished his skill set. Tacklers have a tendency to slide off Humphrey’s 6-4, 225 pound frame, and he knows how to use his body to shield defenders when the ball is in the air.
What to expect: This game is tougher than most think because Texas gave Baker Mayfield’s Sooners all they can handle. In the end, the Longhorns won’t get all the stops they need to contain Kyler Murray. Sooners by six points.
12 PM ET: Northwestern at #20 Michigan State on FS1 - Should the Spartans be worried about the Wildcats spoiling the party?
Northwestern took Michigan to the limit last week and the Spartans aren’t nearly the threat that the Wolverines were. The Wildcats beat the Spartans last year in triple overtime and their fan base is feeling lucky:
Like most of the Big Ten, the Spartans have not lived up to the hype after starting the season ranked No. 11 in the country. They almost dropped their season opener to Utah State at home and looked flat in their loss at Arizona State. Brian Lewerke has racked up yardage but has also thrown five interceptions in just four games. Standout running back LJ Scott could be limited as he recovers from an ankle injury and the Spartans will also be without leading receiver Cody White, who tore up the Northwestern secondary in last year’s matchup.
What to expect: Northwestern comes close but they have lost three straight and remain alive in the BIG 10. That Spartan run defense is legit and the Wildcats are an awful passing offense. Spartans are winning by 10.
3:30 PM ET: #5 LSU at #22 Florida on CBS - Tigers must take care of the football against Gators’ defense
Though this is being pegged as the biggest game for each team, the pressure is all on the Tigers even though the Gators have a loss. That Gator defense is stacked with guys that create turnovers. LSU QB Joe Burrow started slow but there is hope after he torched Ole Miss last week. Florida is a much different animal though on defense:
That makes a meeting with Florida’s defense extremely worrisome. The Gators defense is full of ballhawks, and the unit tied for first in the country with 14 takeaways. Florida makes things extremely difficult for opposing passers, ranking fifth nationally with an opponent completion percentage of 48.4%, and stifles offenses in obvious run situations. The Gators allow first downs on only 50% of third-and-short situations, the fifth-best mark in the country. Their 12.2% sack rate is fourth. If D-linemen like Jachai Polite and Jabari Zuniga (7.5 combined sacks) smell blood against a hobbled LSU offensive line, Burrow will have a long afternoon ahead of him.
What to expect: As mentioned, the Tigers offensive line is limping into this one. The Gators pull off the win here and it’s going to be a defensive touchdown that seals it.
7 PM ET: #13 Kentucky at Texas A&M on ESPN - Upstart Wildcats with two SEC East wins must beat Aggies to challenge #2 Georgia
Who would have thought that Kentucky of all teams would be this year’s Cinderella story? Well, that one loss that Florida has is to Kentucky, they also have wins over Mississippi State and South Carolina. Is it possible that Kentucky may challenge the second-best team in the country in the SEC East? Well, they can’t do that if they sleep on the Aggies:
It’s been nine months since the Wildcats last tasted defeat. Saturday, they’ll face their toughest challenge yet of avoiding that fate. Snell is one of the best players in the country and Allen stands alongside him in that regard. However, road games in the SEC play to hostile environments and College Station is one of the most difficult of that category.
Wilson is 5-0 as a starter and that can’t be disputed, although his two touchdowns to five interceptions through the air can be. There’s no question his ability to run the football perfectly compliments Snell’s dominance out of the backfield. However, his inability (thus far) to move the chains with his arm brings a cloud over the fact that Kentucky can pull out yet another underdog victory.
What to expect: The Aggies are 3-2 and those two losses came to two of the Top-5 programs in the country. The Wildcats are a fun story but these Aggies will come out on top by a field goal.
8 PM ET: #6 Notre Dame at #23 Virginia Tech on ABC - Last call for any team that thinks they can upset the Irish
The Irish got past Stanford last week and the Hokies are the last team on their schedule that’s capable of giving them some trouble. The Irish defense has been pretty impressive but so has the Hokies offense. If the Irish are going to continue their march toward a playoff spot, they must stop VT’s quarterback, Ryan Willis:
The Virginia Tech offense is run by QB Ryan Willis, who came in for injured starter Josh Jacksonduring the Old Dominion game a couple weeks ago. Many VT fans actually believe Willis is the better fit for Justin Fuente’s offense, and Willis has been pretty damn good through 1.5 game so far: 527 yards, 10.14 yards per attempt, 4 TD, 0 INT.
His passing (and Josh Jackson’s before him) to the Hokies receivers has absolutely been VT’s best source of offensive production, with guys like Damon Hazelton, Eric Kumah, Hezekiah Grimsley, and Dalton Keene serving as his go-to-targets.
Hazelton especially has been great this season, scoring a touchdown in every game so far and racking up 348 yards on 15 catches. Kumah and Grimsley have chipped in a combined 24 catches for 378 yards and a touchdown, and Dalton Keene has been explosive from the tight end position, turning 4 catches into 105 yards and a touchdown.
What to expect: Notre Dame has been outstanding at shutting teams down in the second-half of games. Expect the same in this one as the Irish pull out a two-score victory.
You can find the full slate of college football games here.