#9 Florida @ South Carolina - Gamecocks took down Georgia, can they upset the Gators, too? 12 PM ET ESPN
What a week it was for the Gamecocks having upset the college football landscape with a shocking win over the Georgia Bulldogs. Though #9 Florida took the ‘L’ versus LSU last week, that Georgia loss helped them out a whole bunch. Now, Florida must make sure they don’t fall prey to the upset this week. It’ll be hard to do as they enter this week without two of the Gators’ best pass rushers:
Florida’s pass rush was largely neutralized by LSU in Death Valley last Saturday, with the Gators recording zero sacks and meaningfully pressuring Joe Burrow only a handful of times. With Greenard out for all but a couple of plays and Zuniga limited all night — both players are nursing ankle injuries, though Zuniga’s had been known and had kept him out of almost a month of action, while Greenard’s was revealed as something of a shock during the game and had not previously led to him missing time — the Gators lacked their best one-on-one rushers, and had to rely on blitzing and breakdowns to hurry Burrow ... who mostly evaded the rush with impressive foot speed, anyway.
If Florida is without Greenard and Zuniga again, it’s hard to see how Jeremiah Moon, Zachary Carter, and Khris Bogle — all promising pass-rushers, all still works in progress — could combine to approximate their elders’ proficiencies.
Prediction: Gators win by 10, keep SEC hopes hanging on...
#12 Oregon @ #25 Washington - A wild PAC-12 picture could get clearer if Ducks can get to 4-0 in conference play - 3:30 PM ET - ABC
There are only three games this week between ranked opponents and the PAC-12 has two of those starting with this matchup. Oregon is 3-0 in the conference and every other squad is posting up at least two losses on the year. This is a big one for the Oregon Ducks that a win could likely wrap things up nicely for them going forward. Can the Huskies stand their ground on the home turf?
We all circled this game at the start of the year. Not only is it Oregon. Not only were they the top ranked team in the conference in the pre-season. Not only do we feel the need to avenge a painful loss in Eugene last year. They’re also they the biggest challenger for Pac-12 North supremacy. Things have not gone according to schedule for the Huskies, who could have been 7-0 coming into the showdown if not for stumbles against Cal and Stanford. Now, the game is more important than ever because the Dawgs need to make up two games in the division and won’t have a chance if that deficit swells to three.
Prediction: Washington isn’t ready to stop these Ducks, Oregon by a touchdown
#18 Baylor @ Oklahoma State - Baylor Bears have a big test as they remain one of two undefeated BIG-12 teams & staring at OU - 4 PM ET FOX
If the Baylor Bears can walk out of Stillwater with a victory, it’s possible they could be 9-0 by the time they take on the juggernaut Oklahoma. The Cowboys have enjoyed playing spoiler to many BIG-12 hopefuls in the past and they have the best running back in the country in Chuba Hubbard. Baylor better concern themselves with putting the clamps on Hubbard or they could be handed a quick loss. Baylor’s defense will also be dealing with a big loss but the Bear’s offense should be able to keep them upright:
The loss of Clay Johnston is huge and will be something to watch against Oklahoma State. Clay had elite lateral quickness and turned a lot of would-be 7 yard gains into 2 or 3 yard gains. They have a good replacement in Terrel Bernard, but he is not as good as Johnston—otherwise he would have been starting! Expect a dip in Baylor’s defense with the loss of Johnston, but Baylor’s offense continues to ascend and get better every week (1st half against Tech aside—Baylor’s overall numbers in that game were pretty good). Thankfully Baylor’s DL remains incredible and the secondary is competent. If Baylor makes the Big 12 title game, it will be because Baylor’s offense continues to build on their duo of Mims and Thornton and can punish soft defenses with the run game.
Prediction: In the end, give me Baylor’s offense to be too much for the Cowboys
#16 Michigan @ #7 Penn State - BIG-10 action on deck as the Nittany Lions are looking to send Harbaugh & his khakis back with another loss - 7:30 PM ET ABC
Michigan has won four of the last five games against Penn State but they shouldn’t be excited about this trip to Happy Valley. Penn State’s defense is, for lack of a better word, really freaking good. The Wolverines are a sloppy bunch and against the Nittany Lions, who give up just 259 yards per game, that’s going to get Jim Harbaugh’s khakis in a bunch. Especially considering how solid the Penn State offense has been:
Last year, Michigan whooped Penn State at the Big House, but this is a brand new year for both teams, and the home team this year, unfortunately, looks like a juggernaut once again.
The offense is lead by redshirt sophomore quarterback Sean Clifford, who looks like a Trace McSorely clone through the first six games. He is dangerous through the air (1,560 pass yards, 13 touchdowns, 2 interceptions) and on the ground (252 rush yards, 2 touchdowns). He can beat you in a lot of different ways, so Don Brown will be tasked with getting pressure on him while also making sure he doesn’t escape and run for big yards.
Many thought the running game would be a weak spot for Penn State this year, but it has been the complete opposite. The Nittany Lions have several running backs Michigan will have to keep track of, most notably true freshman Noah Cain, who has 310 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns. Others to watch for include true freshman Devyn Ford (215 yards, 2 touchdowns), redshirt sophomore Journey Brown (233 yards, 3 touchdowns) and sophomore Ricky Slade (59 yards, 2 touchdowns).
Prediction: I see this as a close game, down to the wire, but give me Penn State by a late score