This is the best week of college football yet this season. Every conference has a key tilt, kicking off this weekend. The SEC features Georgia making a rare trip to LSU and Texas A&M visiting South Carolina. The Big 10 has two monster match-ups, Michigan State plays Penn State for the Land Grant Trophy, while Wisconsin faces Michigan at night in Ann Arbor. The top game in the Big 12, will take place Thursday night, when Texas Tech travels to TCU, in what should be a shootout. The beneath-the-radar game of the week, will take place in Memphis, where No. 10 Central Florida will attempt to continue their nation’s best winning streak? Finally, the Pac-12 will feature my favorite game this weekend, as the Washington Huskies travel to Eugene to face the Ducks in a battle of two Top 25 teams, in a game that should decide the Pac-12 North. I’ll have picks and analysis on all these games below.
THIS WEEKS FEATURED GAMES
No. 2 GEORGIA (6-0) AT No. 13 LSU (5-1)
This is the top game in the SEC this weekend. Georgia hasn’t traveled to “Death Valley” since 2009. Last week I called for an LSU loss in the swamp. Quarterback Joe Burrow finally had a rough game. This will be his toughest test yet, as the Bulldogs have the fourth-ranked defense in the FBS. Georgia struggled last week in the first half against Vanderbilt. The will need a 60-minute effort against a tough LSU squad. Quarterback Jake Fromm has a distinct edge over Burrow in the passing game. I actually like the Tigers defense to keep the Bulldogs below their season averages. LSU is a great play as a home underdog, but I just don’t think they have enough offensively to pull the upset. BULLDOGS WIN A CLOSE ONE, 27-21.
No. 22 TEXAS A&M (4-2) AT SOUTH CAROLINA (3-2)
Both teams took a big step forward last weekend with big SEC home wins. The Aggies played a great game in defeating Kentucky 20-14 in overtime, holding RB Benny Snell to a season-low 60 yards. The Gamecocks rallied behind backup quarterback Michael Scarnecchia to beat Missouri 37-35. Quarterback Jake Bentley is expected back for the Gamecocks, but I think the key to this game falls on the shoulder pads of A&M RB Trayveon Williams. Williams has 720 yards rushing, while averaging 5.8 yards per tote and the Gamecocks will be missing a couple of key cogs on the defensive line. The Aggies have also faced a stronger schedule to this point and South Carolina has never defeated Texas A&M (0-4). AGGIES GRIND OUT A ROAD WIN,27-17.
No. 15 WISCONSIN (4-1) AT No. 12 MICHIGAN (5-1)
This will be a classic battle of two heavyweight champions throwing haymakers at one another. The Badgers feature the fourth-ranked rushing attack in the country, against the Wolverines sixth-best rushing defense. Let’s assume the Wolverines neutralize the Badger rushing game. That leaves us with the battle between Badger quarterback Alex Hornibrook versus Michigan signal caller Shea Patterson. Patterson has actually improved each week and will enter this game completing 69% of his passes with a 13-4 TD to int. ratio. I should also note that the Badger secondary is beat up. The Badgers have won three of the last four in this series, Saturday that trend will be tested. WOLVERINES LAND THE LAST BLOW, 20-13.
MICHIGAN STATE (3-2) AT No. 8 PENN STATE (4-1)
It’s homecoming in Happy Valley and the natives are restless. The Lions are still stinging from their loss to Ohio State. Practices have been intense all week as the Lions attempt to restart their season. The Spartans are also reeling from a loss last week to Northwestern. Sparty is hoping to get back Tailback L.J. Scott who has missed the last three games. Trace McSorley took the loss to Ohio State very personally. This kid is an intense competitor who reminds me very much of Baker Mayfield and this is the battle for the Land Grant Trophy. McSorley will take it upon himself to lead the Lions to a victory in this game. LIONS MAKE A STATEMENT, 36-24.
No. 10 CENTRAL FLORIDA (5-0) AT MEMPHIS (4-2)
This is likely the biggest test the Knights will face on the road for the remainder of the season. The Tigers offense features RB Darrell Henderson who is averaging 11.8 yards per carry. Tiger QB Brady White is no slouch throwing for 1,549 yards, with a 15-1 touchdown to interception ratio. I’ve been in Memphis for a big game atmosphere and I can tell you this is a tough place to play. But when Scott Frost took the Nebraska job, he left a ton of talent for Josh Heupel to work with. The Knights have a huge advantage on the defensive side of the ball. The Knights have yet to be tested and are averaging 51 points per game. They are led by QB McKenzie Milton, a dual-threat who can beat you with his arm and his legs. The Knights finally moved into the Top-10 with their win over SMU Saturday, and own the longest current winning streak in the nation at 18. Ultimately I expect the Tigers to trade points with the Knights for a half. KNIGHTS PULL AWAY LATE, 45-35.
No.7 WASHINGTON (5-1) AT No.17 OREGON (4-1)
This game is known as the “Border War” and has been played since 1900. This game sets up as the top game in the Pac-12 this season and should decide the Pac-12 North. The Huskies have won the last two games in this series by 84 points! The Huskies offense has been inconsistent all season long. Quarterback Jake Browning does just enough to win. The defense is one of the best in the country. They will have to come up big this weekend for the Huskies to win on the road. The Ducks should actually be undefeated. The epic meltdown against Stanford may have cost Oregon a chance at an undefeated season. The one thing that stands out to me, is the physical at the line of scrimmage by the Ducks. Head coach Mario Cristobal has really emphasized this all year. Quarterback Justin Herbert hasn’t been healthy for this game in two years. He is now. The bye-week gave the Ducks a chance to get healthy and to add a few wrinkles to the offense. DOUBLE REVENGE FOR THE DUCKS, 34-30
SUPER SIX PACK…………… SIX GAMES, SIX WORDS, SIX PICKS
TEXAS TECH (3-2) AT TCU (3-2) Top game in the BIG 12. SADDLE TROPHY STAYS WITH THE FROGS, 38-28.
No. 14 FLORIDA (5-1) AT VANDERBILT (3-3) The Gators have won 13 in a row at Vandy. NO LET DOWN THIS WEEK, 31-16.
No. 19 COLORADO (5-0) AT USC (3-2) The Buffaloes have never defeated USC (0-12). MAKE IT 13, MEN OF TROY 30-27.
OLE MISS (4-2) AT ARKANSAS (1-5) The Rebels put up 825 total yards last week. THEY MIGHT TOP THAT THIS WEEK, 52-45.
AKRON (2-2) AT BUFFALO (5-1) Key game in the Mid-American East. BULLS BECOME THE FIRST MAC TEAM TO GET BOWL ELIGIBLE, 31-24.
PITTSBURGH (3-3) AT No.5 NOTRE DAME (6-0) Is this the week Notre Dame lays an egg? CLOSER THAN THE EXPERTS THINK, IRISH 23-20.