Last week we feasted on several big upsets and fantastic finishes. This weekend we will look forward to the “Cocktail Party” and several potential spooky outcomes. Thursdays two matchups feature two, top 25 clubs. Both these games should have good entertainment value. Baylor and Appalachian State will look to stay unbeaten. Saturdays feature game will take place on a neutral field in Jacksonville. The Florida-Georgia game will feature a performance from Florida-Georgia Line. The PAC-12 has two very intriguing matchups. Utah and Oregon will face stiff challenges on the road.
THIS WEEKS FEATURED GAMES
No.8 GEORGIA (6-1) VERSUS No.6 FLORIDA (7-1) This game is commonly known as the “Worlds largest cocktail party”. The game is played at a neutral site in Jacksonville, Florida. A month ago I would have predicted an easy Georgia victory. The fact is, the Bulldogs simply haven’t played up to their pre-season hype. The offensive line hasn’t lived up to the high expectations placed on them, and the wide receiver group has underperformed. Quarterback Jake Fromm has played well and will be the best player on the field Saturday. Florida on the other hand, have exceeded all my expectations. Quarterback Kyle Trask has been outstanding since taking over for the injured Feleipe Franks. The Gators expect to get a couple key defensive players back for this game. Both teams are well rested, coming off bye weeks. I think Georgia is poised to play their best game of the season. Fromm and tailback D’Andre Swift will combine to lead the Bulldogs to a convincing win. Kirby Smart will lift a cocktail glass in celebration, 30-17.
No.7 OREGON (7-1) AT USC (5-3) This is a real tough spot for Oregon. The Ducks are off two emotional wins over both Washington and Washington State. Last weeks win over the Cougars took a full sixty minutes! This is likely the Ducks last real test before the PAC-12 Championship contest. The last two weeks have shown us that, the Duck secondary is indeed compromised. Both Anthony Gordon and Jacob Eason, enjoyed big games. USC quarterback Kedon Slovis is completing 73% of his passes this season. He has the best receiving group in the PAC-12, led by the trio of Michael Pittman, Tyler Vaughns and Amon-Ra St. Brown. The Trojans have been a “MASH” unit all season long, with injuries all over the defense and at the tailback position. The Ducks will score at will against the Trojan D. The question will be can the Ducks slow down Slovis and his receiving corp. I think this will be a classic boxing match, with Justin Herbert delivering the last body blow. DUCKS 46-44.
No.15 SMU (8-0) AT No.24 MEMPHIS (7-1) ESPN’s gameday crew will be on hand in Memphis. This could be the best game on Saturday nights schedule. There should be plenty of fireworks with two of the better offenses going head-to-head. The Mustangs are led by the trio of quarterback Shane Buechele, receiver James Proche and tailback Xavier Jones. The Mustangs average 43 points per game, good for sixth best in the FBS. The Tigers also feature an explosive offense averaging 39.5 PPG. Freshman tailback Kenneth Gainwell has been on fire, becoming the first player for Memphis and the first in the FBS to have 200 yards receiving and 100 yards rushing in a game since Troy Edwards of Louisiana Tech in 1997. The Tigers have a big advantage of playing in big games like this the past few years. SMU is in uncharted territory. A sellout crowd is sure to be on hand. Tigers will pull away late, 42-35.
HOUSTON (3-5) AT CENTRAL FLORIDA (6-2) The Knights figure they must win-out to have a chance to catch Cincinnati in the AAC East. I agree, and that all starts with a big win on Saturday versus Houston. The Knights enter this tilt with the 8th ranked passing offense in the FBS. The Cougars are 123rd against the pass. That means freshman quarterback Dillon Gabriel should light up the Cougar Secondary. Houston played an inspired game against SMU last weekend, but came up short. Now they hit the road to play a very hungry Central Florida team that has plenty to play for. Knights score early and often, 48-17.
BYU (3-4) AT UTAH STATE (4-3) These two rivals play for the “Old Wagon Wheel”. BYU has been beaten badly, two years in a row. Aggie Quarterback Jordan Love has had his way with the Cougars defense. Love has struggled the last few weeks, and hit bottom in last weeks loss to Air Force. “I need to play a whole lot better”, said Love after the loss to the Falcons. The Cougars have had a plethora of injuries at the quarterback position. Third string quarterback Baylor Romney guided the Cougars to their upset over Boise State two weeks ago. The good news is, that both Zach Wilson and Jaren Hall could return. I think the Cougar defense is clearly the best unit on the field. BYU is catching the Aggies at the right time. Wagon wheel rolls back to Provo, 27-24.
No.9 UTAH (7-1) AT WASHINGTON (5-3) Another key contest in the PAC-12. Utah and USC are in a heated battle for the PAC-12 South. Washington has dominated the Utes, going 12-1 in the last 13 games. The Utes actually enter this game as a four point favorite. Offensively, I think the Huskies have the edge. Quarterback Jacob Eason, throws one of prettiest deep balls in the country. Salvon Ahmed does a nice job balancing the Huskies offense. There is no doubt that, Utah has the advantage on the defense. The Huskies do have a significant edge on special teams. This could turn into a big factor in the game. I honestly think that Washington will be in a fowl mood, after blowing a 14 point lead to Oregon two weeks ago. They also have the advantage of having a bye week to prepare for this one. Playing spoiler is just fine for a bunch of angry Dawgs, 26-21.
SUPER SIX PACK: SIX WORDS, SIX GAMES, SIX PICKS
GEORGIA SOUTHERN (4-3) AT No.20 APPALACHIAN STATE (7-0) The Eagles are the last team to beat the Mountaineers. Revenge is sweet, 31-17.
WEST VIRGINIA (3-4) AT No.12 BAYLOR (7-0) Last year West Virginia clobbered the Bears 58-14. Payback baby 45-20.
No.22 KANSAS STATE (5-2) AT KANSAS (3-5) The Wildcats have won ten straight games. The sunflower showdown will be a four quarter battle, Wildcats win a thriller 41-38.
ARMY (3-5) AT AIR FORCE (6-2) The Cadets struggles continue. Flyboys are good, really good 31-17
MIAMI (4-4) AT FLORIDA STATE (4-4) Quarterback Alex Hornibrook is slated to start for the Seminoles. Hurricanes defense is licking their chops, Canes 27-24.
FRESNO ST (3-4) AT HAWAII (5-3) This is one of my favorite trophy games. The “Golden Screwdriver” is on the line. It all began at the 2002 Hawaii at Fresno State game, when then Warrior head coach June Jones claimed to have been hit in the head by a screwdriver hurled from the stands at the end of his team’s 31-21 win. The trophy, a golden screwdriver implanted in artificial turf on a rustic wooden base, “commemorates” the altercation. Its creation is the result of a Fresno radio station’s call for listeners to design an annual award for the rivalry game. Bows get bowl eligible, 37-31.