Unfortunately, there aren’t too many top class matchups this week for various reasons, the main one being that conference play starts soon and teams want to get as good a record as possible. Here I take an in-depth look at the 4 main matchups including a repeat of arguably the greatest college football game of all time.
#3 Clemson Tigers at #14 Louisville Cardinals
Undoubtedly the game of the week. The defending national champions against the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. All the pregame buzz is about the Clemson D line against the unbelievable talent that is Lamar Jackson. Don’t get me wrong, I think Jackson is brilliant, he can rip apart teams on his own. But in regards to his NFL prospects, I can’t see him being a starting NFL QB. In all honesty, I can see his NFL prospects go the way of Johnny Manziel and Tim Tebow who were unbelievable in college, but never quite translated that to the pros (although Manziel being an idiot off the field didn’t help him).
In college, however, Jackson is brilliant. This is backed up by his stats with over 5,000 all purpose yards and 51 TD’s last season. The only trouble is that Louisville rely on him far too much. If he isn’t playing well (which doesn’t happen too often) then Louisville don’t play well. If there’s anyone that can stop him it will be the Clemson defense. They crushed Auburn last week with DE Austin Bryant recording 4 sacks. Although the offense isn’t quite there yet for the Tigers, the LSU defense demonstrated last year that if you shut Jackson down, you shut Louisville down. Honestly I believe that Clemson should win quite comfortably, but if Lamar is in the same mood as he was last year against Florida State, then there could be an upset.
SMU Mustangs at #20 TCU Horned Frogs
Ah, the battle for the Iron Skillet. A good old fashioned rivalry between the Mustangs of Dallas and the Frogs of nearby Fort Worth. SMU used to be a powerhouse team with legendary players such as Doak Walker and Eric Dickerson playing for them. Alas, it all went wrong in 1987 when they received the ‘death penalty’ for illegally paying players. The program has never recovered and has had to settle for mediocrity which is a shame for a team that has 3 national championships. TCU are just as historic a team with 2 national titles (both in the 1930s) and have produced legendary players like LaDainian Tomlinson and Davey O’Brien.
Recently they have been solid yet unspectacular, although they were robbed in 2014 by not getting into the college football playoff (missing out to Ohio State who eventually won the national championship), but they have a solid defense and a potentially explosive offense led by the maverick Kenny Hill. The Frogs should have too much for the Mustangs and should claim their 16th victory in 18 years over their rivals.
#23 Tennessee Volunteers at #24 Florida Gators
The less said about this game the better. Florida were abysmal offensively against Michigan, although they may have some of their suspended players back. Despite the Volunteers only squeaking past Georgia Tech, they showed a lot of character against a very tricky triple option offense that has to be seen to be believed. Florida had an 11 game winning streak over Tennessee that was ended by Josh Dobbs last year.
This one is very hard to predict as you have no idea what either team will produce. It good be a high scoring shootout, or it could be an all field goal affair. One thing is for certain, whoever wins will virtually eliminate the other from the race for the SEC East and will have the chance to battle Georgia for the championship berth. A key deciding factor in this one will likely be Volunteers junior gunslinger Quinten Dormady who has shown plenty of flashes so far. He has big shoes to fill after Joshua Hobbs left for the NFL but he has all the makings of being the X-factor that propels Tennessee over Florida and helping this Vols team make a push for a playoff spot.
Texas Longhorns at #4 USC Trojans
Ah 2006, a simpler time where people weren’t afraid to leave their homes, North Korea wasn’t threatening to blow up the world and Twitter didn’t exist. It was also the year of the greatest college football game of all time, the 2006 Rose Bowl. The game that stopped the USC dynasty with the Longhorns erasing a 12 point deficit with 6:42 left in the game. However, due to academic infringements, USC had to vacate their wins (and losses) so according to the NCAA this match never happened. But for those of us that watched this game live, it will live long in the memory. Both teams fortunes have contrasted massively since Vince Young won the Longhorns that game. Texas had some decent success, but have fell on hard times and are now rebuilding under new coach Tom Herman. USC dramatically fell away once Pete Carroll left for the Seahawks with various coaches including Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian before Clay Helton got blasted by Alabama in his first game before going on a remarkable run that saw them beat Washington and Penn State in the Rose Bowl.
All the talk preseason was about QB Sam Darnold, but it has been RB Ronald Jones who has stolen the spotlight with 275 yards and 5 TD’s in 2 games. I worried about USC after they squeaked by Western Michigan in week 1, but they shut their critics up after demolishing Stanford last week. I fully expect the Trojans to get revenge for 2006, and potentially catapult themselves towards another national championship.
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