0 ranked matchups this weekend and a fairly weak schedule of games. Even the flagship ESPN preview show College Gameday has had to go FCS school James Madison for their game against Vilanova. Despite this, there are still a few intriguing matchups and a couple of games where top teams have to be on upset alert. Of course there is also the Red River Shootout between Texas and 12 Oklahoma in Dallas, a game which i will be lucky enough to attend as a former Texas Alumni. Anyway, here are the top matchups for this week…
6 TCU Horned Frogs at Kansas State Wildcats
Unfortunately, my preseason pick for the Big 12 title (K State) have been underwhelming and have already suffered 2 losses this season. The surprise package has been TCU who find themselves unbeaten and with an impressive road victory over Oklahoma St. Much of that is down to efficient QB play by the reinvented Kenny Hill and being one of the only teams in the Big 12 that can actually defend. However, this is a potential upset for the Frogs on the road in Manhattan, especially after struggling last week at home to West Virginia. If the Frogs can win this, then they are potentially heading for the Big 12 Championship game and a potential playoff berth. However, a loss throws open the Big 12 race and could actually destroy that conference’s hopes of a playoff berth as it won’t have an unbeaten champion. Overall, i think if TCU establishes the run and Hill continues to be efficient and not turn the ball over then the Frogs’ defense will smother the Wildcats and ensure TCU remain unbeaten.
10 Auburn Tigers at LSU Tigers
After perhaps one of the worst weeks in school history due to the embarrassing loss at home to Troy, LSU responded with an ugly win at Florida thanks to a missed PAT. Although most LSU fans (including myself) are not convinced Ed Orgeron is the right man to lead the team forward, there is no doubting his passion as the coach of his alma mater. On their day, there is no doubting the talent of the Bayou Bengals with future NFL players Derrius Guice, Arden Key, Devin White, Greedy Williams and DJ Chark amongst others highlighting the appeal of the program to attract these athletes.
The difference between these teams will likely come down to the QB play from Danny Etling of LSU and Jarrett Stidham of Auburn. These two share the similarity of being transfer QB’s with Etling arriving form Purdue and Stidham coming from Baylor. However, Stidham is a far superior player and could eventually get drafted if he carries on his impressive form. Auburn have an explosive offense and look a much better team than the one that struggled against Clemson earlier in the season. RB Kerryon Johnson is another to look out for with 11 TD’s in his last 3 games. Auburn will be hoping that they can carry on their impressive form and win out until the Iron Bowl v Alabama. Auburn deserve to be favourites, but don’t count out LSU who are playing for their coach and their future. It will be close, but i believe Stidham’s superior QB play will get the job done for Auburn.
12 Oklahoma Sooners v Texas Longhorns
Without a doubt the highlight of the season for both sets of fans, the Red River Shootout occurs in Dallas which is roughly halfway between Austin and Norman. It also takes place at the end of the Texas State Fair and usually results in a great spectacle. The other noticeable thing about this game is the split at the 50 yard line of the Cotton Bowl between Crimson and Burnt Orange. This is much more than a game though, as alumni from both universities travel to Dallas for the weekend to meet up and reminisce. As mentioned in the intro, as a former Texas alum, I will be there and have luckily secured a ticket. In regards to the match itself, this game has either come at the best or worst time for Oklahoma after the embarrassing home loss to Iowa State. QB Baker Mayfield needs to dust himself down and reinspire his teammates, as another loss will end the Sooners’ season. Individually for Mayfield, he has to be thinking about his Heisman hopes and NFL Draft hopes as there are many people (me included) who believe that he is overrated and is nowhere near the best QB in college. The Longhorns will be desperate for this match as they try to salvage their season after the dreadful opening season loss to Maryland. Their defense is ferocious and will cause the Sooners plenty of problems and the offense is going through resurgence with freshman QB Sam Ehlinger who has won the starting job form Shane Buchele. Oklahoma will start as favourites, but these games are always too close to call and I can’t be seen to back the Sooners this weekend so I’ll have to say that Texas wins by 10 points plus.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at 11 Miami (FL) Hurricanes
Always beware the game after a rivalry win. This is especially true for the Canes who after defeating Florida State for the first time in 7 years have to host one of the trickiest offenses in the nation. The Yellow Jackets operate a triple option scheme which involves a lot of movement and trick plays and 2 RB’s in the backfield. This GT team is pretty good as well, they are only a missed 2 pt conversion against Tennessee away from being undefeated. This will be even trickier for the Canes with the news that star RB Mark Walton will miss the game, this will put a lot of pressure on QB Malik Rosier to deliver. In addition, this will provide a great test for the Canes to see if they’re a legit team or not. If they lose, then they’ll need to regather and try and win out. If they win, then they can look forward to an ACC Championship match against Clemson. I think Miami gets the victory and solidifies the return of ‘The U’ to national prominence.
Boise State Broncos at 19 San Diego State Aztecs
This match in many ways signifies the changing of the guard in the Mountain West. Boise State used to be the dominant force and even went to a few BCS Bowls where they had the famous ‘Statue Of Liberty’ trick play in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma. Since Chris Petersen left for Washington though, they have been a solid team, even winning another Fiesta Bowl, but have yet to recapture the giddy heights of the middle 2000’s when they was once ranked #2 in the nation. Whereas the Aztecs are enjoying a great period that has been built around 2 running backs, Donnel Pumphrey, the all time FBS rushing yards leader and Rashaad Penny who is a genuine contender for the Heisman this year. Now that Pumphrey is in the NFL for the Eagles, Penny has been able to step up and explode for big numbers this season that are only really eclipsed by Saquon Barkley and Bryce Love. The Aztecs are in contention for a New Year’s Six Bowl if they win out and USF falters, but this will undoubtedly be their hardest test. They will just be glad that it’s in sunny San Diego rather than freezing Boise. The Aztecs should win this, and expect Penny to have a big day and further enhance his Heisman credentials.