By Bryan Foti
Last Week: (3-2)
Week 5 features some exciting matchups. Conference play is in full force this week. Lets take a look at some intriguing matchups.
#22 Texas at Oklahoma St.
Time: Saturday, 12 p.m.
Location: Boone Pickens Stadium
Line: Oklahoma St. -2.5
You can argue either way that Texas is off to a good start under Charlie Strong, or they have just beaten some lousy teams. Expectations were not very high for the Long Horns coming into the season, but that changed when the Long Horns upset then ranked #10 Notre Dame on opening night. However the Irish have a (1-3) record and don’t look strong at all. Last week Texas lost on the road to Cal in a high scoring affair 50-43. So it is difficult to judge how good this Texas team actually is. We will find out a lot when they open up their conference schedule on the road in Stillwater.
Oklahoma St. has some problems this year. The first glaring problem is the offensive line. The Cowboys have allowed more sacks than any other team in the Big 12. Starting Quarterback Mason Rudolph has been sacked 13 times in three games. On defense the Oklahoma St. secondary has not fared well. They have allowed 274.5 passing yards a game, and teams have already thrown for nine touchdown passes against them. If the Cowboys want to win they will have to figure out a way to slow down Texas’ passing attack.
Texas has a two-quarterback system. True freshman Quarterback Shane Buechele does most of the throwing for the Long Horns. Buechele has done ok in his first three games. He threw for 280 yards in the win against Notre Dame, and he has kept his turnovers down so far. The other Texas quarterback is more of a runner than a passer. Tyrone Swoopes had a big game against the Irish, running for three scores, but since then teams have held him in check. It will be interesting to see how Texas Head Coach Charlie Strong will use Swoopes this week.
Texas has problems in the secondary too, they may even be worse than the Cowboys. Look for Rudolph and Wide Receiver James Washington to hook up for a couple of touchdowns in this one. Washington had a big game against Pitt, racking up 296 yards receiving and catching two touchdowns.
This one has the makings of being a good old fashion shootout. Both teams have problems in the secondary, and both offenses will put up points. The difference in this game will be on the offensive line. Texas O-Line is better and will hold up more than the Cowboy’s. That is why you take Texas and the points.
Final: Texas 56, Oklahoma St. 49
Navy at Air Force
Time: Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
Location: Falcon Stadium
Line: Air Force -7.5
Both Navy and Air Force come into this game unbeaten, as they open up the 2016 Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy Series.
The Midshipman lost their starting Quarterback Tago Smith in the season opener, but they have been able to get by with Will Worth. Worth had his best day rushing last week in a win over Tulane. He also had the go ahead touchdown to preserve the victory for Navy.
Navy runs a triple option offense, which is very unconventional in today’s game. However they run it well. Navy is averaging a little over 316 yards a game on the ground. The Falcon defense will need to stay discipline and not over pursue in the run game, otherwise it might be a long day.
The Falcons can run the ball well too. The Falcons are averaging 359.3 yards a game and have averaged 37.3 points a game. Air Force also runs an option offense, so both defenses’ should know how to defend each other because they see the option run so much during practice.
So obviously the key in this game will be who will have the better defense. Air Force has the better defense. They come into this game tied for tenth in total defense. They forced two turnovers in their win against Utah St last week. Linebacker Haji Dunn is coming off winning Mountain West Defensive Player of the Week. He had a season high seven tackles and 1.5 sacks against Utah St. He should have another big game against the Midshipman.
Navy won the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy last year, so this will not be a cakewalk for the Falcons. Air Force will win, but it will be very close. The bet is to take Navy with the points.
Final: Air Force 26, Navy 21
#8 Wisconsin at #4 Michigan
Time: Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
Location: Michigan Stadium
Line: Michigan -10.5
This will be the first real test for Jim Harbaugh’s Wolverines. Michigan has looked sharp in their first four games of the season. In their conference opener last week they blew out Penn St. 49-10. However, this week they take on a tough Wisconsin team.
The Badgers are (4-0) and have beaten two quality teams in LSU and Michigan St. Running Back Corey Clement has been battling an ankle injury all season, but he was able to find the endzone two times against Michigan St.
Freshman Quarterback Alex Hornibrook made his first career start last week and preformed well, throwing for 195 yards and a touchdown.
Hornibrook may have played well against the Spartans, but playing in the Big House will be a whole different ballgame. Jabrill Peppers anchors the Wolverine defense. He will be heavily involved in stopping the run game. Peppers has the ability to rush the quarterback as well. He has recored 2.5 sacks so far on the season.
Offense is Michigan’s strength this year. Quarterback Wilton Speight has thrown for nine touchdown passes so far. But Michigan’s main offensive threats play running back.
The Wolverines have a four-headed monster at the position. De’Veon Smith is the Wolverines leading rusher, he has rushed for 259 yards so far this year. Freshman and sophomore backs Chris Evans and Karan Higdon both have three rushing touchdowns for the year. Senior Ty Issac has added two scores with 150 yards rushing too.
These backs will be put to the test as Wisconsin has a very good rush defense. The Badgers have only allowed 80 yards per game on the ground this season. T.J. Watt, who is the younger brother of Texans star J.J., switched positions to linebacker just a season ago. He has become a star on defense for the Badgers. Watt has recorded 18 tackles and has 3.5 sacks on the season so far. It will be an exciting matchup to watch Watt take on the Michigan backfield.
This game is a tough one to predict. Wisconsin has played the tougher schedule, but Michigan is the more talented team and is at home. Wisconsin should be able to keep it close for a half, but in the second half of the game the Wolverines will show their depth and will close the game out strong. Take Michigan and the points in this one.
Final: Michigan 31, Wisconsin 20
#11 Tennessee at #25 Georgia
Time: Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
Location: Sanford Stadium
Line: Tennessee -3.5
Confidence is a big factor when battling an SEC schedule, and right now Tennessee has a ton of confidence. The Vols over came a 21-point deficit at home last week and defeated Florida 38-28. Head Coach Butch Jones needs to keep his guys focused this week. Tennessee has matchups coming up with Texas A&M and Alabama after Georgia, so this could be considered a trap game.
Tennessee has a lot of players from the state of Georgia on the team so most of the guys will be fired up to play in this one.
Both defenses’ can rush the passer, so the offensive lines will play a key role in the game.
Josh Dobbs has been the playmaker for the Tennessee offense this year. The Vols offense has been up and down, sometimes it’s been great, and at other times it’s been awful. The Vols will need Dobbs to have another strong performance if they want to win.
This is will be Tennessee’s first road game of the season, so it will be interesting to see how they adapt to the crowd noise.
Georgia is coming off a bad loss to Ole Miss. The Rebels did an excellent job of keeping Nick Chubb in check. Chubb will look to have a bounce back week against the Tennessee defense. Tennessee is in the middle of the pack for rush defense, so Chubb will definitely have holes to run through. Jacob Eason will need to play better too this week if Georgia wants to win. Last week Ole Miss held Eason to only 137 yards passing, and did not allow him to throw a touchdown pass.
This game should be an exciting one to watch. Georgia will want to have a bounce back game to erase the bad memories from a week ago. Plus the winner of this game will be in the divers seat to win the SEC East. Nothing has come easy this year for the Vols, but in this game Butch Jones will have them ready to play. Tennessee has yet to put together a complete game this year, Saturday will be the first time they do. Take the Vols and lay the points.
Final: Tennessee 27, Georgia 20
#3 Louisville at # 5 Clemson
Time: Saturday, 8:00 p.m.
Location: Memorial Stadium
Line: Louisville -2.5
For the first time this season we have a matchup of two top five teams, as Louisville heads to Clemson to take on the Tigers.
This game is going to be very exciting to watch and should feature some excellent quarterback play.
If you haven’t heard of him by now, you obviously don’t watch college football, but Louisville’s Lamar Jackson has taken over the college football universe during the first month of the season.
Jackson has been on fire. He has thrown for 1330 yards and 13 touchdown passes, but Jackson isn’t a one trick pony, he also gets in done on the ground. He has rushed for 526 yards and has rushed for 12 touchdowns through four games. Jackson’s excellent play allowed the Cardinals to upset Florida St. two weeks ago.
On the other side Clemson has gone about their business flying under the radar. Dabo Swinney has been in the news more for his comments about Colin Kaepernick than his team’s play. His team however has played well. The Tigers enter the contest at (4-0,) and they have received stellar quarterback play as well.
Deshaun Watson’s stats may not be on the same level as Jackson’s, but the quarterback has managed the Tigers offense well this year. Watson has thrown for nine touchdown passes so far. Watson has not run the ball as much as he did a season ago, so far he has not scored a rushing touchdown.
The Tigers have the third ranked defense in the country entering the game. They will need to come up big Saturday night. Clemson will need to focus on Jackson and make sure to keep him inside the pocket, that way he won’t be able to get free easy yards if he escapes. The Tigers have also been holding their opponents to low point totals. Right now Clemson only allows 11.1 points per game. Louisville averages 63.5, so it should be a classic matchup of a high-powered offense versus a lockdown defense.
So how will this game go? The old saying goes “defense wins championships.” Clemson has a ferocious defense. Don’t’ let Louisville’s win over Florida St. fool you the Noles defense is overrated. Clemson’s defense is not. The defense will be the reason why the Tigers win. Jackson will make some plays, but in the end the Tigers will take this one. Clemson has won 18 in a row at home. They will extend that streak to 19 by the end of the night Saturday. Take the Tigers in this one.
Final: Clemson 34, Louisville 27