By Bryan Foti
Last Week: (5-0)
The College Football season is really starting to heat up. We are just two weeks away from the first release of the College Football Playoff Rankings. This week features some more conference matchups that will go a long way in determining the rankings.
#10 Wisconsin at Iowa
Location: Kinnick Stadium
Time: Saturday, 12 p.m. EST.
Line: Wisconsin -3.5
Wisconsin must be fuming and very frustrated to not come away with wins against Michigan and Ohio State. The Badgers played Michigan very tough in Ann Arbor losing 14-7, and last week they had a ten-point lead over the Buckeyes before Ohio State came back to win in overtime.
Wisconsin still holds a top-10 ranking and a very slim shot of making the College Football playoffs this year. In order to keep those hopes alive they must beat Iowa this week.
Iowa enters this game at 5-2. They are 3-1 in Big 10 Conference play; however, they have yet to play the upper echelon teams in the conference. That will start this week.
Iowa is not ranked high in both total offense or total defense and so far this season the Hawkeyes are ranked 75th in offense, and come in 74th on defense.
Wisconsin is ranked No. 9 in total defense. Expect T.J. Watt to have another impact game this week. Wisconsin should look to get their running game going against the Hawkeyes since Iowa has been allowing over 150 rushing yards per game this season.
Last week Corey Clement had his best game of the season on the ground as he carried the ball 25 times for 168 yards. Even though Clement did not score a touchdown, he was able to find lanes to run through.
Iowa will look to run the ball effectively as well. Running backs Akrum Wadley and LeShun Daniels Jr. have had nice seasons for the Hawkeyes and both backs have big play capability and are a threat to score anywhere on the field.
The key in this game will come down to one thing: who will stop the run? Wisconsin has proven so far this season they can shut down the high-powered offenses of Michigan and Ohio State. They shouldn’t have a problem with Iowa. The only way Iowa wins this ball game is if Wisconsin overlooks them.
Wisconsin won’t over look Iowa because every game is now important to them as one more loss eliminates them from playoff contention for good.
Take Wisconsin and the points.
Final: Wisconsin 24, Iowa 16
TCU at #12 West Virginia
Location: Milan Puskar Stadium
Time: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. EST.
Line: West Virginia -6
This may be the most exciting game of the week on Saturday when TCU travels to Morgantown to take on West Virginia.
Dana Holgorsen’s group is enjoying its best season in quite some time. The Mountaineers are 5-0 and are seeking their first Big 12 championship.
TCU is off to a 4-2 start on the season.
Quarterback Kenny Hill was playing well up until two weeks ago week when he threw three interceptions. However, the Horned Frogs were able to survive and beat Kansas 24-23.
Surprisingly, West Virginia has played well on defense this year. They are ranked 18th in total defense. Defensive Coordinator Tony Gibson has done an outstanding job with the unit. West Virginia is only allowing a little over 19 points a game. TCU can score at any time, so the Mountaineer defense will be tested on Saturday.
On offense West Virginia will look for Skyler Howard to lead them. Howard had his best day of the season when he threw for five touchdowns against Youngstown State. Howard played well last week throwing for 318 yards and a touchdown in the win over Texas Tech, so expect Howard to have another good game against the Horned Frogs.
If TCU wants to pull the upset they will need Hill to have a big game and not turn the ball over like he did against Kansas. It would also help if TCU’s offensive line plays well. Hill was sacked four times during the Kansas game. If he can stay upright and has a clean pocket he should be able to find open receivers.
Another key in this game will be the matchup between the TCU wide receivers and the secondary of West Virginia. Four different Horned Frog receivers have caught touchdown passes this season. The TCU offensive system normally allows for the group of receivers to have good games so if West Virginia can slow them down they should win.
This game is tough to predict. West Virginia is off to a fast start on the season, however they won’t be able to sustain the success for much longer as their schedule gets more difficult. They may win this game but the safe pick is TCU to cover.
Final: West Virginia 31, TCU 28
#6 Texas A&M at #1 Alabama
Location: Bryant-Denny Stadium
Time: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. EST.
Line: Alabama -19
Kevin Sumlin’s Aggies are one of the biggest surprises in college football so far this season. They have found new life with Trevor Knight running the offense and the defense has been solid for most of the year.
The Aggies have had a week to digest their thrilling victory in overtime over Tennessee two weeks ago. A&M forced seven Tennessee turnovers in the victory and the Aggie defense will have to be just as opportunistic as they were against the Volunteers if they want a shot of knocking off Alabama.
The bye week should help the Aggies as they have more time to prepare for the Tide and the week allows players to get healthy from nagging injuries.
On the other side Alabama is rolling right now. They are 7-0 on the year and they are also coming off a victory over Tennessee. The Crimson Tide thrashed the Vols 49-10 last week.
Freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts continues to impress, he threw for 143 yards, but his main contributions came in the run game. Hurts scored three rushing touchdowns and had over 130 yards rushing in the win.
On defense Alabama continues to dominate they are ranked No. 14 in nation in total defense and continue to hold teams to low point totals. The Tide have held their opponents to 15 points a game.
If Texas A&M wants to pull the upset they will need Trayveon Williams to have a big game. Williams had 217 yards on the ground and a touchdown in the win over Tennessee. However, he can’t fumble the ball like he did last in the last game. Williams had a chance to end the game, instead of falling down after picking up a first down, Williams decided to try to score. He eventually was caught and fumbled the ball out of the end zone, which allowed the Vols to get the ball back and tie up the game to force overtime.
Texas A&M has a slim chance to win this game. They will need things to break perfectly in their favor. If they can put some pressure on Hurts and force a turnover or two they will have a chance. However, don’t expect that to happen. Alabama is a force to be reckoned with right now. Alabama will blow out another SEC West team. Take the Tide at home.
Final: Alabama 49, Texas A&M 21
#19 Utah at UCLA
Location: Rose Bowl
Time: 4:00 p.m. EST.
Line: UCLA -7
With a win this week Utah has an opportunity to face Washington in two weeks and control its destiny for a spot in the PAC 12 championship game.
First they will need to get by UCLA. Utah will need to bring its “A” game if they want to win, it will not be easy.
UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen was knocked out of the Arizona State game and did not suit up last week against Washington State. Both games resulted in UCLA losses. Rosen’s status for Saturday is still in question, but Jim Mora Jr. remains hopeful that his quarterback will be ready to play.
If Rosen does play it will be the toughest quarterback that the Utes have faced all season.
Utah is basically a middle of the road team when it comes to both offense and defense. They are ranked in the middle statistically for both offense and defensive stats.
Utah’s main strength is their run game. The Utes feature four different running backs and their quarterback Troy Williams gets involved in the run game too. He has scored four rushing touchdowns on the season so far.
Armand Shyne is Utah’s leading rusher, he has complied 378 yards and has scored four touchdowns as well.
If Rosen suits up for UCLA the key to the game will be the ability of the Utah defense to get off the field on third down. UCLA has not been very good at converting on third down this season. They have only converted 38 percent of the time.
If the Utes are able to get off the field they will be able to control the tempo of the game as UCLA has been giving up 146 yards per game on the ground.
The odds makers don’t believe in Utah, they are not a flashy team, but they will get the job done in this one. The defense will do enough to contain UCLA on offense and they will score enough points to squeak by and set up a showdown with Washington next week.
Take Utah and the points here.
Final Utah 26, UCLA 23
#23 Ole Miss at #25 LSU
Location: Tiger Stadium
Time: 9:00 p.m. EST.
Line: LSU -6.5
Ole Miss and LSU will meet Saturday night in an SEC West showdown. Ole Miss is not having its best season coming into this game and the Rebels have a record of 3-3. Ole Miss can’t win the SEC West anymore, but they can still salvage their season and try to get into a good bowl game.
On the other side LSU is in the process of rebuilding. The team fired Les Miles after the loss to Auburn earlier this season. Ed Orgeron has taken over the program on an interim basis and so far has the Tigers off two a 2-0 start under him.
Leonard Fournette has battled injuries and has not played since the Auburn game. Orgeron hopes to have him back in the lineup Saturday night. If Fournette can’t go Derrius Guice has filled in nicely rushing for 564 yards and six touchdowns on the season so far.
Ole Miss is coming off a game where their defense was dominated by Arkansas. The Razorbacks had the ball for nearly 40 minutes last Saturday night, but the Rebel offense was still able to put up 30 points.
LSU’s defense is much better than the Razorbacks but look for Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly to have another big night. Kelly was not very accurate with his passes last week, but he still ran the offense effectively and he has cut back on his turnovers from earlier in the season. Kelly had his lowest completion percentage of the season, but that should improve Saturday night.
The key in this one will be how Ole Miss responds to their first bad loss of the season. Besides Wisconsin, LSU has not faced a strong schedule. The Rebels are a better football team than the Tigers this year. The question is whether or not they still believe that they are.
We will find out on Saturday night, but Ole Miss will be fired up to play, and will find a way to win this one. Take the Rebels.
Final: Ole Miss 41, LSU 37