Tom Hanken AND Andrew Reichmeier
|Heisman Favorites1. QB Trevone Boykin (TCU): 32-47 388, 3 TD; 11-84-1 rushing2. RB Leonard Fournette (LSU): IDLE
3. QB Deshaun Watson (Clemson): 23-30 383, 5 TD
4. WR Corey Coleman (Baylor): IDLE
5. WR Josh Docston (TCU): 11-183, 2 TD
6. RB Ezekiel Elliot (Ohio St.): IDLE
|Playoff Predictions1. Ohio State2. TCU
Only a win (or loss) away
Alright, now that baseball season is over (AND WE’RE WORLD CHAMPIONS!) we can revert our attention back to the gridiron. There’s a great slate of games this weekend, so let’s get to it.
Marquee Matchups (rankings reflect College Football Playoff poll)
16 Florida State (7-1) at 1 Clemson (8-0) – Saturday, 2:30, ABC
I’ve been looking forward to this one for a few weeks now. I thought it would be a match-up of unbeaten top-10 teams, but Georgia Tech had to intervene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9qlm5NZKCg. Clemson is ranked number one in the first College Football Playoff poll. Rather than being on upset alert here, I think the Tigers will come out fired up, trying to prove the doubters that they are worthy of that top spot.
Clemson will be too much at home. Hop on the Deshaun Watson Heisman Train.
Prediction: 35-24 Clemson
8 TCU (8-0) at 14 Oklahoma State (8-0) – Saturday, 2:30, FOX
How about the disrespect the Big 12 is getting from the Playoff committee? TCU has been in the Top 4 in the Coaches and AP polls all year and hasn’t done anything to deserve this kind of drop. And while I don’t think Oklahoma State is on the same level as Baylor and TCU, 14 is a pretty ridiculous for an 8-0 team from a major conference. Both teams will be motivated by that lack of respect this weekend. The over/under here is 77. It should be about 120. Expect a classic shootout in Stillwater.
Turnovers and red zone play will be key here. Who can get a couple takeaways and make the opposition settle for field goals in the red zone? I like Trevonne Boykin to take care of business on the road.
Prediction: 48-44 TCU
2 LSU (7-0) at 4 Alabama (7-1) – Saturday, 7:00, CBS
Just another Saturday in the SEC West. Is this a playoff elimination game for Alabama? I’ll be curious to see if the committee would take a 2-loss SEC West team over an undefeated American team if Memphis or Houston win out. We’ll save that debate for a few weeks, but Alabama does have more at stake here than LSU. I’m not usually one for long-term predictions, but I will say the winner of this game will go onto to win the SEC West, beat Florida in the SEC title game, and then win the National Championship. (There’s a playoff edition of my weekly jinx).
As for the game itself, get ready for a heavy dose of Leonard Fournette and Derrick Henry. Rain is in the forecast there, so expect a wet, physical, good ol’ fashioned SEC slug fest. Alabama has looked really good since its loss to Ole Miss and I believe LSU is due for a let down game, so I’ll take the Tide.
Prediction: 21-16 Alabama
#5 Notre Dame (7-1) at Pittsburgh (6-2) – Saturday, 11:00am, ABC
Another interesting playoff ranking here with Notre Dame at 5. They’re only loss is at Clemson who the committee is very high on, but what great wins do the Irish have? At Temple? At home against unranked USC? Not sure how they’re ahead of undefeated Baylor and TCU. Don’t sleep on Pitt though. Being in the ACC Coastal (the non-Clemson and Florida State division), the Panthers, 4-1 in conference play, still have a shot to make the ACC Championship game after their loss last week to North Carolina, making their stay in the polls short lived.
#8 Iowa (8-0) at Indiana (4-4) – Saturday, 2:30, ESPN
“Iowa is 8th and we’re 14!?!?” – Oklahoma State
I actually have no problem with Iowa at 8. The Hawkeyes have wins over Pitt, Northwestern, and Wisconsin en route to 8-0. That may not sound great, but when you compare their body of work to the other teams near them in the rankings, it stacks up nicely. Iowa is on a collision course to meet Ohio State or Michigan State in the B1G title game, but they better not sleep walk through the rest of the regular season. Indiana has lost four in a row, but is more than capable of providing an upset scare as they showed against Ohio State earlier this season.
Navy (6-1) at #13 Memphis (8-0) – Saturday, 6:00, ESPN2
Ah Navy, another good team from the American conference that no one really talks about. The Midshipmen will use their ball control option attack to try and keep Paxton Lynch and that high-powered Memphis offense off the field. Don’t mess this up, Memphis. I want an American Athletic Conference team in the playoff! Navy could be ranked with a win. Their only loss is Notre Dame.
Other Games to Look Forward To:
- Northern Illinois at Toledo – Nothing beats some Tuesday night MACtion, can the Huskies spoil Toledo’s season, tonight?
- Baylor at Kansas State – Baylor has played focused and driven all season and they play a tough Kansas State team that is struggling without Seth Russell on the road on Thursday night. That could be a recipe for disaster.
- Duke at North Carolina – This basketball rivalry has heated up on the gridiron the past coupel of years as Duke has become relevant in football. Playing for the Coastal division lead, can Duke move on from the angry and emotional loss to Miami? Or will they have a hangover? North Carolina is a quiet 7-1 and is third nationally in yards per play.
- Cincinnati at Houston – This should be an up and down game with a lot of scoring and excitement. Houston QB Greg Ward, Jr. is the only FCS QB with both 10 rushing and passing scores.
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