Sometimes there can be too much of a good thing. This weekend’s college football slate is the best I’ve seen in years. A veritable cornucopia of awesome that will leave us spent, yet asking for more. Given all of the good games, I will confine this week’s preview to only the most compelling match-ups featuring top ten teams.
#3 Alabama vs. #11 Ole Miss
Something has to give here. Bama is putting-up 336 yards and 42 points per game. Meanwhile, the Rebels defense only yields 248 yards and 8 points per game. Who gives in this clash between Alabama’s unstoppable force of an offense and Ole Miss’s immovable object of a defense?
Ole Miss’s offense.
“Wait, what? I thought you just…wha?” Yes, it will be a blast watching Lane Kiffin’s wide-open Bama offense duel with Hugh Freeze’s 5-star studded defensive front. However, turnovers will decide this game, and when it comes to turnovers no one spreads the love quite like Ole Miss’ Bo Wallace. He has thrown six picks in only four games, including two last week against a Memphis defense that rattled him.
If Memphis can rattle Wallace, he’ll get rolled by the Tide.
Alabama 27, Ole Miss 13
#4 Oklahoma vs. #25 TCU
Some teams play tough regardless of whether their opponent is really good or really bad. Last year the Frogs, unranked and absolutely nothing to write home about, went into Norman and almost knocked off an 11th-ranked Sooner squad. Years before that, prior to TCU coming to the Big 12, the Frogs handed Bob Stoops one of his only two home losses against nonconference opponents. So, do yourself a favor and tune in to Fox on Saturday afternoon to watch these two tangle.
In the past, when you thought about TCU you thought defense. The Frogs do have the #1 defense in the Big 12. Unlike years past, though, you now have to think offense as well. TCU has the #3 offense in the conference, putting up a highly respectable 532 yards per game. The Frogs’s offense not only ranks highly, but also runs an “up-tempo” offense with veteran QB Trevone Boykin that has TCU scoring 44.6 points per game.
Oklahoma benefits from coming off a bye week, but they play once again without Keith Ford. Freshman runner Samaje Perine more than handled the load against West Virginia, where defense is still a dirty word. Will he have that kind of success against TCU? Highly doubtful.
On the road, and unable to run the ball as normal, Trevor Knight will get flustered and TCU’s defense will take advantage. I like the upset here.
TCU 30, Oklahoma 23
#6 Texas A&M vs. #12 Mississippi State
All the games are huge this weekend, but this one could potentially end up as the most entertaining by far. Texas A&M went into last week’s game against Arkansas amidst serious questions that needed answers concerning the defensive side of the ball. Those questions went unanswered in the first half.
The Aggies recovered nicely in the second half, holding the Hogs to only 92 yards on their final six drives. That right there is the best news for Sumlin’s crew that could have come out of last weekend’s tilt. The Aggie offense is 2nd in the nation in points (51.2) and 3rd in yards (594.6).
Dan Mullen’s crew has more than one advantage in this game. They play at home and just off a bye week. They have had an extra week to gameplan and to come down from the emotional high of the LSU win. In addition, Texas A&M comes off a physically brutal win where they needed OT to beat Arkansas.
The Bulldogs also have their own answer to A&M’s Kenny Hill, in the form of Dak Prescott. Just as dangerous with his arm–and legs–as Hill, Prescott has already thrown for 964 yards and run for 378 on the year.
Starkville is a tough place to play, but unlike last year’s team A&M plays well enough to hold serve and keep opponents in check. They get it done this weekend on the road. Barely.
Texas A&M 34, Mississippi State 30
#9 Notre Dame vs. #14 Stanford
For all of those whining about Notre Dame’s top-10 ranking, despite having beaten four opponents with a combined record of 7-11 (none of which come from a conference in the Power Five), this is your moment. Alas, the Irish face a true challenge by nothing short of the best defense in all the land.
The Irish offense is no slouch. They’ve scored 30 points or more in each of their first four games. QB Everett Golson comes off a game where he put up one of the weirdest stat lines you’ll ever see. The Irish QB nearly tied an NCAA record, completing 25 straight passes, 362 yards and four touchdowns, but also threw for two picks. As a team, the Irish turned the ball over five times. If I know Brian Kelly and his purple-neck rages–and I do–I would bet the Irish will do a much better job taking care of the football this weekend.
As of this writing, Notre Dame is a 1-point homedog. Given the customary 3-point advantage for the home team, this means Vegas believes the Cardinal is 4 points better than the Irish. I’m not buying it. Last week Stanford struggled to beat a very young, very raw Washington team. QB Kevin Hogan couldn’t even get to 180 yards passing against a porous Husky defense, and the Cardinal turned the ball over three times.
Say what you will about Notre Dame having not played anyone. The only someone that Stanford has played was USC, and they lost. The Irish offense rebounds here after a more than sloppy game against Syracuse, and the Cardinal offense will turn the ball over more than once against an underrated Irish defense. Notre Dame defies the bookmakers and wins this one. Close.
Notre Dame 20, Stanford 17