It was a cacophony of crazy on the college gridiron last week, with upsets as the order of the disordered day. This week will provide some eye-openers, but nothing on last week’s level. This week we find out if the underdogs that upset last week, specifically the Mississippi teams and TCU, are for real or just one-week wonders.
Auburn vs. Mississippi State
No mystery where to begin this week: Auburn and Mississippi State take center stage, and they should. If they played the National Championship today, it would be between these two. Either team would defeat Florida State straight-up. Both are far more complete teams than Ole Miss.
Enough of that, though. Let us speak of the matter at hand. Last year MSU’s Dak Prescott became the first QB in 40 years to rack-up over 200 yards passing and over 100 yards rushing against Auburn. That’s the good news for Mississippi State. The bad news is that MSU lost that game and Auburn’s defense has immensely improved from last year.
Auburn has yet to allow a 100-yard rusher this year, which is awfully impressive considering AU has faced the likes of Arkansas’ Alex Collins. The Tigers also rank among the top-three teams in scoring, rushing, and total defense. Also bad news for MSU is that Auburn has a more balanced offense than when they faced them last year.
All that said, this game is hard to pick. The State of Mississippi comes off quite possibly the greatest weekend in its football existence as both MSU and Ole Miss enjoyed program-defining wins. This bothers me, though. It’s very hard to get super-emotional 19-year-olds to come down to Earth after the governor declares a state-wide holiday to commemorate their gridiron achievements.
MSU is a great team and Dak Prescott is my Heisman pick, but Auburn has been on this stage before. The Bulldogs have not. That, plus a much improved Tiger defense, gets Auburn a tough road win.
Auburn 31, Mississippi State 27
Baylor vs. TCU
This game will go a long way towards deciding the Big 12. Both of these teams have undergone major balancing acts this offseason. Baylor used to be all offense and no defense. Now the Bears boast a defense that only gives up 12 points a game. Conversely, TCU used to be all defense and no offense.
Clearly, something has to give. What gives? I think the Baylor defense does. Yes, this is probably the best Baylor defense of the Art Briles era, but that’s not saying a ton. The Bears defense hasn’t faced any serious competition yet, and they’ve certainly faced no one who possesses a dual-threat the likes of TCU’s Trevone Boykin.
Boykin has already amassed 1,436 all-purpose yards and 13 all-purpose touchdowns. Baylor hasn’t been tested in that way yet. Plus, the loss of Jamal Palmer hurts Baylor’s pass rush. Last week, Baylor QB Bryce Petty struggled against Texas’s defense. Given that he struggled against Texas, TCU should cause some major problems.
I’ll take the Frogs on the road in a minor upset.
TCU 31, Baylor 24
Texas A&M vs. Ole Miss
The great thing about playing a brutally tough schedule–maybe the only great thing–is that redemption is never more than a week away. Last week, A&M went on the road as the #6 team in the land and lost to a then 12th-ranked Mississippi State, which knocked the Aggies back to 14th. This week, they have the #3 Ole Miss Rebels at home and a chance to go shooting back up the polls.
This will not be easily done. The Rebels have a great defense that absolutely shut down the Crimson Tide last week. Plus, Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace did a great job getting the ball to his great receivers in Laquon Treadwell and Cody Core. A&M, though, poses some special challenges.
The Aggie defense is certainly nothing special against the run; they gave up 559 yards on the ground to Mississippi State last week. Ole Miss relies much more on their passing game as opposed to their run game, and that plays directly into A&M’s hands. The Aggies lead the SEC with 20 sacks. Freshman Myles Garrett has 6 ½ of them. That kind of pressure should force Wallace into some of the mistakes he’s known for. Ole Miss putting the ball back in A&M’s hands will lead to more Aggie points and that will put the Rebels in a bad spot.
Yes, A&M’s offense looked bad against MSU. However, leading receiver Malcome Kennedy didn’t play in that game, and is listed as probable for this weekend. Also, A&M receivers dropped the ball 11 times last week. Don’t expect a repeat of that. Especially, before what is expected to be a history making crowd of 109,000 at Kyle Field.
Texas A&M 34, Ole Miss 27