Honorable Mention - Oregon vs. Stanford
Despite the records, this is a great rivalry game between teams that have been doing battle for over 100 years. The clash of these two will be fun to watch even if the stakes are not quite as high as in recent years. The Ducks fast pace, space-creating offense will be up against the Cardinal defense that's a stout secondary and will look to choke the Oregon offense into the middle of the field where their linebackers can close up the middle. Strength against strength and only one team can come out on top.
#5 - California vs. (23) Washington State
Cal has made a living off of out scoring opponents and living on turnovers for the entire season. The Luke Falk lead offense that the Cougars have can play with Davis Webb and the Cal offense. Washington State ranks 10th in the nation in scoring with 53 touchdowns scored this season while Cal lets up 44.4 points a game.
Prediction: Washington State wins 47-32
#4 - Pittsburgh vs. (2) Clemson
Pitt has been a solid team this year and while most think of them for their defense that has produced 29 sacks on the season, they have been really good offensively as well. They have scored 44 touchdowns this year and running back James Conner has 712 yards along with 11 touchdowns. Pitt will look to make this game a grind and try to keep the battle short like NC State did against the Tigers. However, the Tigers have been dominant on defense, recording 33 sacks and forcing 20 turnovers. While Deshaun Watson, Mike Williams and Wayne Gallman are all lethal on offense, it is defense that will crush the will of Pitt. Pitt may hang with Clemson in the beginning because of the Tigers turnover problem, but Clemson wins this one at home.
Prediction: Clemson wins 38-17
#3 - (24) LSU vs. (25) Arkansas
This is a defining moment for for both programs as a loss will most likely bounce one or the other out of the top 25 and out of a significant bowl game. Arkansas has been in free fall for the last few weeks while the offense for LSU has made a turnaround, putting up 38, 45 and 42 in their three games before Alabama. And while they did lose they only gave up 10 points to the best team in college while their star running back only put up 35 yards. Last season after Alabama, Leonard Fournette bounced back with 91 yards and a touchdown against a far healthier Razorback team. He does more damage this season.
Prediction: LSU wins 28-13
#2 - Baylor vs. (11) Oklahoma
Baylor scores 39.8 points a game and averages 542 total yards. The Sooners average 44.1 points a game along with 558 total yards. This will be a typical Big 12 battle that involves every ounce of the offense from both teams and the defenses mail it in. The fireworks will be fun to watch and even though the sharps put this game’s spread at 17.5 in favor of Oklahoma, this will be a close game. The thing that breaks the back of Baylor is Dede Westbrook and his 18.22 yards per catch.
Prediction: Oklahoma wins 46-38
#1 - (20) USC vs. (4) Washington
Of the top four teams, Washington is probably in the most tenuous position. They have to play USC and Washington State before they head to the conference championship, all this as the team the playoff committee views as the weakest of the four. While Washington is a very complete team on offense and defense, the USC corners are disciplined and the linebackers move sideline to sideline. On offense Sam Darnold is a great quarterback with pro talent at receiver (JuJu Smith) and running back (Ronald Jones II) which makes this the most difficult challenge the Huskies defense has faced. This is my upset of the week, that’s right people I am calling this one. USC has NFL talent that has fought a bad coaching staff and worked their way to the top 25. Sam Darnold is a stud and cornerback Adoree’ Jackson can cover any of the Huskies receivers. USC will jump out early and stun the Huskies, who will not be able to recover.
Prediction: USC wins 31-27
Bonus prediction: Ronald Jones II rushes for over 200 yards and a pair of touchdowns.