Last week was marked by upheaval in the college football realm, as seven ranked teams fell to either lower ranked squads or unranked programs. Three others escaped unranked teams by three points or less. The chaos that draws us into the college football web was everywhere, which has us asking who question this weekend: who falls next?
My Record: 18-12
5 - USC Trojans vs. Utah Utes - Utah the seven-point favorites
The Trojans failed to live up to early season hype, the offense looking anemic in September and the defense unable to pick up the slack. But as USC faded into the background, quarterback J.T. Daniels built himself up in the shadows, like Batman preparing to fight Bane. Daniels has averaged 240 yards per game in the three wins since the embarrassment to the Texas Longhorns.
The biggest difference makers for the Trojans have been a balanced attack and increased efficiency in the passing game. Daniels has completed 60 percent of his passes in the last three games, averaging 39 attempts per game in the opening trio of outings versus 28 in the proceeding three.
A matured Daniels leading an offense that is not looking for him to throw 40 times will keep Utah on their heels.
Prediction: USC wins 38-30
4 - (12) Oregon Ducks vs. (25) Washington State Cougars - Washington State the three-point favorites
Justin Herbert and company slipped past one Washington squad in overtime, jumping to 12th in the country and landing on plenty of radars around the sport. But this weekend, the take on one of the unsung PAC-12 studs - Gardner Minshew.
Minshew has picked up the Luke Falk workload in a big way, passing for 2,422 yards on 215 completions, leading the country in both. At home, against a top 15 team that allows an average of 239 passing yards every outing, Minshew can put himself and the Cougars on the map. Washington State will take to the air, attacking the small Oregon defensive backs with Davontavean Martian and Dezmon Patmon (both over 6-foot-3), bulling the Ducks in front of the home crowd.
Prediction: Washington State wins 45-33
3 - (6) Michigan Wolverines vs. (24) Michigan State Spartans - Michigan State the seven-point favorite
Michigan is the better team. They have a reliable running attack, a veteran quarterback and a stout defense. But they were the better team last season in a 14-10 loss to the Spartans. And two seasons ago in a 27-23 loss.
Against Michigan State and Ohio State, the Wolverines’ rivals, head coach Jim Harbaugh has gone 1-5, failing time and again to surge past these programs. Logic be damned in what should be a victory for Big Blue, as a Michigan State squad, that really could care less about opponents like Northwestern or Arizona State, continually gets up for (and wins) games against the class of the Big Ten. Michigan State has made it a habit, to win the games they have no business winning, why shouldn’t they do it again?
Prediction: Michigan State wins 19-17
2 - (22) Mississippi State Bulldogs vs. (5) LSU Tigers - LSU the 6.5 point favorite
Following their first loss of the season, the Tigers trounced the No.2 team in the country by 20 points. This defense is every bit as good as advertised and should not be judged on one week of slip-ups. The Bulldogs offense is ranked 70th in the country in total yardage and struggle through the air.
LSU will stay aggressive on the line of scrimmage, daring quarterback Nick Fitzgerald to beat them, a task Jake Fromm for which even Jake Fromm fell short.
Prediction: LSU wins 27-13
1 - (16) NC State Wolfpack vs. (3) Clemson Tigers - Clemson the 17.5 point favorite
The Wolfpack was lucky to jump into the top 25, dodging West Virginia in week three due to a cancelation. On the road to Clemson, the best power five defense in the country, the Wolfpack will need to prove themselves.
This will not go well. The Tigers defense has 20 sacks and 53.5 tackles for loss, harassing opposing backfields despite seemingly coasting through some of these contests.
With the last, regular season ranked matchup on the Tigers docket going down this weekend; their defense will rise to the occasion and choke out NC State.
Prediction: Clemson wins 40-28