This week’s schedule is the most impressive slate of games we have had the pleasure of watching to date. Dive in immediately.
My Record: 23-17
5 - (7) Oklahoma Sooners vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders - Oklahoma the 13.5 point favorite
Points on points on points, in typical Big-12 fashion. Oklahoma ranks fourth in average points scored (48.9), while Texas Tech is 10th (42.3).
Quarterbacks Kyler Murray and Alan Bowman go head to head in Lubbock, Texas. Both quarterbacks have topped 2,500 yards passing this season, in their respective, uptempo offenses.
The difference maker is Murray’s legs. He has rushed for 474 yards and six scores this season, averaging 6.7 yards per carry. The Red Raiders allow an average of 140.4 yards per game to opposing rushers, and Murray will harass this team on the ground, giving the Sooners a crucial edge on the road.
Prediction: Oklahoma wins 45-33
4 - (14) Penn State Nittany Lions vs. (5) Michigan Wolverines - Michigan the 10.5 point favorite
The Lions survived the Iowa offense, an offense that missed a few key opportunities (most notably an early, wide open receiver downfield off play action, for a would-be touchdown) but they will have no such luck against the Wolverines.
Michigan has been getting better every week, with a sense of security around Shea Patterson and the quarterback position they have not had before under Jim Harbaugh. This team has slowly found both an identity and balance, averaging 207.6 passing yards with 212.8 rushing yards. The line of scrimmage has been dominated on both sides by the Wolverines, racking up 24 sacks against opponents and 264 tackles for loss, controlling the trenches with an iron fist.
The Wolverines are the team to beat in the Big Ten and Penn State is not the team to beat.
Prediction: Michigan wins 31-24
3 - (13) West Virginia Mountaineers vs. (17) Texas Longhorns - Texas the 1.5-point favorite
Longhorns quarterback, Sam Ehligner, showed out in a big way last week against Oklahoma State, passing for 283 yards and four total touchdowns. Despite the loss, it was encouraging for Texas fans to see their quarterback play well and bounce back from a shoulder injury.
Texas has found an established leader in Ehlinger, and a pass rush on their defense; going from one sack per game in the first three contests to 2.4 sacks per game in the last five.
Will Grier and West Virginia have proven to go away at times during this season, and Texas can beat them into submission early with new found consistency, before this becomes a contest. Late scores will make this look closer than it is.
Prediction: Texas wins 45-37
2 - (6) Georgia Bulldogs vs. (9) Kentucky Wildcats - Georgia the nine-point favorite
This Kentucky team has been the best storyline of the college football season. It has been 11 years since the Wildcats started 7-1, and wins over Florida and Mississippi State have further bolstered the impressive mark.
They accomplished the turnaround with tremendous play in the trenches. Kentucky is averaging 5.1 yards per rushing attempt and 214 yards per game on the ground. Lead back Benny Snell Jr. is the 8th best tail back in the country with 935 yards and nine touchdowns, averaging 5.2 points per carry against some of the toughest fronts in the country.
On defense, the Wildcats rank 12th in yardage allowed, while also relenting just 13 points per game. Sack master Josh Allen is second in the country with 10 sacks, highlighting a team with 22 sacks and 218 tackles for loss.
Kentucky will give Georgia the same problems that LSU gave them, dominating the line of scrimmage and grinding out the game on the turf. Look for a Kentucky upset in front of the home crowd.
Prediction: Kentucky wins 26-17
1 - (1) Alabama Crimson Tide vs. (3) LSU Tigers - Alabama the 14 point favorite
The Tigers have vaulted their way into the college playoff race and now host the best team in the country in maybe the harshest road environment in the country.
Tua Tagovailoa has yet to throw an interception, and Greedy Williams will be hunting to give him his first turnover. This defense, loaded with pro talent, has not only proven themselves time and again, but have also been my dark horse team that has emerged into the limelight.
LSU’s defense ranks 7th in points allowed per game (15.1), 27th in passes defended (36) and first in interceptions (14).
And yet... Bama. Bama is ridiculously good, ridiculously efficient and ridiculously stable. Is it even possible to believe in someone else, to visualize another champion before it happens?
After watching Nick Saban coach a Jake Coker lead Tide to a title, it has become impossible for me to see another champ take the throne. I am not man enough to grab the upset, but this will be an incredibly contested game. But in the end, Bama.
Prediction: Alabama wins 17-13