If this weekend’s slate of games is a day of meals, we will collectively leave Saturday well-fed and content. A delightful brunch in Minnesota proceeds a tasty lunch in Alabama, capped with dinner in Georgia.
Any nuggets you may pick up along the way in Wisconsin or Texas will just be fat on the steak of a full weekend.
Missouri Tigers vs. (6) Georgia Bulldogs - Georgia favored by 16.5
There are two potential trap games this week, this being the first (and far more dangerous) of the two. Georgia plays the Auburn Tigers next week and desperately needs a victory to stay in contention for a playoff spot after dropping a home game to the South Carolina Gamecocks.
The Tigers enter this week, a double-digit dog, and looking to bounce back after two losses. Following a departure from Clemson on, let’s call them bad terms, Tigers quarterback Kelly Bryant has had an up-and-down run for Missouri. The flashes of what could be, shine through some disastrous games. Outings like his 443 total yards against SC paired with 212 total yards against Vanderbilt illustrate the roller coaster of 2019.
However, Georgia lost to a receiver turned QB, who averaged 4.7 yards per carry to close out a road win against the Bulldogs.
Grabbing the Tigers to win is a bit too rich for my blood, but the Bulldogs are sure to be looking ahead to Auburn, giving Missouri a shot at hanging around in this game.
Taking: Missouri plus 16.5
(12) Baylor Bears vs. TCU Horned Frogs - Baylor favored by 2.5
The line would lead you to believe this is a trap game for the only undefeated team in the Big 12. A closer look at TCU shows a defense that allows only the 25th most yardage per game and a squad with just one loss at home (to SMU by three). Baylor also plays the Oklahoma Sooners at home the following week. Trap game? No.
Baylor’s defense allows fewer points per game (18.6) than any other unit in the conference, and the Bears have outscored opponents on the road by an average of 15 points per game.
Taking: Baylor minus 2.5
(18) Iowa Hawkeyes vs. (13) Wisconsin Badgers - Wisconsin favored by 9.5
A classic Big Ten matchup, pitting strength against strength as Jonathan Taylor and the Wisconsin running game averaging 216.4 yards per game smashes into an Iowa defensive front allowing just 87.8 yards per game on the ground.
For the Hawkeyes, this is the worst-case scenario. The Badgers are fresh off back to back losses on the road and need a statement win to get back on track. Wisconsin is sure to ride with a heavy dose of the ground game behind a massive line and the best player on both teams. Worse still, Iowa’s offense has looked anemic in games against ranked opponents this season, scoring just 15 combined points in two games.
Wisconsin will work out two weeks of frustration on the Hawkeyes, and Iowa will not be able to keep up.
Taking: Wisconsin minus 9.5
(2) LSU Tigers vs. (3) Alabama Crimson Tide - Alabama favored by 6.5
The over for this historic rivalry topped 60 points in 2007 (the one time since 1895 that such a feat has occurred); since then, just one team has topped the 30 point mark in the past 12 years.
A game noted for hard-nosed defense and monstrous running backs suddenly has the makings of a passing frenzy. LSU quarterback Joe Burrow has tossed 30 touchdowns this season and leads the second-best passing offense in the country. Alabama’s is fifth, and should Tua Tagovailoa return to the lineup Saturday, the differences in the two air raid attacks would be marginal.
Assuming Tagovailoa is playing (as I write this he is still a question mark), one must side with the home field advantage and coaching edge, which has to go to Nick Saban.
Taking: Alabama minus 6.5
(4) Penn State Nittany Lions vs. (17) Minnesota Golden Gophers - Penn State Favored by seven
Penn State is trying to stay perfect as they mount a case against Ohio State for dominance of the Big Ten East, but for Minnesota, the stakes are even higher, as each Big Ten victory puts space between the Gophers and the rival Badgers.
Both teams are excellent through the air and are careful not to turn the rock over (just seven picks between the two quarterbacks). The edge for Minnesota is running back Rodney Smith, who is averaging 135.8 yards and 1.2 touchdowns per game against Big Ten opponents. The Gophers can control the pace of the game, keeping the dual from becoming a shootout, which would allow Minnesota to hang with Penn State and possibly steal a victory.
Taking Minnesota plus seven