As we reach the halfway point of the season, we are finally starting to get a better idea at who the top teams really are. However, there are some teams who might have had a small slip up which might cost them a chance in the playoff. This week is no different; we have the 5th, 6th and 7th ranked teams in a battle against ranked conference foes who have already lost their chance for the playoff. So, let’s take a look at how the matchups look.
TOP 25 VS. TOP 25:
5 LSU versus 22 Florida
LSU has continued to play well and shock us all. There were real questions about how good they could be and they have proven themselves since their week one victory over Miami (33-17). They also beat No. 8 Auburn (22-21) three weeks ago. This game against Florida is one of the most important ones for QB Joe Burrow, as he plans to remain undefeated heading into the tougher matchups against Georgia next week and Alabama later on. If LSU wants any chance at the SEC title, they must take care of business against Florida before getting to the next opponent.
This game is important for Florida as well. They have already lost to Kentucky (27-16) for the first time in 31 years, but they beat down Tennessee and are currently third in the SEC East. With a win over LSU, that will help their chances of jumping Kentucky if they were to lose. The Gators also have to face Georgia at the end of the month, so let’s see how QB Feleipe Franks manages the Florida offense.
7 Oklahoma versus 19 Texas
Oklahoma has had an interesting season. Although they are 5-0, they’ve given their fans a scare twice this season. One was against Iowa State (37-27) and another against Army (28-21), but they look like they’ve figured themselves out again. In last week’s win over Baylor (66-33), QB Kyler Murray had the best game of his life. Not like he’s had any bad games, but for this guy to have the skills like this and decided to play baseball over football, I don’t know. Murray had 7 total touchdowns against Baylor, (6 pass and 1 rush) and he didn’t even play the first series of the game. That was the only series Oklahoma didn’t score on.
But this week, they have one of their biggest rivals, the Texas Longhorns. Texas has probably been on my list of interesting games because you really don’t know what you’ll get out of them from week to week. They have recovered well from their week one loss to Maryland and won four straight. However, they have also given their fans reasons to worry. Texas was able to beat their ranked opponents easily (USC by 23, TCU by 15), but they barely pulled off wins against unranked Tulsa (28-21) and Kansas State (19-14).
This draws for some concern for Texas heading into this game and for the rest of the season. Both teams still have to play Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, and West Virginia, so there is no room for error if they want a chance to make it into the playoff.
6 Notre Dame versus 24 Virginia Tech:
Notre Dame could silently get themselves into the playoff. No real opponents left except for maybe Florida State, USC, and Syracuse. But none are ranked and probably won’t be ranked at the time Notre Dame faces them. The interesting thing about Notre Dame is the fact that they don’t belong to any conference, but they play four games against ACC teams and another two against the Pac-12. They also have a win over the Big Ten’s Michigan from week one, but I don’t find any of their wins impressive, and this should be the week they fall.
Despite Virginia Tech’s unrealistic loss to Old Dominion, they are still one of the top teams in the ACC and they proved that last week when they bounced back with a huge win over then ranked No. 22 Duke. Virginia Tech is now 4-1 and still have Miami left as the only top 25 team on their schedule. If they want any chance at the playoff, they need to beat Notre Dame.
BOUNCE BACK GAMES:
14 Stanford versus Utah:
Stanford took a huge loss to Notre Dame this past weekend. It might have hurt their chances at the playoff, but they could still win the Pac-12. They, like Washington and Oregon, are 4-1 on the season. Stanford doesn’t need to worry about Oregon after beating them a few weeks ago. However, Washington is right around the corner and that could be the game Stanford needs to win the Pac-12. First they need to get by Utah, who could give them fits. Utah isn’t the best team in the Pac-12, but they could likely take advantage of the weak points of their offenses and cause for a closer game than expected. Let’s see how Stanford rebounds in this one.
15 Michigan versus Maryland:
This isn’t a bounce back for Michigan coming off a loss, but coming off a win in which they struggled. Michigan hasn’t really been that impressive this season, and we saw that right out of the gate when they lost to Notre Dame in the opener. They are currently on a four game win streak, but they struggled last week against Northwestern (20-17). Maryland could be another game just like Northwestern. Michigan also has the toughest part of their schedule coming up. After this game with Maryland, the Wolverines have Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Penn State in back-to-back weeks with a bye week in-between, so this game is very costly if Michigan were to lose.
Syracuse versus Pittsburgh:
Syracuse came real close to beating Clemson for the second straight season, but ended up falling 27-23 in the final seconds. That was Syracuse’s first loss of the season. Looking at how they play, they could top the ACC. However, there will not be a conference title this year unless somehow Clemson drops two games in the ACC. Syracuse would also have to take care of their business over a much easier schedule that remains. Only two teams in their schedule are ranked, NC State (not for long) and Notre Dame, so Syracuse could end up in the top 25 by the end of the season, but they need to get past Pittsburgh, who is having another average season thus far.
GAMES OF INTEREST
4 Clemson versus Wake Forest
Clemson still has QB issues. That almost cost them against Syracuse. They will continue to be on the games of interest list despite not having any big opponents left on their schedule. Unless you want to count NC State, Florida State, and Louisville as real competition. I do think Clemson may be in some battle-tested games. The Tigers will continue to start Trevor Lawrence at quarterback, and they hope to take care of Wake Forest easily. For Wake Forest, it’s about just trying to be a spoiler and knock out Clemson from the undefeated group, but we know that’s not going to happen.
13 Kentucky versus Texas A&M
Kentucky continues to get off to a hot start at 5-0. This is the first time since 2007 they have done so. The biggest question is, how long can they keep it going? This could be the second biggest game for the Wildcats, as they are looking for an 6-0 start and hoping to stay undefeated to keep their hopes for the SEC title alive. They head into the biggest matchup against Georgia in four weeks time.
Texas A&M is playing for nothing but a spoiler in this game. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be the team to hold another team out of the conference game?
8 Auburn versus Mississippi State
Auburn has a very slim chance of making it back to the SEC title game. In order for that to happen, they need to win out against their remaining opponents. Of course, we know Auburn already lost to LSU, so every game is important from here. They still have games against both Georgia and Alabama, and they need to win both to have a chance at the SEC title game. They also have to hope LSU can lose to them as well. LSU plays Georgia and Alabama as well, and this is going to be interesting to see how it all plays out with Auburn looking in from the outside.
They have to take care of Mississippi State first. Miss State was picked as one of the favorites to possibly knock off Alabama and take over the SEC West. After losing in back-to-back weeks, they need to figure out who they are again. This could be the game they do it. That’s why this game is a must watch. It’s a must win for both teams. I do think Auburn finds a way to win, but Miss State does find their offense again after scoring 13 points in the last two weeks.
So who will get upset and who can continue to stay undefeated? Tune in Saturday to find out what your favorite college football team does!