If Auburn can take care of business in College Station, we could be sitting around watching other teams around the country drop like flies, counting the number of spots Auburn will rise in the rankings as each contender falls.
There are seven games pitting ranked teams against one another, and a few more that will have ranked teams playing tough opponents just outside the Top 25. Last weekend saw two top five teams go down, this weekend could be very similar. Let’s run it down.
#7 Penn State @ #24 Michigan State - 11:00 am CST - East Lansing, MI
The Nittany Lions are smarting after getting outscored 19-3 in the final quarter against Ohio State last week and losing by one. Michigan State’s in a similar mindset after losing in multiple overtimes to Northwestern. Overall, which side will be the one that pulls it together enough to play well tomorrow?
Penn State’s offense has been the Saquon Barkley big play and whatever Trace McSorley can pull out of his hat, but they’re super inconsistent. They hit Ohio State in the mouth in the return game early (and that’s why they’re so dangerous — the multi-faceted scoring threat), but once the Buckeyes adjusted, James Franklin didn’t really have any answers.
I don’t think Sparty can win this game, but Penn State’s not going to look great in a ten point win that’s closer than they like until late.
#9 Wisconsin @ Indiana - 11:00 am CST - Bloomington, IN
People have been discussing the Badgers’ playoff hopes in many different scenarios, but it’s ultimately clear that their only wisp of a dream to reach the playoff is to go undefeated. Wisconsin’s schedule is absolutely awful, with no good wins at the moment. They’ve beaten exactly zero teams even receiving votes in the AP Poll (same with Alabama), and looked really unimpressive in some close wins over Purdue and Illinois among others.
The schedule gets a little tougher with Iowa and Michigan coming up before a possible Big Ten title game, but Indiana’s no slouch. Sure, the Hoosiers are only 3-5, and haven’t won a conference game, but do you remember them leading Ohio State deep into the second half? It’s a team that could put 14 points on the board quickly, which is a pretty big hole for the Badgers.
Indiana won’t win, but it’ll be another close and slobbery game for Wisconsin. If they make the playoff, they’ll get crushed by whoever they play.
South Carolina @ #1 Georgia - 2:30 pm CST - Athens, GA
Here’s pretty much the only shot for anyone other than Georgia to make the SEC Championship game out of the East. If the Gamecocks can upset them, they’ll be huge Auburn fans next week as we try to give the Bulldogs the all-important second conference loss.
I wish USC had a chance tomorrow, but it won’t happen. Jake Bentley’s a fine quarterback, and Will Muschamp’s done alright in Columbia, but this Gamecock defense gave up 440 yards and 27 points to Vanderbilt last week and I expect that won’t change. They beat NC State to start the year, which was a good win, but Georgia’s a little too rough on the lines for South Carolina to get any real push. The Bulldogs win, but not in super blowout fashion, as they start to look forward to us. If South Carolina somehow gets up early, watch out for Georgia... they haven’t trailed since Notre Dame, and the natives may get restless between the hedges.
#4 Clemson @ #20 NC State - 2:30 pm CST - Raleigh, NC
What a tough stretch for the Wolfpack — at Notre Dame last week and Clemson this week. Rough. It’s going to be a similar result as to what the Irish did last weekend too, when Clemson’s running backs and a presumably healthy Kelly Bryant run over them again tomorrow.
The Tigers will start to show why they’re ranked in the top four at this moment, and the Wolfpack will show why they were a little overhyped to begin the year. It’s two of the best defensive lines in football meeting up, but Clemson’s actually got the offense to do some damage, while NC State had real trouble moving the ball against Notre Dame, whose defense isn’t fantastic.
Clemson will also remember that they nearly blew their shot at the playoff against NC State last year, and won’t let that happen again.
#5 Oklahoma @ #11 Oklahoma State - 3:00 pm CST - Stillwater, OK
These two teams are hard to read. They’ve both shown that they can hum on offense and play some pretty nasty defense as well, and then they’ve both had clunkers.
Oklahoma obviously lost to Iowa State, but that’s seeming more and more like a quality loss, while Oklahoma State got raced by TCU and their offense oddly disappears at weird times, like against Texas.
Baker Mayfield’s mustache vs Mike Gundy’s mullet. Which do you like better? Mayfield described the mullet as a “Fourth of July kegger in the back” which is a great moniker, but it’s out of date, and Gundy’s clinging to the true days of yore in a futile effort.
Oklahoma wins this one, because they won’t disappear as easily as the Pokes’ offense will.
#19 LSU @ #2 Alabama - 7:00 pm CST - Tuscaloosa, AL
Here we have one of those games that people have hyped up and hyped up that will only fall flat. Does anyone really think that LSU has a shot here? Now that the Tide are ranked #2 (my God), they’ll play like scrappy underdogs and dominate.
Although, LSU will be the only team that Bama’s played that will even be receiving votes in the rankings. Seriously, Alabama looks bored at this point, and I don’t think them getting a bit of a scare would be good for anyone. That would only provide the real surge for them to actually play well and improve. See, we actually have to pull for Alabama to give LSU that second SEC loss so that their tiebreaker win against us doesn’t matter. How much would it suck to somehow win out, but LSU also does and goes to the SEC Championship over us? It would be very college football. Very weird.
In all reality, anyone that thinks LSU keeps it under 17 tomorrow needs to have their head checked.
#13 Virginia Tech @ #10 Miami - 7:00 pm CST - Miami, FL
See here we have a real chance for Auburn to move up when one of these teams falls tomorrow. Personally, I think it’ll be Miami that drops out. The Hurricanes lost their top rusher, and after that, don’t really have a whole lot to work with. They’ve won games by the skin of their teeth (last four ACC wins have come by a total of 18 points), and haven’t looked great. Meanwhile, Virginia Tech’s stomping people in the conference, and comes into this game with a much more versatile attack and the ability to put up a ton of points at the same time.
With this one and an upset, couple with a win over Texas A&M, Auburn should move into the top ten this weekend.
Let’s get to it, War Eagle!