Early college football top 25 for the 2018 season

Alabama had a thrilling comeback to win yet another title. It included putting in a freshman quarterback, who hadn’t played a meaningful snap all season long. The game just goes to show that college football is unique and great. While the 2017 season is now over it is time to look ahead to the 2018 season. Here is the early college football top 25 for the 2018 season:

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

While they always lose talent to the NFL, Alabama can replace it. Jalen Hurts or Tua Tagovailoa will lead the offense alongside any of the talented running backs that decide to return to school. Najee Harris found some daylight in the title game and will also be back. The defense will lose a lot more talent to the NFL, but they always step up. A lot of players got experience this season due to injuries.

2. Clemson Tigers

Clemson made a third straight College Football Playoff and will compete for another next season. Kelly Bryant and the talented running backs will be back. Deon Cain and Hunter Renfrow need to make their decisions still, but Clemson can replace them. The defense always reloads and will at the very least have stud defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence to build around.

3. Ohio State Buckeyes

Early college football top 25 for the 2018 season

J.K. Dobbins (Photo by cleveland.com)

J.T. Barrett may be leaving, but Dwayne Haskins looked good in relief against Michigan. Add him with J.K. Dobbins, Mike Weber and the majority of the offensive line returning and it has the makings of a good offense. The defense will still have Nick Bosa and Dre’Mont Jones, which will help make up a good defensive line.

4. Washington Huskies

The Huskies had a young team this season that saw them replace a lot of NFL talent on defense. Jake Browning should return to school to lead the team at quarterback. Myles Gaskin and Dante Pettis could both be lost to the NFL, but if Gaskin elects to return to school, the offense will be solid. The majority of the defense will return, but will have to fill holes left by Vita Vea and some very good linebackers.

5. Miami Hurricanes

Is Malik Rosier the answer at quarterback? Only time will tell. The Hurricanes should have him, Mark Walton and Ahmmon Richards back to make plays. They do lose a lot on the offensive line, but should be able to replace it. Miami should also get most of their defense back, which includes a great back seven of talented linebackers and a good secondary.

6. Michigan State Spartans

L.J. Scott decided to return to school, giving Michigan State almost all their starters back for next year. After winning ten games this season, they should be expected to compete even more next season. Brian Lewerke is a dual-threat that is expected to improve this offseason. The defense was very young and should also get a lot better next season.

7. Georgia Bulldogs

The Bulldogs just played in the National Championship, but are going to lose a lot of talent, especially on their defense. They could lose up to nine or ten players from the defense, which will not be easy to replace. Georgia has some playmakers on offense returning in Jake Fromm, D’Andre Swift and Riley Ridley. Most of their offensive line also returns.

8. Wisconsin Badgers

Wisconsin got a huge win when linebacker T.J. Edwards said he was returning for his senior season. He will give the defense some stability, as they lose a lot this offseason. The offense will be expected to pick up the slack, as Jonathan Taylor had a fantastic freshman season and most of his offensive line will return. The question is: How well can Alex Hornibrook play?

9. Oklahoma Sooners

Lincoln Riley did a fantastic job in his first year as head coach, but now has to move on without Baker Mayfield. Kyler Murray was a highly-touted recruit that Riley can mold. Freshman running back Rodney Anderson also returns after having a great season and Rose Bowl. Add those two to wide receiver “Hollywood” Brown and the offense should be set. Defensively, some talent will move on, but the offense is the strength of the team.

10. Virginia Tech Hokies

Early college football top 25 for the 2018 season

Josh Jackson (Photo by cjonline.com)

Josh Jackson had a fantastic freshman season that resulted in nine wins. His progression is what carries this ranking. Travon McMillan and Cam Phillips, his two offensive weapons at running back and wide receiver, are gone. Young receivers will need to step up and they will also need to replace a few offensive linemen. The Hokies will return about six or seven starters on defense, but will need to replace some NFL-level talent.

11. Penn State Nittany Lions 

Saquon Barkley is gone, but Trace McSorley is back again. He will now have to be the focal point of the offense with a new offensive coordinator. Most of the offensive line returns, but a lot of new faces will have to step up on defense, as they had a lot of seniors getting significant playing time.

12. Auburn Tigers

The Tigers had a great season that resulted with them playing in the Cotton Bowl. Auburn gets quarterback Jarrett Stidham back, while Kerryon Johnson is leaving for the NFL. They will lose some quality players on defense, but will get the majority back for 2018.

13. Stanford Cardinal

Bryce Love is likely going to the NFL. The good news for Stanford is they can seemingly plug in a lot of running backs into their system to be productive. K.J. Costello also showed some flashes of being a very good quarterback. They lose more than half of their defense to seniors, but the returning players are solid.

14. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Both Josh Adams and Equanimeous St. are trying to make it at the next level. Losing Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson deals a significant blow to the offense of Notre Dame. They still have some good offensive linemen, running backs and wide receivers who will step up next season. That only leaves the matter of quarterback. Ian Book and Brandon Wimbush will battle it out in the offseason for the starting role. The seniors leaving the defense will leave a mark, but a lot of players returning have gotten significant playing time due to injuries over the previous few seasons.

15. Boise State Broncos

Boise State has a chance to be in the national spotlight again this year, after fading in the past few seasons. Quarterback Brett Rypien and running back Alexander Mattison return, which should help keep the offense rolling. Losing wide receiver Cedrick Wilson and some offensive linemen will hurt, but they will manage. The defense is young and pretty much all returning next season, meaning they should be dominant.

16. LSU Tigers

The Tigers will have to replace a lot of their offense, but they have some talented recruits waiting to take the team to the next level. Myles Brennan looks to take over at quarterback after seeing action in six games this season. He was a highly-touted recruit that should be able to make plays with another year under his belt. A lot of good players from LSU’s defense will be missing as well, so they’re recruits will need to step up.

17. Michigan Wolverines

Early college football top 25 for the 2018 season

Shea Patterson (Photo by freep.com)

Michigan won the Shea Patterson sweepstakes and the quarterback transfer from Ole Miss. Brandon Peters also showed potential at the position this season. They’ll need skill position players to step up next season. Donovan Peoples-Jones is in store for a big year at wide receiver if the quarterback play is good enough. The defense returns most of its key players. A player to watch is linebacker Devin Bush, who is one of the best in the country.

18. USC Trojans

Sam Darnold helped lead USC back to prominence, but now he is gone. Gone too are running back Ronald Jones and wide receiver Deontay Burnett. Two offensive linemen also graduate, so they will have some big shoes to fill in Los Angeles. A lot of their players on the defensive side of the ball will be testing the NFL Draft waters, so sophomore corner Jack Jones will have to step up and be a leader.

19. West Virginia Mountaineers

Will Grier had a great season for West Virginia and has decided to return to school. With most of his weapons back, Grier should have the Mountaineers in good position to have one of the best offenses in the country once again. While the defense isn’t the strength of the team, a lot of returning players will be good to work with.

20. Florida Atlantic Owls

Florida Atlantic hit a home run when they hired Lane Kiffin. He took a team that was supposed to be very bad and made them a conference championship team. Running back Devin Singletary was one of the most productive running backs in the country this season and will be back for his junior year. A young defense should also improve as a lot more people hop on the “Lane Train”.

21. Kansas State Wildcats

Bill Snyder is back for another season. They won nine games in 2016 and eight games this season with young teams. Now, with a bunch of veterans, the Wildcats are looking to compete more in the Big 12. Wide receiver Byron Pringle will be asked to do a lot for this team, but they will mainly try to run the football. If D.J. Reed decides to return at corner, it should be another solid year for the Wildcats.

22. Northwestern Wildcats

They won ten games this season and will be back for more next season. While their career leading rusher, Justin Jackson, is graduating, they seem to believe freshman Jeremy Larkin can be a workhorse back in his sophomore year. Quarterback Clayton Thorson is also back for next season, but is recovering from a torn ACL in the Music City Bowl. Freshman linebacker Paddy Fisher looks like he will be on of their all-time greats.

23. Florida State Seminoles

Early college football top 25 for the 2018 season

Deondre Francois (photo by gridironnow.com)

Willie Taggart did a good job of turning around Oregon in his one season in Eugene. He is a solid coach who will get some talent returning. With Deondre Francois back at quarterback, Cam Akers at running back and a lot of good receivers, they should be solid on offense. The offensive line has struggled in the last few years, they are young and shold improve. A lot might need to be replaced on defense, but they have recruited well.

24. Mississippi State Bulldogs

If Nick Fitzgerald can recover from a gruesome leg injury, the Bulldogs have the makings of a good team. They get most of their team back, which is encouraging, but Dan Mullen left for Florida. Joe Moorehead will try to make Mississippi State’s offense a lot better, just like he did at Penn State.

25. Texas A&M Aggies

Jimbo Fisher is a great haul for Texas A&M. He will have to work with quarterbacks Kellen Mond and Nick Starkel, but they can be successful. Trayveon Willliams returns at running back, along with a lot of the offensive line, but they will have to replace Christian Kirk. A lot of their best defensive players will be playing on Sundays next year, so Fisher has a little bit of work cut out for him on that side of the ball.

 

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NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 TaxSlayer Bowl

Louisville and Mississippi State will play in the 2017 TaxSlayer Bowl and have some quality players going head to head. Some of these players will be making plays on Sundays in no time. Here are the top NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 TaxSlayer Bowl:

Louisville Cardinals

Lamar Jackson, QB

Jackson has always been a dynamic athlete, but some doubted he could play quarterback at a high level. He has improved his accuracy and worked his way up to being a first round pick. He has thrown for 3,489 passing yards, 25 touchdowns and six interceptions on 60.4% passing.

He is 6’3″ and 211 pounds which is decent for a NFL quarterback. He will need to add some weight if he plans on scrambling as much as he did in college. Not many teams will be able to pass up on his athletic ability.

Projected draft range: 1st round

Geron Christian, OT

NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 TaxSlayer Bowl

Geron Christian (Photo by gridironnow.com)

Christian has been a starter since he walked on Louisville’s campus. The junior shows flashes of being a good tackle, but is inconsistent. Christian has been recognized as an All-ACC lineman. He could elect to go back to school to show he can be more consistent, which will raise his stock.

At 6’6″ and 314 pounds, he is good size for an NFL tackle. He is a prime candidate for the middle to late rounds of the draft, who teams will draft and try to work with.

Pojected draft range: 4th round-6th round

*CB Jaire Alexander and LB James Hearns have decided to skip the bowl game to prepare for the NFL Draft. Hearns’ draft range: 2nd round-4th round. Alexander’s draft range: 1st round-3rd round.

Mississippi State Bulldogs 

Martinas Rankin, OT

NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 TaxSlayer Bowl

Martinas Rankin (Photo by gridironnow.com)

Rankin has been a star for Mississippi State after transferring in from Mississippi Gulf Coast CC. He has shown a proficiency for pass blocking for the Bulldogs and has a lot of experience clearing holes for Nick Fitzgerald and Aeris Williams.

He is 6’5″ and 302 pounds, which is decent size for a tackle. His physicality and run blocking ability will be questioned at the NFL level. Rankin will likely go in the first few round of the NFL Draft.

Projected draft range: 2nd round-4th round

Johnathan Abram, S

Abram started his career at Georgia, before transferring to Mississippi State. The junior has 62 total tackles, three tackles for loss and three passes defended this season. That is a solid start for his career as a Bulldog, but Abram probably needs another year of development.

He has good size for an NFL safety at 6’0″ and 216 pounds. Abram doesn’t have the best ball skills or production, which is a concern.

Projected draft range: 4th round-6th round

*CB Jamal Peters is missing the bowl game for personal reasons. Peters’ draft range: 4th round-6th round.

 

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2017 TaxSlayer Bowl preview

The 2017 TaxSlayer Bowl has the ACC, in Louisville, and the SEC, in Mississippi State, going head to head. This game features two of the best rushing offenses in the country, but the Bulldogs will be without some key pieces. Here is the 2017 TaxSlayer Bowl preview:

Louisville Cardinals (8-4)

2017 TaxSlayer Bowl preview

Lamar Jackson (Photo by courier-journal.com)

The Cardinals went 8-4 in the regular season for the second straight season. This year, after only losing to bowl eligible teams, the Cardinals beat Purdue, Florida State, Virginia and Kentucky for their solid wins. They were unable to beat any top quality teams, but had a solid season.

Lamar Jackson leads one of the best offenses in college football that averages 39 points per game. The running game is great, averaging 249.9 rushing yards per game. Jackson is their leading rusher with 1,443 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground. Malik Williams and Reggie Bonnafon are the other primary rushers and both have over 400 yards. When in doubt Jackson is able to pick up key first downs with his legs.

Jackson has really improved his accuracy this season, which has led to a good season as more than a runner. He has 3,489 passing yards, 25 touchdowns and six interceptions on 60.4% completion. Although he didn’t have the hype this year that he had last season, he is still an elite player in college football. Jackson’s top targets are Jaylen Smith, Dez Fitzpatrick and Seth Dawkins. Smith leads the way with 873 receiving yards and six touchdowns.

The defense has been just below average, allowing 27.1 points per game. They rank 53rd against the run and 78th against the pass. Linebacker Jonathan Greenard and defensive back James Hearns have combined to get pressure on the quarterback with seven sacks each.

23 Mississippi State Bulldogs (8-4)

2017 Taxslayer bowl preview

Aeris Williams (Photo by djjournal.com)

Mississippi State at times looked like one of the best teams in the country, but were inconsistent. They won eight games, including four games over bowl eligible teams. These big wins included victories over LSU, Louisiana Tech, Kentucky and Texas A&M. Their head coach, Dan Mullen, decided to leave the school for Florida and will not be coaching the bowl game.

The offense scores 32.1 points per game, but is losing its best player in Nick Fitzgerald. He was a key part of the running game that averaged 249.6 rushing yards per game. Running back Aeris Williams is the teams leading rusher, but fed off of having Fitzgerald in the backfield as a running threat. Williams has 1,019 rushing yards and five touchdowns on the season. Backup quarterback Keytaon Thompson has shown he can run the ball with 299 yards and three touchdowns. More will be expected out of him in this game.

Thompson has had struggles completing passes at just 45.7% completion. With that, he only has 261 passing yards, 2 touchdowns and one interception. The passing game will likely not do too much damage in this game. There isn’t a go-to-guy in the receiving core, but five receivers have over 200 yards, but less than 300 on the season, with Keith Mixon having the most.

Their defense allows 20.4 points per game this season and has been good. They rank 23rd against the run and 12th against the pass. Defensive lineman Montez Sweat has been one of the best pass rushers in the country with 9.5 sacks.

Prediction

This would’ve been a really interesting game if Fitzgerald had been healthy. Without him, Mississippi State’s offense will be lost. While their defense is good, going up against Lamar Jackson will not be easy. Jackson will carry his team to victory.

Louisville Cardinals 33 Mississippi State Bulldogs 18

 

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College football week 11 picks

Joe DiTullio and Rob Doerger make college football picks for week 11, which includes all games involving FBS teams. There have been plenty of touchdowns, sacks and big plays with more to come. Here are the picks for the week:

 

Away Home Location Rob Joe
Akron Miami (OH) Yager Stadium, Oxford, OH Akron Miami
Bowling Green Buffalo UB Stadium, Buffalo, NY Buffalo Buffalo
Kent State Western Michigan Waldo Stadium, Kalamazoo, MI W. Mich WMU
Toledo Ohio Peden Stadium, Athens, OH Toledo Toledo
Eastern Michigan Central Michigan Kelly/Shorts Stadium, Mount Pleasant, MI C. Mich CMU
Ball State Northern Illinois Huskie Stadium, DeKalb, IL NIU NIU
Georgia Southern Appalachian State Kidd Brewer Stadium, Boone, NC App St App St
North Carolina Pittsburgh Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA Pitt Pitt
Temple Cincinnati Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, OH Cincy UC
#9 Washington Stanford Stanford Stadium, Stanford, CA Washington Washington
BYU UNLV Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, NV UNLV BYU
#12 Michigan State #13 Ohio State Ohio Stadium, Columbus, OH OSU OSU
Rutgers #14 Penn State Beaver Stadium, University Park, PA Penn St PSU
#15 Oklahoma State #21 Iowa State Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, IA OK State Ok State
Connecticut #18 UCF Spectrum Stadium, Orlando, FL UCF UCF
Margin of Victory 41 33
Does the winner leave with the Civil ConFLiCT trophy? No No
#23 NC State Boston College Alumni Stadium , Chestnut Hill, MA BC NC State
Arkansas #24 LSU Tiger Stadium , Baton Rouge, LA LSU LSU
Duke Army Michie Stadium, West Point, NY Army Army
Texas Tech Baylor AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX Texas Tech TTU
Louisiana Ole Miss Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Oxford, MS Ole Miss Ole Miss
Florida South Carolina Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, SC SC SC
Indiana Illinois Memorial Stadium , Champaign, IL Indiana Indiana
Nebraska Minnesota TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN Nebraska Nebaska
#17 Virginia Tech Georgia Tech Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, GA VT VT
Middle Tennessee Charlotte McColl-Richardson Field, Charlotte, NC MTSU MTSU
Wake Forest Syracuse Carrier Dome, Syracuse, NY Syracuse Cuse
#1 Georgia #10 Auburn Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, AL Georgia Georgia
Florida State #4 Clemson Memorial Stadium , Clemson, SC Clemson Clemson
#20 Iowa #8 Wisconsin Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, WI Wisconsin Wisconsin
Virginia Louisville Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, Louisville, KY Louisville Louisville
Michigan Maryland Maryland Stadium, College Park, MD Michigan Michigan
West Virginia Kansas State Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan, KS WVU WVU
SMU Navy Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, MD Navy Navy
Florida Atlantic Louisiana Tech Joe Aillet Stadium, Ruston, LA FAU Louisiana Tech
Southern Mississippi Rice Rice Stadium, Houston, TX So Miss USM
#11 USC Colorado Folsom Field, Boulder, CO USC USC
Maine UMass Fenway Park, Boston, MA Umass Umass
Georgia State Texas State Bobcat Stadium , San Marcos, TX Ga St Ga State
San Jose State Nevada Mackay Stadium, Reno, NV Nevada Nevada
Kentucky Vanderbilt Vanderbilt Stadium, Nashville, TN Vandy Vandy
Troy Coastal Carolina Brooks Stadium, Conway, SC Troy Troy
Arkansas State South Alabama Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, AL Ark St Ark State
UTEP North Texas Apogee Stadium, Denton, TX UNT UNT
#19 Washington State Utah Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, UT Wash St Wazzu
Kansas Texas Royal Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, TX Texas Texas
Western Kentucky Marshall Joan C. Edwards Stadium, Huntington, WV Marshall Marshall
#2 Alabama #16 Mississippi State Davis Wade Stadium, Starkville, MS Alabama Alabama
Purdue #25 Northwestern Ryan Field, Evanston, IL NW NW
UAB UT San Antonio Alamodome, San Antonio, TX UAB UAB
Tulane East Carolina Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville, NC ECU ECU
New Mexico Texas A&M Kyle Field, College Station, TX A&M TAMU
Old Dominion Florida Intl FIU Stadium, Miami, FL FIU FIU
Tennessee Missouri Memorial Stadium/Faurot Field, Columbia, MO Mizzou Missouri
#3 Notre Dame #7 Miami Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, FL ND ND
#6 TCU #5 Oklahoma Memorial Stadium , Norman, OK Oklahoma Oklahoma
Arizona State UCLA Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA Arizona St ASU
Oregon State Arizona Arizona Stadium, Tucson, AZ Arizona Zona
Wyoming Air Force Falcon Stadium, Usaf Academy, CO AFA AFA
Boise State Colorado State CSU Stadium, Fort Collins, CO Colorado St CSU
Fresno State Hawai’i Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, HI Fresno Fresno
Gameday Guest Picker (Miami) The Rock Ray Lewis

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Five to watch for in college football week 11

Ten weeks of the college football season are in the books and the good games keep on coming. More top teams match up this week, which should create another good weekend of football. Here are five things to watch for the week:

1. “Catholics vs. Convicts”

Miami and Notre Dame play each other this weekend in the best version of the rivalry in a long time. An ESPN documentary recently came out and reignited some harsh feelings between the two teams. Add to that fact that this has major implications for the College Football Playoff, and this game is one that needs to be seen.

The Hurricanes are undefeated on the season and have given their fans some hope after defeating Virginia Tech in a big game. Miami has a tendency to play up and down to their competition, so this should be an interesting game. They have a ton of talent and just need Malik Rosier to be efficient and the defense to stop the run to win this game. The latter is easier said than done.

Notre Dame has just one loss on the season and is the third ranked team by the College Football Playoff committee. They can’t afford to lose if they want to make the CFP. They have a much improved and opportunistic defense that has helped them get to this point. The best part of this team though, is the offensive line. If these guys can push back Miami and open up holes for Josh Adams they will win.

It’s going to be heated in this game, so get the popcorn ready.

2. Oklahoma and TCU

The Sooners and Horned Frogs sit atop the Big 12 standings at the moment and are both contenders for the CFP. The winner of this game sets themselves up nicely for postseason play, while the loser will have to continue to fight to make the Big 12 Championship Game.

Oklahoma has two of the best wins in college football after beating Ohio State and Oklahoma State. Their offense can score on anyone, while their defense needs to step up more against better offenses. TCU has a more balanced team in terms of offense and defense, but the defense will need to step it up against the Sooners.

If TCU’s defense can slow down Baker Mayfield they have a chance. These two teams could meet again in a couple weeks, so tune in now.

3. Deep South’s oldest rivalry

Another big game this weekend is the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry, the annual game between Auburn and Georgia. Both teams still have a chance to make the CFP and in a rivalry game, it makes the game have that much more drama. The SEC schedule is just starting to heat up.

Georgia is still undefeated and is playing really good physical, defensive football. They have this tough game left before the SEC Championship Game, where they will likely play Alabama. Auburn has a good defense and can run the football too, so it’s going to be an absolute battle. They have two losses, one coming to Clemson and the other to LSU. If they win out, they will have to win three games against top 25 teams and more likely those teams will all be in the top 10.

The difference in the game is going to be which quarterback can play better. Jake Fromm and Jarrett Stidham haven’t been superstars, but need to complete passes to help move the chains.

4. Big Ten East Championship

The Big Ten East will probably be left out of the CFP, but the division still has a big role to play for the end of the season. The winner will play Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship and will help determine if the Badgers are worthy of CFP consideration. This week Ohio State and Michigan State will play and the game will likely determine the winner of the division.

Ohio State lost big at Iowa last week and is very inconsistent. J.T. Barrett needs to be productive and not turn the ball over. He has shown he can do it before, with his excellent fourth quarter performance against Penn State. If he does that the Buckeyes usually win.

The Spartans have lost to Northwestern and to Notre Dame this season, but are doing much better than expected. They beat Penn State last week and now get their chance to play for a division championship. Michigan State has beaten three top 25 teams and needs to be taken seriously. The defense is back to form this season and if they can create problems for Barrett, they can win.

5. Alabama vs. Mississippi State

The weekend has so many good games that this one will probably get buried, unless Alabama starts losing. Mississippi State, when playing at their best can at least stay in the game with Alabama, so this is a game worth tuning into if that is the case. Viewers should be able to tell by the end of the first quarter whether this is going to be a good game or not.

Alabama got a win over LSU last week and their schedule just gets tougher. They haven’t shown too many flaws, but if a team can make Jalen Hurts beat them with his arm, they have a chance. The Crimson Tide will pound the football and play good defense, making them tough to beat.

Nick Fitzgerald has to be productive in order to give Mississippi State a chance. When the Bulldogs lose, it’s usually because Fitzgerald is shut down. Mississippi State is out of the CFP picture, but can still make a New Year’s Six Bowl with a good finish to the season.

 

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Five things to watch for in college football week 5

Last week the Alabama offense proved their dominance, Georgia’s defense shut down Nick Fitzgerald and Oklahoma State and TCU put on a show. This week there is more good football to be watched and here are things to focus in on:

1. Quarterback prospects dueling

Five things to watch in college football week 5

Sam Darnold (Photo by Tritontimes.com)

There is a big Pac-12 matchup between Washington State and USC this Friday. While this is a big game for the Pac-12 standings, it will also be a great showcase for some of the more highly-touted quarterback prospects for the 2018 NFL Draft.

Sam Darnold has struggled so far this season and has thrown seven interceptions in just four games. He has the arm talent to make just about any throw required of him, but needs to demonstrate better decision-making. With Washington State not being particularly known for its defense, Darnold needs to protect the football. If he does so, the Trojans can pick up a big win on the road.

Washington State actually benched Luke Falk against Boise State, but that has seemingly lit a fire under him. Falk has been efficient with 77% completion 1,378 passing yards, 14 touchdowns and only one interception. While his team doesn’t have as much talent as USC, if Falk plays out of his mind, the Cougars have a chance to win and move up in the rankings.

2. Josh Jackson vs. Clemson’s defensive line

Five things to watch in college football week 5

Photo by sbnation.com

On Saturday, the big game will be Clemson visiting Blacksburg to take on Virginia Tech. This could end up being a preview of the ACC Championship Game. Both teams have extreme talent all over the field, but the key to the game will be how Josh Jackson handles Clemson’s defensive line.

One of the biggest stories of the young season is how well the Tigers’ defensive line has played. They have come up big time in every game that Clemson has played, but really helped them stave off Auburn, recording 11 sacks. Their pass rush will put fear into just about any quarterback on the college level, which is why they have made multiple appearances on these lists.

Virginia Tech needed to find a quarterback at the start of the season and now they have found their guy. Josh Jackson has thrown for 1,127 yards, 11 touchdowns and just one interception. He adds the threat of mobility to go with his arm. Clemson’s defensive line will pressure him often, so it is a key for him to not panic under pressure and make the right decisions.

3. SEC WEst Battle

Five things to watch for in college football week 5

Jarrett Stidham (Photo by saturdaydownsouth.com)

While the SEC West looks like it will be dominated by Alabama, it is still early. One of the key games in the conference is coming this weekend. The Mississippi State Bulldogs are traveling to take on Auburn in a game of teams that are still finding their way.

Auburn lost a close game to Clemson, for their only loss on the season, but they have struggled to get their offense going. Jarrett Stidham has not lived up to the preseason hype yet as they are tied for 65th in the FBS in points scored. They rank 80th in passing yards and are tied for 45th in rushing yards. Their defense is good, but if they want to win this game and compete with Alabama, Stidham and the offense need to improve.

Mississippi State was playing well, but lost to Georgia 31-3 last week. They were able to stay in the rankings at 24, but have a lot of things left to prove. Nick Fitzgerald and the offense were completely shut down and are now playing another good defense in Auburn. If Fitzgerald can find his mojo again, the Bulldogs can win the game.

4. The Rashaad Penny Show

Five things to watch in college football week 5

Rashad Penny (Photo by zimbio.com)

While he isn’t a household name yet, Rashaad Penny is dominating so far this season. He has 716 rushing yards and 7 touchdowns in just four games. While he plays at San Diego State, two of his four games so far have come against Pac-12 teams. He has worked his way into some Heisman talks and has SDSU on its way to a New Year’s Six bowl game.

This week Penny and the Aztecs take on Northern Illinois. The Huskies were able to beat Nebraska on the road and are another decent challenge for SDSU. If Penny can keep on producing like he has, and he’s on pace for over 2,000 yards in just the regular season, he will be in New York for the Heisman Ceremony.

5. How successful can Wisconsin be?

Five things to watch college football week 5

Alex Hornibrook (Photo by madison.com)

Wisconsin has one of the easiest schedules in the Big Ten. The Big Ten West is weak and they only play Michigan from the Big Ten East. This game against Northwestern will be one of the toughest games they play all season. Some of the luster was taken out of this matchup because Northwestern lost to Duke, but Duke is still undefeated.

The Badgers have a lot left to show the world of college football. They haven’t played a decent team yet. Alex Hornibrook has to prove he is a good quarterback, Jonathan Taylor needs to prove he is the next great Wisconsin running back and the defense needs to play a good offense. There will still be some uncertainty about this team after this game, but this is their first test. It’s best to pay attention to them now, because they will likely be in the Big Ten Championship game.

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College football week 5 picks

College football has seen some crazy things already, but there are a lot of ranked matchups this weekend that can bring more clarity on who the contenders are. As with every week Joe DiTullio and Rob Doerger will make their picks for every single FBS college football game. Here are the week five picks:

Away Home Location Rob Joe
Texas Iowa State Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, IA Texas Texas
#14 Miami Duke Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham, NC Miami Miami
Nebraska Illinois Memorial Stadium , Champaign, IL Nebraska Nebaska
BYU Utah State Romney Stadium, Logan, UT Utah St BYU
#5 USC #16 Washington St Martin Stadium, Pullman, WA USC Wazzu
Northwestern #10 Wisconsin Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, WI Wisconsin Wisconsin
#18 South Florida East Carolina Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville, NC USF USF
Margin of Victory 28 34
Vanderbilt #21 Florida Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, FL Florida Florida
Houston Temple Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA Houston Houston
New Mexico State Arkansas Razorback Stadium, Fayetteville, AR Arkansas Arkansas
Maryland Minnesota TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN Minnesota Minnesota
Rice Pittsburgh Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA Pitt Pitt
North Carolina Georgia Tech Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, GA GT Ga Tech
Syracuse NC State Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh, NC NC State NC State
Central Michigan Boston College Alumni Stadium , Chestnut Hill, MA BC BC
Indiana #4 Penn State Beaver Stadium, University Park, PA Penn St PSU
#7 Georgia Tennessee Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, TN Georgia UGA
Murray State #17 Louisville Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, Louisville, KY Louisville Louisville
Florida State Wake Forest BB&T Field, Winston-salem, NC FSU FSU
Ohio UMass Warren McGuirk Alumni Stadium, Amherst, MA Ohio Ohio
Baylor Kansas State Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan, KS Kansas St KSU
UTEP Army Michie Stadium, West Point, NY Army Army
Navy Tulsa Chapman Stadium, Tulsa, OK Navy Navy
Buffalo Kent State Dix Stadium, Kent, OH Buffalo Buffalo
Texas State Wyoming War Memorial Stadium , Laramie, WY Wyoming Wyoming
Connecticut SMU Gerald J. Ford Stadium, Dallas, TX SMU SMU
Arizona State Stanford Stanford Stadium, Stanford, CA Stanford Stanford
Eastern Michigan Kentucky Commonwealth Stadium, Lexington, KY Kentucky UK
Iowa Michigan State Spartan Stadium , East Lansing, MI Michigan St Iowa
Miami (OH) #22 Notre Dame Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame, IN ND ND
#24 Mississippi State #13 Auburn Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, AL Auburn Mississippi State
Akron Bowling Green Doyt Perry Stadium, Bowling Green, OH Akron BG
Troy #25 LSU Tiger Stadium , Baton Rouge, LA LSU LSU
Charlotte Florida Intl FIU Stadium, Miami, FL FIU FIU
Middle Tennessee Florida Atlantic FAU Football Stadium, Boca Raton, FL MTSU MTSU
South Alabama Louisiana Tech Joe Aillet Stadium, Ruston, LA La Tech La Tech
Marshall Cincinnati Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, OH Marshall UC
North Texas Southern Mississippi M. M. Roberts Stadium, Hattiesburg, MS USM USM
Ball State Western Michigan Waldo Stadium, Kalamazoo, MI WMU WMU
Coastal Carolina Louisiana Monroe Malone Stadium, Monroe, LA ULM ULM
Air Force New Mexico Dreamstyle Stadium, Albuquerque, NM Air Force AF
Memphis UCF Spectrum Stadium, Orlando, FL Memphis Memphis
#11 Ohio State Rutgers High Point Solutions Stadium, Piscataway, NJ Ohio St OSU
South Carolina Texas A&M Kyle Field, College Station, TX A&M TAMU
#2 Clemson #12 Virginia Tech Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, VA Clemson Va Tech
#6 Washington Oregon State Reser Stadium, Corvallis, OR Washington Washington
#15 Oklahoma State Texas Tech Jones AT&T Stadium, Lubbock, TX OK State Ok State
Ole Miss #1 Alabama Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, AL Alabama Alabama
Nevada Fresno State Bulldog Stadium , Fresno, CA Fresno St Fresno ST
Northern Illinois #19 San Diego State Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA SDSU SDSU
San José State UNLV Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, NV UNLV UNLV
Colorado UCLA Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA Colorado UCLA
California Oregon Autzen Stadium, Eugene, OR Oregon Oregon
Colorado State Hawai’i Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, HI Colorado St CSU
Gameday Guest Picker (Blacksburg) Frank Beamer Mike Vick
Total picks right 231 244

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College Football Playoff bracketology 9/24/17

Another week of college football in the books and another week of the world knowing more about the teams. Now every team in these rankings has at least played a decent team, which is not something we could say last week. Without further adieu lets get to the rankings.

Playoff teams:

1. Clemson Tigers (4-0)

This week, Clemson struggled to pull away from Boston College, but finally did in the fourth quarter. They ended up winning the game 34-7. While it wasn’t pretty for most of the game, getting a win to add to their already impressive case to be number one is all that matters.

The wins over Auburn and Louisville both still look good, as both teams haven’t lost to anyone but Clemson. Add the road win over Boston College and the Tigers earn the number one spot. There will be more tests coming up, but so far their case is the best.

Clemson will be in the marquee matchup of the week against Virginia Tech, with ESPN’s College Gameday traveling to cover the game.

This week: at 12 Virginia Tech Hokies

2. Oklahoma Sooners (4-0)

The Sooners had a scare at Baylor this weekend. The Bears are without a win on the season and almost were able to upset Oklahoma. That would have been a terrible loss for Oklahoma’s resume, but they were able to come out of Waco with the win.

Because they didn’t play well this week in their victory, it hurts them, but their resume is still good. The win on the road over Ohio State will carry their case just like the opposite did for Ohio State last year. They will likely move down in these rankings in the near future, but for now stay in the second spot.

This week the Sooners will be off, which will let them prepare for Iowa State in early October.

This week: Bye

3. Alabama Crimson Tide (4-0)

College Football Playoff bracketology 9/24/17

Bo Scarbrough (Photo by gridironnow.com)

Alabama sure does look like the best team in the country. This week they demolished Vanderbilt 59-0. The backups were in early and got a lot of run in. This is impressive because Vanderbilt had been one of the best defenses in the country and looked to be a solid team with their win over Kansas State the week before.

The reason why Alabama doesn’t move up is what happened in elsewhere in college football. Their big win of the season so far was over Florida State, but the Seminoles are now 0-2 and look like they might struggle down the stretch without quarterback Deondre Francois. The win over Colorado State is nice, while the win over Fresno State was easy.

Nick Saban’s team will be fine when they continue to win and will probably get to the top spot on these rankings at some point this season. Their focus now is SEC West for the next three weeks.

This week: vs. Ole Miss Rebels

4. Georgia Bulldogs (4-0)

The Bulldogs keep rising up these rankings with their good play. This week they blew out a good Mississippi State team 31-3. Mississippi State had moved their way into the rankings before the loss and afterwards stayed in the rankings, despite the loss.

Georgia also has a key win at Notre Dame, which looks better and better as the Fighting Irish keep winning. They also have a win over Appalachian State that will look better as the season goes on. Add it all up and the Bulldogs are one of the most impressive teams in the country.

More big games are coming for the Bulldogs, so they can move up even further if they continue to perform well.

This week: at Tennessee Volunteers

First four out:

5. TCU Horned Frogs (4-0)

College football playoff bracketology 9/24/17

Kenny Hill (Photo by tigerdroppings.com)

One of the biggest wins of the season happened this weekend when TCU upset Oklahoma State in Stillwater. The Cowboys were slowly climbing up these rankings, but the Horned Frogs were their first test and now TCU has shot up the rankings as a result of the win.

TCU has a couple of other key wins other than the one over the Cowboys. They beat Arkansas on the road and SMU at home. Arkansas is a team that will likely find a way to squeak out a bowl appearance, while SMU is a solid AAC team. With that resume the Horned Frogs have flown up the rankings.

They get a week off before getting back to Big 12 play.

This week: Bye

6. Michigan Wolverines (4-0)

Michigan has not played up to their potential yet this season and that trend continued this weekend. The Wolverines pulled away from Purdue in the second half to win the game 28-10. It may not look pretty yet, but they were able to win this game without starting quarterback Wilton Speight for the majority of the time.

The win over Florida is still the defining factor of the Wolverines’ case. Florida outlasted Kentucky to go to 2-1 this week, which makes the win still look good. The other wins over Air Force and Cincinnati are nice, but they need to start adding more if they wish to stay this high in the rankings.

This week the Wolverines will have off before they take on in-state rival, Michigan State.

This week: Bye

7. Virginia Tech Hokies (4-0)

The Hokies continue to look good against lower talent-level teams. This week they beat Old Dominion 38-0. This won’t do much to help their case, but it is important to not stumble to these teams.

It doesn’t look like Virginia Tech has broken a sweat since their season opening win over West Virginia. The Mountaineers have worked their way back to the top 25, making it a good win for the Hokies. The problem is that they haven’t played anyone else of note.

Virginia Tech will get a big chance to move up the rankings this weekend as they play Clemson at home.

This week: vs. 2 Clemson Tigers

8. Penn State Nittany Lions (4-0)

The best game of the college football weekend was Penn State at Iowa. It came down to the last second and Trace McSorley threw a touchdown pass as time expired to seal the win. While Iowa wasn’t ranked, it is tough to play them on their home turf and it is a good road win.

Penn State is at number eight right now, because the win over the Hawkeyes is the only good one on the season for the Nittany Lions. Their win over Pitt looked like it could be a decent one, but now the Panthers have fallen to 1-3 after losing to Georgia Tech. The blowouts over Akron and Georgia State are nice, but that’s about it.

The next few weeks will be tough for Penn State, so they need to continue playing their best football.

This week: vs. Indiana Hoosiers

Next four out:

9. USC Trojans (4-0)

USC was able to grind out a win over a surprisingly decent Cal team. The Trojans were without Ronald Jones, but still came away with the win. They still haven’t been able to play as well as they can and Sam Darnold has made some mistakes, but college football is about surviving and advancing nowadays.

With wins over Western Michigan, Stanford and Texas, USC’s case is still murky. There are so many unknowns with the teams they have beaten that is hard to fully assess the Trojans. Texas lost to Maryland, Stanford has two losses already, Western Michigan has two losses and no wins over power five teams, while Cal has exceeded expectations.

The Trojans will get their chances to play some good teams coming up, as their mid-season schedule is tough.

This week: at 16 Washington State Cougars

10. Washington State Cougars (4-0)

The Cougars put a lot of points up on the board again this week and beat Nevada 45-7. The Wolfpack are not a very good team, so Washington State simply took care of business. Luke Falk looks to be back on track after getting injured and benched against Boise State.

Washington State’s win over Boise State looks a lot worse now that Virginia was able to go into Boise and beat the Broncos. It will still likely end up being a solid win, but the rest of their wins also aren’t that impressive. They are able to move up the rankings incrementally because of other teams ahead of them losing, but if that wasn’t the case, they may be outside these top 12 teams.

Falk and the Cougars will get their shot to prove to everyone what they can do when they get their fifth straight home game this weekend.

This week: vs. 5 USC Trojans

11. Washington Huskies (4-0)

College football playoff bracketology 9/24/17

Jake Browning (Photo by si.com)

The Huskies have finally broken through to the rankings after winning a game this week at Colorado. In a rematch of the Pac-12 Championship Game from last season, Washington turned it on in the second half and won 37-10. Colorado likely is a tad worse than last season, but they will still be a solid team.

That was the first solid win of the season for Washington, because they played so many bad teams in the non-conference schedule. They played an FCS team (Montana) to go along with Fresno State and Rutgers. Both of the FBS teams will struggle to get to three wins on the season.

Washington will get another easy game this weekend, but their schedule does get tough at the end.

This week: at Oregon State Beavers

12. Mississippi State Bulldogs (3-1)

There are a few other undefeated teams that could be in this slot, but they don’t have the same wins as the Bulldogs. This week they did get destroyed by Georgia, but that may say more about Georgia than it does Mississippi State.

The Bulldogs still have wins over LSU and Louisiana Tech, which are both solid wins. LSU barely stayed in the top 25 after they barely beat Syracuse. Louisiana Tech took South Carolina to the wire this weekend and should pick up a lot more wins as the season goes on after starting the season 2-2.

Everyone will be able to find out whether Mississippi State deserves this spot during their tough road test this weekend.

This week: at 12 Auburn Tigers

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Five things we learned in week 4 of college football

There were a lot of good games this week in college football, which makes it look like this season is going to be crazy for its entirety. Some of the top teams survived, some dominated and some got upset. At some point all teams will be tested and have their challenges, so if teams struggle and get the win, it still goes a long way. With all that said, here are the things we learned from this weekend:

1. Saquon Barkley is in the thick of the Heisman race

Barkley didn’t get himself into the Heisman talk last season because he didn’t have huge games against solid opponents. This year, however, he stepped up big time in Penn State’s first prime time game of the season. The Nittany Lions played Iowa and Barkley had over 300 all-purpose yards and a touchdown.

In addition to the stats he put up, Barkley had some highlight spin moves, jump cuts and broken tackles, along with some key plays in key moments. With the bright lights on, Barkley made his case to move in the front of the Heisman talk with Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield.

It will be hard to catch Mayfield with his impressive start to the season, but Barkley will have a few more chances to prove what he is worth. The Nittany Lions still have to play Michigan and Ohio State, with the possibility of a Big Ten Championship at the end of the game.

2. Alabama is going to be hard to stop in the sec

Five things we learned college football week 4

Damien Harris (Photo by timesnewpress.com)

Alabama played a team with a tough defense in Vanderbilt, but they made it look like Vanderbilt was an FCS team, winning 59-0. They look like the clear dominant team, in the SEC West with their offense and defense both clicking. Without many legitimate challengers at the moment, Alabama needs to make sure they don’t beat themselves.

Part of this equation is how the rest of the SEC has looked. Auburn and LSU both have had their disappointments as possible contenders to Alabama. Mississippi State looked like a team that could challenge in the SEC West, but they stumbled pretty badly at Georgia.

At this point of the season it looks like Georgia could be the biggest threat to Alabama and they won’t even meet unless both teams make the SEC Championship. If you have some money to lay down, put it on Alabama to make the CFP.

3. Florida State isn’t the same without Francois

Five things we learned week 4 of college football

James Blackman (Photo by tomahawknation.com)

When Deondre Francois went down for the season against Alabama, most knew Florida State was at risk of not making the College Football Playoff or winning the ACC. Unfortunately for the Seminoles it looks like it might get worse than that. This weekend they lost at home to NC State.

The Wolfpack are a solid team, but Florida State has more talent. Now the Seminoles are 0-2 and go into  a tough stretch of play. They have games at Wake and Duke and home contests with Miami and Louisville in their four weeks. It is unlikely that they will win them all, leaving them with a tough mountain to climb to get to another 9-3 season.

In order to salvage the season (by Florida State’s standards) they need to get James Blackman to progress at the quarterback position quickly.

4. Oklahoma State needs a defense

Five things we learned week 4 of college football

Gary Patterson (Photo by sportsrants.com)

Oklahoma State had a chance to keep themselves in the top ten, but lost to TCU 44-31. Gary Patterson’s Horned Frogs were ready to play and showed a nice balance of good offense and defense, which was the difference in the game. Now the Cowboys are going to slide out of the top ten and TCU will likely slide in.

The Cowboys may be able to outscore most teams, but when they come up against another competitive team, the defense needs to step up. Their toughest opponent for the remainder of their schedule will be Oklahoma. If they lose that game they are in real danger of missing the Big 12 Championship Game.

Maybe the lesson here is to never doubt Patterson and TCU, but if the Cowboys want to do something serious this year, their defense needs to step up.

5. It’s going to get crazy

With the exception of Alabama, every team has shown visible flaws and had some close calls. Clemson (until the 4th quarter), Oklahoma, Penn State, USC, Michigan, Florida, San Diego State and LSU are all top 25 teams that had a hard time pulling away from unranked competition. With Oklahoma State, Mississippi State, Florida State and Oregon all losing, the top 25 will be more of a revolving door than in years past.

There a lot more big games to come that will shake things up. Some of these games are coming up this week. Here are the ones worth noting: 2 Clemson at 12 Virginia Tech, Duke at 14 Miami, 5 USC at 16 Washington State, Northwestern at 10 Wisconsin, Vanderbilt at 21 Florida, 7 Georgia at Tennessee and 24 Mississippi State at 13 Auburn.

Get locked in and ready, because the good games are still coming.

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Five things to watch in week 4 of college football

There have already been a lot of good games in college football with more coming. This week features the start of a lot of conference schedules for teams, which leads to a lot of competitive games and familiarity. Here are the five things to watch for this week:

1. Jalen Hurts vs. Vanderbilt’s defense

Five things to watch in college football week 4

Charles Wright (Photo by vucommodores.com)

As crazy as it sounds, Vanderbilt deserves to be in the top 25 right now. Preseason rankings are keeping some teams in that shouldn’t be, while the Commodores got snubbed. The reason that Vanderbilt has been so good this season is their defense. They have given up only 13 points on the season to some decent competition in Middle Tennessee and Kansas State.

Not only do the Commodores have the number one scoring defense in the country, they also have the ability to get after the quarterback. Charles Wright is tied for the lead in the country with 6.5 sacks. They also were able to limit Jesse Ertz’s effectiveness when they played Kansas State. Both he and Jalen Hurts are running threats, albeit different types of running threats.

Hurts can run with a little more speed than any quarterback Vanderbilt has played this season. He will have to be sure to not turn the ball over in this game and have to make a few plays with his arm. He was unable to do much with his arm against Florida State in the opener and this will be his second test against a solid defense. He will need to get the ball to Calvin Ridley as fast and often as possible, because he is a match-up nightmare.

While Hurts may win this matchup, it might be closer than a lot of people think.

2. Oklahoma State and TCU will light up the scoreboard

Five things to watch in college football week 4

Kenny Hill (Photo by wholehogsports.com)

In one of the best games of the weekend Oklahoma State and TCU will play in their first Big 12 game of their seasons. This has huge Big 12 Championship implications as the winner is in the front seat to lead one of the two championship spots.

Oklahoma State has rolled through its early season competition, putting up 54 points per game. Mason Rudolph looks like one of the few Heisman contenders who are living up to the hype. Their dynamic passing attack will be tough to slow down, especially with Rudolph throwing for 497 yards and five touchdowns against Pittsburgh.

Kenny Hill and the TCU offense may not be as good as Oklahoma State, but they are still averaging 49 points per game. Their attack is a little more balanced, which could create some problems for the Cowboy defense. Can Kenny Hill thrive against good competition? He’ll have a chance to outscore a great offense in this one and get TCU on the right path.

The over/under on this game is 71, but it could end up going way over if both offenses remain efficient.

3. Mississippi State’s offensive line vs. Georgia’s Front

Five things to watch in college football week 4

Martinas Rankin (Photo by twitter.com)

Another one of the big games of the weekend is Mississippi State vs. Georgia. A lot of questions about both teams will be answered like: Is Georgia really the best team in the SEC East? Can Mississippi State contend in the SEC West?

Martinas Rankin has had a wonderful season that includes a 99.9 pass block efficiency (according to CFB film room). The line is a solid unit overall, but the right side of the line has had some struggles. They will need to keep Nick Fitzgerald upright to allow him to scramble or find a receiver downfield.

Georgia’s defense is loaded with talent and looks like they can take over games. Lorenzo Carter is a great pass rusher, who has already accrued 14 quarterback pressures on the season. The task of slowing down Fitzgerald will be tougher than any other they have experienced this year, but they have a veteran defense that should be up for the challenge.

Although the skill position players may be more exciting to watch, the battle will be won or lost in the trenches.

4. Can a 31 year streak be broken?

Five things to watch in college football week 4

Feleipe Franks (Photo by alligatorarmy.com)

The Kentucky Wildcats have not beaten Florida in 31 years. While it’s apparent that Kentucky is more of a basketball school, they have built a solid team under Mark Stoops. Last year they got blown out, but the two previous years they were right in the game until the end. With Florida having a lot of things going on (suspensions, felonies, hurricanes, new quarterback, etc.), this may be the year that Kentucky ends the streak and contends for the SEC East.

In their first two games the Wildcats looked sluggish. They beat Southern Miss and Eastern Kentucky (FCS) by a combined 18 points. Kentucky did look much better on the road against South Carolina, winning by ten and controlling most of the game. There theme has been winning the turnover battle, something they will need to continue in order to get the win Saturday night.

Florida has had two tough games to start the season, with one being cancelled in between due to a hurricane. They lost to Michigan and beat Tennessee on a last second bomb of a touchdown pass from Feleipe Franks to Tyrie Cleveland. While they are 1-1 they have shown they have flaws (mainly on offense) that can be exploited.

The Gators will likely extend the streak for another year at least, but this might be the best opportunity Kentucky has had.

5. The ending of Michigan State and Notre Dame

Michigan State vs. Notre Dame

Photo by isportsweb.com

It might still be too early to tell how good these teams are this season after both struggled last year. Both teams should be better this season. This game one that seemingly always goes down to the wire. Since 2005, six of the ten games have been decided by one possession. Those games include two overtime games, a fake field goal for a win and much more.

Notre Dame was close to beating Georgia at home, but came up just short. That was the theme of last season for the Irish: losing games by one possession. This year they have half the amount of wins they had last year, by beating Boston College and Temple. The rushing part of the offense is working, while the passing game needs some work. The defense is much improved over last year, but that isn’t saying much.

The Spartans are 2-0 and beat a decent Western Michigan team that put up a good fight against USC. The offense hasn’t played a quality defense yet, but has put up over 30 points per game. They need to find some playmakers for this game. Defensively they have allowed more points than they would’ve liked so far, but still give up just 12 points per game.

This will be a big early season win for either school and it might just be one that fans want to flip on when it’s nearing its end.

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