New College Football Rankings Put Pressure On This Weekend’s Games
With the College Football Playoff Rankings being released Tuesday night, many of this weekend’s games will have a direct effect on next week’s rankings.
The No. 9 Arizona State Sun Devils (7-1) will face off against No. 10 Notre Dame (7-1) in a top-10 matchup on Saturday. While it looks as if the Sun Devils have the Pac-12 South wrapped up, a win against another top-10 team would only strengthen their position in the newly instituted playoffs.
In their most recent matchup, the Fighting Irish defeated the Sun Devils 37-34 despite Taylor Kelly’s last second touchdown pass to Marion Grice. This year, the Sun Devils will look to D.J. Foster, six touchdowns and 701 yards this season, and Jaelen Strong, eight touchdowns and 821 yards, to bring home a Sun Devil win. If Arizona State can defeat Notre Dame, expect the Sun Devils to move up in the College Football Playoff Rankings.
When the No. 4 Oregon Ducks (8-1) travel to Rice-Eccles Stadium to battle the No. 17 Utah Utes (6-2) on Saturday, the game not only has playoff consequences but also will result in changes in the Pac-12.
The Utes suffered an overtime loss to the Sun Devils last weekend, dropping them from second in the Pac-12 South to tied for fourth with the Arizona Wildcats. The Ducks have one loss on their record and hold a two-game lead in the Pac-12 North.
In last year’s matchup, the Ducks decimated the Utes in a 44-21 win led by quarterback Marcus Mariota. This year, the Heisman candidate has thrown for 26 touchdowns and 2,541 yards. However, the Utes are ranked first in the nation for total sacks (39) and sacks per game (4.88), and they’ll have a chance to ruin Oregon’s chances at a spot in the first playoff with a win.
The Pac-12 isn’t the only conference with top-25 matchups.
The No. 7 Kansas State Wildcats (7-1) look to defeat No. 6 TCU Horned Frogs (7-1) and keep their Big 12 conference record blemish-free. If TCU can capture a win, they would jump to first in the Big 12 and would have an advantage in the head-to-head matchup.
Also in the Big 12, No. 12 Baylor Bears head up to Norman to go up against the No. 15 Oklahoma Sooners. With both teams coming off sizable wins against Big 12 opponents, it’ll be a battle between Baylor’s quarterback Bryce Petty and Oklahoma’s quarterback Trevor Knight.
Up north, the Big Ten looks to make their case for a spot in the playoffs. No. 14 Ohio State Buckeyes (7-1) go to Spartan Stadium to play No. 8 Michigan State (7-1). The Big Ten is the only Power 5 conference not represented as one of the six teams with a chance to make the College Football Playoffs. This game will decide who will take control of the Big Ten East, as both teams are undefeated in conference play.
Down south, No. 5 Alabama Crimson Tide goes head-to-head with SEC West rival No. 16 LSU Tigers. As one of the first teams out of the playoffs, Alabama can make moves with a win at Tiger Stadium. In their storied history, Alabama leads 48-25-5.
However, LSU’s wide receiver Travin Dural has had an outstanding season. He doesn’t get a lot of passes but when he does, he makes the most of it with an average of 25 yards per reception. LSU’s run game is also strong, but the Tide has held their opponents to an average of 14 points. As usual, it’ll be a battle, and LSU is looking for their first win against Alabama since 2011.
No matter what, there will be plenty of movement in the rankings next week. Stay tuned to see who can rise to the occasion and who will fold under pressure.
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