Tomorrow’s Biggest College Football Matchups
It’s the third week of the College Football Playoff Rankings, and last weekend’s games had a major effect on the current rankings. With many of the top 25 losing to other top-25 teams, it made way for those who were previously unranked to slide into the mix.
No. 8 Ohio State at No. 25 Minnesota
The Gophers are coming off a 51-14 drubbing of the Iowa Hawkeyes and hope that momentum carries into their matchup against the Buckeyes. Minnesota’s sophomore quarterback Mitch Leidner has been explosive this season with 10 touchdown passes and 1,225 passing yards. The Gophers are also undefeated at home this season and look to keep their win streak going as they seek a spot in the Big Ten Championship game.
Ohio State defeated Michigan State 49-37 last Saturday to take control of the Big Ten East. Currently undefeated in conference play, the win would solidify the Buckeyes’ dominance of the Big Ten with two games left on the schedule. With Braxton Miller out for the season, freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett ran for two touchdowns and passed for three against Michigan State. Barrett has recovered from the Buckeyes’ embarrassing loss against Virginia Tech and carried the team this season.
No. 9 Auburn at No. 15 Georgia
After losing at home against Texas A&M, the Auburn Tigers (or is it War Eagles?) are looking for a redeeming win against another top-25 team. The defending SEC champions will depend largely on senior quarterback Nick Marshall (14 touchdowns, 1576 yards) and senior running back Cameron Artis-Payne (9 touchdowns) to carry them to a win. Ranked fourth in the nation in rushing, the Tigers will continue to run the ball. In a muddle SEC West, a win would help Auburn’s playoff resume.
Georgia’s fans have waited a long time for Todd Gurley’s to return from his suspension. He’ll be back this weekend, and the Bulldogs have a hype video to show how excited they are. The Bulldogs are also returning home for the first time since Oct. 4 and have won four of their last five games. Sitting in second in the SEC East, a win would put Georgia in the driver’s seat to control their fate in the SEC.
No. 1 Mississippi State at No. 5 Alabama
The Mississippi State Bulldogs have been defeated by Alabama by an average of two touchdowns the last five years and have lost 19 straight on the road against ranked Crimson Tide teams. However, Mississippi State was not ranked in any of those matchups and come into this game ranked number one in the country, undefeated in the tough SEC West and undefeated on the season. With Heisman candidate junior quarterback Dak Prescott leading the charge, the Bulldogs are looking for their first win against Alabama in almost seven years.
The Crimson Tide have been rolling since their loss at Ole Miss over a month ago. While they have had close calls recently, barely defeating LSU in overtime last week, they look to channel that momentum to upset Mississippi State. Quarterback Blake Sims and wide receiver Amari Cooper look to continue their great chemistry, already connecting for nine touchdowns this season. Alabama is ranked 14th in the nation for passing yards, but Mississippi State is tied for 18th in interceptions (12). If the Crimson Tide can avoid turnovers, they are primed for an upset.
No. 16 Nebraska at No. 20 Wisconsin
In a tight race to become Big Ten West champions, the Cornhuskers hold a slight lead over the Badgers of Wisconsin. Easily defeating the Purdue Boilermakers last weekend 34-16, Nebraska heads into a hostile Camp Randall Stadium. Nebraska is ranked 29th in the country for total offense with 4,415 yards and are averaging about 491 yards per game, thanks in large part to senior running back Ameer Abdullah with 17 touchdowns and 1,250 rushing yards this season. However, his status is only probable for the game as he wore a protective knee brace in practice this week. If he’s healthy, the Cornhuskers run game is a force to be reckoned with.
The Cornhuskers are not the only ones who depend on the run as Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon, a junior running back, has accounted for 19 rushing touchdowns and 2 receiving touchdowns this season. Coupled with junior quarterback Tanner McEvoy, Wisconsin is under a lot of pressure to perform well with their last two games of the season against division rivals. Defensively, Wisconsin is ranked fourth in run defense and allows an average of 2.9 yards per run. By shutting down Abdullah and the Cornhuskers, the Badgers have a strong shot to upset Nebraska.
It’s going to be yet another great weekend of college football. Some teams will continue their quest for a spot in the College Football Playoff while others will see their chances destroyed with a loss. Stay tuned to see who will rise to the occasion and who will fold under pressure.
You can reach Zuriel on Twitter @zurieloving or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.