Have you caught your breath from last week? Well, good because college football is back for another big week. And it’s a big weekend too because it’s time for…
But, we will get to that later.
This week’s guide is dropping in it’s regular Thursday slot, but it’s a little late because MACtion decided to start early. That’s right. We missed a few games on Tuesday and Wednesday, but honestly…we really didn’t miss anything. Regardless, we have another absolutely stacked schedule this week featuring more “Must Watch” games than ever before…in the 3 week history of this series. Tons of playoff implications on the line, so let’s get started!
But one more thing real quick….
Speaking of last week, it was another good one for my predictions. I went 9-2 in games I actually predicted a score for, which brings my 2 week total to a cool 22-4. Also, in my quick hits section last week, I accurately predicted Boston College knocking off FSU as well as Arizona and Khalil Tate besting the Washington State Cougars. Basically what I’m saying is I’m really, really smart, and you should listen to me. And get your friends to read this article.
So, without further (Freddy) Adu…let’s get to the games!
I know that’s not how you spell “Adieu” before you say anything. Just wanted to make a soccer joke.
AS ALWAYS, ALL GAMES ARE LISTED IN EST.
Thursday November 2nd
The gods of college football decided that we deserved multiple servings of MACtion this week, so tonight, we have our THIRD DAY IN A ROW of MAC football! Tuesday gave us a snoozer (Kent St vs. Bowling Green) followed by the battle for Ohio (Miami of OH vs. Ohio), and last night we got the 1/3 of the battle for MAC Michigan (Central MI vs. Western MI), which is something that I just made up. But…maybe they could have a trophy that’s like…the state of Michigan bronzed? Central-Eastern-Western Michigan. Like the Commander in Chief Trophy! Anything would be better than the Civil Conflict trophy. But I digress.
MACtion! Tonight we get a heavyweight battle in the conference:
Northern Illinois (6-2, 4-0 MAC) @ Toledo (7-1, 4-0 MAC)-6 pm on ESPN
Who doesn’t love a cold Thursday night game at Toledo’s Glass Bowl? These two are tied for 1st in the MAC West, and the winner controls their own destiny for a spot in the conference title game. Toledo has one of the most explosive offenses (averaging 516 yards/game) in the conference while Northern Illinois sports one of the stingiest defenses in the MAC. Before you laugh this one off, remember that Toledo’s lone loss on the year was a 52-30 shootout against the undefeated Miami Hurricanes. Watch for Toledo QB Logan Woodside (2,295 yards, 19 TDs, 2 INT) who must have a big game if the Rockets want to stay on top of the MAC West.
Prediction: Toledo 42 Northern Illinois 35
Navy (5-2, 3-2 American) @ Temple (3-5, 1-3 American)-8 pm on ESPN: Navy once looked like a New Year’s 6 contender, but after losses to UCF and Memphis, they just want to finish the season respectably. However, it’s worth tuning in to see one of the finest option attacks in the country from the Midshipmen.
Idaho (3-5, 2-2 Sun Belt) @ Troy (6-2, 3-1 Sun Belt)-9:15 pm on ESPNU: We are now down to Idaho’s final 4 games as an FBS member as they will drop to the FCS level in 2018. Don’t get too sentimental on me, folks. Troy has had highs (beating LSU in Death Valley) and lows (losing to South Alabama literally the next week) this year, but this is a must win for the Trojans if they want to keep pace with Arkansas State and Appalachian State in the Sun Belt race.
Friday November 3rd
Marshall (6-2, 3-1 CUSA) @ Florida Atlantic (5-3, 4-0 CUSA)-6 pm on CBS SN
Joey Freshwater does not lose conference games! That’s right. Lane Kiffin has the Owls believing as they are firmly in control of the C-USA East division with 4 games to go. This is a dream for college football nerds on a Friday night because it has major conference implications in C-USA and Lane Kiffin. What more could you want? Marshall finds itself in a must-win in order to stay alive in the conference race, but they will have their hands full with the electric FAU offense (averaging 482 yards/game). FAU has had an affinity for shootouts this year, and I don’t expect this one to be any different. The Owls have won 4 straight conference games heading into Friday, and I’ll call for them to make it 5. Also, watch for explosive FAU RB Devin Singletary who has 1,053 yards on 199 carries and 18 TDs this season.
Prediction: Florida Atlantic 38 Marshall 17
#22 Memphis (7-1, 4-1 American) @ Tulsa (2-7, 1-4 American)-8 pm on ESPN 2: This is the Tigers’ 3rd straight week in my article because they keep playing these mildly intriguing weekday games. No matter what day they play on, however, they keep winning. UCF is the top dog at the moment in the conference and for the NY6 bid, but if Memphis keeps winning, the pressure will be on the Knights to stay perfect. Tulsa has a terrible defense, so Memphis should roll once again.
UCLA (4-4, 2-3 Pac 12) @ Utah (4-4, 1-4 Pac 12)-9:30 pm on FS1: Tons of expectations coming into the year for both teams, and now we’re here. Caught holding the bag for what should have been a major Pac 12 Friday night showdown. Instead, it’s basically a fight for the Kraft Hunger Bowl or whatever bowl takes the #5 team in the Pac 12. I’ll probably skip this one honestly.
Saturday November 4th
Like I said earlier, more must-watch games than ever before today. We get 4 Top 25 matchups and another that has huge implications in the Big 12. College Gameday will be live from Stillwater. Let’s get to it!
Note: Rankings reflect CFP rankings
#7 Penn State (7-1, 4-1 Big 10) @ #24 Michigan State (6-2, 4-1 Big 10)-Noon on FOX
Right out of the shoot we get a big game in the Big 10. Penn State is coming off blowing a 15 point, 4th quarter lead to the Buckeyes, and now they must hit the road and face a super physical Spartans squad. These are two of the better defenses in the conference as Michigan State averages 283 yards of total defense while Penn State is only giving up 313 per game. And even with last week’s ugly 39 points against, the Nittany Lion defense is still averaging only 13 points against per game. It’s going to be a wet and cold day in East Lansing, which means it’s perfect Big 10 weather. Despite their respective stumbles, the Big 10 East race is still wide open and either one of these teams could sneak into the conference title game.
Prediction: Penn State 24 Michigan State 17
#4 Clemson (7-1, 4-1 ACC) @ #20 NC State (6-2, 4-0 ACC)-3:30 on ABC
North Carolina State is another team trying to bounce back from a disappointing loss as they dropped a 35-14 game in South Bend last Saturday. Too bad they’ll be attempting to do that against a hungry Clemson team who must win this game to stay alive in the conference and the playoff in general. The winner will control their own destiny for the ACC Atlantic crown, so there’s obviously a lot on the line here. These squads are nearly identical in the offensive categories, but Clemson has one of the best defenses in the country (only 282 yards/game). Watch for the solid QB matchup in this one as NC State’s Ryan Finley (2,181 yards, 12 TD, 1 INT) faces Clemson’s Kelly Bryant (1,582 yards, 6 TD, 4 INT). Note that with a Wolfpack win, NC State would only need to win ONE of their remaining three games (@BC, @ Wake, vs. UNC) to clinch a spot in the ACC title game.
Prediction: Clemson 24 NC State 21
#5 Oklahoma (7-1, 4-1 Big 12) @ #11 Oklahoma State (7-1, 4-1 Big 12)-4 pm on FS1
Bedlam. College Gameday. 4-way tie for 1st in the Big 12. College Football Playoff implications on the line. Loser is eliminated from contention. MIKE GUNDY’S MULLET.
Multitudes of storylines in this one. This game was moved to early November mainly to avoid having the teams play again the next week in the Big 12 title game, which may not even happen so….early Bedlam! Anyways, this one features two of the best offenses not only in the conference but in the entire country. Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield (2,628 yards, 23 TDs, 2 INT) matches strengths with Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph (2,866 yards, 22 TDs, 5 INT) in a game that promises to be a shootout. I hope the opposing secondaries brought comfortable shoes.
Prediction: Oklahoma 45 Oklahoma State 42
#19 LSU (6-2, 3-1 SEC) @ #2 Alabama (8-0, 5-0 SEC)-8 pm on CBS
A few weeks ago, most people would have looked at this game and called for another easy Alabama route. However, LSU has rolled off 3 straight Ws (Florida, Auburn, Ole Miss) and is suddenly in control of their own destiny in the SEC West. Alabama surprisingly slid to #2 in the initial CFP poll due to a lack of quality opponents compared to Georgia, but a win over a ranked LSU team would help silence whatever insane doubters there are on the committee. Both teams bring balanced attacks on offense, but the real story is the incredible Alabama defense who is only giving up 66 rushing yards per game so far. Though LSU is “hot” right now, Alabama is a different animal whose defense capitalizes on every little mistake. LSU will have to play a flawless game, and I just don’t see it happening on the road as the Crimson Tide continue to march towards another playoff berth.
Prediction: Alabama 28 LSU 3
#13 Virginia Tech (7-1, 3-1 ACC) @ #10 Miami (7-0, 5-0 ACC)-8 pm on ABC
Is it just me, or does this feel like a matchup of two teams who have literally gotten zero respect? They are a combined 14-1, play in the competitive ACC, and yet, neither can get any higher than #10. Then I looked at their schedules. Not cute. Miami hasn’t had the toughest road by a long shot, and in fact, they keep winning close games against mediocre to bad teams (FSU, UNC, Syracuse, Toledo). That doesn’t win you points with the committee. Of course, the Canes do have Notre Dame coming up, so a win here and against the Irish would certainly help their playoff case tremendously. The winner of this game will control their own destiny in the ACC Atlantic, so there’s obviously a ton to play for. Miami will have their work cut out for them against an excellent Hokie defense who is only giving up 11 points per game so far this season. With that stat and the belief that Miami’s luck can’t last all year, I’ll call for the Hokie upset here.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 27 Miami 17
#14 Auburn (6-2, 4-1 SEC) @ Texas A&M (5-3, 3-2 SEC)-Noon on ESPN
I cannot figure out who the real Texas A&M team is. Are they the team that lost to UCLA, the team that made the Alabama game close into the 4th quarter, or the team that got rolled by Mississippi State last week? Don’t worry, Aggie fans. Your opponent, Auburn, has just as many identity questions. This is an Auburn team that averages 462 yards/game, but every fan on the Plains knows that the Gus Bus could come to screeching halt at a moment’s notice. So, the real question is what kind of a game will we get?! It will be crucial for stud Auburn RB Kerryon Johnson (137 carries, 723 yards, 14 TDs) to have a big night on the ground mainly because Auburn’s passing game cannot be trusted. Texas A&M QB Kellen Mond (1,281 yards, 7 TD, 6 INT) will be tasked with solving the dangerous Auburn pass rush. It’s crazy to think Auburn still controls their own destiny in the SEC West…but they do. Fun fact from ESPN: since the Aggies joined the SEC in 2012, the home team has never won in this series.
Prediction: Auburn 41 Texas A&M 24
South Carolina (6-2, 4-2 SEC) @ #1 Georgia (8-0, 5-0 SEC)-3:30 pm on CBS
Well, well, well. Coach Kirby Smart has his Bulldogs playing just like one of Nick Saban’s dominant Bama squads…oh, and that just happens to be Smart’s mentor. Georgia is taking care of business week in and week out, and that’s a major reason the Bulldogs opened the CFP rankings at #1. This week, they host a team that had their number when Spurrier was around, but Georgia has won 3 of the last 4. The Gamecocks have the unenviable task of slowing down the two-headed rushing attack that is Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. On offense, South Carolina QB Jake Bentley will have to rely on the passing game as the Bulldogs D is only giving up 94 rushing yards/game. I just don’t see the Gamecocks being nearly talented enough to come to Sanford Stadium and get the upset.
Prediction: Georgia 38 South Carolina 14
#15 Iowa State (6-2, 4-1 Big 12) @ West Virginia (5-3, 3-2 Big 12)-3:30 pm on ESPN 2
Welcome to the big leagues, Iowa State. The Cyclones have officially graduated from the kid’s table and now find themselves in a 4-way tie for 1st in the Big 12. Plus, they control their own path to the conference title game in Arlington. After their 2nd W over a top 5 opponent this year, Matt Campbell has the Cyclones thinking big, but they must first slow down the high-flying offense of the Mountaineers and QB Will Grier (2,752 yards, 28 TDs, 9 INT). This meeting is a clash of styles as Iowa State has forced opponents into physical, close games whereas West Virginia prefers a wide open, shootout atmosphere. Although I think Iowa State is very much for real and will get the W on the road, West Virginia still has everything to play for. They are a few chaotic events away from being in the Big 12 title game themselves if they pick up the upset here.
Prediction: Iowa State 37 West Virginia 31
#21 Stanford (6-2, 5-1 Pac 12) @ #25 Washington State (7-2, 4-2 Pac 12)-3:30 pm on FOX
Last week, I predicted Stanford rolling over the Beavers in Corvallis in a practical walk-through. Star RB Bryce Love was suddenly ruled out just hours before the game, and the Cardinal looked absolutely lost against one of the worst teams in the Pac 12. Not good for a team who may not have him available against a far better opponent than last week. This Saturday, the Cardinal travel to a cold, wet, and possibly snowy atmosphere on the Palouse, and Mike Leach and his Cougars are trying to get back on track after dropping 2 of their last 3. WSU QB Luke Falk (2,576 yards, 23 TD, 7 INT) presents a challenge for the Stanford defense, and the Cardinal secondary will certainly make the difference in the ball game win or lose. Stanford can clinch the Pac 12 North with wins this week and next against Washington. For the Cougars, winning out means they’re in to the Pac 12 title game for the first time ever. I’ll say Love comes back, but he won’t be 100%, which makes me lean Cougars in this one.
Prediction: Washington State 27 Stanford 21
Texas (4-4, 3-2 Big 12) @ #8 TCU (7-1, 4-1 Big 12)-7:15 pm on ESPN
So much excitement in the Big 12 for the second week in a row! TCU is coming off a disappointing loss to Iowa State, but they still control their own destiny atop the crowded Big 12. These two are evenly matched offensively, but the biggest difference is the defensive play. TCU gives up almost a touchdown less per game and 90 yards less per game as well, which gives them a definitive edge in that category. TCU QB Kenny Hill (1,863 yards, 15 TD, 5 INT) is a threat any time he touches the ball, but he’s coming off a game where he could only muster 7 points. I do like the Horned Frogs in this one, but do not count out the Texas Longhorns. It may say 4-4, but they’re just a lucky bounce or two away from being 7-1 right now with close losses to Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and USC.
Prediction: TCU 24 Texas 14
#18 UCF (7-0, 4-0 American) @ SMU (6-2, 3-1 American)-7:15 on ESPN 2
After USF’s loss to Houston last week, UCF stands atop the Group of 5 ladder as the favorite to nail down the NY6 bowl bid. They must now win what promises to be an offensive shootout this week in Dallas against a sneaky SMU team. Remember what we said earlier: Memphis is lurking! With both teams averaging over 500 yards of offense as well as 40+ points per game, I am really looking forward to the quarterback battle in this one (UCF’s Mackenzie Milton vs. SMU’s Ben Hicks). Offense, offense, and more offense. Also, side note…this game features two of the brightest coaching prospects in the Group of 5 ranks. UCF’s Scott Frost and SMU’s Chad Morris should both be hot names as the coaching carousel commences this offseason.
Prediction: UCF 51 SMU 38
Colorado State (6-2, 4-1 MWC) @ Wyoming (5-3, 3-1 MWC)-7 pm on CBS SN
This game is really for the truest of fans only. Colorado State Head Coach Mike Bobo is another Group of 5 name that has come up a lot in terms of coaching vacancies, and for good reason. His Rams offense has been electric this season as QB Nick Stevens has racked up 2,755 yards to go with his 22 TDs. Before the season, most of the attention in the Mountain West was focused on his opponent Wyoming QB Josh Allen and his rising draft stock, but it’s been a down year for the future NFL prospect. CSU slipped last week to Air Force, but both teams are very much alive in the race to top Boise State for the Mountain West Mountain division crown.
Prediction: Colorado State 23 Wyoming 14
And now, let’s lower the lights a little bit. The children have gone to bed. The moon is out, it’s Saturday night, which means…
Pac 12 After Dark Special: #22 Arizona (6-2, 4-1 Pac 12) @ #17 USC (7-2, 5-1 Pac 12)-10:45 pm on ESPN
We’ve got a really good one with a Top 25 matchup this Saturday/early Sunday. Arizona controls their own destiny for the Pac 12 South crown. Take that in. Rich Rodriguez has most certainly found his “guy” in dual threat QB Khalil Tate who has racked up over 1,600 yards of total offense and 14 total TDs. He’s one of the most exciting players in college football right now, and the Wildcats have made themselves contenders as they visit LA this weekend. USC has some dangerous weapons in RB Ronald Jones II (132 carries, 888 yards, 10 TD) and WR Deontay Burnett (61 rec, 788 yards, 8 TDs), but Arizona is playing like they have nothing to lose right now. If USC QB Sam Darnold starts turning the ball over at will again, this game could get out of hand quickly. All aboard the Wildcat bandwagon!
Prediction: Arizona 35 USC 28
#9 Wisconsin (8-0, 5-0 Big 10) @ Indiana (3-5, 0-5 Big 10)-Noon on ABC: Ho-hum. Another weak opponent for the Badgers in Indiana who has yet to win a Big 10 game. I don’t forsee any problems for Wisconsin until the Big 10 title game.
#6 Ohio State (7-1, 5-0 Big 10) @ Iowa (5-3, 2-3 Big 10)-3:30 pm on ESPN: A deceivingly difficult road test for the Buckeyes the week after the Penn State game. Iowa never makes things easy when they’re at home, and this is exactly the type of game they’ve been known to steal in the past. Still, JT Barrett is one of the hottest players in college football right now.
Wake Forest (5-3, 2-3 ACC) @ #3 Notre Dame (7-1)-3:30 pm on NBC: The Irish opened up as #3 in the CFP and still have big tests against Miami and Stanford left. This week, they get a much improved Wake Forest squad who would love to spoil the party in South Bend. I won’t be surprised if Dave Clawson’s Deacons keep it close.
Baylor (0-8, 0-5 Big 12) @ Kansas (1-7, 0-5 Big 12)-Just kidding. This one isn’t on TV. I just wanted to point out that there is a Power 5 matchup featuring a combined record of 1-15. Nothing has gone right for either team. I’m just here to laugh and point at their putrid football teams. At least college basketball is about to start, says everyone who lives in Kansas. Baylor Head Coach Matt Rhule has a longer road ahead of him than he thought. Yikes.
So that’s that. The Thursday night games start at 6 PM EST this week, so jump on the action quickly. Don’t forget to follow me @jakebridges03 on Twitter as well as the entire Three Up, Three Down team!