There are some weeks the critical games are put right in front of you. You do not need to look hard for them. There are other times when you need a little viewing help; maybe a magnifying glass, or sometimes binoculars to help your search for the quality games. Some weeks you may even need a telescope. Good thing you came here to see us for the College Football Preview. For while there may not be an entire day of off-the-charts games, there are some really good ones if you know where to point your lenses.
College Football Preview; Week 8
Tennessee (3-3, 0-3) @ Alabama (7-0, 4-0); Sat., 3:30pm ET CBS
Alright, we’ll own it. This is going to take more than a backyard telescope to see it as a highlight game for the day. This is going to take the Arecibo Telescope which can detect activity in other galaxies. But hear us out. Alabama is the best team in the country. No one who watches all these games every week with any objectivity can dispute that. But Tennessee is playing for the coaching future of Butch Jones. If the Vols get lambasted this week, as many expect, there is founded speculation that he will be gone before the weekend is over. But what if they keep it close? What then? Hey, what if they knock off the #1 team in the country? Will Vols fans be happier that they won or more upset that it means he will stay at least a few more weeks?
Let’s give you some numbers to focus in on for the game. The Tide defense has not allowed a first quarter touchdown all season. They have given up only 31 points total in the last four games. Tennessee’s offense conversely needs a good pair of glasses to see the end zone. They have not scored a touchdown in the last 10 quarters. Brady Hoke’s defense though, has allowed only one team to pass for more than 200 yards. Florida did it, and 65 of that came on the last play of the game, (yeah, I know you don’t want to be reminded). Ironically, this may be the first time Hoke has done a quality coaching job in years, but if the staff gets blown out, he will be looking for his fourth job in five years.
Oklahoma (5-1, 2-1) @ Kansas State (3-3, 1-2); Sat., 4pm ET Fox
Don’t be fooled by the Wildcats record. Playing at the Bill Snyder AARP Convention Hall or whatever they call the football stadium these days, is no easy task. Whatever kind of magnification you use to “look” for this game, make sure they have wiper blades. Thundershowers are expected and that could help Kansas State slow down the Oklahoma offense. The Sooners are out-gaining opponents by an average of 200 yards per game. In the squeaker in Dallas last week, Oklahoma racked up 518 yards of offense. Quarterback Baker Mayfield had 302 passing.
Bill Snyder has been mum about his quarterback situation. Starter Jesse Ertz appears to be hobbled, but Snyder has not ruled him out for Saturday’s game. If he can’t go it will be Alex Delton. He is 13 of 34 passing with no touchdowns and no interceptions. Clearly, Ertz would be a better option. Whomever it is needs to convert better on third down than what the offense has been doing. Keeping Oklahoma’s offense watching from a distance on the sidelines is what will keep the Wildcats with a shot.
Michigan (5-1, 2-1) @ Penn State (6-0, 3-0) Sat., 7:30pm ET ABC
You don’t need to look far or wide to see this one of the biggest matchups of the season. There are so many storylines to this game, it can be seen with the naked eye. Saquon Barkley is a Heisman candidate. Some say he is the front-runner. Saquon Barkley has only two 100+ yard rushing games this season. He is averaging a pedestrian 108 yards per game rushing. But therein lies the rub. He can also bust open a close game with one or two runs, he has four hundred yards receiving, and he is the leading kick returner in the country. That is why you must keep an eye on him at all times.
Now having said that, he is going to be looking at the sixth best rushing defense in the country and the number one overall defense. The Wolverines are giving up only 86 yards per game on the ground and a mere 223 total yards of offense per game. They are also the #3 passing defense in the country. But Penn State’s Trace McSorley is the best quarterback they will have faced to this point in the season. He has thrown for nearly 1,600 yards with 13 touchdowns. If you want to flip the field again, Michigan will be the best defense he has faced all year. There are a lot of ways to view this game but it has the potential to be one of the best of the season thus far.
USC (6-1, 4-1) @ Notre Dame (5-1); Sat., 7:30pm ET NBC
This is where good vision and multiple viewing opportunities are essential. You need to be watching this at the same time as you are checking out Michigan/Penn State. This is the stuff of legends. Ara Parseghian, Joe Montana, John McKay, Anthony Davis, green jerseys, and leprechauns. Brian Kelly is experiencing the turnarounds of all turnarounds after last year’s 4-8 debacle. The only visible stain on the Irish record is a one-point loss to a top 5 Georgia team.
There is not a lot of flash to Notre Dame. They have the fifth-best rushing offense in the country and they run the ball 45 times per game. Running back Josh Adams is 10th in the country with just under 800 yards. Deon McIntosh is averaging six yards per carry. Heck, even quarterback Brandon Wimbush is averaging eight yards per carry. It is when Wimbush must throw too much that they have issues. They are facing a USC run defense that has a reputation for toughness but in reality, is ranked 61st in the country in run defense.
Which Sam Darnold will the USC offense bring? Will it be the strong-armed quarterback who has thrown for a little more than 2,000 yards this season with 15 touchdowns? Or will it be the quarterback who has only one game this season with no interceptions, (nine on the season), and in that one game, he fumbled three times? It will have to be seen to get all the answers.
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