The Texas vs Oklahoma Red River rivalry highlights our slate of the five best College Football games this week. Our panel will also take a look at LSU vs Florida, and the primetime clash between Notre Dame and Virginia Tech.
#19 Texas vs #7 Oklahoma (Saturday at 12:00 in Dallas, TX)
Line: Oklahoma by 7
Steen Kirby: Despite losing to Maryland to open the season, “is Texas back” remains a legitimate question as the Longhorns have reeled off four straight wins, including wins against (then) ranked USC and TCU teams, Oklahoma was very shaky at home against Army, and are hoping that performance is an aberration. Outside of that game, Oklahoma’s offense has been on fire and if Texas can’t control the game QB Kyler Murray could put together a performance that will boost his Heisman resume. Oklahoma is the better team and I don’t see Texas rising up here. Oklahoma 41, Texas 28
John Bava: This year’s iteration of the Red River Rivalry, the 113th meeting between these two college football blue bloods, is the first where both teams have been ranked since 2012. It’s a sign that Texas football might be on its way to turning a corner under second-year head coach Tom Herman. The next step in that process is getting a signature win and toppling seventh-ranked Oklahoma will certainly qualify.
But to do so, the Longhorns defense needs to find a way to slow down Kyler Murray. The dynamic Sooners quarterback went off last week against Baylor, accounting for 477 total yards and a whopping seven touchdowns, six of which came through the air. That might be easier said than done for a Texas defense ranked 65th nationally against the pass. Oklahoma 38, Texas 24
Mike Loveall: Kyler Murray is as dynamic of a playmaker as there is in college football. Texas’ defense looked great against a young freshman quarterback in USC and a beat up TCU. But the consistency isn’t there for Texas, and they’re not ready to take the next step and compete for the Big 12 title. Oklahoma has faced some adversary early this season, and it will benefit them as they get into the meat of their conference schedule. Murray’s two-pronged abilities stresses the Longhorn’s defense too much. Oklahoma 35, Texas 24
Yesh Ginsburg: Opening loss to Maryland aside, Tom Herman has done a heck of a job. I’m sold on TCU, and USC has a ton of talent. Texas is the real deal this year, but the Oklahoma offense is just too strong. Anything can happen in a rivalry game, though. Oklahoma 35, Texas 31
Lukas Weese: For the 113th time, the Red River rivalry of Texas and Oklahoma will take place, this time occurring in Norman. Last week, the Boomer Sooners had a historical game against Baylor, setting records for yards per pass attempt (18.8) yards per completion (25.2) and pass efficiency rating (317.8) in the win over the Bears. Kyler Murray is having a Heisman season passing for an average of 294 yards per game with 17 touchdowns and just two interceptions. I see the Sooners rolling over the Longhorns to remain undefeated in the Big 12. Oklahoma 35, Texas 21
Boston College at #23 NC State (Saturday at 12:30 in Raleigh, NC) Line: NC State by 5.5
Steen: An interesting ACC clash between non-marquee teams that are currently playing well. NC State is undefeated but hasn’t beaten a ranked team, Boston College lost to Purdue but is otherwise unblemished. Playing at home the Wolfpack should have an edge, especially if BC running back AJ Dillon, a dark horse Heisman Contender, has to sit this game out. NC State 27, Boston College 17
John: These two sides come into Raleigh in the midst of a solid start to the season. Both already sport a win in conference play and are two wins away from bowl eligibility. For N.C. State, they can move to 5-0 for the first time in 16 years if they can defend home turf this weekend.
Things might be a lot easier to that end if Eagles running back A.J. Dillon can’t go. Dillon suffered an ankle injury last week against Temple and is a game-time decision. His importance to B.C.’s offense can’t be overstated considering he ranks fifth nationally in rushing yards per game. The Wolfpack can also set themselves up for a win if Ryan Finley can have a good game. The senior quarterback is currently the ACC’s leading passer. N.C. State 30, Boston College 21
Mike: Boston College is one of the feel good stories of the season, and it’s hard not to like A.J. Dillon. But Dillon is nursing an injury and the Wolfpack’s Ryan Finley has been very effective through the air this season, with eight touchdowns against just one interception. Boston College disappointed against Purdue, and that indicates that they’ll have similar struggles against N.C. State. The real difference here will be the Wolfpack defense bottling up a hurt Dillon. N.C. State 31, Boston College 24
Yesh: We may look back on the canceled game between West Virginia and NC State as a defining moment of the season. On the other hand, I think that Boston College and A.J. Dillon are one of the best teams in the ACC. I’ll get to learn if I’m wrong this week. Boston College 28, N.C. State 24
Lukas: Both NC State and Boston College each have four wins. But NC State has had trouble dealing with Boston College as of late. Two years ago, BC beat NC State in a 21-14 upset. But on the road, I think NC State will have success once again. It will be close but I like NC State to squeak out a win. NC State 24, Boston College 21
#5 LSU at #22 Florida (Saturday at 3:30 in Gainesville, FL)
Line: LSU by 2.5
Steen: These two SEC giants have combined for 9 wins and just a single loss thus far this season with an impressive LSU side posting wins against Miami and Auburn, while Florida edged coach Dan Mullen’s former side Mississippi State last week. This line is very generous to Florida, the Gators are tough on defense but I’m not sold on their offense. LSU also has a strong defense, but I also trust QB Joe Burrow and their running game to make more plays and come out of the Swamp with the W. LSU 17, Florida 10
John: What a difference a few weeks make. There was panic in Gator-land after they fell 27-16 to Kentucky, ending a 31-game winning streak against the Wildcats. But in retrospect, that may not be as bad a loss as initially thought. The Gators have rebounded rather emphatically since, outscoring their ensuing three opponents 108-37.
But this week’s tussle in the Swamp with fifth-ranked LSU will pose the biggest challenge of the year. The Tigers come into this game boasting a suffocating pass rush, a solid ground game featuring Nick Brossette along with reliable and increasingly dynamic quarterback play out of Ohio State grad transfer Joe Burrow. Florida’s defense boasts some playmakers of their own as they rank top-20 nationally in yards given up per game. But LSU will prove too much in Gainesville. LSU 23, Florida 16
Mike: One of these teams is a paper tiger, and it’s not the Tigers. The Gators are riding a win over a disappointing Mississippi State to a Top 25 ranking. But LSU is the real deal, and they finally have a quarterback that can move the ball, at least a little. LSU’s wins over Miami and Auburn are bona fide quality wins. They’re proven and their defense will dominate Florida’s struggling offense. LSU 27, Florida 13
Yesh: I’m not sold on LSU. Turnovers made the game against Miami look better than it was, and Auburn should have won the battle of the Tigers. Florida, meanwhile, has a loss that looks better and better. The Gators are also improving. I’m going with the upset. Florida 28, LSU 24
Lukas: This is an all-SEC matchup which will feature some great plays and hard hits. Florida is coming into this game after an emotional victory over Mississippi State. Florida is ninth nationally in scoring defense (14.0 points per game) and 19th in total defense (311.0 yards per game). They are also first in the nation in takeaways with 14. LSU’s offense is starting to come into form after generating 573 yards in a rout over Ole Miss. This game will be close but I like the Tigers to pull off a huge road victory to remain undefeated. LSU 20, Florida 14
Arizona State at #21 Colorado (Saturday at 4:00 in Boulder, CO) Line: Colorado by 2.5
Steen: Arizona State has two losses by just a touchdown, and a marquee win against Michigan State. Colorado hasn’t really been tested yet, but they are currently undefeated and the class of the PAC-12 South. Playing in Boulder, the Buffs should have some advantage, and QB Steven Montez should connect time and time again with star WR Laviska Shenault. Herm Edwards ASU has exceeded expectations thus far, and will keep this close, but I’ll back Colorado. Colorado 28, Arizona State 24
John: Colorado suffered a down year in 2017 after winning the Pac-12 South a season prior. But for the time being, they appear to be back on track under sixth-year head coach Mike McIntyre. The Buffaloes’ return to relevance is a case study in exhibiting patience with a coaching staff as they build a program. This weekend, they welcome an Arizona State team led by Herm Edwards in his first year as Sun Devils head coach.
ASU vaulted into the Top 25 after an upset of Michigan State in Week Two. But they plummetted back to Earth over the next two weeks, suffering losses to San Diego State and Washington. They returned to winning ways rather emphatically last week, blowing out Oregon State 52-24. Their Week Six matchup is a contrast in styles with Colorado a pass-happy team while ASU likes to establish the run under Edwards. Expect the Buffs to defend Folsom Field to get to 5-0 for the first time since 1998. Colorado 34, Arizona State 24
Mike: I’ve went with the favorite for the first four games – I’m going with the underdog in this one. Eno Benjamin had a career game last week, and Colorado just hasn’t been tested by a good team this season. The Herm Edwards experiment looks much better than many of pundits thought after the first half of the season. Between an aggressive defense, Benjamin, and Manny Wilkins, the Sun Devils have too much fire power. Arizona State 38, Colorado 27
Yesh: Arizona State’s upset of Michigan State doesn’t look so amazing anymore. Colorado has been destroying teams, but the Buffaloes haven’t faced anyone decent yet. I’ll go with Colorado, but I could be in for a rude surprise. Colorado 24, Arizona State 21
Lukas: Undefeated Colorado comes into a critical matchup against 3-2 Arizona State. Colorado is very pass-happy on offence while Arizona State has boasted a run-first Offence. Colorado will look for their quarterback Steven Montez to have a big game. He has completed 91 of 120 passes for 1,092 yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions. He is ranked No. 11 in FBS in passing efficiency. I like Colorado to win a tight PAC-12 matchup over Arizona State to remain undefeated. Colorado 28, Arizona State 20
#6 Notre Dame at #24 Virginia Tech (Saturday at 8:00 in Blacksburg, VA) Line: Notre Dame by 7
Steen: Notre Dame’s big win against Stanford last week has boosted their College Football Playoff chances, but to keep their record spotless they have to travel to Blacksburg and emerge with a win in primetime. Virginia Tech’s shocking loss to Old Dominion scuttled their confidence, and an opening week win against FSU no longer looks memorable. The Hokies aren’t a bad team, but Notre DAME with Ian Book has more talent on both sides of the ball. The Irish look to be real this year. Notre Dame 35, Virginia Tech 21
John: Notre Dame travels to Lane Stadium in Blacksburg for the first time ever this week. They face a Virginia Tech team whose season appeared to be fraught with uncertainty after quarterback Josh Jackson suffered an ankle injury in an upset loss to Old Dominion. But his replacement, Ryan Willis, looked good in his first start last week against Duke. He threw for 332 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions in a 31-14 win with that yardage number the most for a VT quarterback making their debut start.
The Irish offense hasn’t looked back since Ian Book replaced Brandon Wimbush at quarterback. Book played a huge role in ND’s dominating 38-17 win over Stanford last week, throwing for 278 yards and four touchdowns. They also boast a potent one-two punch at running back with Tony Jones, Jr. and Jafar Armstrong accounting for 548 yards on the ground combined with eight rushing touchdowns. This is a team that looks like a future CFP participant if it runs the table. Notre Dame 37, Virginia Tech 20
Mike: It’s going to be hard for a lot of people to get Notre Dame’s win against Stanford out of their head. Coupled with Virginia Tech’s loss to Old Dominion two weeks ago, and the urge to bet the house on the Irish will be immense. But remember, since 2012 the Irish are 1-9 against Top 25 teams in true road games. But favorites have carried the day so far this season. Josh Jackson will be missed for the Hokies, and Ian Book will continue to get better. Lane Stadium will keep this close for a half, but the Irish pull away late. Notre Dame 31, Virginia Tech 20
Yesh: Notre Dame is collecting good wins, and Virginia Tech lost to ODU. This Hokies defense won’t be able to stop Ian Book. Notre Dame 42, Virginia Tech 21
Lukas: Notre Dame is 5-0 for the first time since 2014. They are quickly becoming one of the most prolific teams in the country. Notre Dame has scored 94 points in two games. And the Fighting Irish have given up 94 points all season, an average of 18.8 points allowed per game. Notre Dame QB Ian Book has completed 52 of 70 passes (74.3 percent) for seven touchdowns and no interceptions this season. I see him having another big game continuing Notre Dame’s undefeated streak. Notre Dame 28, Virginia Tech 17