College Football Spoiler Alert; Week 6
Some solid teams are on bye this week in the amazing world of college football (or idle...whatever happened to that term in CFB?), but the show must go on, as will the CFSA. Back to a winning record last week, and nailing the upset special (thanks Iowa!) but always room for improvement....
(all times EST, all ranking reflect AP Top 25)
Illinois (4-1, 1-0) @ Iowa (5-0, 1-0)
After last week's win over then-#19 Wisconsin, a gritty 10-6 W in Madison that was the Hawkeyes' first in Dane County since 2009, it's OK to take Iowa seriously. Kirk Ferentz, who always seemed to pop up on the preseason "coaches on the hot seat" lists for the past few years, has a team that's capable of challenging Northwestern for the Big Ten West division title. Iowa hasn't started off 6-0/become bowl eligible this early since 2009, when a 9-0 start eventually yielded an Orange Bowl win. To punch their bowl ticket early, they'll take on an Illini team that is a nice story, showing success like last week upset win over Nebraska in the aftermath of the Tim Beckman situation, but lack the confidence just yet to take down a ranked opponent. It'll be another gritty, possibly ugly, game with temperatures expected to dip into the 30's, but expect the Hawkeye train to keep rolling
Iowa 16, Illinois 14
#10 Oklahoma (4-0, 1-0) vs Texas (1-4, 0-2) (@Dallas)
Rivalries always bring out the best in teams, and if the Longhorns ended up going 2-10 but half of those wins came against the Sooners, I'm sure they'd find a way to call the season a positive. Therefore I....
Oh who am I kidding?
The Red River Showdown is almost always a fun time, hence its inclusion on the list, but Texas is too deep in turmoil to even consider competing with the Sooners. In 2013, Texas was able to swipe away a 36-20 decision from then-#12 OU. Expect something closer to the result a decade prior to that, when Jason White and Co. laid down a 65-13 beatdown on the Austin boys, the largest margin of victory in the 109 meeting old rivalry. If last week's 50-7 Longhorn dud against TCU is any indication, combined with the fact Oklahoma wants to prove more doubters wrong, that 52 point record could be in jeopardy.
Oklahoma 56, Texas 6
Indiana (4-1, 0-1) @ Penn State (4-1, 1-0)
Surely, I couldn't have been the only one who couldn't believe what he was hearing when experts started declaring Christian Hackenberg a potential #1 pick in the NFL Draft? Don't get me wrong, Hackenberg is a solid player, but he's not top pick material. Only once thus far this season has he topped 200 yards passing, on September 26 in a win over San Diego State. After barely squeaking by Army last week, a game that saw the Nittany Lions out gained by West Point, a tougher challenge awaits this week in resurgent Indiana, who was mere yards away from taking #1 Ohio State to overtime last week. The Hoosiers are hungry for their first bowl since 2007, and a win over the Lions in Happy Valley could do a lot. PSU snuck by last week thanks to Army turnovers, but the Hoosiers won't be so forgiving this week.
Indiana 28, Penn State 20
#19 Georgia (4-1, 2-1) @ Tennessee (2-3, 0-2)
This could be a game of desperation on both sides. The "Mark Richt must go" chants started anew in Athens when the Bulldogs were blown out at home by Alabama next week, in a game that could've put UGA in playoff position had they won. Tennessee, meanwhile, quickly fell to 0-2 in conference play with losses to Florida and Arkansas by a combined 5 points. While I never bought into their preseason hype, the Vols are better than their 2-3 record indicates. Deep down is a team waiting to break out and return to glory, but right now Georgia is just too angry. It should be a fun rushing battle between Nick Chubb and Jalen Hurd, but as uncomfortable as I am with penciling the Vols at 2-4, I'm even less comfy with the Dawgs losing twice in a row.
Georgia 21, Tennessee 13
#13 Northwestern (5-0, 1-0) @ #18 Michigan (4-1, 1-0)
You'll get tired of hearing this after a few years, heck, you might be tried of it already, but this is the biggest game of the Jim Harbaugh era so far. It's nice to see Northwestern already match their win total from last season, and they very well could be representing the West in the Big Ten title game in December. However, it's impossible to overlook all the momentum in Michigan's corner. For one thing, they've let up a mere 14 points since an opening night loss against Utah (a loss that looks more and more understandable) and they've done it against somewhat respectable opponents like Maryland, Oregon State and BYU (who was ranked at the time). This will be the first time both teams are ranked coming into a meeting since 2005. Much like that 33-17 triumph, where Michigan was likewise lower ranked, I see UM coming out on top, albeit in closer and much lower scoring fashion.
Michigan 14, Northwestern 10
Navy (4-0, 2-0) @ Notre Dame (4-1)
Navy is a whopping 12-75-1 against the Fighting Irish all time, Navy has kept it somewhat respectable with the past two defeats coming by a combined 14 points. The Fighting Irish are still smarting from a big loss to Clemson last week, but can still sneak their way into the College Football Playoff by winning out, though the remaining slate became a lot weaker with USC's loss to Washington on Thursday night. Do NOT sleep on the Midshipmen. Finally in a conference, they managed an undefeated start thus far and are once again riding QB Keenan Reynolds to victories via the ground, with their 339 yards per game 3rd in the nation. Navy will keep it interesting, but the Irish, provided they don't fall behind early in another big game, should be fine. Their defense stifled another option happy team in Georgia Tech earlier this season.
Notre Dame 34, Navy 28
Wisconsin (3-2, 0-1) @ Nebraska (2-3, 0-1)
Another desperation bowl, these once proud schools have stumbled out of the gate and now face a small hole in the Big Ten West race. The winner faces a good chance of taking advantage if Northwestern/Iowa/Illinois stumble (quite a possibility when you consider their recent histories), while the loser falls into a deeper hole. Wisconsin had a chance to rebound but an ugly loss to Iowa, despite numerous opportunities, mars their season. The Huskers' two wins this season have come against mid-major foes, so I expect them to be the team that falls into that hole. Besides, if you're the Badgers, what better way to celebrate a new $96 million deal with Under Armour than a B1G win?
Wisconsin 28, Nebraska 14
East Carolina (3-2, 1-1) @ BYU (3-2)
The Cougars got back on track against an AAC opponent in UConn last week and will look to continue that trend this week. ECU, however, is looking to keep their winning streak going, following impressive offensive performances against Virginia Tech and SMU. The Bucs are picking up an average of 426 yards per game, but BYU is the team that's playing with more desperation. ECU can still compete for an AAC title, but BYU is much more desperate. Once a dark horse to sneak into a New Year's Bowl, BYU needs every win they can on their subpar schedule to earn that status back.
BYU 27, East Carolina 6
Miami (FL) (3-1, 0-0) @ #12 Florida State (4-0, 2-0)
Everyone has been asking seemingly forever now....when will Miami Hurricanes football get back on track? For most teams, a 3-1 mark with the lone loss coming against a talented Cincinnati team would be a success, but for Miami it's the start of another frustrating season. However, in their grip is a struggling FSU team that's had trouble with putting away mediocre ACC competition like Boston College and Wake Forest over the past two weeks. At some point, the whole "fall behind, play inconsistent football but somehow pull a win out of our butts" schtick leftover from the Jameis Winston era is going to hurt FSU in the regular season. With a talented Miami team, looking to gain back their former glory and end a five game losing streak in the Floridian rivalry, that day could be today.
UPSET SPECIAL: Miami (FL) 31, Florida State 27
#23 Cal (5-0, 2-0) @ #5 Utah (4-0, 1-0)
Early overachievers of the season award has to go to the Golden Bears, who have already matched their win total from last season. Alas, they better enjoy the sweet honey of undefeated-hood while they can, as they've taken down mostly pedestrian competition (the biggest win is over Washington) en route to that start. Utah, meanwhile, is riding one of the biggest waves of momentum in program history, looking even better than the Urban Meyer days. Cal now goes through a brutal three game stretch against currently ranked opponents (in-state foes UCLA and USC follow this showdown), and while it'll provide some good experience that could help them nab an upset or two, but for now the possibly playoff bound Utes are too much, especially in Salt Lake City.
Utah 27, Cal 17
Last Week: 6-4
Upset Specials: 2-3
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