Though every game has playoff implications, three games are standouts on Saturday.
#19 Oklahoma at #23 Tennessee
One of the best non-conference match-ups this month and a game that has major implications for both teams. Last season, OU beat the Vols 34-10 at home. The game was closer than the score implies and Saturday’s rematch in Neyland Stadium looks like it will be a shoot-out. Tennessee is hoping to live up to the pre-season hype and remain competitive in the SEC with one of their best teams in a long time. The Sooners have a new offensive air-raid scheme, new QB, and a secondary that was not good last year.
Fun fact: Neyland Stadium holds 102,000 people. That’s the fifth most in college football. That’s five times the enrollment of each school. Am I forgetting anything else? Let’s see…oh yeah BOOMER SOONER. Am I biased? Yes. Are we allowed to be at HBTSports? I don’t know. Tennessee gave up 557 yards to Bowling Green. Bowling Green! I like OU in this one 37-31.
#14 LSU at #25 Mississippi State
LSU was off last week and the Bulldogs won 34-16 at Southern Miss (and were featured on Snapchat! Double win!). Leonard Fournette is an early Heisman candidate and a big win for the Tigers would provide needed momentum for the next few weeks. More is expected from LSU this year and they have a bitter taste in their mouths after losing to Mississippi State in the Bayou last year.
Mississippi State had a number of impressive wins in 2014 and neither team can afford this loss when their schedules include Auburn and Alabama. Hail State? I say Geaux Tigers. Admittedly, I am terrible at predicting scores. So let’s say 30-27 LSU? Sound good? Good.
#7 Oregon at #5 Michigan State
Blessed is he who is fortunate to see a top ten match-up in the second week of the season. This will be a marquee win for either team. Oregon took the win last year in Eugene after a dominant second half, but they were slow to start. The Ducks benefited from QB play that was pretty solid all of last season. Vernon Adams has a chance to quickly fill Mariota’s shoes if he plays like he did last week, although he is currently dealing with a finger injury on his throwing hand.
Michigan State Quarterback Connor Cook has an opportunity for a strong Heisman performance and has the obvious upper hand in this one. And let’s not forget that MSU is realistically the only team that can challenge Ohio State for the BIG-10 East, so a win today will keep the pressure on the Buckeyes. Oregon gave up 42 points and 438 passing yards to Eastern Washington last week. Yikes. Sparty at home take this one AND vaults to number 3 over TCU and Baylor (ok, so maybe some shake-up in the top 4). And score wise…maybe 48-28. Let’s go with that.
Minnesota is on the road at Colorado State. I’m all in on the Golden Gophers bandwagon. They went 3-9 in 2011 and 8-5 the least two years. How bout that improvement. The BIG-10 West is wide-open this year and Minnesota has a chance for a solid season. They had a truly beautiful and impressive loss to TCU last week and I expect them to turn that into a win here.
Northwestern doesn’t have an exciting matchup at Eastern Illinois. BUT they were two touchdown underdogs against Stanford last week and looked great. They are right on the cusp of breaking into the top 25 and a good-looking win here would be helpful. The BIG-10 West is wide-open this year (see the above paragraph) and Northwestern has a chance for a solid season.