RING THE BELL!
Our first edition of Separation Saturday is here and it’s setting up for another exciting day of matchups across the country. Colossal weekend for the ACC which has a trio of noteworthy games headlined by a top-10 showdown in Death Valley. Other games of note include the Red River Showdown, a key battle in the SEC East, and perhaps a trap game for the Florida Gators.
They don’t pay me by the word so let’s get to it, shall we?
Florida State @ No. 5 Notre Dame
Quarterback Jordan Travis ignited quite the spark for the Seminoles as they rallied from a halftime deficit to rout Jacksonville State last weekend. But the competition goes up a few notches in a road trip to battle Ian Book and and Notre Dame Fighting Irish in this pivotal (at least for Notre Dame) ACC tilt. Florida State just has a lot of work to do and while I’m not sold on Notre Dame yet, I do think they are still significantly better than the Noles and they have a proven quarterback in Ian Book.
No. 2 Alabama @ Ole Miss
Lane Kiffin going up against his former employer in Nick Saban and Alabama? Sign. Me. Up. While I don’t think Ole Miss can pull the shocker I think they can be competitive and challenge the Crimson Tide similar to what it attempted to do against Florida. Unfortunately like that game against the Gators, Alabama is just too good and too deep for this Ole Miss team in year one with Kiffin. Big day on the ground for Najee Harris and Mac Jones has another solid showing following his National Player of the Week honor.
No. 14 Tennessee @ No. 3 Georgia
Don’t look now but after wins over South Carolina and Missouri (yeah, I know, I know) Tennessee is knocking on the door of the AP top 10. This will be a very good measuring stick for the Vols. But I’m beyond reluctant to think they can keep up with Georgia because of their situation at quarterback. Jarrett Guarantano continues to be inconsistent. I think Jeremy Pruitt will throw the kitchen sink at Stetson Bennett and see how he responds to the pressure and different schemes. I could see the Vols defense keeping this one interesting in the first half but I expect the Dawgs to pull away down the stretch at home. But can you imagine the fallout of a UT victory? Oh my.
No. 22 Texas vs Oklahoma (Cotton Bowl)
If you had asked a few weeks ago this might be the game of the week. Fast forward to today and this game probably would not be on most fans’ radar if it wasn’t an historic rivalry game. Oklahoma has already dropped a pair of games sending the Sooners from No. 3 to unranked following losses to Kansas State and Iowa State.
Now to be fair, both games were competitive and were one possession games but that’s a rough start for a preseason top 5. Texas doesn’t have anything to beat its chest about either having dropped a heartbreaker in devastating fashion against TCU and barely hanging on in a track meet with Texas Tech.
I like the QB duel in this one between Texas’ Sam Ehlinger and Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler. Their numbers are similar but Ehlinger has thrown for four more touchdowns (14) and two less interceptions (2) than Rattler so far. Keontay Ingram gets a little redemption from his goal line fumble last weekend in crunch time.
No. 7 Miami @ No. 1 Clemson
Last but not least, we head to Clemson for an early season top-10 showdown between No. 7 Miami and No. 1 Clemson in Death Valley. D’Eriq King vs. Trevor Lawrence. As Manny Diaz himself stated this game is far bigger for Miami than it is the Tigers. But make no mistake, Clemson needs and will probably win this one. But for me this is far more about Miami than it is Clemson. Besides, there is a reason for that seemingly high spread.
I think the Canes can play with Clemson and are more than capable of walking out of Death Valley with a win over the top ranked team in the country. But until they prove me wrong, it is hard to pick against this team at home, at night in a college game day gig. I don’t care if the stadium isn’t full. The atmosphere will be buzzing.
The Tigers have excelled in these type games and I think they are just deeper and have better coaching on their side. Miami keeps the Tigers on their heels in this one and Tyler Davis’ return to Clemson’s defensive front causes headaches for Miami. The Canes will hit on a big play or two but but it won’t be enough. The moment may also prove to be a little too much for Miami in this very moment. We shall see.
The Hall Pass Pick ‘Em Selections:
No. 8 North Carolina over No. 19 Virginia Tech
No. 4 Florida over Texas A&M
Virginia over North Carolina State
Texas Tech over No. 24 Iowa State
No. 2 Alabama over Ole Miss
Kentucky over Mississippi State
South Florida over East Carolina
Louisville over Georgia Tech
South Carolina over Vanderbilt