Another lovely weekend of college football has arrived and Saturday is shaping up to have several intriguing matchups on the day. Florida and Georgia meet down in Jacksonville, Texas A&M looks to avoid the letdown in a trap game in Columbia, a short-handed Clemson visits South Bend for a top-five ACC showdown and finally there’s another team from the Carolinas beginning to climb the rankings but it’s probably not who you would have guessed back in July.
Florida State vs Pittsburgh
After the eyebrow raiser over UNC, Florida State lost all of the momentum from a top five win falling to Louisville the following week, 48-16. I do think Florida State is in better hands under Mike Norvell but it’s hard to expect much progress on the scoreboard this season. Especially once you consider how Covid-19 tossed these programs upside down this offseason. Sophomore QB Jordan Travis leads the team in passing and rushing yards (758 and 389) but he’s thrown four interceptions.
Pittsburgh started out looking like the “coastal division” team to beat after starting out 3-0. But the Panthers have now dropped four straight games and have been outscored 127-81. But to be fair, Notre Dame handed Pitt a 45-3 setback and Pitt had not one, but TWO, one-point losses in back-to-back games. Yikes. Chalk it up as terrible luck but perhaps they just have a problem sealing the deal in crunch time.
Kenny Pickett is tossing it around for over 1,300 yards so far and Vincent Davis leads the rushing attack (I use that term loosely) with 263 yards. Honestly, this one is the epitome of a toss up but I give the edge to the Panthers to get back on track. The Pick: Pittsburgh
Kansas State vs No. 14 Oklahoma State
The Big 12 could very well be on the outside looking in at this year’s college football playoff after the Cowboys dropped a contest to Texas last week in overtime. It’s just their first loss of the season but at No. 14 in the AP poll and only one ranked team left on the schedule (No. 19 Oklahoma) quality wins from here on out will be hard to come by to position themselves to be in the conversation at the end of the regular season.
Kansas State is full speed ahead without the services of Skylar Thompson who is out for the year after suffering an “upper body” injury against Texas Tech. Will Howard is now running the show and he’s passed for four touchdowns this season and is preparing for his third start on the year.
If I had to choose a quarterback and running back in this game it would without question be Spencer Sanders and Chuba Hubbard. That being said, toss me the Cowboy hat. The Pick: Oklahoma State
South Carolina vs No. 7 Texas A&M
Trap game alert on isle 6. Texas A&M is quietly having a pretty decent season and the Aggies head to Soda City to battle with the South Carolina Gamecocks. Texas A&M is about to embark on a crucial stretch through November which begins this Saturday against Will Mushcamp. The SC head coach already has a win over No. 15 Auburn but his seat remains warm and he needs a strong November perhaps more than any other SEC coach not named Derek Mason.
10th year A&M quarterback (at least it feels that way) Kellen Mond is taking care of the football with a 12:2 touchdown to interception ratio. SC has been able to score some points with Kevin Harris and Shi Smith offering some much-needed ammo for Mike Bobo’s offense.
I think Texas A&M gets the job done but again I think this is a tricky one and South Carolina is more than capable of pushing the Aggies to the limit in Williams Brice Stadium if they try to sleepwalk their way to a win. Don’t believe me? Just ask Auburn. The Pick: Texas A&M
No. 5 Georgia vs No. 8 Florida (Jacksonville, Fla.)
They no longer officially call it the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party and this year practically it won’t be as large as we’ve grown accustomed to. I’ve gone back and forth with this game all season and still really have no idea what to expect this week.
A few things here. Quarterback play is important and Florida as the advantage there in my eyes with Kyle Trask dueling out over Stetson Bennett. Florida will be without the services of Zachary Carter and Antwuan Powell for the first-half following a scuffle between Florida and Missouri last week. UGA is also down a few bodies as well with safety Richard LeCounte (car wreck), DL Jordan Davis (elbow) and DE Julian Rochester and the injuries don’t stop there.
Can Kirby Smart finally deliver in a big-time game? Can Florida create pressure and get after Bennett? Offensively will the Gators be able to attack the Bulldogs secondary with playmakers like Kyle Pitts knowing that LeCounte will not be available? I’ll give the edge to Florida but wouldn’t be surprised either way with this one. The Pick: Florida
No. 4 Notre Dame vs No. 1 Clemson
The ACC has another primetime slot for a matchup of highly ranked squads. Top-ranked Clemson visits No. 4 Notre Dame Saturday night with ACC title hopes and college football playoff implications on the line. Dabo Swinney has build a program that is made for these moments. Even down Trevor Lawrence, Mike Jones Jr., James Skalski and Tyler Davis I think this team is capable of winning this weekend. All of those guys were out last week, too. And not only did they get it done, they silenced the Eagles in the second half. What a good warm up for the Tigers for this weekend after battling back from an 18-point deficit against Boston College.
Clemson’s defense smothered Ian Book and the Irish in the 2019 Cotton Bowl. I’ve never been that high on him and unlike some of the other QBs Clemson as faced in 2020, I don’t anticipate Book being able to impact the game on the ground like Phil Jurkovec, D’Eriq King or Brennan Armstrong. I suspect Venables will throw the kitchen sink at Book formation and pressure wise to force him into some mistakes while also not overloading his guys in such a big moment.
I think Clemson still has the edge talent and coaching wise and the short-handed defense makes a big statement. D.J. Uiagalele proves his debut was no fluke with another efficient day. The Pick: Clemson
The Hall Pass Pick ‘Em Selections:
No. 19 Oklahoma over Kansas
No. 9 BYU over No. 21 Boise State
Coastal Carolina over South Alabama
No. 22 Texas over West Virginia
No. 13 Indiana vs No. 23 Michigan
TCU over Texas Tech
Utah over Arizona
Virginia Tech over No. 25 Liberty
North Carolina over Duke
Arkansas over Tennessee