By Hayden Bonine
With the release of the 2017 College Football Playoff Rankings looming, college football fans have a variety of big games to watch for this weekend, especially in the 2:30 timeslot.
No. 2 Penn State at No. 6 Ohio State (2:30 p.m., Saturday, FOX)
The undefeated Penn State Nittany Lions (7-0) travel to the Horseshoe to face the Ohio State Buckeyes. This is arguably the most important game of the college football season. The Buckeyes stumbled out of the gate, losing to Oklahoma 31-16 in Week 2. Since then, Ohio State (6-1) has beaten five unranked teams by an average of 42 points. Penn State enters Saturday’s showdown coming off its biggest win of the season. It beat Michigan, then No. 19, 42-13 a week ago. Heisman frontrunner Saquon Barkley leading it, Penn State is a surprising underdog for this week’s game. Vegas has Ohio State as 6.5 point favorites.
Prediction: Penn State 23 Ohio State 21
No. 14 North Carolina State at No. 9 Notre Dame (2:30p.m., Saturday, NBC)
This game features two of college football’s surprisingly good teams. Both entered the season unranked. Neither NC State (6-1) nor Notre Dame entered the season with national coverage or the expectation of making the college football playoff, yet here they are. Notre Dame’s lone loss was to the hands of Georgia, which is now No. 3 in the AP and Coaches Poll. The Fighting Irish were bested in a nail-biter 20-19. They have since dominated their competition, most notably when they crushed No. 11 USC last week, 49-14. North Carolina State lost its opener to South Carolina 35-28. Leading up to this week, the Wolfpack have beaten two ranked opponents, Florida State and Louisville. They face two more in No. 9 Notre Dame (6-1) this week and No. 7 Clemson next week. NC State is a 7.5 point underdog.
Prediction: Notre Dame 34 NC State 31
No. 4 TCU at No. 25 Iowa State (2:30 p.m., Saturday, ABC)
TCU (7-0) is ready to bolster its College Football Playoff resume. Iowa State (5-2) is looking to play spoiler once again. Iowa State beat No. 3 Oklahoma 38-31 in Week 5. It has an excellent opportunity to topple a top five opponent this week. Strangely, the Cyclones have lost two of their four home games while remaining undefeated on the road. They are entering a crucial stretch in their schedule, squaring off against No. 4 TCU, No. 22 West Virginia and No. 11 Oklahoma State in consecutive weeks. They have lost to Iowa 44-41 and Texas 17-7, but their 38-31 victory against No. 3 Oklahoma, is not to be overlooked. They beat Texas Tech last week, 31-13. TCU is in position to make the College Football Playoff. It has a trio of impressive victories. The Horned Frogs went to Stillwater, Oklahoma, and beat then-No. 6 Oklahoma State convincingly, 44-31. The next week, TCU beat No. 23 West Virginia 31-24 at home. Then, the Horned Frogs went to Manhattan, Kansas, and beat Kansas State 26-6. TCU is only a 6.5 point favorite.
Prediction: TCU 28 Iowa State 10