By Nathan Hiatt,
This might be one of the most exciting weeks of college football. There are numerous matchups to look forward to; many of the games have serious College Football Playoff implications, as well.
No. 12 Michigan State at No. 13 Ohio State (11 a.m., Saturday, FOX)
With Iowa upsetting Ohio State and Michigan State beating Penn State last weekend, the Buckeyes matchup with the Spartans will all but decide the Big Ten East. Michigan State has bounced back from a 3-9 season and surprised the conference. Quarterback Brian Lewerke has played well and the Spartans’ defense has stifled many opponents. However, the game is Columbus. Ohio State will need quarterback J.T. Barrett to bounce back from a four-interception performance against the Hawkeyes.
Prediction – Ohio State 31, Michigan State 19
No. 1 Georgia at No. 10 Auburn (2:30 p.m., Saturday, CBS)
Georgia wasn’t expected to play this well, especially with quarterback Jacob Eason getting injured in the first game of the season. Freshman Jake Fromm has stepped up in his place, though, and the defense has been dominant. Also, the Bulldogs have a dynamic rushing attack with Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, who each have more than 700 yards rushing and nine touchdowns. Strangely enough, a two-loss Auburn has a legitimate chance to make a College Football Playoff push behind quarterback Jarrett Stidham and running back Kerryon Johnson, who leads the NCAA with 15 rushing touchdowns. Auburn not only plays in Jordan Hare Stadium this weekend against Georgia, but it will also host Alabama in two weeks. Georgia will have to continue its stellar play to leave with a win and remain undefeated.
Prediction – Auburn 27, Georgia 23
No. 20 Iowa at No. 8 Wisconsin (2:30 p.m., Saturday, ABC)
Iowa has been under the radar. After winning 55-24 against Ohio State last weekend, it put people on notice. Iowa has beaten Iowa State, as well. It has lost to Penn State on the final play, Michigan State by seven and Northwestern by seven in overtime. Now, the Hawkeyes look to end a perfect season for Wisconsin. This will be the first ranked team the Badgers have played. No one really knows whether Wisconsin is good, but everyone knows the Badgers have a stellar running back in Jonathan Taylor. If Wisconsin wants to avoid an upset loss, it will need Taylor to be effective and produce.
Prediction – Iowa 20, Wisconsin 14
No. 3 Notre Dame at No. 7 Miami (FL) (7 p.m., Saturday, ABC)
The U is back. After winning 28-10 against Virginia Tech last weekend, the Hurricanes remained unbeaten and gained major respect, moving up to seventh in the latest College Football Playoff rankings. For the first time in more than a decade, ESPN College GameDay will return to Miami. This game might be an elimination game. Notre Dame, who has only lost to Georgia by one, will need running back Josh Adams to return. For the Hurricanes, they will need wide receiver Braxton Berrios to play well and for their defense to cause turnovers, bringing the “Turnover Chain” out. This might be the most interesting game of the season; it could probably go either way.
Prediction – Miami (FL) 34, Notre Dame 33
No. 6 TCU at No. 5 Oklahoma (7 p.m., Saturday, FOX)
Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield is good; he is really good. With a shaky defense, the Sooners will go as Mayfield goes. Mayfield threw for 598 yards on 24 completions and five touchdowns in Stillwater during arguably the greatest Bedlam game ever. With the performance and the 62-52 win, Mayfield is the Heisman frontrunner. He will get to prove himself again, playing against TCU, the best defense in the Big 12. For TCU to win, it will have to contain Mayfield, force turnovers and establish its rushing game to control the clock. This game is in Norman, so the Sooners have the advantage.
Prediction – Oklahoma 48, TCU 37
No. 9 Washington at Stanford (9:30 p.m., Friday, FS1)
After a poor performance, Stanford running back Bryce Love will look to get back on track. Washington must stop Love and win to keep its College Football Playoff hopes alive.
Prediction – Stanford 27, Washington 24
No. 2 Alabama at No. 16 Mississippi State (6 p.m., Saturday, ESPN)
Playing against another ranked SEC opponent, Alabama will have stay focused and knockout the “rat poison.” Mississippi State might get a few scores, but ultimately the Crimson Tide defense will be too much and their rushing attack to wear down the Bulldogs; the Tide should roll.
Prediction – Alabama 37, Mississippi State 20