#7 Michigan State Spartans (9-1) vs. #4 Ohio State Buckeyes (9-1) – Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio
Saturday 20th November 5pm (UK)
Ohio State 18.5 point favourites at the time of writing
To say, this game is big for the outlook of the College Football playoffs, maybe a slight understatement. Win and the dream is still alive; lose and either team can kiss goodbye to being talked about in any championship conversation.
For Ohio State, the double header with Michigan State this week and Michigan next couldn’t be tougher, however their current form suggests a team high on confidence and they should be relishing the chance to win both games and take the Big XII title.
This game will be billed as the battle of two of the best RB’s in the land; Kenneth Walker III and Treveyon Henderson. Both have shown on a weekly basis that they are special talents, and they are key pieces for their respective offenses. A standout game from either will put them firmly at the forefront of any Heisman conversation.
For Michigan St, the blueprint for Mel Tucker and his men should be similar to that of Ohio State’s sole defeat against Oregon; where a heavy dose of the run game was too much for the Ohio State defense to handle. Where the run defense has slightly improved, against Purdue, the pass defense for Ohio State was porous, giving up 390 air yards in a total of 481 yards. Therefore there should be opportunities both in the air for Payton Thorne and co to exploit as well as on the ground for Walker III.
For Ohio State, it’s about getting the offense to light it up once again. CJ Stroud has improved every week and is a far better QB compared to the early season hiccups. The supporting cast of Olave,Wilson and Smith-Njigba are the best receiving trio in the land and the dicey Spartans secondary will have a tough time stopping this juggernaut of an offense, hence more of an emphasis on the Michigan St pass rush to add to their 31 sack tally this season.
Expect a high scoring, gripping game where by the end of the evening, one team will remain in the hunt for honours at the end of the season, whilst the other can say sayonara to their season.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons (9-1) @ Clemson Tigers (7-3) – Memorial Stadium, Clemson, South Carolina
Saturday 20th November – 5pm (UK)
Clemson 4.5 favourites at the time of writing
Clemson can take their win streak over Wake Forest to 13 games with a win on Saturday, but this is surely the best opportunity that the Demon Deacons have had to upset the odds for a long time.
The last time the two teams met in 2020 saw a 37-13 Tigers win, but a lot of things have changed since then. For a start, it is Wake Forest that are currently in pole position for a shot at the ACC Championship, then there’s the fact that Clemson’s offense has been subpar most of the season and Dabo Swinney’s men have made hard work of the majority of their games.
The key to this game will be when Sam Hartman has the ball in his hands, all season long the Demon Deacons’ offense has been able to run up points, but against an astute Clemson defense they face their biggest challenge yet. It’ll be fascinating to watch how the tandem of A.T Perry and Jacquarii Roberson matchup against Andrew Booth and Mario Goodrich. Presumably Hartman will be targeting Goodrich early and often on Saturday afternoon, with the highly rated Booth capable of blanketing any receiver in college football.
On the other side of the ball, Wake Forest have been largely unable to stop opposition offenses this season – relying on Hartman and co to outscore their opponents. Clearly Clemson haven’t been at their best this year, but their offense has slightly picked up in recent weeks. Look out for 6’4” freshman receiver, Dacari Collins, who introduced himself in style last week with a huge game against UConn – he’ll be a factor in this Tigers’ offense for the next few years.
This game feels very well priced, it’s incredibly tempting to take Wake Forest and the points given how they’ve performed this year, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that Dabo knows his team has to show the ACC who is boss. Either way this should be a great way to get the Saturday action underway.
Arkansas Razorbacks (7-3) @ Alabama Crimson Tide (9-1) – Bryant – Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Saturday 20th November – 8.30pm (UK)
Alabama 20.5 favourites at the time of writing
The Arkansas Razorbacks have had an incredibly successful season up to this point, they’re 7-3, ranked in the playoff committee’s top 25 and have got a few notable wins on their resume.
However, this week is a different type of challenge. The Crimson Tide haven’t always looked like their normal selves in 2021, but they’ve still smashed aside the majority of their opponents. Bryce Young is the current favourite to take the Heisman Trophy in the first season he’s been the starter in Tuscaloosa, add that to the £1m in NIL deals he struck in the off-season and he’s had a pretty good year.
One player who scouts are starting to warm up to is transfer receiver, Jameson Williams. Prior to transferring to the Crimson Tide, Williams had a season best of around 150 yards with Ohio State, however this year has seen him explode onto the scene. Working with Young, Williams now has more than 1000 yards receiving, with ten touchdown grabs. His fluid route running and ability to create separation put him as easily the best option in the receiving game for Alabama at this moment in time. Look for him to have another big day on Saturday.
Arkansas has talent throughout their roster, KJ Jefferson has surprised many in his debut season as the Razorbacks starting signal caller, and he’s joined by the likes of Treylon Burks and Trelon Smith. On their day, that trio of players can be a handful for any defense, even one as supremely talented as Alabama. However, with some of the outstanding athletes that the Crimson Tide can trot out opposite them, Will Anderson, Phidarian Mathis and Josh Jobe to name a few, it feels like the Razorbacks might be in for a very long afternoon.
Alabama needs this win to stay as the second ranked team in the nation, the 20.5 spread shows that the bookies feel they’ll do it easily. Despite the fact Arkansas have had a great season it is difficult to disagree with the bookies, Alabama minus the points feels like the bet.
Nebraska Cornhuskers (3-7) @ #15 Wisconsin Badgers (7-3) – Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, Wisconsin
Saturday 20th November 8.30pm (UK)
Wisconsin 9.5 point favourites at the time of writing
Over on the lesser side of the Big Ten, Wisconsin has some business to take care of when they look to take another step towards a divisional title in their game against Nebraska.
A few short weeks ago, it was Iowa who looked like they had the division sewn up, however they seem to have dropped the ball and now the Badgers have been on a tear recently and are on a six game win streak, including a win over Iowa that gives them the all important tie-breaker. Their final game is a tough one against Minnesota, so it’s kind of tradition for the bigger teams to have a little bit of a cupcake the game before, right?
That’s perhaps a little unkind to Nebraska but when does the Scott Frost era start? I heard that’s going to be big…
Adrian Martinez, for a four-star prospect who was heralded has been disappointing throughout his Nebraska career in comparison to the hype. He’s another college only QB (as discussed on this week’s pod and in yesterday’s Thursday Night Preview), he’s Nebraska’s leading rusher, and is a genuine rushing threat, who can have his exciting moments.
As a passer he’s not a finished product but his legs are his main weapon and he could give Wisconsin’s defense some scares if he gets out in space. When he does pass, the main weapon in the passing game is Senior wide receiver Samori Toure who transferred in from Montana to get a shot at a Power-5 school.
Toure is a big play receiver who averages over 20 yards a catch. He’s certainly not a volume receiver with only 32 catches on the season but at 716 yards for it, he’s a player that Wisconsin needs to account for in the passing game.
Outside of that… Well, there’s not a whole lot going on.
For the Badgers, well we know what’s coming, I’m sure Nebraska knows what is coming and it’s a case of whether they can stop it. They’re going to run the football.
Graham Mertz again, is a QB that isn’t really it, despite what was a pretty hot start in his first outing as a starter against Illinois last year where he threw 5 touchdowns and had one incompletion…
Wisconsin has a pair of rushers who are over 800 yards in Braelon Allen and Chez Mellusi. Of course they have, it’s Wisconsin, they have over three times as many rush attempts on the season compared to their pass attempts! And at the end of the day Mertz is there to facilitate the run-game.
That’s where I arrive at my prediction for the game – It’s not bold, or out there but Wisconsin will run all over the Cornhuskers and it’ll be one sided, even if the ‘Huskers had a proficient offense, Wisconsin actually has the best defense in college football in terms of giving up fewest yards per game. They’ve been low-key lights out.
Auburn Tigers (6-4) @ South Carolina Gamecocks (5-5) – Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, South Carolina
Sunday 21st November 12am (UK)
Auburn 7.5 point favourites at the time of writing
There was one point during the season where Auburn looked like they might do something this year, a 4-1 start looked pretty healthy and through 8 games they’d won 6 with only a narrow loss to Penn State and a seemingly inevitable loss to Georgia on the record.
However, in just a couple of weeks they’ve regressed back to also-rans in the SEC, which is a label which could be placed on their opponents this week, who are 5-5 and together these two teams have only mustered 5 SEC wins between them.
I’ve written about a few games this week that fall into the category of, let’s just go out and have some fun, because there’s not much riding on them. They’re games that have some talent on show or a QB or two who have some fun plays in them each week, although without the interest of watching future NFL players… However, this game is different.
Despite these two being fairly average teams in the grand scheme of college football, there are some Sunday players in this match up, so get your scouting notebooks out.
I like Auburn linebacker Zakoby McClain and defensive backs Nehemiah Pritchett and Roger McCreary, and on offense there is, of course, Tank Bigsby at running back and the exciting Kobe Hudson at receiver (the later of whom you can read more about here).
The NFL talent to watch out for in garnet and black is edge defender Kingsley Enagbare – I violent and polished pass rusher who, whilst not perfect, can certainly cause offensive tackles a problem when he’s on top form.
Neither of these teams seem to give up a whole lot on defense and neither have a really potent offense, so this could be one for those defensive players to put on a show for potential NFL scouts who will be in attendance. Take the under, folks.
#3 Oregon Ducks (9-1) @ #23 Utah Utes (7-3) – Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, Utah
Sunday 21st November 12.30am (UK)
Utah 3 point favourites at the time of writing
Here. We. Go! The biggest game in the Conference of Champions so far this season.
Utah welcome the Ducks who are well and truly in the hunt for a playoff spot and currently sit at #3 in the college football playoff rankings, however, it’s a ranking and a situation which feels so, so finely and delicately poised… One loss or even a narrow win in the wrong circumstances and the Ducks will be dropped. We all know the Pac-12 isn’t held in the same esteem as other Power-5 conferences and the loss to Stanford leaves Oregon exposed, and as much as Utah are ranked and the Ducks may have to beat them twice to get in.
Utah is going to revel in their role as party-poopers too.
Rice-Eccles, for all its picturesque beauty, is going to be chilly on Saturday night. It’s going to be November football at the business end of the regular football season. It’s a huge challenge for Oregon.
Plus it’s not just the environment, it’ll be the atmosphere – Rice-Eccles will be a fierce place and a hostile place for those guys in a Ducks uniform.
Speaking of uniforms and breaking away from the game preview for a second, Utah will be wearing these beauties on Saturday night.
Anyway… Back to the game. I feel that it’s a little disrespectful to have the #3 team in the country as underdogs, even if they are on the road against a tough environment against a good team. I think it shows how little faith the bookies have in Oregon and their quest to keep another loss out of that column and make it to the final four.
In terms of players to watch out for, I think this game will revolve around two running games and whose defenses will need to shut the other team’s offense and running game down.
Utah’s Devin Lloyd will absolutely be one to watch both for fans of these teams, fans watching for fun on TV and NFL scouts.
Keep your eyes on #0 on Saturday, he has 85 tackles, 6 sacks, 6 pass deflections and 3 interceptions. Lloyd is a top-50 player and a fringe first rounder as things stand for me, he’s my kind of linebacker as someone who can affect the game in multiple ways, as seen in his season stat line.
On the other side of the game, the Ducks have a linebacker of their own who can cause some ripples in an offensive game plan, and that in Noah Sewell, Brother of former-Duck and now-Detroit Lion, Penei Sewell. Sewell is in his first year as a starter a Redshirt Freshman and he currently leads the team in tackles with 79, whilst he’s also registered 3 sacks and a handful of pass deflections.
Whilst these aren’t Lloyd levels just yet, he’s on the way to becoming a special player in his own right.
I’ve spoken for a while on the podcast and in articles that the Oregon defense is what drives this team and that unit also has the best player in college football at defensive end – Kayvon Thibodeaux – and a defensive back who is tied for the most interceptions in college football at the moment, in Verone McKinley III. Both of these guys will be in the NFL next year and have the ability to ruin Utah’s day.
They’ll be hunting Utah QB, Cam Rising’s passes, and the Sophomore passer himself on Saturday. They’ll need to as well because since beating Charlie Brewer essentially into retirement, he’s been very good and looked after the football really nicely, and it’s easy to see why Kyle Whittingham chose to go in the direction that he did – Another one for NFL scouts to keep their eye on for in a year or two, and one for fans to get a look at in a big game on Saturday evening.
Again, I think this one will be close, I think this one will be low-scoring, but this will be fascinating and it, of course, will be full of drama. Make sure you tune in to this one.
Arizona State Sun Devils (7-3) @ Oregon State Beavers (6-4) – Reser Stadium, Corvallis, Oregon
Sunday 21st November 3.30am (UK)
Arizona State 2.5 point favourites at the time of writing
Lastly, the night owl game is a real under-the-radar, sneaky good clash between two teams who have had really good seasons out west and should get selected to a couple of decent bowl games in a few week’s time.
However, depending on how Oregon and Utah shakes out, it could leave the door ajar for Arizona State to win in Corvallis and have a platform to win the Pac-12 South, a race which only has two potential winners now in ASU and Utah.
Arizona State is 5-3 in conference play with Utah 6-2, although the Utes hold the tie-breaker, so they do need favours from Oregon and Colorado to close out the season, and to beat Oregon State and Arizona in their final two games but since losing to the Utes, they are unbeaten and will want to close the season out strong.
If the Sun Devils are to do that, they’ll be leaning on star running back Rachaad White once again – White has over 1,200 all-purpose yards and 15 touchdowns to his name and has been a big play waiting to happen this season…
White is a true dual-threat and with a Senior Bowl invite secured, I have a feeling that a lot of fans are going to be joining the bandwagon that a few of our team have been on all season, once they get eyes on him. Right now, White is probably in the draft sleeper category but it won’t be too long until everyone wakes up.
Over on defense for Arizona State, you’ll want to keep eyes on #8 Merlin Robertson too. Robertson is a hard-hitting strongside linebacker who also has a nice habit of getting his hands on the football – He’s got 3 interceptions this season, one of which he’s taken back for six points.
On the flip side of this game, the Oregon State Beavers are enjoying their best season since they went to, and won, the Hawaii Bowl in 2013. They’ve never been bowl eligible again until now and currently lie second in the Pac-12 North and are well and truly in that category of Pac-12 teams who the bigger programmes feel uncomfortable about playing…Earlier this year they handed Utah an L, and in their remaining two games they have a chance to snuff out Arizona State’s potential title tilt and ruin their neighbour’s playoff chances as they face Oregon in their final regular season game.
On offense they actually gain more yards and score more points than their bigger in-state rival Ducks, on average per game. Which isn’t much to write home about but it’s probably something that most wouldn’t have assumed – Much of the offense runs via BJ Baylor the Senior running back who has 12 scores and will likely tick over the 1,000 yard mark in this game.
Over on defense for the Beavers, again, they’ve held their own well and are no pushovers – If you are a fan of the series Last Chance U, you may recognise starting corner, Rejzohn Wright, #1, who was a transfer from Laney College in Oakland and featured heavily in season 5 of the popular Netflix series.
Wright is having a nice year and has registered a sack, a forced fumble and a pair of interceptions.
Give me a Beavers at home for this one, just by a hair.
By Lee (@Wakefield90), Andy (@ajmoore21) & Raj (@The_Garch)