Clemson Tigers (3-2) @ Syracuse Orange (3-3) – Carrier Dome, Syracuse, New York
Saturday 16th September 12.00am (UK)
Clemson 13.5 point favourites at the time of writing
One of the most exciting battles in the ACC comes early Saturday morning for us UK fans. Syracuse’s up-and-down offense against a defense that is usually very solid. How this shapes up this game is very hard to tell.
With both sides not really making a mark in the ACC this season so far, Clemson (2-1) and Syracuse (0-2), this game could be a lot tighter than the 13.5 point difference really shows.
Syracuse started the season off with some bad play-calling and some poor offensive displays, however their last 2 losses have been unlucky and they performed very well against a Wake Forest team that is really hitting their stride.
Clemson, on the other hand, have had a week’s break from action and come off a close win over Boston College at home. They had to work hard against an unbeaten Eagles’ side and finally put the game to bed with a field goal in the 4th quarter. Their 2 losses have come against the top ranked team Georgia and current 22nd ranked NC State.
This game could be decided on defensive plays, with the Tigers looking to stop the running game of Sean Tucker, whilst also keeping Garrett Schrader closer to the pocket. Although his mobility has helped Syracuse in recent games, he has only completed 3 passes that are more than 20 yards so far. If Clemson can keep him immobile then they have a very good chance at stifling the Orange’s offense.
Syracuse will be looking to minimise the long, passing game of DJ Uiagalelei. Their defense has looked a lot more comfortable against the running game, but if they get too close to the offensive line, then they can be exploited in the wider areas and further down the field.
I think the 13.5 spread is far too big for this sort of game, and in normal circumstances I would edge Syracuse for the win, but Clemson’s rest week has allowed them to come in fresh for this game and could see them nicking a win by one score.
California Golden Bears (1-4) vs. Oregon Ducks (4-1) – Autzen Stadium, Eugene, Oregon
Saturday 16th September 3.30am (UK)
Oregon 13.5 point favourites at the time of writing
The Battle of the Post-Bye Week comes in the early hours of Saturday morning. There has been plenty of time for these two sides to prepare themselves for this game. California will be looking to bounce after back to back losses, whilst Oregon will need to dust themselves off and go again after a disappointing loss to Stanford last time out.
This is another game that could be a lot closer than the bookies allow for. The Golden Bears beat the Ducks last season 21-17, plus Chase Garbers currently leads the league in total offense after averaging 281.2 yards a game. Not only this but the Ducks are missing their rushing leader CJ Verdell, who is out for the rest of the season. Verdell had 406 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns before being injured in the loss to Stanford.
Cal will need to focus on turning their offensive yards into more regular touchdowns and points. Garbers has been picked off 5 times this season, whilst also throwing 7 touchdowns. With the passing yards a game stat being so high, this needs to change to give the Golden Bears a fighting chance. They had over 400 total yards in the games against TCU and Washington, but fell short on both occasions, whilst the offense struggled to get going in the last game against Washington State.
Oregon need to bounce-back if they are to continue to be a top 10 side. They were fortunate to stay in it due to losses for Alabama, Penn State and BYU last time out. Big emphasis is on Anthony Brown after his poor showing against Stanford in the last game, where he had an interception and no touchdowns. If he can rediscover his form from before this then the Golden Bears could be in for another tough evening.
The Golden Bears should stay competitive for most of this match, but as it gets later into the game, we could see the Duck’s defense halt their offense and ultimately allow Brown and the offense to finish them off.
Auburn Tigers (4-2) @ Arkansas Razorbacks (4-2) – Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, Fayetteville, Arkansas
Saturday 16th October – 5pm (UK)
Arkansas 5.5 point favourite at the time of writing
The SEC clash on Saturday evening sets itself up to be an exciting match-up regardless of who you support. The Razorbacks were the pleasant surprise of the 2021 season after the first 4 games, but a shut out by Georgia and a crazy loss to Ole Miss has seen them crash back down to Earth. The Tigers, on the other hand, were doing their thing and were expected to give Georgia a bit more of a challenge than they did last week.
This could be a game that could go either way. Can the Razorbacks bounce back and find their defense that has clearly gone missing in the past couple of weeks, or can the Tigers really cement themselves as a genuine top 25 team due to their impressive defense?
Both teams are averaging over 450 total yards a game, Auburn more in the air, Arkansas more on the ground, plus both have had reasonable success in defense this season, despite Arkansas’ last 2 games. Auburn have allowed 320.7 yards a game, just 104.7 on the ground, whilst Arkansas have allowed 337.7 yards a game, just 156 in the air.
This game could be high-scoring, or this game could be a defensive masterclass, that’s what makes it so exciting. The Over/Under of 53.5 at the time of writing doesn’t really indicate how this game could go either way. If Arkansas try running the ball more than passing then they could be halted by a solid front line, whilst if Auburn try to focus on the passing game then they could be halted by a team that have 6 turnovers so far this season. However, it could easily go the other way and this could be a big scoring game.
I fancy Auburn to quash the 5.5 point spread between the 2 teams in this game as they have a solid defense and have only lost to two strong teams thus far.
Florida Gators (4-2) @ LSU Tigers (3-3) – Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, LA
Saturday 16th October – 5.15pm (UK)
Florida 12.5 favourites at the time of writing
This isn’t fair to have two potentially good quality games at the same time in the UK. But here we have an LSU side that got the better of Florida last time they met. A lot has changed since that day, with LSU starting the season well this year before a couple of tough losses that has seen rumours that head coach Ed Orgeron’s job could be in jeopardy. This starts a tough schedule for LSU, with all but one game left coming up against currently ranked sides.
The Florida Gators will have their tails up after a comprehensive win over Vanderbilt at home last time out. Quarterback Emory Jones looked far more comfortable, despite an interception, and the running game continued to be a big strength for the Gators. This emphasis on running could be the downfall for LSU, who look to struggle against the running game this year. They allowed 329 rushing yards against Kentucky and allowed 3 touchdowns on the ground.
For LSU, things seem to be getting tougher. Their main receiver in Kayshon Boutte looks to have ruled him out and that is a significant loss for them. With 508 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns, he was always going to be tough to replace. Despite Max Johnson looking promising in the absence of Myles Brennan, he will find it tough with his main man missing for this game.
For Draft fans out there, Derek Stingley Jr. will also be missing out due to injury.
There will be pressure on the Gators to dish out a big victory over their SEC rivals, but this match-up is usually a lot tighter than that. If the Gators can get their running game working from the off then we could see that big victory, but if LSU can negate the run and force the passing game then we could see more of a competitive game.
Kentucky Wildcats (6-0) @ Georgia Bulldogs (6-0) – Sanford Stadium, Athens, GA
Saturday 16th October – 8.30pm (UK)
Georgia 23.5 favourites at the time of writing
Using the old boxing phrase: ‘Somebody’s 0 has got to go’, fits perfectly for this late evening kick-off. Georgia come into this game as the top ranked team in College Football, whilst Kentucky sit 11th in the rankings. That’s where the similarities seem to end.
Georgia are big-time favourites, and to be honest, the numbers don’t lie. Averaging 432.5 yards a game, and allowing just 201.2 yards a game, they have been dominant so far. Apart from the first game against Clemson, they haven’t had a close game this season. Kentucky, on the other hand, have had to be more dogged in their approach. They have put up big wins, but they have also ground out some tough victories.
So how do the Wildcats stop the cantering Bulldogs? Well their defense has been impressive. They have kept them in all the games they have played so far this season, but this is the biggest test they have faced without a doubt. If they can get at Georgia early and cause them some problems with turnovers or forcing punts, then they may have some chance at pulling off a monumental upset.
But Georgia are just so good. This team is stacked with talent. They have future NFL players on defense, plus an offense that just seem to run over everybody. If they can look after the ball and not allow Kentucky a sniff then this could be a big win for the Bulldogs.
Everyone hopes to see a competitive game in some capacity, but the early stages of this game is crucial for both sides. If Kentucky can cause problems early then this game could shift a little, but don’t expect to see Georgia roll over in this game. They have the ability and power to destroy teams. They are number 1 for a reason!
Alabama Crimson Tide (5-1) @ Mississippi State Bulldogs (3-2) – Davis Wade Stadium, Starkville, MS
Sunday 17th October – 12am (UK)
Alabama 17 point favourites at the time of writing
The Crimson Tide come off the back of a tough loss against Texas A&M last week. They were expected to win, and win with some style, but things just didn’t fall for some reason. They picked up 522 total yards, Bryce Young threw 3 touchdowns but Zach Calzada was incredible for the Aggies.
This week they take on a Mississippi State side that they should punish after the performance last week. Sitting at 3-2 this season, they come off of a bye week and a win against none other than the Aggies surprisingly. If Alabama can just be themselves and cause problems for the Bulldogs’ defense like they did against the Aggies then there should be no problem bouncing back in style.
This Mississippi State side just doesn’t like doing things on the ground. They had just 40 rushing yards last game, and Will Rogers threw 59 times in that victory. Can they pull off another upset against Alabama? Possibly. But they will need to be near-on perfect for the entirety of the game. That doesn’t quite sound realistic but last week showed that this team can be beaten regardless of their offensive threats.
Alabama are expected to win and win big. Who are we to argue? We believe this is a side that can cause serious damage when on the attack. As long as their defense can match this then we should see a return to winning ways for the Crimson Tide.
TCU Horned Frogs (3-2) @ Oklahoma Sooners (6-0) – Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, Norman, Oklahoma
Sunday 17th October – 12.30am (UK)
Oklahoma 13.5 favourites at the time of writing
Three weeks ago at this stadium, the Sooners fans were chanting for Caleb Williams. This bodes the most important question of them all, will it be Soencer Rattler or Caleb Williams that leads the Sooners out in Oklahoma?
Williams took over from Rattler in the last game against Texas and done well. He threw for 2 touchdowns and 212 yards, coming in after Rattler had mustered 111 yards and one interception.
Rumors are rife that it will be Williams that will take the field against the Horned Frogs (Great name!). If that is to be true, then where next for Rattler? With his current stats of 74% pass completion, 1371 passing yards and 10 touchdowns he wouldn’t be replaced in any other team, oh how fun being in football is!
But if Rattler was to start, what would the reaction of the Sooners’ fans be like? So many questions for a game that should be focused on for what it could mean for both teams. Oklahoma need a convincing win, and TCU could strengthen their bid for the Big-12 title game with a win here.
With all but one of their games being separated by 7 points or fewer, the Sooners need to be dominant and lay down a marker like they did against Western Carolina earlier in the season. The debate over who will be starting quarterback seems to have distracted people away from the fact they haven’t been convincing this season.
TCU, on the other hand, can come into this game with next to no fear. They are entering a stadium where there could be hostility based on the quarterback position. If they can run the game like they did against Texas Tech then they will cause the Sooners problems. Kendre Miller rushed for 185 yards with 3 touchdowns last week, and he could see more handoffs if Zach Evans is struggling with his injury.
This game is massive in more sense than one. The result should be what the focus is on, but this is Oklahoma, the debate on Rattler or Williams continues to dominate, and will continue to do so dependent on how this game goes.
Arizona State Sun Devils (5-1) @ Utah Utes (3-2) – Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, Utah
Sunday 17th October – 3am (UK)
Arizona State 1 point favourites at the time of writing
The weekend of College Football concludes with an intriguing game. The resurgent Utah Utes, coming off the back of a 2-win streak, host an Arizona State side that have impressed so far this season.
Defensively the Sun Devils dominate in most areas. They lead in scoring defense (16.2 points per game), total defense (299.0 yards per game), sacks (21) and tackles for loss (43). Despite these stats, they have also been useful in offense. Their rushing numbers have seen them pass 150 yards 10 times in a row, and they surpassed 200 yards for the 6th time in 9 games last week. A big contributer to that has been Rachaad White, who has 427 yards and 9 touchdowns.
For Utah it has been about how they have reacted to consecutive losses to BYU and San Diego State. Cameron Rising has been formidable at quarterback for them, throwing for 306 yards and 3 touchdowns in their win last week. He came in after consecutive losses and guided the Utah to consecutive wins and their first true road win against Southern California since 1916. This combined with their first 300-yard passing game against a PAC-12 opponent since 2014 shows plenty of encouragement ahead of this clash.
The battle of the undefeated conference teams is a big one for both sides. They are both 3-0 in PAC-12 play, and both have a good chance of extending their retrospective streaks in this one. Expect a tight encounter from the get-go, with more focus on being the Over/Under of 51.5.
The Sun Devils currently average 33.3 points a game and the Utes average 30.8 points a game. This PAC-12 contest is sure to be a good one if you are willing to stay up until the early hours of Sunday morning.