There were a pair of huge upsets in the top 10 last week. Then-#3 Oklahoma was stunned 38-31 by Iowa State as the Sooners blew a 24-10 lead late in the second quarter, and tumbled all the way to #12. And #7 Michigan fell to Michigan State 14-10 in an annual match up that has turned into a horror show for the Wolverines, dropping them to #17. The rest of the Top 10 took care of business, however, keeping alive dreams of a ‘Bama-Clemson three-peat in the national title game. At the halfway mark of the season, the top eight teams remain undefeated.
Arkansas (2-3) vs #1 Alabama (6-0), 7:15pm ET Saturday on ESPN
Alabama is so dominant that winning by just eight is a cause for concern. Last week against Texas A&M, the Crimson Tide actually fell behind 3-0, but were up 24-3 early in the third quarter. A late touchdown by the Aggies made the final 27-19, and brought them within a muffed on-sides kick of overtime, the closest anyone’s come to beating ‘Bama all season. QB Jalen Hurts had trouble finding his targets, completing just 13 of 22 for 123 yards, and the vaunted Alabama running game never got out of third gear, as they managed “only” 232 yards, nearly 70 short of their season average. The Arkansas Razorbacks killed themselves last week with turnovers, as they threw a pair of pick-sixes (one each by Austin Allen and Cole Kelley) and had a fumble returned for a touchdown on their way to a 48-22 loss. The Razorbacks lost their only previous game against a ranked opponent, falling 28-7 to TCU in week two. Allen left last week’s game with a bad shoulder, but is expected to go this weekend – it will be to no avail. Roll Tide.
#2 Clemson (6-0) vs Syracuse (3-3), 7pm ET Friday on ESPN
The 28-14 final of Clemson’s win over Wake Forest was deceptively close, as the Tigers were up 28-0 early in the fourth quarter. But victory came with a price, as QB Kelly Bryant was forced to leave the game with a bum ankle, but not before hitting on 21 of 29 for 200 yards, a touchdown, and a pick. Kelly’s been taking it easy in practice, and has been wearing a boot on the injured foot, but head coach Dabo Swinney expects him to answer the bell come Friday. Steve Ishmael has been a bright spot for the Syracuse Orange, hauling 56 passes for 729 yards – both tops in the country — halfway through the season, and fellow WR Ervin Phillips is third in the land with 52 catchers, good for 475 yards. QB Eric Dungey is eighth in the country with 1802 yards passing, and his 325 yards is 11th among QBs, but he completes just 64.1% of his passes, his 6.9 yards per attempt puts him middle of the pack, and his TD/INT ratio of 9/4 is less than stellar. But these guys have never seen a defense the likes of which Clemson’s gonna hit them with.
Missouri (1-4) vs #4 Georgia (6-0), 7:30pm ET Saturday on SEC
Since opening the season with a 72-43 win over non-major Missouri State, the Missouri Tigers have shown their true colors, losing 5 straight, most recently to Kentucky last week, 40-34. They were tied at 34 early in the fourth, but the Wildcats scored 10 unanswered points to seal the deal. After being outscored by opponents by just .1 points last season, Mizzou has taken a big step back, as they’re getting outgunned to the tune of 12.8 ppg, most of the backslide coming on defense. The Georgia Bulldogs are playing the kind of defense that puts you in the conversation for a national championship. Led by linebacker Roquan Smith, the Dawgs allow the second-fewest points (10), and third-fewest yards (242.7), and the third-fewest first downs just 13.2. QB Jake Fromm has completed just 60% of his passes, for a total of 836 yards, but he’s so efficient, with 8.8 yards per attempt, and 10 touchdowns to just one interception, that he keeps the chains moving. Senior RB Nick Chubb is finishing his college career in style, carrying the ball 91 times for 618 yards and eight touchdowns. They made quick work of Vandy last week, 45-14, with Sony Michel and Nick Chubb each breaking 100 yards, and 12 different Dawgs catching at least one pass.
#5 Washington (6-0) vs Arizona State (2-3), 10:45pm ET Saturday on ESPN
It was an unusually ho-hum day for Myles Gaskin and Jake Browning last Saturday, as the Washington Huskies rolled over the Cal Beats 38-7. Gaskin ran for just 91 yards on 24 carries, but twice found his way to the end zone, while Browning completed 27 of 40 for just 215 yards and threw for two touchdowns. The star of the day was the Huskies’ defense, who gave up just 93 yards and held Cal scoreless, as the Bears’ lone touchdowns came on a fumble recovery. Defensive back JoJo McIntosh led the way with seven tackles and recovered a fumble. The Huskies are 10th in points scored, and third in points allowed, but the knock against them, as it was last year, is they play a soft schedule. That doesn’t change this week with a trip to Arizona State, where the Sun Devils are coming off a 34-24 loss to Stanford two weeks ago. The Sun Devils have one of the most porous defenses in the country, surrendering 483.6 ypg, and 36.4 ppg, and last week Stanford’s Bryce Love catapulted his way into the Heisman debate by gaining 301 yards on 25 carries. Myles Gaskin is licking his chops at the prospect of playing these guys.
#6 TCU (5-0) vs Kent State (3-2), Noon ET Saturday on tied at 17 with FS1
Don’t be fooled by TCU’s ranking or +24.8 point differential – these guys fattened up early on Jackson State, Arkansas and SMU by a total of 147-43, but in their two games against nationally ranked Oklahoma State and West Virginia, they’ve won by a combined 75-55 – still impressive, but not world class. Still, their secondary has been rock solid, holding opponents to a 50% completion rate while picking off 1.4 passes per game. Last week, against West Virginia, they found themselves tied at 24 with 9:50 to play, before mounting a 65-yard, 6-minute, 57-second drive to score the game’s final touchdown on 3-yard run by Kenny Hill, who earlier had caught a 48-yard TD, and before that thrown a 45-yard touchdown – not a bad day. Kansas State is coming off a gut-punch of a loss, having blown a 10-point, only to fall behind by 7, then go up 3, get tied in regulation, score in the 1st OT, only to be tied, and then lose it in the second OT – that’s three blown leads in one game. K-State manages to score 36.8 ppg despite gaining just 405.4 ypg, their secret being a +6 turnover advantage. QB Jesse Ertz doesn’t throw much, just 100 attempts, but he averages 9.3 yards a throw, and he’s run for another 336, 9th among quarterbacks, but he may have his hands full this weekend.
#2 Clemson (6-0) vs Syracuse (3-3)
7pm ET on ESPN
#8 Washington State (6-0) vs Cal (3-3)
10:30pm ET on ESPN
#6 TCU (5-0) vs Kent State (3-2)
Noon ET on FS1
#17 Michigan (4-1) vs Indiana (3-2)
Noon ET on ABC/ESPN3
#20 NC State (5-1) vs Pitt (2-4)
Noon ET on ACC
#24 Texas Tech (4-1) vs West Virginia (3-2)
Noon ET on ESPNU
Georgia Tech (3-1) vs #11 Miami (4-0)
3:30pm ET on ABC/ESPN3
#12 Oklahoma (4-1) vs Texas (3-2)
3:30pm ET on ESPN
Baylor (0-5) vs #14 Oklahoma State (4-1)
3:30pm ET on FS1
#25 Navy (5-0) vs Memphis (4-1)
3:45pm ET on ESPNU
Arkansas (2-3) vs #1 Alabama (6-0)
7:15pm ET on ESPN
Missouri (1-4) vs #4 Georgia (6-0)
7:30pm ET on SEC
#9 Ohio State (5-1) vs Nebraska (3-3)
7:30pm ET on FS1
Cincinnati (2-4) vs #18 South Florida
7:30pm ET on ESPNU
Utah (4-1) vs USC (5-1)
8pm ET on ABC/ESPN3
#5 Washington (6-0) vs Arizona State (2-3)
10:45pm ET on ESPN
Oregon (4-2) vs #23 Stanford (4-2)
11pm ET on ESPN
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