The arrival of October allows for a month of completed CFB to provide the setup necessary for chaos. By this point, the contenders are clear, and it’s like we could just decide our top four right now…until it’s totally unclear and we are nowhere close to a place of decision-making. Week 6 is also the significant halfway point. Homecoming is often in the air for these schools, football weather should be getting into full swing, and those core conference matchups are aplenty.
Before getting into what the first Saturday of October has to offer, let’s take a look back at what Week 5 delivered for the CFB world…
About Last Week…
Week 5 had a quite fun setup, and it delivered. I went 8-1 (88.9%) which puts me at 42-13 (76.4%) overall. This was for certain my best week yet, as nearly all of the scores and narratives I set fit the scores and narratives that played out.
Shout out to our NFL Previewer Michael Raupp for correctly picking Michigan’s win over Northwestern, even though it was not the blowout he predicted and a much more clunky Big Ten game that fits the mold of that matchup in Evanston.
By far the biggest story of last Saturday was my only loss in Ohio State’s triumphant and hard fought statement win at Penn State in a whiteout. The Buckeyes have now established themselves as playoff contenders, arguably second to only the Crimson Tide of Alabama.
Honorable mentions go to the scare and near-loss that Clemson had against Syracuse (!), yet establishing a quarterback along the way, as well as an important victory for Notre Dame against Stanford, proving themselves as perennial powers for 2018.
On to the preview!
Noon Game of The Week:
#19 Texas vs. #7 Oklahoma
When: 11:00 CT
Rain (Above 40%)? Yes. 40%. Scattered Storms.
Where: Cotton Bowl (Dallas, TX)
Series History: OU 29-24 in 2017 (Texas leads 61-5-46 all-time)
No matter where your loyalties may lie, this is one of those spectacles that are sure to entertain regardless of connection or rooting interest.
It’s is a one of a kind CFB experience that should be on every fan’s bucket list. It’s the Red River Shootout (as I prefer to call it, others go with rivalry or showdown). It’s one of America’s oldest rivalries, it’s the environment of the Texas State Fair, it’s the split Cotton Bowl, half filled with Sooner red and half filled with Longhorn orange, and it’s the memorable games that make this rivalry a must-see. Tradition reigns triumphant in this unapologetic NOON game, and even College GameDay can’t resist missing out on it this week.
On top of all of this hype, there has been some good football being played by the two teams themselves this year. Both Texas and Oklahoma offer nationally relevant resumes going in, both being mentioned in the Top 20 of the AP Poll. Oklahoma remains undefeated with a win over Baylor a quality one. Texas has one loss, but they have been opening some eyes with their recent quality wins over USC and TCU. This is most likely the biggest game of your day, so get up early.
With the last four editions of this game being decided by a touchdown or less, there will be little room for error from the perspective of both teams, and although Oklahoma has experienced far more overall success recently, the Longhorns have had their way in this game for some reason (because rivalry?).
While Oklahoma has had a solid program and continues to do so in 2018, some of their own errors so far this season, especially shown in a scare on pay-per-view (and a legendary livestreamer on Twitter) against Army, will come to fruition at the Cotton Bowl on Saturday. As was said in the previous sentence, this game did not quite get the exposure for such Oklahoma concerns to become a more widespread narrative, but it will soon be a talking point early on in this game. Texas will take advantage of this early and win an exciting (coincidental wording entirely intended) showdown to kick off the day in Dallas.
The key will entirely lie in the ability of both defenses to take care of business drive in, drive out. This game does live up to the hype, with an upset sure to make things interesting down the stretch.
Texas Wins, 34-28
Other Noon Games of Note:
#1 Alabama @ Arkansas (ESPN)
Maryland @ #15 Michigan (ABC) (NFL Previewer Michael Raupp’s Unbiased Pick)
Northwestern @ #20 Michigan State (FS1)
Afternoon Game of The Week:
#5 LSU @ #22 Florida
When: 2:30 CT
Rain (Above 40%)? Nope.
Where: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (Gainesville, FL)
Series History: LSU 17-16 in 2017 (Florida leads 32-3-29 all-time)
An interesting pair of teams meet up at The Swamp Saturday afternoon in a key protected inter-divisional SEC rivalry, and what makes things more interesting is the climate of both programs.
The visiting LSU Tigers faced a quite average and at-times poor season last year, including a sleepy loss to the Troy Trojans (they’re from Troy!). Ed Orgeron has a seat with a heavily adjustable temperature, but right now, things remain completely cool. The Tigers are still an unbeaten, with significant wins over non-conference Miami (!) and Auburn in their conference opener.
Meanwhile, any hardships LSU may have faced in 2017 was nothing compared to the dismal season the Florida Gators experienced, going 4-7 and changing coaches. This year, it’s a quality hire in offensive-minded Dan Mullen that is leading the Gators into quite possibly their biggest home game.
It wouldn’t even be a home game for Florida if not for Hurricane Matthew in 2016, which changed the site distribution for this rivalry. More on this below.
This game features a Florida defense that is looking to keep the score down, which would be the most likely way the Gators pull of a win. They will however, be taking on an LSU offense of very high quality.
For this reason, the Florida offense and LSU defense will be the deciding matchup, and this is where the Tigers hold their advantage, featuring a dangerous secondary.
Although home field advantage has recently not been a factor in this rivalry as of late, it will be in that it keeps the result close. The Gators will in fact fall short of being the first home team to win this game in a couple years, however. The score will be altered by late distancing touchdowns for the winner and sad field goals for the loser.
LSU Wins, 30-23
Other Afternoon Games of Note:
Florida State @ #17 Miami (ABC)
Indiana @ #3 Ohio State (FOX)
Arizona State @ #21 Colorado (PAC12)
Night Game of The Week:
#6 Notre Dame @ #24 Virginia Tech
When: 7:00 CT
Rain (Above 40%)? No, but some isolated storms.
Where: Lane Stadium (Blacksburg, VA)
Series History: VT 34-31 in 2016 (Only game all-time)
As the song that makes the site of this game famous said: “Exit light, enter night”.
With sophomore Quarterback Ian Book at the reigns for the Irish, this team has immediately switched roles from a surviving unbeaten to a very significant 2018 contender. Likewise, Notre Dame’s schedule has switched roles from devastating to doable.
The big games still exist though, and this one features a Virginia Tech team that always looks to wreak havoc on big teams when they waltz into Blacksburg. The Hokies have had their fair share of difficulties this season, with Hurricane Florence giving an extra week of buildup to…a loss at Old Dominion? However, a win against an increasingly important Duke Football (!) team gives them some upward trajectory.
Like all visiting teams, Notre Dame will be shaken by the environment VT brings out for big games under the lights, especially because Notre Dame has never been to Blacksburg.
But once the Hokies’ “Enter Sandman” entrance fades from the memory of Notre Dame, this team will get down to business, allowing for their strong defensive presence to once again coincide with a productive offense. This will be Ian Book’s first true test in a huge game with a tough environment, and he will prove to be an overall standout player of the weekend. I’m going with the very simple notion that this will be a game in which the better team secures, despite a chaotic start.
Notre Dame Wins, 37-21
Other Night Games of Note:
#13 Kentucky @ Texas A&M (ESPN)
#8 Auburn @ Mississippi State (ESPN2)
Late Game of The Week:
Utah @ #14 Stanford
When: 9:30 CT
Rain (Above 40%)? Negatory.
Where: Stanford Stadium (Stanford, CA)
Series History: Stanford 23-20 in 2017 (4-4 all-time)
Finally, after all these late games I have previewed, we can give ourselves a look at the PAC-12’s increasingly most important contender: the Stanford Cardinal. This game will less be about the matchup and more about unmasking Stanford’s true identity in 2018.
For the record (pun intended), the fighting trees are undefeated with the exception of last week, in which they traveled to South Bend and got taken care of under the lights. The Cardinal return home now, and trade ND’s independent catering for PAC-12 After Dark.
The Utah Utes have a split season, losing the last two to both Washington conference foes, the latter of which (Wazzu) at home. This is a bad skid, but it was, however, filled with some close point differentials. This team will be emotionally fired up to get out to Stanford and pull off the kind of upset that would save a season.
While I personally don’t think that an upset is quite in the cards for Utah, as Stanford is just slightly too good and will be comfortable now that they have “come home”, I do think there are some serious faults and little security to be had in this Stanford team. Their win at Oregon really reflected the hardships of the Ducks more than the skills of the Cardinal in that game, and they not only lost, but looked unimpressive against the Irish. Stay up for this one, as an upset could happen. Until then, Fear the Nerds.
Stanford Wins, 35-24
Enjoy your first October Saturday, everyone!
Weather Source: weather.com, Image Courtesy: Hamm, Steve. “The Red River Rivalry: Top 20 Games (Part Four).” The Red River Rivalry: Top 20 Games (Part Four), Last Word On College Football, 17 Oct. 2017, lastwordoncollegefootball.com/2017/10/12/the-red-river-rivalry-top-20-games-part-four/.