Top teams across the college football landscape learned where they stand in the initial College Football Playoff committee ranking this week, and many fan bases will complain about their team being slighted by its ranking. This week’s slate will allow for those teams to add a quality win to pad their resumes and could ruin national title hopes for others.
No. 7 Penn State versus No. 24 Michigan State
Alex: What a matchup this could have been … Had both Penn State and Michigan State won last weekend this would have been a top-10 game between two Big Ten powerhouses. But they both lost heart-breakers. Something tells me that MSU’s head coach Mark Dantonio will have his young team ready for this enormous home game, and while Penn State running back Saquon Barkley will get his, Sparty pulls off the upset.
Josh: Needing to keep pace with Ohio State in the Big Ten East, Penn State has to win out. Outside of a kickoff return and a long touchdown run in last weekend’s loss, Saquon Barkley was held in check and needs to be a bigger impact Saturday. While Michigan State’s success has been one of the surprises of the season, head coach James Franklin won’t allow his team to underestimate the Spartans and the Nittany Lions roll.
No. 4 Clemson versus No. 20 NC State
Alex: After being dominated a week ago by the Irish, NC State will look to rebound against Clemson and stay undefeated in the ACC. The winner of this game will ultimately determine who wins the Atlantic division and earns the right to play for an ACC championship. The Wolfpack will make it extremely close, but Clemson simply has too much talent and stays alive both in the ACC race, and the College Football Playoff conversation.
Josh: Defensive line play will be on full display. The top five best players in this game are defensive lineman. These teams pride themselves on being suffocating defensively and being balanced on offense. Clemson has not lost a game with Kelly Bryant healthy. Look for the Tiger’s quarterback to get rid of the ball quick and lean on his running backs. The Clemson defense will be too much for Ryan Finley. Tigers hand the Wolfpack a consecutive loss.
No. 5 Oklahoma versus No. 11 Oklahoma State
Alex: This game will be a shootout, to say the least as two high-powered offenses collide for the battle of Bedlam, and likely a chance to play for a Big 12 title. While there is sure to be a quarterback battle between Baker Mayfield and Mason Rudolph, the defenses will decide this game. Whoever can make one more stop than the other team will come out on top. Using the slight edge of a home game, the Cowboys to get the W.
Josh: With the reemergence of the Big 12 Championship game, the conference has moved this traditional Thanksgiving weekend rivalry game up to early November. It seemed as though both teams were poised for playoff berths, but losses and close wins have their resumes looking less than perfect. In a battle of bad defenses, the Cowboys will make one more stop than the Sooners and win a basketball-score shootout.
No. 13 Virginia Tech versus No. 10 Miami
Alex: This matchup should dictate who gets a spot in the ACC championship game and will be a tough game for the Hokies to steal on the road. The longer the season goes on, the more people are starting to compare this years’ Hurricane team to those in the late ’90s and early 2000s. Relentless, tough, physical, unapologetic. I like Miami to win the game, setting the stage for a monster matchup next week against Notre Dame at home.
Josh: In opposition to Bedlam, this game could have a combined score of less than 40 as both teams are defensive-minded. Mark Richt’s dominating defensive line will take on Bud Foster’s linebackers and secondary and the first team to 20 will win. The Hokies have proven to have a more reliable offense with quarterback Josh Jackson and Bud Foster’s defense will confuse Miami quarterback Malik Rosier. Virginia Tech will end Miami’s playoff hopes with a win.