Mississippi State at BYU (Friday)
Why Mississippi State will win: It’s been a tough season for the Bulldogs so far and it definitely won’t get any easier. Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald has been one of the only bright spots on the team as he has passed for 784 yards and rushed for 390 more. The matchup with BYU is not necessarily a favorable one. The Cougars weakness on defense is the secondary, who have struggled to stop teams this season. Fitzgerald will have to get the ball in the hands of leading receiver Fred Ross and try and find a way to open up the running game, whether it is the read option or handing it off to Brandon Holloway.
Why BYU will win: BYU can move the ball on offense. Running back Jamaal Williams has the second most rushing yards in the nation with 866, while also leading the nation, for running backs, in touchdowns with 10. When the ball isn’t given to Williams, quarterback Taysom Hill has both the ability to run and pass with success. He has passed for 1255 yards and 6 touchdowns, but has thrown 6 interceptions, while also rushing for 275 yards. BYU should be able to move the ball with a lot of success against Mississippi State.
Gorm’s Guess: BYU 45 Mississippi State 24: I expect that Fitzgerald will have a good start to the game, but I can’t see this Mississippi State team playing a successful four quarters.
Vanderbilt at Georgia
Why Vanderbilt will win: Vanderbilt has had three straight weeks where they could have won with a last minute drive and only accomplished one of them. Their offense is extremely one-dimensional. Ralph Webb continues to impress the entire SEC with 682 rushing yards. When Webb left the game with an injury last week, the ‘Dores were able to turn to Khari Blasingame who is a solid backup running back for Vandy. Vanderbilt has had success in the past few weeks stopping the pass and will try to get to Jacob Eason early.
Why Georgia will win: Georgia will need to run the ball successfully to win the game. The Bulldogs boast a ferocious running back tandem in Nick Chubb and Sony Michel who have combined for 876 rushing yards. The Vanderbilt defense struggled to stop the Kentucky run game last week and should struggle again this week. Jacob Eason will have to find ways to get the ball into Isaiah McKenzie’s hands. McKenzie has 359 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns to his name already this year. If the Georgia offense can find its’ rhythm, they should win easily, regardless of how many rushing yards Ralph Webb finishes with.
Gorm’s Guess: Georgia 21 Vanderbilt 13: Vanderbilt needs a win in the worst kind of way, but I just cannot see them pulling it out. The running back core of the Bulldogs is going to have a big game.
Alabama at Tennessee
Why Alabama will win: Week in, week out, Alabama continues to prove why they are ranked number one. This will possibly be their toughest challenge yet though. Jalen Hurts has been impressive, with 1242 yards through the air and 296 more on the ground for 14 combined touchdowns. Hurts is lucky to have a great group of running backs headlined by Damien Harris who has 478 rushing yards of his own. The Tide defense has given up its’ fair share of points, but offensively, Lane Kiffin’s offense is as strong as it has been.
Why Tennessee will win: The luck of the Volunteers finally ran out last week against Texas A&M, but boy did they use every last bit of luck they had. Joshua Dobbs is finally finding his stride on offense and will need to have a HUGE game against the Crimson Tide. Luckily, Dobbs will have Jalen Hurd back in the lineup after a one week absence. Dobbs and Hurd have combined for 731 rushing yards and 7 touchdowns. The big question mark for Tennessee is injuries and if they will be able to overcome them to upset Alabama.
Gorm’s Guess: Alabama 42 Tennessee 38: I expect this one to be close, but the Crimson Tide are just too good of a football team. With that being said, Nick Saban’s team does traditionally lose one regular season game a year and this may be the most likely candidate.
Missouri at Florida
Why Missouri will win: After their offense looked virtually unstoppable against Eastern Michigan, Georgia and Delaware State, the Tigers looked awful in their last game out against LSU. Luckily, they had a bye week last week and therefore has had more time to prepare for a tough game in Gainesville. Drew Lock continues to lead the SEC in passing with 1675 yards and 14 touchdowns. Missouri’s defense has taken a major step back from last season. They were embarrassed against LSU. They will look to redeem themselves against a good Florida offense.
Why Florida will win: Luke Del Rio returns after missing the past two games. In three games, Del Rio passed for 762 yards and 6 touchdowns. Antonio Callaway is one of the more talented wide receivers in the SEC and should have a big role against Missouri. The Gators will need to establish a running game and if they will, this could get ugly.
Gorm’s Guess: Florida 24 Missouri 20: This will be dominated by Florida. Expect the Gators to jump out to an early lead, only to let Missouri score a touchdown in the 4th quarter to make it seem closer than it really was.
Ole Miss at Arkansas
Why Ole Miss will win: Ole Miss is probably the best 2 loss team in the nation. Coming off a bye week, the Rebels will look to pick up a big win in Fayetteville. Chad Kelly continues to have an impressive senior season by passing for nearly 1600 yards. His favorite target is easily Evan Engram who has 479 of Kelly’s yards and 4 touchdowns. The Arkansas defense has had issues on defense this year that have been shown primarily by TCU and Alabama. This bodes well for the Rebels as they will have no issues scoring.
Why Arkansas will win: Austin Allen is also having a great season. Allen has 1632 yards through the air with 15 touchdowns. Allen also has one of the SEC’s more underrated running backs in Rawleigh Williams. Stopping the run has been a major issue for Ole Miss this year as they average giving up 215 yards on the ground/game.
Gorm’s Guess: Ole Miss 41 Arkansas 36: Expect a lot of offense in this game. Both teams have very well rounded offenses, but their defenses do have holes in them.
Southern Miss at LSU
Why Southern Miss will win: Southern Miss was upset last week by UTSA to fall to 4-2 on the season. As Kentucky fans know, Nick Mullens and Ito Smith are a talented duo. Mullens has 1874 yards through the air and Smith has 711 yards on the ground. The Golden Eagles can move the ball with a lot of success as they have scored over 30 points in every game this season. USM will have to limit turnovers if they want any chance at an upset against LSU.
Why LSU will win: LSU’s offense exploded in their last game against Missouri as they broke the SEC record for yards in a game. All of this came without star running back Leonard Fournette, who will miss his third game of the year on Saturday. The Tigers will turn to a fantastic backup in Derrius Guice, who has rushed for 402 yards and 4 touchdowns already this season. USM is an interesting matchup for LSU, but the Tigers should not have many issues in this one.
Gorm’s Guess: LSU 38 Southern Miss 21: Southern Miss’ SEC magic was used up in the second half of the UK game. Expect Derrius Guice to have a big game for LSU.
Other Games of Note
Duke at Louisville (Friday)
Why Duke will win: Inconsistency has been a major concern for the Blue Devils so far this season. They have beaten Notre Dame (which at the time was a better win than it may actually be), but also lost to a bad Northwestern team who has lost to Illinois State and Western Michigan. Their quarterback is Daniel Jones. Jones has passed for 1455 yards, but has thrown 8 interceptions to only 7 touchdowns. Defensively, they have had success in stopping the run, which will be key against a very good Louisville offense.
Why Louisville will win: Even with the loss last game out to Clemson, Lamar Jackson is still the leading candidate for the Heisman trophy. His stats are unreal. He has passed for 1625 yards and 14 touchdowns, while also adding 688 rushing yards. To put those into perspective, Jackson ranks 19th in the nation in passing and 10th in rushing, while playing one less game than most of the nation. He also has more rushing yards than 13 teams. Again, this kills me to actually admit, but Louisville is a darn good football team.
Gorm’s Guess: Louisville 53 Duke 17: Louisville has to win out if they want to even sniff the CFP. That starts tonight against Duke.
Ohio State at Wisconsin
Why Ohio State will win: If there was a Heisman candidate that could compete with Lamar Jackson, it would be JT Barrett. Barrett has 981 yards through the air with 15 touchdowns, while also rushing for 342 yards and 4 more touchdowns. Offensively, the Buckeyes are solid with Barrett behind center and Mike Weber coming out of the backfield. Defensively, they might be even better. They will not have any issues against a very one dimensional Wisconsin offense. If they can force Alex Hornibook to pass, they could dominate.
Why Wisconsin will win: Wisconsin’s defense will have to keep them in this game, so the pressure will be placed on Corey Clement. Clement has rushed for 319 yards and 5 touchdowns and has been the primary bright spot of the Wisconsin offense. The Badgers’ defense has been able to shut down basically every team that they have played this season. College GameDay will also be in Madison for the game and the home team is undefeated in GameDay games this season.
Gorm’s Guess: Ohio State 20 Wisconsin 10: The Ohio State offense is going to find a way to win this game for the Buckeyes. It will be low scoring, but expect them to do just enough to win.
Western Kentucky at Middle Tennessee State
Why WKU will win: The Tops can score. Their only issue is they can’t stop anybody. Last week, their offense was able to score 52 points on the road at Louisiana Tech. The Tops lost 55-52. The bright side to their matchup with MTSU is that the Blue Raiders can’t stop anybody either. Expect this game to be very high scoring and expect it to be dominated by the Hilltoppers’ playmakers, Mike White, Ace Wales, Taywan Taylor and Nicholas Norris. White will have to establish the run game with Wales and get the ball into the hands of Taylor and Norris.
Why MTSU will win: Last season, the Tops thumped the Blue Raiders in Bowling Green. This game is not dubbed the “100 Miles of Hate” for no reason. These two schools do not like each other, especially after an “onside kick” by the Tops when they were up by 35. Brent Stockstill is putting forth an impressive season so far for the Blue Raiders. He has 1657 yards through the air, but the pulse of the MTSU offense is I’Tavius Mathers. Mathers has 582 yards on the ground and 267 receiving yards with 10 combined touchdowns. You can expect these two to connect often against a Hilltopper defense that is struggling with injuries.
Gorm’s Guess: WKU 58 MTSU 52: If you like offense, this is the game for you. Since UK has a bye week, I wanted to add the Tops to the mix, because of how good of a game I expect this to be. Expect a lot of offense, with Taywan Taylor making a play to win the game for the Tops in the 4th quarter.