Georgia Tech at Georgia
Why Georgia Tech will win: The Yellow Jackets enter Athens with the will to run. Georgia Tech ranks 9th in the nation by averaging 260.27 rushing yards/game. That attack is headed by quarterback Justin Thomas and running backs Dedrick Mills and Marcus Marshall. When they aren’t running the ball, Justin Thomas does have great decision making passing the ball. He has passed for 8 touchdowns and only 1 interception all season. If the Yellow Jackets can establish the run, you can expect this game to be close.
Why Georgia will win: Like Georgia Tech, Georgia is going to try and beat you on the ground first. Their offense is headlined by Nick Chubb who has rushed for 900 yards and 6 touchdowns this season. The primary weakness of the Yellow Jacket offense is their secondary. Jacob Eason will need to take advantage of this and get the ball to his leading wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie.
Gorm’s Guess: Georgia 31 Georgia Tech 27: Jacob Eason will finish his regular season with a good game. The lack of a true passing attack for the Yellow Jackets will keep them from winning this game.
Auburn at Alabama
Why Auburn will win: Auburn is going to run the ball right at you. Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson have dominated the SEC on the ground this season as they have rushed for almost 2000 yards and 18 touchdowns. They will have their biggest challenge to date with the Crimson Tide. Alabama’s rush defense is killer and Auburn will need to have success through the air if they want any chance at the upset. Sean White is questionable with a shoulder injury. If he can’t go, expect Jeremy Johnson to handle the reigns of the Auburn offense.
Why Alabama will win: Alabama has gone up against good offenses all season and they have shut down each one of them. The one that comes to mind is LSU. Entering the game, the matchup between the LSU rushing attack and the Alabama rush defense was put in the spotlight. Alabama dominated that battle and I fully expect them to dominate that battle again. Offensively, Jalen Hurts and company are rolling. The Freshman has passed for 2168 yards and 19 touchdowns while also adding 803 more yards on the ground.
Gorm’s Guess: Alabama 27 Auburn 13: The matchup between the Auburn rushing attack and the Alabama rush defense is going to prove to be the difference in the game. I have more confidence in Alabama in this regard, especially at home.
Mississippi State at Ole Miss
Why Mississippi State will win: Any success that the Bulldogs will have will be run through Nick Fitzgerald. The Sophomore quarterback has had an impressive season. He has passed for 2178 yards and 18 touchdowns and leads SEC quarterbacks with 985 yards on the ground. He should have a monster game against a BAD Ole Miss defense. The Rebels are beat up and have not been able to stop anybody this season. On the flip side, Mississippi State has struggled at times stopping the run as well.
Why Ole Miss will win: After a good start to the Shea Patterson era, the Rebels took a massive step back following a beatdown by Vanderbilt in Nashville. The Rebels will look to keep their bowl hopes alive against their bitter rival. In his two starts, Patterson has passed for 560 yards and 4 touchdowns. Overall he has been fairly impressive. He should have a good game against a Mississippi State defense that has struggled at points this season. Running back Akeem Judd will play a huge role in this game. If he can establish the running game, Patterson will be able to make smart decisions in route to a Ole Miss win.
Gorm’s Guess: Ole Miss 38 Mississippi State 34: This game is destined to be a shootout between two teams who aren’t very good defensively. Both teams need this win to become bowl eligible so both teams will do what ever it will take to get there.
South Carolina at Clemson
Why South Carolina will win: The Gamecocks reached bowl eligibility last week with a win over Western Carolina. Jake Bentley has taken over the Gamecocks and had a lot of success. The keys to his success center around his trio of talented receivers. Deebo Samuel, Hayden Hurst and Bryan Edwards have combined for 1569 yards and 2 touchdowns to lead the way for an improving passing attack. The emergence of running back Rico Dowdle has helped take pressure off of Bentley. Overall, this offense is going to have to find ways to score against a talented Clemson defense. South Carolina is lucky to play this game with nothing to lose.
Why Clemson will win: Clemson must win to keep their CFP hopes alive. Deshaun Watson has fallen by the wayside in the Heisman trophy conversation. His numbers are still impressive, he has passed for 3279 yards, 28 touchdowns and rushed for 425 yards. The big issue with Watson all year has been interceptions. He has thrown 13 this season which is the most in the ACC and the second most of all of the Power 5 teams. When Watson cuts down on his turnovers, this Clemson offense is as good as any other in the nation. Running back Wayne Gallman has rushed for 831 yards and 13 touchdowns to lead the way on the ground, while Mike Williams has caught passes for 1014 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Gorm’s Guess: Clemson 34 South Carolina 17: In what will most likely be Deshaun Watson’s last game in Death Valley, you can expect him to have a monster showing.
Tennessee at Vanderbilt
Why Tennessee will win: Joshua Dobbs enters Nashville after two of his better games. This season he has passed for 2315 yards and 24 touchdowns while also adding 660 more yards on the ground. Even after the departure of Jalen Hurd, the Vols running game has still stayed afloat. Alvin Kamara and Josh Kelly have rushed for a combined 1004 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Vols. The big worry for Tennessee is defense. They have struggled to stop teams this season. They will need to find ways to slow down Ralph Webb to beat Vanderbilt.
Why Vanderbilt will win: The ‘Dores had another massive win last week against Ole Miss. They enter today’s game with a chance to become bowl eligible. If there was a time for Vanderbilt to beat Tennessee it would be this year. The Vols have struggled mightly on defense, especially in defending the run. This plays right into Vanderbilt’s strength of running the football. Ralph Webb is one of the better players in the SEC. He has rushed for 1085 yards and 10 touchdowns to lead the way for the ‘Dores. If he can rush for at least 150 yards, the Commodores could have a shot at the upset.
Gorm’s Guess: Tennessee 28 Vanderbilt 20: Tennessee needs this win to keep fans at bay in Knoxville. You can expect Ralph Webb to have a big game, but I think that Josh Dobbs will do just enough to hold off the Commodores.
Florida at Florida State
Why Florida will win: Luke Del Rio will be out again with a shoulder injury so Florida will turn to Austin Appleby. The Purdue transfer has passed for 815 yards and 6 touchdowns in limited action this season. This has forced the Florida offense to gain trust in running back Jordan Scarlett. Scarlett has rushed for 725 yards and 6 touchdowns for the Gators this season. The key for Florida all season has been defense. The Gators have been able to slow down almost all of their opponents. They will have a large test in slowing down Dalvin Cook.
Why Florida State will win: Florida State is centered around offense. Offensively, the Seminoles boast two of the best players in the ACC. Running back Dalvin Cook has rushed for 1467 yards and 17 touchdowns to rank 6th in the nation in both categories. Quarterback Deondre Francois has emerged as a stud for Florida State. He has passed for nearly 3000 yards and 17 touchdowns. For Florida State, their key to victory is stopping Florida. In their 3 losses this season, the ‘Noles averaged giving up 526 yards/game to only 312.6 in their 8 wins. If Florida State can keep the Gators to under 400 yards, expect them to win.
Gorm’s Guess: Florida State 27 Florida 14: Florida’s offense will not be able to keep up with a high powered Seminole attack. Florida’s defense will have to hold the Seminoles to under 20 points if the Gators want a shot at the upset.
Other Games of Note
Michigan at Ohio State
Why Michigan will win: Michigan’s chances in this game all ride on whether Wilton Speight will play or not. As the Wolverines showed last week, they are a different team without Speight. Luckily, they can turn to different playmakers on offense. The running back combination of De’Veon Smith and Chris Evans will test the Buckeyes. They will need to have a big game, especially if John O’Korn starts in place of Speight. Defensively, the Wolverines have one of the top players in all of college football. Jabrill Peppers is a maniac on both sides of the ball, but especially can dominate a game on defense.
Why Ohio State will win: Urban Meyer will look to go 5-0 against Michigan. He has absolutely dominated the rivalry so far, but this is by far the best Michigan team he has faced. The key to victory for Ohio State is JT Barrett. In a near loss to Michigan State last week, Barrett did not play well. This season he has passed for 2304 yards and 24 touchdowns and added 722 yards on the ground. His favorite target is wide receiver Curtis Samuel. Samuel has 790 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns. When Barrett is not passing, he is able to hand the ball off to 1000-yard rusher Mike Weber. All of these weapons will need to have big games if the Buckeyes want to “clinch” their spot in the CFP.
Gorm’s Guess: Ohio State 24 Michigan 17: If this game was played in Ann Arbor, it might have a different outcome, but I think the Ohio State offense will prove to be too much, even for a stellar Michigan defense.
WKU at Marshall
Why WKU will win: With a win, WKU will clinch the C-USA East division and will play host to LA Tech next Saturday for the C-USA Championship. The Tops won last year’s championship at home over Southern Miss. While they lost a lot of key components of last year’s championship squad, most notably quarterback Brandon Doughty, the Tops have kept on rolling. Mike White has filled the shoes of Doughty better than most expected. He has passed for 3373 yards and 28 touchdowns. He is lucky to have two of the better wide receivers in the league in Taywan Taylor and Nicholas Norris. Taylor and Norris have combined to account for 2364 receiving yards and 25 touchdowns. When the ball isn’t headed through the air for the Hilltoppers, Ace Wales handles the load coming out of the backfield. He has rushed for 18 touchdowns through 1057 yards rushing. Marshall’s defense has struggled mightily this season and you can expect WKU to expose this weakness for the Herd in route to a massive victory.
Why Marshall will win: The Herd have fallen flat this season. They limp into this game with a 3-8 record. At the beginning of the season, this game was circled as a possible “C-USA East Division Championship Game.” Instead, Marshall will look to end a bad season on a high note. Rumors out of Huntington have said that Garet Morrell will get the start at quarterback for the Herd. In limited action over 4 games, Morrell has passed for 147 yards and 3 touchdowns. He is the key in this game. The weakness for the Tops all season has been their secondary. Whether it is Morrell getting the start or Chase Litton, the Herd must pass the ball successfully if they want to win. Marshall has a bad taste in their mouth after back-to-back losses to WKU. In 2014, WKU upset the undefeated Marshall 67-66. Marshall is trying to play a similar card as that in this game.
Gorm’s Guess: WKU 45 Marshall 24: They are dubbing this game, the Moonshine Throwdown, one of the nations newest rivalry games. In fact, these two teams have a Twitter page dedicated to the brewing hatred between the two teams. When looking at these two teams, WKU is an overall better team. Jeff Brohm has proven over his three seasons at the helm to win the big games and this is a big game. Marshall does have the advantage of having nothing to lose and that could come in handy. In the end, the WKU receivers will dominate the Marshall secondary in route to a big win for the Tops.