Fri, Nov 17, 2017
By Patrick Woo
Games to Watch
Virginia (6-4) at #3 Miami (9-0), Noon on ABC
Virginia has lost three of its last four after a hot start, but the job that Bronco Mendenhall is doing still should be praised. The Canes have to avoid a letdown after the big win against Notre Dame last week. Miami is +15 in turnover margin. Virginia hasn’t turned the ball over much but the speed of the Canes defense is going to pose a problem like it did for the Irish.
Top Matchup: Miami TE Chris Herndon IV vs. Virginia S Quin Blanding
#24 Michigan (8-2) at #5 Wisconsin (10-0), Noon on FOX
Michigan’s offensive line has been a work in progress with the 27 sacks allowed this season while the Badgers continue to stuff the run (81.5 yards per game allowed) and get after the quarterback (leads the Big Ten with 35 sacks). The Wolverines have been better since Brandon Peters took over at quarterback, but not because he’s throwing the ball all over the yard, which he might have to do in Madison.
Top Matchup: Michigan OT Mason Cole vs. Wisconsin LB Garret Dooley/Leon Jacobs
#15 UCF (9-0) at Temple (5-5), Noon ESPNU
Crazy that it was just four years ago this week that these two teams played as Big East foes and J.J. Worton made that spectacular one-handed diving touchdown grab. Now the Knights are in prime position for a New Year’s Six Bowl, but Temple is playing good football right now.
Top Matchup: Temple WR Keith Kirkwood vs. UCF CB Mike Hughes
#16 Mississippi State (7-3) at Arkansas (4-6), Noon on CBS
How much does Mississippi State have left in the tank after a good game against Alabama? The Hogs are reeling after another second-half collapse vs. LSU and just 318 total yards in the return of quarterback Austin Allen. AD Jeff Long is already out and there unfortunately doesn’t seem to be much hope for Bret Bielema no matter what the Hogs do, but a bowl game is still in reach.
Top Matchup: Miss St QB Nick Fitzgerald vs. Arkansas LB Dre Greenlaw
SMU (6-4) at #21 Memphis (8-1), Noon on ESPNNews
SMU could easily be an 8-2 football team right now losing the last two games by a combined 10 points. Memphis has rolled SMU the last three years, including winning 51-7 last season. SMU beating ranked Houston last season shows the Ponies can absolutely pull this off. This will be a good battle in the trenches with Memphis protecting Riley Ferguson against SMU’s 26 sacks.
Top matchup: Memphis WR Anthony Miller vs. SMU CB Jordan Wyatt
Kentucky (7-3) at #7 Georgia (9-1), 3:30pm on CBS
Georgia is a 24-point favorite after losing to Auburn last week. The Dawgs were held to 46 rushing yards when they averaged 256 yards per game. Kentucky has gotten the running game going the last three weeks with Benny Snell finding the end zone nine times in the last three games. Auburn showed what you can do if you stop the run and pressure Jake Fromm and Kentucky can follow that formula with its dominant edge rushers, Josh Allen and Denzil Ware, the “Blitz Bros.”
Top Matchup: Georgia OT Isaiah Wynn vs. Kentucky OLB Josh Allen
Navy (6-3) at #8 Notre Dame (8-2), 3:30pm on NBC
Navy pulled it off last year, ending a five-year losing streak. Now the Mids look to start their own series win streak. Brandon Wimbush got benched last week after struggling as a passer. Navy has given Notre Dame some trouble so we’ll see how the Irish respond from the Miami game.
Top Matchup: Notre Dame RB Josh Adams vs. Navy LB Micah Thomas
UAB (7-3) at Florida (3-6), 4pm on SEC Network
Florida went the entire month of October without a win, losing the last five games. There’s no reason why UAB should be in this game when you look at the overall talent comparison but Bill Clark has done an amazing job rejuvenating that program and the Blazers are playing very well. UAB’s dual-threat QB A.J. Erdely could give the Gators some fits. The looming showdown with Florida State will mean very little if Florida doesn’t get past UAB first.
Top Matchup: Florida OT Martez Ivey vs. UAB OLB Shaq Jones
Nebraska (4-6) at #10 Penn State (8-2), 4pm on Fox Sports 1
Penn State is a 26.5-point favorite with Nebraska trying to stay alive for a bowl game and who knows if that’ll be with or without Mike Riley. Tanner Lee is expected to be cleared from concussion protocol but if he’s not, this would be the first career start at QB for Patrick O’Brien on Senior Day in Beaver Stadium. The caveat in this matchup that Penn State should win, is that the Nittany Lions are 0-3 vs. the Huskers since they joined the Big Ten.
Top Matchup: Nebraska WR Stanley Morgan vs. Penn State CB Christian Campbell
Maryland (4-6) at #17 Michigan State (7-3), 4pm on FOX
Ohio State ran for 335 yards on the Spartans last week. Maryland is going to try to emulate that. Don’t expect the Terps to get to 300 but 200 or 250 sounds like a possibility. Maryland has very little threat of a passing game though being down to their fourth QB but a Terps team fighting for bowl eligibility shouldn’t be overlooked.
Top Matchup: Maryland RB Ty Johnson vs. Michigan State LB Joe Bachie
Army (8-3) at North Texas (7-3), 6:30pm
It’s a rematch of last year’s exciting Heart of Dallas Bowl that Army won 38-31 after North Texas had won 35-18 in the regular season. This is the third time in less than two years the two teams will play. North Texas has clinched its spot in the Conference USA Championship Game with an explosive offense while Army has won six straight and doesn’t need to throw the ball to do it. Army also plays really good defense and haven’t allowed a 100-yard rusher in the last two games.
Top Matchup: Army QB Ahmad Bradshaw vs. North Texas S Kishawn McClain
Arizona (7-3) at Oregon (5-5), 7pm on Pac-12 Network
Oregon is expecting to get starting QB Justin Herbert back from his broken collarbone on Sept. 30. That will help the Ducks have a legitimate shot at bowl eligibility. If Herbert can’t go, Braxton Burmeister, who’s a one-time Arizona commit, keeps the reins. Oregon allows just 3.65 yards per carry but is barely in the top 100 in pass defense at 99th. Khalil Tate is a different player to go against but perhaps they’re able to make Tate beat them with his arm?
Top Matchup: Arizona OG Jacob Alsadek vs. Oregon DE Jalen Jelks
California (5-5) at #22 Stanford (7-3), 8pm on FOX
With a win, Stanford would extend its win streak over the Bears to 8 games, which would be the longest in the series history of the “Big Game.” Cal has not been good at stopping the run this season giving up 171 yards per game. Bryce Love is the reigning Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week and needs to keep making his Heisman push playing in primetime this week. If Cal were to upset Stanford, the Apple Cup next week would decide the Pac-12 North.
Top Matchup: Stanford OG David Bright vs. Cal DT James Looney
UCLA (5-5) at #11 USC (9-2), 8pm on ABC
It’s crazy that this is the regular season finale for USC, who doesn’t have a bye week this year until next week, the final week of the regular season. The disadvantage is clear that USC has had to play 12 straight weeks but this does allow the Trojans to have a bye week before the Pac-12 Championship Game. Surprisingly, this is the first matchup between Rosen and Darnold since Rosen missed last year’s game.
Top Matchup: UCLA QB Josh Rosen vs. USC QB Sam Darnold
Air Force (4-6) at #25 Boise State (8-2), 10:15pm on ESPN2
Not only is Air Force playing to stay alive for a bowl game, but the Falcons have beaten Boise State three straight years. This is a big revenge game for Boise and a must-win to stay in the conversation for a New Year’s Six Bowl if the American Athletic slips up. Air Force has run for 309.7 yards per game in the last three years against the Broncos. Can Boise finally overcome the hurdle?
Top Matchup: Boise State WR Cedrick Wilson vs. Air Force CB Marquis Griffin
Utah (5-5) at #18 Washington (8-2), 10:30pm on ESPN
There’s a lot on the line in this game – Utah can secure bowl eligibility while Washington must win to stay alive in the Pac-12 North. Washington is tough to beat at home and hasn’t lost in Seattle yet this season but if Utah can get its turnovers and run the ball, don’t count them out.
Top Matchup: Washington OC Coleman Shelton vs. Utah DT Lowell Lotulelei