By Reid McEowen
This week of college football might be the most telling week for the final four teams. In a season where several schools remain undefeated, others have the chance to bolster their resumé as we hit the halfway mark in the regular season. These are my top four teams in the nation, and my spiel on what the upcoming week means for their future and possible College Football Playoff berth.
No. 4 – Clemson Tigers
Clemson finally proved to be a top-four team this past Saturday with a 63-3 win on the road against Wake Forest. However, I continue to have questions for the Tiger’s true-freshman quarterback, Trevor Lawrence. He’s struggling to prove that he can rack up yards and really test opponent’s secondary. Lawrence had an efficient game against the Demon Deacons, with two touchdowns, but didn’t fill the stat sheet- only passing for 175 yards. The difference between the Tigers and the other teams in front of them, is the fact that their passing game takes a backseat to their rushing attack. Clemson had three running backs over 100 yards rushing, and they combined for a total of 471 rushing yards with six rushing touchdowns. Clemson obliviously wasn’t tested too much, but they did show they can blow out opponents. This next week is a bye for the Tigers, and they get to spend their time preparing for their toughest game of the year- a home tilt with undefeated North Carolina State next Saturday. The Wolf Pack is the only ranked team Clemson is currently scheduled to play, and they need prove that they are head-and-shoulders better than any other team in the ACC for me to keep them in the top-four over Notre Dame.
No. 3 – Georgia Bulldogs
The Bulldogs will now enter their toughest stretch of the season with a game on the road against No. 13 LSU. Georgia beat down on Vanderbilt last Saturday, but the LSU had a blemish on its perfect record with a loss to now No. 14 Florida. This game will be a battle of under-preforming quarterbacks. Both Georgia’s Jake Fromm and LSU’s Joe Burrow have been underwhelming. Fromm is the better quarterback on paper- with twice as many passing touchdowns- but this will be the first real defense the Bulldogs play. I would like to see Georgia defense stop the dominate Tiger’s running back, Nick Brossette. The senior running back has 576 yards on the season, and has been the main source of scoring with eight rushing touchdowns this year. Look for the Tigers speedy secondary to make Fromm think and try to confuse the true sophomore. I do think the Bulldogs will be able to pull this one out and it will be a huge confidence booster for Georgia as their next four games will be played against currently-ranked opponents.
No. 2 – Ohio State Buckeyes
The Buckeyes got off to a slow start last Saturday against the Indiana Hoosiers, but on the final whistle, Ohio State won 49-26. With 455 yards of passing and 6 passing touchdowns, sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins continues to prove that he is one of the top quarterbacks in college football. The Buckeyes hope to continue their Playoff campaign as they host Minnesota Golden Gophers. I expect Ohio State backup quarterback Tate Martell get a lot of playing time this Saturday- the Gophers shouldn’t be a test for the Buckeyes. Ohio State should be able to rest up with most of their big games behind them. The Buckeyes have one last big game this season against “the team up north.” The one-loss No. 12 Michigan Wolverines are hoping to break the Buckeyes win streak in their rivalry series at the end of the season. Talented Defensive End, Nick Bosa, has been out for two weeks and is expected to make his return next week for Ohio State, as it looks to get to full strength by the end of the season.
No. 1 – Alabama Crimson Tide
I feel kind of repetitive at this point ranking Alabama at the top again, and I’m almost begging Missouri to shock the world and take down head coach Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide. But with the Tigers at 28-point underdogs, I don’t see that happening. I fully expect Alabama to absolutely demolish Mizzou. I expect sophomore quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to continue his dominating play and with a weak Tiger secondary; I could see the Sophomore having over 400 yards passing if he plays the whole game. Missouri senior quarterback Drew Lock will do everything in his power to rally his offense in hopes of keeping the game close. Lock has eleven passing touchdowns on the season, and can hope to make a late push for the Heisman Trophy with a big performance this Saturday. If the Tigers are somehow able to pull out the win, I could see this having a similar affect for Lock as it did when Heisman trophy winner Johnny Manziel went into Tuscaloosa and les Texas A&M to a win against Alabama in Oct. 2012. Lock is not as flashy as “Money Manziel”, but he does have the talent to make things interesting. With that being said, I think it’s more wishful thinking from me than an actual belief. I don’t see the Crimson Tide dropping this one.
Edited by Garrett Jones | firstname.lastname@example.org