In a game of 21, when a player finally hits that magic number, there is a phrase anyone who has played pick-up ball knows to utter. You stare down the supposed winner and challenge him by throwing down a “prove it.” It is the precise scenario happening in college football this weekend.
The schedule is rolling out some real challenges and finding out if teams that LOOK good ARE good. We think that previous games have given us an idea of which teams are studs or duds. But now, there is an actual body of work to help inform opinions and some real opponents.
Time for the rubber to hit the road.
The Hipster Classic (A Game Only College Football Psychos Could Love) – Baylor Bears vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys
Both these teams somehow find themselves 4-0 (is this an alternate reality?); a win here could start to transform one of these squads into an actual contender to challenge a shakey Oklahoma Sooners squad.
Despite the home advantage, Bayler enters the game with the better offense. The Bears average over 42 points per game and rank 17th in yards each outing. Gerry Bohanon is guiding the Baylor offense to some of its former electricity.
The Pick – Baylor +3.5
The Car Crash (A Disaster, But You Can’t Look Away) – Auburn Tigers vs. LSU Tigers
A brutal clash on the road with Penn State made Auburn look like a real contender in the SEC. Then, the Tigers almost lost at home to Georgia State.
On the other hand, the much-maligned LSU squad seemingly watched the season screech to a halt in week one. Since then, LSU’s offense has been flying, averaging 37 points each weekend, outscoring opponents 111-53. The Bayou Boys are not beating SEC, I grant you, but Auburn almost choked against Georgia State, so there is something to be said for taking care of business.
Expect the home team to punch Auburn in the mouth with a quick start and a blur of a scoring machine. And look out for a sneaky good LSU front seven (helping LSU to a nation-leading 18 sacks) to make a difference.
The Pick – LSU -3.5
A Pleasant Surprise (You Did Not Anticipate Enjoying This Game So Much) – Ole Miss Rebels vs. Alabama Crimson Tide
Last year, two teams gave Alabama real problems. Just two teams kept up with the Tide’s offense and looked unhindered by the defense. No, it was not Ohio State. Or Georgia. Not Notre Dame or Auburn.
Florida and Ole Miss took chunks of yards out of Alabama’s defense and had the team on the ropes. And as if history was gunning for Deja Vu, Florida already played within a field goal of Alabama. Now, Matt Corral and Lane Kiffin are back and looking for another pound of flesh.
According to Odds Shark, both Corral and Bryce Young are neck in neck for the trophy, and this could be the win that one points to as the reason to raise the hardware.
Look for the savvy vet to pull a few tricks out of his hat, unintimidated by the massive stage.
The Pick – Ole Miss +14
A Solid Second Horse (Missed First Place By Just That Much) – Cinncinati Bearcats vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Notre Dame refuses to play a boring game, or a consistent game, or even a predictable game. The Irish have enough talent to make insane plays and break opponents but enough flaws to keep from truly slamming the door on competitors.
The Bearcats have proven they can weather the storm and will not let the moment shake their resolve. Desmond Ridder is unflappable, and the secondary undaunted by challengers. The darlings of college football’s non-power five stay perfect.
The Pick – Cinncinati -2
The Title Fight (Aka The Game Of The Week) – Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Georgia Bulldogs
It seems like this Georgia team might finally have the gumption to contend with Alabama. The defense is allowing just 5.8 points per game, and ever since a slow start against Clemson, the Bulldogs have scored 40 or more points each week.
Because of the injury to quarterback KJ Jefferson, it could be easy to devalue a victory. But a dominant win over a stingy Razorback defense would still validate Georgia’s case for the SEC.
But it won’t be a walk in the park against the 12th ranked total defense. And that defense lives in the backfield with 32 tackles for loss. Even with an injured Jefferson, this game can help Georgia prove they are for real. The early morning collision is a massive game for JT Daniels and company.
The Pick – Arkansas +17.5