#1 MISSISSIPPI STATE at #5 ALABAMA     

Like Ice Cube in his prime, Mississippi State’s band of misfit three-star players have had an unprecedented run of good days recently, but here comes Nick Saban.

It feels like a paradox, but it deserves to be asked. Can the No. 1 team in the nation pull off an upset? Historically, losing to Alabama has always felt like manifest destiny for Mississippi State.

The Bulldogs of Mississippi State last triumphed over Alabama the year before Saban filled the Alabama coaching vacancy. Suffice to say, they have not had much luck. In the seven years since Saban took the wheel of the Bama Death Star, the Crimson Tide lasers have eviscerated Mississippi State by a combined score of 175 to 42. In their last six meetings, Alabama has held Mississippi State to 6.8 ppg, the Crimson Tide are Vegas’ favorite to win the title and their defense has allowed an FBS-low 11 touchdowns.                                                                                                                                                              

The two schools have played on 98 previous occasions, but the game doesn’t have a nickname because it’s never been a rivalry. Alabama’s slaughtered Mississippi State 78 times, lost 17 and tied three times. Kentucky is more of a natural historical rival for Mississippi State than Bama.

Two years ago the 7-0  Bulldogs were heading into an Oct. 28 clash with Bama that was being billed as the biggest matchup in school history. Bama bashed ‘em 38-7.

Conversely, 6-2 Mississippi State's goal line stand to preserve a win over 6-2 Alabama in 1980 is hailed as the biggest win in school history. The latter is the game, Dan Mullen would like to emulate.

Mississippi State’s pass defense is susceptible and while the offense features a Heisman Trophy frontrunner at quarterback, he’s also relatively new to the national stage which leaves us wondering when or if he and Hail State faithful will regress back to the mean. We’ve seen mini-regressions against Kentucky and UT-Martin, especially from Prescott. He has to return to hero mode if he’s going to derail the Crimson Tide’s freight train.

If Mississippi State is going to overpower Alabama, they’ll have to overcome the same odds Craig did against Debo.

Dak Prescott is the wild card.

Prescott is the ultimate archetype for the type of player Alabama has struggled mightily with in recent years.

He’s already done work in Death Valley where Ole Miss failed and Alabama nearly faltered. The Dak Knight will bring his A-Game.

Craig Beat Debo, Mississippi State beats Alabama.

# 9 AUBURN at #15 UGA  

The Prayer at Jordan-Hare was the equivalent of the Boondocks Saints toilet scene. One second UGA had Auburn right where they wanted them. The next, there’s a toilet falling on their heads and their season was circling the drain.

UGA should watch out from above because they have a habit of getting shanked by the football gods. Those defensive backs still ren't very good. Malzahn lived a blessed life until fumbling away last week’s matchup.

It seems Malzahn’s angels were caught clicking back and forth between top 10 matchups as his offense ate a bad roast beef sandwich, caught a case of the football mudbutt and began involuntarily dribbling footballs all over the turf.

UGA was living on borrowed time before the Florida loss. They will be ready for retribution in Todd Gurley’s first game back, but Auburn should be focused instead of crestfallen. There are still New Year’s Day bowl games on the line to play for.

Auburn wins.

 

# 19 CLEMSON at # 22 GEORGIA TECH

There’s no telling how much rust Deshaun Watson will have to shake off in his first game back since breaking his finger four weeks ago. Watson was special since he touched the field, which is remarkable for a true freshman.

After Watson injured his finger against Louisville, the offense slowed by three touchdowns per game from its high of 41 points per game with Watson as the starter. Watson is an offensive steroid

As usual, the Yellow Jackets offense is ripping up the runway. The nation’s No. 1 rushing attack is a one trick pony, but it’s the Secretariat of thoroughbreds. Like any Triple Crown thoroughbred, Paul Johnson’s triple option attack know how to run with the best. Clemson is the glue factory.

Their second-ranked defense is most formidable defending the run, which they rank fourth in the nation defending.

All signs point towards a Clemson win.

 

# 3 FSU at MIAMI (FL.)

If undefeated FSU keeps winning like this, they may not be ranked by December. The Seminoles dropped another spot in the playoff selection committee’s official rankings, this time they plummeted behind one-loss Oregon.

One entity that doesn’t rank FSU very highly is Vegas. The point-shaving accusations aside, the Seminoles are 2-7 against the spread, tied for last in the nation.

Jameis Winston doesn’t have the same running game to relieve the pressure off of him as he did last year, but the biggest dropoff has taken place defensively where they’ve gone from 1st in scoring defense to 32nd.

After a rough start to the season, Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya has better numbers than Winston and in his last five games has thrown 10 touchdowns and just two interceptions.

The son of the actress who played Felicia from Friday leads the ACC in touchdown passes, passing efficiency and in yards per completion.

(Not to sound like Tom Joyner, but while we’re on this Friday tip, Jameis could easily pass for Smokey’s son.)

Like Smokey, Florida State is an ensemble cast, but Famous Jameis, Rick Jameis, Lebron Jameis or Trinidad Jameis or whatever nickname you ascribe to him is the real star of this show.

FSU wins.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#16 NEBRASKA at #20 WISCONSIN

Bring your bucket of paint because Nebraska and Wisconsin are painting the town red on Saturday evening. The first Freedom Trophy will be awarded to one of the Big Ten’s fraternal twins. To the untrained eye, they look visually identical. They're also very similar offfensively. Running backs Melvin Gordon and Ameer Abdullah are the Baylor-TCU of Heisman-caliber running backs. For Gordon and Abdullah, this matchup could determine Heisman supremacy for the tailbacks.

Despite only gaining one yard on six carries before injuring his knee against Perdue, Abdullah and Gordon were neck and neck for the Big Ten rushing crown.

As it stands, Gordon has rushed for 1,501 yards and 19 touchdowns on 7.6 yards per carry.

Abbdullah is trailing by 250 yards, gains an inverse of Gordon’s per rush average (6.7) and 17 touchdowns. However, he does have the run of the year to his credit.

Abdullah will also be facing off against one of the most impervious rushing defenses in the nation.

Wisconsin’s defensive front surrenders the seventh fewest yards per carry in the entire nation (Nebraska is 36th) and is one of eight teams allowing fewer than 100 yards per game.

Their passing defense is also ranked 3rd in yardage allowed per game and fourth in passing touchdowns.

Simply put, they are a Chinese finger trap defensively. Unfortunately, that’s also an apt description for their quarterback situation.

Since Wisconsin benched the Big Ten’s lowest-rated passer, Tanner McEvoy, iunior Joel Stave hasn't fared that much better, but he is coming off of his best performance of the season.

Nebraska's Tommie Armstrong Jr. is a Swiss army knife with a howitzer for an arm and legs that glide through defenses with the sleekness of a downhill skier, the power of a battering ram and the surprising aerodynamics of a torpedo.

Nebraska wins the Freedom Trophy.

# 8 OHIO STATE at # 25 MINNESOTA

The people of Minnesota are a courteous one. Their generosity was extended to Ohio State by the Minnesota, which offered heating equipment to the Buckeyes

David Cobb is the headliner, having eclipsed 1,200 yards already this season and former running back-turned receiver KJ Maye has emerged as a viable change of pace back. Conversely, Ohio State is down a back after hybrid-tailback and receiver Dontre Wilson, the team’sleader in all-purpose yards, broke his foot during the Michigan State win.

After what we saw last weekend, Ohio State can’t screw this up. TCU would prefer Minnesota keep climbing the rankings and get the Buckeyes off of every one in the top four’s heels. This game isn’t easy as cake, but the Buckeyes shouldn’t drop this game. Pray to God they don’t drop it.