#7 Georgia at Georgia Tech “Clean Old Fashioned Hate”
The 12:00 PM slate starts off with a battle for supremacy in Georgia. The historic rivalry, AKA Clean Old Fashioned Hate, pits the number seven ranked Bulldogs and against the Yellow Jackets. Georgia leads the all-time series, 65-41-5, but Georgia Tech comes in having won 2 of the last 3 matchups. The bulldogs, who were at one time in the season ranked number one in the country, enter the contest as 11.5 point favorites. Traditionally, these teams have played each other close regardless of where they have been ranked. Two of last four matchups have gone to overtime. In fact, their last two meetings have been decided by a total of 8 points. However, a blind look at these team’s resumes would spell trouble for Georgia Tech.
Georgia Tech has let up 100+ rushing yards to pretty much every quality back they have faced including Travis Homer (Miami), John Kelly (Tennessee), and Brittain Brown (Duke). Coming off a 23-point loss in which the let up 319 rushing yards against Duke, the Yellow jackets will face a Georgia backfield that may be the best in the country. Georgia Tech simply will not be able to contain the stable of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel (plus Elijah Holyfield and DeAndre Swift). If I were a betting man I would put money on the Bulldogs covering the spread. The only glimmer of hope for Georgia Tech is the unorthodox nature of their triple option offense. Quarterback, Taquon Marshall has had success running the ball all year, and it is difficult for opposing defenses to prepare for. That being said the only team that has been able to successfully run the ball in any capacity against the bulldogs vaunted defense was number 6 ranked Auburn. In comparison, number 8 ranked Notre Dame ,who boast a dual threat quarterback in Brandon Wimbush and a one-time Hesiman candidate running back Josh Adams, rushed for only 55 yards total against Georgia. Georgia Tech’s Taquon Marshall is not a passer, so if the run game is not established, it will be a long day for the Yellow Jackets. Therefore, I am comfortably picking the ‘Dawgz.
#9 Ohio State at Michigan “The Game”
In the most interesting game of the 12:00 PM slate, Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes take on Jim Harbaugh’s Wolverines. Two of the best programs in the country, led by two of the nation’s best coaches, will square off in Ann Arbor Saturday. Historically this has been a tightly contested matchup. Michigan leads the all-time 58-48-6 series. But Ohio State has won the last 5 meetings. Vegas is forecasting another Buckeyes victory, favoring them by 12 points. Last year this game acted essentially as a college football playoff eliminator. This year, the game carries less implications, but still may end up being significant. Both the Buckeyes and the Wolverines have regressed since last year. However, the outcome may still carry weight for Ohio State.
Much has been made of these teams being in “down years”. Lest we forget, Ohio State is 9-2 and Michigan is 8-3. Michigan was down to their third string quarterback when they took on Wisconsin last Saturday, and has still managed a solid season. People seem to have forgotten that this team was undefeated until starter Wilton Speight’s injury. All three of the Wolverines’ losses have come with backup John O’ Korn at the helm. As a result they introduced third stringer, Brandon Peters. Peters has looked better than O’Korn and led Michigan to 3 straight decisive wins. In addition, he actually had the offense looking decent against undefeated Wisconsin, until a concussion knocked him out of the game. With Peters still in concussion protocol, things are looking bleak in Ann Arbor. If O’Korn is the starter I would not expect much from the Wolverines’ offense. However there have been rumblings Wilton Speight could return.
Ohio State on the other hand still has a minute shot at a playoff berth. Yet the only available pathway is no cakewalk. Any remaining hopes would surely be contingent on defeating Michigan and winning the Big Ten Championship game over Wisconsin. This Ohio State team is not nearly as imposing as squads from the years pasts. Although at times they have looked like the powerhouse they typically are. An amazing comeback against the presumptive next best team in the conference, Penn State, had many believing they were playoff destined. Additionally, a manhandling of then #12 ranked Michigan State , 48-3, comes to mind when speaking of their dominance. Thus many hold that the Buckeyes are still likely the class of the conference. It is easy to forget that they took absolute beating on the road at Iowa losing 55-24. Similarly, they looked outclassed earlier in the season against Oklahoma. A hard fought game against rivals Michigan certainly is not unthinkable.
This year has undeniably been an up and down one for Urban Meyer’s men. Nevertheless, in a must win situation for Ohio State, I expect them to come out guns blazing and likely cover the spread on their way to victory. Especially if John O’Korn is the starter, Michigan’s anemic offense will not be able to keep up with the Buckeyes. If Wilton Speight returns for the Wolverines, we could be looking at a different story.
Other Games Worth Watching:
Louisville at Kentucky “The Governor’s Cup”
Kentucky leads the all time series 15-14. But both teams have had a decent seasons, and managed 7-4 records. On one hand, Louisville and reigning Heisman winner, Lamar Jackson, will be disappointed to find themselves out of the top 25 and nowhere near the CFP at this point in season. After last season, where Jackson dazzled and the Cardinals went 9-3, Many had assumed they would be in the playoff discussion this year. Back to back losses against NC State and Louisville put an end to that conversation. Nevertheless, Jackson has managed to put together another Heisman worthy season. Kentucky, on the other hand, has pleasantly surprised some by going 7-4. Sophomore stud running back, Benny Snell Jr., has been a workhorse for the wildcats, and a major part of their success. Moreover, this is a Kentucky team that pulled off the upset against Louisville last year. Both teams will be looking to finish the regular season strong, and hopefully sneak into the top 25 with a win. This is probably the toughest game of the day to call.
Florida State at Florida “Sunshine Showdown”
If this game were played at the beginning of the season, it would have been billed as one of the biggest games of the year. However, a nightmare season for both of the states usual powerhouse programs make this game perhaps the most irrelevant Sunshine Showdown of all time. Both teams have a ton of talent, as evidenced by their preseason rankings. But issues of quarterback play have plagued both squads throughout the year. For Florida State, starter Deandre Francois’s injury ended all hopes of national title. A roster among the top 3 most talented in the nation has underperformed in his absence, with freshman James Blackman taking over as the starter. Meanwhile, Florida has never found a true starting quarterback, and the offense has consequently been virtually nonexistent. A top notch defense can almost be counted on to score more than the Gator’s offense. Yet even the defense has struggled as the season has progressed. The unfair axing of coach Jim McElwain has also not helped as the Gators still lack direction. Fond memories of this matchup may be clouding judgement, but I still need to watch the Sunshine Showdown. Both teams have been garbage this year at 4-6, but the Seminoles have looked better the past 3 games. Florida State should be the favorite, simply because they are less bad. (Eloquent analysis by me there)