As we embark on what promises to be another great weekend of college football action, here’s a guide to games you don’t want to miss.
#9 Tennessee vs #8 Texas A&M, Saturday, 3:30PM EST on CBS
The Aggies (5-0, 3-0 in conference) have bounced back into the national spotlight for the first time since Johnny Football was working his Heisman Trophy-winning magic in College Station. Their exceptional defensive end Myles Garrett, who is projected to be the #1 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, sat out last week’s win over South Carolina with injuries. They’ll need him to be back and in full effect in this matchup against the Volunteers (5-0, 2-0 in conference).
Garrett is, far and away, the best and most impactful player on the defensive side of the ball in the college game today. His combination of power, strength, speed and finesse has offensive linemen more flummoxed than Donald Trump speaking about foreign policy on the campaign trail. He’s instinctual and tenacious, with a first step that is more explosive than a Rambo or Die Hard movie. When you combine that with his next-level closing speed, you have the makings of a soon-to-be NFL All-Pro.
Tennessee’s borderline personality disorder is comparable to Annie Wilkes in Misery. They’ve been behind by wide margins in four of their first five games and needed overtime to beat Appalachian State. They needed a Hail Mary to beat Georgia 34-31 on the final play last week and prior to that, they had to climb out of an 18-point hole to beat Florida 38-28.
The Volunteers money-maker is quarterback Joshua Dobbs, who has led his team to 11 consecutive victories dating back to the end of last season.
“This is a team that on paper if you don’t watch it you’ll say they’ve gotten lucky,” A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin told the media this week. “They haven’t gotten lucky. They have a veteran quarterback that is No. 1 in this league in points responsible for, whether he’s throwing it, whether he’s running it, whatever he’s doing, he’s the No. 1 guy creating those points in this league. That No. 1 gives you a chance to win these types of games. He’s been through it before.”
Dobbs is sick like the flu when he escapes the pocket. Last year, he ran for 11 touchdowns, and if you have not seen the Senior QB in action over the last three years, as the Korean grocer told Old Dog in Menace to Society, “I feel sorry for your mother!”
He’s rushed for 267 yards and five touchdowns, along with passing for 13 more scores and 1,035 yards in five games this year. His passing ability is very underrated. Just peep him fitting the rock into some tightly closing spaces and the NFL-caliber zip he puts on the deep-out route.
A&M’s quarterback, Oklahoma transfer Trevor Knight, brings a certain swag of his own into the game and helms an offensive attack that is averaging over 520 yards per game. Also keep your eyes on their freshman running back Trayveon Williams, who’s been chewing up defenses like JaMarcus Russell at an all you can eat buffet.
The Aggies are looking to go 6-0 for the first time since 1994.
#1 Alabama vs #16 Arkansas, Saturday, 7:00PM EST, ESPN
The Crimson Tide (5-0, 2-0 in conference) will now have to prove that they’re ready to defend last year’s national championship with this weekend’s trip to Fayetteville. Arkansas (4-1, 0-1 in conference), whose fans have been re-energized by the play of new starting quarterback Austin Allen, have a balanced offensive attack. Rawleigh Williams is averaging 112 yards per game rushing as his teammate Devwah Whaley adds a rotund 6.7 yards per carry to the running game mix.
Allen has been completing close to 70% of his passes, with plenty of weapons at his disposal. The deep threat is Keon Hatcher, who’s averaging 20+ yards per catch. Jared Cornelius has four touchdown grabs, wideout Drew Morgan has 28 receptions, and tight end Jeremy Sprinkle is also an attractive target.
But the Razorbacks better be ready to do some serious pass protecting, as that vicious Alabama defense sacks quarterbacks faster than Kevin Hart drops a new movie. Thus far, in five games, they’ve crumpled the opposing signal caller 17 teams.
Remember those days of Nick Saban winning with QB’s that were merely game-managers, depending on a bruising running attack and historically great defenses? Well those days have faded into obscurity faster than the disappearance of MIMS.
The Tide’s true freshman QB Jalen Hurts has initiated a paradigm shift in terms of what defenses have to prepare for when facing Alabama. He runs a spread offense that takes advantage of his multiplicity of skills. In their 52-6 thrashing of USC in the season opener, he threw two touchdown passes and ran for two more scores. Against Western Kentucky, he completed 64% of his throws for 287 yards and two TD’s.
In the Tide’s closest game of the year, a 48-43 win over Ole Miss, he was electric on his feet, rushing for 146 yards. Last week against Kentucky, he passed for 262 yards and two more scores. The true freshman, who some thought would spend the year as a redshirt on the scout team, has connected on 62% of his passes with seven touchdowns against only one interception in 135 attempts.
With the reigning Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry cashing NFL checks, the ground-game wealth is being spread out evenly, with Hurts rushing for 276 yards, running back Damien Harris gaining 356 and his backfield mate Joshua Jacobs copping 250.
Hurts’ go-to guy is wide receiver Calvin Ridley, who has 35 catches for 398 yards and three touchdowns.
Arkansas has a chance to do some damage to Alabama’s title hopes. But they better bring their A-game if they don’t plan on getting hurt, pun intended.
#23 Florida State vs #10 Miami, Saturday, 8:00 PM EST
With Florida State (3-2, 0-2 in conference) being blown out by Louisville and losing on a last-second field goal to North Carolina, some of their luster has faded. But this game still promises to be a Gold Medal winner, with Miami (4-0, 1-0 in conference) yearning to become relevant in the national scope once again.
Hurricanes junior quarterback Brad Kaaya is hitting 66.3 percent of his pass attempts. In last week’s 35-21 win over Georgia Tech, he passed for 241 yards.
Florida State is coming into the rivalry game with more problems than DMX. That 63-20 mud-hole that Louisville stomped into their hind parts had to be psychologically damaging, as was the 37-35 letdown against the Tar Heels. For a team that walked into the year with Playoff aspirations, their season is hanging by a thread, one that Miami would love to clip.
Florida State’s defense is giving it up like Paris Hilton, with opposing teams running up an average of 35 points and 438 yards a game in total offense. When they have the ball, running back Dalvin Cook is still among the nation’s best. As the team is struggling for its identity, he’s begun to sparkle.
Against South Florida two weeks ago, Cook ran for two touchdowns, averaged 9.5 yards per carry and gained 267 yards on the ground, in addition to catching four passes for 62 yards. Last week against UNC, he rushed for 140 yards and three scores, along with catching six passes for 106 yards.
And the quarterback position in Tallahassee seems to be in exceptional hands for the foreseeable future with redshirt freshman Deondre Francios. In his first college game ever, he threw for 419 yards and two touchdowns in the Seminoles 45-34 win over Ole Miss. Last week, he completed 63% of his passes against North Carolina for 372 yards.
Is Miami ready for prime time? Is Florida State ready to prove that the decapitation that Louisville administered was an anomaly? We’ll soon find out.
Best of the Rest:
#6 Houston vs Navy: If Houston was playing Sojourner Douglass College, I’d still tune in to see the electrifying Greg Ward, Jr. run the Cougars explosive offense. Navy’s Triple-Offense always excites.
Texas vs #20 Oklahoma: Red River Rivalry. Enough said! The Longhorns are fighting for Charlie Strong’s job, but won’t hold onto it with a defense that’s stinkier than Gator on a bender.
#25 Virginia Tech vs #17 North Carolina: UNC is on a four-game winning streak since losing the opener to Georgia Tech. New Hokies coach Justin Fuente has installed a high-powered offense in Blacksburg.
#3 Clemson vs Boston College: Deshaun Watson!!!
Indiana vs #2 Ohio State: The Buckeyes have been dominant, averaging 57 points per game. QB J.T. Barrett’s numbers are insane, and freshman running back Mike Weber is averaging a Big Ten-best 123.8 yards per game on the ground. They also boast one of the best defenses in the country and have not allowed a rushing touchdown all year. The Hoosiers are coming off of their biggest win in recent history, a 24-21 shocker over Michigan State.
#5 Washington vs Oregon: The Huskies are fo’real!