The College Football Playoff Committee has now set the blueprint for different teams to make their way into the 4-team playoff for the national championship. This week is crucial for teams like BYU, Florida, Texas A&M and others to make a case for that final spot.
This week, we are breaking down and predicting the most intriguing matchups this Saturday.
3 Clemson @ Virginia Tech
Game Time: 7:30PM EST
Venue: Lane Stadium - Blacksburg, VA
Spread: Clemson -22.5
Clemson comes into Saturday's game coming off of a 52-17 blowout of Pittsburgh in Trevor Lawrence's return to action. In contrast, Virginia Tech is coming off of an embarrassing 47-14 blowout loss at the hands of Pittsburgh two weeks ago. Clemson is a good team with backup QB DJ Uiagalelei, but this is probably the best team in the country with Trevor Lawrence running the offense. Clemson, without Lawrence, beat Boston College but lost to then 3rd ranked Notre Dame in overtime. Lawrence and RB Travis Etienne will look to improve their Heisman campaigns on Saturday. Virginia Tech is a middle of the pack team this year as they have had some bad losses and some good wins. The Hokies have gone 2-5 in their last seven games with wins over Boston College and Louisville. On Saturday, Virginia Tech will look to try and at least cover the spread in this game, but I do not see that coming to fruition. Anticipate the Tigers to be leading by three or four touchdowns by halftime and Uiagalelei to be playing by the 3rd quarter.
Prediction: 52-14 Clemson
12 Indiana @ 16 Wisconsin
Game Time: 3:30PM EST
Venue: Camp Randall Stadium - Madison, WI
Spread: Wisconsin -14
These two teams have each had their fair share of troubles throughout the year with Wisconsin's outbreak after the first week of the season and Indiana's star QB, Michael Penix Jr., tearing his ACL this past week. Wisconsin is heading into this week coming off a disappointing loss against a ranked Northwestern team who held the Badger offense to only seven points. QB Graham Mertz will look to cut down on the freshman mistakes against another ranked team after his three interception, one fumble game against Northwestern. For Wisconsin to beat Indiana on Saturday, Mertz and the offensive line will need to play better. For Indiana, they have lost their best player in Penix and will look to the run game to make up some of the difference. QB Jack Tuttle is a good backup and will look to continue an impressive campaign from Penix. I expect this game to be a low-scoring battle with tons of defense. I believe Indiana wins this game even without Penix and Wisconsin will fall to another Top-25 team.
Prediction: 23-17 Indiana
West Virginia @ 9 Iowa State
Game Time: 3:30PM EST
Venue: Jack Trice Stadium - Ames, IA
Spread: Iowa State -6.5
Iowa State is headed into this game with a program-changing win in Austin last Friday where they took down Texas, 23-20. This Saturday is Senior Day for QB Brock Purdy and some other starters so they will be looking to get one more win in Jack Trice Stadium. The Cyclones are on a four-game winning streak and will look to lock up a Big XII Championship Game spot by winning their last two games. The West Virginia Mountaineers are coming off of a commanding bounce-back win against TCU last week after a heartbreaking loss to Texas the week before. West Virginia has the best defense in the Big XII which is impressive as the conference boasts multiple formidable defenses such as Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Their defense has only allowed 274 total yards of offense per game and has held opponents to roughly 17 points per game. The key for both of these teams is to get their run game going because both teams have exceptional running backs. Both Leddie Brown for WVU and Breece Hall for ISU will need to get at least 100 rushing yards to give their team a chance to win. I believe this is a trap game for the Cyclones as they are looking ahead to the rest of their schedule and won't be prepared for WVU's defence.
Prediction: 24-20 West Virginia
13 BYU @ 18 Costal Carolina
Game time: 5:30pm EST
Venue: Brooks Stadium - Conway, SC
Line: BYU -10
BYU Finally have their chance. They feel as if they have been neglected by the committee and a win over a top 20 team on their record will help their playoff case tremendously. However, this will not be easy for them. Costal Carolina has been on a hot streak of their own and if they want to knock off BYU they have to continue to be amazing on third downs and limit turnovers. Costal leads the Sunbelt conference in turnover margin, so keeping control of the offensive and defensive lines are a must. BYU on the other hand, has not missed a beat all season long. They need to continue their incredible passing attack and come up with at least one big play a half. I believe in the BYU defense to get much needed stops, but Costal will still put up points. BYU's QB, Zach Wilson, will need to be excellent - like he has all season - for BYU to walk out of Conway with another W.
Prediction: 34-28 BYU
1 Alabama @ LSU
Game time: 8:00pm EST
Venue: Tiger Stadium - Baton Rouge, LA
Line: Alabama -29.5
Nothing like a good ol' southern rivalry. This year's LSU - Bama game will look a tiny bit different than years past. It has been no secret that LSU has been disappointing this year, but can they bring it together for one week against a very good Alabama squad? Only time will tell, but we do know that they are a dangerous team. Although they have an underwhelming record, they still have plenty of talent on both sides of the ball. For Alabama, its a simple gameplay. They just need to keep doing the same thing they have been doing all season long. Yes, LSU would have to play out of their minds, but they will also have to take advantage of Alabama mishaps and hiccups. We have seen in years past, Alabama tends to struggle on the road against talented teams with mediocre records. There is nothing more LSU would want than to ruin a Crimson Tide shot at the National Championship. Will LSU do that? Probably not, but it's not impossible.
Prediction: 42-21 Alabama
6 Florida @ Tennessee
Game time: 3:30pm EST
Venue: Neyland Stadium - Knoxville, TN
Line: -17.5 Florida
Like I have said previously, Florida needs to be clean this week. At this point it is a must for them to pass the eye test. A comfortable win against Tennessee will help their case heading into the post-season. We can't forget about Tennessee, though. This was a highly touted team with plenty of talent to go around. Much like the LSU vs Alabama game, this has major upset potential. Tennessee has to be perfect to pull it off, though. I believe they are capable of it, they just have not shown it yet. For Florida, they need Kyle Trask to play like the Heisman candidate he is. If he can do that and if Florida can get a few takeaways on defense, this should be a good win for the Gators.
Prediction: 35-21 Florida
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