With three weeks in the books, we are starting to get an idea of who will be in the playoff conversation come November. Most people will agree that Alabama and Clemson will be in the conversation again, but there are a few surprise teams who have looked sharp thus far. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State have asserted themselves as contenders, and Penn State will most likely contend for another Big 10 championship.
Game of The Week
#16 TCU at #6 Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph will lead his team to battle at home against a solid TCU squad in what is one of the biggest Big 12 games of the year. Rudolph torched the Pitt defense last week for 497 yards and 5 touchdowns in an almost perfect performance. The Cowboys high-powered offense, which is averaging 54 points per game, will be met by a TCU defense that only gives up 14 points per game. However, TCU looked vulnerable at times last week against SMU, giving up 36 points. If the Frogs want to pull off the upset in Stillwater they will have to clean up the mistakes from last week and play their best game of the season. Kenny Hill will need to avoid mistakes and command the offense. I believe this will be a close game through the third quarter, but the Pokes pull away in the fourth and win 52-35.
NC State at #12 Florida State
Florida State returns to action this week for the first time since opening in Atlanta against Alabama. The Noles will host an NC State team that many people had as a dark horse pick in the ACC. The Wolf Pack dropped their opener to South Carolina, but have won both their games since. NC State is struggling to move the ball on the ground, and a stout Florida State defense will make life difficult for Ryan Finley and company. With so much time off the Noles should come into this game well rested and ready to play. The FSU offense will play without quarterback Deandre Francois, so I expect Jimbo Fisher to keep things simple and let his defense spur the Noles to victory. This game will stay closer than most think, but Florida State pulls out the victory at home 21-13.
#17 Mississippi State at #11 Georgia
Mississippi State is coming off an impressive performance, beating LSU 37-7 at home last weekend. This weekend's game at Georgia is their shot to prove that they will compete with Alabama for the SEC West crown. Georgia has a solid win over Notre Dame in South Bend, but Georgia hasn't been too impressive so far. The offense has struggled so far and leans heavily on the run game to carry the load. Mississippi State has a nasty front seven that held LSU to just 133 yards on the ground. Nick Fitzgerald presents a huge challenge for the Georgia defense as a dual-threat quarterback. I just don't see Georgia having enough offensive firepower to keep up with Mississippi State. Georgia falls 35-20.
#20 Florida at Kentucky
Florida has beaten Kentucky THIRTY times in a row. THIRTY. That streak ends on Saturday. This game will be a defensive slugfest, and I believe the home field advantage will lift the Wildcats to victory. Kentucky will miss their defensive leader Jordan Jones to injury, so the Wildcats will need someone to step up and fill some big shoes. Florida will most likely be missing some players, such as Antonio Calloway, to suspension still. Don't expect much offense if you tune into this game. The average football fan will find this game "boring" because of that, but I know I'll enjoy this one. Kentucky wins 20-17.
#7 Washington at Colorado
Last year, Colorado surprised everyone on their way to a Pac-12 Championship appearance where they were handled by a superior Washington squad. But the Buffs will come into this home game with revenge on their mind. Colorado knows they are better than the 41-10 drumming they received at the paws of the Huskies last year. Colorado sports a solid defense that only allows 9 points per game. The Huskies returned a solid team from last years playoff squad, and I expect that they will be able to pull out a win in this one. If Colorado can protect quarterback Steven Montez this game will be close entering the fourth quarter, but Washington has too much depth for the Buffs to handle. Huskies win 28-17.