Week 5 gave us a Friday night statement win in Pullman and a Saturday night disaster in Death Valley, but for the most part we saw the top dogs take care of business.
This week, conference match-ups continue to heat up and we’ll be looking at three of those games. LSU travels to Gainesville in a must-win situation, College Gameday heads to Fort Worth for another chance to see how legit TCU is and Thursday night we get an ACC battle down in Raleigh! Enjoy another great weekend of college football.
No. 17 Louisville at No. 24 NC State, 8 p.m. (ESPN); UL -3.5
Question: Is NC State for real?
Four straight wins by the NC State Wolfpack brought them back into the Top 25 and they’ll have their hands full when they get defending Heisman trophy winner Lamar Jackson’s Louisville Cardinal Thursday night in Raleigh. The matchup marks the first time since 2000 two ranked teams square up on the Wolfpack’s home turf. NC State will be looking for some payback after a 54-13 loss last season at Louisville.
Jackson will have a solid opponent under center in Wolfpack quarterback Ryan Finley. Finley has yet to throw a pick in 192 attempts this year and has thrown for 1,403 yards and nine touchdowns. Jackson leads an offense that got back on track with 676 yards in a 55-10 rout of Murray State last weekend. He’s a threat to any defense, and NC State defensive end Bradley Chubb will be tasked with helping contain the Louisville star. Chubb leads the ACC with 12 tackles for loss.
Expect a back-and-forth game with Jackson being the key in the second half. Chubb and the Wolfpack defense will be able to get some pressure on the Cardinals backfield but Coach Bobby Petrino is great game plan adjuster so look for Louisville to pull this one out in the fourth quarter.
LSU at No. 21 Florida, 3:30 p.m. (CBS); UF -3.0
Question: Can LSU get back on track?
Two teams that had very different expectations in early September meet in this critical SEC matchup in Gainesville. The Florida Gators had to deal with nine suspensions, a redshirt freshman quarterback, a hurricane and a season-opening loss to Michigan. Yet with all the chips stacked against them, Florida has won three straight. LSU, on the other hand, had great expectations heading into the season with head Coach Ed Orgeron and new offensive coordinator Matt Canada being brought in to reinvigorate an offense that had lacked creativity the last few seasons. They’ve responded with a blowout loss to Mississippi State 37-7 and a home loss to Troy 24-21 last weekend to drop to 3-2.
The Gators will be going back to quarterback Feleipe Franks after losing Luke Del Rio to a broken collarbone in last week’s win against Vanderbilt. Franks started the first three games for the Gators so he has some experience and played decently well against the Commodores after Del Rio went down. Unfortunately he’ll be missing his biggest target, wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland, who will probably be out with a sprained ankle. Florida’s defense is going to have to control the game and give the young offense opportunities with a short field.
LSU needs a spark and they are running out of time as the boo birds were back in Baton Rouge last weekend. Quarterback Danny Etling was replaced last week by freshman Myles Brennan, but Coach Orgeron said he’s sticking with Etling. It also looks like star running back Derrius Guice will be back to hopefully give the Tigers that needed spark.
This is a tough one to predict. LSU has recruited well the past few years but that killer instinct defensively seems to be missing this season. Florida has jumped over several hurdles this season and I expect them to get over another this week at home. LSU will hopefully be able to regroup after a devastating home loss, but Florida has been facing adversity all season and the Gators will get the W in a defensive battle.
No. 23 West Virginia at No. 8 TCU, 3:30 p.m. (FS1); TCU -13
Prediction: Horned Frogs show they’re for real
Saturday afternoon in Fort Worth will be a must watch when the West Virginia Mountaineers come to town with their explosive offense and take on the Horned Frogs. West Virginia ranks second nationally in total offense but TCU isn’t far behind at 17th. Both teams were not picked to be at the top of the Big 12, but entering Week 6 each team is looking for a statement win in the conference. The Horned Frogs shocked the Big 12 with their thorough win over Oklahoma State two weeks ago and now get a chance to show the country they’re for real.
We’ll get a battle of two very effective quarterbacks in WVU’s Will Grier and TCU’s Kenny Hill. Grier has put up impressive numbers through four games with 1,347 passing yards to go along with 13 touchdowns and only three interceptions. Hill has also had a great start, and with the league’s top running offense he’s been able to better manage games without all the pressure on his arm. TCU running back Darius Anderson had a big week against the Cowboys and will again be looked to against what’s looked like a suspect Mountaineer run defense. TCU lost in Morgantown 34-10 last year, so you have to think the Horned Frogs haven’t forgotten their worst loss since joining the Big 12.
Expect a fireworks show in the first half and a much tighter second half especially with some adjustments by the Horned Frogs’ defense. TCU showed in Stillwater their ability to baffle Mason Rudolph, and Coach Gary Patterson will again look to limit the opportunities for another prolific offense Saturday afternoon. TCU will cover this one and tighten their grip on the conference.
Enjoy another exciting week!
Other Saturday games of note:
Maryland at No. 10 Ohio State, 4 p.m. (FOX); OSU -30.5
No. 1 Alabama at Texas A&M, 7:15 p.m. (ESPN); ALA -26.5
No. 11 Washington State at Oregon, 8 p.m. (FOX); WSU -3.0