CFB: 3 GAMES TO WATCH ON SATURDAY OF WEEK 13
By Rory Daniels
With the College Football slate spread across two days this week, we have our second part of ‘Games to Watch’. Saturday really puts the rivalry in Rivalry Week! Not only that but it could give us a clearer playoff picture come Monday.
Early Game - Ohio State @ Michigan
The Big 10’s spot in the final four likely rests on the outcome of this game. The winner heads to the Big-10 Championship game and leapfrogs the other in the College Football rankings. If that’s not tasty enough, it comes when the Michigan program is under the intense pressure of a looming NCAA investigation over sign-stealing. Oh, and Ryan Day, the Ohio State coach, needs to reverse the two-game losing streak he is on against the Wolverines.
What a way to kick off Rivalry Saturday eh! Both sides are packed with future NFL talent yet neither has truly hit top gear this season. Michigan has had a cake walk of a schedule, while Ohio State have looked shaky as new QB Kyle McCord beds in.
The Buckeyes will likely lean heavily on the run game where TreVeyon Henderson is finally healthy and starting to be a problem for opposition defenses. Wearing Michigan down in the trenches is a sure fire way to open up more space for star receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. A big display here and he could make a run for the Heisman trophy.
For Michigan, they too will want the rushing attack to be the focus. If the Buckeyes can force the game into the hands of JJ McCarthy, they will fancy their chances. McCarthy has been a complementary piece so far as opposed to a playmaker and the likes of Denzel Burke and Lathan Ransom in the Ohio State secondary will be cause for concern.
They don’t make them bigger than this, so don’t miss out! Unless you are in the UK and finding access to Fox’s coverage is more difficult than getting the country’s nuclear codes.
Prime Time - Washington State @ Washington
Don’t be drawn in by the SEC at 8.30pm, Alabama will likely pummel Auburn in the Iron Bowl. Instead, wait half an hour and tune into the Apple Cup. Washington and Washington State have agreed to continue the annual game despite the two being in separate conferences next year. That decision slightly appeased the growing feeling that realignment is destroying the fabric of College Football.
The game has plenty riding on it too. Like Oregon State and Oregon on Friday, little brother has a chance to kill big brother’s National Championship hopes. Washington defied bookmakers last week beating the Beavers on the road, if they can avoid a loss here, a top four finish remains in play.
Washington State QB Cam Ward got plenty of attention early in the season, which has dissipated as the Cougars have racked up losses. Now at 5-6, they need the win to be bowl eligible. Ward is still capable of enough magic to take advantage of a leaky Washington defense. But, he must be wary of Huskies’ corner Jabbar Muhammad who had two interceptions and a fumble recovery in a standout display last week.
The bigger concern for the Cougars is slowing down Michael Penix and Rome Odunze. That is even more difficult now that running back Dillon Johnson is consistently getting chunk plays on the ground. The battle between left tackle Troy Fautanu and Cougars edge rusher Brennan Jackson will be one to watch on that side of the ball.
Late Night - Florida State @ Florida
Our final pick of the week is Florida State against Florida. Once again an unbeaten team has to overcome their biggest rival to stay in the playoff hunt. That got even harder for the Seminoles this week when they lost QB Jordan Travis to a season-ending injury. To compound that, they dropped to fifth in the CFB rankings and out of the playoff spots.
Tate Rodemaker will step in at QB but you have to feel Trey Benson at running back will be key to ensuring the Florida State train keeps rolling. How effective star wideout Keon Coleman will be without Travis is yet to be seen. For the Gators Jason Marshall Jr will be the man tasked with keeping Coleman and Johnny Wilson quiet. This will be the go-to tape for the young corner come draft season.
If Florida can stay in the game, they too will need to rely on a backup QB. Starter Graham Mertz fractured his collarbone last week and redshirt freshman Max Brown steps in. The same principal will apply for the Gators, get the ball into the running backs’ hands. Montrell Johnson and Trevor Etienne are more than capable of winning a game.
The Seminoles defense has been quietly underrated. Edge rusher Jared Verse is clearly the star but I expect Kaden DeLoach and Akeem Dent to have a big say in the outcome of the game. They will need to slow down the run and restrict the Gators offense.
If you like needle, rivalry and pound-the-ball football, it’s appointment viewing!
formerly writing for the inside zone, rory will be breaking down college tape and keeping you up-to-date with all things CFB for the touchdown. an avid bengals fan, you can also find some of rory’s work at stripehype.com.