#6 LSU @ #18 Texas A&M
A&M rides a five-game winning streak into this one after their three-point loss in week one to Florida. LSU’s only loss also came to the Gators two weeks ago at The Swamp, though they made a quick rebound into national prominence with a big win over South Carolina. LSU has one of the nation’s toughest defenses, and the Tigers’ shaky offense may have finally found its identity last week with its ground-and-pound offensive attack against South Carolina. Texas A&M is a different story. The Aggie offense has been firing on all cylinders behind the incredible play of redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel. Though A&M’s offense is ranked fifth in the nation with 47 points per game, their defense has been suspect, allowing 57 points last week in a narrow victory over Louisiana Tech. In a big matchup that will likely decide who finishes second in the SEC West, it’s likely that the team that comes up with the most stops will come away with the victory. LSU wins this one, but narrowly: 24-17.
#4 Kansas State @ #13 West Virginia
In one of the marquee games of the entire Big 12 season, the nation’s top two Heisman contenders square off in Morgantown in what could be one of the most exciting games of the year. West Virginia’s Geno Smith and K-State’s Collin Klein–both appearing on my Heisman Watch today–will battle it out to decide which gunslinger be the favorite to win the award by Sunday morning. Coming off a shocking upset at the hands of then-unranked Texas Tech, West Virginia will look to get their season and Big 12 title hopes back on track with a huge win against the Wildcats. On the other hand, Kansas State is in the driver’s seat for the Big 12 championship, and they’ll be more than prepared to win this game. K-State is one of the nation’s best teams all around, and they’ll be more than capable of exploiting West Virginia’s most glaring weakness–a defense that gives up 37.3 points a game. In the end, defense and turnover-free football will be what decides this one. Kansas State wins, 52-35.
#17 Texas Tech @ #23 TCU
This matchup of 5-1 Big 12 opponents could be a lot more intriguing that you think. Tech’s season had been incredibly surprising thus far, as they’ve handily beaten each of their opponents this year–with the exception of Oklahoma. Led by an efficient quarterback in Seth Doege, who has 1,891 passing yards and 21 touchdowns on the year, Tech would be a tough matchup for most any team. Though their destruction of West Virginia last week makes Texas Tech the nation’s favorite to roll over TCU, the Horned Frogs won’t make things easy on the Red Raiders. Coming off a blowout win over Baylor, TCU is no slouch. Their top-ten caliber defense challenge Red Raiders, but I have to go with Tech on this one, 31-27.
#14 Florida State @ Miami (FL)
This game used to have national title implications nearly every year, but it’s recently become a bit of a bore. Nevertheless, I would recommend watching some of this one, if only for old times’ sake. Miami comes into the game 4-3 on the year, having lost their last two games. After their upset at the hands of N.C. State, Florida State rebounded with a dominant 51-7 win over Boston College to regain some momentum before traveling to face the Hurricanes. Though Florida State fell drastically in the polls two weeks ago, the Seminoles are still an elite team, as they’re ranked in the top six teams in the nation in both scoring offense and defense. Meanwhile, the Hurricanes have been incredibly inconsistent this year, never seeming to have all aspects of their game together at the same time. Though Miami usually keeps this game close, I can’t trust the Hurricanes to play their best football, even at home. Seminoles roll, 49-17.