#1 Tennessee at #3 Georgia (-9) Saturday, November 5th 2:30 pm CBS
The number 1 team in the nation according to the college football playoff committee travels to Athens, Georgia to face off against the defending national champion Georgia Bulldogs. Josh Huepel has done an incredible job leading Tennessee to national contention in just his second year as head coach of the Vols. Hendon Hooker has fit in perfectly with the veer and shoot offense and is a Heisman front runner leading one of the best offenses in the country. Even with wide receiver Cedric Tillman missing multiple games due to injury, Hooker has not missed a step and has thrown for 2338 yards and 21 touchdowns to just 1 interception this season. Jaylin Hyatt has been the top target for the Vols this season with 45 catches for 907 yards and 14 touchdowns already this season. Bru McCoy has also stepped up in Tillman’s absence with 30 catches for 451 yards and 2 touchdowns. Jaylin Wright and Jabari Small are the two leading rushers this season for the Vols with 478 yards and 475 yards to go along with 5 touchdowns and 8 touchdowns respectively. The offense is among the most explosive in the country, scoring with ease on each opponent so far this season including Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide. The Tennessee offense scored 52 points against Alabama and had another dominating performance scoring 44 points against Kentucky last week. The defense has done a solid job forcing turnovers with 9 interceptions and 7 fumbles recovered this season providing extra possessions for their offense. They have not been a shutdown defense but with as an explosive of an offense as Tennessee has, forcing turnovers even while letting up points works just fine.
The Tennessee defense will be facing a very experienced quarterback in Stetson Bennett for the Bulldogs. Bennett has led a very good Georgia offense so far this season highlighted by a 49 point performance against Oregon in week 1. Bennett has thrown for 2,349 yards and 9 touchdowns to just 3 interceptions. The tight ends group for Georgia is stacked and is led by projected first round draft pick Brock Bowers who has 31 catches for 547 yards and 3 touchdowns this season. Bowers is a very solid route runner with good hands and is explosive after the catch. He is joined by Darnell Washington who has 19 catches for 332 yards this year and is a big target that Bennett can find in the red zone. The rushing attack has been excellent for the Bulldogs as well with Daijun Edwards and Kenny McIntosh leading the way. Edwards has 440 yards and 7 touchdowns on 71 carries while McIntosh has 332 yards and 6 touchdowns on 69 carries. They will be two of the most important players for Georgia this weekend as the Bulldogs could look to control time of possession and keep the ball away from Hendon Hooker. The defense tasked with slowing down Hooker took a major hit with star pass rusher Nolan Smith suffering a season ending injury. They did get stud defensive lineman Jalen Carter back from injury before last week’s game against Florida. Creating pressure against Tennessee will be very important to slow down their explosive passing attack. I think the Vols offense will be too much for a Georgia team that has struggled with much lesser teams at times this season (sorry Three Year Letterman).
My pick: Tennessee wins (+240) Tennessee covers (+9) Full game over (65)
#6 Alabama (-13.5) at #10 LSU Saturday, November 5th 6:00 pm ESPN
Another top 10 SEC matchup takes place this Saturday night in Death Valley when Alabama travels to Louisiana to play LSU. Bryce Young is having another excellent season with the Crimson Tide throwing for 1,906 yards and 18 touchdowns to just 3 interceptions. Young demonstrates great pocket awareness and decision making for a college quarterback making him very difficult to sack as he is mobile as well. He has over 100 yards rushing and 3 touchdowns this season too. The running backs for Alabama are a strength with two very good runners in Jahmyr Gibbs and Jase McClellan. Gibbs has 672 yards and 6 touchdowns on the ground to go along with 31 catches for 301 yards and 3 touchdowns receiving. McClellan has had a solid season on the ground as well with 312 yards and 3 touchdowns on 54 carries as well as 9 catches for 79 yards and 2 touchdowns. Ja’Corey Brooks has been the top receiver for the Crimson Tide this season with 21 catches for 376 yards and 4 touchdowns. The pass rush has been excellent as expected with Will Anderson and Dallas Turner coming off the edge for Alabama. A big key for Bama has been the development of Kool-Aid McKinstry into a very good corner. McKinstry has 11 pass breakups this season along with a sack and 23 total tackles. They will be going up against an LSU offense led by former ASU Sun Devil Jayden Daniels. Daniels has 1,812 yards and 12 touchdowns through the air and 524 yards and 9 touchdowns on the ground. Daniels is very fast and keeping him in the pocket will have to be a priority for the Alabama defense on Saturday. Potential first round pick Kayshon Boutte has played much better recently after a very slow start to the season. Boutte has 288 yards and a touchdown on 27 receptions this season. Jaray Jenkins has been a solid target for Daniels as well with 20 catches for 288 yards and 5 touchdowns in 2022. The leading receiver yards wise for the Tigers this season has been Malik Nabers who has 36 catches for 455 yards and a touchdown. The passing attack will need to be efficient this weekend to keep up with the Crimson Tide offense. The LSU defense has been pretty good this season holding a very explosive Ole Miss offense to just 20 points in their last game. They did let up 40 points to Tennessee but pretty much everyone Tennessee has played this season has given up at least 40 points. I think the Tide rolls in a hostile environment this Saturday and the Alabama defense is able to contain Daniels.
My pick: Alabama wins (-550) Alabama covers (-13.5) Full game over (56.5)
#24 Texas (-2.5) at #13 Kansas State Saturday, November 5th 6:00 pm FS1
The Longhorns travel to the Little Apple this week to face off against a Kansas State team coming off of a 48-0 thrashing of Oklahoma State last week. Will Bowers looked excellent against the Cowboys throwing for 296 yards and 4 touchdowns. TCU fans are very familiar with Bowers after he had a very solid performance against the Frogs two weeks ago. Bowers presents a much different challenge than Adrian Martinez for opposing defensive coordinators as Bowers is more of a pocket passer that fits better in a drop back style passing attack as compared to the dominant rushing ability of Martinez. It will be a gametime decision as to who starts for the Wildcats at quarterback as Martinez has worked his way back from injury. Whoever starts at quarterback will have the benefit of Deuce Vaughn as a target out of the backfield and as a running back. Vaughn is one of the most explosive players in the nation and is extremely hard to tackle and cover in space. Vaughn has 902 yards and 5 touchdowns on the ground this season and 23 catches for 130 yards and a touchdown receiving. The Wildcats also have one of the premier deep threats in the Big 12 in Malik Knowles at receiver. Knowles has 32 catches for 447 yards and a touchdown in 2022. The Texas offense will need to be humming to keep up with a very explosive Wildcat offense on Saturday. Quarterback Quinn Ewers will need to have better game than he had against Oklahoma State two weeks ago where he missed a couple of open receivers that could have put the Cowboys away. Ewers has had a good first year as starter in Austin with 1,139 yards and 11 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. He has the arm talent to make every throw but has struggled with accuracy at times this season. He too will have the benefit of one of the best running backs in the nation in Bijan Robinson. Robinson has been excellent in 2022 with 920 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground as well as 17 catches for 280 yards and 2 receiving touchdowns. I think Kansas State wins outright as a home underdog this Saturday and puts up a lot of points in the process.
My pick: Kansas State wins (+118) Kansas State covers (+2.5) Full game over (54.5)
Battle of Clemson’s “Quality Wins”:
#21 Wake Forest (-4) at #22 NC State Saturday, November 5th 7:00 pm ACCN
Sam Hartman and the Demon Deacons travel to Raleigh to face off against the Wolfpack this Saturday for a matchup between two top 25 ACC teams. Wake Forest is coming off of a tough loss to Louisville last week 48-21. Hartman had his worst game of the season against the Cardinals making a number of questionable decisions throwing 3 interceptiosn and losing 3 fumbles. Hartman is a very good quarterback and I expect him to bounce back for a big game this weekend. NC State won at home against Virginia Tech in a nailbiter with the final score being 22-21. The Wolfpack lost their starting quarterback Devin Leary for the season to injury and turned to freshman MJ Morris in the Virginia Tech game to take his place. Morris had a great game against the Hokies with 265 yards and 3 touchdowns and will need another good game to pull off the upset over Wake Forest. I think he has a solid game but Sam Hartman and the Wake Forest offense is just too much for the Wolfpack to handle.
My pick: Wake Forest wins (-160) Wake Forest covers (-4) Full game over (54)