After the unveiling of the first College Football Playoff rankings, only two ranked matchups will be held this week. The College Football Playoff Committee caused quite a stir with fans and analysts when the Texas A&M Aggies were placed in the top-4 over the undefeated Washington Huskies. With only one ranked matchup remaining on their schedule, the Huskies are praying for an Aggies loss before the season ends. Here’s a list of the best matchups this week. All times are Eastern.
(12) Penn State hosts Iowa at 7:30 PM on BTN. While the Iowa Hawkeyes are only 5-3 this season, they have won nine straight road games and are desperate to finish the season bowl-eligible. An upset win against their Big Ten rival could potentially award the Hawkeyes with a top-25 ranking. Kirk Ferentz’s squad was projected to win the Big Ten West Division after finishing with a 12-0 record last year, but a shocking loss to North Dakota State in Week 3 killed all preseason momentum. A win on Saturday would at least piece together some hope for Hawkeye fans. The Hawkeyes unfortunately have to face the hottest team in College Football, the Penn State Nittany Lions. Penn State has won four straight games, including a shocking 24-21 upset win against (2) Ohio State in Week 8. The Nittany Lions were unranked only two weeks ago and are now in competition for a College Football Playoff spot. Their defense was exceptional against Ohio State, sacking QB J.T. Barrett five times. Lions QB Trevor McSorley replaced Christian Hackenberg this year and has taken full charge of the offense. He threw three TDs last week against Purdue and has not thrown an INT in 106 passes. Penn State should have a relatively easy win on Saturday if they are able to continue their electric play. The player to watch in this game is Iowa QB C.J. Beathard. The redshirt senior has had a down year compared to last season, but he is the key to an Iowa upset victory. If Beathard is able to electrify the Hawkeyes offense by completing deep passes and converting on third downs, the Hawkeyes may shock the nation with an upset win.
(6) Ohio State hosts (10) Nebraska at 8:00 PM on ABC. After barely surviving last week's matchup against Northwestern, Ohio State faces a top ranked Big Ten opponent in Nebraska. Compared to the start of the season, the Buckeyes look rather sluggish and unexcited. Ohio State’s defense gave up more than 400 yards at home last week for the first time in over two years. The offense is struggling to find the endzone, averaging only 22.5 PPG in the last two weeks compared to 49 PPG in their first six games. While the defense looked rather stagnant last week, they still rank seventh in the nation and have really carried the team amid the offense’s struggles. The defense will need to continue their exceptional play when facing Nebraska’s dual-threat QB, Tommy Armstrong Jr. Armstrong has made great strides this year, throwing for 1,611 yards with 11 TDs. He’s also done damage rushing the ball, racking up 7 rushing TDs. The senior QB will look to bounce back following a poor performance in last week’s overtime loss to Wisconsin. While the Cornhuskers’ defense played exceptionally, their offense was no match for Wisconsin’s tough d-line. Nebraska will need to find their rhythm on offense in order to get a win on Saturday. The player to watch in this game is Ohio State RB Mike Weber. Weber has been one of the only true bright spots in the Buckeyes’ offense. After a poor showing against Penn State, Weber bounced back with a 2 TD performance against Northwestern. Weber also plays a big role in the Buckeyes’ receiving game, but if the Cornhuskers can contain him, it will be on QB J.T. Barrett’s shoulders to create a spark on offense.
(13) LSU hosts (1) Alabama at 8:00 PM on CBS. The Alabama Crimson Tide enter Week 10 as the most confident team in the nation. They dismantled their past three opponents, all ranked in the top-15. They made their win against sixth-ranked Texas A&M look easy, racking up 287 rush yards with only 14 points allowed. Freshman QB Jalen Hurts and RB Damien Harris have been stars on the offensive side of the ball. While Hurts does not light up the stats sheet as a passer, he has demonstrated his exceptional rushing ability and leadership skills. Harris has racked up a ton of yards in his second year at Alabama, rushing for well over 100 yards in four games this year. On the defensive side of the ball, the Crimson Tide allows only 275 yards per game, which ranks fourth in the nation. The defense will need to be even more dominant when they matchup against LSU RB Leonard Fournette. Fournette recently returned from an ankle injury, but showed no signs of rust in his first game back against Ole Miss. Fournette rushed for 284 yards with 3 TDs, averaging 17.8 yards per rush. The junior RB only rushed for 31 yards on 19 rushes in last year’s matchup against the Crimson Tide. The likely top-5 draft pick has been a major player in LSU’s resurgence following the firing of coach Les Miles. Under interim head coach Ed Orgeron, the Tigers have yet to lose a game, but current odds have them as a 7-point underdog.