It’s the first weekend after the initial College Football Playoff Committee rankings. Now the fixture list means we are sure to have a shake-up. As well as the ‘game of the season’.
Tennessee (1) @ Georgia (3)
Tennessee’s first-ever week as the playoff ranked number 1 sees them face the hardest possible test. In a match dubbed ‘the game of the season’. Not to mention one which will decide the SEC East champion.
Tennessee has been the surprise story of the season. Wowing us with their fast pace and spectacular offence. Which leads the league in scoring at 49.4 points per game.
Key has been QB Hendon Hooker. Who has blossomed under coach Josh Heupel’s tutelage and can now be considered as a genuine Heisman candidate. He has the uncanny knack of always being able to find that vital first down. As well as the long TD bomb. He has developed the best partnership in the whole of football with his favourite target WR Jalin Hyatt. Who also has some staggering statistics, 907 yards, at an average of 20.2 and 14 TDs. The rushing attack is also proficient. Relying on backs Jaylen Wright and Jabari Small who have a further 13 TDs between them. While the offence has grabbed all the headlines, their defence has been efficient. Saving their most impressive performance for Kentucky last week, holding the Wildcats to just 6 points and intercepting Will Levis 3 times.
Georgia has gone about the defence of their national title in a quiet efficient manner. But this will be their biggest test. The strength of the Bulldogs has been their talented, aggressive and dominating defence. Currently ranked 2nd in points allowed and 4th in total defence (yards per game). The front 7 is particularly aggressive. Led by future NFL stars DL Jalen Carter, LBs Nolan Smith and Jamon Dumas-Johnson. The offence is orchestrated by QB Stetson Bennett. He uses all his experience without necessarily being spectacular or putting up mind-blowing numbers.
Star of the offence is TE Brock Bowers. One of the best in the sport, he has awesome size 6’4″ and speed and can catch anything thrown his way. As shown by his remarkable catch last week off his helmet. His average of 17.6 yards per catch, highlights he is no ordinary TE. WR Ladd McConkey is another reliable target for Bennett. Running the ball is spread among several backs, but look out for versatile RB Kenny McIntosh.
The battle between the dominating Bulldogs and the explosive Vols attack should be compelling viewing and the key to the game. The Bulldogs’ defence will see this as a challenge to their status and rise to the occasion.
Georgia to come out on top by 7.
Alabama (6) @ LSU (10)
While Tennessee / Georgia is undoubtedly the biggest match of the weekend, there is an equally intriguing match in the West division of the SEC. One which may well determine the West title and passport to the SEC championship game and playoffs.
Alabama has been somewhat sloppy on their travels. They lost away at Tennessee. Along with very narrow victories at Texas and Texas A&M. All while giving up huge numbers in penalties. It’s all very uncharacteristic of the Tide. QB Bryce Young has been everything you would expect from a Heisman winner. And is capable of engineering game-winning drives from any position. One of the offensive problems has been the lack of big playmakers to help Young. The WRs are still raw and developing but, without any standout players. RB Jahmyr Gibbs is an excellent back, both rushing and receiving. Alabama’s defence has been strong, without some of the dominance and star names from previous years. They are led by LB Will Anderson Jr, but look out for rising star Henry To’oTo’o.
After an inconsistent start to the season, LSU has really come alive over the past couple of weeks. With impressive wins over Florida and Ole Miss. The offence has become a well-balanced scoring machine, superbly led by QB Jayden Daniels. Who has 1,812 yards with a TD to INT ratio of 12 to 1. WRs Malik Nabers and Kayshon Boutte have developed into impressive and reliable targets. Daniels also leads the team in rushing with 524 yards and a further 9 TDs. The one weak link might be the OL. They have conceded 26 sacks, which is bound to interest Anderson and his colleagues. The defence has been solid if not spectacular, their best player is probably LB Harold Perkins Jr.
Alabama has looked surprisingly vulnerable away from Tuscaloosa. In order to win the Tigers will look to their high-performing and effective offence, to outscore Alabama.
LSU by 7
Clemson (4) @ Notre Dame
Just as there are some defining games in the SEC, so this matchup serves as an unofficial title game in the ACC.
Clemson has remained unbeaten, despite never looking convincing, with narrow wins over conference rivals Florida State, Wake Forest and Syracuse. Indeed, coach Swinney turned to highly rated backup QB Cade Klubnik to secure the win over the Orange. Swinney has insisted D J Uiagalelei is still the starter. Before the Syracuse game, he had looked like an elite QB, the extra pressure on him won’t help. The offence can call on star RB Will Shipley. He is versatile and has an uncanny knack for finding the endzone, with 10 rushing TDs. The defence is strong, led by likely 1st round draft picks, DE Myles Murphy and nominating DT Bryan Bresee.
Although not a member of the ACC, Notre Dame has an agreement to play 4 to 5 regular season college football games against ACC foes. Remarkably they have won 26 consecutive regular season games over this span. And, because of Covid arrangements actually played in the 202 ACC title game. QB Drew Pyne is developing into a reliable play-caller after replacing opening-day starter Tyler Buchner. The star of the offence is TE Michael Mayer, one of the best in the game, and a good bet as the 1st TE drafted in 2023, so far, he has 47 catches on the season and 6 TDs. The defence is strong without overpowering, having only allowed 30 points once this season, their lack of spark is highlighted by only 5 takeaways on the season.
The Fighting Irish, have lost a couple of games they would have expected to win against Marshall and Stanford, but he saved their best for ACC foes beating N Carolina and Syracuse and will give the Tigers their toughest test.
Notre Dame by 3
Thanks to Andy Normile for producing the College Football Week 10 preview. We are thrilled to have him on board and you can see more of his work here in the Future!
If you want to know where to watch College Football action this weekend you can check out our College Football TV Guide here