CFB Preview: The best from outside the region

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Tyler Kaufman/AP/Shutterstock (13612789p) Alabama quarterback Bryce Young (9) during the first half of an NCAA college football game against LSU in Baton Rouge, La Alabama LSU Football, Baton Rouge, United States – 05 Nov 2022

CFB Preview: The best from outside the region

The end of the college football season is shaping up to be wild as more and more teams fall off the table. The playoff picture brought forward by the committee last week looks much different as this weekend approaches. A number of highly ranked teams suffered losses that could prove detrimental to their national title hopes. However, plenty of great football is to be played outside the great state of Texas, and here is where you can find the best matchups from outside the region.

No. 9 Alabama @ No. 11 Ole Miss

Game Time: 2:30 p.m. CT

TV/Radio: CBS, Sirius XM 190 & 191

Earlier in the season, many around college football felt this year’s Alabama team was vulnerable. This was not the same juggernaut that we are used to seeing. Turns out those people were right. This Alabama team is much more prone to mistakes and does not have the same explosiveness on either side of the football. Granted, the Tide’s two losses came in heartbreaking finishes that went down to the last second, but we are used to Alabama being the victor in those scenarios. This week, they take on an Ole Miss team that has dominated teams on the ground and ranks among the best in college football in total offense. Alabama needs to outrun Ole Miss, and though it is tough to do so, it is possible. Bama’s star RB Jahmyr Gibbs has been one of the most consistent and explosive runners in college football, averaging almost seven yards per carry and accumulating nine total touchdowns on the season. QB Bryce Young also has to find his rhythm early in this game. Despite being a star and future first-round pick, Young has struggled with efficiency since coming back from the injury, limiting Alabama’s offense. If Young can find his stride and Gibbs can continue his sensational play, it will allow Alabama to take control of the game and force Ole Miss to play at their pace. That is the key to giving Alabama life late in the year.

Ole Miss is a beast on the ground. The Rebels average 267.4 yards per game running the football, good for fifth in the nation. They know how to control the pace of a football game, and it has allowed them to overcome average quarterback play. The RB duo of Quinshon Judkins and Zach Evans have proved to be among the best in the country. Judkins, the team’s leading rusher, has put up 1,036 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns, while Evans is averaging over six yards per carry on over 100 touches this season. The duo has combined for 20 touchdowns and can take over a game. With that said, Ole Miss needs to provide a spark outside of their run game against this Alabama defense. It is tough to win when you throw a one-dimensional offense at Nick Saban. The Rebels are well-rested coming off the bye could strike early, but how long can they sustain success on the ground before Alabama adjusts?

No. 22 UCF @ No. 17 Tulane

Game Time: 2:30 p.m.

TV/Radio: ESPN2, Sirius XM 201

After suffering a tough loss to East Carolina, UCF took their best win of the season against Cincinnati, putting them legitimately on the map in the AAC. Now they take on Tulane, who sits atop the conference and is currently riding a five-game winning streak. The big question for UCF revolves around the availability of QB John Rhys Plumlee, who suffered a concussion three weeks ago. Plumlee is a hot and cold kind of player who falls on the extremes of the offensive deviation and rarely inside the curve. He is either the reason you win or the reason you lose. Either way, he has been a productive player all year when healthy and has been mostly efficient with the football. If Plumlee cannot go, it will be Mikey Keene under center, who has been extremely accurate since coming in. Keene is completing over 75% of his throws in the two games he has played. The Knights run a balanced attack as they can effectively run the football with RB Isaiah Bowser, who has put up 11 touchdowns on the season. Tulane’s defense is one of the best in the country, so if UCF wants to sneak a win, they have to remain efficient with the football regardless of who is at QB and continue running the football at a high level.

Tulane’s defense is dangerous and is clearly the best in the AAC. However, the spotlight is on a program that is not necessarily used to it. Tulane has done well this year against tougher competition, and UCF could prove to be their toughest game of the season. Prior to this game, Kansas State could be considered the Green Wave’s biggest contest, where they proved their defense could stick up against the top weapons in college football. Tulane held star, RB Deuce Vaughn to 81 yards rushing and QB Adrian Martinez to 59 yards on the ground. That says something for this run defense. Offensively, it is about not turning the ball over for Tulane. QB Michael Pratt has done that this season. This offense is not going to blow the roof off the building, but if they do not turn the ball over, you cannot help but play Tulane’s game. RB Tyjae Spears has done a nice job holding down the running game with 10 touchdowns on 5.6 yards per carry and keeping games under Tulane’s control. If they continue to do that, UCF will not have much of an opportunity to steal this one on the road.

No. 25 Washington @ No. 6 Oregon

Game Time: 6:00 p.m.

TV/Radio: FOX, Sirius XM 197 & 198

The toughest game of the season lies ahead for the Washington Huskies as they take on Oregon in Eugene. Washington has not proved they can consistently win on the road with a 1-2 road record this season. However, this could be a great matchup for Washington on the offensive side. QB Michael Penix has been a very high-volume passer this season, throwing for over 3,200 yards and 23 touchdowns, and is set to face one of the worst pass defenses in the nation on Saturday. The opportunity is there for Penix to slice and dice this defense through the air. This is where Washington has gotten their wins. When Penix is on, which he usually is, they win. This Huskies offense ranks third in passing offense and 15th in total offense this season. However, this game will be about whose defense can hold up more. I fully expect this game to be a shootout, but can Washington make the necessary stops to give themselves a chance to win? The Huskies allow a 47% third down conversion rate. That will have to improve if they want to hold on late if the game is close.

Washington is not the only offensive beast in this game. Oregon will look to continue their explosive offensive play in brand new bright yellow jerseys to hold onto the top spot in the PAC-12. The Ducks rank fifth in total offense and fourth in scoring offense. They score, and only Georgia in Week 1 has been able to stop them. Since then, they have put up over 40 points in every game. That is primarily thanks to QB Bo Nix, who has done it both on the ground and through the air this season. Nix has accounted for 22 passing touchdowns and 13 rushing touchdowns this season, making him one of the most dangerous players in college football. He is also completing over 73% of his throws and not turning the ball over. Oregon is blowing teams out and is en route to taking the PAC-12. With that said, this defense has to do better against the pass. Penix can take advantage of this defense in that aspect, so Oregon may be put in a position where they are forced to keep up offensively. If Oregon can get on top early and make a couple of key defensive stops, it could be another big win for the Ducks at home.

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