Mandatory Credit: Photo by Wade Payne/AP/Shutterstock (13472479bp) Alabama quarterback Bryce Young (9) throws to a receiver during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Tennessee, in Knoxville, Tenn. Tennessee won 52-49 Alabama Tennessee Football, Knoxville, United States – 15 Oct 2022
Some interesting matchups are on the horizon outside of the great state of Texas. Programs looking to maintain their status among the top in the nation and others trying to regain that status. Here, we preview the best matchups from outside the region.
#14 Syracuse @ #5 Clemson
Game Time: 11:00 a.m. CT
TV/Radio: ABC, Sirius XM 193 & 194
The last two truly undefeated teams in the ACC face off in the early window on Saturday. Clemson remains the favorite in the conference, while Syracuse is knocking on the door. Clemson has run the gauntlet of the conference the last four weeks, earning wins against Wake Forest, NC State, and Florida State. The Tigers have remained one of the country’s most consistent offensive teams, scoring over 30 points in each of their seven games this season. They rank in the top 25 in both scoring offense and third-down efficiency, two big factors in their success this season. Clemson matches up well against the Orange defensively, as they have one of the best run defenses in college football, ranking fourth in the nation in rushing yards allowed per game. If they can stop the run, Clemson is in for a nice day.
Syracuse’s schedule has been relatively easy to this point, but a nice win against NC State last week put them deeper in the conversation. Syracuse earned a 24-9 win at home over NC State, who was without star QB Devin Leary. The Orange love to run the ball, and that has become the clear focal point of their offense. RB Sean Tucker has been very effective this season, rushing for over 100 yards per game and averaging more than five yards per carry. Syracuse plays an old-school brand of football, with modern spread formations on offense, that is focused on the core philosophy of running the ball, stopping the run, and controlling time of possession. They run a very balanced defense, so Clemson will have to pick their spots throughout the game to hit the rare weaknesses in this defensive unit. Syracuse is a clear underdog, but a win at Clemson certainly puts them deeper in the conversation among the nation’s elite.
#7 Ole Miss @ LSU
Game Time: 2:30 p.m. CT
TV/Radio: CBS, Sirius XM 191 & 192
Death Valley is a tough place to play, no matter who you are. With that being said, LSU has already suffered a pair of losses in their own building this season to Florida State and Tennessee. LSU comes in as a team still looking to make noise in the SEC after being thrown on the back burner the last couple of weeks. QB Jaydon Daniels is one of the most dynamic players in college football when he puts it all together. However, will he put it all together? Daniels has completed around 69% of his throws and has only thrown one interception on the season, but it is known that Daniels can leave completions on the field. He needs to see the field better and not rely as heavily on his legs. When Daniels plays well, LSU’s offense is a balanced attack that causes opposing defenses problems.
Ole Miss comes in as the seventh-ranked team in the country and one of the three remaining undefeated SEC teams, along with Georgia and Tennessee. They currently sit atop the SEC West but with a rather unimpressive resume. However, this team can control the game and run the football with the best in the nation. The RB duo of Quinshon Judkins and Zach Evans is one of the most dangerous in the nation. They both average over six yards per carry and have proven they can dominate games. The run is the base of their offense, but they can become reliant on it, as QB Jaxson Dart has been inconsistent throughout the year. Ole Miss has made a living off blowing out inferior opponents. Now they get a true test on the road against a team trying to prove they still belong.
#9 UCLA @ #10 Oregon
Game Time: 2:30 p.m. CT
TV/Radio: FOX, Sirius XM 197 & 202
One of the best PAC-12 matchups of the year comes to Eugene as UCLA takes on Oregon. Given the Ducks are at home, expect a big scoring day from the ninth-best scoring offense in the nation. Oregon averages 42 points per game and ranks in the top 15 in total offense. QB Bo Nix has been outstanding this season for the Ducks completing over 70% of his throws for over 1500 yards with 12 touchdowns and just three picks on the season. Nix has provided this team with an incredible spark both through the air and on the ground. He is third on the team in rushing and leads the team in rushing touchdowns. However, Oregon is forced to dominate offensively as the defensive side of the football has been a liability. They have done well against the run this season, but teams have had a field day in the passing game against this defense. UCLA QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson is a guy that can take advantage of that. This will be Oregon’s toughest game since Georgia in Week 1, and this one has much more riding on it.
UCLA is coming off its biggest win of the season against Utah, which earned them a spot in the top ten in the nation. Coming out of the bye week, expect Chip Kelly’s offense to be fresh and his players to have fresh legs. DTR has been a problem under center, completing almost 75% of his throws and not turning the ball over, only recording two picks this season. UCLA has a very balanced offensive attack with DTR and star RB Zach Charbonnet who is averaging an insane seven yards per carry on 87 carries. Thompson-Robinson has also found a new favorite target the last few weeks in WR Jake Bobo, who has caught four of his team-leading five touchdowns in the previous two games. Expect this game to be a high-scoring affair between two offensive juggernauts. This will be one of the best QB battles of the week.
#24 Mississippi State @ #6 Alabama
Game Time: 6:00 p.m. CT
TV/Radio: ESPN, Sirius XM 191 & 192
This may be the best QB matchup of the week, with Alabama’s QB Bryce Young and Mississippi State’s QB Will Rogers doing battle. These two can put on a firework show disguised as a football game. Alabama is coming off their first loss of the season, and a heartbreaking one at that. A three-point loss to Tennessee in Knoxville after a missed field goal in the fourth quarter. However, Alabama is still Alabama. This team runs one of the most potent offenses in the country to go along with a well-balanced defense. This is the second game for Bryce Young coming off the injury; however, it looked like he had missed no time at all last week. Young has thrown 16 touchdown passes in just six games and has been one of the most electric players in college football all season. That said, this offense runs through RB Jahmyr Gibbs, who is the team’s leader in rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, and receptions. Alabama will be playing with a type of hunger you can only achieve after suffering a tough loss. Expect them to feed off the energy in Tuscaloosa and play a physical, inspired game on Saturday.
Mississippi State is also coming off a tough loss on the road falling to Kentucky, making their path much tougher this season. However, the opportunity to catch Alabama off guard is there. Will Rogers is one of the most accurate and effective passers in college football and has been written in the SEC history books. Rogers has the veteran presence not to make the mistakes that the Crimson Tide thrives on. The problem for the Bulldogs is that they cannot run the football. Averaging less than 95 yards per game on the ground, the offense has often looked one-dimensional. They are asking a lot of Rogers to go into Alabama and play well enough against a tough Alabama secondary to overcome their lackluster running game. Mississippi State has the opportunity to send shockwaves through the college football landscape with a win on the road against the perennial CFB powerhouse.