CFB Preview: The best from outside the region

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Gerald Herbert/AP/Shutterstock (13462865a) Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker (5) passes in the first half of an NCAA college football game against LSU in Baton Rouge, La Tennessee Football, Baton Rouge, United States – 08 Oct 2022

CFB Preview: The best from outside the region

We have a loaded week ahead with a plethora of marquee matchups. The college football landscape has truly begun to take shape, and the top tier of programs are starting to establish themselves. Here, we preview the best matchups from outside the region.

#10 Penn State @ #5 Michigan

Game Time: 11:00AM CT

TV/Radio: FOX, Sirius XM 83/196

The Nittany Lions head to Ann Arbor this weekend to take on Michigan in their toughest game of the season by far. Penn State has done the job by beating the first five teams on their schedule and developing one of the most prolific run defenses in college football while doing it. This is the key to their potential win on Saturday. Can they stop Michigan’s running attack? Penn State ranks 11th in rushing yards against per game so far this season and is only allowing around a 30% conversion rate on third down. QB Sean Clifford needs to become more consistent in the home stretch of the season if Penn State wants any real shot at glory late in the year. He is completing 62% of his throws with nine touchdowns in five games. The offense does not heavily rely on him, but it seems as if they are becoming less and less reliant on him as the season goes on. Though that can be seen as a positive in some respects, it also shows a potential lack of trust.

Michigan comes into the game 6-0 and is a top-five team in the country. They have been impressive in virtually every aspect of the game up to this point in the year, and the results show it. They are blowing out almost everyone they play. However, just like it is for Penn State, this is Michigan’s biggest test of the year. The Wolverines come into this game with the seventh-best scoring offense in college football, which revolves around star runner Blake Corum. He is averaging over six yards per carry and has already found the end zone 11 times on the ground this season. Not only that, but QB J.J. McCarthy is coming off a strong performance last week against Indiana, and star WR Ronnie Bell has played like a true top receiver since returning from his season-ending injury last year. This, on top of being at home, Michigan finds itself in a favorable spot heading into the weekend.

#3 Alabama @ #6 Tennessee

Game Time: 2:30PM CT

TV/Radio: CBS, Sirius XM 81/191

The game of the week will take place in Knoxville Saturday as Tennessee hosts Alabama in an SEC showdown. The status of Alabama QB Bryce Young is still in the air and could come down to a game-time decision. If it is not Young under center for the Crimson Tide, it will be Jalen Milroe who gives the Alabama offense a much different look. Milroe is much more of a threat with his legs than with his arm, as he only threw for 111 yards in last week’s win against Texas A&M. Alabama ranks in the top ten in total offense, scoring offense, and rushing yards per game. They control the clock, and they finish drives. With Milroe under center, expect the ball to be kept on the ground rather than in the air.

The Volunteers made a serious statement by walking into Death Valley and dismantling LSU from the jump. Now they come back home to play against a potentially beat-up Alabama team in one of the year’s most exciting games. Believe that Tennessee will be hungry. Hendon Hooker has been one of the best players in college football and seems to be progressively getting better as the season goes along. Tennessee also comes in with one of the best WR tandems in the sport with Bru McCoy and Jalin Hyatt. This Tennessee offense is scary and could be a problem for Alabama if they do not run the ball the way they want to. The Vols’ run defense also ranks in the top 20 in the nation, so this is a matchup to look out for as the game goes along. A win for Tennessee here would put them in the conversation among the best teams in college football and right in the thick of the college football playoff picture.

#15 NC State @ #18 Syracuse

Game Time: 2:30PM CT

TV/Radio: ACC Network, Sirius XM 193/194

NC State is lining up for its third straight tough conference matchup as they head to Syracuse to take on the Orange. This is a huge game for the Wolfpack if they want to keep their name in the running for an ACC title. They squeaked out a win last week against Florida State after suffering a loss to Clemson the week prior. NC State has survived so far, with Devin Leary having an underwhelming year. However, this week, they could be without Leary altogether. If NC State is going to win this game, their defense will have to anchor down more than they have all season. Their identity is defense, so it gives them a fighting chance on the road if Leary is unavailable. If NC State can run the ball effectively, prevent turnovers, and play strong defensively, the Wolfpack could keep their name in the conversation.

Syracuse can lock up NC State and leave little room for hope. Syracuse comes into the game with the ACC’s best defense so far this year. They have played a relatively weak schedule, but this is an NC State team that does not make a ton of noise offensively. The Orange also run a very efficient offense with Sean Tucker on the ground and QB Garrett Shrader completing around 71% of his throws. Syracuse plays a traditional style of football in a sense where running the ball and winning at the line of scrimmage are crucial for this team’s success. However, this is Syracuse’s first tough opponent this season. If NC State comes out firing, the Orange could struggle to make adjustments deep into the game.

#4 Clemson @ Florida State

Game Time: 6:30PM CT

TV/Radio: ABC, Sirius XM 193/194

Clemson has already taken down two big competitors in the ACC in, Wake Forest and NC State. This week, they head to Tallahassee to try to take out Florida State. Clemson’s balanced attack has been very effective for them throughout the season. They run the ball well and work well off the passing game that DJ Uiagalelei has provided them this season. He has become much more efficient with the football and can make the occasional brilliant play that leaves you picking up your jaw from the floor. The Tigers also control the clock well offensively while having one of the best run defenses in the country. Clemson is the favorite in the ACC at the moment and should be based on what they have shown in the early parts of the year.

The Seminoles have lost two straight to Wake Forest and NC State and have a chance to redeem themselves against Clemson at home. This is an offense that relies heavily on QB Jordan Travis, and it can become a problem, as seen against more formidable opponents. Clemson is obviously no different. Florida State needs to find creative ways for Travis to beat the Clemson defense. Travis only completes around 63% of his throws, but the key to his success is efficiency and pace against this Clemson secondary. If he can make Clemson uncomfortable and gets them to second-guess themselves, Florida State could sneak away with one at home.

#16 Mississippi State @ #22 Kentucky

Game Time: 6:30PM CT

TV/Radio: SEC Network, Sirius XM 81/192

If Will Levis plays for Kentucky, this could be a massive QB showdown. Will Rogers for Mississippi State is playing as well as anybody in college football putting up video game numbers so far this year. Rogers is completing 71.6% of his throws with 2110 passing yards to go along with 22 touchdowns and only three picks. He has not thrown an interception in three games. He has been exceptional, to say the least. However, this team is as one-dimensional as it gets. The Bulldogs do not run the football well and rely heavily on Rogers to produce at a high level. So far, he has done that, but if Kentucky can slow him down, there is not much else Mississippi State can beat you with.

Kentucky went from being a top-seven team in the country down to 22nd because of two straight losses to Ole Miss and South Carolina. This becomes a massive game for them, given that they play Tennessee in their next matchup, so the pressure is on to get a win here to avoid the possibility of losing for a month straight. Their success, however, could be contingent on whether or not Will Levis is a go for this weekend. Levis has been the guy for this Wildcat offense, giving him clout as a potential top pick in this year’s NFL draft. With that said, Kentucky finds themselves to be a bit one-dimensional at the moment, with RB Chris Rodriguez still finding his stride. This game should provide some fireworks between two star QBs and not much on the ground.

#7 USC @ #20 Utah

Game Time: 7:00PM CT

TV/Radio: FOX, Sirius XM 83/84

USC is a team that can score points and put games away in a hurry. Lincoln Riley has predictably given this program quite the jolt in offensive production right out of the gate. The combination of QB Caleb Williams and the WR tandem of Jordan Addison and Mario Williams is lethal to anybody they play. That is how they will win this game—getting the ball to their playmakers, converting on third down, and allowing this pass rush to get after the Utah offensive line. The Trojans’ defense has been inconsistent so far this year, and that seems to be how they will potentially lose games. They struggle to stop the run and can get careless in the secondary. With that said, the last time USC was 6-0 was in 2006, when they won the conference and appeared in the Rose Bowl under Pete Carroll. At this point, they should feel pretty good about where they are.

Coming off a tough loss to UCLA, Utah will try to keep from falling to 4-3 by taking one at home against the PAC-12 favorite. It seems simple enough. Utah will win on the ground. That is virtually a guarantee, as USC’s run defense is subpar, and Tavion Thomas is averaging 4.5 yards per carry. QB Cameron Rising could also find his fair share of touches on the ground. Rising has been efficient with the football this season, completing 69% of his throws and refraining from making too many mistakes. The Utes have an opportunity to control the pace of the game and force USC to play at their speed if they can run the ball as expected. Utah also has a solid pass defense, which could match up well against the deadly Trojan WR combo. It is a tough challenge for Utah at home, but they have the tools to pull off an upset.

Related Posts:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *