College Football Weekend Preview

Who are the biggest matchups on Saturday and what will the final scores be? Find out here.

Josh Helmuthby Josh Helmuth

Week seven will be a battle ground for a lot of the nation’s top 25 teams. A couple of undefeated squads will get their first true test while a couple of other power programs coming off losses will have a chance to springboard themselves back into contention. 

What does the crystal ball have in store? Let's take a look at this weekend's biggest games.



Game to Watch:

Florida State vs. Miami

The Hurricanes and Seminoles are two teams going in different directions. Miami is coming off back-to-back losses to Notre Dame and North Carolina, and have scored just 17 total points in those two losses.  Meanwhile, the Hurricanes defense is struggling mightily as they have allowed over 32 points per contest this season, ranking them 95th in the nation in the category. 

FSU's only loss this season was a 17-16 stunner at the hands of the Wolfpack of NC State a couple of weeks ago.  Their defense has been rock steady all season so far, allowing just 11 points per game, ranking them 4th in the nation.  Look for the Seminoles to keep their slim title hopes alive by attacking the Miami QBs (whoever they may be) with relentless pressure from the outside. 

Prediction: Florida State 42   Miami 23

Honorable Mention:

Virginia Tech vs. Clemson

One word: Hopkins


Big Ten

Game to Watch:

Nebraska vs. Northwestern

Wildcats running back Venric Mark leads a talented group of players in what could be a 7-1 start for Pat Fitzgerald and his team.  Northwestern seemingly over-achieves every year and this season is no different. In short, they are shining when it counts the most.  If not for blowing a lead in the fourth quarter two weeks ago against Penn State they would be undefeated right now.  The Wildcats rank 18th in the nation with over 228 rushing yards per game and their defense has been pretty steady. 

Getting another punt return TD from Mark wouldn’t hurt either versus the Huskers. He is averaging almost 29 yards per return with two touchdowns already this season. 

Speaking of running the football, the Huskers aren’t bad themselves in that area.  They are averaging nearly 300 yards per game on the ground – good for 5th in the nation.  However, it will be up to their QB, Taylor Martinez, and their porous defense (75th in the nation in points against per game), that determines the outcome of this game.

Prediction: Nebraska 24   Northwestern 31

Honorable Mention:

Michigan State vs. Michigan

One word: Rivalry


Big East

Game to Watch:

Rutgers vs. Temple

Rutgers is 6-0 despite the departure of long-time head coach Greg Schiano, and the Scarlet Knights continue to “chop wood”, ranking 3rd in the nation allowing just 11.5 points per game.  Their defense has been stellar and a lot of the credit should go to new head coach Kyle Flood, along with the players themselves.  Rutgers may not score in bunches, but their defense is phenomenal and currently maintains a +13 turnover margin through just six games. 

However, do not think for a minute that this will be a walkover for the Owls of Temple.  Coming off a thrilling overtime win versus Connecticut last weekend, the Owls are now 2-0 in conference play and their only two losses have been close calls to two ACC opponents.  They are a tough team who finds ways to get it done in the crunch.  One thing that must improve though is the Temple passing game, which ranks 120th in the country with just 132 yards per game through the air.  This will be a grind-it-out battle for first place in the Big East.

Prediction: Rutgers 16   Temple 10

Honorable Mention:

Cincinnati vs. Toledo

One word: Fireworks

Big 12

Game to Watch:

Kansas State vs. West Virginia

The West Virginia Mountaineers were held to just 14 points last week versus the Texas Tech Red Raiders.  That was the first time all year that they were held below 31 points. Think that will happen again?  Me neither. 

Look for the nation’s 7th ranked scoring offense and 3rd ranked passing offense to rebound this week versus the tough-as-nails, immovable objects of Kansas State. 

Wildcats coach Bill Snyder may just be the national coach of the year so far.  His team possesses a mental toughness and football IQ higher than most in the country and the Wildcats also have a powerful rushing attack, averaging over 248 yards per game on the ground.  Geno Smith and the Mountaineers won’t have a pitiful game like they did last week, but the difference will come down to the two defenses.  One is 32nd in the country in total defense while the other is 117th.  Sorry, Mountaineers. 

Prediction: Kansas State 38   West Virginia 35

Honorable Mention:

Baylor vs. Texas

One word: Longhorns


Pac 12

Game to Watch:

Oregon vs. Arizona State

So obviously this one is more of a recap since this game was already played on Thursday night.  But WOW, anyone who witnessed this beat down has to understand why coach Chip Kelly and the Ducks should be considered true national title contenders. 

Arizona State came into the game ranked in the top 10 in the country in total defense and had only allowed more than 200 rushing yards in a game once this season… until the Ducks piled up 454 yards of offense on them (406 of it on the ground).  By halftime, the Ducks had already put up 357 yards from scrimmage and were leading 43-7.  The Ducks also picked off Taylor Kelly twice in the game, bringing their total to 14 interceptions on the season (2nd in the country) while sacking him five times, bringing their season total to 22 (6th in the country) – Game.  Over.

Honorable Mention:

Utah vs. Oregon State

One word: Defense



Game to Watch:

South Carolina vs. Florida

In the juiciest matchup of the weekend, the Gamecocks of South Carolina go up against the Gators of Florida in “the Swamp” down in Gainesville.  This game will be such an epic battle and is a very hard one to call. 

The defenses are dead even as South Carolina comes in with the 11th ranked defense in the country and Florida’s weighs in at 12th.  Florida’s back seven is better, but South Carolina’s front seven is better.  Marcus Lattimore and Mike Gillislee are both solid at running back. 

Florida has the slight home edge in this game as well, but at the end of the day this game comes down to Gators’ QB Jeff Driskel and his ability to throw the football.  The Gators currently rank 118th in the nation in passing offense.  Sure, Driskel can run it when he needs to, but can he find his open receivers?  Will his receivers be open?  These are the answers that will determine the outcome of this game.

Meanwhile, the Gamecocks will be relying on the same forces that have gotten them to this point – Connor Shaw, Marcus Lattimore and their defensive front.  If we all thought the LSU – South Carolina game was hard-hitting last weekend, I don’t think we’ve seen anything yet.

Prediction: South Carolina 17   Florida 16

Honorable Mention:

LSU vs. Texas A&M

Two words: Twelfth Man

Brian Vornberg is the lead college football writer for CraveOnline Sports.  Follow Brian on Twitter @briberg14 or subscribe to CraveOnline Sports on Facebook.   

Photo Credit: Tyler Kaufman/Icon SMI