Another weekend and another pack of games that will have a huge impact on the BCS national title race. Saturday might be the biggest day of the season for the PAC-12 as UCLA plays at Oregon and Stanford at Oregon State. Texas Tech will look to keep itself at the top of the BIG 12 standings, while Ohio State hopes to avoid being upset by Penn State.
No. 10 Texas Tech (7-0, 4-0 BIG 12) @ No. 15 Oklahoma (6-1, 3-2), 3:30 pm: Freshman quarterback Davis Webb has played lights-out football since taking over for injured starter Baker Mayfield, throwing for 877 yards, 5 TDs and 1 INT. Saturday should represent Webb’s biggest challenge of the season. The Sooners are ranked ninth in the country in scoring defense (17.1 ppg). To crack Oklahoma’s front seven, the Red Raiders need to get RBs Kenny Williams and DeAndre Washington early. That will take some of the pressure off Webb. Oklahoma, while not as prolific through the air as Texas Tech, has a good enough ground game to control time of possession. Brennan Clay (496 yds, 3 TDs) and Damien Williams (315 yds, 3 TDs) lead an Oklahoma running game that averaged 227.9 yards per game. Six Oklahoma running backs have gained 119 or more yards this season. This game will certainly be a clash in styles.
A win for the Red Raiders guarantees they will still be in at least a tie for first place with Baylor and Texas heading into a huge game at Oklahoma State on Nov. 2.
No. 21 South Carolina (5-2, 3-2 SEC) @ No. 5 Missouri (7-0, 3-0), 7:00: Consecutive wins over Georgia and Florida has people believing in Missouri. A win against the Gamecocks would move the Tigers one step closer to locking down the SEC East. But can Maty Mauk, who threw for 295 yards 1 TD and 1 INT in last week’s 36-17 win over Florida, keep up the good work? When senior QB James Franklin went down with a shoulder injury during the Tigers’ 41-26 win at Georgia on Oct. 12, most people believed Missouri’s shot at a league title was dashed. Not so fast. The Missouri offense didn’t miss a beat against Florida with Mauk at the helm. A win against the Gamecocks and then against Tennessee the following week would give them the SEC East title.
As for South Carolina, Steve Spurrier’s crew will be playing the role of underdog/spoiler. Winning at Missouri will be a tall order with quarterback Connor Shaw (knee) expected to miss Saturday’s action. Dylan Thompson will start at quarterback instead. Thompson saw significant action in the Gamecocks 28-25 win over UCF on September 28, throwing for 261 yards and an INT. He’ll need to be much better if South Carolina is to upset Missouri.
No. 12 UCLA (5-1, 2-1 PAC-12) @ No. 3 Oregon (7-0, 4-0), 7:00: There’s no denying that this game will get a ton of hype thanks to Oregon QB Marcus Mariota and UCLA signal caller Brett Hundley. But the game is likely to be decided by who can control the line of scrimmage. Mariota has been nothing short of awesome, throwing for 2,051 yards, 19 TDs and no INTs. He has also run for 493 yards and 10 TDs. Throw in the production put forth by RBs Byron Marshall (746 yds, 9 TDs) and Thomas Tyner (360 yds, 7 TDs) and you have a very prolific offense. If De’Anthony Thomas (338 yds, 6 TDs), who has missed the last three games comes back, you have an offense that could be unstoppable.
Hundley (1,661 yds, 13 TDs, 6 INTs) proved he was the real deal after throwing for 294 yards and 3 TDs in a comeback win over Nebraska on September 14. But he can’t afford any senseless turnovers. Despite his solid play, he can be erratic throwing the ball at times. That became evident during the Bruins’ 24-10 loss at Stanford last week. The sophomore completed 24 of 39 passes for just 192 yards, 1 TD and 2 INTs. That won’t get it done against Oregon. He could be at a disadvantage on Saturday RB Jordan James, who has missed two straight games, can’t go. The same for left tackle Simon Goines, who left last Saturday’s game because of a bad knee.
No. 6 Stanford (6-1, 4-1 PAC-12) @ No. 25 Oregon State (6-1, 4-0): Oregon State was left for dead after losing to Eastern Washington. Now the Beavers find themselves in the thick of the PAC-12 race…Penn State (4-2, 1-1 Big Ten) @ No. 4 Ohio State (7-0, 3-0): No one thought this game was going to be important before the season started. It is now…No. 9 Clemson (6-1, 4-1 ACC) @ Maryland (5-1, 1-2): Time to find out if Clemson’s brutal loss to Florida State an aberration or a trend…