The Baylor Bears have moved up to the number two ranking in the polls after a stellar performance in Lawrence. While the Bears will take on West Virginia this weekend, several other top teams will be playing key games.
With the second half of the season under way, every game matters for the top programs vying for an opportunity to make the College Football Playoffs.
No. 10 Alabama at No. 9 Texas A&M
The Crimson Tide and the Aggies have made the most of their matchups since A&M joined the SEC in 2012. The Aggies field one of the nation’s most explosive offenses, with their sophomore signal caller Kyle Allen evolving into an all around beast.
Freshman receiver Christian Kirk has also given A&M a big play receiver, something that they have not had since the departure of Mike Evans. Kirk’s ability on the outside, as well running back Tra Carson dashing between the tackles, gives the Aggies as potent an offense as they’ve ever had.
However, Bama’s defense has been improving week to week. While the Aggie defense has certainly improved with the hiring of John Chavis, Alabama’s Derrick Henry will most likely run all over the place as he’s done all season.
The Aggies have one of the best defensive lines in football led by defensive end Myles Garrett. The sophomore pass rusher is an absolute freak of nature, registering 7.5 sacks on the season.
The matchup between the Aggies D-line and the Alabama offensive line will most likely determine the outcome of the game. The crowd at Kyle Field should also give the Aggies a huge advantage, though the away team has won 2 of the last 3 meetings.
Alabama 31 Texas A&M 34
No. 7 Michigan State at No. 12 Michigan
The Wolverines are finally back under the leadership of Jim Harbaugh and looking for blood. With the Wolverines only losing to Utah in the first week of the season, Michigan fields one of the best defenses in the nation, ranking 2nd in yards allowed per game.
Michigan has also posted three consecutive shutouts, allowing only 6.3 points per game, tops in the nation. Their offense has been stagnant through the air, however running backs De’Veon Smith and Ty Isaac have become a great one-two punch in the backfield.
The Spartans will test the Wolverines on both fronts, with quarterback Connor Cook leading the Spartan attack. Michigan State has been the victim of some close matchups recently, falling in the rankings due to their subpar play.
All rankings aside, Michigan State is still undefeated and still capable of making the playoffs. With Michigan playing at a high level as of late along, expect them to come out firing on all cylinders defensively against their inner state rivals in Ann Arbor.
Michigan State 17 Michigan 21
No. 8 Florida at No. 6 LSU
In the weekend’s prime matchup, the revived Florida Gators will travel to Death Valley and face LSU. Florida’s 16th ranked defense will face its toughest test yet in LSU’s phenomenal running back Leonard Fournette. Fournette leads the nation in rushing, as well as most Heisman ballots.
The sophomore has been absolutely unstoppable, rushing for at least 158 yards in each game this year. Coming into the season, LSU was questioned regarding their quarterback play. However, Brandon Harris has been the ultimate game manager, tossing no interceptions and only 610 yards.
For the Gators, defense has been winning their games. Sophomore corner Vernon Hargreaves III is the best cover corner in college football, completely taking away an entire side of the field.
Offensively, quarterback Will Grier and a stable of backs have been playing efficient football. However, Grier is now suspended for performance enhancing drugs, opening the door for Treon Harris to return as the starter.
Harris was initially the Gator’s starter for 2015, with Grier beating him out. Against a stout LSU defense, Harris will look to avoid mistakes as well as manage the clock, keeping Fournette off the field. Expect a tight, typical SEC matchup, with Fournette most likely stealing the show.
Florida 14 LSU 28