5. Air Force @ Army, 11:30 a.m., CBS, (Air Force -7)
Air Force and Army square off for the 56th time in an early start with the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy on the line. This trophy is given to the winner of a round robin between Army, Navy and Air Force. Since Air Force beat Navy 13-10 this year, they have a chance to win the trophy outright with a win Saturday. If the Falcons lose and Army beats Navy in their end of the season clash, Army would win the trophy. And, if Army beats Air Force but loses to Navy, the trophy will be shared. Both teams have a unique offensive style. Due to restrictions on the height and weight of those in the service academies, the offensive lines of each school are some of the smallest in college football. However, both schools are elite academically and prepare students to become future officers in the armed forces. This makes running the triple option (an offense based on discipline, quickness and deception) perfect for the service academies. Air Force carries a 5-3 record, led by workhorse running back Brad Roberts and dynamic quarterback Haaziq Daniels. Army is 3-4, but with 2 straight wins and a reputation for playing tough defense under head coach Jeff Monken.
4. Texas @ No. 15 Kansas State, 7 p.m., FS1, (Texas -2.5)
Another week, another key Big 12 battle. This week sees the Texas Longhorns head up to Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan, Kansas to face Kansas State in a battle for second in the Big 12. Texas is 5-3, falling victim in close losses to Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Alabama by a combined 11 points over the three games. The Longhorns are coming off of their bye week, which was needed in order to correct some issues after their loss to Oklahoma State. Texas squandered a 31-17 lead and didn’t take care of the ball; three Quinn Ewers interceptions (two in the fourth quarter) was what did them in. Kansas State is coming off of their best win in years, a 48-0 win over the very same Oklahoma State team. Even though dynamic starting quarterback Adrian Martinez was out, backup Will Howard threw for 296 yards and four touchdowns. Deuce Vaughn had 158 yards on the ground and another score. The defense also had a stellar performance, holding Oklahoma State to just 217 yards. Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy stated his team’s performance bluntly, saying they “got their butts kicked.” The transitive property would seem to give the edge to Kansas State, but that rarely works in the tumultuous world of college football.
3. No. 6 Alabama @ No. 15 LSU, 7 p.m., ESPN, (Alabama -13)
The Tide and the Tigers square off in a key battle between two teams with one loss in SEC play. Although LSU lost their opener in heartbreaking fashion to Florida State, the Brian Kelly-led Tigers have rebounded well. Their only other loss is a 40-13 drubbing by Tennessee, who is currently second in the nation. The Tigers have been led by their dual-threat quarterback Jayden Daniels. If the LSU receivers are covered downfield, Daniels is always a threat to scramble for a large gain. Daniels has also taken care of the football, throwing 12 touchdown passes to just one interception. In LSU’s last game, they roared back from a 17-3 deficit to dispatch Ole Miss 45-20. This team can put points on the board, and if they beat Alabama they would shockingly be in the drivers’ seat of the SEC West. The Tide have other plans. After their 49-52 loss to Tennessee, they rebounded with a dominating 30-6 win over Mississippi State. Quarterback Bryce Young continues to wow NFL franchises looking for a franchise centerpiece in the upcoming draft. Will Anderson continues to wreck teams’ gameplans from the defensive side of the ball. Head coach Nick Saban is still the best in the business, and he is 6-1 with the Tide in Tiger Stadium, a venue seen as one of the toughest to play in.
2. No. 5 Clemson @ Notre Dame, 7:30 p.m., NBC, (Clemson -3.5)
If Notre Dame wants to redeem their season and give first year head coach Marcus Freeman some real momentum, this is the game to win. If Clemson wants to continue their ascent to the College Football playoff, they have to get a tough win in the cathedral of college football. It all shapes up for an epic showdown. The Irish have won 5 of their last 6, highlighted by their 41-24 domination of sixteenth ranked Syracuse. They’ve done it under a punishing run game, led by running backs Logan Diggs and Audric Estime. Further, the Irish hold a 26 game regular season winning streak against ACC opponents. The Irish have largely played up and down to their level of competition this year, which gives them a punching chance against Dabo Swinney’s Clemson team. Clemson’s offense is built around running back Will Shipley. If they are able to run the ball with success against the Irish, quarterback DJ Uiagalelei will have a much easier time connecting with his wide receivers. It remains to be seen how much time Uiagalelei will have under center. In their last game, a 27-21 win over Syracuse, Uiagalelei was benched for freshman Cade Klubnik. Klubnik then successfully led a comeback attempt to preserve the win.
1. No. 2 Tennessee @ No. 1 Georgia, 3:30 p.m., CBS, (Georgia -9)
One versus two is a rarity in college football, even more so in the regular season. Georgia has put together a convincing title defense in their first 8 games, highlighted by a season-opening drubbing of an Oregon team that hasn’t lost since. Last week, the Bulldogs took care of Florida after a brief scare. Florida scored 17 unanswered points after falling behind 28-3 to make it a one score game. Georgia responded with 2 touchdowns to ice the game. Tight end Brock Bowers is extremely athletic, and he just had 154 yards in his best game of the season. Quarterback Stetson Bennett IV is not the game-changing player that other top teams have at the position, but he knows how to win. The Bulldogs have much less margin for error against a Tennessee team that is having their best season since their national championship in 1998. The Volunteers haven’t let up since their win against Alabama. Last week, they demolished a ranked Kentucky team 44-6. Wide receiver Jalin Hyatt broke the school record for touchdown catches in a season in just eight games. The Volunteers intercepted NFL prospect Will Levis three times en route to the easy win. Tennessee seems to be playing their best football, but a win over Georgia would be unparalleled.