Heading into the seasons fourth week, we are past a majority of the OOC cupcake matchups, meaning we are starting to get into the meat of the season. Obviously that doesn’t pertain to Clemson, as the #1 Tigers get set for their first OOC “tuneup” game of the season at home vs C-USA member Charlotte.
After not having one game that pitted ranked opponents against each other last weekend, this weekend we have three. Each week will look at some of the more intriguing games of the weekend, and give takes on how we think they play out. And if you’re tempted to take our word for it, we suggest taking another look at the title before calling the bookie.
Tennessee at #9 Florida, Noon (ESPN)
Few teams have had a more disastrous start to the 2019 season than the Vols. They head into The Swamp as a 14 point underdog, and that is with the Gators now having to turn to backup QB Kyle Trask, who will be making his first start since he was a freshman in high school. Last week he was 9-13 for 126 yards as he brought the Gators back in a 29-21 win over Kentucky. The Gators could also be without two of their best defenders, DE Jabari Zuniga and DB CJ Henderson. Both are nursing ankle injuries and likely won’t be 100% if they do play. However, this is a bad Vols team. A terribly bad Vols team, and the Gators looked better with Trask than they did with Felipe Franks….. Gators win and cover
#11 Michigan at #13 Wisconsin. Noon (FOX)
Early preseason lines had Michigan around a TD favorite over the Badgers, but the number has now swung all the way around. The Badgers enter tomorrow as 3.5 point favorites at home and the Wolverines are just 1-5 in road games against ranked teams since Harbaugh took over. Both teams are coming off of a bye, which came at a good time for Michigan, as they were not playing well in their first two games. Remember, they needed OT to beat Army. The same can not be said for Wisconsin however, as they have yet to allow a point through their first two games, and have surrendered just 132 total yards. Combined. Yes, it was against weak competition, but it isn’t as much about who they did it against as it is how they did it. Plus, Michigan hasn’t won in Madison since 2001….. Badgers win and cover
#8 Auburn at #17 Texas A&M, 3:30 pm (CBS)
Auburn freshman QB Bo Nix makes his first career road start and Kyle Field’s 11th Man won’t be very welcoming. Nix has been getting lots of praise for his play thus far, but has he really been that good? Yes, he led the comeback against Oregon, but his mistakes were a big part of why the Tigers trailed much of that game. The A&M defense played pretty well in their loss at Clemson, bottling up RB Travis Etienne most of the day, and holding the Tigers to just 24 points. This Auburn offense isn’t nearly as explosive as Clemson’s. The Aggies are 4.5 point home favorites, and if their D comes to play it isn’t inconceivable to think they win big….. A&M wins and covers
UofSC at Missouri, 4 pm (SECN)
The Gamecock offense looks much more explosive with freshman Ryan Hillinski taking the snaps. He had himself a pretty good showing last weekend vs big, bad Bama but that was in Williams Brice. This weekend he makes his first career road start against Mizzou, and former Clemson QB Kelly Bryant. The Tigers are 9.5 point home favorites and that just seems a little high. WE won’t go as far as to say UofSC wins outright, but….. Take UofSC plus the 9.5
#7 Notre Dame at #3 Georgia, 8 pm (CBS)
This is the big one of week 4. The Irish are coming into Sanford Stadium a big underdog, as Georgia is a 14.5 point favorite. The Irish have been good against the pass but defending the run has been an entirely different story. Their run defense ranks just 120th in the nation and opponents have rushed for more than 5 yards per carry. Not quite the recipe for slowing down this Georgia offense, which relies heavily on the ground game. On defense, Georgia has the talent to keep Ian Book contained in the pocket, which is exactly what Clemson did to him in the Cotton Bowl. Making him throw from the pocket makes him much less effective. Since 1999, the Irish are just 1-18 against teams ranked in the Top 5….. Dawgs win big and cover