With week six rolling into focus, many college football teams who have been granted access to play are heading into the heart of their schedules.
It has been proven that games will come at a premium this college football season with cancellations left and right due to the Coronavirus. Baylor has been the most recent team to suspend activities due to recent positive COVID-19 cases.
As teams march forward, here are some of the marquee matchups heading into the weekend and possible outcomes for these contests.
5. #22 Texas Longhorns vs. Oklahoma Sooners
There are many aspects of the Red River Showdown will be much different than any game between the two rivals in recent history. The hype around this game has been lackluster as there will be no packed stadium at the Cotton Bowl. Also, for the first time in four seasons, only one team enters this matchup ranked and to its surprise, it is not Oklahoma. It is the first time since 2005 that the Sooners will not enter the matchup as a ranked team.
All eyes will be on the quarterback battle. Sam Ehlinger and Spencer Rattler both find themselves in the top ten in passing. Ehlinger is a four-year starter for the Longhorns and a veteran in the Showdown. With his 924 passing yards, he has tossed 14 touchdowns, the most in the nation. On the other hand, Rattler has been shaky through his first couple of starts leading his team to a 1-2 record, while throwing four picks.
Not all the blame falls on the shoulders of Rattler as he has helped the team average 37.7 points per game. The Sooners are currently averaging 25 points allowed per game. Their defense has had no answer for the pass as they have allowed an average of 232 yards per game. Texas will look to target Oklahoma’s defensive backs as the Longhorns lead the nation with an average of 51 points per game.
This game may not feature two powerful top 25 teams but will display a gun-slinging show as Ehlinger and Rattler will go toe-to-toe down to the wire.
Prediction: Texas wins 42-35
4. #19 Virginia Tech vs. #8 North Carolina
Due to the postponed start dates for the Big 10 and Pac 12, the ACC has seen the spotlight a lot more often this year. North Carolina has emerged as a legit contender in the ACC with the strong play from quarterback Sam Howell.
Both teams started off with a rugged path as each team found extended time off due to cancellations, but the two have started 2-0, respectively.
The Tar Heels possess not only an elite pass game with Howell slinging the ball, but dynamic playmakers, Dyami Brown, Beau Corrales, and Dazz Newsome, at the receiving end have made this offense much more potent. Bring in the two-featured backs, Michael Carter and Javonte Williams, and the Tar Heels have one of the most threatening offenses in the nation.
Virginia Tech through two games has exceeded expectations as they are averaging 41.5 points per game. The Hokies have the third-best rushing game in the nation as they average 319 yards per game.
This matchup will come down to whether one of the nation’s top running backs in Tech’s Khalil Herbert can find success against the best rush defense in the Tar Heels.
Prediction: Virginia Tech wins 26-24
3. #4 Florida vs. #21 Texas A&M
Florida may be one of the most compelling teams in football this season. Kyle Trask has emerged as a Heisman favorite, along with the elite pass-catching tight end Kyle Pitts. In just two games, the duo has connected six times to find the end zone for the Gators.
Florida’s hard-nose defense also allows this team to be one of the most versatile squad’s on both sides of the ball. It depends on how Kellen Mond responds in order for the Aggies to have a chance. Also, the Aggies have only one true offensive threat in Ainas Smith who has three of the six scores for the offense.
The Aggies defense has allowed an abysmal 32 points per game. This defense will crack at its foundation once Trask begins to move the ball around to his trustee receivers. Pitts might have another field day in this matchup.
This could be the true coming-out party of the 2020 Florida Gators as Texas A&M may have no chance even with the home-field advantage.
Prediction: Florida wins 45-20
2. #3 Georgia vs. #14 Tennesse
Both SEC squads have opened the season with two victories in two games. Tennesse has strung together eight wins dating back to last season as third-year head coach Jeremey Pruitt has them as one of the emerging teams of the season.
Tennesse has put up two performances north of 30 points behind the solid quarterback play of Jarrett Guarantano. The running back tandem of Ty Chandler and Eric Gray has put college football on alert.
The duo, however, will have to face one of the most fierce rush defenses in the nation. Georgia has only allowed an average of 58 yards per game through their opening games. Linebacker Nakobe Dean and Nolan Smith have been pivotal in the run-stopping unit.
The Bulldogs reiterated last week that they are a true top-four team with a commanding 27-6 win over number seven Auburn. Quarterback Stetson Bennett has earned himself the starting role in Athens as there was speculation on who would start for this Georgia team.
Prediction: Georgia wins 31-20
1. #1 Clemson vs. #7 Miami
In what may arguably be the best matchup of the college football season slate, these two teams will duel it out in an intense contest. The ACC has been thrown into the spotlight with the lack of other teams playing thus far.
Clemson once again has written out its explanation for being the best team in college football as they follow the lead of world-class quarterback Trevor Lawrence. The Tigers have appeared in five straight college football playoffs cementing themselves as one of the best dynasties in college football.
However, the Miami Hurricanes look to bring their swagger into Death Valley and upset the best team in the nation. If there is a team to knock off the number one squad this season, it’s these Canes.
D’Eriq King has become one of the most versatile players in the country and has transformed the Hurricanes’ offense into a competitive bunch. Cam’Ron Harris’ 311 rush yards has also aided this offensive core into a serious threat for opposing teams.
On the other side of the ball, the Hurricanes pride themselves on the turnover chain. Since its establishment, the Canes have the most turnovers in all of college football.
Travis Etienne, Amari Rogers, and Lawrence look to keep the ball out of the Hurricanes’ hands in hopes to hold off any offensive field time.
So far this season there have been plenty of upsets, including the number three Oklahoma Sooners who fell in week four. The Tigers may be next on this list as the Canes storm into Death Valley
Prediction: Miami 35-31