College Football Forecast: 11/21

Updated: Nov 20, 2020

Another action-packed weekend is among us in college football with several big-time matchups within the top 25. Although there is a series of games that have been canceled or postponed, this weekend will feature some tremendous contests.

Even with #4 Clemson taking on Florida State and #6 Florida facing off against Vanderbilt, both at noon, there are still five bigger matchups that will take place this weekend.

5.) #1 Alabama vs. Kentucky

The Tide continue to roll along as the number one team in the nation following their two-week hiatus that saw last weekend’s game against LSU get canceled.

Heisman candidate Mac Jones has surpassed expectations this year following the departure of Tua Tagovailoa for the draft. Jones has passed for 2,196 yards and an exceptional 78.5% completion rating. Jones has also been very good at reading pressure and holding onto the ball, which has made this Alabama offense that much better. He leads one of the best offenses in the nation that averages 47.2 points per game and ranks third in the nation in passing yards.

Jones has the benefit of throwing to several talented receivers like DeVonta Smith and John Metchie III even without future NFL draft pick Jaylen Waddle, who suffered a broken ankle against Tennessee earlier this season.

Running back Najee Harris provides the Bama offense with an electric run game that helps balance the offense overall. Kentucky will have a handful with Harris and his 14 rushing scores.

In this matchup, Kentucky has a slim chance to walk away with a win. The Wildcats sit 3-4 on the season with their most impressive victory coming against, then 18th ranked Tennessee, 34-7.

Kentucky has struggled to score points this season averaging around 23 points per game, which is not up to par to be a competitive team in the SEC, especially against top teams like Alabama.

The Wildcats’ defense has been solid this year, which has propelled them to their three wins. They held a Mississippi State team that had scored a combined 58 points, to just two points in their third game of the season. Kentucky’s defense has also been a ball-hawking machine as they have recorded 11 interceptions, which ranks them fourth in the nation in that category.

This game from the opening kick will be out of reach for Kentucky and the Crimson Tide will rack up points quite easily.

Prediction: Alabama wins 42-17

4.) #10 Wisconsin vs. #19 Northwestern

Wisconsin returned to play last weekend and absolutely throttled Michigan 49-11. Following their season-opening victory against Illinois, this game helped prove their point that they are legitimate contenders this season not only in the Big 10 but in the College Football Playoff.

Graham Mertz added another two touchdowns in the air to continue his solid start to his season. However, this game was won on the ground as Wisconsin ran all over the Wolverines, putting up 341 yards and five touchdowns. Four different backs ran for more than 65 yards and added four of their scores.

Wisconsin’s defense through two games has held opponents to under two scores. The Badgers forced two interceptions on back-to-back drives from Michigan quarterback Joe Milton, which led to prime field position and two consecutive touchdowns. Wisconsin never looked back following those two huge changes of possessions.

Northwestern enters this matchup 4-0 for the first time in the Big 10 since 1996. Quarterback Peyton Ramsey has led the Wildcats this season with 723 passing yards along with 122 yards on the ground.

Although this team has been able to score points, their success has come down to their defensive play. The Wildcats have limited teams to 14 points per game, which ranks them sixth in the nation. Cornerback Brandon Joseph has picked off the ball three different times, leading this team in that category and helping Northwestern gain strong field position.

If Northwestern can continue to play well on the defensive side of the ball, they may have a chance in this game. Throughout history, this matchup has been tightly contested as the teams have split the last six games, however, Wisconsin will break that gridlock this weekend.

Prediction: Wisconsin wins 24-18

3.) #7 Cincinnati vs. UCF

With three games left in their season campaign, Cincinnati looks to keep their playoff hopes alive. Although they are outside of the power five, the Bearcats have a strong case heading into the next few weeks to make the College Football Playoff as they are 7-0. This matchup against UCF will be critical with the Knights sitting at 5-2.

The Bearcats continually prove to be an explosive team as they score around 41 points per game. Last Friday, quarterback Desmond Ridder and Cincinnati erupted for 55 points as they scored seven total touchdowns. Ridder threw for 327 yards and tossed three touchdowns.

The defensive group for the Bearcats has been one of the best in the country as they have held opponents to an average of 12.4 points per game, which ranks second amongst teams that have played at least seven games. The defensive squad also added to their interception numbers with three against East Carolina that now puts them with 12 on the season.

As Cincinnati aims to keep their College Football Playoff hopes alive, they have an opportunity to increase their chances with this matchup against UCF. The Knights have been one of the most talked-about non-power five teams. Including this season, the Knights have gone 40-6 over the past four years, which saw them go 13-0 in 2017.

This year the Knights have been one of the most powerful passing teams in the nation. UCF sits first averaging 396.9 yards through the air. Sophomore quarterback Dillon Gabriel has thrown for 2,774 passing yards so far this season, along with 23 touchdowns. On the receiving end, Marion Williams has recorded 942 receiving yards, which places him second in the nation, and eight touchdowns.

The Knights are nine points shy of being undefeated, however, that is not the case because of their lack of defense this year. If UCF can play an ounce of defense against Cincinnati they have a shot of winning this football game.

This game will be one of the most exciting games of the weekend as both teams can rack up points. It will come down to who can make one more stop on defense.

Prediction: Cincinnati wins 52-45

2.) #14 Oklahoma State vs. #18 Oklahoma

The Bedlam Series is primed for another tremendous matchup as both teams rank within the top 20. Oklahoma has dominated this series 89-18-7, but this year Oklahoma State comes into this game ranked higher than the Sooners for the first time since 2013.

Oklahoma State’s one blemish this year was against Texas, which prompted them to fall eight spots in the rankings. In the Cowboys’ last game, which was against Kansas State, they squeaked out a 20-18 win. The typically high power offense only scored one time and relied heavily on the defense.

The Cowboys defensive core has constantly played solid throughout this year. Their pass defense ranks seventh in the nation and it showed against KSU, holding quarterback Will Howard to 143 yards and forced an interception. However, the game-changing play came in the fourth quarter via a fumble, which was forced by Israel Antwine and recovered by Jason Taylor II, who ran 85 yards for a touchdown.

Oklahoma State’s defense will have a tall task this week with the high-powered Oklahoma offense on the other side. The Sooners put up 62 points on Kansas in their last game. This offense has racked up 46.1 points per game this season behind the play of freshman quarterback Spencer Rattler, who has thrown for 2,018 yards. The Sooners have a plethora of receivers at Rattler’s disposal, including Marvin Mims who has caught seven touchdowns this season.

The Sooners had a field day at getting after the Jayhawks’ quarterbacks as they recorded nine sacks and forced two interceptions. Oklahoma’s defense as a whole has been solid, but in their two games that they have lost they have let up 38 and 37 points, respectively.

It will truly be bedlam in this matchup as both teams will look to keep their hopes alive for the Big 12 championship game.

Prediction: Oklahoma wins 41-34

1.) #9 Indiana vs. #3 Ohio State

A massive Big 10 matchup will take place at Ohio Stadium this Saturday with big implications on the line for the Big 10 East division.

Indiana currently sits at 4-0 in the Big 10 for the first time since 1987. The Hoosiers’ stunning season will have a potential for another fairy tale ending in this game when they take on the third-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes.

Michael Penix Jr. has led this team in taking down number eight Penn State earlier in the year and number 23 Michigan just a few weeks ago. He has thrown for 1,070 yards and nine touchdowns. Ty Fryfogle has been a favorite of Penix so far this season, connecting with him for 424 yards and four touchdowns.

The Hoosiers defense has been strong all season as they are coming off of a shutout against Michigan State. They held the Spartans to 191 yards of total offense, including three interceptions, with two of them coming from Tiawan Mullen.

The Hoosiers will look to upset Ohio State, who has had a solid start to the season thus far. The Buckeyes come off of a two-week hiatus following the cancellation of their game against Maryland due to COVID-19.

The Buckeyes offense has once again shown why they have one of the best groups in the nation each year as they are currently averaging 46.3 points per game. Quarterback Justin Fields has been phenomenal so far this season throwing for 908 yards and 11 touchdown passes, along with not throwing an interception. Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave have combined for six touchdown receptions and have been the go-to targets for Fields.

On the other side of the ball, the Buckeyes defense has not met the standards of previous seasons so far, but they have still been relatively stout. The Buckeyes will look to shut down the thriving Hoosiers’ offense in hopes to pace themselves ahead in this game.

The Buckeyes have won the last 27 matchups against the Hoosiers. Indiana looks to flip the narrative this season with their momentum from their 4-0 start. However, Ohio State is just too dominant for Indiana to take down.

Prediction: Ohio State wins 31-20