Surprise performances and unexpected results are expected every weekend in the wild world of college football. Even though everyone knows they are coming, it’s hard to guess when and where they will happen.
USA TODAY Sports University football staff – Jace Evans, Paul Myerberg, Brent Schrotenboer, Erick Smith, Eddie Timanus and Dan Wolken – weigh in with bold predictions for Week 6 of the season:
Alabama enter Saturday’s game against Georgia with a shocking 65th shock to the country in all-out defense after their defensive debacle against Ole Miss. But Crimson Tide’s offense continues to roll, even with Tua Tagovailoa and two first-round receivers gone to the NFL. Steve Sarkisian’s unit is third in the country in yards per game, and the Crimson Tide is the country’s most successful team. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs look like the Alabama team in the early days of its dynasty, their second defense of the country complemented by a methodical and shattering attack.
So who wins this last game of the century? As strong as Georgia seemed, I’m continuing with Alabama – even after Tide had a huge key in their preparation with Coach Nick Saban’s positive test for COVID-19.
MAJOR ISSUES:What’s online when No.2 Alabama vs. No.3 Georgia face off
TOP FIVE:Week 7 games that will impact the college football playoffs
What to watch:Five big questions for week 7 in college football
No matter who oversees him, it’s hard to imagine Crimson Tide’s defense embarrassed two weeks in a row. Part of the optimism on this front stems from Georgia’s conservative offensive approach. Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart is clearly a fan of the grind-it-out formula that Alabama relied on to win four national titles (2009, 2011, 2012, 2015) during his tenure as as defensive coordinator of Crimson Tide. Against most teams, Georgia face, even in SEC, to beat until the dam is broken. In this contest, however, Georgia’s offense won’t have the luxury of gaining talent over time. As great as Georgia’s defense has been, Alabama will score points, and it will be up to the Dawgs’ offense to respond. A deliberate low-explosive play approach could play into the game of an Alabama defense that’s still loaded with talent, despite its unusual struggles.
Alabama sans Saban beats Georgia and ranks # 1 in the Amway Coaches poll. Beating the Bulldogs with Sarkissian in place of the six-time national champion will make the Crimson Tide the team to beat in the SEC and in the playoff race. But losing doesn’t have a dramatic impact on the Bulldogs’ chances, as Kirby Smart’s side have plenty of time to get back into the top four. In addition, the two SEC powers are expected to meet again in the conference championship game.
Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher got part of his big contract by upsetting one of Florida’s top five teams last week at home. But now we see a different kind of test for him and Mississippi State coach Mike Leach. Fisher’s Aggies play Saturday in Starkville, where the Bulldogs were tied to the Leach roller coaster: After a top-flight victory over reigning National Champion LSU in the season opener, they crashed with back-to-back losses, leading to Leach’s usual crackdown on alignment. in response. He’s done those spells the same way before and knows how to modify A&M, having played 7-3 against the Aggies when he coached at Texas Tech from 2000 to 2009. A&M hasn’t won at Mississippi State since. 2012. The Bulldogs win in another Leach special over the Aggies.
Through three games, Auburn is pretty much what was expected. The Tigers are inconsistent on both sides of the ball, especially as quarterback Bo Nix struggles to carry a team that isn’t as strong defensively as in 2019. A disappointing loss to Georgia and an unlikely win at home against Arkansas for the past two weeks. illustrate the challenges facing the team.
A Saturday trip to South Carolina awaits Auburn and recent performances are set to improve considerably. The Gamecocks may be 1-2, but they’ve played Tennessee and Florida up close. With this home game, South Carolina leveled its record and created additional questions about the future of the Tigers.
During Clemson’s dominance over the ACC that began in 2015, the Tigers lost a total of two league games. That number has fallen to zero since Trevor Lawrence joined in 2018.
That’s not to say the Tigers haven’t had any close calls during that time. Last year’s narrow breakout came in Week 4 against North Carolina before we realized how quickly Mack Brown’s return to Chapel Hill would bring results.
The top 10 showdown with Miami last Saturday was a potential stumbling block in theory, but Clemson was everyone in the spotlight in prime time – despite ill-advised fielding attempts from 61 yards. This Saturday’s visit to Georgia Tech seems a lot less intimidating. The Yellow Jackets have had two league wins which could be two more than many thought they had at this point. Granted, those wins have been against Florida State and Louisville, who have no league wins between them.
As such, the Yellow Jackets might not get Clemson’s attention like Miami did a week ago in a much more attractive TV window – and this is where the Tigers sometimes run into trouble. When Clemson struggles to drive an opponent away from ACC, it usually happens in one of those early games like this.
So will the Tigers really lose? No, they’ll put the pedal to the metal when they have to. But they might not shoot all cylinders. Don’t be shocked if half-time comes around and things are still a bit risky.
Regardless of Saban’s positive COVID-19 test, a diagnosis that will likely keep him out of the stadium on Saturday, it seems like the right time for Georgia to finally beat Alabama. In a year where so many teams struggle with defense, which could have stemmed from the irregular ways that teams have had to train this year to explain the coronavirus, it looks like the Bulldogs are ahead of the game. . The key numbers for this Saturday: Georgia is allowing just 3.7 yards per game and racked up 10 sacks in three games. Being able to generate pressure is going to be huge in slowing Mac Jones and an Alabama offense ranked second nationally in passing at 385 yards per game. Georgia may not be the most dynamic offensive team, but Alabama’s struggling defense will give up points. Georgia will get more saves in this game and come away with a key win early in the season.