Welcome to Week Five of The Lowe Down.
Well, it happened. Tennessee finally beat Florida. All those years of anguish turned into one wild party last Saturday night in Knoxville. Beer baths were abundant, so were the “We’re No. 1s.” Couches and mattresses were set a blaze, and the quiet guy who never misses a class was found lying outside of Neyland Stadium – safe, but with one heck of sunburn.
Ah yes, last Saturday in Knoxville was a celebration. But more importantly, it could be a sign that ol’ Butch Jones can coach a little bit better than some may think — and that his players may have received the message of playing four quarters of football.
It’s a great time to be a Vols fan no doubt. But remember this, Tennessee plays at Georgia, at Texas A&M, home against Alabama and at South Carolina over its next four games. There’s much work left to be done.
With that said, it should be a thriller in Clemson, South Carolina Saturday night — a matchup of the two best players in college football. Enjoy!
Last week’s record was 13-6, bringing the yearly record to 57-23. To the games we go…
Friday, September 30
No. 7 Stanford (3-0, 2-0 Pac-12) at No. 10 Washington (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) 8:00 p.m. CT
The winner of this game will not only be in the driver’s seat in the Pac-12 North, but it will be officially anointed as the league’s best team. Everyone knows about the dynamic talent Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey is, but few on the East Coast may be aware of Washington’s offensive skill. Dynamic sophomores Jake Browning (904 yards passing, 14 TDs compared to only two picks) and Myles Gaskin (302 yards and two scores on the ground) give the Huskies two solid players at quarterback and tailback, and wideout John Ross can flat out fly. But offense may be hard to come by when these two conference heavyweights lock horns. Stanford, which has won 15 of its last 16 games, is allowing just 12 points per game, while Washington’s D, which leads the nation with 13 takeaways, is allowing 14.5 per outing.
The Lowe Down: Stanford 22, Washington 17
In other Friday games:
Toledo 27 at BYU 31
Saturday, October 1
No. 14 Miami (3-0) at Georgia Tech (3-1, 1-1 ACC) 11:00 a.m.
Paul Johnson-coached teams always gave Mark Richt’s teams’ a tough time while he was at Georgia, but I’m not sure if that will be the case here. Richt has done a nice job putting junior signal-caller Brad Kaaya in position to make plays so far this season, and Miami’s defense has improved dramatically against the run (allowing 1.6 yards per carry) from a season ago. Those two components will come into play in a key Hurricane win.
The Lowe Down: Miami 30, Georgia Tech 22
No. 23 Florida (3-1, 1-1 SEC) at Vanderbilt (2-2, 1-0 SEC) 11:00 a.m.
This is a character game for the Gators after last week’s loss in Knoxville, which, by the way, isn’t that bad of an L considering Jim McElwain’s team was minus starting quarterback Luke Del Rio. If Florida is going to rebound, its offense will need to be crisp for four quarters. Last week against the Vols, it looked like McElwain pulled off the gas too soon and the second-half start proved that. Following an interception by Jalen Tabor on Tennessee’s first possession in the third quarter, Florida went three-and-out on its first five second-half offensive possessions — which led to the vaunted Florida D staying on the field too long, and Tennessee’s unbelievable 38-7 second-half run. Vanderbilt fields one of the best backs in the league in Ralph Webb, and quarterback Kyle Shurmer is coming off his best performance of the year in the 31-30 overtime win over Western Kentucky last week, so the Commodores should have the goods to score. But will they score enough?
The Lowe Down: Florida 28, Vanderbilt 24
No. 8 Wisconsin (4-0, 1-0 B1G) at No. 4 Michigan (4-0, 1-0 B1G) 2:30 p.m. CT
So Wisconsin goes into Spartan Stadium, whips Michigan State and is basically given no chance to win this game? Hmm? Not sure about that. Although the Badgers will be without their best player on defense, Vince Biegel (broken foot), I think Whisky hangs here. I really liked the way Wisconsin’s offensive line controlled Michigan State’s talented D-line last weekend. If the front wall can play at the level, the Badgers will be in every game they play.
The Lowe Down: Wisconsin 24, Michigan 28
No. 11 Tennessee (4-0, 1-0 SEC) at No.25 Georgia (3-1. 1-1 SEC) 2:30 p.m. CT
One streak down, one more important one to go. That’s right. If Tennessee wants to take control of the SEC East division, it must snap a four-game losing streak to the Bulldogs. And if the comeback win over Florida finally got the mojo working for the Vols, then Kirby Smart’s team better strap up the chin strap a little tighter and hold its ground at home. Last week’s blowout loss to Ole Miss proved Georgia’s warts on defense, and Tennessee’s offense, led by aerospace engineering major Joshua Dobbs at quarterback, will eventually wear that unit down.
The Lowe Down: Tennessee 38, Georgia 24
North Carolina (3-1, 1-0 ACC) at No. 12 FSU (3-1, 0-1 ACC) 2:30 p.m. CT
Expect a high-scoring game with these lock horns in Tallahassee, but this is an extremely important game for Florida State. If it goes down 0-2 in conference play, with Clemson left to play, it can pretty much write off its ACC title aspirations. Mitch Tribusky has fit right into North Carolina’s offense and has kept it chugging right along. The junior is averaging 326 yards passing per game, and his favorite target so far has been speedster Ryan Switzer, who doubles as an electrifying punt returner. Expect these two to hook up early and often, but I’m not sure if they’ll be able to outduel the Seminoles’ dynamic duo of quarterback Deondre Francois and tailback Dalvin Cook. Defense will be at a minimum here, so last one with the ball wins.
The Lowe Down: North Carolina 38, Florida State 45
Oklahoma (1-2) at No. 21 TCU (3-1) 4:00 p.m. CT
It’s hard to believe the Sooners could drop to 1-3 after Saturday’s game against the Horned Frogs, but that very well could be the case. Despite returning the core of its offensive firepower, including preseason Heisman candidate Baker Mayfield at quarterback, Oklahoma hasn’t played defense worth a flip. Now some of that is a result of key departures (stars like corner Zack Sanchez, outside linebacker Eric Striker and defensive end Charles Tapper) from last year’s team, but I’ve never been a fan of Mike Stoops-called defenses. And I doubt many Sooner fans are at the moment either. TCU wins a wild one.
The Lowe Down: Oklahoma 36, TCU 39
Memphis 3-0 at No. 16 Ole Miss (2-2, 1-1 SEC) 6:00 p.m. CT
Last year, Memphis absolutely took it to Ole Miss, and the game wasn’t as close as the score (37-24) semi-indicated. But this year’s Tiger team is without Paxton Lynch, who is currently the backup QB for the Denver Broncos, and without head coach Justin Fuente, who is now coaching at Virginia Tech. And although it’s been receiving good offensive production from former Tennessee quarterback Riley Ferguson (843 yards passing, 11 TDs), it’s facing an uphill climb against Hugh Freeze’s bunch. Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly is playing at an extremely high level despite the lack of a consistent run game, and the Rebels offensive line, although young, seems to have found a groove. Throw in the talent Ole Miss has in the passing game (particularly receivers Demore’ea Stringfellow, Demarkus Lodge, Quincy Adeboyejo, Van Jefferson and tight end Evan Engram), and all signs point to a long day for the Tigers’ defense.
The Lowe Down: Memphis 23, Ole Miss 48
Kentucky (2-2, 1-1 SEC) at No. 1 Alabama (4-0, 1-0 SEC) 6:00 p.m. CT
The sudden departure of backup quarterback Blake Barnett and the arrest of outside linebacker/pass rush extraordinaire Tim Williams have made headline this week in Tuscaloosa, but that won’t bother the Crimson Tide this week. But back to Barnett; the kid was just one play away from being the team’s quarterback. Ultimately, the player can do what he wants. But couldn’t he have waited until after the season to transfer? Again, he’s one play away from leading a potential national championship-caliber team. Where’s the loyalty to your teammates? Oh, I forgot, it’s 2016. One area that Alabama needs to get better is along its offensive line. This shouldn’t be much of a game, but keep an eye on that front wall. That unit needs to be playing well with games at Arkansas, at Tennessee and at home against Texas A&M looming.
The Lowe Down: Kentucky 10, Alabama 48
No. 3 Louisville (4-0, 2-0 ACC) at No. 5 Clemson (4-0, 1-0 ACC) 7:00 p.m. CT
Two words: Don’t blink. That’s the kinda game this one’s likely to shape out to be. In one corner, the nation’s most complete quarterback… Clemson’s Deshaun Watson. In the other corner, the nation’s most athletic quarterback… Louisville’s Lamar Jackson. Athletic receivers are all over the place as are talented defenders for both teams. But the key matchup to watch in this game is Clemson’s front seven against Louisville offensive line, and of course, Jackson. The Tigers feature the best defensive line Bobby Petrino’s team will face during the regular season, so it will be imperative for the Cardinals front wall to hold up. If defensive ends Christian Wilkins and Clelin Ferrell and mammoth true freshman defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, all 6-5, 340 pounds of him, along with veteran Carlos Watkins, can disrupt the offensive flow of Louisville enough, it could open up opportunities for turnovers. Perhaps Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables said it best when it comes to stopping Jackson however: “You can do everything right and still be wrong.”
The Lowe Down: Louisville 34, Clemson 37
In other Saturday games:
Rutgers 17 at No. 2 Ohio State 52
Notre Dame 33 at Syracuse 28
No. 13 Baylor 43 at Iowa State 16
No. 22 Texas 38 at Oklahoma State 41
Oregon State 24 at Colorado 35
Louisiana-Monroe 13 at Auburn 49
Illinois 13 at No. 15 Nebraska 38
No. 9 Texas A&M 35 at South Carolina 17
No. 18 Utah 33 at California 43
South Florida 33 at Cincinnati 36
No. 19 San Diego State 32 at South Alabama 28
Utah State 23 at No. 24 Boise State 44