Welcome to Week Nine of The Lowe Down.
After nine weeks of college football, it’s pretty obvious that Alabama is the best team in the country. In fact, the Crimson Tide has been sitting on top of the FBS mountain for weeks — with its tent pitched and fire going — while its counterparts continue to bear the grueling trek upward.
So while Nick Saban’s scoring machine gets rested and ready for its showdown in Baton Rouge next week against upstart LSU after another impressive win over a Top 10 foe, the rest of the college football wannabes soldier on.
This weekend, there are a number of Top 10 teams that could go from contender to pretender real quick. No. 3 Clemson visits No. 12 Florida State in Tallahassee. Undefeated and seventh-ranked Nebraska has to visit Camp Randall Stadium, where No. 11 Wisconsin awaits … at night. Eighth-ranked Baylor could be in for a battle in Austin. And No. 4-ranked Washington travels to Rice-Eccles Stadium to take on No. 17 Utah.
Now all may come out unscathed, but more than likely one or two will go down.
Last week’s record was 18-4, bringing the yearly record to 124-45. I got to keep it brief this week. We (Lindy’s) are working on a World Series championship edition and are on a tight deadline. Anyways, to the games we go…
Friday, October 28
No. 22 Navy (5-1) at South Florida (6-2) 6:00 p.m. CT
Quarterback Will Worth has the Navy offense clicking on all cylinders and the Midshipmen should pick up chunks of yardage against a South Florida defense that really took a step backwards in last week’s loss to Temple. The Bulls keep this one close, but I like the Midshipmen to keep rolling.
The Lowe Down: Navy 43, South Florida 37
Saturday, October 29
West Virginia (6-0) at Oklahoma State (5-2) 11:00 a.m. CT
West Virginia quarterback Skyler Howard is coming off a four-touchdown performance against TCU and is playing at a high level, and the Mountaineers defense, which limited Texas Tech to just 17 points two weeks ago, continues to play lights out. Oklahoma State’s defense has been a problem all season long and it will cost Mike Gundy’s team here.
The Lowe Down: West Virginia 31, Oklahoma State 21
No. 4 Washington (7-0) at No. 17 Utah (7-1) 2:30 p.m. CT
Dynamic sophomores Jake Browning (1,709 yards, 26 TDs passing) and Myles Gaskin (727 yards rushing, six TDs) are the best quarterback-running back combination in the Pac-12, and Washington’s D is by far and away the league’s best defensive unit. But Rice-Eccles Stadium is a tough place to play and Utah’s running game, which is led by Joe Williams — fresh off a 332-yard, four TD rushing performance against UCLA — and a solid offensive line, could present the Huskies some problems. The Utes may not pull the upset, but expect them to hang around.
The Lowe Down: Washington 27, Utah 22
No. 8 Baylor (6-0) at Texas (3-4) 2:30 p.m. CT
Texas shocked Baylor at home last season so don’t expect this group of Bears to be in hibernation mode when they enter Austin. In fact, expect quarterback Seth Russell and the rest of his offensive mates to be chomping at the bit to do battle with a Texas defense that’s been the pits all year long. Baylor gets revenge and then some.
The Lowe Down: Baylor 45, Texas 24
No. 14 Florida (5-1) vs. Georgia (4-3) (Jacksonville) 2:30 p.m. CT
If Kirby Smart loses another tight game to a division rival, don’t be surprised if he partakes in the World’s Largest Cocktail Party following the game by having a drink of his own. It’s been that kind of year for Smart and his Bulldogs, but a win over the rival Gators could be a prelude to a strong finish. Florida’s defense should be able to keep the Bulldogs’ run game in check so it will be imperative that freshman quarterback Jacob Eason make some plays with his arm. If he can, Georgia has a shot. If he can’t, this one may get out of hand quickly.
The Lowe Down: Florida 31, Georgia 17
No. 7 Nebraska (7-0) at No. 11Wisconsin (5-2) 6:00 p.m. CT
Nebraska should’ve lost to Oregon (if Mark Helfrich wouldn’t have gone for two like 20 times) and it remains unclear just how good Mike Riley’s team is, but we will know after Saturday night. If the ‘Huskers go on the road and beat the Badgers in Wisconsin, I’ll become a slight believer. But until then, Nebraska is just another wannabe that’s doesn’t deserve its Top 10 ranking.
The Lowe Down: Nebraska 13, Wisconsin 23
No. 15 Auburn (5-2) at Ole Miss (3-4) 6:15 p.m. CT
Outside of Alabama, Michigan and Washington, I’m not sure any team is playing as well as Auburn is at the moment. The Tigers are dominating opponents behind a powerful running game, led by 6-0, 240-pound battering ram Kam Pettway, a stingy defense and great special teams play, led by Daniel Carlson, but they’ve also limited penalties and turnovers the last few games, which is making Gus Malzahn’s squad even tougher. Ole Miss can pass the ball on any team, but its lack of a running game and inability to stop the run will be its downfall against the red-hot Tigers.
The Lowe Down: Auburn 38, Ole Miss 23
No. 18 Tennessee (5-2) at South Carolina (3-4) 6:15 p.m. CT
Two words: Jake Bentley. The freshman quarterback was inserted into the starting lineup at South Carolina last week an instantly provided a spark for Will Muschamp’s team. He’s a good athlete who has the instincts and smarts to be a player the Gamecocks can build their program around. The Vols are coming off a well-deserved bye week and need a win to remain in the SEC East Division race, but don’t expect the Gamecocks to go down without a fight playing in front of the home fans.
The Lowe Down: Tennessee 31, South Carolina 27
No. 3 Clemson (7-0) at No. 12 Florida State (5-2) 7:00 p.m. CT
This was expected to be one of the games of the year in college football but key injuries and the Seminoles slow start quelled that talk really fast. Regardless, FSU could make this a game if its defense can somehow contain Deshaun Watson and force a couple of turnovers. But I just don’t see that happening. Expect Clemson to really make an attempt to find tight end Jordan Leggett in the passing game while also getting the ball down-field against a shaky Seminoles’ secondary. That should open up the Tigers’ running game, led by Wayne Gallman, to chew up yards and the clock.
The Lowe Down: Clemson 38, Florida State 27
In other Saturday games:
No. 24 Penn State 28 at Purdue 14
No. 5 Louisville 52 at Virginia 17
No. 2 Michigan 42 at Michigan State 10
Kentucky 30 at Missouri 27
Northwestern 17 at No. 6 Ohio State 48
Marshall 20 at Southern Miss 43
No. 13 Boise State 34 at Wyoming 28
Kansas 23 at No. 16 Oklahoma 52
New Mexico State 17 at No. 9 Texas A&M 56
Washington State 38 at Oregon State 28
Stanford 31 at Arizona 24