The Lowe Down on Week Six: Seperation Saturday

Matt Lowe

October 02, 2014 at 4:39 pm.

Stopping Dak Prescott will be a challenge for the Texas A&M defense. (Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports)

Welcome to Week Six of The Lowe Down.

During every college football season there are always a few weekends that carry more weight than others. Well, this weekend is one of them.

Huge matchups in the SEC, in-particular the insanely talented West Division (Texas A&M/Mississippi State, Alabama/Ole Miss and LSU/Auburn), could have College Football Playoff implications for the winners, but the Oklahoma/TCU, Stanford/Notre Dame and Nebraska/Michigan State clashes will as well.

Look, it’s way too early to tell which team will come out on top of the SEC West considering every team in the division is capable of beating any team it plays. But wins by Oklahoma, Notre Dame and Michigan State will put those teams, with the exception of the Irish, who have to play FSU in Tallahassee, in good position to possibly win out.  There’s a lot of football left to be played, but week’s like this will give us a lot more intel on how good a number of these undefeated teams really are.

Last week’s record was 18-2, bringing the yearly record 83-22. To the games we go…


Thursday, October 1

Arizona (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) at No. 2 Oregon (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) 9:30 p.m. CT

Last year the Wildcats took the Ducks to the woodshed in Tucson (42-16), but Marcus Mariota wasn’t 100 percent and the Oregon team looked like it was still reeling from a tough loss to Stanford two weeks earlier. This year, Mariota is at full strength and you can bet Oregon is out to exact some revenge on Rich Rodriguez’s team due to that beat-down a year ago. Will the Ducks get that revenge? Yes, they will. But Arizona has enough playmakers on offense, including dynamic dual threat quarterback Anu Solomon and big-time receiver Austin Hill, to give UO a game.

The Lowe Down: Arizona 29, Oregon 46

Friday, October 2

Louisville (4-1, 2-1 ACC) at Syracuse (2-2, 0-0 ACC) 6:00 p.m. CT

The Carrier Dome used to be an extremely tough place to play for opposing teams but that hasn’t been the case over the last few years and especially this season. After beating Villanova (double overtime) to begin the year, The Cuse was embarrassed by Maryland at home before a loss to Notre Dame on a neutral field. But despite their home woes, the Orange has a shot against the Cardinals due to the weekday underdog mystique.  Bobby Petrino’s bunch is playing sound defensively (rank ninth nationally in points per game (14) allowed), but an injury to quarterback Will Gardner (he may or may not play), costly turnovers and inadequate offensive line play leave the visitors susceptible to the upset.

The Lowe Down: Louisville 17, Syracuse 20

In other Friday games:

Utah State 13, No. 18 BYU 37

Saturday, October 3

Florida (2-1, 1-1) at Tennessee (2-2, 0-1) 11:00 p.m. CT

Supposedly this is a must-win game for Florida head coach Will Muschamp. If that’s the case, then he may just need to go ahead and schedule the moving truck’s arrival. The Gators have some talented players no doubt, but their offensive line is weak — and banged up — and the Vols have been playing inspired football despite being one of the youngest teams in America. Although he’s been sacked 11 times working behind an inexperienced offensive line, Tennessee quarterback Justin Worley has played at a high level. He’s a real competitor and has quietly emerged as one of the league’s best passers.  Look for Worley and tailback Jalen Hurd, a freshman sensation, to put up big numbers against a Florida defense that’s not as good as advertised.

The Lowe Down: Florida 20, Tennessee 33

No. 6 Texas A&M (5-0, 2-0) at No.12 Mississippi State (4-0, 1-0) 11:00 p.m. CT

All eyes will be on Mississippi State center Ben Beckwith when Texas A&M takes on Dan Mullen’s team in a crucial SEC West matchup. Beckwith, who hasn’t snapped a ball during a game in six years, will be the Bulldogs starting center due to the suspension of Dillon Day and how well he plays will go a long way in determining the outcome of this game. State should be able to pick up yardage on the ground in chunks due to its two-headed monster of Dak Prescott and Josh Robinson in the backfield, but don’t sleep on six-foot-five wideout De’Runnya Wilson and speedster Jameon Lewis when the Bulldogs take to the air. Wilson is a matchup nightmare and an emerging force. Both teams will get their points, but State gets the W at home.

The Lowe Down: Texas A&M 26, Mississippi State 33

No. 20 Ohio State (3-1, 0-0) at Maryland (4-1, 1-0) 11:00 p.m. CT

The unexpected loss of starting quarterback Braxton Miller before the season began put Ohio State behind the eight ball. But current signal-caller J.T. Barrett is getting better with each game and the Buckeyes are beginning to resemble the powerful team that many talking heads though they would be. Maryland’s C.J. Brown, a talented dual-threat QB, may not play due to a wrist injury. If Brown doesn’t go, junior Caleb Rowe will get the call. Regardless of who plays at QB for Maryland, the Terps’ have the athletes to give the Buckeyes all they want.

The Lowe Down: Ohio State 27, Maryland 30

No. 4 Oklahoma (4-0, 1-0) at No. 25 TCU (3-0, 0-0) 2:30 p.m. CT

I haven’t seen TCU in action this year so I don’t really know what kind of team they have. But I do know this: the past two games have been decided by a total of 10 points and the Horned Frogs have the athletes on defense to hang with the Sooners. The real question mark with TCU will be its offense against the OU defense. The Sooners have pass rushers galore and playmakers at linebacker and in the secondary, so quarterback Trevone Boykin, who possesses good running skills, will need to bring his A-game if the home team wants to pull the upset.

The Lowe Down: Oklahoma 27, TCU 23             

No. 3 Alabama (4-0, 1-0) at No. 11 Ole Miss (4-0, 1-0) 2:30 p.m. CT

There won’t be a shortage of skill on either side of the ball when these two SEC West title contenders hook up in Oxford, but this game will boil down to whichever team can run and pass block and effectively — and that favors Alabama. At times this season, Ole Miss has had trouble pass protecting (allowed seven sacks) and it still has yet to establish consistency in the rushing attack. If the Rebels cannot establish a consistent running game, it will open up an array of blitz options for defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, which will likely create turnover opportunities for the Crimson Tide defenders. The bottom line: Alabama will stop Ole Miss on offense due to the O-line deficiencies. But can the Rebel defense stop Blake Sims and that loaded Crimson Tide offense? Looks like a daunting task to me.

The Lowe Down: Alabama 34, Ole Miss 17

No. 14 Stanford (3-1, 1-1) at No. 9 Notre Dame (4-0) 2:30 p.m. CT

This game has all the makings of a defensive struggle, but due to the return of playmaking quarterback Everett Golson the Irish look like the more complete team. Notre Dame does the deed behind a balanced offensive attack and an improving defense.

The Lowe Down: Stanford 17, Notre Dame 24

No. 15 LSU (4-1, 0-1 SEC) at No. 5 Auburn (4-0, 1-0) 6:00 p.m. CT ESPN

This year’s LSU team is loaded with talent as always, but Les Miles’ 2014 version is green at a lot of crucial positions, in particular quarterback (Brandon Harris making his first SEC road start), receiver and defensive line, and that could spell trouble in Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday night. Auburn hasn’t really gotten its mojo going in the run game on offense as of yet (it’s not averaging over 300 yards like last year; just 260.5 ypg), but the losses of bruising H-back Jay Prosch and No. 2 overall pick Greg Robinson (left tackle) to this year’s NFL Draft and the unexpected season-ending injury Alex Kozan (back) has a lot to do with that, as does dropped passes and a lack of execution. But something tells me Malzahn’s team puts together a great effort and plays well against the visiting Tigers. The reason? Auburn has been close on offense to really breaking through and the Tiger defense is a much-improved unit from a year ago.  

The Lowe Down: LSU 20, Auburn 33

No. 19 Nebraska (5-0, 1-0) at No. 10 Michigan State (3-1, 0-0) 7:00 p.m. CT

If Michigan State upends Nebraska at home, it’s conceivable that the Spartans will win out and represent the Big Ten East in the championship game considering the Ohio State game is at home. One big matchup to watch in this Big Ten showdown will be Nebraska’s offensive line/running backs against the Spartans front seven. Oregon had success on the ground by using the combination of Marcus Mariota and Royce Freeman on read-option plays against the Spartans D, and Nebraska has a similar combination in the form of Tommy Armstrong and Ameer Abdullah. Armstrong doesn’t have the speed of Mariota, but he’s a very capable runner, as is Abdullah, who leads the nation in rushing. Michigan State will be in for a great fight, but the Spartans, behind quarterback Connor Cook and that quietly explosive offense (50. 3 ppg), will outscore the Huskers en route to a big win.

The Lowe Down: Nebraska 23, Michigan State 33

In other Saturday games:

Iowa State 20, No. 21 Oklahoma State 35

Southern Miss 27, Middle Tennessee 33

Virginia Tech 31, North Carolina 24

NC State 24, Clemson 45

Buffalo 25, Bowling Green 43

Navy 20, Air Force 26

Texas 14, No. 6 Baylor 58

No. 17 Wisconsin 37, Northwestern 21

Vanderbilt 17, No. 13 Georgia 43

Texas Tech 20, No. 23 Kansas State 38***

South Carolina 23, Kentucky 16

Arizona State 17, No. 16 USC 48 ***

Utah 20, No. 8 UCLA 45