Week 10 Lowe Down: Bama edges LSU, TCU rises

Matt Lowe

November 06, 2015 at 3:56 pm.

Oct 24, 2015; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide running back Derrick Henry (2) carries for a touchdown against the Tennessee Volunteers during the first quarter at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 24, 2015; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide running back Derrick Henry (2) carries for a touchdown against the Tennessee Volunteers during the first quarter at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Photo Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to Week 10 of The Lowe Down.

Ya know, the more and more I think about this College Football Playoff setup, the more I think it should be left at the alter by one of these yahoos in The Bachelor or Bachelorette.

And the reason I say that is the drama that derives from it.

Hey, college football shouldn’t be an episode of Days Of Our Lives. Nor should the “Final Four” be the topic of discussion (every day, every hour, every minute) during the best month of the sport.

Sure, I like the fact that more teams are involved in the running for a national title. I have no qualms with that. But I do have a problem with a meaningless poll dominating the headlines during college football’s most crucial month all the dag ‘um time. It’s exhausting.

I didn’t post a column last week due to obligations to a World Series magazine so I apologize. The record two weeks ago was 18-5, bringing the yearly record to 121-38. To the games we go…


Friday, November 6

No. 22 Temple (7-1) at SMU (1-7) 7:00 p.m. CT

Temple proved to the nation that its ranking is legit when it took Notre Dame to the wire last weekend. But the Owls’ mental toughness will be put to the test playing on the road, in a short week, following the tough 24-20 loss to the Irish. Throw in the fact that Temple head coach Matt Rhule said his club would be “without a number of starters” against the Mustangs, which could include AAC leading rusher Jahad Thomas (ribs), and this could be a tough game for the visitors. Also keep an eye on SMU QB Matt Davis, a talented dual-threat. He leads a Mustangs’ offense that’s been tough to defend at times throughout the season.

The Lowe Down: Temple 34, SMU 27

In other Friday games:

BYU 31 at San Jose State 28

Saturday, November 7

Vanderbilt (3-5) at No. 10 Florida (7-1) 11:00 p.m. CT

The task at hand is an achievable one for Florida: beat Vanderbilt and secure the SEC East title and a spot in Atlanta. And to the Jim McElwain doubters, where are you now?

If Vanderbilt could score, then it may actually have a puncher’s chance. But the Commodores can’t score (10 points in their last two games) so this game could get ugly quick. Florida rolls behind Treon Harris and a stifling defensive effort.

The Lowe Down: Vanderbilt 3, Florida 37

No. 16 Florida State at (7-1) at No. 1 Clemson (8-0) 2:30 p.m. CT Weather Forecast: Thunderstorms, warm

If Clemson doesn’t want to be remembered in 2015 for pulling a Clemson, then it must down FSU in Death Valley.

But don’t expect it to come easy.

Although this year’s version of Florida State isn’t what it has been the past two seasons, the Seminoles have a lot of great athletes and can beat any team, any time, when they are on their game.

After sitting out last week’s 45-21 home victory over Syracuse, quarterback Everett Golson (concussion) is expected to return to the lineup this week, as is Dalvin Cook (ankle), the nation’s second-leading rusher. But Cook’s status is the biggest unknown. He returned to practice this week and was participating fine, but one solid hit on his ankle could put him right back on the sideline.

Freshman Jacques Patrick, a 6-1, 232-pound up-and-coming force, ran for 162 yards and three scores against the Orange last week and will be the ‘Noles first man up should Cook leave this week’s game early.

Although Clemson gave up 41 points to NC State last week, it was never seriously threatened operating behind an offense that rolled up 50-plus points for a second consecutive week.

Heisman candidate Deshaun Watson passed for five TDs and ran for another, while tailback Wayne Gallman piled up 172 yards and a score on the ground. Look for those two to continue their big seasons as Clemson continues to march on toward a College Football Playoff berth.

The Lowe Down:  Florida State 27, Clemson 38

No. 8 TCU (8-0) at No. 14 Oklahoma State (8-0) 2:30 p.m. CT Weather Forecast: Clear, mild, breezy

(Copy by Anthony Gimino; my pick)

The Big 12 starts to get fun this week.

None of the top four teams — Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State — have yet to play each other. All except the one-loss Sooners are undefeated. The round-robin knockout round begins when TCU plays at Oklahoma State. Both teams are 8-0.

The Horned Frogs struggled to put away Texas Tech and Kansas State earlier this season, but they have rolled over Iowa State and West Virginia in the past two games. Heisman candidate quarterback Trevone Boykin and receiver Josh Doctson, with a little bit of running back Aaron Green thrown in, have been unstoppable.

That’s a given.

What wasn’t a given was that TCU has begun to figure some things out on a defense racked with injuries.

The line is solid again, led by defensive tackle Davion Pierson, and ends Mike Tuaua and Josh Carraway. Young linebackers — sophomore Travin Howard and true freshman Montrel Wilson — have settled in. Senior free safety Derrick Kindred and junior Denzel Johnson provide anchors in the back end. Although the Frogs have just four interceptions, three of the past five opponents have completed less than 50 percent of their passes.

Oklahoma State has a great defensive line, led by ends Emmanuel Ogbah and Jimmy Bean, although Bean’s status is in doubt because of a leg injury. Even fully healthy, which Oklahoma State is not (LB Ryan Simmons is out for the season), you’d give the edge to Boykin and company. TCU has a chance to slow down OSU; can’t say the same in reverse.

The Lowe Down: TCU 57, Oklahoma State 38

Navy (6-1) at No. 13 Memphis (8-0) 6:00 p.m. CT

No. 13 Memphis has been the talk of college football ever since it upset Ole Miss in pretty convincing fashion. But the undefeated Tigers better be on their game when 6-1 Navy invades Liberty Memorial Stadium Saturday night.

The triple-option offense the Midshipmen employ is mighty tough to defend, and no player in America runs it better than senior quarterback Keenan Reynolds. Hey, I’m well aware of Paxton Lynch and his capabilities, but how well a solid Memphis D defends Reynolds will be a huge key to the game.

The Lowe Down: Memphis 35, Navy 28

No. 2 LSU (7-0) at No. 4 Alabama (7-1) 8:00 p.m. CT Weather Forecast: Rain, mild, breezy

Although LSU could lose this game and remain in contention for a spot in Atlanta, a loss by Alabama would almost certainly seal the Crimson Tide’s fate as far as the SEC West is concerned barring anything unexpected. Therefore, this is a must-win game for Nick Saban’s team.

If the Crimson Tide wants to knock off LSU, it has to do three things: 1) slow down Leonard Fournette with its No. 3-ranked run defense 2) get some chunk plays through the air while maintaining a running presence with Derrick Henry 3) play mistake-free on offense and on special teams (and make field goals when given the opportunity).

A similar formula could also be used for the Tigers. Bottle up Henry with the nation’s sixth-ranked run D, force Jake Coker to beat ya through the air, avoid turnovers and make this a one-possession game late in the fourth quarter.

Now no team should be expected to stop Fournette, the most dominant collegiate runner since Adrian Peterson, but if Kirby Smart’s defense can keep him contained, somewhat, I’m not sure Brandon Harris can lift LSU to victory with his arm.

Expect another great game between these two college football heavyweights, but I picked Alabama to win the SEC before the season began, and I like the Crimson Tide to score late and upend Les Miles’ Tigers in Tuscaloosa.

The Lowe Down: Alabama 23, LSU 16


Rutgers has been beaten by a combined 70 points the past two weeks by Ohio State and Wisconsin so its not exactly playing good football. Look for the Wolverines (6-2) to add to that beat-down total when the Scarlet Knights visit The Big House for a 2:30 (CT) kickoff.

The Lowe Down: Michigan 42, Rutgers 3


No. 18 Ole Miss (7-2) was on the receiving end of a 30-0 blowout at the hands of Arkansas (4-4) last year so you can rest assured revenge will be on the minds of Hugh Freeze and the Rebels. But Arkansas seems to be hitting its stride and it has the running game, and defense, to win this game.

The Lowe Down: Arkansas 28, Ole Miss 27

No. 12 Utah (7-1) was the talk of the Pac-12 for several weeks but all that chatter was quelled when the Utes got thumped by USC 42-24. Look for Washington (4-4) to give the visitors their second loss of the season behind the conference’s best defense and freshman QB Jake Browning (10 TDs, five INTs).

The Lowe Down: Washington 27, Utah 20

Auburn (4-4) has been in all but one of its games this season (LSU) and don’t expect that to change when the Tigers visit College Station to take on No. 19 Texas A&M (6-2) for a 6:30 (CT) kick. If the Tigers can get a big day from their ground game, which features Jovon Robinson, Peyton Barber and Kerryon Johnson, then they have a great shot at controlling the game and pulling the upset.

The Lowe Down: Auburn 30, Texas A&M 27


LSU quarterback Brandon Harris has yet to throw a pick this season, but that will be put to the test by Alabama’s ball-hawking secondary. If Harris can protect the football and avoid mistakes, then the Tigers should be in position to beat the Crimson Tide late in the game.

In other Saturday games:

Texas Tech 55 at West Virginia 52

Duke 23 at North Carolina 27

No. 5 Notre Dame 31 at Pitt 24

Penn State 23 at No. 21Northwestern 20

No. 11 Stanford 33, Colorado 23

No. 9 Iowa 24 at Indiana 20

Cincinnati 27 at No. 25 Houston 37

South Carolina 23 at Tennessee 48

No. 23 UCLA 38 at Oregon State 23

No. 7 Michigan State 48, Nebraska 20

Minnesota 17 at No. 1 Ohio State 43

CAL 45 at Oregon 49