Week Eight Lowe Down: Utes get road win, Tide rolls

Matt Lowe

October 24, 2015 at 1:03 am.

Oct 17, 2015; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Utes quarterback Travis Wilson (7) passes the ball during the first half against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 17, 2015; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Utes quarterback Travis Wilson (7) passes the ball during the first half against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to Week Eight of The Lowe Down.

Shame on me! I knew it.

Before the season began, I, along with the guys at Lindy’s, picked Alabama to win the SEC and make the College Football Playoff. And then, what do ya know? The Tide losses to Ole Miss. Well, then I pick them to lose to Georgia (brilliant!) and narrowly win over Texas A&M (another stroke of brilliance!).

Well, this week, I’m not picking a nail-biter between the Tide and Vols. Not after watching Bama’s performance against Texas A&M.

Jake Coker ran like a man possessed; Derrick Henry ran roughshod through the Aggies’ defense like it was his job; and then there’s that Crimson Tide defense (Hey, who is this Minkah Fitzpatrick cat? He looks like a linebacker playing corner!). Man, oh, man, that Crimson Tide D… it is down-right nasty.

And sure enough, watch Tennessee play ‘em tight. Regardless, Alabama is playing great football right now. And I am beginning to think the Crimson Tide and the Ohio State Buckeyes will be the last two teams standing in the second week in January. And if you are familiar with postseason play, you know what I’m talking about.

Last week’s record was 14-7, bringing the yearly record to 103-33. To the games we go…


Friday, October 23

No. 18 Memphis (6-0) at Tulsa (3-3) 7:00 p.m. CT Weather Forecast:

Hey, that Paxton Lynch guy can play a little bit can’t he?

Despite his resemblance to the football version of Hunter Pence, it doesn’t change the fact that the 6-7, 245-pound junior has mad skills. In leading Memphis to a huge win over Ole Miss, Lynch grabbed a lot of NFL scouts attention due to his sheer athletic talent.

But his mental approach will be tested this week, on the road, in a short week against a capable Tulsa team. Memphis should win the game, but its mental toughness will best put to the max due to the Golden Hurricanes’ ability to move the football on offense behind quarterback Dane Evans and stud tailback Zack Langer.

The Lowe Down: Memphis 43, Tulsa 36

In other Friday games:

Utah State 20 at San Diego State 23

Saturday, October 24

No. 6 Clemson (6-0) at Miami (4-2) 11:00 a.m. CT Weather Forecast: Partly cloudy, breezy, hot

Clemson is the favorite to win the ACC but it better be ready to play when it takes on Miami. The Hurricanes lead the nation in turnover margin (plus-13), almost took down FSU in Tallahassee and have the talent to hang with Dabo Swinney’s bunch.

Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson is coming off his worst game of the year, so look for him to be ready to play. Also keep an eye on the play of Miami’s defense.

The Hurricanes took advantage of four turnovers in a big win over Virginia Tech last week. If defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio’s unit can have a similar performance in the TO department as it did against the Hokies, then the ‘Canes could make this a heck of a game.

The Lowe Down: Clemson 33, Miami 28

Auburn (4-2) at Arkansas (2-4) 11:00 a.m. CT Weather Forecast: Scattered showers, cool

Auburn finally looked like a Gus Malzahn-coached offense in its big win over Kentucky last Thursday night.

Quarterback Sean White posted his best passing day to date (255 yards), the duo of Peyton Barber and Kerryon Johnson combined for 128 yards and three TDs, Ricardo Louis posted a career-high in receiving yards (154) and the Tigers offensive line, which has talent and seems to be jelling, performed at a high level.

If Auburn wants to win in Fayetteville, it will need to outscore Arkansas. Period. The Razorbacks will be able to move the ball on Will Muschamp’s defense with talented tailback Alex Collins, the biggest offensive line in college football and a veteran at quarterback (Brandon Allen). That’s a given.

But if the Tigers can continue their upward trend on offense against a good Razorbacks D, then they have a good chance to pull the upset here.

The Lowe Down: Auburn 27, Arkansas 30

Tennessee (3-3) at No. 8 Alabama (6-1) 2:30 p.m. CT Weather Forecast: Mostly cloudy, warm

No offense to Ohio State or Baylor, but, right now, Alabama is the hottest team in college football.

Nick Saban’s team has found stability at quarterback with Jake Coker (guy was a flat-out beast running the ball last week) at the helm and its offensive line is paving the way for Derrick Henry and the ground game. Defensively, Kirby Smart’s unit is shutting down the run, getting after the quarterback and forcing turnovers at an impressive clip.

Last week against the Aggies, Alabama scored on three pick-sixes and rolled up six sacks in its 41-23 beat-down of Texas A&M. If it continues that ridiculous playmaking trend, Saban’s bunch will be tough to upend.

In recent seasons, running quarterbacks have given Alabama’s defense problems. Tennessee’s Josh Dobbs, who entered this game last season, played well and helped the Vols win four of their last five games to end the 2014 season, is a running QB who also doubles as a quality passer (1,101 yards, 8 TDs, two picks).

But the big question in this game is if Tennessee’s O-line can create lanes for talented tailback Jalen Hurd against Bama’s front seven. If it can, Tennessee has the talent to play the Crimson Tide tough. But if it can’t, more interceptions for the ball-hawking Bama secondary will be in order.

The Lowe Down: Tennessee 17, Alabama 34

No. 15 Texas A&M (5-1) at No. 24 Ole Miss (5-2) 7:00 p.m. ET Weather Forecast: Cloudy, breezy, mild

Although the Aggies and Rebels are coming off disappointing losses, a win for either team would be a huge shot in the arm as it pertains to the SEC West title chase considering the two have just one conference loss.

A big issue for both teams at the moment is running the football. Last week against Alabama, Texas A&M tallied just 32 yards on the ground. Against Memphis, Ole Miss gained just 40 yards on the ground. Those numbers won’t win a division title in the SEC.

Expect a lot of points in this matchup, but the pass-rush ability of Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall, along with Robert Nkemdiche’s injury status (concussion), could be the difference here.

The Lowe Down: Texas A&M 33, Ole Miss 30

No. 3 Utah (6-0) at USC (3-3) 6:30 p.m. CT Weather Forecast: Sunny, clear

If interim head coach Clay Helton, USC’s second interim coach in three seasons, wants to get the Trojans back off the beaten path and moving in the right direction, then this matchup with Utah is a must-win.

If the Trojans drop another conference game, they’ll be pretty much eliminated from Pac-12 South contention. So it’s do or die time for talented players such as quarterback Cody Kessler, wideout JuJu Smith, tailback Ronald Jones and the rest of their USC teammates.

That said, I just don’t see the Trojans beating the Utes, who have a veteran quarterback in Travis Wilson, one of the nation’s best backs in Devontae Booker, and a rugged Utah defense that’s the best in the conference at stopping the run (which is the strength of USC currently with injuries to wideouts Darreus Rogers and Steven Mitchell in addition to its starting center (Max Tuerk)).

The Lowe Down: Utah 30, USC 23

****UPSET SPECIAL: No. 23 Duke over Virginia Tech 23-17

In other Saturday games:

No. 21 Houston 41 at UCF 17

Northwestern 17 at Nebraska 23

Kansas State 24 at Texas 31

Army 13 at Rice 30

Iowa State 27 at No. 2 Baylor 68

No. 19 Toledo 52 at UMASS 17

Texas Tech 26 at No. 17 Oklahoma 48

Wisconsin 17, Illinois 20

Indiana 23 at No. 7 Michigan State 30

Missouri 13 at Vanderbilt 17

Western Kentucky 23 at No. 5 LSU 45

No. 9 FSU 38 at Georgia Tech 24

No. 1 Ohio State 45 at Rutgers 17

Wyoming 17 at Boise State 42

Washington 16 at No. 10 Stanford 38


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