This is not rivalry week but it is close. This week’s Power Five slate is highlighted by a Big Ten clash between rivals Michigan and Michigan State.
There is a lot going on at any one time in college football. There are multiple games in a television window and it can be hard to choose which one to watch. If one does manage to pick a game, football is a complex sport with lots of bodies flying around at once. I am here to help! Not only will I give you the best games of the week with a schedule included, I’ll give you players to watch and items to keep an eye on during them. Welcome to the college football viewing guide. This week’s top Power Five games include two huge Big Ten and SEC games.
#6 Michigan (7-0) at #8 Michigan State (7-0)
TV Time: Noon ET on FOX
Betting Line: Michigan -4.5
This is not your typical Michigan State team. Over the last two years, the Spartans were 79th and 94th respectively in yards per passing attempt. This year they are all the way up to 14th! Quarterback Payton Thorne has two of the most explosive wide receivers in the Big Ten to throw to in Jayden Reed and Jalen Nailor. They also have Kenneth Walker who just happens to lead the Big Ten in rushing yards. All of that has resulted in the Spartans jumping from 18 points per game to 34 points per game.
Payton Thorne (Michigan State QB 10) with a terrific throw to Jayden Reed (Michigan State WR 1).
Thorne has played well so far this year and Reed might be one of the most underrated players in the Big Ten. pic.twitter.com/wOdPyYzNro
— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) October 3, 2021
On the other side of the ball, Michigan’s defense has given up more big plays than they would like, but they do not allow a high success rate. Keeping the Spartans in check and not allowing a big play over the top will be crucial. Offensively, they are led by two backs who are both top ten in the conference in rushing in Blake Corum and Hassan Haskins. Michigan State has an okay run defense, but nothing spectacular. Quarterback Cade McNamara is fine, but the Wolverines hope to not have to rely on him in this one.
Players to watch:
Michigan State RB #9 Kenneth Walker III: 997 rushing yards, 6.56 avg, 9 TDs
Michigan State WR #1 Jayden Reed: 27 receptions, 562 yards, 20.81 avg, 5 TDs
Michigan RB #2 Blake Corum: 728 rushing yards, 6.28 avg, 10 TDs
Michigan RB #25 Hassan Haskins: 602 rushing yards, 4.85 avg, 10 TDs
#1 Georgia (7-0) vs Florida (4-3)
TV Time: 3:30 ET on CBS
Betting Line: Georgia -14
We do not know at this time if Anthony Richardson will be starting against Georgia, but he probably should. While he does not have a heavy usage, he leads the SEC in EPA per play and only trails Oklahoma quarterback Caleb Williams for the Power Five lead. Florida has an offensive success rate trailing only Georgia in the SEC, but they will need more explosion to beat this Bulldogs defense, which leads the nation in yards allowed per play, only allowing 3.57 yards.
The Gators recently have allowed teams to run on them, which is not good when the talented Georgia backfield is coming to town. Th three-headed monster of Zamir White, James Cook and Kendall Milton should find openings. Georgia partners their running attack with an efficient downfield passing game. Georgia only ranks behind Ohio State in the Power Five in passing success rate. They do not throw it a lot but then they do they are incredibly efficient.
Georgia has only allowed 4 TDs in 7 games? pic.twitter.com/N5AoBEx2or
— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 25, 2021
Players to watch:
Georgia TE #19 Brock Bowers: 25 receptions, 416 yards, 16.64 avg, 6 TDs
Georgia LB #17 Nakobe Dean: 30 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 5 tackles for loss, 1 INT
Florida QB #15 Anthony Richardson: 392 passing yards, 5 TDs, 3 INTs, 348 rushing yards, 3 TDs
Florida DL #6 Zachary Carter: 18 tackles, 6 sacks, 8.5 tackles for loss
#10 Ole Miss (6-1) at #18 Auburn (5-2)
TV Time: 7 pm ET on ESPN
Betting Line: Auburn -2
Auburn simply causes havoc on defense. Only one other Power Five school has a front seven havoc rate higher than the Tigers and it is not Georgia, its Syracuse. That means Auburn can cause pressure on opposing offenses and make plays in the backfield at a rate higher than anyone in the SEC. They have four players with six or more tackles for a loss. No other SEC team can say that. Ole Miss has the most explosive offense in the nation led by Heisman candidate Matt Corral and wide receiver Dontario Drummond. If Auburn can slow them down just a little bit it would make it much easier on their offense.
Auburn quarterback Bo Nix has not been great this season, but he has been much better than years past. Overall, the Auburn offense ranks middle of the pack and will need to execute to win this game, but there is a silver lining. The Ole Miss defense is not good, ranking at the bottom with Vanderbilt and Missouri in most defensive categories in the SEC. Auburn may need to score more than they usually do to win this football game, but hopefully their defense can avoid making them win a shootout. I trust Auburn’s defense to slow down Ole Miss more than vice versa.
Players to watch:
Ole Miss QB #2 Matt Corral: 1,913 passing yards, 15 TDs, 1 INT, 474 rushing yards, 9 TDs
Ole Miss WR #11 Dontario Drummond: 36 receptions, 619 yards, 17.19 avg, 6 TDs
Auburn QB #10 Bo Nix: 1,488 passing yards, 8 TDs, 2 INTs, 159 rushing yards, 2 TDs
Auburn DL #55 Eku Leota: 13 tackles, 4 sacks, 7 tackles for loss
#20 Penn State (5-2) at #5 Ohio State (6-1)
TV Time: 7:30 pm ET on ABC
Betting Line: Ohio State -18.5
Do not forget about the Buckeyes when it comes to national title contenders. They have the best offense in the Power Five conferences. They are explosive and super efficient. Quarterback CJ Stroud, running back TreVeyon Henderson, and wide receiver Jaxson Smith-Njigba lead the Big Ten in their positions in EPA per play despite being first year starters. Oh yeah, they also have two first round NFL Draft prospects in Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave. However, saying all that with the caveat that they have not faced a strong schedule. Penn State’s defense will be their toughest test. Despite losing the last two games, Penn State’s defense has looked as elite as always. Against passing plays, only the vaunted Georgia defense in the Power Five has been better. They could do with some more havoc type plays and will need them in this one to get the win.
Ohio State QB CJ Stroud in his last 3 games
? 94.3 PFF Grade (1st)
? 8 big-time throws
? 0 turnover-worthy plays
? +0.99 EPA per pass
? 4 QB-fault incompletions
he’s figuring it outpic.twitter.com/V1Vn1rTZv9
— Anthony Treash (@PFF_Anthony) October 24, 2021
Meanwhile, Penn State has a middling offense that cannot run the ball. To keep up in this one they will need quarterback Sean Clifford and wide receiver Jahan Dotson to make more plays. They have shown the ability in the past, but it comes in spurts. Against a tough Ohio State defense they will need to play their A-game. Look for the Nittany Lions to scheme up some easy throws early in hopes to hit Dotson over the top later on.
Players to watch:
Ohio State QB #7 CJ Stroud: 1965 passing yards, 22 TDs, 3 INTs
Ohio State RB #32 TreVeyon Henderson: 693 rushing yards, 8.77 avg, 11 TDs
Penn State WR #5 Jahan Dotson: 49 receptions, 563 yards, 11.49 avg, 6 TDs
Penn State S #1 Jaquan Brisker: 33 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 2 INTs, 4 passes broken up