Chasing Pefection

Clemson's Deshaun Watson, left, and Artavis Scott look to keep the Tigers winning streak alive Saturday as they host Florida State in Death Valley. 

“They always remember November” --A familiar phrase in college football that carries even more weight in the modern college football playoff era. The first round of rankings for the second year in the new system were released Tuesday night and “Dancing” Dabo Swinney’s Clemson Tigers came out at the top spot in the initial poll ahead of LSU, Ohio State, Alabama, Notre Dame, Baylor, Michigan State, TCU, Iowa and Florida in the top ten.

After only one game of ranked opponents each the past two weeks, this weekend we have three. #8 TCU travels to Stillwater to take on the #14 Oklahoma State Cowboys in a battle of undefeated squads. The Horned Frogs opened as a 5-point favorite in a Big 12 Showdown. 

#2 LSU and #4 Alabama meet in another top-ten regular season showdown in the SEC-West. College Gameday will be on hand, of course, and both SEC title as well as playoff aspirations will hang in the balance in what is shaping up be another classic chess match between Nick Saban and his former Tigers now lead by Les Miles. 

Finally, #1 Clemson welcomes #16 Florida State to Death Valley in a pivotal ACC-Atlantic clash. If the Tigers--who opened as a 12-point favorite over Jimbo Fisher’s Seminole-- can get the job done, they will stamp their ticket to Charlotte for the ACC Championship game.  

With the regular season winding down, the time has come for teams to make that final push and solidify their argument for deserving one the coveted top four spots in the playoff field. We’ve learned recently that anything can happen and its not over until that scoreboard reads 0:00 but after this weekend, we’ll have a better idea of which teams will likely make the final cut. 

 

TCU @ Oklahoma State 

Both teams enter the big showdown averaging over 40 points per game and giving up just over 20 points per contest. However, both have given up some points along the way. 

Just last week, the Cowboys gave up 53 to Texas Tech but poured on 70 of their own to hold off the Red Raiders. TCU also struggled with Kliff Kingsbury’s crew and just barely escaped the jaws of defeat back in week four. Could be another high-scoring slugfest Saturday in Stillwater. However, I think TCU led by the talented Trevone Boykin and wide receiver Josh Doctson get it done on the road and keep the playoff hopes alive. 

 

Alabama vs LSU

 It wouldn’t be a college football season without a showdown between LSU and Alabama with a conference title and more on the line. Bama is coming on strong after the setback to Ole Miss and can make some major headway with a win over the Bayou Bengals Saturday night in Tuscaloosa. 

Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide is the early 6.5-point favorites. Both enter the game with capable offenses averaging over 400 yards of total offense per game.  Alabama overall has been slightly better defensively to this point. 

This game is always a physical one but with both teams coming off a bye week there should be helmets-a-flying and shoulder pads-a-popping even more so when the two take the field at Bryant-Denny under the lights. Excited to see two of the leagues premier backs in Leonard Fournette and Derrick Henry. I like the Tide at home in a really, really, close one. 

 

Florida State @ Clemson 

Payback will be on the minds of the Tigers as they welcome FSU into Death Valley. The last three years the Seminoles have gotten the best of Clemson and went on to win the ACC Championship basically by default due to the weak Coastal division. The same pretty much applies this year. If Clemson wins, they can clinch the division and inch closer towards keeping that #1 playoff spot. 

The Tigers handled both Miami and GT easily earlier this season while the Noles struggled against the Canes and we all know how the game against GT transpired. 

Clemson will have the home field advantage and play in Death Valley as the #1 team in the nation for the first time in school history. 

Unlike the past few seasons, the Tigers are actually the better team this time against FSU and they’ll get it done and continue to flex their muscle .

Christopher Hall may be contacted at christopher.hall@rheaheraldnews.com