This weekend is bound to be a fascinating week in college football, especially in the SEC. Let’s take a look at some of the more intriguing matchups and which way we’re leaning for each game.
Louisville at Notre Dame (-17.5)
The Fighting Irish have made it look easy early in the season, but that’s because they’ve had an easy schedule. The Cardinals should give them a considerable test this week.
Notre Dame’s defense had a little trouble with Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis last week after Travis showed off some of his mobility. However, they may have more difficulty with Louisville’s Malik Cunningham, who can make plays with his legs but also likes to buy time and look downfield.
Don’t let the three straight losses fool you; the Cards have some genuine playmakers. In fairness, the Louisville defense has been a problem early in the season. However, while Notre Dame has a veteran quarterback and a good running game, the Fighting Irish lack downfield threats.
Notre Dame may not be able to create a lot of explosive plays, which can make it hard to pull away, especially against a team that’s capable of striking quickly.
Pick: Louisville +17.5
LSU at Florida (-12.5)
A year ago, the Tigers were two-touchdown favorites against Florida, but now the shoe is on the other foot. There should be a little concern with the Gators after they lost to Texas A&M last week. The Florida defense has dramatically underperformed this season and deserves a majority of the blame for last week’s loss.
Despite a 1-2 record and a disappointing rushing attack, LSU should be able to take advantage of Florida’s defensive struggles behind Myles Brennan, who has played well early in the year. He has 11 touchdowns in three games, so he’s not to be blamed much for LSU’s poor start.
Similar to the Gators, LSU hasn’t been able to stop anyone this season, either. Even with three takeaways against Missouri, the LSU defense conceded over 500 yards and 45 points. Things could get even worse against Florida’s Kyle Trask, who has thrown 14 touchdown passes and just one interception in three games.
Unless the Gators can get it together defensively, Brennan has a chance to match Trask and turn this into a competitive shootout.
Pick: LSU +12.5
North Carolina (-13.5) at Florida State
The Tar Heels finally flexed their offensive muscle last week, scoring 56 points against Virginia Tech after some sluggish performances early in the season. It’s not just that Sam Howell is starting to round into form, but also he has some great playmakers around him in both the running game and the passing game.
Florida State doesn’t appear ready to handle that, giving up 52 points against Miami and 42 points against Notre Dame. Believe it or not, the Tar Heels have better skill players than both of those teams. That means this game is all about Jordan Travis and the FSU offense trying to keep up.
The North Carolina defense looked a little vulnerable last week, giving up 45 points against Virginia Tech. However, Travis is young and doesn’t get much help from his running backs. Keeping up in a shootout with Howell might be asking too much.
Pick: North Carolina -13.5
Georgia at Alabama (-6.5)
Is this the game that Nick Saban finally loses to one of his former assistants? It’s not out of the question after Alabama’s defensive struggles last week against Ole Miss. While the Georgia offense hasn’t looked that dynamic early in the year, they are good enough to expose some weaknesses in Saban’s defense.
On the other side, the Georgia defense has been one of the best in the country early in the year. They will be tested on Saturday, as Alabama has the best wide receiver trio in the country and a quarterback in Mac Jones who is playing lights out.
The game poses a fascinating matchup, especially since Kirby Smart has come close to beating Saban twice and could be getting him at a good time. Even with Alabama at home, there aren’t many reasons to think the Crimson Tide can make this a comfortable win.
Pick: Georgia +6.5