#5 Clemson @ #21 Wake Forest
Matt: Clemson has looked better than last season thus far but they haven’t been world beaters either. DJ Uiagalelei and the offense seem like they have made progress but also look disjointed at times. Luckily for them, the defense has been extremely solid. While the Clemson defense hasn’t played an explosive offense such as Wake Forest, the defense has been incredible. The run defense isn’t allowing much, and they are making life tough for opposing offenses. The Tigers will need a complete game if they want to take down the Demon Deacons on the road. Wake Forest is going to test this Clemson defense to see just how good it is. This is the first real test for Dabo Swinney and his team this year so it’ll be interesting to see how it unfolds. I like Wake Forest to narrowly get the win here and make a statement in the conference.
Wake Forest 27 Clemson 21
Marissa: Someone is going to walk out of this game 4-0, and in the Atlantic division where there are currently three other teams with 3-0 records, a win will be crucial. With the game being at Wake Forest, it provides for an interesting matchup as the Demon Deacons haven’t lost at home since September 2020. Sam Hartman has been efficiently leading the passing attack for Wake Forest throughout his career, and will test the Clemson secondary. The offense for Wake Forest is a slow run-pass option-based one where the play goes until the line of scrimmage. Going against a defensive front with Myles Murphy and Bryan Bresee it will be intriguing to see if they try to switch things up. For Clemson, it is D.J. Uiagalelei leading the offense. Uiagalelei still does not look fully comfortable, and if he struggles, it could end up being a huge game for Will Shipley on the ground against a Wake Forest defense that has given up 368 rushing yards. This should be a high scoring game between two teams that have strengths where the other has a weakness. As history shows though, Dabo Swinney is 13-0 against Wake Forest, and will improve to 14-0 on Saturday.
Clemson 34 Wake Forest 27
#20 Florida @ #11 Tennessee
Matt: The Gators took down Utah in week one but since, haven’t looked overly impressive. They have another chance to get a statement win as they take on the highly ranked Tennessee Volunteers. Tennessee comes in with a high-powered offense and it won’t be easy for this Gators team. Vols quarterback Hendon Hooker has been awesome this season and will look to continue this strong play. If he can do that, then Tennessee should be in good shape. I think the offense of Tennessee will be too much for the Gators to handle. Give me the Volunteers to beat Florida and move to 4-0.
Tennessee 41 Florida 24
Marissa: It has been awhile, but the Florida Gators taking on the Tennessee Volunteers was once a legendary matchup. This year, it feels like the legendary status will be renewed. Hendon Hooker has become a top quarterback in the nation, and he has continued to live up to that this season, passing for 844 yards and six touchdowns. He has improved his pocket presence, but Florida has the defensive line to truly test this. They could be without Ventrell Miller, as he is a game time decision, yet they still have Brenton Cox Jr., Amari Burney, and Gervon Dexter to get pressure on Hooker. The Gators’ offense hasn’t looked the same since their game against Utah, mostly due in part to Anthony Richardson not playing at 100%. They need to rely more on Montrell Johnson Jr. and Trevor Etienne because as was the case in Tennessee’s overtime victory against Pittsburgh, they struggled to contain the run. Get a run game going and that’s how Florida will keep this close, and the stakes are high for both teams. With that being factored in, along with the electric home field advantage, Tennessee should finally stick their claim back in this rivalry.
Tennessee 31 Florida 24
#15 Oregon @ Washington State
Matt: Oregon made a statement against BYU last weekend, dominating the Cougars. Now they head to Pullman to take on Washington State, in what should be a fun showdown. Washington State comes in with a record of 3-0 and now has a chance to get a massive win on their resume. This game has the feelings of a physical, grind it out contest. The Ducks secondary will be tested in this matchup and is the x-factor for them as the game progresses. However, I see this being a tough environment for the Ducks and have Washington State pulling out an upset victory. The aid-raid offense that they run will give problems to the Ducks and the home team comes out with a win.
Washington State 21 Oregon 17
Marissa: Oregon has far more talent on their roster, so this should be a simple game for them, right? Not exactly, while Bo Nix looked good last week against BYU, completing 13 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns, he was playing at home. Nix is notorious for excelling in home games, but he has to go on the road where he has struggled in his career, completing only 55% of his passes while throwing 12 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Washington State’s defense is no slouch either, they just recently shut down Wisconsin in a game the Cougars won 17-14. The Ducks defense has done well against the run, the pass not so much, and they now face Cameron Ward. Washington State runs a balanced offense, Ward has been solid passing for 727 yards, while the run game has been a factor as well, led by Nakia Watson with 224 yards out of the team’s total 334. This will be a physical game between the teams, but Washington State should not be overlooked, as they have the roster to fight until the very end and pull off the upset!
Washington State 21 Oregon 17
#10 Arkansas @ #23 Texas A&M
Matt: Texas A&M bounced back with a victory against Miami last week and now welcomes a matchup with top ranked Arkansas. It could be a salvaged season for Jimbo Fisher and the Aggies if they can secure a victory over the Razorbacks, but Arkansas looks ready to take their claim in the SEC. The A&M offense looks lost out on the field and that will be a problem if it continues in this game. Arkansas has a strong push at the line that can thwart the Aggies quarterback. It could be a long day for A&M if they can’t jump out to an early lead. Give me the Razorbacks to go into Texas and come out with a huge victory that helps secure them as the number two team in the SEC West behind Alabama.
Arkansas 31 Texas A&M 25
Marissa: Talk about how much a quarterback change can quickly alter the outlook of an offense. Texas A&M made the switch from Haynes King to Max Johnson before last week’s game against Miami. Small sample size, but Johnson looked much more competent leading the offense. Johnson has limited experience going against Arkansas, as when he was with LSU last season he saw some playing time against them, completing three passes for 21 yards. Texas A&M hasn’t exactly shown the ability to push the ball downfield yet, despite having a playmaker in Ainias Smith who can do so. The Razorbacks have a stout defensive front, one that leads the nation in sacks with 17. What isn’t as great for Arkansas is their pass defense that has given up 1,059 passing yards. When you look at the Aggies’ defense, their biggest weakness is where the Razorbacks thrive on offense, and that is running the ball. Look for KJ Jefferson and Raheim Sanders to break off explosive runs early. Texas A&M is currently favored, but they are the wrong team to be favored in this matchup, as Arkansas will be the team getting the victory.
Arkansas 27 Texas A&M 14
#7 USC @ Oregon State
Matt: USC has looked the part of a championship contending team so far this season, at least on offense. The defense on the other hand can be a problem at times and going up against this upstart Oregon State team, will need to come prepared. The Beavers are rolling right now and for good measure. They seem to be a program on the rise and Corvallis will be rocking, awaiting the Trojans. Games like this on a schedule are always tough for top teams such as USC because they present upset opportunities. However, this Trojans team is different. They can put up points with the best of them and I see that being no different this weekend. Give me USC to earn another victory and keep their strong start to the season going.
USC 45 Oregon State 30
Marissa: After going 4-8 a season ago, new head coach Lincoln Riley has quickly rebuilt the USC program back to being a top team in the Pac-12. He has done so by bringing his former Oklahoma quarterback in Caleb Williams and wide receiver Mario Williams with him. Riley also received another transfer star in Jordan Addison from Pittsburgh to bolster the receiving group. Williams has been a star for USC, already completing 74.5% of his passes for 955 yards and eight touchdowns with no interceptions. Addison makes up five of those touchdowns. Now, Williams will be going against an Oregon State defense that has allowed 215.3 yards per game. USC has had a great start, but they have relied mostly on the offense as their defense is still a bit hit-and-miss. They gave up 14 points to Rice, 28 to Stanford, and 17 to Fresno State. Oregon State has the offense to test the Trojans’ defense, as they have put up 34 points or more in each game so far. Chance Nolan will find success against the secondary that has allowed 203.7 passing yards per game to make this a high scoring matchup. Both passing attacks will be on full display, but USC has the better talent that will be too much for Oregon State to handle.
USC 52 Oregon State 38