It’s a stacked weekend of college football, with a Top 10 matchup taking place in the SEC, a Top 15 matchup taking place in the Big 12, and Top 20 matchups be had in the Pac-12 and ACC. What’s best for Penn State? Let’s get into it.
No. 3 Alabama over No. 8 Tennessee
This is one I can actually see an argument made for either outcome because regardless of who it is that wins, they will still be ahead of Penn State come Sunday. So really, it comes down to how you view the remaining schedules of both Alabama and Tennessee, and what the likeliest outcome the rest of the way is. The Crimson Tide — as far as “difficult” matchups go — still have No. 16 Mississippi State, at LSU, and at No. 9 Ole Miss left on their schedule. Meanwhile, the Volunteers only face No. 22 Kentucky and then have to go on the road to No. 1 Georgia.
With that being the case, I’m rooting for Alabama here because I think if Tennessee wins, there’s a good chance they finish the season 11-1 with their lone loss being to No. 1 Georgia. That would set them up for a pretty decent argument to make the College Football Playoff, especially if Georgia gives Alabama a second loss in the SEC Championship Game.
Of course, on the other side of things, if Alabama wins here you could be looking at a similar scenario where the Crimson Tide’s lone loss is to Georgia so who knows? I guess what I’m trying to say is: I think it’s more likely that Alabama gets two losses even if they beat Tennessee, than it is that Tennessee will get to two losses if they beat Alabama.
No. 20 Utah over No. 7 USC
This is the rest of USC’s schedule: @Arizona, Cal, Colorado, @No. 11 UCLA, and Notre Dame. Not exactly a murderers’ row, given the only time they have to leave Los Angeles is for Arizona. That’s what this Utah game on Saturday is supremely important if you don’t want USC to end the regular season undefeated. Rice-Eccles Stadium is a super tough place to play so despite the Utes coming off a loss at the hands of UCLA, that place will be rocking for an 8:00 p.m. EST kickoff.
No. 13 TCU over No. 8 Oklahoma State
Both these teams are undefeated and have similar schedules the rest of the way so, like was the case above, it’s difficult to know which outcome would be better. I’m going with TCU here just for the simple fact they are ranked a little bit lower than Oklahoma State, and I don’t think they would carry the same cachet was Okie State would to the College Football Playoff committee.
No. 15 NC State over No. 18 Syracuse
This one is simple: you want the one-loss team (NC State) to beat the undefeated team (Syracuse). The Orange have to go to Clemson next week anyway, but better to get this one done now.
Minnesota over No. 24 Illinois
The Illinois story is a good one. Bert is obviously building something solid there in Champaign, but Penn State wants Minnesota to be 5-1 — and maybe ranked again — for next Saturday’s White Out affair. That means taking out the Illini.
Purdue over Nebraska
Penn State beat Purdue. Penn State wants Purdue to win the Big Ten West.