College Football Starts Early--Big Tilts Before Saturday [College Football Thursday/Friday Open Thread]
Here are the pre-Saturday highlights:
No. 25 Texas at Texas A&M, 8 p.m. ET
This will be the 118th, and perhaps last, meeting in this bitter rivalry. With Texas A&M headed to the SEC, the two squads will no longer be slated to face off on Thanksgiving year-in and year-out. The end of the rivalry, which Texas leads 75-37-5, is unquestionably sad for college football, but is emblematic of the changing landscape of the sport.
The Aggies enter this year's matchup at 6-5, but with all five losses coming at the hands of quality opponents such as Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Kansas State. A&M can score with just about anybody in the country led by quarterback Ryan Tannehill, but they have had trouble closing out games. Case in point: blown second half leads to the Cowboys and the Razorbacks.
Unlike the Aggies, the Longhorns' problems are on offense. They come in at 6-4, but on a two-game losing streak where they have scored a combined 18 points.
My prediction: The Aggies say goodbye to the Big 12 in fashion with a convincing victory at home over Texas.
No. 3 Arkansas at No. 1 LSU, 2:30 p.m. ET
Yeah, this one is kind of important. The Razorbacks have flown under most peoples' radars this season with most of the attention in the SEC going to LSU and Alabama, but with last weekend's chaotic results, Arkansas is right in the thick of the National Championship hunt. Arkansas enters the game with just one loss, which came at the hands (in a thumping, mind you) of No. 2 Alabama. Arkansas boasts a potent offense led by Tyler Wilson at quarterback and Dennis Johnson at running back, filling in capably for the injured Knile Davis. Fans of other one-loss teams trying to back their ways into the National Championship Game, like Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech and Stanford will be rooting hard against the Razorbacks, as an Arkansas victory likely would assure an all-SEC title game.
LSU has been the best team in the country this year, and frankly it hasn't been all that close. Their defense is scary fast and the Tigers have beaten Oregon on a neutral field and also won at West Virginia, Mississippi State and Alabama. The Tigers utilize two quarterbacks, Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson and as long as they get solid play out of the position, they look very difficult to beat.
My prediction: LSU wins, and it won't be close.
Other Friday games of note (my predicted winners in bold):
No. 8 Houston at Tulsa, 12 p.m. ET
Iowa at No. 21 Nebraska, 12 p.m. ET
Pittsburgh at West Virginia, 7 p.m. ET
California at Arizona State, 10:15 p.m. ET