Inside College Football: Is LSU a National Championship Contender?

    Week 3 Rewind Top-25 Takeaways #12 LSU vs #7 Auburn LSU QB Joe Burrow only completed 15 of 34 passes against Auburn, but managed to hit the big-time

    September 20, 2018

    Week 3 Rewind

    Top-25 Takeaways

    #12 LSU vs #7 Auburn

    LSU QB Joe Burrow only completed 15 of 34 passes against Auburn, but managed to hit the big-time throws — most notably a 71-yard TD pass to Derrick Dillon — that were needed to eke out a comeback win on the road at Jordan-Hare Stadium. If he can improve as a pocket passer as the season progresses, LSU could be a national championship contender come December.

     

    #4 Ohio State vs #15 TCU

    Although the final box score shows a 40-28 win for the Buckeyes, this game was closer than that number indicates. A wild third quarter in which Ohio State scored three touchdowns in a four-minute window is ultimately what decided the outcome for OSU, but Gary Patterson’s relentless Horned Frogs never quit. As conference play ramps up, expect for TCU to emerge as Oklahoma’s biggest challenger in the Big 12.

     

    Vanderbilt vs #8 Notre Dame

    If there’s an FBS team that excels at recording moral victories, it’s Vandy. But Saturday’s 22-17 defeat against #8 Notre Dame truly is a loss that Commodores head coach Derek Mason can build off of. While the ‘Dores might never duplicate the level of success that they achieved when James Franklin was in charge, their performance in South Bend proved that Vanderbilt is capable of playing quality football that’s worthy of the SEC.

     

    Week 4 Fast Forward

    Upset Alert

    Florida vs Tennessee (+4.5)

    Tennessee and first-year head coach Jeremy Pruitt managed to move past Week 1’s frustrating 40-14 loss to West Virginia with wins against ETSU (59-3) and UTEP (24-0). Their next challenge involves a meeting with rival Florida, a team who’s also trying to find their identity under new head coach Dan Mullen.

    Even though this young season has already featured bumps and bruises for the Vols, they can find solace in knowing that their 31-game winning streak against Kentucky didn’t come to a surreal ending weeks ago. The Gators can’t say the same. But they can brag about the commanding 12-1 record that they’ve held in the series since 2005.

    As Pruitt tries to make his mark on this legendary SEC rivalry and reverse the aforementioned trend, he’ll rely on sophomore QB Jarrett Guarantano to lead the offense against a Florida defense that’s allowing 329.7 yards per game. While UT’s offensive line has struggled to consistently keep Guarantano upright through the first three weeks of the season, the youngster has persevered en route to a 72.2 completion percentage, second-best in the SEC. Don’t be surprised if a gutsy showing from Guarantano propels the Volunteers to a rare victory over a Florida squad that hasn’t quite figured it out yet.

     

    Coach’s Corner

    Did you catch Syracuse head coach Dino Babers’ fiery postgame speech after Saturday’s historic 30-7 win over Florida State? If you didn’t, stop whatever you’re doing and watch it now.

    …You finished? Good.

    How cool was that?! From that two-minute clip alone, you could feel the pride and joy that the 57-year-old coach had for his team following their first victory over FSU since 1966. It’s the kind of win that can turn a down-on-their-luck football program into a legitimate threat in the ACC.

    Be on the lookout for more viral videos of Babers this year, because I have a feeling that this is the onset of a special season for the Orange.

     

    Tweet of the Week

    (That’s Jon Gruden, by the way.)

     

    Must-See Matchups

    Nebraska vs #19 Michigan

    The Scott Frost era in Lincoln is off to a disappointing start, but Nebraska can silence the critics with a solid showing against a Michigan team that’s finally finding its footing. After years of underachieving, Michigan and head coach Jim Harbaugh can’t afford a loss in this spot, but if Cornhuskers QB Adrian Martinez is healthy enough to play against the Wolverines, this one could come down to the wire.

     

    #22 Texas A&M vs #1 Alabama

    Considering that Tua Tagovailoa looks like the best QB that Nick Saban has had during his storied tenure at Alabama, it’s scary to think how good the Crimson Tide could be at the end of the season. But for Week 4, Bama should be in store for a battle with a scrappy Texas A&M team that has quickly bought into new head coach Jimbo Fisher’s system.

     

    #7 Stanford vs #20 Oregon

    This Pac-12 showdown could very well be the best game on tap for the weekend. Stanford RB Bryce Love will be the x-factor for the Cardinal after sitting out of last Saturday’s 30-10 win over UC-Davis with an undisclosed injury. Despite the fresh legs, he’ll be tested early and often by one of the nation’s most dominant run defenses. The Ducks defense should put QB Justin Herbert, who’s currently projected as a first-round pick in the NFL Draft, in perfect position to capitalize on the scoreboard in front of a raucous crowd in Eugene.

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