Observer Weekly Roundtable: College — Who will remain unbeaten?
We’re back with another edition of The Observer Roundtable predictions. For the first time in AP Poll history, we have a pair of battles between 8-0 squads, so we will all take our cracks at those games. All of us will be looking for better success in our upset picks, after we went a clean 0-6 last week. Enjoy this week’s predictions!
Dominic — 27 pts
David — 26 pts
Aidan — 24 pts
Liam — 22 pts
Nate — 20 pts
Patrick — 20 pts
#2 LSU @ #3 Alabama (-6.5)
#4 Penn State @ #17 Minnesota (+6.5)
#18 Iowa @ #13 Wisconsin (-8.5)
This LSU vs. Alabama clash could be one for the ages, as these two SEC titans will battle it out in Tuscaloosa. Joe Burrow and the Tigers have looked solid all season. However, a healthy junior quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and a talented team will be too much for the Tigers. The Tide win and cover.
In a huge Big Ten matchup, both Penn State and Minnesota have been tough teams to play against. I expect a rather low scoring affair to be tilted more towards the Nittany Lions. The Gophers will keep it close, but the stout defense of Penn State will prove to be too much, and their offense will do just enough to secure the win. Penn State wins but does not cover.
Despite losing two games in a row, the Wisconsin Badgers will be hungry for a win and well rested coming off of a bye week. Much like the Penn State and Minnesota bout, I don’t think the score board will be lit up. I expect Wisconsin to win but not cover.
In what many are calling “The Game of the Century,” the LSU-Bama showcase will collide two lethal offenses in Tuscaloosa. With the return of Tua, I expect the NFL-caliber receiving core of the Tide to explode under pressure. Granted, the LSU offensive line and running game poses a potential breakthrough, but Alabama will stand its ground. Alabama wins and covers.
As a Minnesota native and diehard fan, I find myself beaming at the sight of the Golden Gophers as a relevant squad again. Analysts have every reason to avoid predicting an upset in Minneapolis: the Gophers’ incredibly weak schedule thus far, Penn State’s impenetrable defense and the Nittany Lions’ strong victories against Michigan and Iowa. However, the Gophers deserve support during their best season in my lifetime. Gophers upset!
The downward spiral of the Wisconsin Badgers leaves me boggled by the updated Vegas line. Of course, the Badgers remain undefeated at home this season, including an impressive showing against Michigan. Iowa held Michigan and Penn State to 27 points combined, so I expect a low scoring game and a narrow Iowa victory. Iowa wins outright.
The logic says pick LSU, which has largely dominated their schedule and owns three wins over teams that were in the top 10 at the time. However, Alabama has shown few weaknesses this year, and they’ll make it nine-straight wins over the Tigers. With a late field goal to push it out of reach, Alabama wins and covers.
With a home crowd supporting the best Gophers football team in a long time, Minnesota will engage in a lower-scoring tussle with the Nittany Lions. Penn State has too good a defense to bet against, however, and I think they kick a late game-winner. Penn State wins but does not cover.
Giving up 24-points-in to Illinois and being embarrassed by Ohio State has shaken my confidence in Wisconsin. Iowa has an elite defense, and while their offense is sluggish, I think they have the ability to score enough on this struggling Wisconsin defense. I think the Hawkeyes slow down Jonathan Taylor and win a low-scoring battle. Iowa wins outright.
LSU has proven to be a very good team this season, but Tua Tagovailoa will likely be back this weekend, Alabama just has more talent than LSU on both sides of the ball, and knowing Nick Saban, he has his team fired up about being ranked third. On top of all that, the game is at Alabama, so I expect the Tide to win and cover the spread.
Minnesota is undefeated, but their best win might be against Illinois, although you can only beat the teams you play. Penn State, on the other hand, has proven itself against quality opponents, including wins on the road against Iowa and Michigan State. Given that this game is in Minnesota, and Penn State may be looking ahead to Ohio State, I think it will be close, but Penn State pulls it out in the fourth quarter. Penn State wins but doesn’t cover.
Wisconsin has faltered mightily in back-to-back weeks and has another tough game against Iowa. However, both their losses were on the road in tough environments, and as good as Iowa’s defense has been, they have had no offense against stout defenses like Michigan and Penn State. Iowa will score less than 10 points, and Johnathan Taylor will run for a couple touchdowns, helping Wisconsin win and cover.
LSU-Bama is always one of the most highly anticipated matchups of the year, and this one will not disappoint as two of the top teams in the nation square off in Tuscaloosa. Unlike in past years, this year has the potential to be a much more offensive battle. I think Tua Tagovailoa will bounce back from his injury and make some big plays late to win the game. Alabama wins but doesn’t cover.
While the Gophers are much improved since the beginning of the year, their biggest win to date is against a very mediocre Nebraska team. The Gophers will need all the help they can get to beat a high caliber team in Penn State. TCF Bank Stadium will be rocking early, allowing the Gophers to keep it close, but Penn State will pull away in the second half. Penn State wins and covers.
The Hawkeyes have struggled mightily to produce any offense against quality teams. In fact, the offense put up only three points against Michigan and 12 points against Penn State. I think they will struggle against Wisconsin, too. Both defenses will make it close, but the playmaking ability of Jonathon Taylor is the difference. Wisconsin wins but fails to cover.
Two Heisman candidates will clash in a matchup that has the potential to be an instant classic. Both Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa are among the best quarterbacks in the nation, but Alabama’s defense gives them the edge as they rank ninth among all teams in average touchdowns allowed. The Tide will not cover but will earn a hard-fought victory.
Minnesota is arguably the most surprising undefeated program as they are coming off of an average 7-6 season; however, they have greatly benefited from a weak schedule. On the other hand, Penn State has proven their skills with statement wins over Iowa and Michigan. The Nittany Lions are ranked second in scoring defense, and I expect them to stifle the Gopher’s offense. Penn State should easily triumph and cover.
Coming off two horrible losses to Ohio State and Illinois, Wisconsin desperately needs a win. Iowa has a great rushing defense, but Jonathan Taylor will be hard to contain. The game promises to be a psychical and low scoring affair, and I think Taylor will make all the difference. The Badgers win but do not cover.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.