Observer Roundtable Week 5: Aggies and Razorbacks duel in Fayetteville
After a college football week that held many exciting matchups, this week takes a break on the gas. Outside of a only few games, there are few intriguing matchups to watch this weekend. While it will not be another Alabama vs. Florida matchup, this is fine because it lets us here at The Roundtable shine a light on teams that may go unnoticed.
NCAA Games of the Week
No. 7 Texas A&M @ No. 16 Arkansas
Colorado @ Arizona State
Louisville @ Florida State
The most exciting game on the schedule this week besides the Shamrock Series, A&M vs. Arkansas could be the headliner coming out of Saturday. While both teams have minimal chance of making noise in the SEC, mainly due to Alabama and Georgia, this game could shake up the AP rankings for a week or two. I have never been sold on Haynes King, but losing him will show this weekend. Especially since the Razorbacks’ defense has kept them in games while being led by Hayden Henry. Arkansas has been getting hot at the right time, and I have them taking down another top-ranked opponent this weekend.
A&M 21, Arkansas 35
After being a top-25 team last year ago, Colorado has fallen off significantly. After being shut out last weekend by Minnesota, the Buffaloes need to get back on their feet fast, but going up against ASU won’t allow them to do so. Arizona State may have lost last week to BYU by 10 points and fell out of the AP rankings. However, playing Colorado is going to bring back any lost confidence and restore this team. The Sun Devils have a fantastic run game, but if QB Jayden Daniels can stop turning the football over once or twice a game, this team can find themselves in a bowl game. I have a blowout happening in the Sun Devil Stadium — sorry, Colorado.
Colorado 7, ASU 42
If this game were to happen five years ago, I would tell everyone to stop doing everything and tune into it. Except this is 2021, and both teams have been a shadow of their former selves this season. While Louisville pulled out a miraculous win against UCF last week, FSU miraculously found a way to lose against Jacksonville State two weeks ago. Both programs have not been the same since 2016, and it is unfortunate how quickly college football moves. However, if I am to pick a winner here, I am going with the Cardinals. Despite me ripping on them, they have won their last two games, and their only loss comes to an Ole Miss team that currently contains the Heisman favorite Matt Corral. My only question is, “FSU, what happened?”
Louisville 35, FSU 14
I think that Texas A&M @ Arkansas is arguably the best game of the weekend. Though Texas A&M may be the higher-ranked team and a -5.5 favorite, I’m taking the Razorbacks here. At home this season, they beat then-ranked No. 15 Texas 40-21 and have handled both Georgia Southern and Rice thoroughly. On the flipside, the Aggies are the road team, and while they have had good home wins against the University of New Mexico and Kent State, their 10-7 victory against Colorado makes me question just how good the Aggies are.
Texas A&M 24, Arkansas 28
You likely figured out I am not super high on the Colorado Buffaloes based on my last prediction. Colorado is 1-2, with their only win being their first game when they played Northern Colorado, an FCS team. ASU, meanwhile, is 2-1, with their only loss coming from a top-25 rated BYU. The Sun Devils have the offense to both beat the Buffaloes and the spread (-14.5). Not counting the FCS opponents, Colorado has allowed an average of 20 points while only scoring 3.5. Meanwhile, Arizona averages 27 points per game and only allows 18.5 against.
Colorado 10, Arizona State 31
I am genuinely surprised to see the spread for this one at -1.5 Louisville. I get that the Cardinals are by no means a dominant college football team, but look at their opponent. After taking ND to OT, FSU lost to an FCS team and got rolled by Wake Forest 14-35. Louisville may not have a top-25 win, but their only loss was at the hands of Ole Miss, who is now ranked No. 13 by the AP Poll. I don’t think this one will excite me, but Louisville should beat the spread.
Louisville 24, FSU 17
I am not sold on either of these SEC teams being true contenders, so I guess we will find out who is for real this week. Texas A&M has played three subpar opponents thus far, so this is the first real test for them. The Aggies lost initial starting quarterback Haynes King to a foot injury in the Week 2 win over Colorado, but backup Zach Calzada has been solid in relief thus far. Arkansas has been more impressive through the first three weeks of the season, blowing out Texas in Week 2 and handling Rice and Georgia Southern in their other two matchups. QB KJ Jefferson has been impressive both through the air and on the ground, and his favorite target Treylon Burks has caught a third of his completions. Upset alert.
Arkansas 27, Texas A&M 23
Colorado has averaged a whopping 14 total points through their first three games, while Arizona State has scored an average of 39 points in their two wins. The Sun Devils are unranked this week for the first time this season after a loss to BYU last week, so they will look to make a statement as they get back on track. Arizona State has three rushers with over 170 yards through three games and has scored 11 times on the ground, so I expect them to run Colorado off the field on Saturday. 10:30 p.m. ET kickoff will mean very few East Coast viewers, which is fine because this game won’t be close.
Arizona State 34, Colorado 16
What happened to Florida State? After a strong showing against Notre Dame in Week 1, the Seminoles have proceeded to lose to Jacksonville State (yes, that’s a real college) and Wake Forest. FSU is 0-3 for the first time since 1976 and the Mike Norvell project is not looking good in its second year. Who knows who will be at QB this week. Louisville is looking better since its Week 1 loss to Ole Miss, and with two 200-yard rushers already, they should be able to get past the struggling Seminoles. This one could be an ugly football game.
Louisville 30, Florida State 26
Texas A&M came in as one of the favorites to win the SEC this year, but their start to the season has been disappointing, to say the least. The Aggies lost starting quarterback Haynes King in their narrow 10-7 victory over Colorado, and it will be a struggle for them to recover from that. King’s replacement, Zach Calzada, has looked okay so far, but his numbers have not been flattering. On the flip side, Arkansas has surpassed all expectations so far this season. The 40-21 win over Texas showed the Razorbacks have the potential to be competitive in the SEC this year, but I don’t think they will have enough talent to get past a Texas A&M team that will have a very tough defense regardless of how their offense plays. I expect the Aggies to grind this one out.
Texas A&M 24, Arkansas 17
Although Colorado challenged Texas A&M two weeks ago, they looked horrible in last weekend’s 30-0 loss to Minnesota. The Buffaloes have not been able to get any offense going in their last two games of the season, and they will have their work cut out for them against a Sun Devils defense that hasn’t played horribly this year. The Sun Devils are also coming off of a disappointing 10-point loss to BYU where they had a stunning four turnovers. I expect Arizona State to clean up their turnover problem and win this one fairly handily.
Arizona State 34, Colorado 10
The state of the Florida State football program is at an all-time low after starting 0-3 on the year, which includes losses to Jacksonville State and Wake Forest. McKenzie Milton looked like a shadow of his former self in the Seminoles’ loss to Wake Forest last week. In the loss, Milton was 11-16 for no touchdowns and two interceptions for an overall quarterback rating of 2.3. Florida State’s defense has been atrocious this year as well, giving up nearly 100 points through the first three games. Louisville is coming off of a thrilling victory over UCF and their only loss of the year is to a very quality Ole Miss team, so I like the Cardinals to take this one with ease.
Louisville 42, Florida State 20
Aside from helping clean up the true pecking order in this year’s absolutely stacked SEC West, this neutral-site rivalry game between the Aggies and Razorbacks gives both programs a really good opportunity to get past some demons. For Texas A&M — who has dominated this series since they joined the SEC — they need a win in this game (and a few more) to prove they can finally turn the hype that often surrounds their team early in the season into actual late-season relevance in the national championship race. For an Arkansas program that has really struggled to keep pace in college football’s toughest division for the past several seasons, winning this game would be a sure sign that their program has truly turned things around and is headed for contention. Texas A&M may have struggled in their Week 2 game against Colorado, but the expected preseason result will hold. The Aggies will remain a top contender, for now.
Texas A&M 31, Arkansas 23
Colorado is coming off a terrible performance against Minnesota at home but was able to hang with Texas A&M only one week before, so it’s difficult to tell exactly what to expect with the Buffaloes. Arizona State’s only significant data point thus far is a 27-17 road loss to a good BYU team, where the Sun Devils played decently but were thwarted by turnovers. A lot of the preseason hype surrounding the Sun Devils rested on the expectation that junior quarterback Jayden Daniels would mature into the star that people predicted he’d be since his freshman year. I see turnovers playing a big role in Arizona State losing to a team they should beat at home. Colorado’s tough defense will hand ASU an upset at home that could get rumors swirling about Herm Edwards’ time left in Tempe.
Colorado 27, Arizona State 24
In this home matchup against Louisville, Florida State heads into its fourth game winless for the first time since 1976. Both teams in this game have had an up-and-down season of sorts, with Louisville following up a Labor Day thrashing from Ole Miss with two wins — including a quality victory over UCF — and Florida State losing to FCS Jacksonville State and Wake Forest fresh after taking top-ten Notre dame to overtime. The trajectory of each team seems to bend against this interpretation, but I see the Seminoles and QB McKenzie Milton settling down for their first win of the year.
Florida State 42, Louisville 30
This weekend will be a huge test for Arkansas to see if they are contenders in the SEC as they face off against Texas A&M in Arlington. The Aggies have the top-scoring defense in the country, giving up only 5.7 points per game. It will be difficult to contain an explosive Razorbacks offense led by quarterback KJ Jefferson and wide receiver Treylon Burks, but the Aggies’ pass defense has been especially stingy, allowing just 77 yards per game. In the end, I think A&M’s defense will hold up and help the Aggies win a low-scoring affair.
Texas A&M 23, Arkansas 16
After a near-upset of Texas A&M, Colorado got crushed by Minnesota 30-0 at home last weekend. It’s an extremely demoralizing result, and I don’t see them bouncing back against a strong Arizona State squad. The Sun Devils were upset by BYU this weekend, but they have a lot more talent than the Buffaloes with star quarterback Jayden Daniels and an intriguing running back trio. As long as Arizona State can avoid the whopping 16 penalties they committed against BYU, they should be able to get the win at home.
Arizona State 31, Colorado 17
Florida State has collapsed since their near-upset of Notre Dame during the opening weekend of the season. The Seminoles had six turnovers last weekend against Wake Forest, and their lack of discipline has cost them dearly. As for the Cardinals, Louisville quarterback Malik Cunningham is an elite dual-threat talent, as he already has three passing and six rushing touchdowns this season. Florida State’s defense will struggle to contain Cunningham, and with some likely turnovers from quarterback McKenzie Milton, I see the Seminoles falling to 0-4.
Louisville 38, Florida State 28