The Observer’s Roundtable Week 4: Sooners look to hold position, Gators pressure Crimson Tide
After an action-packed first week of college football full of upsets and comeback wins, fans across the globe are now gearing up for an even more intense second week. We at The Observer have all the coverage you need of some of the biggest games this week so let’s get right to it.
NCAA Games of the Week:
Nebraska @ No. 3 Oklahoma
No.1 Alabama @ No. 13 Florida
Mississippi State @ Memphis
Mannion McGinley — Sports Editor
These two teams will be each other’s biggest game yet. The Sooners limped to a win over Tulane before hammering Western Carolina but that first limp feels significantly more relevant. In the same way, Nebraska handed Fordham and Buffalo two swift losses. However, neither of those are very large feats. It was the loss to Illinois that changed my perspective on the Cornhuskers. Maybe both teams just had stressful first weeks back, we all know that has been the case this season but because of that, I’d bet this game is closer than anyone expects.
Nebraska 24, Oklahoma 38
If any other team had a top-15 match-up this weekend, I would be concerned for them. It would be a toss-up for both teams and they’d fight tooth and nail. Unfortunately for the Gators, the threatening top-15 team, they have to take on the number 1, Crimson Tide. Alabama is not fazed unless you are in the top-5 and even then, they’ll just barely break a sweat. We saw it when they stomped on Miami, and I am afraid the Gators will fall to the same fate.
Alabama 42, Florida, 17
This will be a make-or-break week between Mississippi State and Memphis. Both of them are 2-0, both of them need to come out of week three on top. That can’t happen though and with Memphis almost falling last week to Arkansas State, Mississippi State is going to take their passing game and march up and down the field on Memphis.
Mississippi State 45, Memphis, 21
Jamison Cook — Sports Writer
Oklahoma has played Tulane and Western Carolina so far this season, so it is not exactly like they have exactly played any top-tier programs yet. The Tulane game was a little close for comfort as the Sooners only won by a score of 40-35, but they bounced back in a big way with a 76-0 drubbing of WCU in Week 2. While the Nebraska name carries more weight than the previous two, this should be a comfortable win for Oklahoma. Spencer Rattler returned to preseason-expectation form in the win over WCU, tossing five touchdown passes and only six incompletions. This game was so out of hand that three Oklahoma quarterbacks saw the field. Expect more of the same from Rattler and the Sooners this week in a rivalry game that hasn’t been played since 2010.
Nebraska 20, Oklahoma 45
This is the second top-15 matchup for the Crimson Tide this season, but in Week 1 they rolled over No. 14 Miami 44-13 in what was quite a scary performance for the rest of college football. I think Florida is better than Miami in most respects, but I still can’t see this game being any closer than the Alabama -15 line. Bryce Young has lived up to all the preseason hype, and that $800k in NIL deals is starting to look worth it for everyone that invested in him. He has seven touchdown passes through two weeks and has yet to throw an interception. Young and Alabama are just too good on both sides of the ball, and Saban will make sure the Tide get up for an SEC showdown. Gainesville should be pretty quiet when the Tide rolls over the Gators.
Alabama 37, Florida 17
This game is supposed to be close and the fact that Memphis is at home should help the Tigers some. But Memphis gave up 582 passing yards to Arkansas State last week (yes, you read that correctly) and Mississippi State is a pass-heavy team, as they threw 49 passes with only 15 rushes last week. Given that the Bulldogs’ strength is the Tigers’ biggest weakness — Memphis currently ranks 128th against the pass — I think Mississippi State runs Memphis off their own field. A tough week for the AAC gets even worse after this game.
Mississippi State 31, Memphis 20
Nate Moller — Sports Writer
The Sooners struggled big time in their narrow week one victory against Tulane, but they looked like they found their groove in last week’s 76-0 demolition of Western Carolina. Nebraska has beaten Fordham and Buffalo the past two weeks, but they suffered an embarrassing loss to Illinois in week one. While this is a rivalry matchup, I like the Sooners to dominate this one from start to finish. I expect a lot of Spencer Rattler touchdowns.
Nebraska 17, Oklahoma 51
Alabama will face a major test as they face off against a top-15 Gator squad. The Gators will feel as if they have something to prove after a narrow loss against Alabama in the SEC Championship Game last year, but I think Bryce Young and the Tide will be too much for the Gators. If the Gators can get the crowd in this one and force some turnovers, they might have a chance, but Alabama’s firepower should lead them to a relatively comfortable road victory in Gainesville.
Alabama 38, Florida 20
Both teams enter this game with a 2-0 record, so there is a lot at stake. Mississippi State edged out Louisiana Tech in week one before taking care of North Carolina State easily next week. Memphis took down Nicholls in week one, but they had a very narrow victory over Arkansas State this past weekend. I anticipate this one being very close, but I like the Bulldogs to win this on the road in the final minute of the game.
Mississippi State 41, Memphis 38
Sam Ouhaj — Sports Writer
While I am not high on Oklahoma, this game against Nebraska has a chance to get unpleasant quickly. By that I mean Oklahoma might have a run for their money. After almost losing to Tulane, Oklahoma bounced back with an absolute massacre against WCU, winning that matchup 76-0. However, Nebraska has always been a team built on its defense, and while they currently sit at 2-1, they have shown promise as a unit. I want to take an upset but speaking realistically; I have Oklahoma winning.
Nebraska 21, Oklahoma 45
Alabama vs. Florida is the most exciting and absorbing game of the weekend. Last year’s contest saw a shootout in Gainsville, but there is a good chance we won’t see that again. Bryce Young is dominating the college football playing field, however, and if he keeps it up, he will find himself being the next member of the Crimson Tide to be awarded the Heisman. Alabama is the best college program in the country for a reason, and these are games Nick Saban wins historically speaking. Florida might be able to make some noise at first, but it will barely make a difference.
Alabama 42, Florida 28
I loved Memphis football, but that was almost two years ago. The Tigers almost lost to Arkansas State last week, which would have been a massive upset despite the two teams being unranked. Mississippi State comes into this game led by Mike Leach, the Air Raid enthusiast. Like the roundtable team said, Memphis gave up over 580 passing yards, and when a team that would rather throw 50 plus times a game than run comes into town, it could get nasty. I am taking Mississippi State this week despite Memphis’ home-field advantage, especially since they banned cowbells.
Mississippi State 35, Memphis 28
John Stolmeier — Sports Writer
If matchups were determined entirely by team talent, Oklahoma would already have won this game. With that being said, I do not foresee another 76 point victory for Oklahoma against Nebraska this weekend. If Nebraska wants to remain present in this matchup, their QB Adrian Martinez will have to hold onto the football. The Cornhusker’s quarterback has been their leading rusher this season but has surrendered seven fumbles so far this season. I can’t imagine Nebraska’s defense will hold against the Sooners’ explosive offensive unit headed by Spencer Rattler. As much as I hate to say it, Oklahoma should easily take this game.
Nebraska 14, Oklahoma 38
Florida gave Alabama a run for their money last year. Unfortunately for Florida, the Gator’s offense was propelled by solid performances by Kyle Trask, Kyle Pitts and Kadarious Toney. On the other hand, Nick Saban has proved once again that his program is #1 in the first weeks of CFB, with sophomore quarterback Bryce Young looking like one of the best players in the country. If Anthony Richardson can get back to 100% for this game, the Gators could challenge the Tide for the first time this season. Regardless, I don’t think UF fans will be happy after this game.
Alabama 45, Florida 24
I know that Memphis had a tough game against Arkansas State last week, but let’s not forget that Louisiana Tech almost beat Miss State in their season opener. Miss State boasts one of the purest air raid offenses in the nation, averaging less than 44 rushing yards a game. Right now, I’m hoping that Ryan Silverfield can develop a game plan for the Tiger’s defense and hinder the Miss State passing attack. The Tigers have an explosive offense of their own that has accumulated over 1200 yards in their first two games. Miss State feels too one-dimensional to take this game.
Memphis 34, Mississippi State 28
Tom Zwiller — Sports Writer
Seeing Oklahoma as a 22.5-point favorite makes sense, right? They’re undefeated, ranked #3 in the country and playing an unranked Nebraska. However, the Sooners are 1-1 against the spread: they were a -31 point favorite against Tulane at home but only won by five. So I don’t think Oklahoma beats the spread; Nebraska has the better defensive rating than Tulane and an almost average offensive rating (according to College Football Reference’s Simple Rating System). The Cornhuskers may not have a great offense, but I don’t believe in Oklahoma’s defense, so it should be closer than expected.
Nebraska 24, Oklahoma 42
I think this game has the potential to be the best game on the slate: a bitter rivalry game between teams who are both top-11 in the country. It not only has SEC implications but CFP as well. Notice I said potential. I think this game could be good, but I don’t think it will. On an Alabama podcast, the hosts said that this Alabama defense might be the best in Saban’s history. I also believe that Bryce Young is the best QB that Saban has had. I think ’Bama wins easily and beats the spread. Everyone else is just playing for second.
Alabama 35, Florida 21
This game feels like a true toss-up. I think that Mississippi St. is the better team, but Memphis is a solid squad with the home-field advantage. Mississippi beat LA Tech 35-34 and NC State 24-10, whereas Memphis beat Arkansas State 55-50 and the Nichols Cornels 42-17. Considering that Mississippi State has the better defense playing tougher competition, I think an offense will do well against a weak Memphis defense. Memphis has had a good offense this season, but I think it’s a bit overrated considering they have played weak opponents. So I’m taking Mississippi State to beat the spread on the road, but the under hits.
Mississippi State 31, Memphis 24