The Observer’s Roundtable Week 10
The release of the CFP rankings by the committee has left many fans confused and angry, including us at the Roundtable. However, these rankings are bound to change as we enter the 10th week of college football and were definitely done intentionally. Regardless of what we may think, it is time to break down this week’s most exciting matchups.
NCAA Games of the Week
Liberty @ No. 16 Ole Miss
LSU @ No. 2 Alabama
No. 9 Wake Forest @ UNC
If you’re a Lions, WFT, or Texans fan, this is the game for you. Malik Willis vs. Matt Corral is sure to be an exciting matchup between two quarterbacks who are not only Heisman finalists, but also potential top-three picks. Ole Miss, on paper, is a better team than Liberty and is deserving of their No.16 ranking. However, Liberty has been better on the defensive side of the ball, though that is not saying much as their biggest game this season before this Saturday was against Syracuse. This game will be a high-scoring shootout similar to the BYU vs. Virginia game. I can see each team putting up over 40 points each. I am conflicted on who to side with, but I will give it to Corral and the Rebels, who have faced more challenging competition.
Liberty 42 – Ole Miss 56
Two years ago, LSU had finally done it; they beat Alabama. In a historic season led by Joe Burrow and company, the Tigers pushed Bama out of the playoffs and went on to win it all. However, we are looking at a different story, and it is going to be a massacre in Tuscaloosa. Bryce Young is currently the favorite to win the Heisman, and while this offense is not what we saw last year, they are pretty darn good. LSU is allowing over four hundred yards of offense, and that is a big red flag if you’re hoping for an upset. Who knows though, we saw the Crimson Tide go down earlier this year but getting the lighting to strike twice in the same spot is almost impossible.
LSU 14 – Alabama 49
No one would have ever expected the Demon Deacons to be ranked No.9 in the country, but here we are. Wake Forest has been led by Quarterback Sam Hartman, who has almost 3000 yards of passing offense and the third-best QBR in the country. While one Sam has had success, the other Sam [Howell] has seen his team go from being ranked in the top ten in the preseason to an average team in the middle of the pack. UNC is currently the favorite, which is absurd to think about. Howell was a favorite to win the Heisman at the start of the season and, in his recent games, is starting to return to his old style of play. However, the Demon Deacons are legit this season, and after UNC’s FSU loss, I will never pick them again for the rest of the year.
Wake Forest 35 – UNC 24
The total is set to 67.5, and I am inclined to take the over here. The two squads average over 37 points per game. Liberty averages 444 yards per game, and Ole Miss averages 531. Neither team is excellent defensively; Liberty allows 300 yards against per game while Ole Miss allows almost 430. So while I want to give Ole Miss an advantage because of their offense, I think Liberty can keep this one close thanks to their defense. The more exciting story is between the two Heisman caliber quarterbacks: Malik Willis and Matt Corral. Odds-wise, Matt Corral is currently second, but Willis could catch up with a big Liberty win.
Liberty 31 – Ole Miss 38
I do not see a path for LSU to win against Alabama. Maybe if the game were at Death Valley, I could see it, but this one is at Bryant-Denny. LSU has an excellent passing attack, averaging 270 yards through the air, but Alabama only allows 220, so they should be able to control the Tigers offensively. On the flip side, the Tigers allow nearly 410 yards against, 250 of those coming through the air, whereas the Tide have one of the best passing attacks in the nation. However, with the spread at 28.5, I am inclined to take LSU to cover.
LSU 28 – Alabama 49
When I first checked the spread for this one and saw that UNC was favored by 2.5, I refreshed the browser to make sure. This one feels a bit unexpected, and my only explanation is that UNC is at home. But a top-10 undefeated team being an underdog against a .500 team feels a bit absurd. I expect Wake to get this win on the road; they have a top-15 passing attack and a Heisman potential QB in Sam Hartman. UNC and Sam Howell are good, and I expect this game to be a shootout, but Wake gets the win.
Wake Forest 42 – UNC 35
Liberty QB Malik Willis was recently ranked the No. 6 prospect in Todd McShay’s Top 32 2022 NFL Draft prospects. He will get a chance to showcase his talent on the national stage against another highly ranked QB: Matt Corral of Ole Miss, who McShay had at No. 21. This matchup of two great quarterbacks is sure to provide some fireworks, and I expect a lot of points in this one. But Liberty is not just a one-man team. The Flames boast the seventh-best passing defense in the nation, and they will make life more difficult than expected for Corral. Ole Miss suffered a disappointing loss at the hands of Auburn last week that saw Corral leave the game briefly with an ankle injury before coming back out on the field. It will be interesting to see if he is 100% heading into the weekend. All of these factors put Ole Miss on upset watch, but I believe Corral and the Rebels are too talented to stumble two weeks in a row.
Ole Miss 34 – Liberty 30
LSU is sitting at 4-4 with the knowledge that their head coach is on his way out at the end of the season. It is a forgettable season for the Tigers. Alabama is also in a bit of an unfamiliar situation, fighting for their playoff lives down the stretch of the season. One could argue that Alabama needs to win the SEC to make the CFP. Beating Georgia in the SEC Championship will be a challenge for the Crimson Tide, but beating LSU this week won’t be a challenge at all. The spread is set at Alabama -28.5 points, and I would be surprised if Saban and Co. don’t cover at home. The Coach O situation goes from bad to worse.
Alabama 45 – LSU 14
Wake Forest and UNC represent two of the biggest surprises of the college football season. Wake has been a great story, starting the season 8-0 and jumping to No. 9 in the CFP Rankings, the first time the Demon Deacons have cracked the Top 10 in a major poll in school history. UNC, on the other hand, has been a massive disappointment. Ranked No. 10 in the preseason AP Poll, the Tar Heels have fallen flat and now sit at 4-4 and unranked. Regardless, Wake has not played any big games yet, and UNC is actually favored at home in this matchup. A big part of the reason UNC has not lived up to expectations has been the play of QB Sam Howell, who has not remotely approached the level of play expected from the preseason Heisman contender. Conversely, Wake QB Sam Hartman has blown expectations out of the water, throwing for 2,475 yards and 22 touchdowns with only three interceptions. This is the week that Wake Forest finally earns the respect of the nation and solidifies their spot in the Top 10.
Wake Forest 37 – UNC 31
Liberty’s defense has held up pretty well throughout the season so far, but I don’t expect that to continue throughout this week’s matchup with Ole Miss. Matt Corral and the Ole Miss offense have been explosive this year, putting up well over 500 yards and 39 points a game. While Liberty might seem to have the defensive edge in this matchup, I believe it’s closer than the stats suggest. Ole Miss has taken on better opponents and largely overcome them, and I don’t think Malik Willis and his Liberty squad will be in the game for long.
Ole Miss 45 – Liberty 21
The Crimson Tide is favored by 28.5 in this matchup, coming in with -10000 odds for the money line. I’m not sure if Alabama is that much better than LSU, but the drama surrounding head coach Ed Orgeron and the Tiger’s program definitely won’t help. Bryce Young is still leading the Heisman race with an extremely talented supporting cast around him. The Tide almost certainly has an advantage on both sides of the ball; at home, this game should never be in question. I don’t know if Alabama will cover, but they’ll almost certainly win.
Alabama 52 – LSU 27
Wake Forest jumped into the top 10 last week after handily beating Duke but are still considered underdogs on the road against UNC. The Tar Heels should be Wake’s hardest game so far and it’ll hit them on the road in Chapel Hill. I can’t shake the feeling that Sam Howell will outperform Sam Hartman and the Wake Forest offense this weekend at home, but this game really is a toss up. Wake Forest has a lot to lose, while the Tar Heels gave up on a 10 win season weeks ago. That being said, UNC at home in a nail biter.
UNC 35 – Wake Forest 31