The Observer’s Roundtable Week 12
With just two weeks before the college football season ends, there are still plenty of games that have huge playoff implications moving forward. We have three of the biggest games this weekend to break down and discuss here at The Roundtable.
NCAA Games of the Week
No.7 Michigan State @ No.4 Ohio State
Arkansas @ No.2 Alabama
No.9 Oklahoma State @ Texas Tech
When I saw the spread for this game, I was honestly shocked to see MSU +19. I do not know where the MSU hate comes from, but I believe it has to do with them being in such close games throughout the season with lower-ranked opponents. However, this game is essentially a playoff birth for either team. If MSU wins, they will have two wins against top 10 opponents, which gives them the argument to be in the playoffs this year. If OSU wins, that loss to Oregon means nothing, and they solidify their spot once again in the CFP. As much as I want to see MSU shock the world, this OSU team is legit, and with C.J Stroud in a groove, the Buckeyes will be back to make a run at the title game.
Michigan State 24 Ohio State 38
At the start of the season, Arkansas was on a Cinderella run. They beat a ranked Texas team and a ranked Texas A&M team, which then had the Razorbacks ranked in the top 10. However, they faced Georgia, the number one team in the country, and got shut out 37-0. Since that game, Arkansas is 3-2 with losses against Auburn and Mississippi State. Unfortunately for the Razorbacks, they are about to go .500 over their previous six games when they go to Alabama to play the Crimson Tide. Alabama has had a few hiccups against lower opponents, but with a team built to stop the run, the Razorbacks will have a tough time getting anything going.
Arkansas 14 Alabama 35
Sorry Sooners’ fans, but Oklahoma State is the best team in Oklahoma. The Cowboys are finally being ranked ahead of Oklahoma, and it is incredible to see. For years, we have heard how Oklahoma State was on the verge of being a competitive force, and during this 2021 season, it is all coming together. The Texas Tech Raiders are 6-4 on the year. If you look at their games played, when they win, they blow teams out, and when they lose, it’s by a landslide. Despite their record, this will be a challenge for the Cowboys. But, with the way QB Spencer Sanders and RB Dominic Richardson have played this season, I expect them to continue their dominance as they push for an NY6.
Oklahoma State 52 Texas Tech 24
Seldom do you get a matchup featuring two top-10 teams with a spread of 19, but that is exactly what Michigan State will be facing in Columbus. The stakes in this one could not be higher. With both teams having one loss, the loser of this game is knocked out of CFP contention. Earlier on in the season, I could have understood taking the Spartans. But the Buckeyes seem to be back on track, so I’ll take Ohio State with an MSU cover. I think that Ohio State is simply better on both sides of the ball and can limit the Spartans’ explosive plays.
Michigan State 27 Ohio State 45
This may be a top-25 matchup, but it sure does not feel like it, nor will it feel like it come Saturday. This Razorbacks team relies heavily on the run; they have more rushing yards per game than passing yards. Sadly for Arkansas, the Crimson Tide is the fourth-best rushing defense in the country, allowing only 80 yards per game. Add in the fact that Alabama has both a better offense by yards per game and a better overall defense, and this one feels like it is already a Tide victory. We are going to see a two-loss Alabama in the CFP, arent we.
Arkansas 17 Alabama 42
Oklahoma State is a one-loss team and still has a game against Oklahoma ahead of them; the Cowboys could genuinely be looking at a late-season CFP push. Standing in their way (sort of) are the Texas Tech Red Raiders. While the Red Raiders have the better passing attack, I like the Cowboys’ defense to limit them. With a 10.5 spread in favor of Oklahoma State, I expect this one to be rather dull. Better matchups await the Cowboys, namely at home against Oklahoma and potentially the Big12 Championship, where they could face either the Sooners or Baylor.
Oklahoma State 35 Texas Tech 21
Ohio State cemented themselves as the top dog in the Big 10 this past week by dominating a Purdue team that had previously upset both No. 2 Iowa and No. 3 Michigan State. Both the Spartans and their in-state rivals Michigan strike me as teams who really aren’t as good as their rankings, and I think Ohio State will expose both of them in the coming weeks. Buckeye QB CJ Stroud continues to play electrifying football as he threw for 361 yards and five touchdowns. The RB tandem of Miyan Williams and TreVeyon Henderson combined for over 200 yards on the ground against the Boilermakers, giving Stroud and the offense an elite second dimension. Considering that this game is in Columbus, I feel like the Buckeyes should take this one relatively comfortably, but I think the 19-point spread might discount the Spartans a little too much.
Ohio State 37, Michigan State 24
Arkansas moved up to No. 21 in this week’s AP Poll, while Alabama stayed near the top of the rankings at No. 2. And while there may be only 19 teams ranked between these two, there is a world of difference in terms of talent level and quality of football. The 20.5-point spread is evidence of this. I don’t think this game will be close at all, and Alabama will further cement themselves (at least in the committee’s minds) as a near lock for the playoff. QB Bryce Young has quietly thrown for over 3,000 yards and 33 touchdowns with just three interceptions. The kid is special, and he has a really good case for Heisman. This one might be a bit of a sleeper after the first quarter.
Alabama 38, Arkansas 13
This is a classic trap game for Oklahoma State. With rival Oklahoma coming off a loss and looming on the schedule, it would be easy for the Cowboys to look past 6-4 Texas Tech. For this reason, I think this game will be a lot closer than it should be. Oklahoma State has been putting up points all year and Texas Tech has been giving up lots of scores in their losses. I think this will be a high-scoring affair. The Cowboys will pull away late to keep their slim playoff hopes alive, but the game itself will be a lot closer than the final score will show.
Oklahoma State 41, Texas Tech 31
Ohio State is favored by nearly three touchdowns against Michigan State, but the Spartans will put up more of a fight than that. Kenneth Walker III is the best running back in the country, and his five-touchdown game against Michigan demonstrated he can perform against the top defenses in the nation. He will keep the Spartans close, but Ohio State’s depth will separate them in this matchup. With an elite wide receiver trio of Jaxson Smith-Njigba, Garrett Wilson, and Chris Olave, quarterback C.J. Stroud has too many weapons for Michigan State to contain. I’ll take the Buckeyes at home.
Ohio State 38, Michigan State 34
Arkansas is on track for its best record since 2015, and head coach Sam Pittman has done a great job turning the program around. The Razorbacks have elite playmakers in quarterback KJ Jefferson and wide receiver Treylon Burks, who will likely be a first-round pick in April. Sadly, they’re still no match for Alabama. After a scare against LSU two weeks ago, the Crimson Tide throttled New Mexico State to get back on track. Quarterback Bryce Young is still the Heisman frontrunner with over 3,000 yards and 33 touchdowns on the year, and the Tide will roll at home.
Alabama 42, Arkansas 17
Oklahoma State has dominated the past three weeks, outscoring their opponents 142-23. The Cowboys’ defense has been stellar all year, giving up only 16.4 points per game. Meanwhile, Texas Tech’s defense has been nonexistent, allowing 33.5 points per game. Despite the numbers, I’m going with the upset. Red Raiders freshman quarterback Donovan Smith lit up Iowa State on Saturday with over 300 yards and three touchdowns, leading to a game-winning 62-yard field goal as time expired. I think kicker Jonathan Garibay comes in clutch again, kicking a game-winner in the final minute to end the Cowboys’ CFP hopes.
Texas Tech 31, Oklahoma State 28