Can Alabama Keep Rolling? — College Football Week 6 Preview
The top-ranked Crimson Tide rolls into Texas on a historic roll. Can they keep it up? Here’s a look at this week’s most interesting college football games:
Thursday, October 5
N.C. State Must Beat Lamar Jackson to Stay Ranked
(17) Louisville at (24) NC State | Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh, NC; 8 p.m. (ET) on ESPN
Thanks to a promising start to the season, North Carolina State (4–1, 2–0 ACC) made it back to the AP Top 25 for the first time since 2010. Now, all the 24th-ranked Wolfpack has to do to stay there is beat No. 17 Louisville and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson on Thursday night in Raleigh.
If N.C. State is going to stay ranked, stud pass rusher Bradley Chubb needs to be a disruptive force on Jackson and the Cardinals (4–1, 1–1), who crushed the ‘Pack 54–13 last season. If Chubb and the defensive front can’t pressure Jackson, he may pick apart a shaky secondary that allows nearly 300 yards passing per game. This could be his chance to make up votes on fellow Heisman contenders Saquon Barkley of Penn State and Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma.
Saturday, October 7
West Virginia Will Test TCU’s Defense
(23) West Virginia at (8) TCU | Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth,Tex.; 3:30 p.m. (ET)
Eighth-ranked TCU (4–0, 1–0 Big 12) often wins with tough defense, a rarity in the pass-happy Big 12. The Horned Frogs will put their top 10 ranking on the line against quarterback Will Grier and No. 23 West Virginia (3–1, 1–0) on Saturday afternoon. Head coach Gary Patterson’s defense needs to pressure Grier and attack the Mountaineers high-powered offense the way they handled Mason Rudolph and Oklahoma State a few weeks ago.
Quarterback Kenny Hill and running back Darius Anderson will lead the TCU attack, which would be wise to chew up as much yardage and time as possible. If the Horned Frogs win this week, they should have a direct path to a huge showdown with No. 3 Oklahoma on Nov. 11.
Will Miami & Florida State Ever Play in 2017?
(13) Miami at Florida State | Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, Fla. 3:30 p.m. (ET) on ESPN
Thirteenth-ranked Miami is scheduled to play at Florida State on Saturday afternoon in a game rescheduled from Sept. 16 because of Hurricane Irma. However, a new tropical disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico could threaten the game or perhaps make a mess of playing conditions. That could be good for the Seminoles (1–2, 1–1), who are not ranked and needed a 10-point fourth-quarter rally to beat Wake Forest last week and avoid their first 0–3 start since 1976.
For the Hurricanes (3–0, 1–0) to break a seven-game losing streak to their in-state rival, they’ll need quarterback Malik Rosier and running back Mark Walton to attack the Florida State defense. That would be more difficult in a driving rain or wind storm. A Seminoles victory would salvage their season and spoil Miami’s hot start.
Will the Tide Keep Rolling?
(1) Alabama at Texas A&M | Kyle Field, College Station, Tex.; 7:15 p.m. (ET) on ESPN
Top-ranked Alabama (5–0, 2–0 SEC) keeps getting better. The Crimson Tide have never been as dominant as they’ve been in the last two weeks, outscoring SEC opponents Vanderbilt and Mississippi 125–3. This week, Nick Saban’s juggernaut faces Texas A&M (4–1, 2–0), a team that has given up more than 40 points to unranked teams twice already this season. That can’t make Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin confident. Expect lots of stat-padding for ‘Bama’s Jalen Hurts, who isn’t totally out of Heisman contention. A&M’s only real chance is to turn this game into a track meet, which is unlikely against the Tide’s fierce defensive front.
Can Utah Stop the ‘Love Train?’
Stanford at (20) Utah | Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City; 10:15 p.m. (ET) on FS1
Twentieth-ranked Utah (4–0, 1–0 Pac-12) has played itself into Pac-12 title contention thanks to methodical wins over lesser opponents. This week, it gets real as Stanford (3–2, 2–1) visits. A Utes run defense that has allowed just 87 rushing yards per game will have to stop Cardinal Heisman Trophy contender Bryce Love and his 1,088 rushing yards on just 98 carries (!). If Utah can’t stop Stanford’s ‘Love Train,’ they won’t be able to attack the iffy Stanford defense.
Backup quarterback Troy Williams could start for the Utes in place of Tyler Huntley, who was injured in last week’s win over Arizona. Either QB will look to NFL-ready wide receiver Darren Carrington II to help move the ball and score points.