We’re changing the order of things a bit this week! We’ll still have the same six games as always, but to celebrate the success (if only you could hear the sarcastic laughter as I write this) of our new podcast feature, the first three games this week are available on the podcast! All you need to do is click the handy play button below!
(In all seriousness, thanks to those of you who have reached out to tell me they like this feature. Please let me know what you think, even if you hate it. If you hate it, I may just blame it on Eric’s SEC piece, or something.)
This week’s trivia question can also be heard on the podcast! Of course, if you want to pick the games alongside us, you can still do that by clicking here.
And now, for the rest of this week’s games…
Keyword Search (all times Eastern and rankings AP)
#10 Florida (6-1) at Arkansas (5-3)
3:30pm | CBS
- Passing fancy: Florida features the best pass defense in the SEC, surrendering just 134.3 yards per game. Arkansas, on the other hand, is one of just three SEC teams averaging greater than 250 passing yards per contest. The Razorbacks clock in at 256.4 passing yards per game, a number that balloons to 297.5 yards per outing against league clubs. The Hogs’ lowest passing total of the year came last week, however, in a 56-3 shellacking by Auburn. The Gators have surrendered just five touchdowns through the air, bettered only by LSU’s four. Arkansas has thrown for 18 scores this season.
- Can’t keep runnin’ away: Florida, conversely, would seem to be in a prime position to take advantage of Arkansas’ 110th-ranked rush defense. However, the Gators rank just 67th nationally in that category, and do not have a rusher in the league’s top 12 ball carriers. Florida averages 165 yards per game against conference opponents, a number greatly aided by a 39-carry, 287-yard effort against Missouri on October 15. Florida averages fewer than 100 rushing yards in three of its last four SEC games. Arkansas’ Rawleigh Williams III is 193 rushing yards away from becoming the fourth-straight (and third different) Razorback to tote the rock for 1,000 yards in a season.
- Trending: Arkansas took down Florida, 28-24, in the 1982 Bluebonnet Bowl in Houston. (The now-defunct bowl would be finally canceled five years later.) That victory is the only “W” the Razorbacks possess in the series, as the Gators have ripped off nine straight wins against Arkansas. Arkansas has only even lost by single digits twice in those last nine games, a 33-28 margin in 2003 and a 23-20 final in 2009.
Print that, tweet that, whatever: Florida needs a win to hold off Kentucky (!?) atop the SEC East. Arkansas needs one to become bowl-eligible. Lots at stake here.
#9 Nebraska (7-1, 4-1 Big Ten) at #6 Ohio State (7-1, 4-1)
8:00pm | ABC
- Unfavorable history: Nebraska has beaten Ohio State just once in the four times the schools have played — also the only time the schools played in Lincoln — taking a 34-27 decision on October 8, 2011. Husker fans will not-so-fondly remember the last meeting between the two, a 63-38 drubbing in the Horseshoe that was the lone blemish on Nebraska’s 2012 league slate. That changed, of course, when Wisconsin exacted revenge for an earlier Nebraska comeback win by hanging 70 on the Huskers in the Big Ten title game. That 2012 club was also the last Nebraska team to win ten games in a season, a mark still well within reach for this year’s squad, even without a victory on Saturday.
- Getting it done of late: This contest matches two squads tied for the third-best record among FBS teams over the last 12 games. Alabama is, of course, undefeated over the last 12. Just four other clubs own better marks than these two in that span, however, as Michigan, Clemson, San Diego State and Washington are all 11-1. Two more victories would tie Nebraska’s Mike Riley for his highest single-season win total since 2006, as three of his Oregon State clubs finished 9-4 apiece in that period.
- Leading the pack: Ohio State paces the Big Ten in a staggering seven statistical categories, including total offense (just shy of 493 yards per game), rushing offense (272.4 yards per game) and turnover margin (plus-10). Nebraska has yet to be out-possessed this year, logging a time of possession of 34 minutes per contest. Ohio State also tops that category, though, at 34:47. Wisconsin’s defeat of the Huskers last week was the only game this year where they have been outrushed by an opponent (223-152). Wisconsin was also the only team to outrush Ohio State this year (236-185), though the Buckeyes managed a 30-23, overtime victory over the Badgers.
Print that, tweet that, whatever: Nebraska has a one-game lead in the West over four schools (MIN, WIS, IA, NW). A loss to Ohio State here, and all hell breaks loose.
#1 Alabama (8-0, 5-0 SEC) at #15 LSU (5-2, 3-1)
8:00pm | CBS
- Season of Orgeron: LSU’s sports information staff coined the (frankly hilarious) phrase “Season of Orgeron” for the Tigers under their interim leader, but the success really has been quite apparent. LSU’s already-stingy defense has surrendered just 38 points in the three games won under “Coach O”, with two of the three opponents rushing for fewer than 100 yards. Three of the four lowest yardage totals by opponents against the Tigers this season have come in those three games, as well. The offensive turnaround has been even more remarkable, with LSU averaging 536 yards per outing in those three games. That is a nearly 200-yard improvement over the per-game average LSU recorded in its first four games.
- Beating the Bayou Bengals: Alabama owns five wins in a row over LSU, with three of those five coming by two touchdowns or greater. The Crimson Tide has won seven of nine against the Tigers, but has not lost by more than three points since a 41-34 result on November 3, 2007. LSU last defeated Alabama by a margin greater than three points in Baton Rouge on November 11, 2006, a 28-14 effort that saw JaMarcus Russell complete 18-of-21 throws for 207 yards and three scores.
- Get up, it’s Gameday: We often feature ESPN College Gameday-related stats in this space, but here’s another: This is the ninth Alabama-LSU contest to be featured on the four-letter network’s flagship college football program, going back to 1996. LSU is 2-6 against Alabama in the previous eight games from which Lee Corso has donned a mascot head, with both games decided by a margin of three points in overtime. Gameday was on hand for LSU’s 16-13, overtime decision in 2005, and again for LSU’s 9-6 victory in extra time in 2011. That 2011 game marked the last time LSU defeated Alabama.
Print that, tweet that, whatever: The common wisdom seems to indicate that Orgeron gets the full-time gig at LSU if the Tigers win here. Heck of an audition, no?
(Note: Non-Saturday games are not eligible for inclusion in the weekly Clear Your Schedule feature.)