As another Saturday of football kicks off, here are the three games that you have to be watching today, no matter which school you support.
My record in predictions this season: 15-7
No. 20 Auburn (5-2, 3-1 SEC) at No. 1 LSU (7-0, 4-0 SEC), 3:30 p.m.
A lot has been made this week about the suspensions of cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, running back Spencer Ware and defensive back Therold Simon (the trio was suspended after getting caught smoking synthetic weed — whatever that is), but I think their absences are overrated. The Tigers are absolutely loaded at every position, and they’re good enough to withstand a couple of big players missing a game as long as it isn’t against a team like Alabama.
But Auburn is a fiesty bunch, and this game could be closer than traditional thinking would suggest. These two teams have played seven times since 2004, and only once has a game been decided by more than a touchdown in the last seven meetings. It’s one of those unexplainable things in football, but Auburn-LSU always seems to be a close game.
Until this time.
My prediction: LSU 31, Auburn 7
No. 25 Washington (5-1, 3-0 Pac-12) at No. 8 Stanford (6-0, 4-0 Pac-12), 8 p.m.
The Huskies have one loss this season, on the road at a then-11th-ranked Nebraska team that beat them 51-38 in their third game of the season. If they had their hands full in Lincoln, they’re really going to have trouble tonight on a national stage in Stanford.
Quick question — can you name the school with the nation’s longest winning streak? It’s actually Stanford, who have won 15 games in a row. This game will feature the two highest passers in the Pac-12, so expect lots of offensive fireworks.
The difference in this game will be Cardinal QB Andrew Luck and his 71.3 percent pass completion rate. If his team played on the East Coast, Luck would easily be the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy. But he’s still fully in the running thanks to leading an offense that averages 45.8 points per game, and I don’t expect the Huskies to slow him down today.
My prediction: Stanford 51, Washington 23
No. 6 Wisconsin (6-0, 2-0 Big Ten) at No. 16 Michigan State (5-1, 2-0 Big Ten), 8 p.m.
This is the test that we’ve all been waiting for with Wisconsin. The Badgers have played a light schedule so far, but the nation is convinced that Michigan State is a solid squad after they beat Michigan at home last weekend.
Here’s what nobody else is saying: Michigan State is beaten up and tired. Their game against the Wolverines a week ago was extremely physical, and they’ll also be without defensive lineman William Gholston (suspended for dirty play last week). Any team that wants to have a chance to beat Wisconsin has to be on their game and healthy, and that won’t define Michigan State tonight.
Expect to see Russell Wilson play a smart game at quarterback, and expect to see Wisconsin remain undefeated.
My prediction: Wisconsin 34, Michigan State 21