Friday, October 4, 2013

Week 6 Non-Conference Games to Watch

As we mentioned last week, we are "All In", and being "All-In" means paying attention to other college football games with the potential to impact Clemson and their goal of reaching Pasadena for the BCS Championship game.

So, below are four Non-Conference games to watch - and two bonus ACC games, sorted in the order they are most likely to occur.

Congrats to Georgia for defeating LSU last week and helping the Tigers' cause.

#6 Georgia at Tennessee, 3:30pm CBS
As much as it pains Clemson fans to pull for Georgia, their fate is indirectly tied to Georgia's success. Thus as Georgia goes, so goes Clemson.

Tennessee shouldn't provide too much of a challenge, but if the Georgia team that sleepwalked through North Texas shows up, this game could be uncomfortably close.

Spread: Georgia by 10.5 (seems small)
Chance of Georgia Winning: 85%

#4 Ohio State at #16 Northwestern, 8:00pm ABC
This is conceivably Ohio State's toughest test remaining as a game at the Big House represents their only other Top 25 matchup to be played. If Clemson wants to improve their chances at playing for a National Championship, a loss by Ohio State would certainly help.

Presently, Clemson and Ohio State occupy the #3 and #4 spots in the two main polls. A loss by Ohio State would give Clemson outright control of the #3 spot, and potentially a few extra fractional points when the BCS poll is released. At this point, Clemson may need any advantage it can get, regardless of how small.

The bad news for Clemson fans is Ohio State only has one loss to Northwestern in the last 40+ years: 2004 in overtime. The good news is Ohio State's defense looks suspect, which plays into the Northwestern strengths.

Spread: Ohio State by 7
Chance of Northwestern Winning: 40%

#15 Washington at #5 Stanford, 10:30pm ESPN
Stanford is only a few votes from jumping Clemson in both polls, and a few good wins - like a Top 15 Washington team, could see them do just that. If Stanford does jump Clemson, an Oregon-Stanford matchup could feature two Top 4 teams. The loser of such a game may not fall very far (even if they aren't in the SEC). Clemson needs to keep Stanford at bay, and a loss to Washington would be the perfect elixir. Best case scenario, Washington beats Stanford, who in turn beats Oregon, leaving the entire conference with at least one loss.

But what makes this such an intriguing matchup was how the Washington defense put Stanford in a choke-hold to stymie the Stanford offense and secure Sarks biggest win while at Washington. This Washington team is senior-laden, and could potentially pull off the upset in back-to-back years.

Spread: Stanford by 8
Chance of Washington Winning: 30%

TCU at #11 Oklahoma, 7:00pm Fox
Like Ohio State, Oklahoma is a team that is seeing its strength of schedule take a beating. As the season began, Oklahoma could point to the Texas, Oklahoma State, and TCU games as chances to improve themselves in the eyes of the nation. Since then, Texas has fallen apart, Oklahoma State fell flat against WVU, and TCU already has 2 losses. The carnage results in a trip to Baylor being their toughest game of the year (everyone raise your hand if you'll sign up for this schedule).

Unfortunately for Clemson fans, this means Oklahoma could easily run the table and potentially pose a threat to Clemson's bid for the BCS Championship Game. However, if someone is going to knock off Oklahoma, they'll need a stout defense, which TCU has the capabilities to bring.

Spread: Oklahoma by 9
Chance of TCU Winning: 25%

#25 Maryland at #8 Florida State, 12:00pm ESPN
To be honest, I love watching Florida State lose, and nothing would be sweeter than watching an overachieving Maryland team leave Doak Campbell with a win. However, because of the stakes, it would be best to have FSU continue to win, setting up a huge showdown between Clemson and Florida State.

Spread: FSU by 16.5
Chance of Florida State Winning: 85%

Georgia Tech at #14 Miami, 3:30pm ESPNU
This is another game where Clemson doesn't have much to gain, or lose, from either team. Clemson will play GT in November and will most likely play Miami in the ACC Championship game (assuming Clemson remains undefeated). As such, it may be best to have Miami continue winning to make the ACC Championship more impactful to the National Championship debate.

Spread: Miami by 6
Chance of Miami Winning: 65%

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