It’s the game of the year – at least to this point – in college football on Saturday as AP No. 2 Tennessee visits No. 1 Georgia. The winner is almost surely going to the SEC Championship Game. The Dawgs are solid favorites on the NCAAF odds.
No. 6 Alabama at No. 10 LSU (+13.5)
Alabama and LSU will meet for the 87th time on Saturday with the Crimson Tide holding a 55-26-5 all-time advantage in the series, including a 29-9-2 mark in Baton Rouge. Alabama head coach Nick Saban is 12-5 for his career against LSU, including a 12-4 mark with the Crimson Tide. LSU first-year head coach Brian Kelly is 0-2 in his career against the Tide with both matchups coming while he was at Notre Dame. Both teams are off their bye week.
Alabama is 13-5 (.722) in games following a bye under Saban. The Crimson Tide have outscored the opposition 539-331 (29.9 ppg-18.4 ppg) and has held six opponents to 10 points or less in those 18 contests. Alabama’s most frequent opponent coming off the bye week is LSU, with the Tide holding an 8-4 record in 12 matchups.
Alabama heads to Baton Rouge this weekend where the Tide defense has been dominant as of late. Over the last five trips to Tiger Stadium (dating back to 2012), UA has given up a combined 47 points while posting two shutouts (2016, 10-0; 2018, 29-0). The Alabama defense has allowed just five total touchdowns over that stretch and limited the Tigers to an average of 273.4 yards per game. Entering Saturday, LSU has been shut out at Tiger Stadium only four times in the last 30 years (including the 2022 season). All four have come at the hands of the Crimson Tide.
LSU goes into the Alabama game riding the play of QB Jayden Daniels, who has accounted for 11 TDs in LSU’s last two games (6 vs. Florida, 5 vs. Ole Miss). Daniels is the only quarterback in the SEC to rank among the Top 10 in the league in both rushing yards (No. 9 at 524) and passing yards (No. 6 at 1,812). His 21 total TDs (9 rush, 12 pass) ties for No. 3 in the league. Daniels is the LSU single-season record holder for rushing yards (524) and rushing TDs (9) by a quarterback, breaking both marks against Ole Miss.LSU has won 11 straight games, including 5 in 2022, when reaching the 30-point mark. Offensively, LSU is averaging 35.1 points and 450.1 total yards per game (183.3 rushing, 266.9 passing). Kelly brings a streak of 16 consecutive November wins into the Alabama game. A Kelly-coached team hasn’t lost a game during the month of November since the 2017 when Notre Dame dropped a 38-20 decision at No. 20 Stanford on November 25.
No. 4 Clemson at Notre Dame (+3.5)
Unbeaten Clemson is going to play in the ACC title game but it almost surely will not reach the College Football Playoff should it be upset in non-conference play at Notre Dame on Saturday. After meeting only twice in Clemson’s first 119 seasons of play, Clemson and Notre Dame will meet for the fifth time in eight seasons.
In its most recent contest, Clemson recorded its 38th consecutive home victory, setting the ACC record and tying the 1919-27 Fighting Irish for the 10th-longest home winning streak in FBS history. Those Irish teams under the guidance of College Football Hall of Famer Knute Rockne were a combined 78-7-3 at all venues in the seasons comprising that streak.
But Clemson has supplemented its historic home streak with the nation’s best road record since 2015. Clemson’s 34-4 road record in that span gives the Tigers a national-best .895 road winning percentage, and Clemson’s 34 road wins since 2015 are three more than any other FBS program and five more than any other Power Five program.
With a win Saturday, Clemson would record a perfect record in true road games in a season for the 10th time in school history, joining the 1900, 1917, 1948, 1981, 1995, 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019 seasons. At Notre Dame in 2020, the Irish ended Clemson’s 36-game regular season winning streak, tied for the fourth-longest FBS regular season winning streak since 1936. The game came during Notre Dame’s lone season of ACC membership to also end Clemson’s 28-game conference winning streak.
On Saturday, the Tigers can end Notre Dame’s 26-game regular season winning streak against ACC opponents since 2018. Clemson, though, is 2-0 against Notre Dame in postseason play in that span, including victories in the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the 2018 Cotton Bowl Classic and in the 2020 ACC Championship Game.
Saturday will mark the second night game of the Marcus Freeman era at Notre Dame. It is just the 28th night game in Notre Dame Stadium history, the Irish are 21-6 in the previous 27 and have won 10 of the last 11 prime time home contests. Marcus Freeman will be looking to claim his third victory over a ranked team in his debut season. Notre Dame is 5-0 this season when it possesses the ball for 30 or more minutes, peaking at 40:55 of possession time against BYU. The Irish were held under 30 minutes against Ohio State (27:01), Marshall (29:13) and Stanford (23:53).
- Alabama and Clemson (although I’d play the Tigers at -2.5)