CFB Roundtable: Top 5 Games for the First Week of December
No Army Football again this week, and in fact, a lot of the college football world is idle this weekend overall. Just not a lot of competitive marquee match-ups are scheduled this week.
We’ve entered a weird phase of a weird season. Teams like UTSA, Liberty, and Coastal Carolina have played most or all of their schedule, and the ACC, SEC, and Big 12 are also mostly drawing to close, save the occasional make-up game. But the Big 10 remains a mess with several of its top teams having played less than five games total, and neither the Pac-12 nor the Mountain West have even hit midseason stride as of yet. Meanwhile, Army-Navy uniforms just dropped, and indeed, the greatest rivalry in sports culminates next Saturday.
This particular weekend, however, is stuck firmly in the middle. There are a few good-looking games, but these are mostly in the Group of 5, and indeed, the G5 has seen most of the season’s best football. If you’ve missed that, you’ve really missed out.
Top 5 Games of the First Week of December
5. #12 Indiana at #16 Wisconsin (2-1).
I would’ve put this one higher, but the Hoosiers (5-1) just lost their star quarterback to a torn ACL. That sucks a lot. They now have to find a way to beat a would-be Big 10 power Wisconsin (2-1) on the road without their best weapon. The good news is that the Badgers have played so little football that they might be rusty.
Sigh. 2020 strikes again.
You can still catch what’s left of this game on ABC, starting at 3:30 pm Saturday afternoon.
Our #OneWord for Week Seven:
— Indiana Football (@IndianaFootball) December 2, 2020
4. West Virginia at #9 Iowa State (-7)
I don’t know that this is necessarily going to be a great game. Iowa State (7-2) looks to be the better team, and more to the point, they’ve been improving steadily throughout the season. However, West Virginia (5-3) has also been at least good, and I know there are some few of you out there who won’t watch a game unless it features two Power 5 schools playing on a major network. We are therefore giving this game bonus points for national prominence.
A lot of people will care about the outcome regardless of its competitiveness.
Both these teams feature a decent rushing defense. The Mountaineers also have a good secondary and a strong passing game. The Cyclones have by far the better running game. In theory, this should probably be a close contest, but with Iowa State at home and just a single win away from their first shot at a conference title in forever, it probably won’t be.
ESPN has coverage starting at 3:30 pm on Saturday afternoon.
— Cyclone Football (@CycloneFB) December 2, 2020
3. #5 Texas A&M (-7) at #22 Auburn
The Aggies (6-1) come into the weekend ranked as the first team out of the College Football Playoff hunt. They are now desperately trying to make the case that they should be the second team out of the SEC-West because, hey, it’s not their fault that they’ve got Alabama in their division. Meanwhile, the Tide just whacked Auburn (5-3), but the Tigers could still maybe argue their way into a New Year’s Six bowl with a win over the nation’s fifth-ranked team. And anyway, no one in the SEC wants to give the conference newcomers an inch if they don’t have to.
Folks, Texas A&M’s QB Kellen Mond has thrown 16 touchdowns against just 2 interceptions this season. That is outstanding, especially on a team that also rushes for 185.3 yards/game while allowing just 87.1 yards/game on the ground from its opponents.
Auburn can maybe get this done, but they’ve got one Hell of a mountain climb. The game kicks off at noon Saturday on ESPN.
— Texas A&M Football (@AggieFootball) December 2, 2020
2. #25 Louisiana (+2.5) at App. State
The Sun Belt has been the best conference in college football this season. Not because every team in the conference can necessarily beat every team in every Power 5 conference, but because this particular conference’s teams have mostly exceeded expectations, often by a wide margin. Hell, the conference as a whole started the season by whipping the Big 12 in detail. Given their overall talent and resources, almost all of these teams have done exceptionally well this year.
This particular match-up features two of the conference’s best — Louisiana (8-1) and Appalachian State (7-2). The Ragin’ Cajuns have an explosive, high-scoring offense; App. State runs the ball and stops the run. That’s a classic for a reason. It’s why App. State has owned the Sun Belt in recent years. Still, the Cajuns have been the better team during this particular season, including, oh by the way, getting a win over Iowa State, who looks headed to the Big 12 Championship (see above).
Bonus points for scheduling. The game itself kicks off tomorrow night at 8:30 pm. Coverage is on ESPN.
— Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns® Football (@RaginCajunsFB) November 14, 2020
1. Liberty (+8) at #18 Coastal Carolina
This is the best game of the week by a mile, and even ESPN knows it because they’re sending College Gameday to Coastal’s campus. Liberty (9-1) has been super-hot all season, having mounted a march of destruction through the ACC and many others. Meanwhile, Coastal Carolina (9-0) is undefeated. They beat both Louisiana and App. State, and that’s something that most Power 5 teams couldn’t have pulled off — and that many wouldn’t even care to attempt.
This is going to be a great game. Both these teams are battle-tested, coming off of nearly a full season of play. They’ve both had to come back and win big contests on the road. Liberty features the most electric read-option rushing attack I’ve ever seen. By comparison, Coastal features a balanced attack, and well, they’re just really good at everything.
Kickoff is at 2:00 pm on Saturday on ESPNU. Do not miss it!
Hey @LibertyFootball and @LibertyFlames fans! Vote for @Willis_Malik7 to be one of 16 semifinalists for the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award by liking this original Twitter post from @daveyobrien. Do the same on Instagram and Facebook! #FanVote #RiseWithUs pic.twitter.com/T7ZCKXUi39
— Davey O'Brien (@daveyobrien) December 1, 2020
Air Force (2-2) at Utah State (1-4). This is your last chance to scout the Zoomies before they (finally) come out to Michie Stadium. Air Force is favored by 10.5 points. Kickoff is at 9:30 pm Thursday night. CBS Sports has coverage
#4 Ohio State (4-0) at Michigan State (2-3). The Buckeyes need to play, folks. Otherwise, they won’t qualify for the Big 10 Championship, and that’ll ruin everything before it really even starts.
This one kicks off at noon on Saturday on ABC.
#17 Texas (5-3) at Kansas State (4-5). Can Texas bounce back? Will they ever be back? These Longhorns can be a frustrating bunch.
Fox has this one, starting at noon on Saturday.
Houston (3-3) at Southern Methodist (7-3). I would’ve picked SMU to run away with this one, but then they no-showed against ECU, and anyway, what do these guys have to play for exactly? They’re out of the AAC title hunt, but they’re already pretty much locked into a bowl game, and the whole team took vacation last week.
Maybe that’s why this game got buried. It’s on Saturday night at 9:00 pm on ESPNU.
That’s all, folks.
America's Pacific Division.
— Army Football (@ArmyWP_Football) November 30, 2020