Key Pick ‘Em Games For 2015
Just because the kickoff to the season is still over a month away does not mean it’s too early to begin breaking down important matchups. It’s never too early to size up the games that’ll decide conference—and even national—title chases, especially now that the offseason window is gradually shut.
Every weekend of the regular season will feature multiple games of immense significance and interest. It’s what helps makes this sport so tantalizing from Labor Day until the weeks after Thanksgiving. The following five showdowns may feel far off in the distance in the heart of summer, but each will be upon us in the blink of an eye.
Alabama at Georgia, Oct. 3
Elite running backs. Uncertainty behind center. Immense defensive talent. Alabama and Georgia will practically be looking in the mirror when they meet in the regular season for the first time since 2008. Special teams could be the deciding factor in a tight game that requires all four quarters to determine a winner. And while the Tide boasts one of the nation’s premier punters, JK Scott, the Dawgs will have the more consistent kicker on this Saturday. Nick Chubb and Derrick Henry will duke it out in one of the must-see running back matchups of 2015, but Marshall Morgan will serve up the game-winner with his foot to hand ‘Bama its first loss of the year.
Georgia 24 Alabama 21
USC at Notre Dame, Oct. 17
Just last November, USC clubbed Notre Dame, 49-14, so the Irish will have revenge on their minds in this 87th meeting of intersectional rivals. This fall, ND will not only have the home field advantage, but also an edge at the line of scrimmage. While the Trojans lack a dominant D-lineman now that Leonard Williams is a New York Jet, the Ronnie Stanley-led Irish are going to be stout at the point of attack. Tarean Folston and Greg Bryant will enjoy plenty of running room, and QB Malik Zaire ought to be far more comfortable with a half-season of starts under his belt. On defense, CB KeiVarae Russell will help neutralize the Troy pitch-and-catch combo of Cody Kessler to JuJu Smith.
Notre Dame 35 USC 30
Florida State at Georgia Tech, Oct. 24
The Seminoles and Yellow Jackets meet on the Flats in a rematch of last year’s thrilling ACC Championship Game won by Florida State, 37-35. And since both schools are favored to win their respective divisions, this could wind up being a preview of the 2015 league title tilt as well. Okay, so the ‘Noles are rebuilding up front on offense, but nobody retools better than assistant Rick Trickett, who has a ton of potential with which to work. Whether it’s Dalvin Cook, Jacques Patrick or Mario Pender carrying the load, FSU will out Georgia Tech Georgia Tech on the ground. And the real stars will be Trickett’s emerging blockers, tackles Roderick Johnson and Chad Mavety and guards Wilson Bell and Kareem Are.
Florida State 37 Georgia Tech 34
Georgia at Auburn, Nov. 14
Will Muschamp defeated his alma mater last year as the Florida head coach. This season, he’ll do it as the Auburn defensive coordinator. The Tigers are going to rock on offense behind the balance of Jeremy Johnson’s passing and the running of JUCO transfer Jovon Robinson. It’s on defense, though, where this program will make its greatest strides. Muschamp inherits enough talent, along with his own strategic acumen, to trip up a Bulldog attack that’s going to lean so heavily on one player, star RB Nick Chubb. Once Auburn jumps out to an early lead and gets the Jordan-Hare crowd amped up, Georgia won’t have the necessary passing game to mount a comeback.
Auburn 35 Georgia 24
Oregon at Stanford, Nov. 14
Oregon always possesses more offensive firepower than Stanford in this emerging Pac-12 North rivalry. In 2015, the Ducks might house the feistier D, too, which is why the Cardinal will get plowed on the Farm in a pivotal divisional matchup. Oregon will have a lot of new faces in the secondary, but its speed and range will prevent Stanford from getting to the edge or extending plays. The Cardinal’s conservative, bare-knuckle approach might work for a while, but before long the Ducks will put their webbed feet on the gas and pull away. While Stanford will always be tough and physical on defense, a second straight personnel overhaul will be too much to overcome versus Oregon’s myriad playmakers.
Oregon 41 Stanford 23