Rank stakes: Top teams jockey for playoff position

11/14/15 by Matthew S. Vandriak

Three games this week feature Top 25 teams going head to head. Those games plus a big matchup in the PAC 12 headline this week's college football preview.
#2 Alabama at #17 Mississippi State Saturday at 3:30pm
Both of these teams come into this SEC matchup hot, with the 8 and 1 Crimson Tide having won their past 6 games while the 7 and 2 Bulldogs have won four in a row. Alabama controls their own destiny to the SEC Championship, with just 2 conference games left against the Bulldogs and Auburn, 2 wins will get the Crimson Tide their birth in the title game. Beating Mississippi State will require the Alabama defense to contain one of the most dynamic players in college football in the Bulldogs Dak Prescott. Prescott has passed for 2,351 yards and 18 TD's while throwing just 1 interception. Prescott also leads Mississippi State in rushing with 418 yards and 7 scores. The Bulldogs defense will have their hands full with Alabama's Derrick Henry, who has rushed for 1,254 yards and scored 17 touchdowns. Alabama won last year's contest, knocking off the then top ranked Bulldogs by the score of 25 to 20.

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#21 Memphis at #24 Houston Saturday at 7pm
The scoreboard may need some extra lights for this American Athletic Conference contest between the 8 and 1 Tigers and the 9 and 0 Cougars. Memphis averages 44.8 points per game, while Houston averages 44.4. The Tigers average 547 yards per game in total offense, while the Cougars average 525. Houston is hoping to be in contention for a New Years Day bowl birth, while Memphis is hoping to rebound from last week's disappointing 45 to 20 loss to Navy. Tiger's QB Paxton Lynch has thrown for 3,014 yards and 19 TD's against just 2 interceptions. Lynch will be facing a Houston defense that leads college football with 25 takeaways. Memphis has won 8 straight road games, but hasn't beaten Houston in 10 years, with the Tigers last win against the Cougars coming on October 15th, 2005. This game marks the first ever matchup between two ranked AAC teams.
Oregon at #7 Stanford Saturday at 7:30pm
After starting the season with a loss at Northwestern, Stanford has won their 8 games since. The 6 and 3 Ducks come in having won their past three games, after having lost 2 of their previous 3. Oregon has put up some impressive offensive numbers this season, averaging 42.2 points per game while putting up 543 yards per game on average. But they also surrender a lot as well, giving up an average of 37.2 points per game and 543 yards of total offense on average. They'll be tested by Stanford's Christian McCaffery, who's 241.6 yards per game average is the best in college football. The winner of this game has won the PAC 12 title each of the past five seasons. Oregon won last year's meeting 45 to 16 at home, but Stanford has lost only 5 of their past 50 home games.
#12 Oklahoma at #6 Baylor Saturday at 8pm
The Big 12 has been known for it's gaudy offensive stats, and both of these teams have helped to inflate those numbers. Baylor averages 57.4 points per game, while Oklahoma averages 46.3. The Bears average 665.6 yards per game, while the Sooners average 549.3. Baylor will be looking to improve to 9 and 0 and to stay in the College Football Playoff hunt. 8 and 1 Oklahoma has won their past 4 games coming into this one, and if they can win out against Baylor, TCU, and rival Oklahoma State, they could stake their claim to a spot in the CFP as well. The Sooners have scored 50 or more points in each of those 4 wins. Baylor has won the past two meetings between these two schools though, by a combined score of 89 to 26.

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