NCAA College Football Preview: Top 25 Matchups

Ricky Rothstein | Updated Oct 04, 2017

Terrelle Pryor

A look, now, at the Top-25 matchups on the college football landscape this weekend. All NCAA football betting lines are courtesy Sports Interaction.

No. 15 Ohio State (7-2) at No. 11 Penn State (8-1) Nittany Lions -5.0, Over/Under 39.0

A big homecoming game for Ohio State QB (and Pennsylvania native) Terrelle Pryor as the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions duke it out for second-place in the Big 10 (we’ll just go ahead and assume nobody is catching 9-0 Iowa).  Penn State is the hotter of the two teams, coming in winners of five straight by massive margins (34-13 over Northwestern, 35-10 over Michigan, 20-0 over Minnesota, 52-3 over Eastern Illinois and 35-17 over Illinois) and paced by the white-hot play of QB Daryll Clark. Clark is a big reason why the Nittany Lions lead the Big 10 in total offense (429 yards per game); Clark has 18 touchdowns to just seven interceptions, chipping in another five scores (and 148 yards) on the ground.  But if there’s an athlete on the field that can compete with Clark, it’s Pryor.  He’s been just as, if not more, dynamic than Penn State’s signal-caller, throwing for 13 TDs while leading the Buckeyes in rushing. Yes, leading. Pryor had 554 yards and six scores along the ground this season, meaning he’s compiled over 2000 all-purpose yards. Needless to say, this game will probably be decided by the quarterback position. Whichever gifted QB plays better likely wins the game.

No. 9 LSU (7-1) at No. 3 Alabama (8-0) Crimson Tide -7.5, Over/Under 40.0

This classic SEC affair was once about Nick Saban coaching against his old school. But the storyline has changed this year – now, it’s all about keeping national title hopes alive. There’s a good chance that Alabama will be in the conversation if they remain undefeated, but what about Les Miles’ LSU team? The Tigers lone loss on the season was to the reigning National champion Florida Gators, not exactly a resume-killing defeat.

But if LSU has any hopes of getting back into the mix, it’ll have to figure out the Alabama defense. Nick Saban’s troops are literally flying around on D – the Tide allows the fifth-fewest points per game in the nation and has given up just one touchdown in the last three games. Yes, one touchdown. Keep an eye on Crimson Tide linebacker Rolando McClain, who has played himself into Butkus Award contention with his outstanding play this year. If he can shut down Tigers’ lead RB Charles Scott (103 carries, 459 yards, 4 TDs) and force the Tigers to consistently punt the ball away, the Tide should be comfortable covering the 7.5.

Other games to watch: No. 7 Oregon (7-1) travels to Stanford to take on the 5-3 Cardinal. Stanford is a +7.5-point home dog but has beaten some quality teams at home, including then-ranked Washington, UCLA and Oregon State…No. 19 Notre Dame (6-2) hosts an unranked Navy (6-3) team that’s played very well this season: the Midshipmen barely lost to Ohio State and beat Wake Forest. Navy is a +13.5 underdog for this contest.