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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Around the Country: Week 8

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Photo by Ishika Samant

Texas A&M’s attendance for the Alabama game was at 108,101 fans ranking it at the third largest game in Kyle Field history.(Ishika Samant/The Battalion)

No. 7 Penn State @ No. 3 Ohio State
Saturday, Oct. 21 — Ohio Stadium — Columbus, Ohio
11 a.m. on FOX
Expect a defensive slugfest in this game, with both teams ranking in the top seven for yards allowed per game.
Penn State rolls into this game 6-0 on the year, and all eyes will be on sophomore quarterback Drew Allar. Allar has thrown for 1,254 yards and 12 touchdowns and hasn’t thrown an interception in his first year starting.
Penn State’s defense is also holding opponents to just 193.7 yards per game, the least of any team. Although the defense is statistically dominant, the Nittany Lions haven’t faced a team of Ohio State’s caliber so far this season.
On the other side, Ohio State has a lot of notable names with junior wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. leading the way. Through six weeks, Harrison is averaging just over 100 yards receiving per game and is projected to get drafted second or third overall in the 2024 NFL Draft.
The Buckeyes’ defense is ranked seventh in yards allowed per game. Ohio State’s typical weakness the past few years has been defense. This year, the Buckeyes are giving up just under 10 points per game.
This game should obviously be interesting. Home field should be an advantage for Ohio State as the Buckeyes stay undefeated in a close, low-scoring game.
Prediction: Ohio State 20, Penn State 17
No. 14 Utah @ No. 18 USC
Saturday, Oct. 21 — Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum — Los Angeles
7 p.m. on FOX
FOX is killing it with matchups this upcoming weekend.
USC is looking to bounce back from a 48-20 loss to Notre Dame where the offense turned the ball over five times.
Junior quarterback Caleb Williams has been fantastic his whole college career, but severely struggled in the loss. Williams threw for 199 yards and a touchdown, but threw three interceptions that Notre Dame scored three touchdowns off of.
Utah’s defense is excellent, but if Williams can take care of the ball, USC stands a much better chance than last week.
Speaking of Utah’s defense, the Utes are ranked ninth in total defense this year. The most points the Utes have given up this season was 21 in a loss to Oregon State. The unit also has 22 sacks and has forced 10 turnovers this year.
The problem for Utah is its offense. Star senior quarterback Cam Rising hasn’t played in a game this season due to injury. Freshman Nate Johnson and junior Bryson Barnes have filled in for Rising this season, and while they haven’t been bad, the offense clearly misses a playmaker behind center.
Even with Utah’s struggling offense, the Utes should put up points on a bad USC defense, but if Williams takes care of the ball, USC should win by a couple of scores.
Prediction: USC 38, Utah 28
No. 16 Duke @ No. 4 Florida State
Saturday, Oct. 21 — Doak Campbell Stadium — Tallahassee, Florida
6:30 p.m. on ABC
The Blue Devils are still on pace to vye for the ACC title despite losing in Week 6 to No. 15 Notre Dame. Duke enters the matchup undefeated in the ACC but is a severe underdog against a potent Florida State team.
Duke’s last game against NC State proved that redshirt freshman quarterback Henry Belin was still adjusting to the task of his new role after losing starting senior quarterback Riley Leonard to injury in the final seconds of the Notre Dame loss.
Belin threw for only 107 yards and two touchdown passes in the 24-3 win over NC State, but senior running back Jordan Waters helped fuel the lackluster offense with a 83-yard touchdown carry and 123 rushing yards.
Leonard is still questionable to return Saturday with a high ankle sprain, causing speculation for Belin to resume the helm of the offense against FSU.
On the other side of the ball, the Seminoles remain one of the last undefeated teams in FBS and lead the ACC standings. Coach Mike Norvell is on the right track to bring his squad back to the College Football Playoff for the first time in almost 10 years.
The FSU offense has been electric this season, averaging a total of 449 yards per game off of senior quarterback Jordan Travis who has 13 touchdowns and a total quarterback ranking of 83.1, the 10th-best in the nation.
Even if Leonard suits up on Saturday, the Blue Devils’ defense is going to need to put on its best performance to give him a fighting chance against the Seminoles.
Prediction: Florida State 42, Duke 14
No. 17 Tennessee @ No. 11 Alabama
Saturday, Oct. 21 — Bryant-Denny Stadium — Tuscaloosa, Alabama
2:30 p.m. on CBS
Brace for a wild night in Tuscaloosa.
The Volunteers are coming off a low-point offensively in last week’s game against A&M. Tennessee’s offense only scored once against the Aggies’ defense, and senior quarterback Joe Milton had his worst outing of the season.
Milton had only 100 yards in the air and one touchdown in the 20-13 win, failing to break over 200 passing yards for the first time this year.
However, the run game did look solid last Saturday for the Vols, as junior running back Jaylen Wright had 136 rushing yards and a touchdown.
The Vols’ defense also had a night, limiting A&M to only one score and two field goals while picking off sophomore quarterback Max Johnson twice.
The Crimson Tide may be slowing down this season, but not if coach Nick Saban has anything to say about it. Since the Week 2 loss to No. 8 Texas, Alabama has won its last five games, and four of those were SEC opponents.
Staying on top of the SEC West standings, the Crimson Tide is trying to re-establish its once clear dominance over the conference, attempting a strong finish in the season that had a somewhat rocky start.
In order for the Vols to remain in contention for the SEC title, they must overcome a hungry Alabama team that’s looking to make a comeback.
Prediction: Alabama 32, Tennessee 24

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