Arkansas at LSU, Saturday 12 p.m., ESPN
This week, LSU and Arkansas face off in the Battle for the Golden Boot: a four-foot tall, 175-pound trophy that has traveled between Baton Rouge and Fayetteville since 1996. The rivals have played intermittently since 1901 – LSU leads the series 38-22-2 and has typically been the higher-ranked team. This year is no exception: the #24 Tigers are 6-3 with three conference wins, while the unranked Razorbacks are 4-5 with one SEC victory.
While this looks like an easy win for LSU, Arkansas has frequently pulled off the upset. Notable examples: 2007, when Arkansas beat the eventual BCS National Champion Tigers in three overtimes, and 2014, when the 4-5 Razorbacks shut out the 7-3 Tigers, breaking a 17-game SEC losing streak. This year’s matchup takes place in Baton Rouge, but the early kickoff may dampen the home-field advantage. LSU is coming off a well-fought loss to #1 Alabama, while Arkansas narrowly defeated Coastal Carolina last week. This Saturday, the victory will likely go to whichever team wants it more.
– Megan Fitzgerald, 3L
Iowa at Wisconsin, Saturday 3:30 p.m., ABC
Can Iowa turn an entire conference’s playoff dream into a nightmare? A week after dismantling Ohio State in a stunning 55-24 victory in Iowa City, the 20th ranked Hawkeyes travel a few hours north to face off against the Big 10’s last hope, the unbeaten 8th ranked Wisconsin Badgers in a battle for the Heartland Trophy. With the winner of the Big 10 East now guaranteed to have at least two losses, the Big 10 needs Wisconsin to run the table en-route to a conference championship in order to be represented in the playoffs. To the surprise of absolutely no one, the Badgers are paced by another outstanding running back. True freshman Jonathan Taylor looks to be the next great Badger Back, having rushed for 1368 yards and 12 TDs this year on 7.1 yards per carry. Wisconsin has almost been unbeatable in Camp Randall in recent memory, going 72-8 at home since the start of the 2005 season. However, Iowa has won three out of its four trips to Madison during that span. Both teams still play a bruising old school style of football in this age of the spread and air-raid offenses. They both line up and run straight at you, counting on ball control and suffocating defense to win. In this 91st rivalry game of strength vs. strength, Wisconsin will win a close one 21-17 and keep the Big 10’s playoff hopes alive for one more week.
– Eric Herst, 2L
Notre Dame at Miami, Saturday 8 p.m, ABC
This week, Miami hosts Notre Dame in what is sure to be a standout game. Notre Dame, with standout quarterback/running back duo in Brandon Wimbush and Josh Adams, have been outstanding this year, winning every game outside of a 1-point loss to Georgia. Meanwhile, Miami has gone undefeated, led by a great defense and solid offense. Notre Dame is favored slightly, but Miami has what it takes to pull off a win. Notre Dame has no more likely losses, and Miami is close to winning their division; the winner of this game is almost certain to make it into the playoffs (unless Miami loses in the ACC championship).