Ge­or­gia-LSU tops con­fer­ence bat­tles

Santa Fe New Mexican - - SPORTS - By Steve Me­gargee

Now that the col­lege foot­ball sea­son has reached its mid­way point, the ti­tle chases in each con­fer­ence are start­ing to come into fo­cus.

This week­end should clear things up even more.

No. 2 Ge­or­gia vis­its No. 13 LSU in a South­east­ern Con­fer­ence in­ter­di­vi­sional matchup that could im­pact each di­vi­sion race.

No. 15 Wis­con­sin trav­els to No. 12 Michi­gan in a po­ten­tial pre­view of the Big Ten cham­pi­onship game. No. 19 Colorado puts its per­fect record on the line at South­ern Cal­i­for­nia in a game that could help de­ter­mine the Pac-12 South cham­pion, while No. 17 Ore­gon hosts No. 7 Washington in a game pit­ting two of the Pac-12 North’s top teams.

Here’s a run­down of some things to know head­ing into the sea­son’s sev­enth week­end.

BEST GAME NO. 2 GE­OR­GIA AT NO. 13 LSU

LSU’s loss at Florida last week pre­vented this from be­ing a matchup of un­beat­ens, but Ge­or­gia still is putting its per­fect record on the line in one of the na­tion’s most hos­tile road en­vi­ron­ments.

This is the first of four straight games Ge­or­gia will play against teams ranked in the Top 25. Ge­or­gia fol­lows up this game with matchups against No. 14 Florida, No. 18 Ken­tucky and No. 21 Auburn.

This marks the first time these two SEC ri­vals have faced off since 2013.

HEIS­MAN WATCH COLORADO WR LAVISKA SHENAULT JR.

Shenault is the na­tion’s lead­ing re­ceiver and plays for an un­de­feated Power Five team, yet he re­mains some­thing of an af­ter­thought in a Heis­man con­ver­sa­tion that has been dom­i­nated by quar­ter­backs such as Alabama’s Tua Tago­v­ailoa and Ohio State’s Dwayne Hask­ins thus far.

Part of the prob­lem is that Colorado has played a rel­a­tively soft sched­ule, due to Ne­braska and UCLA hav­ing down sea­sons.

NUM­BERS TO KNOW

8: The num­ber of SEC teams in the Top 25 (No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Ge­or­gia, No. 13 LSU, No. 14 Florida, No. 18 Ken­tucky, No. 21 Auburn, No. 22 Texas A&M and No. 24 Mis­sis­sippi State). That’s the high­est to­tal for any con­fer­ence since the SEC also had eight ranked teams on Oct. 16, 2016.

15: Ten­nessee has lost its last 15 games against the SEC West and hasn’t beaten a West Di­vi­sion team since knock­ing off Mis­sis­sippi in 2010. The Vols also have lost 11 straight SEC games over­all, a slide that be­gan in Novem­ber 2016. The Vols will try to end that skid when they visit Auburn on Satur­day.

15-1: Wis­con­sin’s record in road games dur­ing Paul Chryst’s coach­ing ten­ure. The Badgers carry a 10-game road win­ning streak into Satur­day’s game at Michi­gan. Wis­con­sin’s only road loss un­der Chryst was a 14-7 set­back at Michi­gan in 2016.

40: Alabama’s av­er­age mar­gin of vic­tory this sea­son. Alabama is scor­ing 56 points per game to lead all Foot­ball Bowl Sub­di­vi­sion teams and is al­low­ing 16 points per game.

322: The num­ber of ca­reer points for Notre Dame kicker Justin Yoon, mak­ing him the Fight­ing Ir­ish’s all-time lead­ing scorer. Yoon set the record last week by pass­ing run­ning back Allen Pinkett, who scored 320 points (not in­clud­ing bowl games) from 1982-85.

UN­DER THE RADAR NO. 10 CEN­TRAL FLORIDA AT MEM­PHIS

These two teams played a clas­sic shootout last year, with UCF edg­ing Mem­phis 62-55 in dou­ble over­time to win the Amer­i­can Ath­letic Con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship game dur­ing its un­beaten sea­son.

They will meet again Satur­day as the 10th-ranked Knights (5-0, 2-0 Amer­i­can) put their FBSlead­ing 18-game win­ning streak on the line at Mem­phis (4-2, 1-2). Al­though Mem­phis’ of­fense isn’t quite as ex­plo­sive as it was last sea­son, the home-field ad­van­tage could give the Tigers a rea­son­able shot at pulling the up­set.

HOT SEAT WATCH BOBBY PETRINO, LOUISVILLE

How far has Louisville fallen with­out 2016 Heis­man Tro­phy win­ner and first-round draft pick La­mar Jackson? The Car­di­nals (2-4) have lost three straight and are win­less in At­lantic Coast Con­fer­ence com­pe­ti­tion head­ing into Satur­day’s game at Bos­ton Col­lege.

The Car­di­nals are com­ing off a 66-31 shel­lack­ing against Ge­or­gia Tech. That fol­lowed a 28-24 loss to Florida State in which Louisville’s de­ci­sion to pass rather than at­tempt­ing to run down the clock re­sulted in an in­ter­cep­tion that led to FSU’s win­ning touch­down.

DAVID ZALUBOWSKI/ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE PHOTO

Colorado wide re­ceiver Laviska Shenault Jr. is the na­tion’s lead­ing re­ceiver and plays for an un­de­feated Power Five team, yet he re­mains some­thing of an af­ter­thought in the Heis­man con­ver­sa­tion.

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