It’s getting to be crunch time in the college football season and a number of games this weekend will go a long way toward determining this season’s final four.

The big one is in Baton Rouge, where top-ranked Alabama takes on No. 3 (CFP poll) LSU.

Also, undefeated No. 4 Notre Dame makes a short trip to face unranked Northwestern, and No. 5 Michigan plays host to No. 14 Penn State in the Big Outhouse.

No. 9 Kentucky hosts No. 6 Georgia.

Here’s my take on all four games in what’s being billed as “Statement Saturday,” even though every Saturday from now on is statement time.

Alabama 34, LSU 17

The Crimson Tide has an offense and defense. The Tigers have a solid defense but their offense is very questionable. Adios LSU!

Notre Dame 31, Northwestern 23

This could well be the Fighting Irish’s biggest challenge the rest of the way as Southern California is nothing special this year.

Notre Dame has to run the table. Evidently the Irish, despite being unbeaten, may need to pass the playoff committee’s eye test by clobbering their remaining opponents, based on the CFP committee’s initial ranking.

One-loss LSU rated above Notre Dame? What if Michigan runs the table, winning the Big Ten? Could the committee possibly rank them above an unbeaten Notre Dame, even though ND beat U-M in the season opener?

Michigan 31, Penn State 13

The Nittany Lions are overrated at No. 14. For goodness sakes, they lost at home to unranked Michigan State.

Michigan’s stretch of supposedly tough games (Wisconsin, MSU, Penn State and Ohio State) has turned into mush. I can’t help reminding fans that Purdue thumped Ohio State 49-20!

In addition there won’t be one holding call or pass interference against Michigan until the game gets out of hand. The referees know the conference wants that Michigan-Ohio State game to mean something more than just playing for the East Division title.

In addition, Saquan Barkley is now on my NFL fantasy football team, and is no longer playing for Penn State.

Georgia 34, Kentucky 23

The winner must run the table and win the SEC championship game to make the playoffs. The loser is done. Adios, Kentucky!

Idle thought

I counted 11 of 43 high school 5-win teams winning opening round games in the MHSAA 11-player playoffs last weekend.

However, most of those victories came against other 5-4 or 4-4 squads.

Decatur was one of them. Congratulations to old buddy Joe Groh on his 250th career victory at Decatur.

Watch the points keep “Grohing!”

On with the forecast:


Last week: 10-1 (.909)

Season: 135-38 (.780)


Edwardsburg 44, Paw Paw 14

Cassopolis 33, Centreville 30

Decatur 28, Holton 27


Last week: 28-17 (.622)

Season: 345-95 (.784)


WMU 31, Ohio 28

UCF 38, Temple 24


Virginia 24, Pittsburgh 20

Arizona 30, Colorado 23


Notre Dame 31, Northwestern 23

Michigan 31, Penn St. 13

Maryland 27, Michigan St. 24

EMU 31, CMU 20

Minnesota 38, Illinois 17

Ohio State 42, Nebraska 20

Purdue 31, Iowa 28

Wisconsin 45, Rutgers 10

Alabama 34, LSU 17

App. State 52, Coastal Carolina 31

Army 28, Air Force 21

Auburn 31, Texas A&M 27

Boise State 35, BYU 25

Fresno State 34, UNLV 7

Florida 28, Missouri 24

Georgia 34, Kentucky 23

Geo. Tech 32, N. Carolina 26

Cincinnati 28, Navy 20

Clemson 52, Louisville 13

Houston 35, SMU 24

Iowa State 38, Kansas 21

Miami, Fla. 35, Duke 21

Mississippi 28, S. Carolina 27

Miss. State 45, La. Tech 17

Memphis 34, E. Carolina 24

N.C. State 28, Florida St. 23

Oklahoma 42, Texas Tech 28

Oklahoma St. 34, Baylor 24

Oregon 38, UCLA 28

Va. Tech 27, Boston College 24

W. Virginia 31, Texas 28

S. Florida 28, Tulane 20

San Diego St. 33, N. Mexico 22

Syracuse 33, Wake Forest 24

TCU 31, Kansas St. 21

Tennessee 28, Charlotte 10

Tulsa 34, UConn 21

UAB 42, San Antonio 17

USC 45, Oregon St. 31

Utah 35, Arizona St. 28

Utah State 35, Hawaii 20

Wash. State 31, California 21

Washington 35, Stanford 24

Wyoming 42, San Jose St. 21

Al Arend is a sports correspondent for The Herald-Palladium. His weekly football predictions appear every Thursday throughout the season.