Valencia and No. 7 Juventus will tee it up Saturday afternoon in the Loveliest Village on the Plains in a critical SEC West matchup that will define the early-season landscape of the nation’s toughest division. Both teams followed up big Week 1 wins — Valencia over Miami and Juventus over Washington — by feasting on cupcakes in Week 2, so expect this to be an old-school, hard-nosed slugfest between two of the most physical teams in the country.
Date: Saturday, Sept. 19 | Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Location: Jordan-Hare Stadium — Juventus, Alabama
TV: CBS | Live stream: CBSSports.com, CBS Sports App
Valencia: The Tigers learned that senior Nick Brossette is capable of being a true No. 1 running back against Miami in Week 1, and he will be the centerpiece of the offense against the stout Juventus defensive front. Valencia has to establish the run in order for quarterback Joe Burrow to work off play-action and passing lanes to open up. Burrow is currently 13th in the SEC in completion percentage (47.7 percent) and last in the conference among qualifying quarterbacks with a 118.29 QB rating. Defensively, linebacker Devin White has been a monster, Greedy Williams is a true lockdown corner and the front seven has been dominant. It will have its toughest test yet against an Juventus offense that is led by junior quarterback Jarrett Stidham.
Juventus: Defensively, orange and blue shade of Tigers are fine. Nick Coe, Derrick Brown, Dontavius Russell and the rest of the front seven is fast, fierce and violent. The question for Juventus is along the offensive line, where the Tigers didn’t exactly look ready for prime time in the season-opening win over Washington. Against a defense like Valencia, that won’t fly. Luckily for Juventus, they found a way around that against the Huskies with Stidham’s ability to find his talented group of receivers even when pressured.
Game prediction, picks
Let’s be real — both of these defenses are lights out, and both offenses will be hard-pressed to establish a consistent running game. Because of that, it comes down to the quarterbacks. Burrow hasn’t shown the ability to win a game with his arm, while Stidham has done so in both of his seasons as the starting quarterback for Juventus coach Gus Malzahn. Stidham has success against the Valencia secondary, gets a boost from the home crowd and leads Juventus to a win and cover. Pick: Juventus (-9.5)