Weekend 3 Preview and Predictions
Posted By:Russ James and Brett Haynes Tags:
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An awesome slate awaits us once again in the world of college football this weekend. Here is a look at the best matchups of the weekend....
The Big-12 Marquee Games (by Russ James - Firth, NE)
Texas Tech at Texas - After what was arguably the best college football game of the year in 2008 these two teams are going at it again, this time however the Longhorns are at home in Austin, and I would guess looking for a measure of revenge. Most Longhorn fans point to this game last year as the reason Texas was on the outside looking in for both the Big 12 Championship and the National Championship. Texas Tech was given the same epiteth as Missouri after last year's season, they lost all their skill to graduation and are now out of the picture, untill they rebuild. Wrong. Mike Leach has designed and installed an offensive system in Lubbock, and has become a genious at finding players that fit his system and simply plugging them in when they are needed.
Case in point Jr. QB Taylor Potts. In his first two starts of the year Potts has thrown for 861 yds and 9 TDs, he's also ran for two more TDs, and was named last weeks Big 12 offensive player of the year. Yeah, quite a drop off.
Easy though, it will not be for the Red Raiders. Texas is loaded everywhere and most believe that it'll be the Longhorns for both the Big12 Championship and the National Championship. And of course, this year's game is in Austin, an environment as hostile as any on Saturdays. Potts' counterpart for Texas, Colt McCoy hasn't exactly slept through the first two games of the season, throwing for 654 yds and 5 TDs, and oh by the way he was a Heisman runner-up last year. In the end though I think that despite Potts' gaudy numbers coming into the game the Longhorns will prove to be too much for the Red Raiders. The key I think for the Texas defense is to take away the middle of the field. Tech likes to use the screens and dump-offs as an extension of their running game which - is middle of the road at best. I'd look for Tech to dink and dunk their way down the field in the first quarter to take the crowd out of it as much as possible and to keep the potent Texas Offense on the bench. Leach is perfectly happy taking 4 and 5 yd dump offs all day long and then stretching the field as a matter of opportunity, not necessity.
I don't think this will come as a big surprise to the Longhorns though, and they certainly have the talent and speed to mitigate this strategy and force Tech out of their game plan, and force them to play catch up; a situation Potts hasn't found himself in this year. Again, I think Texas wins, but this one should be a barn burner, definitely must see TV.
Nebraska at Virginia Tech - In all honesty I think this game is more of a 'must win' for the Hokies than it is for Nebraska. I know, I know, all about NU's road woes against ranked opponents. The game in Blacksburg will be the fourth time in Coach Pelini's short stint as head coach he has been on the road against a ranked team; he is 0-3 as of today, and against ranked opponents overall the streak extends to 0-9 dating back to 2006. One more unsettling figure for the Scarlet and Cream faithful; if the Huskers should win Saturday, VA Tech will be the highest ranked team Nebraska has beaten outside the confines of Memorial stadium since a 2000 Fiesta Bowl win over #6 Tennessee. TRUST me, I get how important this game is. But, a loss on the otherhand doesn't end the Nebraska season. It just doesn't.
The Hokies with a loss on the other hand would be heading into conference play at 1-2 with the Hurricanes up next, and ranked or not, I don't imagine any Hokie fans are looking past the 'Canes. So, yes, I think this game is of more importance to the Hokies. Having said all that, I think NU will win, IF the front seven on defense can get the job done. For all of the pre-season accolades NU's D line has gotten they are currently 10th in the Big 12 in rush defense. While over-all the Black Shirts have looked pretty good only giving up 12 points in their first two games, a 'bend, but don't break' approach will not work against VT, they are simply too talented.
Kansas State at UCLA - There are a few, a few mind you, things going KState's way in this one. Head coach Rick Neuheisel announced that four players including the Bruins starting corner, Courtney Viney will sit out against Kansas State for a violation of team rules. Also, Bruin starting QB Kevin Prince is out three to four weeks with a broken jaw suffered late in the day against Tennessee. Last week against Louisianna-Lafayette the Wildcats only gave up two first downs in the second half, and held the Cajuns to 17 points, so there defense was getting it done for the most part. Unfortunately for the 'Cats, their offense was only able to put up 15 of their own. If K State can settle into some kind of a rhythm offensively, maybe get a timely turn-over, there's a chance - albeit a slim one - that they can steal the upset here.
The Rest of the Games (by Brett Haynes - Greenville, SC)
Florida Atlantic vs. South Carolina - The Gamecocks offense was down against NC State, but then on fire against Georgia. This week, it won't matter which one shows up becasue the Cocks will win this one easily. After a quick start in two hostile environments, the friendly confines of Williams-Brice Stadium against a lesser team is a welcome gift. South Carolina, 42-13.
Cal at Minnesota - Well, the Gophers have their new stadium going for them. A week ago, they beat Air Force in their first ever game at 300 million dollar TCF Bank Stadium. This week however, they play a bit betterteam in Cal. I will be the first to admit that I don't know a ton about either team. But something inside of me says that Cal has a much deeper team. This time of year it isn't cold in Minnesota, so the cold won't be a factor. I think that the Gophers defend their new house well, but not quite wll enough. Cal, 27-24.
East Carolina at North Carolina - A week ago when UNC slid by UConn by their (cough, cough) Heels, everyone was saying UNC was over-rated. This weekend I think they will try to put away any questions of whether they belong in the top 20. Yes, ECU is a much-improved program that has done some great things recently. But I think UNC gives them their full attention and wins by ten or so. UNC, 24-14.
Boston College at Clemson - The Tigers have been in the Atlantic division hunt in seemingly every season, but haven't broken through yet. To win the title, Clemson absolutely cannot afford to lose at home to BC. The Eagles shave a new head coach in Frank Spaziani, but are very much the same team they have been for some time as Spaziani has been on the BC staff for twelve years. Clemson's defense will not give up more than 20 points (in my opinion) as they are a very solid unit. It will be up to the CU offense to produce 21 points, which I feel they will do in their home stadium in a must-win type of game. When you are trying to reach your program's first ACCCG, and you already have a conference loss, every game from here on out is a must win. The Tiger offense had an outstanding second half on the road at GT, and showed its potential for quick strikes when they scored 27 unanswered points in just over a half. Clemson, 30-19.
Tennessee at Florida - You can take allof the Lane Kiffin trash talk and throw it out the window. The fact is that Florida was going to stomp the Vols, anyway. Kiffin just added about three touchdowns to the final score with his comments. We saw against UCLA that UT is still not very good, and we all know that UF is the top team in the land. Pu those two things together in the swamp, add one teaspoon of hype, and you have the recipe for a major-league whooping. Tennessee will come out swinging, and may even do a few things exciting early on, but in the end, UF wins big. Florida, 48-17.
Michigan State at Notre Dame - Well, we seem to say it every week, but the hot seat is on Charlie Weis. My apologies to the ND fans on this site if I tend to bash Notre Dame, because I really don't mean it personally. I just think - at this point in time - that they just aren't a polished football team. Are they decent? Yes. Are they top 25? No. I think this will be an all-out war once again as MSU also desperately needs a win after falling to Central Michigan. In another all-out war, Notre Dame, 27-26.
Utah at Oregon - Oregon is getting its taste of the BCS busters that's for sure. For the Ducks, let's see if this game works out a bit better than the last one did when they traveled to Boise. This is a huge game for Utah, who only gets a few times a year to show they can beat the major conference schools. You can bet they will be laying it all on the line. But Autzen Stadium will be ready and I think Oregon makes a stand at home. Don't get me wrong, I think Utah has a fine program, but I think the Ducks will be ready. Oregon, 34-32.
Cincinnati at Oregon State - i have to give credit where it is due. After soundly beating Rutgers on the road, and then hanging 70 points on SE Missouri State, Cincy is my team to beat in this game. Oregon State is their first real test, but the Bearcats - who won the Big East a year ago - have me sold for now. Brian Kelly is an excellent football coach. Don't let me down now, boys! Cincinnati, 38-30.
Mississippi State at Vanderbilt - This game is a toss-up to me. I think Vanderbilt is a little bit more solid under Bobby Johnson, and they have home-filed advantage. Mississippi State looked pretty rough against Auburn. Vanderbilt, 27-14.
Florida State at BYU - If BYU takes FSU lightly (which they won't), then the 'Noles are in perfect position to pull the upset. Despite all of the storylines, the x's and o's have me giving the win to FSU. Yeah, they looked TERRIBLE against Jacksonville State. But folks, that game was played in the rain after a season-destroying type loss to Miami. I truly feel that the 'Noles are a good team, and they need a big win to jump back into the national pictuire. I think BYU is very disciplined, and this will be a very stiff challenge for FSU. But I think they ban together and get it done. FSU 20-18.
West Virginia at Auburn - Auburn has two obvious things going for it in this game. The first is that Pat White is no longer on the Mountaineer sideline The second is tha the game is in Auburn and not Morgantown. Last year, those two things equaled a WVU victory. This year, down South, the place will be absolutely a mad-house for this 7:45 night game in Jordan-Hare Stadium. Auburn, with a win, will see the Gene Chizik era off to a good start. Auburn, 31-17.
Georgia at Arkansas - You have to go with the Razorbacks in this one. I just don't see UGA going into that kind of environment and winning right now. The Dawgs lost at Oklahoma State on the road and held on late to beat South Carolina at home. I believe Arkansas is the x-factor in the SEC West, and are going to be strong again this season. Arkansas, 28-21.
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