Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cram Session - Week 8

A boring college football season trudges along. How people can argue that college football is anywhere near as exciting as the NFL is beyond me. However, one good thing about all the chalkiness we have seen this year, my picks have been on point! I have correctly predicted every Top 10, Notre Dame, and Nebraska game for the past month. Now that I bring it up here, this is probably the weekend the streak dies. There are some candidates for upsets. Michigan State hosts Wisconsin under the lights, Oklahoma State has another tough road test at Missouri, and Stanford finally faces a competent football team. Everyone is counting down to November 5th when LSU/Alabama meet, but hopefully the season can start to get exciting before then.

Games That Matter to Me

Saturday, October 22

USC (5-1) at Notre Dame (4-2)

Notre Dame plays under the lights at South Bend for the first time in 21 years. Pat Haden may think that the Notre Dame/USC rivalry means nothing to the players, but he needs to understand that it still means a ton to the fans. Whether USC was down or not last year, the Irish finally beating the Trojans was a great thing for Notre Dame fans to see. The icing on the cake would be to finally beat the Trojans in South Bend, something Notre Dame hasn't done since 2000. The Irish are favored but can't take the Trojans lightly. The Irish's most recent opponents have been strong rushing teams but weak to awful passing teams. This has played into the strength of the Notre Dame defense. However, the Trojans don't really care to run the ball and love to air it out. They are led by QB Matt Barkley, who has been fantastic this season. Barkley has 16 TDs, 4 INTs, and is completing 68% of his passes. He will look early and often for his favorite target, sophomore WR Robert Woods. Woods has 60 catches this season and 6 TDs, which are numbers that almost match his totals from last season. Against Minnesota he had an astounding 17 receptions, and then 14 receptions against Arizona a few weeks ago. The Irish need to double team him and do whatever it takes to keep Woods out of the game. The Irish have shown they can be susceptible to teams just throwing the ball up so you know that will be in the Trojans game plan. When the Trojans do run the ball they rely on Marc Tyler. Tyler has only had more than 20 carries once this year and surprisingly that came in a game the Trojans were routed in against Arizona State. He is coming off suffering a shoulder dislocation but is intent on playing. As for the Irish, the offense hopefully remains as precise as it has been the last few weeks. Tommy Rees has cut down on the turnovers, Michael Floyd continues to dominate, and RB Cierre Wood has given the Irish a viable rushing game. This game will come down to the Irish limiting their mistakes, and not letting Barkley go crazy. Barkley didn't play in last year's game so you know he will be itching to take his shots at Notre Dame. I expect a close, tight game, but the Irish to escape with a victory.

Prediction: Notre Dame 30, USC 26

#13 Nebraska (5-1, 1-1) at Minnesota (1-5, 0-2)

Last we saw of Nebraska they were completing the biggest comeback in school history, defeating Ohio State. The Huskers played the first half like they were still licking their wounds from the beat down Wisconsin gave them. Then the defense made a play and the offense woke up. During their bye they got the bad news that Jared Crick will be out for the season. He hadn't been playing very well this season but it is still a huge loss for an already struggling defense. Hopefully, LB Lavonte David can continue his fantastic play. Taylor Martinez still can make Huskers fans cringe when he throws but he showed great perseverance in leading them back against the Buckeyes. They go to Minnesota this week and I am not even going to bother doing a run down of the Golden Gophers. All that needs to be said is they are awful and earlier this year they lost at home to North Dakota State and New Mexico State. Nebraska should roll.

Prediction: Nebraska 42, Minnesota 14

Top 10 - Saturday, October 22

#20 Auburn (5-2, 3-1) at #1 LSU (7-0, 4-0)

This game got a little more intriguing with the announcement yesterday that CB Tyrann Mathieu, DB Therold Simon, and RB Spencer Ware failed drug tests and will be suspended for this game. Must have been a crucial puff, puff, pass session they had going on. Auburn is giving QB Clint Moseley his first start of the season, hoping to ignite an offense that has struggled recently under Barrett Trotter. While the Tigers will miss their suspended players, they have been dealing with suspensions all season and it hasn't slowed them down. Tigers fans are pissy because they won't host any night games this season, but rather than care about that, they should focus on the fact that their team is the second best in the country.

Prediction: LSU 27, Auburn 10

Tennessee (3-3, 0-3) at #2 Alabama (7-0, 4-0)

I feel bad for teams like Florida and Tennessee that get to play LSU and Alabama back to back. Getting your brains beat in two weeks in a row can't be good for confidence. This is the Crimson Tide's last game before the Game of the Century at home against LSU in two weeks.

Prediction: Alabama 45, Tennessee 7

Texas Tech (4-2, 1-2) at #3 Oklahoma (6-0, 3-0)

The Sooners started slow against Kansas before remembering how much better they are than the Jayhawks. Oklahoma heads to Manhattan, Kansas next weekend where they will play a likely unbeaten Kansas State team. However, they can't look past the Red Raiders. Texas Tech has two losses but was competitive in both games against Texas A&M and Kansas State. They have their usual high powered offense but unfortunately also have their usual sieve like defense.

Prediction: Oklahoma 41, Texas Tech 21

#4 Oklahoma State (6-0, 3-0) at Missouri (3-3, 1-2)

On paper, looking at the records this would seem like an easy game for the Cowboys. But look deeper and you see that Missouri has won 10 games in a row at home, and their 3 losses this season have all been close losses on the road. The Cowboys have shown they can win in tough places, earning victories at Texas A&M and Texas. Things are being set up for defacto national semi-finals with #1 LSU set to meet #2 Alabama, and then possibly #3 Oklahoma taking on #4 Oklahoma State. This could be a trap game though and if the Cowboys want to continue to quiet the doubters a win here would continue their impressive season. If the Tigers pull the upset it will be because of sensational RB Henry Josey.

Prediction: Oklahoma State 34, Missouri 31

Air Force (3-3, 0-2) at #5 Boise State (6-0, 1-0)

Boise State welcomed themselves to the Mountain West by obliterating Colorado State. They seem destined to finish undefeated but on the outside of the national championship picture. Going to the Big East doesn't make any geographical sense, but if the Broncos want the opportunity to ever play for the national championship, it would be much more realistic in the Big East.

Prediction: Boise State 53, Air Force 17

#6 Wisconsin (6-0, 2-0) at #16 Michigan State (5-1, 2-0)

The Spartans are feeling good about themselves after beating Michigan for the fourth straight season. They feel like they have a pretty legitimate defense and can slow down Wisconsin's offensive assault, that is averaging 50 points in 6 games. QB Russell Wilson will have the spotlight on him in prime time, and a strong game on the road would likely vault him to the top of the Heisman race. The only chance the Spartans have is for their defense to feed off the home crowd and play amazing. Their offense is uninspiring and won't outscore the Badgers. I don't expect the Badgers to put up 50 like they have every week but they will end a three game losing streak at Spartan Stadium in convincing fashion.

Prediction: Wisconsin 30, Michigan State 17

North Carolina (5-2, 1-2) at #7 Clemson (7-0, 4-0)

The Tigers seemed destined to have their Clemson moment of underwhelming. They were getting routed on the road by Maryland but then the second half happened. The Tigers offensive playmakers, QB Tajh Boyd, RB Andre Ellington, and WR Sammy Watkins took over the game and brought the Tigers back. The rest of the Tigers schedule should see them favored in every game, so a 12-0 regular season is a real possibility. The Tar Heels looked like a pretty decent team but then were torched by an average Miami team at home. That doesn't speak well for their chances in a hostile environment this weekend.

Prediction: Clemson 40, North Carolina 24

#25 Washington (5-1, 3-0) at #8 Stanford (6-0, 4-0)

This game is all about the quarterbacks. Everyone knows Andrew Luck, and they will soon get to know Huskies quarterback Keith Price. Price has been almost as good as Luck and has made Huskie fans quickly forget about overrated Jake Locker. For Stanford, this is their first game against a ranked opponent and will be a good test as the schedule strengthens with a road trip against USC and a home date with Oregon coming up. The offenses are about equal but the Cardinal defense is much better than the Huskies, and will prove to be the difference.

Prediction: Stanford 42, Washington 24

#9 Arkansas (5-1, 2-1) at Mississippi (2-4, 0-3)

Houston Nutt takes on his former team. At the rate the Rebels season is going, they will be his former team by the end of the season.

Prediction: Arkansas 36, Mississippi 14

#10 Oregon (5-1, 3-0) at Colorado (1-6, 0-3)

Oregon is expecting QB Darron Thomas to play, despite him leaving the Arizona State game with an injury. They likely won't have RB LaMichael James back, but that won't be an issue with Kenjon Barner playing as well as he did last weekend. The Buffaloes are awful and even worse ravaged by injury, they don't stand a chance.

Prediction: Oregon 40, Colorado 14

Last Week: 9-0!!!!!!!!! (37-0 over the last month)
Overall: 62-4

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