Starting tonight Thursday NFL games begin so for the last few Cram Sessions I will be leading them with my prediction for the Thursday NFL game or games.
Thursday, November 10
Oakland (4-4) at San Diego (4-4), San Diego favored by 7
Who wants to win the AFC West? Now that the San Francisco 49ers are actually good, the AFC West has decided to take the mantle of western division with nothing but mediocre teams. The Raiders had a great chance to get some separation last week but couldn't overcome the magical force of Tebow, and Willis McGahee, although I don't think McGahee is magical. The Chargers played their usual game last weekend against the Packers. They showed enough flashes to fool people into thinking they are contenders, but couldn't get out of their own way and eventually fell to the Packers. Carson Palmer played alright last weekend, throwing 3 touchdown passes, but he also had 2 critical interceptions and couldn't bring the Raiders back when they were losing late. The Raiders will be without Darren McFadden once again, but Michael Bush filled in adequately last weekend and is a good number 2 to have. I think these two teams are pretty evenly matched so I will give the Chargers the win because of the home field advantage. However, don't get it twisted, the Chargers are still mediocre at best.
Prediction: San Diego 24, Oakland 20
Games That Matter to Me
#19 Nebraska (7-2, 3-2) at #12 Penn State (8-1, 5-0)
Believe it or not Penn State has a football game this weekend. Football has been the last thing on the minds of anyone in Happy Valley this week. All of you reading know about the scandal that has rocked the school and led to the ouster of coach Joe Paterno after 46 years at the helm. Because of that, I won't delve into too much, although I will say the Board of Trustees made the right decision by removing Paterno immediately, instead of letting him retire at the end of the season. Paterno has been replaced for the rest of the season by his defensive coordinator Tom Bradley.
Nebraska is coming off an embarrassing home loss to a bad Northwestern team. As I feared the Huskers felt a little too good about themselves are whooping Michigan State, and didn't come ready to play. They also were befallen by a crucial Rex Burkhead fumble near the goal line, something that seems to be a theme with teams I cheer for. The Huskers now get to play at Penn State in what will be the most surreal game of their lives. There is no telling what kind of atmosphere Beaver Stadium will be Saturday. The Huskers are the lucky ones though, they have been able to do nothing but concentrate on football this week. Surely they have been studying the Nittany Lion defense, which is third in the country in points allowed. The Huskers running game stalled against Northwestern and because of how one dimensional they are on offense, it led to the less. Plain and simply, Burkhead and even Taylor Martinez have to run well for Nebraska to win.
For as good as Penn State is on defense, they are equally bad on offense. They have split between ginger Matt McGloin and Rob Bolden at quarterback, with McGloin stepping forward as the less of two evils. In his last start against Illinois McGloin completed just 37.5% of his passes. With their struggles in the passing game, Penn State has leaned on RB Silas Reid. Reid has rushed for over 100 yards in his last five games, and his lowest output in that stretch was 129 yards on the ground. The Huskers defense wasn't able to get the stops when they needed them against Northwestern, but should be helped by the fact that they can focus much of their attention on Reid and not worry about the Penn State passing game.
It will be fascinating to watch how Penn State responds to this crazy week. I think their have been way too many distractions and the team is going to be shell shocked. If they are able to win this game, I think it will be one of the greatest accomplishments in the history of sports.
Prediction: Nebraska 24, Penn State 13
Maryland (2-7) "at" Notre Dame (6-3), FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland
I will be attending this game Saturday night. With how awful the Twerps have been this season, I expect that I will fit right in with many Notre Dame fans. The Irish had a non-descript victory over Wake Forest last weekend. They didn't play well offensively, but the defense made enough plays for them to hold onto the win. Maryland is a mess and I will be very disappointed if the Irish have to hold on late to win this game. Maryland can't settle on a quarterback, continuously going back and forth between Danny O'Brien and C.J. Brown. It is apparent that Randy Edsall has sapped O'Brien of all the confidence he gained last season when he was ACC Freshman of the Year. The Terps rushing attack is led by Davin Meggett but he hasn't rushed for over 100 yards since doing it against Towson a few months ago.
There isn't really much to say about this game. The Irish clearly have the edge in talent and should blow past Maryland. The offense needs to play precise and quit turning the ball over. This is a chance to have an impressive performance, hopefully the Irish take advantage.
Prediction: Notre Dame 38, Maryland 17
Top 10 - Thursday, November 10
#10 Virginia Tech (8-1, 4-1) at #21 Georgia Tech (7-2, 4-2)
For all the crap that the ACC takes as a football conference, they do have two teams in the Top 10. That being said, I don't even think Hokies fans would tell you they believe Virginia Tech is a top 10 team this year. That being said, if they win this game they will be in the driver's seat to have a spot in the ACC Championship game in December. The player to watch on Tech is quarterback Logan Thomas. Thomas came into the season with high expectations due to his height and athleticism. He has played pretty well this year and is a threat both throwing and running. Being just a sophomore he has given Hokie fans high hopes for the next two seasons. As is usually the case, the Hokies have a powerful rushing attack behind David Wilson. Wilson has rushed for over 100 yards in every game but one this season. The Hokies love to grind out victories behind Wilson. Wilson allows them to control the clock and keep the defense well rested. That will be a key in this game as the defense will have its hands full with Georgia Tech's high powered offense. The Yellow Jackets offense got back on track in their last game at home against Clemson and is clearly a different unit at home than away. QB Tevin Washington is the key for the Yellow Jackets. When teams like Miami and Virginia slowed him down, it put the whole offense out of whack. I believe that with the home crowd rocking, he will play well and the Yellow Jackets will get a huge win.
Prediction: Georgia Tech 27, Virginia Tech 20
Saturday, November 12
Western Kentucky (5-4) at #1 LSU (9-0)
LSU won the game of the field goals last week and now seems on their way to playing for the BCS National Championship. Their only challenge left is when they host Arkansas on Thanksgiving weekend. I expect a slight hangover effect this weekend, especially with such an easy opponent coming to Baton Rouge. All that will mean is that instead of winning by 50 plus, the Tigers will win by 38.
Prediction: LSU 44, Western Kentucky 6
#2 Oklahoma State (9-0, 6-0) at Texas Tech (5-4, 2-4)
The Cowboys received quite a scare at home from Kansas State last weekend. However, they survived and are just two road wins away from a huge Bedlam showdown against Oklahoma. Their game this week looked a lot scarier three weeks ago after Texas Tech had knocked off the Sooners. But since then the Red Raiders were destroyed at home by Iowa State, and then destroyed on the road by Texas. The only reason the Red Raiders beat the Sooners was they were able to create turnovers. Without those turnovers their defense is one of the worst in the country. Cowboys QB Brandon Wheeden can be interception prone so I think that will keep the Red Raiders hopes up for a bit, but just too much Wheeden and Blackmon for the Red Raiders to spring the upset.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 49, Texas Tech 31
#3 Alabama (8-1, 5-1) at Mississippi State (5-4, 1-4)
The Crimson Tide are licking their wounds after blowing their home game against LSU. Awful special teams play and a questionable trick play call on offense led to their downfall. Despite the loss they dropped just one spot in the BCS Standings and are still very much alive in the national championship race. The Bulldogs have been a major disappointment this season. Their offense has regressed tremendously from last season and hasn't scored enough to complement a very good defense. The Bulldogs defense will keep them in this game, but their offense is going to have some major trouble scoring on Bama.
Prediction: Alabama 27, Mississippi State 9
#7 Oregon (8-1, 6-0) at #4 Stanford (9-0, 7-0)
This is the game of the weekend. Stanford looked primed to move up to number three in the BCS Standings but instead still sits behind one loss Alabama. A win at home over Oregon though should vault the Cardinal, while a loss will end their national title hopes. The Ducks still have outside thoughts of playing for the national championship. The winner of this game will take over the lead in the Pac-12 North standings and be on their way to playing in the first ever Pac-12 championship. Both teams have tremendous rushing attacks, while the Cardinal have the edge at quarterback with Andrew Luck. People think the Ducks defense might finally be what stops Luck. If this game were at Oregon I would definitely pick the Ducks, but this is one of those games where there isn't much that separates the two teams. Because of that, I will go with home field advantage and Stanford to continue their unbeaten season.
Prediction: Stanford 34, Oregon 31
TCU (7-2, 4-0) at #5 Boise State (8-0, 3-0)
This game looked a lot sexier back in September. TCU dropped their first game of the season to Baylor, then lost at home to SMU. They have recovered since then but I still don't think they are on the Broncos level. This is another game where maybe if it were at TCU I could see the upset happening but I can't even remember the last time Boise lost on their blue turf.
Prediction: Boise State 27, TCU 16
Tennessee (4-5, 0-5) at #8 Arkansas (8-1, 4-1)
No one talked about it last weekend but the Razorbacks won the second biggest game of the week when they defeated South Carolina. I think the Razorbacks will have a great shot at knocking off LSU when they play to close the regular season. Before that though, Arkansas has to continue taking care of business. It is really strange to see Tennessee with an 0-5 SEC record. It will look even stranger when it is 0-6 after this weekend.
Prediction: Arkansas 28, Tennessee 10
Wake Forest (5-4, 4-2) at #9 Clemson (8-1, 5-1)
Clemson plays their first game since watching their national championship dreams evaporate against Georgia Tech. They still control their destiny for playing in the ACC Championship but can't suffer a let down against Wake Forest. This is a huge game for Wake, which has struggled in recent weeks but with a victory in this game would take over first place in the ACC Atlantic Division. That's a nice story and all but too much firepower on the Clemson offense will be the Demon Deacons undoing.
Prediction: Clemson 41, Wake Forest 27
Last Week: 7-2