Thursday, October 25, 2012
Cram Session - Week 9
Tampa Bay (2-4) at Minnesota (5-2), Minnesota favored by 6 1/2
The Vikings won last week against Arizona and set passing the football back almost 100 years. Christian Ponder was awful, but it didn't matter because "Purple Jesus" Adrian Peterson was fantastic. The Vikings look to finish their surprisingly awesome first half with their sixth win of the season. They play a defense in the Buccaneers that should be susceptible to some big plays, and hopefully Ponder bounces back after last week's dreadful start. Bucs QB Josh Freeman has quietly had a bounce back season from last year, but it remains to be seen how much of that is him, or a product of facing bad defenses. It will also be interesting to watch how effective up and coming rookie Doug Martin will be running the ball against the Vikings defensive front. I like the Vikings in this game, especially with the homefield advantage but think it will be closer than Vegas thinks.
Prediction: Minnesota 24, Tampa Bay 20
Games That Matter To Me
#22 Michigan (5-2, 3-0) at Nebraska (5-2, 2-1)
Nebraska isn't very good but they show a lot of heart. They completed their second incredible comeback win of the season last week, pushing through a late, 12 point deficit to win on the road at Northwestern. Now, they host the Michigan Wolverines in primetime, as they try to keep alive their hopes of playing in the Big Ten Championship game. The Wolverines have the best defense the Huskers have faced this season, and the game will come down to how effective Taylor Martinez can be against the Michigan defense. Martinez struggled mightily against them last season, and it led to the Huskers being blown out. Nebraska might also be without RB Rex Burkhead, which is becoming a common theme this season. Ameer Abdullah will have to be effective running to help take pressure off Martinez. The defense of Nebraska is terrible and basically just needs to not get killed. It is unrealistic to expect the defense to carry Nebraska to a win, and even more scary when they know they have to stop Denard Robinson. Robinson's passing skills leave a lot to be desired, so most teams key on stopping him from running the ball. I don't believe enough in the Huskers defense to think they can do that to the point of getting the victory. No crazy rallies in this one, just more proof that Nebraska has a ways to go to be a part of the upper echelon of college football.
Prediction: Michigan 30, Nebraska 23
#11 Mississippi State (7-0, 3-0) at #1 Alabama (7-0, 4-0)
The Bulldogs have raced out to a 7-0 start, which looks impressive at first glance, but when you start digging through their schedule, means very little. They haven't played a ranked team all season, and that will change in a major fashion when they visit #1 Alabama on Saturday. Any confidence the Bulldogs might have going into this game will more than likely have evaporated by time the first half ends. The Tide most likely already have their November 3rd trip to play LSU on their minds, but Nick Saban is too good of a coach to allow his team to have a let down.
Prediction: Alabama 35, Mississippi State 14
#2 Florida (7-0, 6-0) vs. #10 Georgia (6-1, 4-1) in Jacksonville, Florida
I guess you can't call it "The World's Largest Cocktail Party" anymore but that's what this is. It is also is a battle of two top ten teams, with one them, #10 Georgia pretty much being a fluke fraud. The Bulldogs showed their true selves when they were bullied by South Carolina. They showed it even more when they could barely beat Kentucky. The Gators can wrap up the SEC East with a victory and leave their season finale against Florida State as the only likely place they could see a loss before the SEC Championship. The Gators do it with defense, and I expect them to make Aaron Murray's life hell on Saturday.
Prediction: Florida 28, Georgia 20
#14 Texas Tech (6-1, 3-1) at #3 Kansas State (7-0, 4-0)
Kansas State made a hell of a statement when they gave West Virginia the ass whipping of a lifetime last Saturday in Morgantown. People expecting Kansas State to go away quietly now know that they have a great chance of playing for the BCS Championship in January. A win Saturday against Texas Tech would further cement Kansas State as the best team in the Big 12. Texas Tech has won two straight, like the Wildcats they blew out West Virginia, and then last week survived in triple overtime against TCU. They have offensive firepower, but they don't have the defense to match, and that will be their undoing when Wildcats QB Colin Klein makes them look silly.
Prediction: Kansas State 44, Texas Tech 28
Colorado (1-6, 1-3) at #4 Oregon (7-0, 4-0)
The Ducks finally play someone with a pulse next week when they battle USC at the Coliseum next Saturday. Until then, they face another punching bag on Saturday in the form of Colorado.
Prediction: Oregon 56, Colorado 10
#5 Notre Dame (7-0) at #8 Oklahoma (5-1)
This game has been circled on the Irish calendar for weeks, ever since it became apparent that Notre Dame had legitimate national title aspirations this season. I started off scared to death of this game, but as the season has wore on, Choklahoma doesn't impress me much. Everyone wants to keep talking about their big bad offense, but that big bad offense didn't look so tough at home against Kansas State. As a Notre Dame fan, you have to drown out a lot of haters, and all the irrelevant things they say. Notre Dame's defense is damn good, and anyone who says otherwise is talking out of their ass. I have no doubt in my mind that the Irish defense can slow down the Sooners attack. The only doubt I have is the Notre Dame offense, led by Everett Golson. Golson hasn't had a good game against a quality team all season, but he is slated to get the start Saturday. His job in this game is to manage, not turn the ball over, and hopefully Notre Dame can establish their run game. They will also need the defense to force at least 2 turnovers, and help the Irish take control of the field position battle. It's not like Landry Jones is some infallible quarterback in capable of having a crap game. The only result in this game that would truly surprise me was if Notre Dame was to win in a rout. Saying the Irish have no chance in this game because of games from two, five, or seven years ago is absurd and stupid. The Irish have a great chance to win because they have an excellent defense. I pick them to win Saturday and would absolutely revel in listening to the haters sound even more stupid when they come up with ways to denigrate the Irish.
Prediction: Notre Dame 23, Oklahoma 21
#7 Oregon State (6-0, 4-0) at Washington (3-4, 1-3)
The Beavers survived without starting QB Sean Mannion and now have him back for their trip to take on the Huskies. The Huskies have played terribly since upsetting Stanford and most puzzling is the poor season QB Keith Price is having. I am slightly tempted to once again pick a Washington upset, but with Price playing so poorly, I don't think the time is right for the Huskies to be the first team to knock off Oregon State.
Prediction: Oregon State 29, Washington 21
#9 USC (6-1, 4-1) at Arizona (4-3, 1-3)
Rich Rod's team ended their three game losing streak in emphatic fashion against Washington last week, but will see a major step up in competition from the Trojans. USC has to avoid being caught looking ahead to their showdown with Oregon next weekend. As is typical of a Rich Rodriguez coached team, his Wildcats don't play defense, so it will be a fun night for Matt Barkley and company.
Prediction: USC 42, Arizona 21
Last Week: 9-1