Thursday, September 12, 2013

Cram Session - Week 3

Thursday, September 12    

New York Jets (1-0) at New England (1-0), New England favored by 12 1/2    

This line seems insanely high to me. The Patriots offense didn't look good at all last week, and now is even more depleted with RB Shane Vereen and WR Danny Amendola to miss this game. The injury to Vereen should get Stevan Ridley out of Bill Belichick's dog house by default. Belichick benched Rildey last week after a first half fumble against the Bills. The Jets defense played well last weekend, and Geno Smith did just enough to help the Jets escape with a victory against Tampa. This will be the second straight week the Patriots face a rookie quarterback. EJ Manuel fared decently against New England, and I think Smith could do the same. With the Patriots offense having so many questions right now, I think this will end up being a close game.

Prediction: New England 24, New York Jets 17

Games That Matter To Me

#21 Notre Dame (1-1) at Purdue (1-1)

Losing at Michigan wasn't a surprise, it was the way the defense was manhandled by the Wolverines that was shocking. The Irish defense getting manhandled by a team full of pros like Alabama was one thing, but Michigan's talent on offense isn't comparable to that Bama team. The good news is that the Irish to get play sorry Purdue this weekend. The Boilermakers barely beat FCS team Indiana State last week and anything less than Irish domination in this game will be a disappointment. The defense should be able to feast on Purdue QB Rob Henry who hasn't thrown a touchdown pass yet this season. The Irish will have to focus on RB Akeem Hunt, who returned a kick for a touchdown last week and Purdue's most talented offensive player.

Tommy Rees needs to find his form he had against Temple and be less of the turnover happy player Irish fans have seen far too much. The Irish also need to be more committed to the run game, although trailing most of the game against Michigan did make it hard for them to stick with the run. WR TJ Jones looks like a star and I expect him to have a touchdown or two on Saturday night. With Michigan State, Oklahoma and Arizona State up next, the Irish need to take advantage of an overmatched opponent this week.

Prediction: Notre Dame 27, Purdue 13

#16 UCLA (1-0) at #23 Nebraska (2-0)

Most people are talking about the rematch of Alabama/Texas A&M, but UCLA/Nebraska is another intriguing rematch this weekend in college football. The Bruins burst onto the national scene last year when they defeated Nebraska at home. It also made Bruins RB Johnathan Franklin a household name and future NFL pick. Franklin is gone, but junior Jordon James looks ready to pick up where he left off after rushing for 155 yards in the opener. Brett Hundley is back at quarterback for the Bruins and he is probably frothing at the mouth for a chance at Nebraska's questionable defense. Expect to hear WR Shaquelle Evans name when you are watching the game, as he is Hundley's favorite target. The Huskers defense used Southern Miss as a battering ram and a team to gain some confidence on as I hoped. They may have to play over their heads to win this game.

I am not worried about the Huskers offense, which seems to be able to score on anyone. The only thing that is slightly worrisome is that the offense avoids fumbles and Taylor Martinez doesn't do anything too dangerous when he has the ball. Playmakers like RB Ameer Abdullah and WR Kenny Bell will make plays and keep the offense chugging along.

It will be interesting to see how UCLA responds after the death of walk on wide receiver, Nick Pasquale. Sometimes teams find motivation from tragedy but for other teams it proves to be too emotionally draining. This is a game where I think the crowd at Memorial Stadium could make a big difference in the outcome. I think the noise could present some challenges for the Bruins and help out the Huskers defense. I like Nebraska to win a close game and get revenge for last year's loss.

Prediction: Nebraska 31, UCLA 24

Top 10

#1 Alabama (1-0) at #6 Texas A&M (2-0)

Alabama has been waiting for this game ever since losing to the Aggies last November. The Tide's defense looked as strong as ever in their win two weeks ago against Virginia Tech, but the offense left a bit to be desired. Particularly, QB AJ McCarron was off, completing just 43% of his passes. The team seemed to be adjusting to three new starters on the offensive line. They have to hope they got some great practices in during these last two weeks because the competition will only increase when they play the Aggies. Last season, Aggies QB Johnny Manziel was able to have success against Bama's defense full of pros. Along with Manziel, the Aggies have a two headed monster at RB in Ben Malena and Tra Carson. WR Mike Evans is off to a roaring start, with 13 catches and 2 TDs in 2 games. I can't picture the Aggies knocking off a team as talented as Bama two years in a row. I expect a much better performance from the Crimson Tide then they put on the field against the Hokies a few weeks ago. I think they can frustrate Manziel and force him into some turnovers, that will prove to be the difference in the game.

Prediction: Alabama 27, Texas A&M 20

Tennessee (2-0) at #2 Oregon (2-0)

Going from playing Austin Peay and Western Kentucky to playing the speed and talent of Oregon will be quite the shock to the Vols players. I am not just talking on the offensive side of the ball either. Everyone thinks offense with the Ducks, but Oregon is working hard to become a team known for its defense as well. A pretty shocking stat considering the program Tennessee once was, the Vols have lost 16 straight games to ranked teams. The Vols defense forced 7 turnovers against Western Kentucky, and while that gives them confidence, they may not even be able to catch De'Anthony Thomas or Marcus Mariota.

Prediction: Oregon 41, Tennessee 17

#4 Ohio State (2-0) at California (1-1)

The Buckeyes go on the road for the first time this season and while California is a Pac-12 school they won't be much of a step up in competition from what Ohio State has faced so far. Braxton Miller left the win over San Diego State with a left knee sprain but is expected to start this game. These are teams with opposite philosophies. The Buckeyes attack their opponents on the ground, while Cal QB Jared Goff has almost passed for 1,000 yards in just two games. I expect a high scoring game, but for Ohio State to roll.

Prediction: Ohio State 42, California 24

#5 Stanford (1-0) at Army (1-1)

Army likes to run the ball and only passes to change things up from to time. They'll face their toughest test in years when they try to run on the Cardinal. Most interesting to watch will be whether Army RB Larry Dixon continues his absurd pace of running, averaging over 8 yards per carry. Stanford answered some questions about its offense last week, as Tyler Gaffney and Ty Montgomery showed they will be picking up the slack at running back and receiver. They should have their way with an Army defense that gave up 40 points to Ball State last week.

Prediction: Stanford 49, Army 16

#7 Louisville (2-0) at Kentucky (1-1)

The football version of this rivalry doesn't hold a candle to the basketball version but Teddy Bridgewater makes it worth watching. Bridgewater is completing a ridiculous 76% of his passes through two games. The Cardinals defense hasn't been challenged yet, giving up 7 points each in their first two games. Kentucky QB Maxwell Smith will try to change that, and build upon the strong game he had last week against Miami of Ohio. Easier for me to write than for him to actually do.

Prediction: Louisville 35, Kentucky 20

Kent State (1-1) at #8 LSU (2-0)

Tigers coach Les Miles has been in the news this week and not for anything his LSU team has done. He is in the news because of allegations of impropriety while he was the coach at Oklahoma State. Miles of course denies all charges, and probably hopes that no one figures out that he is probably cheating at LSU as well. As far as on the field matters his LSU offense has looked much improved under new coordinator Cam Cameron. They have another week of gaining belief in themselves when they host the Golden Flashes.

Prediction: LSU 47, Kent State 14

Nevada (1-1) at #10 Florida State (1-0)

The Seminoles were off last week so I didn't have a chance to write about freshman sensation, QB Jameis Winston. Winston was 25 of 27 for 356 yards and four touchdowns in his first college game against Pittsburgh two weeks ago. Normally with one good game I might say let's see him do this a few more times. But to complete almost of your passes, avoid any mistakes and dominate a team has led me to believe this kid is for real. All those years of talk about how the Seminoles are back, might finally be true with what they now have at quarterback.

Prediction: Florida State 48, Nevada 15

Last Week: 10-0
Overall: 18-1

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