Thursday, October 10, 2013

Cram Session - Week 7

Thursday, October 10

New York Giants (0-5) at Chicago (3-2), Chicago favored by 8

It is hilarious to still read and hear Giants fans clinging to playoff hopes because they are only 2 games out of first place in the pathetic NFC East. How about you all win a game first? The Giants are easily the next to worst team in football, only better than the Jaguars. The Giants defense is terrible, and Eli Manning is making a mockery of the fact that anyone even once uttered that he was better than his brother Peyton. Now they have to try to win at Chicago on three days rest. The Bears are also stumbling, losers of two straight. Brandon Marshall started griping a bit after the loss to the Saints. Like most Brandon Marshall rants it didn't really make sense and seemed to have no point. If his real point was that he didn't see the ball enough, the Giants terrible secondary should be more than happy to oblige him tonight. I am a little nervous about picking the Bears to cover, but I think that is more because I haven't quite gotten it in my mind just how awful the Giants are. Jay Cutler should pick apart the secondary, Matt Forte should have a big game, and the Giants offense is destined to turn the ball over against the ball hawking Bears defense.

Prediction: Chicago 30, New York Giants 20

Games That Matter To Me

Nebraska (4-1, 1-0) at Purdue (1-4, 0-1)

Nebraska put in by far their finest all around performance of the season last week, routing Illinois 39-19. Tommy Armstrong Jr. wasn't asked to do a ton, but was excellent in what he did do. He didn't have to do a lot because Ameer Abdullah ran wild, going for 225 yards rushing. What was most encouraging was the play of the defense. They played very well against a senior quarterback and a talented offense. This weekend Nebraska has a chance to build on that performance when they face hapless Purdue. It appears that Armstrong will once again start. If he keeps winning, whether he likes it or not, Bo Pelini will have a quarterback controversy on his hands.

Purdue is just a completely terrible team in all phases of the game. Last time they played they were beaten by 31 points by Northern Illinois at home. If the Nebraska defense plays with the same level of intensity and focus that they did against Illinois they should put together another strong performance. This is the first road game of the season for the Huskers, so they might come out a little bit flat to start. But I expect them to overcome that quickly and improve to 2-0 in Big Ten play.

Prediction: Nebraska 35, Purdue 20

Thursday, October 10

Top 10

Rutgers (4-1, 1-0) at #8 Louisville (5-0, 1-0)

This is supposed to be the Cardinals first real test of the season, but with them hosting Rutgers I don't see the Scarlett Knights putting up much of a fight. They do have a talented offense, but I think their downfall will be their defense. Against average competition the defense is giving up 27 points a game, so Teddy Bridgewater has to be licking his chops. Even if he doesn't have leading receiver DeVante Parker, he has plenty of other weapons, including himself. The Louisville defense has been stingy all season, and when they get a chance to face the best offense they have this year, I think they will make a statement.

Prediction: Louisville 38, Rutgers 17

Saturday, October 12

#1 Alabama (5-0, 2-0) at Kentucky (1-4, 0-2)

The Wildcats gave South Carolina a bit of a scare last weekend, but don't figure to do the same this weekend against Alabama. The Alabama defense has been dominant in every game this season except against the Aggies high powered offense. The light schedule has given the defense time to grow, which they will need in preparation for facing LSU later this season.

Prediction: Alabama 34, Kentucky 14

#2 Oregon (5-0, 2-0) at #16 Washington (4-1, 1-1)

Are the Huskies the team to finally challenge Oregon? Through five games, Oregon is averaging an absurd 59 points per game, with their lowest point total in a game to date being 55. They haven't lost on the road in four years. So it pretty much sounds like the Huskies will have to do the impossible. While they are coming off a loss, they were impressive at Stanford. They outgained the Cardinal yardage wise and had a chance to win the game down to the very end. QB Keith Price has struggled in years past against the Ducks, and while Oregon is known more for its offense, its defense has been one of the best in the country so far this year. That means that all phases of the offense will have be on point for Washington. Price will have to find the open receivers, avoid turnovers, and the run game needs to be chugging along, led by Bishop Sankey. The Washington defense has to stop a quarterback in Marcus Mariota, that appears unstoppable. Mariota has thrown 14 touchdowns and zero interceptions. It remains unknown whether or not De'Anthony Thomas will play in this game, but the Ducks offense remains just as potent whether he plays or not. The atmosphere in Seattle should be electric and I don't expect the Ducks to put up 50 against Washington. The Huskies will be competitive, but Oregon is just too talented to fall to Washington.

Prediction: Oregon 37, Washington 27

Boston College (3-2, 1-1) at #3 Clemson (5-0, 3-0)

The only challenge for Clemson in this game is themselves. If they get caught looking ahead to next week's game with Florida State, then the Eagles could give them some trouble. But this Tigers team has responded to different tests in ways not usual for a Clemson team, so I expect them to focus on Boston College this weekend and take care of business.

Prediction: Clemson 43, Boston College 20

#5 Stanford (5-0, 3-0) at Utah (3-2, 0-2)

The Cardinal keep finding ways to win games, even if they are helped by crappy officiating like they were at the end of their win against Washington last Saturday. There didn't appear to be conclusive evidence that Washington dropped a play ruled a catch, but that didn't stop the refs from changing it anyway. Utah is a tough place to win, but the Cardinal will be catching Utes quarterback Travis Wilson at his lowest, following a six interception performance at home last week against UCLA. Question is, can Stanford force Wilson into those same type of mistakes, considering the Cardinal defense has struggled to force turnovers all season? Either way, the Cardinal offense should do enough to keep Stanford unbeaten.

Prediction: Stanford 41, Utah 27

#25 Missouri (5-0, 1-0) at #7 Georgia (4-1, 3-0)

Missouri is 5-0 but that 5-0 isn't as impressive when you look deeper. The only teams they have played of any sort of value are Indiana and Vanderbilt. Needless to say, traveling to Top 10 Georgia will be their first true test of the season. We will learn a lot more about the apparent improvement of Missouri quarterback James Franklin in this game. Now, the reason why some are giving Missouri a chance to spring a big upset, is how hurt the Bulldogs are on the offensive side of the ball. Georgia was already without leading rusher Todd Gurley, and then lost his backup Keith Marshall for the season last weekend. They also have injuries all along their receiving corps and it seems besides the offensive line, only quarterback Aaron Murray is still standing. Thankfully for Georgia Murray is an accomplished enough quarterback that he can make due with whatever is left around him. If Missouri had played some better competition leading up to this game I would probably pick the upset. But I don't think the Tigers are anywhere near as good as their 5-0 record says they are.

Prediction: Georgia 28, Missouri 24

#9 Texas A&M (4-1, 1-1) at Mississippi (3-2, 1-2)

Since beating Texas, the Rebels have dropped two straight and out of the national picture. They will be back in it this weekend by association as they take on Johnny Manziel and the Aggies. The Aggies defense can hardly stop anyone, so Mississippi shouldn't have trouble scoring. Problem is, no one, including Alabama has been able to slow down Manziel and the Aggies attack. The Aggies are averaging 49 points a game and 586 total yards of offense a game. Manziel receives all the pub, but the Aggies have another future NFL prospect in receiver Mike Evans, who is only a sophomore. After this game, the Aggies play four straight at home and none against ranked teams, so the future is looking bright in Aggieland.

Prediction: Texas A&M 46, Mississippi 35

#17 Florida (4-1, 3-0) at #10 LSU (5-1, 2-1)

This should be a classic battle of great offense versus great defense. LSU surprisingly has the great offense this season, while the Gators have the terrific defense. The Gators offense has looked a little better since Tyler Murphy took over the starting quarterback job. In the two games he started Murphy completed 31 of 40 passes for 4 TDs and 1 interception. The biggest beneficiary of Murphy becoming the starter seems to be WR Solomon Patton. Patton had a monster game against Arkansas, catching 6 passes for 124 yards and 2 touchdowns. People are quick to point out that the Tigers offense hasn't face a defense like Florida's all season. While this is true, you could also say the Gators defense hasn't faced an offense as good as LSU's. I have touted Zach Mettenberger week after week in this column, but another Tiger that is an offensive threat is RB Jeremy Hill. Despite missing the first game due a suspension Hill has already rushed for 9 touchdowns and is averaging over 7 yards a carry. These are two very evenly matched teams, so the winner will be the team that wins the turnover battle. The atmosphere at LSU will be a whole new ball game for Murphy and I believe it will be almost impossible for him not to be rattled at times. That will lead to mistakes and will allow LSU to escape with a victory.

Prediction: LSU 26, Florida 19

Last Week: 11-0
Overall: 55-4

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