Thursday, November 21, 2013
Cram Session - Week 13
New Orleans (8-2) at Atlanta (2-8)
It is almost mind boggling how terrible the Atlanta Falcons are this season. They definitely had their share of injuries but so did many other teams in the NFL. If people didn't realize just how important Julio Jones is to this team, then check out Matt Ryan's stats since Jones has gone down. Harry Douglas has played pretty well in his increased role, but without Jones and Roddy White during a stretch, Ryan has looked really bad. The Saints are coming off a fraduy win over the 49ers where the refs protected Drew Brees to the point of absurdity from an Ahmad Brooks hit. The Saints need to keep winning as they have the Panthers hot on their tails in the NFC South. Before the season the NFL Network probably thought this would be their game of the year, but instead this should be a cakewalk victory for the Saints. The Falcons are atrocious on defense and let Mike Glennon go wild on them. Good luck trying to stop Brees.
Prediction: New Orleans 34, Atlanta 21
Games That Matter To Me
BYU (7-3) at Notre Dame (7-3)
After a week off following a horribly disappointing loss at Pitt, the Irish look to close out their home schedule in style against a tough BYU team. Basically, I can write 4 paragraphs about this game, but whether the Irish win or loss depends on which Tommy Rees will show up. Bad, very bad Tommy Rees was in Pittsburgh as he threw terrible interceptions and cost Notre Dame the game. Brian Kelly also has to take some blame, as he can't seem to settle on a running back. Freshman Tarean Folston seemed to have a breakout game against Navy, but then Kelly got him just 4 carries against Pitt. I understand having a backfield by committee but we are almost done with the season. its long past time to settle on at least a main guy from your committee.
BYU sophomore quarterback Taysom Hill has a lot of boom and bust in him. He has 16 TDs this season but has also thrown 12 INTs, and is coming off throwing 3 picks against Idaho State last week. While he has improved in recent weeks he also sometimes badly struggles with his accuracy. Opportunities will be there for the Irish defense to make plays off of Hill's mistakes. Where Hill could give the Irish major trouble is his ability to run the ball. He is the Cougars leading rusher, and in some games this season has run more than he has passed. Another threat running the ball for BYU is Jamaal Williams. Williams has rushed for over 100 yards in 2 of his last 3 games and averaged an absurd 10 yards per carry last week. I don't expect him to go off to that level against Notre Dame but the Irish defensive line has struggled with injuries all season. Hill's favorite receiver is Cody Hoffman, who leads the Cougars in catches, yards and touchdowns. He doesn't make short catches either, averaging a robust 17 yards per reception.
Big game for Notre Dame with having to go to Stanford next week in what is almost certainly a loss. 8-4 sounds a whole lot better than 7-5. Blind faith in my team is the reason I am going with the Irish to get the win on Senior Day.
Prediction: Notre Dame 28, BYU 27
Nebraska (7-3, 4-2) at Penn State (6-4, 3-3)
Nebraska is basically playing out the string at this point after last week's loss to Michigan State. Turnovers killed Nebraska, and has been an issue since Tommy Armstrong Jr. took over at quarterback. The Huskers defense isn't good enough to continuously bail out the offense when they shoot themselves in the foot. Ameer Abdullah has been spectacular and consistent all season, rushing for over 100 yards in every game but one, and in that game he missed it by 2 yards. I hope he doesn't get any thoughts of leaving early and will be back for his senior season next year. One player that needs to show up in Happy Valley is Quincy Enunwa, as he was held without a reception against the Spartans. Kenny Bell had a big game with Enunwa being shut out.
The Nittany Lions are similar to Nebraska in that they have a good offense and a mediocre to porous at times defense. They have to overall be pleased with the play of freshman quarterback Christian Hackenburg, who has 14 TDs and 9 INTs on the season. They also have a lethal, dual rushing attack in Bill Belton and touchdown machine Zach Zwinak. The player to watch is WR Allen Robinson. Robinson leads Penn State by a wide margin with 81 catches on the season, 1,204 yards receiving and 6 touchdowns. Robinson has gone over 100 yards receiving in six of Penn State's 10 games this season.
I originally was going to pick Nebraska, but going on the road and trying to slow down the Nittany Lions offense seems like too tall a task. I think that Penn State's poor defense can keep Nebraska in the game, but Armstrong just makes too many mistakes right now.
Prediction: Penn State 30, Nebraska 27
Chattanooga (8-3) at #1 Alabama (10-0)
Bama seemed to still be thinking about their win over LSU from two weeks and not the task at hand as they slept walk to victory at Mississippi State last week. They could literally be asleep for this game against Chattanooga and win, but coach Nick Saban will have his guys ready to play after a disappointing showing. Alabama just wants to stay healthy for next week's Iron Bowl, which will determine their season.
Prediction: Alabama 48, Chattanooga 3
Idaho (1-9) at #2 Florida State (10-0)
If Jameis Winston and the Seminoles were distracted by the sexual assault investigation involving him, they didn't show it winning by a score of 59-3 for the second straight week last weekend. The Seminoles look destined to play for the national championship with the easy remaining schedule they have left. I mean, they could end up playing freaking Duke for the ACC title.
Prediction: Florida State 66, Idaho 0
Indiana (4-6, 2-4) at #3 Ohio State (10-0, 6-0)
Urban Meyer can bitch about the BCS all he wants, the truth of the matter is, the Buckeyes haven't been impressive against inferior opponents like Florida State has. However, they still are very much alive to have a chance to play for the national title with Alabama's remaining schedule being tough. There is no question about the effectiveness of the Buckeyes offense, but their defense hasn't appeared championship level at times this season. It won't matter against Indiana, but could matter against Michigan and Michigan State when they play the Spartans for the Big Ten championship.
Prediction: Ohio State 58, Indiana 21
#4 Baylor (9-0, 6-0) at #10 Oklahoma State (9-1, 6-1)
Baylor was on the ropes last week against Texas Tech, falling behind 14-0, before coming back to completely destroy the Red Raiders, 63-34. Now, they face their toughest road test of the season, in Stillwater against the Cowboys, winners of six straight since a mystifying loss to West Virginia. Both teams have very good offenses, but they also have accomplished defenses. The depth that Baylor has is what might be most impressive about the Bears. While missing their two leading rushers last week, Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin, third string back Shock Linwood seamlessly moved in and rushed for 187 yards. The good news for the Bears is that Martin should play and Seastrunk is working hard to be able to suit up Saturday. One player that won't be returning is WR Tevin Reese, who they lost for the season a few weeks ago. That didn't seem to matter last week either since they still have leading receiver Antwan Goodley. Bears QB Bryce Petty hasn't thrown an interception in 5 weeks and has just one the entire season.
The Cowboys made a midseason switch at quarterback from sophomore J.W. Walsh to senior Clint Chelf. Chelf hasn't always been flashy, but his rushing ability has overcome any mental mistakes he might make. The Cowboys offense as a whole doesn't have the flash that the Baylor offense has, but they haven't needed it with how well their defense has played, especially the last two weeks. No defense has managed to slow down the Bears, except maybe Kansas State's, and that was also a road game for Baylor. I picked against Baylor two weeks ago when they played Choklahoma and was way off, but I am still going to pick against them again this week. I just can't envision Baylor going the entire season unbeaten, and this looks like the prime spot for them to lose. Facing a hot team, in prime time, on the road. If Baylor wins this game, I won't pick against them the rest of the season. I like the Cowboys defense to make enough plays and Chelf to do enough damage running that Okie State pulls off the upset.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 33, Baylor 30
#5 Oregon (9-1, 6-1) at Arizona (6-4, 3-4)
The Ducks caught a break as Stanford was upset by USC, opening the door for Oregon to play for the Pac-12 championship, if they can take care of business in their final two games. After being 6-2, Rich Rod's Wildcats could be looking at four straight losses to close out the season since they go to Arizona State next week. A loss to Oregon would be their third straight home loss as they have lost heartbreakers to UCLA and Washington State the last two weeks. Like most teams that have faced the Ducks, the Wildcats will find the Oregon offense too overwhelming a force to match.
Prediction: Oregon 52, Arizona 24
Citadel (5-6) at #7 Clemson (9-1)
Clemson has rebounded well from the devastating home loss to Florida State and could still be in line to play in a BCS bowl if they beat South Carolina next week. This week's game against Citadel should serve as a tuneup to work out some kinks and get everyone out healthy.
Prediction: Clemson 53, Citadel 17
#8 Missouri (9-1, 5-1) at #24 Mississippi (7-3, 3-3)
How many people had this one picked as a marquee game when looking over the schedule in August? If the Tigers can beat Ole Miss on the road this week and the Johnny Manziel's at home in the regular season finale, they will play for the SEC Championship. Pretty amazing that the Tigers are in this position for a few reasons. One is that they lost their best player, QB James Franklin for a few weeks and had to replace him with freshman Maty Mauk. Mauk filled in more than capably in Franklin's absence. He was the starter during the Tigers demoralizing defeat against South Carolina. I thought that might derail Missouri's season but the team has responded well the last two weeks, winning in blowouts. Franklin returns this week and it will be interesting to see if he shows signs of rust. Ole Miss saved their season when they upset LSU at home a month ago. That win ended a three game losing streak and the Rebels haven't lost since. QB Bo Wallace hasn't received a lot of attention but has been excellent for the Rebels this season.
Like Baylor, maybe it is because Missouri isn't a traditional power, but I think they are primed for an upset loss this weekend. They might almost be better sticking with Mauk at this point, as I think Franklin will struggle a bit in his first game in a month. This Missouri loss will open the door for the Gamecocks to make it to the SEC title game.
Prediction: Mississippi 31, Missouri 24
California (1-10, 0-8) at #9 Stanford (8-2, 6-2)
A disappointing loss to USC means the Cardinal will likely miss out on defending their Pac-12 championship. Cal has had an awful season, with only their passing game proving to be anything they hope to build off of next season. This is of course known as The Big Game, but only these two teams fanbases will care about this game on Saturday.
Prediction: Stanford 44, California 7
Last Week: 9-1