BCS National Title Game '11

BCS National Title Game '11
BCS National Championship 1/10/11 Oregon vs Auburn

Thursday, October 25, 2012

College Football: Week 9 matchups to watch

We all thought "Separation Saturday" took place three weeks ago. That doesn't even compare to what we have on our hands this weekend. National Title and Conference Championship implications are leaning on this weekend's games. There are four matchups that consist of teams ranked in the Top 15. A big non-conference game between the #5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the #8 Oklahoma Sooners headlines this weekend's games. There is also the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party game  between rivals #2 Florida and #10 Georgia in Jacksonville. This game right here will pretty much decide who represents the East in the SEC Conference Championship game. The other two ranked matchups consist of the surprisingly undefeated #11 Mississippi State traveling to #1 Alabama and #3 Kansas State playing another ranked opponent in #14 Texas Tech in Manhattan. This weekend will also play as "Separation Saturday Part 2" for the Big Ten. Northwestern will host Iowa and #22 Michigan will play a crucial game at Nebraska in a game that could decide who wins the Legends Division.

This Saturday, I will be at the Oregon-Colorado game, which should be called the "The Grateful Dead Game." Just think about it.  The Ducks won big last year in Boulder by a score of 45-2. There isn't much to analyze for this game, because it is going to get ugly very quickly. The Ducks may not let up on the gas until the fourth quarter because of the whole BCS situation. The Buffalo defense is giving up an average of 42.6 points per game, which is the second-worst in the country.

Colorado @ #4 Oregon  3:00 PM ET Pac-12 Network

ESPN College GameDay will be live from Norman, OK

matchup: #5 Notre Dame @ #8 Oklahoma

Saturday, October 27th

1. #14 Texas Tech @ #3 Kansas State  3:30 PM ET FOX

- Kansas State is coming off another impressive road win against a ranked opponent and Texas Tech won an overtime thriller at TCU. The Wildcats are playing good football and the offense headed by Heisman front-runner quarterback Collin Klein is averaging 233.9 rushing yards and 42.9 points per game. The Kansas State defense is also playing great and have given up just 16.1 points per game. Tommy Tuberville's Red Raiders are off to their best start since the 2008 season. Quarterback Seth Doege has the fifth highest quarterback rating in the country with 169.6. The offense is also averaging 42.9 points per game and the defense is in the Top 15 in the country giving up 315.0 total yards per game. This will be the Wildcats toughest game they have the rest of this season and their defense must be able to contain the explosiveness of the Red Raider offense.

Pick: Kansas State 

2. #2 Florida vs #10 Georgia (Jacksonville)  3:30 PM ET CBS

- Heading into the season it was the Georgia Bulldogs who were the favorite to win the SEC East Division. Now it is the Florida Gators who are the team to beat in the East after beating #4 LSU and #7 South Carolina. Georgia has had a big wake up call in their past two of games. The Bulldogs were blown out in Columbia to South Carolina 35-7, and then struggled to beat a Kentucky team that is now 1-7 on the season. The Georgia offense led by senior quarterback Aaron Murray is going to have to continue to make smart decisions in the pocket, because this is the best defense he will play this season. The Gators defense is giving up just 12.1 points per game and have converted eight turnovers in their last three games. The Gator offense has turned the ball over just two times in their past three games. The Bulldog defense will need to be able to contain a lethal rushing attack led by running back Mike Gillislee and quarterback Jeff Driskel. The Gators have owned this series for the past decade winning seven of the past ten meetings. I see the Gators taking another one from the Bulldogs and clinching the SEC East Division title.

Pick: Florida 

3. #9 USC @ Arizona  3:30 PM ET ABC/ESPN2

- The USC Trojans are coming off a blow out win at home against a struggling Colorado team, but now must go on the road where they have been tested all season. The Trojans travel to Tucson where they have won the last two meetings by only a combined total of ten points. The Trojans have struggled on the road all season to mediocre teams. Syracuse and Washington gave them tough games and Stanford beat them. Arizona blew out Washington this past weekend at home 52-17 and are currently putting up 352.3 passing yards per game. The problem for the Wildcats is that their defense is thin. The Wildcats will struggle to cover wide receivers Marqise Lee and Robert Woods, but if the Wildcats can get their passing game going against the Trojan defense this could be a close game once again. I think USC wins, but that the Wildcats give the Trojans a scare before they host Oregon next weekend.

Pick: USC

4.  Duke @ #12 Florida State  3:30 PM ET ESPNU

- Duke football is included in a must watch game. Is this real life? This may have been an interesting game to watch after Duke won a thriller last weekend against North Carolina and became bowl eligible, but now is even more intriguing with Seminole star running back Chris Thompson out with a season ending ACL injury. Duke quarterback Sean Renfree is the true leader of this Blue Devil team and will need to be almost perfect to beat the Seminoles on the road. The Seminoles are one of the best rushing teams in the country and now many of the duties will be given to running back James Wilder Jr. The Seminoles offense is currently averaging 44.4 points per game and the Seminole defense is giving up just 12.6 points per game. It is going to be difficult for the Blue Devils, but if they can find a way to pull the upset they will be in a good position to win the ACC Coastal Division.

Pick: Florida State 

5.  Michigan State @ #25 Wisconsin  3:30 PM ET ABC/ESPN2

- Wisconsin and Michigan split games last season. Michigan State won on a hail mary pass as time expired during the season and Wisconsin won in a close game in the Big Ten Championship game. This season, Wisconsin started off to a rough start, but have bounced back. A win over Michigan State could guarantee them the Leaders Division and a chance to win the Big Ten again. Michigan State started the season with high hopes, but are now out of the Legends Division race. The Spartans have lost three of their last four conference games. The Spartan defense is still one of the best in the country, but the offense has not been able to produce points. The Badgers offense has consistency looked better each week and running back Montee Ball is averaging 155.5 yards and 2.5 rushing touchdowns per game in Big Ten play. The Badger defense headed by linebackers Mike Taylor and Chris Borland, who have a combined 151 tackles this season, will prevent one of the worst offenses in the country to put up enough points to win. The Badgers take this one in Madison and put themselves in a great position to win the Leaders Division.

Pick: Wisconsin  

6. Ohio State @ Penn State  5:30 PM ET ESPN 

- What is so sad about this game is it probably includes the two best teams in the Big Ten, yet neither can become bowl eligible because of NCAA sanctions. This is more of a statement game for both universities. The Buckeyes pulled an overtime thriller out against Purdue last weekend and also lost quarterback Braxton Miller to an injury. Miller is said to be ready for this weekend's game though. Penn State's offense led by senior quarterback Matt McGloin is averaging 37.3 points per game in Big Ten play. The Nittany Lion defense is also only giving up 15.7 points per game this season. The Ohio State offense will struggle if Miller is not completely healed for this game and it could give a huge advantage to the Nittany Lion defense. The Buckeye defense, who have given up an average 36.3 points in their past three games, could have trouble defending a rather tough Nittany Lion offense.

Pick: Ohio State 

7. #5 Notre Dame @ #8 Oklahoma  8:00 PM ET ABC

- This will be the biggest non-conference game of the season. This game has National Title implications for both teams. If the Fighting Irish can go into Norman and win, this will put them in a very good spot to go undefeated, as well as move up in the BCS rankings. If Oklahoma wins, the Sooners jump in the BCS rankings and put themselves in a good position to stay in the race to make the title game. The Sooners have caught fire at the right time of the season by playing great offense and defense. Sooner quarterback Landry Jones is finally playing up to his potential and is helping the Sooners put up 44.7 points per game. Notre Dame is coming off two very close games against Stanford and BYU. The Fighting Irish defense plays lights out week in and week out giving up an average of only 9.4 points per game. The real question coming into this game is how the Notre Dame offense will do against a good Sooner defense. The Fighting Irish will have quarterback Everett Golson back this week and it will be interesting to see how he handles pressure in a tough OU Memorial Stadium environment. I feel this is the game where the Irish finally get exposed this season. Sooners win 24-13.

Pick: Oklahoma 

8. #22 Michigan @ Nebraska  8:00 PM ET ESPN2

- This is the game at the beginning of the year we had marked on our calendars. This will most likely be the game that decides who wins the Big Ten Legends Division. The Michigan Wolverines and Nebraska Cornhuskers are coming off late fourth quarter come-from-behind victories. Denard Robinson continues to be the catalyst for the Wolverine offense and Taylor Martinez has made strides in his passing game. The Husker defense has struggled this season and has had trouble containing mobile quarterbacks. The Huskers are currently 102nd in the country in defending the run, but are ninth in defending the pass. The Wolverine defense has come back after struggling early in the season and are currently the ninth best overall defense in the country. Denard Robinson will present the Husker defense with a lot of problems like last season, but it will come down to the Wolverine defense. If the Wolverine defense can defend the running game and put pressure on Taylor Martinez for all four quarters the Wolverines should come out with the win. I think this is going to be a close game that comes down to the very end.

Pick: Michigan 

9. #11 Mississippi State @ #1 Alabama  8:30 PM ET ESPN

- The Mississippi State Bulldogs come into this game undefeated and are looking to give the #1 Crimson Tide a run for their money. Bulldog quarterback Tyler Russell has currently thrown 15 touchdown passes and just one interception. Running back LaDarius Perkins has rushed for 724 yards and eight touchdowns this season. Wide receiver Chad Bumphis also has 479 yards and six touchdown receptions this season. The offense has looked solid and the defense has been even better. The defense is giving up just 14.4 points per game. The Crimson Tide offense continues to reload even with all of the injuries they have had this season. Not only is quarterback A.J. McCarron in the Heisman discussion, but running backs Eddie Lacey and T.J. Yeldon have been a dual threat in the backfield as well. Now true freshman wide receiver Amari Cooper is causing defenses all sorts of problems. Cooper had seven receptions for 162 yards and two touchdown receptions at Tennessee this past weekend. The Crimson Tide defense continues to be the best in the country in points per game and in yards per game. The Crimson Tide are giving up just 8.3 points per game. I expect the Crimson Tide to get their first real challenge of the season, but will slowly pull away from the Bulldogs in the 2nd half.

Pick: Alabama

10. #7 Oregon State @ Washington  10:15 PM ET Pac-12 Network

- The Beavers moved up in the BCS after beating Utah in part to their defense causing big turnovers. The Huskies were blown out at Arizona and are now currently 0-3 on the road and losing by an average of 34.6 points a game. At home though, the Huskies have been a much different story. The Huskies upset #8 Stanford in September and two weeks ago tested #11 USC, but turned the ball over four times and lost 24-14. The Beavers will start quarterback Sean Mannion, after Cody Vaz started these past two weekends because of an injury Mannion suffered on October 6th against Washington State. The defense continues to be the main reason why the Beavers win and last week the defense simply beat Utah. The Beaver defense converted two turnovers on Utah's 16 and 10 yard line. It set up short scores for the Beaver offense in the red zone. Washington is one of the most bipolar teams in college football this season. They play awful on the road and play very tough at home. The Huskies will give the Beavers a tough game and the Husky defense will play well at home as usual. The Beavers do escape though, because the Huskies will turn the ball over at least twice in this game and leave points off the scoreboard.

Pick: Oregon State 

Sources: teamrankings.com, espn.com, UWBadgers.com

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