The Oregon Ducks season starts here against USC and they will come in with revenge on their minds after being upset last season at home 38-35. The USC Trojans look to bounce back after being upset last weekend at Arizona. Other games between ranked teams are #16 Texas A&M at #15 Mississippi State, #23 Texas at #18 Texas Tech, and #24 Oklahoma State at #2 Kansas State.
This Saturday, I will be at the LA Memorial Coliseum to watch #4 Oregon face #17 USC. The Ducks get their first true test of the season and this will potentially be the hardest game the Ducks will have this season. The Ducks are averaging 53.4 points on opponents this season and this is the best defense the Ducks have had under Head Coach Chip Kelly. The Trojans come in after an upset loss at Arizona. We will see what the Trojans have left in the tank, and if the struggling Trojan defense can hold off one of the most explosive offenses in the country. This game will be a rather high scoring affair.
Thursday, November. 1st
1. Virginia Tech @ Miami (FL) 7:30 PM ET ESPN
- This is a big game for these ACC Coastal Division foes. Both teams are tied with Duke for the top spot in the division and this game could eliminate one of these two teams from winning the division. Hokie quarterback Logan Thomas has thrown ten interceptions this season and has put the Hokies in position as one of the leading teams in interceptions thrown this season. The Hurricanes have lost three straight games and need this home win to get back on track. The offense has struggled since the month of October averaging just 12.3 points per game and the defense is the fourth worst in the country giving up 520.4 yards per game. Both teams are struggling and desperately need this game.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 28, Miami (FL) 24
Result: Miami (FL) 30, Virginia Tech 12
Saturday, November 3rd
2. #16 Texas A&M @ #15 Mississippi State 12:00 PM ET ESPN
- Texas A&M and Mississippi State are the two most surprising teams in the SEC this season. The Aggies are coming off a win at Auburn where they put up 63 points. Lethal quarterback Johnny "Football" Manziel was 16 of 23 for 260 passing yards and two touchdowns. Manziel also rushed for 90 yards and three touchdowns. The Aggie offense has been averaging 42.0 points per game. The Bulldogs are coming off their first loss of the season to Alabama, where they were defeated 38-7. The Bulldog offense has been above average this season, but the defense has been the key by giving up just 18.6 points per game. The matchup in this game will be the Bulldog defense, who is giving up 149.1 rushing yards per game, as they defend an Aggie offense that is averaging 233.7 rushing yards per game. It will be interesting to see if Dan Mullen's Bulldogs can bounce back after a blowout loss last weekend.
Prediction: Texas A&M 34, Mississippi State 23
3. TCU @ #21 West Virginia 3:00 PM ET FOX
- This is going to be one of the most interesting games of the day. No one knows what to expect from each team. TCU has lost their last two games and are basically out of the Big 12 race with a tough remaining schedule. West Virginia is coming off of a much needed bye week after being humiliated by Texas Tech and Kansas State in consecutive weekends. The TCU offense led by new quarterback Trevone Boykin and receiver Josh Boyce are averaging 30.0 points a game. A TCU defense that was supposed to be one of the best in the Big 12 has given up 92 points in their last two games. The West Virginia offense, who was one of the best in the country prior to playing Texas Tech and Kansas State, is trying to get back on track. Quarterback Geno Smith needs to get the ball into the hands of wide receivers Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin, otherwise it is going to be another long day. The Mountaineer offense not putting points up is a guaranteed loss because the Mountaineers have the third worst overall defense in the country. The Mountaineer defense gives up 525.8 yards per game, 44.5 points per game, and gives up 10.6 passing yards per play. If the Mountaineers come out flat at home again and don't show any improvement on both sides of the ball, it is going to get real interesting in Morgantown. I'll give West Virginia one more chance to come out and play better football on Saturday.
Prediction: West Virginia 48, TCU 42
4. #23 Texas @ #18 Texas Tech 3:30 PM ET ABC/ESPN2
- Texas Tech was able to hang with Kansas State for awhile, but were eventually blown out in the fourth quarter. Texas struggled the whole game against a 1-7 Kansas team last weekend, but scored a touchdown with 12 seconds remaining in the game to win 21-17. Backup quarterback Case McCoy replaced starter David Ash in the fourth quarter and led the Longhorns to two consecutive touchdown drives. There again is a quarterback controversy in Austin, even though David Ash has been named the starter for this game. The Red Raiders offense is averaging 40.0 points per game and 507.9 total yards per game. Quarterback Seth Doege is averaging 317.5 passing yards and 3.75 touchdown passes per game. This Red Raider offense is going to cause a lot of problems for this weak Texas defense that is giving up 32.8 points per game and 447.2 total yards per game. The Longhorns have won the last eight of ten games against the Red Raiders. We will see if the Longhorn defense can hold down one of the best offenses in the country.
Prediction: Texas Tech 42, Texas 24
5. #20 Nebraska @ Michigan State 3:30 PM ET ABC/ESPN2
- Nebraska and Michigan State are both coming off wins where defense had to win them the game. The Huskers are now the team to beat in the Big Ten Legends Division as they defeated Michigan last Saturday 23-9. This is going to be another one of those games for the Huskers. Field position is going to be key in this game and the Husker offense are going to need crucial field goals from senior kicker Brett Maher again. This may be the toughest defense the Huskers face this season. The Spartans have the fifth best overall defense in the country. The Spartans are only giving up 15.0 points per game and only 91.2 rushing yards per game. Husker quarterback Taylor Martinez may need to rely much more on wide receiver Kenny Bell then he has had to all of this season. The Spartans will need to keep this a low scoring game as usual, because their offense has only averaged 14.0 points in their past three games. It is going to be a very low scoring affair and defense will be crucial to winning this game.
Prediction: Nebraska 20, Michigan State 16
6. #4 Oregon @ #17 USC 7:00 PM ET FOX
- The Oregon Ducks get their first challenge of the season when they travel to Los Angeles to take on the USC Trojans. The Ducks are undefeated and have been hitting on all cylinders this season. The Trojans have been mediocre at best this season and have already suffered two Pac-12 losses. The Duck offense led by Freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota and senior running back Kenjon Barner is averaging 53.4 points per game, which is first in the country. This offense should be able to put up big numbers on a Trojan defense that gave up 588 total yards against Arizona last weekend. The real question in this game will be the USC offense facing the Oregon defense. The Trojan offense has looked inconsistent under senior quarterback Matt Barkley, as the Trojans have struggled with penalties and turnovers. Barkley needs wide receivers Marqise Lee and Robert Woods to come up big again like last year when the Trojans upset the Ducks in Eugene. The Oregon defense has not faced wide receivers of this caliber and we will find out if the defensive backs consisting of Avery Patterson and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu can shut them down. If the Ducks want to take control of this game, they are going to need to put a lot of pressure on Matt Barkley and cause him to make bad decisions when he is passing the football. The Ducks are currently averaging three takeaways a game, which is first in the country. This is going to be a lot like the game from two years ago, when the Ducks went into the Coliseum and beat the Trojans 53-32. The Trojans play the Ducks close in the first half, but can't defend the explosive Duck offense in the second half.
Prediction: Oregon 45, USC 28
7. #24 Oklahoma State @ #2 Kansas State 8:00 PM ET ABC
Heisman front-runner Collin "Optimist" Klein and the Wildcats get their fourth ranked opponent in a row, as they host the # 24 Oklahoma State Cowboys. The Wildcats have been strong on both sides of the ball this whole season, but have made statements these past two weekends. The Wildcat offense is averaging 44.4 points per game and the defense is holding opponents to just 17.1 points per game. The Cowboys have won their last three games and are looking to stay in the race for the Big 12 title. The Cowboys have one of the most explosive offenses in the country and are averaging 570.2 yards per game and 44.3 points per game. The Cowboys will need to rely heavily on their air attack, and not so much on star running back Joseph Randle, because the Wildcats defense led by linebacker Arthur Brown is giving up only 101.7 rushing yards per game. Look for most of the first half to be close, but the Wildcats pull away and win by at least two touchdowns when it's all said and done.
Prediction: Kansas State 41, Oklahoma State 26
8. #1 Alabama @ #5 LSU 8:00 PM ET CBS
- Here we go again! Hopefully this will be the only time these two teams meet this season. The Crimson Tide come in with one of the best offenses in the country led by a potential Heisman quarterback AJ McCarron and the best overall defense in the country. The Crimson Tide defense continues to only give up an average of 8.1 points per game. The LSU Tigers are back in the BCS hunt are the highest ranked one loss team in the country. LSU looks to extend the longest home winning streak in the country at 22 in Death Valley and knock off the Crimson Tide to gain control of the SEC West Division. The Tiger offense has improved since losing at Florida and the Tiger defense continues to be the second best defense in the country. The real questions in this game will be the play of LSU junior quarterback Zach Mettenberger and if running back Jeremy Hill can hit any holes for big gains. This game is going to be another battle in the trenches. There will be very physical play on both sides and both teams will battle for field position the entire game.
Prediction: Alabama 20, LSU 10
9. Arizona State @ #11 Oregon State 10:30 PM ET ESPN2
- Last weekend, Arizona State lost on a last second field goal to UCLA and Oregon State lost to Washington on a field goal with 1:20 remaining in the game. The Oregon State Beavers need to win this game to keep themselves in the Pac-12 North Division race. Quarterback Cody Vaz will replace Sean Mannion for this game and hopefully give the Beaver offense a boost it did not have a week ago at Washington. The Arizona State Sun Devils have lost two straight games and have given up 43 points in both of them. The Sun Devils will need more production out of their passing game to put points on the board against a Beaver defense that gives up 260.7 passing yards per game. The Beavers should have no trouble defending the Sun Devil rushing attack led by D.J. Foster and Cameron Marshall, because the Beavers are the fifth best defense in the country giving up just 83.4 rushing yards per game. The Beaver defense needs to hold the Sun Devil offense out of the end zone, because if the Sun Devils start putting points up it will be impossible for the Beaver offense to keep up.
Prediction: Oregon State 27, Arizona State 24
10. #22 Arizona @ UCLA 10:30 PM ET Pac-12 Network
- The Wildcats and Bruins are coming off big wins. This game is important for both teams, because if one of these teams lose they are pretty much out of the Pac-12 South Division race. Both teams have good offenses and defenses that struggle. Arizona averages 534.3 yards per game and 36.7 points per game. UCLA averages 503.0 yards per game and 25.1 points per game. This is going to be a showdown between Wildcat quarterback Matt Scott and Bruin quarterback Brett Hundley. The defenses are going to have trouble shutting each other down. Especially the Wildcat defense, who must try and defend running back Johnathan Franklin, who has already rushed for over 1,000 yards this season and has seven total touchdowns. This should be a very close game for the most part and I think in the end the Wildcats get the job done.
Prediction: Arizona 38, UCLA 31
Sources: espn.com & teamrankings.com