College Football Week 10 Predictions: Last-Second Breakdowns for Top 25 Clashes
Ah yes, Top 25 matchups, where the winners are automatically "underrated" and the losers are "overrated" and post-game response is as reactionary and dramatic as can be.
But that's why we love college football, right? The passion?
Well, I'll do my best not to be too over the top when breaking down the Top 25 matchups this week. Of course, feel free to yell and holler as much as you want in the comments section below.
Here's at look at the keys to each Top 25 matchup in Week 10 of the 2012-2013 college football campaign.
No. 4 Oregon at No. 17 USC
Key to the Game: USC Passing Attack vs. Oregon Pass Defense
USC senior Matt Barkley is actually averaging a career-high 8.7 yards per pass attempt this season, but interceptions have plagued him.
Barkley has eight picks in eight games, including the two he threw in USC's 39-36 loss to Arizona last week. He has thrown two interceptions in three separate games this season.
That's bad news against an Oregon defense that has allowed 5.3 yards per attempt (tied for sixth in the nation) while notching 14 interceptions (tied for sixth with Alabama), via CFBStats.com.
No. 16 Texas A&M at No. 15 Mississippi State
Key to the Game: Mississippi State Run Defense vs. Texas A&M Running Game
Mississippi State's 38-7 loss to Alabama last week was rather predictable. Alabama had a strong running game. Mississippi State had a beatable run defense. It was really that simple.
Defending the run will once again be a priority for the Bulldogs against a Texas A&M squad led by dual-threat quarterback Johnny Manziel that has averaged 5.81 yards per carry (third in the nation) and posted 27 rushing touchdowns this season.
Mississippi State has allowed 3.89 yards per carry (48th in the FBS) and 11 rushing touchdowns this season.
No. 23 Texas at No. 18 Texas Tech
Key to the Game: Texas Defense vs. Texas Tech Offense
If this seems like a rather simple key to the game, that's because it is. I usually like to single out one part of a defense, but the reality is that Texas' entire defense has been awful this season, especially against Top 25 teams West Virginia and Oklahoma.
The Longhorns have not only allowed 8.2 yards per pass attempt this season (tied for 110th in the FBS), they have also allowed 5.07 yards per carry (tied for 107th) and 18 rushing touchdowns (106th).
Texas Tech hasn't exactly been a defensive juggernaut either, but it's hard to be worse than Texas' defense. The Red Raiders are averaging 40.5 points per game this season, 12th in the nation.
No. 1 Alabama at No. 5 LSU
Key to the Game: LSU Passing Game vs. Alabama Pass Defense
Both LSU and Alabama have top-notch running games and run defenses. They both have top pass defenses.
The difference for me lies in the separation between Alabama signal-caller A.J. McCarron (a Heisman contender this season) and LSU junior Zach Mettenberger.
McCarron has averaged 9.5 yards per pass attempt this season, tied for fourth among qualifying FBS quarterbacks and first among SEC quarterbacks, per CFBStats.com. More importantly, he's tossed 18 touchdowns to zero interceptions, which is unheard of in the SEC.
As for Mettenberger?
He's averaged 7.2 yards per attempt (tied for 69th in the nation) while tossing seven touchdowns to four interceptions.
It's hard for me to see Mettenberger succeeding against the Crimson Tide.
No. 24 Oklahoma State at No. 2 Kansas State
Key to the Game: Oklahoma State Passing Game vs. Kansas State Pass Defense
Oklahoma State's 36-14 victory over TCU last week minus the injured J.W. Walsh was a testament to the Cowboys' coaching staff, but I can't see freshman quarterback Wes Lunt doing the same to Kansas State this week.
The Wildcats have allowed an average of 19 points against Oklahoma, West Virginia and Texas Tech this season and they've ceded just 6.3 yards per pass attempt in the process (tied for 28th in the nation).
Lunt, ranked No. 7 among pro-style quarterback recruits by Rivals.com in 2012, has the talent, but his inexperience could come into play here.
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