Week 12 College FB Forecast: Bright Spots on a Ho-Hum Saturday
In my opinion, this week is full of games that mean very little.
There are some matchups that could be interesting, but more than a few of them will end up being blowouts.
Many of the top BCS spots are wrapped up, and the schedules of many of the nation's top teams have gotten progressively easier.
Sure, Tennessee and Georgia play conference games, and Cincinnati and West Virginia square off in a battle of the Big East's top two teams—but none of those matchups will attract much more than regional interest.
In fact, the only two game with national implications for both teams involved will be played in Ann Arbor, MI, and Clemson, SC.
This year, as in many years past, the Big Ten title is up for grabs.
Ohio State's national championship hopes were dashed last week when Illinois dealt the Buckeyes a crushing blow at home.
Still, a Big Ten crown would help to heal the wounds.
OSU has an efficient offense based around RB Chris Wells. Wells' work on the ground opens up the play-action passing game for Todd Boeckman.
Boeckman's inability to throw the football with accuracy (0 TD, 3 INT) was the key in OSU's faltering last week.
The unit on the other side of the ball is a force to be reckoned with, as the Buckeyes boast the best scoring defense and second-best total defense in the nation.
Michigan, meanwhile, is a rising force; the Wolverines' fall and subsequent rebound have been well-documented through the season.
Now, with questions abounding about the future of its head coach, Michigan could complete the turnaround from an embarrassing 0-2 start by winning the Big Ten title.
Mike Hart continues to earn mention in the Heisman discussion despite missing significant action due to injury. He's been the workhorse for this team all year long—especially in big games.
That said, his health will be an issue against the vicious Buckeye D.
This game will hinge on the Michigan ground attack. Nobody really moves the ball on Ohio State, but the Wolverines will have to gain the advantage in field position and keep the Buckeye defense on the field in order to seize control.
The trend this year has been for BCS contenders who lose for the first time to lose again the following week. With that in mind, and given the added motivation of Coach Carr's reported resignation, I like Michigan to win at home and take the Big Ten crown.
Matt Ryan's aura of media-created invincibility is gone after three straight awful performances, two of which were BC defeats.
Still, he has thrown for over 400 yards four times this season, and has shown the ability to beat Clemson—as proven by his two career overtime victories over the Tigers.
The Tiger defense is arguably the best Ryan has faced this season—they rank fifth in the country in total defense and third in pass defense.
More impressive still, they've only allowed two teams to reach 20 points all season long.
The BC defense, meanwhile, has been vulnerable against the pass, ranking 109th nationally. This can be partially attributed to opposing offensive coordinators trying to outscore Ryan and the Eagles offense.
Clemson QB Cullen Harper has gone from unknown to rising star in a matter of months. His numbers have been better than Ryan's, and he's now widely regarded as the ACC's top passer.
Harper has been down the stretch what Ryan was during his bye month in late September and early October. In his last four games, Harper has almost 1,000 yards passing, with 12 TDs and only one INT.
That said, RBs James Davis and C.J. Spiller are the show for the Tigers. Their ability to gain yardage against the nation's second-toughest run defense will be a major factor on Saturday
All told, I like Clemson to win this game big at home. The Tigers have stepped up as the games have started to mean more; BC has seemed to go the other way.
And for those of you who wanted to see your game broken down this week, too bad.
Better luck next year.
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