College Football: Potential Gamebreakers For Week 4
Are you ready for Week 4 in college football? The season's in full swing. We've got some returning powerhouses like Alabama, Ohio State, Florida and Texas.
The Cornhuskers of Nebraska look to return to their mid-90s form and reclaim a National Championship for Lincoln. Teams like Boise State and TCU aim to blow up the BCS and sneak in to a national Championship.
We've got a new face in the Heisman race in Denard Robinson, we've got the defending Heisman winner in Mark Ingram, we've got Terrelle Pryor, we've got the Rodgers brothers, we've got Ryan Broyles, we've got Noel Devine, we've got Daniel Thomas.
And, for some reason, slobberin' Dr. Lou is waiting for me at every halftime.
Here's a look at how some of America's stars will make an impact in their games this Saturday.
10. Patrick Peterson, Cornerback, #15 LSU (vs. #21 West Virginia)
One of the top defensive backs in the country, Peterson looks to improve his draft stock and help keep his Tigers undefeated against a talented West Virginia offense.
Peterson, who's already intercepted two passes this season, looks to make life hell for the true freshman quarterback starting for West Virginia, Gino Smith.
With the LSU crowd to back them up, Peterson and the Tiger defense should be able to handle West Virginia, including the Mountaineers' star running back Noel Devine.
If Peterson plays like he did in his last outing, where he picked off two passes against Mississippi State, then LSU should make short work of the Mountaineers.
Game Prediction: LSU beats up on West Virginia.
Player Prediction: As dominant as Peterson has been, I anticipate that West Virginia will try their best not to throw his way. Peterson won't pick anything off, but he will cover his side of the field and make scoring very difficult.
9. Kyle Padron, QB and Aldrick Robinson, WR, SMU (at #4 TCU)
SMU has really turned it around. After a 1-11 in 2008, things looked hopeless for the Ponies, until they called a legend in coach and offensive innovator June Jones
He quickly turned one of the nation's worst programs into a respectable team who went 8-5 and whooped up on Nevada on Christmas Eve in the Hawai'i Bowl. This year, they look to improve on a giant turnaround.
They key to June Jones' offense, a west coast style passing attack, is an accurate quarterback and a reliable wide receiver. Jones found his guys.
Quarterback Kyle Padron and receiver Aldrick Robinson have helped lead the 'Stangs all the way. This weekend, however, they have met their match.
Fourth-ranked TCU has an awesome defense, and one that has the capability to completely annihilate SMU's offensive line.
If the Mustangs hope to pull a momentous upset, Kyle Padron and Aldrick Robinson will have to be completely in sync.
Game Prediction: As much as I like SMU, and as much as they've improved, this year isn't the year. TCU rolls. Unless the Pony Express storms Ford Field on Friday night, SMU doesn't have much of a shot.
Player Prediction: Padron and Aldrick won't be very effective against TCU's pass rush.
8. Titus Young, WR, #3 Boise State (vs. #23 Oregon State)
Wide receiver Titus Young has been electric for Boise State. With Kellen Moore throwing him the ball, Titus made big plays against TCU last year and against Virginia Tech this year.
With wide receiver Austin Pettis on the other side, one or the other is going to be open all night.
This week, they'll be hosting the 23rd ranked Oregon State Beavers, who already lost to another BCS Buster in TCU week 1.
Although good offensively, Oregon State's defense hasn't been outstanding. The key to a Boise State win will be getting the ball to Young, who will carve up an average Beaver pass defense.
Game Prediction: High scoring; a pick 'em game.
Player Prediction: Titus will have a huge game. He'll roast Oregon State's defensive backs.
7. Andrew Luck, QB, #16 Stanford (at Notre Dame)
In my opinion the best draft prospect in the entire NCAA, Andrew Luck has been nothing short of awesome in his junior season, going 45 for 70 in passing in his first three games, along with ten passing touchdowns and an additional rushing score.
Luck is intelligent, accurate, and much more athletic than anybody gives him credit for.
In the Cardinal's road trip to Notre Dame this weekend, look for Luck to tear it up. If you've watched Notre Dame lately, they're not exactly a defensive powerhouse.
Game Prediction: Stanford wins in a high scoring game.
Player Prediction: Luck will have another Heisman-candidate game. He will tear up Notre Dame. I anticipate anywhere from two to four touchdown passes and in the 200 to 300 yards passing range.
6. Akeem Ayers, LB, and Rahim Moore, S, UCLA (at #7 Texas)
After hammering a Keenum-less Houston Cougar team at home last week, UCLA looks to come in to Darrell K. Royal and pull a gigantic upset.
With Texas' offense sputtering, the key to a UCLA victory will be exploiting Texas' offensive woes and forcing turnovers. The keys to forcing turnovers comes down to two players: Akeem Ayers and Rahim Moore.
Both All Pac-10 selections, the two defenders have been the highlights of a decent Bruin season so far.
When players like Texas Tech's Scott Smith are dominating games, Longhorns fans should be a little nervous facing two really good defensive players.
Game Prediction: Closer than people predict. A one or two touchdown game. Texas will turn the ball over, but the UCLA offense won't be able to move the ball against the Longhorn defense.
Player Prediction: Akeem Ayers will have lots of tackles; he'll hurt the Texas running game, and help UCLA to cause a whole lot of three-and-outs.
Rahim Moore may not have a lot of opportunities to make big defensive plays, as Texas probably won't throw deep towards the safeties very much.
5. LaMichael James, RB, #5 Oregon (at Arizona State)
LaMichael James is good. Really good. He's averaging 12 yards per carry in 2010 along with three rushing touchdowns. He had 227 yards on 14 carries against Portland State... in the first half.
Oregon has looked awesome against average competition this year, and I figure that Arizona State, being average competition doesn't really stand too much of a chance from a statistical standpoint.
But don't underestimate Sun Devil Stadium. If Oregon hopes to avoid the upset on the road, LaMichael James will have to continue to play the way he has been playing.
Game Prediction: Based on what Oregon did the last time they were in a hostile environment, the game at Neyland Stadium against Tennessee where they took the Volunteers behind the woodshed, I predict that Oregon will pound the Sun Devils.
Player Prediction: LaMichael James will continue to be LaMichael James. 130+ yards and a touchdown or two. Heisman dark horse candidate?
4. Mark Ingram, RB, and Trent Richardson, RB, #1 Alabama (@ #10 Arkansas)
The best one-two punch in college football can't take the week off when they take the field against the Razorbacks. Arkansas isn't going to lay down and let Tide run all over them.
With a good enough effort, Arkansas could pull one out against Alabama... unless Ingram and Richardson run wild against the Piggies. Their talent alone could be enough to seal the deal against Arkansas.
Arkansas' defense hasn't exactly been great. They gave up 24 points to a Georgia team that lacks their only real playmaker. Arkansas has to shut down the run from the beginning. If they allow Alabama's backs to get going, then it'll be a long day up in Fayetville.
Game Prediction: It'll be a close one...
Player Prediction: Both backs will be good, but not dominant. Ingram will have about 120 yards and Richardson will have about 80-100.
3. Randall Cobb, WR, Kentucky (at #9 Florida)
Randall Cobb is one of the most underrated receivers in the NCAA. He plays for an average Kentucky team, but still has as much talent as Julio Jones or Marquis Maze and even A.J. Green.
Not only is he a great receiver, but also a great kick returner, an ability that allows him to make big plays even if his quarterback Mike Hartline can't get him the ball.
If Kentucky has any chance at pulling the upset, Cobb has to play up to the level of players like A.J. Green and Oklahoma's Ryan Broyles. Cobb has the talent to do it, but it's all about whether Hartline can get him the ball.
Game Prediction: Florida wins; but closer than people think.
Player Prediction: Cobb will have a good game, but not quite enough to pull off the upset.
2. The Rodgers Brothers, RB and WR, #23 Oregon State (at #3 Boise State)
As the 23rd-ranked Beavers fly to Idaho to take on the third-ranked Broncos at the Blue, the Oregon Ducks fans, whose team sits at fifth in the country in the most recent poll, might actually be cheering for their biggest rivals to pull off the upset so that they can jump ahead.
In order for the Beavers to pull it off, the brother tandem of James and Jacquizz have got to play better than they did against fourth-ranked TCU earlier this season, where Jacquizz was a near non-factor and where James failed to break the game open.
Jacquizz Rodgers has 207 yards and three touchdowns so far this year. His brother James has a receiving touchdown along with 107 receiving yards. But unless the brothers have phenomenal games, Oregon State will be retreating back to Corvallis with their tails between their legs.
Game Prediction: Boise State wins. Their defense stuffs Jacquizz Rodgers, and their pass rush gets to Ryan Katz, preventing James from getting any touches.
Player Predictions: Overall uninspiring. Jacquizz has about 50 yards, James catches 3 or so passes for about 50 yards. Again, Boise's defense dominates.
1. Ryan Mallett, QB, #10 Arkansas (vs. #1 Alabama)
Ryan Mallett, a Heisman front-runner and highly-touted NFL prospect, gets the biggest test of his career this week when the Razorbacks host defending national champs Alabama.
With a good defense, and an incredibly powerful rushing attack, Alabama deserves their top ranking spot in the NCAA.
The 6'8" quarterback is coming off of one of the best games of his career, a game where he threw for 380 yards and three touchdowns.
If the Razorbacks hope to pull the upset, then Ryan Mallett needs to have another Heisman-like performance. And with the backing of one of the craziest stadiums in America, he may get just enough adrenaline to do so.
Player Prediction: Mallett will start off rocky, but find his footing later in the game on the way to an epic performance.
Game Prediction: Reynolds Razorback stadium is one of the loudest and craziest places to play in college football. They don't call Arkansas' home turf "Fayetnam" for nothing; it's a war zone.
Arkansas pulls the upset at home. Mallett dominates, and the Pigs become SEC contenders overnight.
Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma: Ryan Broyles may be the only receiver in the NCAA as talented as A.J. Green. Look for a gigantic game from him against a struggling Cincinnati team this week.
Garrett Gilbert, QB, Texas: Gilbert has had a tough time filling Colt McCoy's shoes. He's been better than average, but he will have a breakout game against UCLA in Austin this weekend if they Texas line can keep Akeem Ayers at bay.
Andy Dalton, QB, TCU: Dalton will take on the SMU Mustangs this weekend in Fort Worth, and will very likely tear up an average defense at home. Dalton gets a big win in the Battle for the Iron Skillet.
Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan: Do I really need to give an explanation?
Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa: Coming off of a loss last week at Arizona, Clayborn and his crazy dreads will be headhunting to avenge his team's stumble.
Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina: Not many running backs have been as good in the early goings of this season as freshman Marcus Lattimore. In the Gamecocks' big game against Auburn this week, Lattimore will have to continue to take lots of carries and gain consistent yards.
Cameron Newton, QB, Auburn: On the opposite side, Tigers quarterback Cam Newton has to throw the ball well against South Carolina, as USC's rush defense is tops in the SEC. The Auburn/South Carolina game should be a good one.