Ryan's College Football Predictions: Part 8
Week Seven of the college football season is by far the best to this point, with plenty of premium, prime time-caliber matchups that will shake up the outlook for many a conference. Any fan of the college game will have a ball on this day.
Here's what's on the slate for Week Seven.
No. 11 LSU Tigers @ No. 4 Florida Gators
A tremendous SEC battle kicks off my slate of games to watch for this week, with the defending national champions heading into the Swamp to battle historic Heisman winner Tim Tebow and the Gators.
The Tigers, who lost to Tennessee earlier this year, come in as the underdogs and will have to battle a rowdy Gainesville crowd to boot. The defense will be the catalyst and have a tall task with Tebow on their hands.
The Gators, meanwhile, look to keep up with fellow unbeaten SEC foe Georgia. Tebow, who is just as dangerous as he was last season, will be looking to continue his chase of Archie Griffin to become the second player to win two Heisman trophies.
This should be a tight game as usual, featuring defenses that furiously fly all over the field. For the Tigers, the key will be the running game. The Gators are quick on defense and will no doubt try to shake things up for quarterback Jarrett Lee/Andrew Hatch, so the LSU offensive line, one of the best in America, will have to be on its toes.
The Gators, meanwhile, will try to keep the Tiger defense on its heels. Tebow should be his normal Superman self, becoming the bruiser in goal line situations and combining with Percy Harvin to make Tiger fans weep.
Defensively, the key for the Tigers will be to limit Tebow. Keep him contained and limit him to throwing the ball, which is bad enough as it is. Make the Gators one-dimensional, and the Tigers have a really good shot to win.
For the Gators, they need to shut down the running game and force whoever the quarterback is to beat them. This is easier said than done considering LSU's talent along the line and at running back, but if Florida can get in the face of LSU's quarterback, the Tigers will be very limited offensively.
Look for Florida to use its great team speed to wreak havoc in the backfield and make for a long day for Lee/Hatch. This will be a tight game, but the Gators will stay step-for-step with unbeaten Georgia in the SEC.
Florida 20, LSU 10
Tennessee Volunteers @ No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs
The Vols head into another tough game in their brutal SEC schedule, going between the hedges to play the top-ranked Bulldogs. They will be looking to vault into the top 15 in the rankings with a huge win today.
Offensively for the Volunteers, this is going to have to be a smashmouth game from start to finish. Pound the ball behind one of the best lines in the SEC—it's that simple for the visiting Vols.
Gerogia, however, will be looking to keep an offensive balance. Matthew Stafford will need to keep a talented Tennessee defense honest so that running back Knowshon Moreno can continue his assault on the SEC.
Defensively, it's simple for both teams: Shut down the run and create turnovers, though for the Volunteers, you can add "pressure Stafford" to the list. If one of these two teams starts turning the ball over, it's lights out for that team.
The Vols won't go down without a fight, but look for the vaunted Bulldogs to pull away late. Stafford, Moreno, & Co. will be too much to handle, and the Vols just don't have the offensive firepower to get into a gun fight.
Georgia 24, Tennessee 13
No. 10 Texas Longhorns vs. No. 2 Oklahoma Sooners (neutral site)
The annual Red River Shootout is one of the bigger rivalry games in college football and should be a good game, though it will be tough to match last year's exciting 28-21 victory by Oklahoma.
The Sooners will enter as favorites. and for good reason. They have an exciting offensive attack led by sophomore Sam Bradford. A big, strong, and talented line will give him plenty of time to pick his spots and find his receivers.
Defensively, the secondary appears to be strong despite heavy losses, but the front seven is ripe with playmakers, including the new Tommie Harris—Gerald McCoy.
For the Longhorns, Colt McCoy will lead the offense and will be hoping the running back by committee approach works out. The defense is where it all gets sketchy. This looks to be a heavy blitzing team, which will leave the secondary on its own. If OU can pick up the blitzes, Sam Bradford will have a field day.
The Longhorns appear outmatched from top to bottom in this one. Unless the running game blows up and the defense can get to Bradford on a consistent basis, the Sooners will win their second straight Shootout.
Oklahoma 31, Texas 17
Arizona State Sun Devils @ No. 3 USC Trojans
One of the premier Pac-10 matchups takes place today with the high-octane Sun Devils visiting the Coliseum to battle the defensive stalwarts from USC. This is, more than anything, a battle for the Pac-10, as these two are clearly No. 1 and No. 2 as far as rankings in the Pac-10 go.
The Sun Devils will need to air the ball out. USC's Rey Maualuga is going to eliminate the run game, so ASU will need to attack the secondary. Rudy Carpenter will need to strike quickly and strike often. Holding on to the ball will result in a very long day.
USC brings a potent rushing attack into this one. They will want to grind this one out and limit what Mark Sanchez has to do. Defensively, they'll be flying all over the place. Led by a dominating linebacking corps, they will no doubt make things difficult for Carpenter all day.
Look for USC's defense to control this game. With the talented front seven controlling the ASU rushing attack, look for some extra blitzing to keep Carpenter from getting into a groove and mounting an attack. All that's left is for Sanchez to manage the game and limit the turnovers.
USC 31, ASU 13
Penn State Nittany Lions @ Wisconsin Badgers
This will be a good 'ol hard-nosed, punch-you-in-the-face kind of game. Both teams feature good, experienced offensive lines and good rushing attacks. Both also feature solid defensive teams that are never an easy task to face.
The key for these teams is identical. Both suffer from average, inexperienced quarterbacks, and shutting down the other's running game is the single most important factor. Wisconsin's rushing game is a bit stronger thanks to Heisman dark horse P.J. Hill, who is as difficult as anyone to contain.
Wisconsin is tough to beat anywhere, let alone at home, and will no doubt make life hard for the Nittany Lions, especially at quarterback. Daryl Clark and the new offense are reminding some of Michael Robinson and the 11-1 PSU team from 2005.
The Badgers, however, have other ideas and will limit Clark and the Lions, allowing their defense and running game to control the game.
Wisconsin 21, Penn State 17
Here's an updated look at the rankings through Week Seven.
#1 Georgia (6-0)
#2 Oklahoma (6-0)
#3 USC (5-0)
#4 Florida (6-0)
#5 Clemson (6-0)
#6 Missouri (5-0)
#7 Ohio State (6-1)
#8 Auburn (7-0)
#9 Texas Tech (6-0)
#10 West Virginia (5-1)
#11 BYU (6-0)
#12 Kansas (6-0)
#13 Virginia Tech (6-0)
#14 Wisconsin (5-1)
#15 Texas (5-1)
See you around for Part Nine.
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