College Football: Lindsey's 10 Most Important Games: Can Nebraska Beat Texas?
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Prior to the start of the season, Nebraska and Auburn were not on many short lists of teams that could be playing in the BCS National Championship game.
Six weeks into the season, both teams are undefeated and have legitimate shots of getting to the final BCS game of the season. The fan bases of both teams are looking for their favorite squad to put an impressive win on the board before the first BCS poll comes out this weekend.
The spotlight is on Nebraska and Auburn to determine whether they are worthy of playing in the BCS Championship game.
Last week, I crashed and burned, going 5-5 on the week. On the year we are still a healthy 42-13 so no need to hit the panic button. However, no need to get too cocky either.
Kudos to my readers, as 28 percent of my readers from last week picked the Alabama upset and 16% picked the Arizona upset.
Illinois vs No. 11 Michigan State
Michigan State may have the best running attack in the Big Ten. The Spartans have two running backs in Edwin Baker and Le’Veon Bell who are averaging more than seven yards a carry, have rushed for a combined 1,229 yards and have accounted for 14 touchdowns.
Spartans cornerback and senior Chris Rucker will miss the game due to suspension related to a DWI arrest. The Illini are coming off a big 20 point win against Penn State in which they rushed the ball 54 times on their way to gobbling up 282 yards on the ground. The Illini defense is very good as they are ranked 20th in the nation
Prediction – No shot at Rucker intended but this could be a hangover game for the Spartans, Illini’s defense is good as they are ranked 20th in the nation after having faced Missouri and Ohio State. The Illini upset Michigan State, 24-21.
No. 19 Missouri vs Texas A & M
Missouri destroyed Colorado 26-0 this past weekend and the question many are asking in the Big 12 is whether the Tigers could spoil the BCS Championship dreams of Oklahoma and Nebraska. Quarterback Blaine Gabbert suffered a high hip pointer against the Buffaloes which caused him to miss the fourth quarter but he is expected to play against the Aggies. This is Missouri’s first road game of the season.
The Aggies are wondering what might have been after blowing a 14-point lead against Oklahoma State two weeks ago and then this past week throwing an interception in the end zone that could have sent their game against Arkansas into overtime.
Prediction – Texas A & M 23-20 over Missouri as the third time is a charm for the Aggies.
Texas vs No. 4 Nebraska
What could go wrong for Big Red? The Cornhuskers have their highest ranking in almost nine years. Their freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez is getting Heisman trophy attention after his latest breakout game in which he had 369 yards of total offense in Nebraska’s 48-13 drubbing of Kansas State.
The cherry on top is that the fan base will be rabid this week given that the hated team who stole their BCS bid last year is in town. Of course, what could go wrong is that Texas is licking its wounds after two consecutive losses and had time with a bye week to figure out what was going wrong.
Prediction – My heart says Nebraska but I have a nagging negative thought in the back of my head that this game could be a trap, let’s follow the heart as Nebraska gets some measure of revenge 31-20.
No. 12 Arkansas vs No. 7 Auburn
Arkansas had had no trouble moving the ball with their high powered quarterback, Ryan Mallett, but they have had problems put points on the board. One problem for the Razorbacks is remembering the snap count; the Hogs have been called for 18 times for false starts in their five games.
Auburn has done a nice job scoring points with its dual threat quarterback Cam Newton but unfortunately once they get a lead they have trouble putting the game away winning three of their six games by just three points. This game will likely be a shoot-out.
Prediction – The Cardiac kids of Auburn somehow figure out how to win another close as they beat Arkansas 34-31.
No. 14 Iowa vs No. 24 Michigan
This could be a cross roads game for Michigan. While it is unlikely they will implode like they did last year and end up with a losing record, a loss to Iowa and suddenly a five loss season with remaining games against Wisconsin, Ohio State and Illinois on the road is not out of the question. The problem for Denard Robinson and the Wolverines is that Iowa’s defensive might not just be the best in the Big Ten but might be the best in the nation.
Prediction – Iowa uses its experience to stay disciplined and keep Robinson in check, Iowa 31-20 over the Wolverines.
No. 18 Oklahoma State vs Texas Tech
Texas Tech has had problems stopping opposing teams from passing as evidenced by Baylor passing for 427 yards last week. This week Texas Tech Coach Tommy Tuberville suspended Defensive End Scott Smith for the rest of the season for unspecified reasons.
Ordinarily, Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden would be licking his chops but his favorite targets all appear to be banged up. Head Coach Mike Gundy on his radio show indicated that Michael Harrison is out for at least 10 days, Hubert Anyiam is unlikely because of an ankle sprain and he is unsure as to Josh Cooper.
Prediction - Texas Tech has been fooled with a fake punt the last three consecutive weeks, they won’t be fooled by the Cowboys this week but they will lose the war as Oklahoma State wins 31-24.
No. 10 South Carolina vs Kentucky
Can South Carolina handle prosperity? Steve Spurrier has been through the highs and the lows of being a top ten team but this new territory for his team and everyone will be wondering if they will suffer a letdown after posting its huge victory over No. 1 Alabama. Also fortunate for South Carolina, Spurrier has never lost to Kentucky.
Kentucky had its moments against Auburn last week but couldn’t close the deal; Coach Phillips in his first year has done well but the Wildcats improvement will likely not show in the wins and loss column at the end of the season.
Prediction – South Carolina’s Quarterback Stephen Garcia has figured it out as Gamecocks beat the Wildcats 31-20.
No. 1 Ohio State vs No.16 Wisconsin
Wisconsin manhandled Minnesota last week, this week the challenge will be much more difficult as the top ranked Buckeyes come to town. Wisconsin running back John Clay looked a step slow but James White has provided an extra burst of speed coming out of the Badger backfield.
Ohio State’s Terrelle Pryor had a great game at Camp Randall as a freshman leading two fourth quarter drives for touchdowns to break Wisconsin’s then-16-game winning streak.
Prediction – Ohio State is playing at a high level and would like to give the BCS computers something to think about with another solid win over a ranked opponent; Ohio State 34-17 over Wisconsin.
No. 23 Air Force vs San Diego State
Air Force is first in the nation in pounding the rock with a rushing averaging of 353 yards a game. The Falcons are heavily dependent on their running game as the last time that they threw for 200 yards was in 2007.
As good as Air Force is in running the ball, they are just as bad in stopping the run. Last week Colorado State, who came into the game averaging only 57 yards a game, rushed for 285 yards without their starting tailback.
Prediction – Aztecs 28-20 over Air Force. San Diego freshman running back Ronnie Hillman, who is leading the Mountain West averaging 118 yards a game, should have a big day.
No. 24 Oregon State vs Washington
This game will likely be the turning point in the season for both teams. Oregon State lost their top receiver, James Rodgers to a knee injury and when you lose a player that gives you 175 all-purpose yards a game you are bound to notice to the loss. A loss to the Huskies and Beavers could be headed on a downward spiral and out of the bowl picture.
Washington is the same boat as they come into the game with a losing record. If Washington quarterback Jake Locher can’t rally the troops he might get a head start on preparing for the NFL Combine in December.
Prediction – The Beavers may need more than one week to figure out how to compensate for the loss of Rodgers, Washington 28-24.
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