LSU vs. Auburn and The Top 10 Must-See College Football Games in Week 8
This weekend the big storyline in college football will once again be the prospect of having the No. 1 team in the country knocked off.
Over the past two weekends, both Alabama and Ohio State have gone down on the road, and their demise have left new candidates with the opportunity and task of trying to reach the title game.
Last weekend in our weekly picks, Danny V was able to predict that USC would be triumphant over California, and Mizzou would win against the Texas A&M Aggies.
I was able to correctly pick Iowa winning by 10 over the Michigan Wolverines, and picked the exact score and outcome of the Oklahoma State vs. Texas Tech game.
This weekend, a lot is on the line for many teams in conference play yet again. Being able to come away victorious is a must in this "win or go home" world of college football.
So be ready.
UCLA Bruins at Oregon Ducks
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UCLA linebacker Akeem Ayers must be able to shut down; or somehow limit this Ducks running game. They are arguably the most electrifying team in the nation. If Ayers is somehow, someway able to do this, then who knows...
Matchup to watch:
Oregon defensive end Kenny Rowe must be in the UCLA backfield, or else the Bruins will be on the verge of pulling off yet another upset.
Tackle Sean Sheller must protect Kevin Prince or else the Bruins offense will get nowhere. In that case it could be a blowout.
Why UCLA can win:
They have a solid defense led by two All-Americans: Akeem Ayers and Rahim Moore. They can put this team on their backs and avoid any sort of beatdown.
Oregon is third in the nation in rushing averaging 315 YPG; however, what is scary is that the Bruins are 92nd in the nation in rushing defense, giving up 182 YPG. If by some strange occurrence, the Ducks cannot run the ball in this, one then it could be interesting.
Why Oregon can win:
LaMichael James is one of the Heisman front runners in the Pac-10, and has been nothing short of amazing this season. He leads the nation averaging 169 YPG, ahead of Denard Robinson.
Derron Thomas’s apparent arm injury seems to be healed as he is ready for this Thursday Night's Primetime game.
Barner is expected to miss a few games, but with Thomas running the ball with success, they should be just fine.
This Ducks' defense is similar to last year's, very fast but they are not filled with horses. They do have Brandon Bair, who is a giant and will be a force for the Bruins to deal with.
Every game from here on out is going to be analyzed and watched very closely for the Ducks, and style points will be a factor in the way that they play.
JFAV's Pick: OREGON 42 UCLA 30
No. 7 Michigan State Spartans at Northwestern Wildcats
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Northwestern’s defense. This game could become one-sided in Michigan State's favor if Northwestern doesn't pop the Spartans in the mouth early.
Coming off a bye week, it can be expected that they show up and play the game of their lives to end the perfect season of the Spartans.
Matchup of the Game:
The Cats tight end Drake Dunsmore better be able to get open against MSU linebackers Greg Jones and Erik Gordon. Dunsmore against the LBs will be the key. If he can create separation, and have a big day; it could be a factor in a NU victory.
Why MSU can win:
The Spartans are as balanced as any team in the nation. Kirk Cousins has a trio of receivers in Mark Dell, BJ Cunningham, and Keshawn Martin.
They also have Edwin Baker and Leveon Bell who are both capable of taking it to the house on any given play. The key for the Spartans have been All-American linebackers Greg Jones and Erick Gordon. They fly to the ball better than any LB corps in America, arguably.
This is a Spartan team that is still trying to make believers out of people, and in what will be their first game outside the state of Michigan; they can do just that.
Why NU can win:
For one, they are coming off a bye week, so they are freshly rested for this game.
Secondly, quarterback Dan Persa has been one of the better signal callers in the nation this year. On defense they have an All-Big Ten linebacker in Quentin Davies, who can help shut down the Sparty run game.
If they can avoid getting gashed, and put them in obvious passing downs, their secondary will be able to hold up just enough. The Spartans have answered the bell every single week, can they continue to dominate the competition?
Danny V's Pick: NORTHWESTERN 28 MICHIGAN STATE 27
JFAV's Pick: NORTHWESTERN 31 MICHIGAN STATE 29
#17 Nebraska Cornhuskers at #14 Oklahoma State Cowboys
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Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez better have his wideouts catch the ball, or else the Cowboys will be pulling off another big win in Stillwater.
If Martinez can avoid turning the ball over, this offense is unstoppable. However, the bigger matchup in this game will be if Niles Paul and the Huskers receiving core can stretch the field and make the big catch because we all knows the Pokes will load up the box and force Nebraska to throw.
Matchup of the Game:
Nebraska wideout Niles Paul against Oklahoma State corner Andrew McGee will be huge in this one. The Husker better not rely on the running game to bail them out or else they will be losers once again this weekend.
Why Oklahoma State can win:
They are very balanced as I have stated every week. They have been one of the best teams in the BCS as far as run to play ratio.
Mike Gundy always has a potent offense, it is just whether the defense plays as a top 20 team every week. I still question this defense, though they will come to play this weekend.
This is a team that is on a roll right now, and is capable of continuing to use their talent to win games. Could this be the year they finally get over the hump and get T. Boone Pickens that Big 12 Title?
Why Nebraska can win:
Taylor Martinez hopefully has not hit the infamous freshman wall or else the Huskers will be in some trouble.
Luckily, Rex Burkhead and Roy Helu can carry this young pup to victory and the so called Blackshirts defense may very well come up big. Their front seven was exposed a bit, but their secondary is still arguably the best in the nation.
Redemption is the first thing on these players minds, and they are as good on most Saturdays as people had them hyped up to be. This is a key game to see if they can shake off the loss to the Horns.
Danny V's Pick : NEBRASKA 29 OKLAHOMA STATE 24
JFAV's Pick: OKLAHOMA STATE 27 NEBRASKA 17
Air Force Falcons at #5 TCU Horned Frogs
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Jared Tew is one of the best fullbacks in the nation for Air Force, so if he could control the clock along with Tim Jefferson and Asher Clark. They took it to the Boomer Sooners for the majority of the game.
Matchup of the Game:
Air Force linebacker Jon Davis needs to wrap up quarterback Andy Dalton and running back Ed Wesley, or else it will be a long night in Fort Worth.
Why Air Force can win:
TCU needs to get some style points by blowing out Air Force. One problem, Air Force is a solid team who can control the clock on arguably any team in the nation.
They can run it down their opponent’s throats and can gash anybody in America. They rank 14th in the nation against the pass which should help, however they have struggled stopping the run because they are a bit undersized.
You must respect the top teams in the Mountain West this year because TCU, Utah, and Air Force can play with the ACC’s, Big East’s and the Pac 10’s top three teams any day of the week.
It would be an amazing story if the Air Force boys were able to knock off the power that is TCU football right now.
Why TCU can win:
Those guys in Vegas say that TCU would be underdogs to many of the BCS favorites however, they could beat any team in the nation on a neutral field. Next to Oregon, they are the fastest team in the nation.
However, their offense not the defense will be the key for the Horned Frogs this season. They are only 64th in the nation passing the ball, they must improve upon that with such talented big play wideouts.
If they can consistently thread the needle with Andy Dalton, they will remain undefeated and could sneak into the title game.
Danny V's Pick: TCU 31 AIR FORCE 17
JFAV's Pick: TCU 42 AIR FORCE 28
Washington Huskies at #18 Arizona Wildcats
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Washington has been quite explosive on offense the past few weeks. Jake Locker is finding his wideouts down the field. Jermaine Kearse caught 4 TD passes from Locker last week; he now has 9 for the season.
He has been sensational and has drawn consistent double teams when he is running down the field. However, in single coverage he just abuses the competition. At 6’2, 205 he is quite lanky and is nearly unstoppable, since he is a big, physical receiver with great hands as well.
Matchup of the Game:
UW receiver Jermaine Kearse against Wildcat corners Robert Golden and Trevin Wade. AZ has two solid corners who are pretty damn good in coverage.
Though they got burned by Iowa’s receivers, 'Zona must be able to keep Kearse out of the end zone, or else the cardiac Cats will have to come back similar to the Iowa and Oregon State games.
Why Arizona can win:
They still have a solid run game and a great front four led by Ricky Elmore and Brooks Reed. They are 8th in the nation against the run and have not allowed many 100-yard runners.
Their linebackers just fly to the ball since their defensive linemen are often in the opposing backfield. They should be able to put pressure and force Locker into a few errant throws. I am not sold on this offense without Foles, so the defense and special teams must come through.
This is a team that is still among the best all-around in the conference, and it they have made Tuscon quite the difficult place to play.
Why Washington can win:
Nick Foles is out and the Arizona offense has been solid with him, but without him, they may be in a world of trouble.
Locker is literally locked and loaded for this game coming off an eye-popping 286 yard, 5 TD performance against a solid Oregon State team despite the loss of their All-Pac10 WR James Rodgers.
If the Huskies can keep their momentum going, they will not be stopped by this Cats team at home.
Danny V's Pick: WASHINGTON 31 ARIZONA 24
JFAV's Pick: ARIZONA 27 WASHINGTON 21
North Carolina Tar Heels at Miami Hurricanes
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The Miami offensive line may very well always be the X factor, but more so this week because UNC loves to put pressure on opposing QB’s.
Jacory Harris is prone to make mistakes multiple times a game this season. He can maneuver well in the backfield, but is known more as a pocket passer who is coming off a few injuries.
Matchup to watch:
UNC defensive tackle Quinton Coples against Miami guard Joel Figueroa. Coples dominated Virginia for 12 tackles and two sacks.
He is the monster on the Heels line now that Quinn and Austin have been officially suspended for the season just two weeks ago. The Canes need to develop a running game as well in order for Harris to be effective, so they better hold of Coples.
Why UNC can win:
TJ Yates has been great all year long, and he has a few wideouts to throw the ball to. Despite losing Zack Pianalto for the season, they still have guys who can threaten the Canes secondary.
If the Heels can win the battle of field position right away in this game, they will pull off the upset against a Canes team that has not seemed too enthusiastic to play football.
Also, Butch Davis who has always been known as a upstanding coach has been under fire, and his job is in jeopardy. What better way to calm things just a tad than to win at the place that he cleaned up, and restored to dominance.
Why Miami can win:
The Canes are back! ....NOT
They seemed to be, but then forgot that football is a game played with emotions, and that you have to put them aside after tough losses (see Ohio State, FSU). Jacory Harris needs to step up and become a leader.
Randy Shannon needs to start winning crucial ACC games or else he may very well be kicked out the door. The Canes at the very least need a second-place finish in the ACC Coastal. They still have All-American caliber talent in Brendan Harris, Allen Bailey, Sean Spence, and Ray Ray Armstrong.
So, the Hurricanes definitely have the talent on defense, but they cannot afford to be out-coached like they were against the Noles.
If they show up flat after essentially a bye week against Duke, then Randy Shannon should start to worry about his job as coach.
Danny V's Pick: MIAMI FLA 28 UNC 17
JFAV's Pick: MIAMI FLA 24 UNC 21
#8 Alabama Crimson Tide at Tennessee Volunteers
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Quarterback Matt Simms needs to have a stellar game if the Vols want to walk out with an upset that will push the program back in the right direction. If Jeremiah Masoli can torch the Tide’s secondary with a decent group of skill players, then the Vols can do the same.
Matchup of the Game:
Vols receiver Gerald Jones against Tide corner Dre Kirkpatrick will be the crucial matchup in this one.
The Vols better be able to pass the ball down the field or else they will get smoked by Bama’s defense. Tennessee will not be able to run the ball that well unless they can thread the needle and torch a very overrated secondary of Alabama.
If Tennessee does not have the time to throw the ball downfield then it will be quite a struggle yet again.
Why Alabama can win:
They are much better than the Vols on paper, so this one should get ugly quickly if they can run the ball. Richardson and Ingram have failed to run the ball for a total of 100 yards in back-to-back weeks now. That stat should come to a halt this week against a Vols run D that gives up 153 YPG.
Julio Jones is still playing with a broken hand catching only one ball for eight yards, luckily they have Marquis Maze and Darius Hanks who can are solid enough WRs who can help McElroy stretch the field. Also, the defense is still formidable up front ranking 5th in the SEC and 19th in the nation giving up just 107 YPG.
People seem discouraged with Alabama as if they are simply going to go away. Teams with this kind of talent simply do not fade away. They are still here.
Why Tennessee can win:
Alabama is the most overrated team in the nation right now. Ohio State lost, so they are no longer relevant as being a BCS Title at the moment. Alabama still has a shot at the BCS Title according to Kirk Herbsreit, and a few of the experts out there.
The Vols are ready to put that statement to bed after putting a major upset in the works. The Tide’s offense has just been brutal the past few weeks. Their offensive line has been awful. McElroy is a dead duck sitting in the pocket and without Jones healthy, they do not have a true threat to stretch the secondary.
The Vols will bottle up the run and make McElroy beat them, which is something he cannot do alone. I really think Justin Wilcox (Vols Defensive Coordinator) will dial up the blitz and throw in the kitchen sink. This Vols D at night will always be damn good (Save Oregon) and against a one dimensional offense, the Tide will be forced out of their comfort zone in Knoxville.
The crowd will be put in a frenzy and if the Vols can give running back Tauren Poole some room to run, they will indeed pull off the upset of the weekend. (Cue Rocky Top)
Danny V's Pick: TENNESSEE 24 ALABAMA 23
JFAV's Pick: ALABAMA 37 TENNESSEE 21
#1 Oklahoma Sooners at #11 Missouri Tigers
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Mizzou defensive end Aldon Smith is finally back from injury, and if he can make even a small impact, Missouri can pull off the gigantic upset.
Matchup of the Game:
OU receiver Ryan Broyles against Mizzou corner Carl Gettis. Solis matchup here, but Broyles will screen you to death and if you give him a five yard cushion he will blow by you for a big gain.
Why Mizzou can win:
Their defense as a whole has been spectacular. LB Zavier Gooden is a stud and is the leading tackler on a very underrated front seven Mizzou team.
They have a very good secondary so they can load up the box and put their corners on an island because they have so much confidence in them.
Something unexplainable makes an upset in this game seem possible. Perhaps it is the fact that this Oklahoma team, while being extremely talented and well coached, have flaws, and someone should be able to defeat them this season. Why not the Tigers?
Why Oklahoma can win:
Landry Jones will start to get some Heisman love that is if running back DeMarco Murray does not steal the attention from him. The all-time rushing touchdowns leader is now on fire for the Boomer Sooners as he has been unstoppable.
OU is known for their superstars with Murray and Broyles, but guys like Kenny Stills and TE Trent Ratterree are guys to look out for this weekend. Lastly, do not look past this Sooners defense. They are a top five caliber defense and are just loaded in the front 7.
Quite frankly, they have the best front 7 in all of the land led by All-Americans Frank Alexander, Jeremy Beal, Ronnell Lewis, and Travis Lewis.
A win would make them the true best in the land, and would put a clear and defined bulls-eye on their foreheads.
Danny V's Pick: OKLAHOMA 31 MIZZOU 23
JFAV's Pick: MIZZOU 27 OKLAHOMA 24
#13 Wisconsin Badgers at #15 Iowa Hawkeyes
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Tight end Lance Kendricks is the main guy for the Badgers in the passing game, and if he can own the Hawkeyes linebackers then it will be a tough game for Iowa. Iowa will have their hands full as it will be no easy task against the best tight end in the Big Ten, and possible the nation.
Matchup of the Game:
Wisconsin tackle Gabe Carimi against Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn easily. The Hawkeyes possess the best front four in all the land, and the Badgers have best offensive line in the nation.
This is easily the best matchup of the day as NFL Scouts will be drooling to see if Clayborn is deserving of being a top ten pick, and if Carimi has nimble enough feet to take on speed rushers in the NFL.
Clayborn is a monster, and runs like a lion chasing a gazelle coming off the edge. This matchup is as good as it gets.
Why Wisconsin can win:
White and Clay are the best backfield in America right now. They gashed the Buckeyes for nearly 200 yards as James White and John Clay ran all over the No. 1 team in the nation.
If the Badgers win the battle at the line of scrimmage against the Hawkeyes they will have no problem winning the game. They live and die at running the ball, so it is vital for the Badgers to have success on first down running the football.
They may have to open up the passing on first down to set the running game up if the Hawkeyes overload the box. Sentimentally, Bret Bielema is an Iowa graduate, and wants to win a game in Kinnick in the worst way. Look for the Badgers to pull out all the stops in this one.
Why Iowa can win:
Wisconsin is a good football team, and they showed all of us on national television.
However, Iowa is coming off a big win at Ann Arbor in which they knocked out Denard Robinson. If they knock out Scott Tolzien it may make the difference in this ballgame.
The bottom line however is that the Hawkeyes are as battled as any team in the nation. Stanzi can hit DJK and McNutt over the top of deep routes or simple slants all game long. They have proven over and over that they can do that against stellar competition.
They need to get the running game going with Adam Robinson or else Badgers defensive end JJ Watt will have back to back Player of the Week Awards.
The Hawkeyes will start to smell roses if they can pull this one out since they control their own destiny by hosting the Badgers and Spartans in back to back weeks, then hosting the Buckeyes on Nov. 20.
The Big Ten champion very well could be the winner of this football game.
Danny V's Pick: IOWA 28 WISCONSIN 20
JFAV's Pick: IOWA 30 WISCONSIN 24
#6 LSU Tigers at #4 Auburn Tigers
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LSU running back Steven Ridley will be the key in this one because LSU has to be able to run the ball down Auburn's throats in order to come out alive in this one. Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley will be waiting at the line of scrimmage.
Matchup of the Game:
LSU defensive tackle Drake Nevis against quarterback Cam Newton. Lights, Cammy, Action. Cam Newton is a monster this year. He has taken Auburn on his back and driven them to the national spotlight. If he can do it one more week, Auburn will officially be in the BCS National Championship talk in my book.
Why Auburn can win:
Cam Newton…enough said. However, they have a bevy of playmakers who can put some points on the board as their SEC record-setting performance of most points (65) scored in regulation was quite impressive.
The rush defense has been sensational ranking 15th in the nation. If they can keep Jordan Jefferson and Steven Ridley from escaping pressure, then they can nearly shutdown this LSU offense.
From many accounts Auburn's homefield advantage is becoming one of the nation's best, and War Eagle can make that run at the crystal ball with big time wins like this one.
Why LSU can win:
Jordan Jefferson is great when he avoids turning the ball over. It sounds like a broken record, but it is so true. They have a great WR in Terrence Toliver, and Reuben Randle and Russell Shepard are highly touted players as well. One thing will always stay the same: LSU is loaded with talent at wide receiver and defensive line.
Defensive tackle Drake Nevis is a star, and linebacker Kelvin Sheppard puts on the hit stick on some player every game. Going full head of steam against Cam Newton makes this the number one game of the week.
"The Mad Hatter" Les Miles will surely not be afraid to lay it on the table on the road in this one, and with the national and conference implications in the balance, it could come down to some huge decisions.
Danny V's Pick: LSU 24 AUBURN 23
JFAV's Pick: AUBURN 27 LSU 17