Oregon vs. USC and The Top 10 Must-See College Football Games in Week 9
Yet again the top team in the country fell by the way side as the Missouri Tigers knocked off the Oklahoma Sooners last Saturday.
This weekend looks to have some formidable matchups that will have both conference and national implications. As the list of unbeatens shrinks every week, the contenders and pretenders are showing their true faces.
Utah, TCU and of course the Boise State Broncos continue to roll the competition in hopes of perhaps playing for that crystal ball at season's end. To do that they will need the top teams in the automatic qualifying conferences to get knocked off soon.
Last weekend we picked out the top ten matchups to watch, and many of them lived up to the hype. Danny V saw Nebraska holding on against the Cowboys of Oklahoma State. I correctly saw Auburn holding on at home and predicted Mizzou knocking off the Sooners.
This should be a interesting weekend of football, fans!
#16 Florida State Seminoles at North Carolina State Wolfpack
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Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder may be hiding it, but he has been banged up since the pounding they took by the Boomer Sooners. In fact, his arm has been bothering him so much that he did not take all the first team reps last week. Backup EJ Manuel could take part in this game if Ponder takes one big hit. Manuel was the starting QB in a pressure packed Gator Bowl in which legendary coach Bobby Bowden coached in his last game ever.
Matchup to watch:
Seminole corner Greg Reid against Wolfpack receiver Owen Spencer. Spencer is a tall, lanky wideout listed at 6’3, and if Reid is covering him most of the game, this could be a mismatch in the redzone since G5 is only listed at 5’9. However, nobody is quicker and more elusive in the secondary—arguably in the entire nation—than Greg Reid.
Why NC State can win:
The Wolfpack have seemingly had the Noles' number in the last few years. Ever since Phillip Rivers was under center for the Wolfpack, FSU has struggled against this Wolfpack.
For whatever reason it is, the Noles defense has been consistently gashed by this NCST offense. Rivers, TA McClendon, Toney Baker, the list goes on and on. Russell Wilson will be licking his chops if his o-line can hold up against the best pass rushing team in the nation, sacks wise (30).
This would be a good win for coach Tom O'Brien and the Wolfpack if they are able to come away victorious.
Why Florida State can win:
The Noles can prove on national TV that they are in the running for an ACC title. Or can they lose yet another close game on primetime, and prove all the naysayers right when they talk about elite BCS programs and FSU’s name does not come. FSU seems to be back with Jimbo Fisher at the helm.
The key always and forever for this Noles team is their defensive front. DE is arguably the most important position in college football and FSU has a pair of bookends in Brandon Jenkins and Markus White that have been simply sensational. If they can take the crowd out of the game, then look for the Noles' to walk away winners.
Danny V's Pick: FLORIDA STATE 31 N.C.STATE 24
JFAV's Pick: N.C. STATE 27 FLORIDA STATE 25
#8 Utah Utes at Air Force Falcons
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Shake it baby, shake it!
Utes receiver Shaky Smithson is coming off a 5 catch 72 yards and a touchdown performance in the Utes 59-6 victory over the Colorado State Rams in Mountain West play.
He is a matchup nightmare in the slot, because he has so much wiggle to him that he is nearly impossible to cover in single coverage, especially against the third and fourth best corners in the Mountain West. If he can pop it open for a big game then Utah will continue to roll in another win.
Matchup to watch:
Utes running backs Eddie Wide & Matt Asiata against Air Force’s front 7. If The Utes' big, bruising backs cannot get shut down; or at least slowed down, then this Utes team will just wreck the smaller, undersized Falcons defense. These backs from Salt Lake City will run by you and through you.
Why Air Force can win:
Their rushing attack is dangerously good, and they are led by a trio of studs who get the job done better than any trio in America. Fullback Jared Tew, tailgate Asher Clark, quarterback Tim Jefferson and the rest of the ground game are averaging a ridiculous 326.5 YPG.
Utah is allowing only 87 YPG against the run, which ranks sixth in the nation. Something has to give, I think the Falcons will still come close to 300 yards rushing despite the Utes having the Jimmy’s and the Joe’s to stop that ground game. NOTE: Tew is out for six weeks with a broken leg, so this could impact the ground just a little bit for the Falcons.
Why Utah should win:
The receiving core of the Utes has been vastly underrated all season long, and it is about time that somebody shouted: Simply put these Utes can play with any team in the country from a BCS conference!
Now, I am not sure they could outscore those teams on a neutral field, but I do know for a fact that they could give these teams everything they can handle. They have proven it for several years that they can play with the big boys, and if they do not look past this solid Air Force team, then maybe they can get another crack at the behemoths of the college football world.
This is an opportunity for the country to see Utah, and the Utes no doubt want to get in the BCS conversation with Boise State and TCU—a win will help the cause.
Danny V's Pick: UTAH 31 AIR FORCE 21
JFAV's Pick UTAH 27 AIR FORCE 16
Michigan Wolverines at Penn State Nittany Lions
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Michigan running backs Michael Shaw and Vincent Smith better provide some support for Denard Robinson or else the Wolverines will be coming out sad in Happy Valley.
With Denard Robinson coming back from injury, these runners need to perhaps pick up some of the slack and make life easier for 'Shoelace'.
Matchup to Watch:
Michigan QB Denard Robinson against Penn State LB’s Michael Mauti (ankle) and Bani Gbadyu (calf), starters as OLB’s are finally back as is backup LB Gerald Hodges. Hodges hurt himself during the road opener against the formerly top ranked Crimson Tide of Alabama.
Why Penn State can win:
True Frosh QB Robert Bolden is expected to start, but regardless of who the QB, it will be a white-out in Happy Valley, and you know the Nittany Lions defense will show up in this game. They got gashed against the Illini, and I do not expect the same against this tremendous running game led by Denard Robinson.
JoePa wants to right this ship this season, and this could be exactly what the doctor ordered.
Why Michigan can win:
Robinson has done a suburb job at finding his wideouts down the field this season and Penn State will be loading up the box, so if you are Michigan, you must be able to thread the needle downfield. The wideouts for Michigan step up: Junior Hemingway, Roy Roundtree, and Darryl Stonum must be able to stretch the field in this game.
Rich Rod needs this road victory badly with the loses before last weekend's bye week. He needs to get a head of steam going before going to Columbus, and this is the first stop.
Danny V's Pick: MICHIGAN 24 PENN STATE 22
JFAV's Pick: PENN STATE 20 MICHIGAN 17
#1 Auburn Tigers at Ole Miss Rebels
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Which running back can help Cam, Lights, and Action!?
Michael Dyer as a Frosh, Senior Mario Fannin, and super Soph Onterrio McCalebb make up a four headed monster backfield. While Newton gets all the carries, these three backs need to step up against the Rebels or else the streak of three straight top ranked teams in the BCS will continue.
Matchup to Watch:
Ole Miss defensive tackle Jerelle Powe against Auburn center Ryan Pugh. If Powe can dominate up front for the Rebels, then this game will be closer than anybody anticipates. I have carefully watched this Rebels team and they are very talented, so do not be shocked if they actually win this game outright.
Why Ole Miss can win:
They have given the likes of Arkansas and Alabama solid games, losing by 14 points or less in each. And both of those games were on the road might I add! That is impressive in my opinion, and now that they are getting home cooking, this game should come down to the wire.
Ole Miss is trying to build on the recent record of top seeds getting knocked off, and the pressure on Newton will continue to grow. Ole Miss needs to get to Newton early and often.
Why Auburn can win:
They have Cameron Newton! This kid is 6’5 260, and he can run over you or by you, because he is so freaking fast. He just glides into the second and third levels of the defense. He always seems to have single coverage over the top, because opposing defenses have seven, eight and even nine man fronts so when Auburn spreads the defense out with four set wideouts, it is like shooting fish in a barrel for Newton and company.
This game however, will come down to a Wes Byrum kick, and sooner or later, the Tigers' dream of an undefeated season will become a nightmare in a few weeks when they run into the Georgia Bulldogs.
But, anything can happen, and "The Grove" could be rocking after this one.
Danny V's Pick: AUBURN 24 OLE MISS 23
JFAV's Pick: AUBURN 34 OLE MISS 28
#12 Stanford Cardinal at Washington Huskies
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Huskies running back Chris Polk could be the difference in this game since he was stifled for 65 yards on only 14 carries against Arizona last week. If he cannot run for over 100 yards in this game, it will be over before it begins.
Matchup to Watch:
Stanford corner Richard Sherman against Washington receiver Jermaine Kearse. This is a huge matchup, because Kearse was held to only 4 catches against Arizona last weekend, and if that stat were to continue, then this will be an ugly game.
Jake Locker is losing the faith of some. He needs another big time win, and none would be bigger at this point than beating Andrew Luck and the Cardinal at home.
Why Washington can win:
Their defense cannot be this bad for consecutive weeks can it? Also, Locker and this offense needs to step it up sooner than later. They have a case of the drops and cannot get any form of running game going, but they still have one hell of a receiving core. If they can avoid turning the ball over, this Huskies team can play spoiler and pull off the upset.
Why Stanford can win:
Andrew Luck is arguably your number one pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, and there is so much to be excited about this kid, however, this is one of the most physical teams in the nation, right now. We know about two-way player Owen Mareicic, but Stepfan Taylor has carried this team offensively as far as running the ball down the oppositions’ throats.
If the Cardinal can continue to grind out drives and keep the Huskies offense on the sidelines, then game, set, and match will go to the boys from Palo Alto.
Danny V's Pick: STANFORD 34 WASHINGTON 28
JFAV's Pick: STANFORD 31 WASHINGTON 29
#25 Baylor Bears at Texas Longhorns
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Jay Finley must be able to run the ball effectively for the Bears to have any shot of pulling off the upset in Austin. If he can get it going, then we could be talking about Iowa State and Baylor grabbing back-to-back victories at Texas (who would have guessed).
Matchup to Watch:
Robert Griffin III will be eyeing on his wideouts going down the field against this tremendous secondary of the Longhorns. Chykie Brown, Curtis Brown, and Aaron Williams will be matched up against the Bears wideouts led by Kendall Wright, Josh Gordon, and Terrence Williams. This Bears offense has been sensational this season, only if the defense could consistently stop teams.
Why Baylor can win:
The Bears are bowl eligible for the first time since 1994 in which they went to the Alamo Bowl. Baylor is just 17-99 in the history of Big 12 play against the Longhorns, and the last time Texas lost to the Bears was in 1997.
This is their best opportunity, because with Robert Griffin leading the way and with a talented group of playmakers on offense, they can give Texas all they can handle. They can prove that they are the best college football team in the state, maybe better than the Cowboys (haha).
Why Texas can win:
Baylor’s defense still stinks, ranking 60th against the run and 84th against the pass. As bad as the Texas offense has been this season, the Longhorns on paper are still a bit better. They have a talented group of WRs that only rank 58th in the nation for passing offense, but this Baylor pass D gave up over 400 yards on a neutral site to an average Texas Tech team.
The Horns and Mack Brown cannot lose this game. It could have massive implications for the Horns going forward as far as recruiting some players from their home state.
Danny V's Pick: TEXAS 28 BAYLOR 24
JFAV's Pick: TEXAS 35 BAYLOR 27
Florida Gators Vs. Georgia Bulldogs
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Washuan Ealey is coming off a 5 touchdown and 157 yard performance against Kentucky last weekend. If he can run the ball against the 41st ranked rushing defense in the nation, then the Gators' chances of winning will be slim to none.
Matchup of the Game:
Georgia receivers against Gators corner Janoris Jenkins. This matchup will get the NFL scouts to just drool all game long because this is a matchup that many will see on future Sundays. Greene must be able to stretch the field for QB Aaron Murray.
There will be a couple instances in the game where these two will be downfield, and someone will be forced to make a game-changing play.
Why Georgia can win:
AJ Greene is a bad man, and nobody can stop this man right now. Ealey is producing like a stud right now and this Bulldogs defense is solid despite giving up over 400 yards to Kentucky last weekend.
The key is the running game for both teams. UGA can shut down the run and the Gators offense can only run the ball right now. If those Dawgs can bottle up the run, they will have no problem limiting this Gators offense to big plays.
Coach Richt is trying to right the ship, and a loss would be devastating to an already rough situation. A win could bring more good vibes going his way in Athens.
Why Florida can win:
Jeff Demps (foot) is practicing and this Gators offense is reeling right now without him. If he can run for over 100 yards, this Gators offense will not need to rely on John Brantley and the passing game as much. Plus, the Gators defense, though no longer top 5 caliber, is still very good.
They have a great secondary but lack the big uglies up front that they are accustomed to having. This game is on a so-called neutral field; which gives this Gators team a great chance of at least keeping it close.
Danny V's Pick: GEORGIA 21 FLORIDA 20
JFAV's Pick: FLORIDA 17 GEORGIA 7
#5 Michigan State Spartans at #18 Iowa Hawkeyes
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Quarterback Kirk Cousins becomes the X-factor in this game, because Iowa will be stifling against the run. Cousins must be able to hit the deep ball, because he will be facing seven and eight man fronts from this Hawkeye defense.
Cousins came extremely close to beating the team he grew up rooting for last season, and this is his chance to get a staple win in his career.
Matchup of the Game:
Greg Jones against Iowa tailback Adam Robinson will be something to look out for. Both of these teams are two of the most balanced teams in the nation, but since Iowa already has two losses, it is safe to say that they better be able to run the ball: They have not won any of their games when they have not been able to do anything on the ground.
Why Michigan State can win:
They have not lost a game yet, so why should we pick against them continuously?
They have Edwin Baker and Le’Veon Bell running the rock, and they have outstanding receivers this season in Mark Dell & BJ Cunningham who can stretch the field. This team is trying to do something special, and a win in Iowa City, which would avenge the tough loss last season, would be quite something.
Why Iowa can win:
They have a pair of wideouts in Marvin McNutt and DJK (Derrell Johnson-Koulianos) who are as good as any receiving duo in the nation. Ricky Stanzi has been getting the job done this season.
However, this defense is just filthy good. The front four is amazing, and although the secondary has been exposed, they will be just fine with Clayborn getting pressure on Cousins all game long. If Michigan State is a legit BCS Title contender, then they need to win this game. This one will shape the Big Ten, and will be big time matchup. .
Danny V's Pick: IOWA 31 MICHIGAN STATE 17
JFAV's Pick: IOWA 37 MICHIGAN STATE 27
#6 Missouri Tigers at #14 Nebraska Cornhuskers
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Mizzou quarterback Blaine Gabbert needs to have the game of his life, because this defense will get tested on the road against the best secondary in the nation in Nebraska. They have a few guys who can shut you down, so Gabbert better be on his A-game.
Matchup of the Game:
Huskers corner Prince Amukmara against Mizzou wideout Jerrell Jackson. Mizzou has a great tight end in Michael Egnew, and they have a few other wideouts in Wes Kmep and TJ Moe who can all stretch the field. Meanwhile, the Huskers have a few guys in the secondary: Hagg, Dennard, and Thenarse can limit these playmakers.
Why Missouri can win:
They are a legit top ten, however I am not sold on them being a legit BCS Title contender. Their defense has made everybody shut up because of how stifling they have been.
Defensive end Aldon Smith is back from injury, and he made a huge pick against Landry Jones in the redzone last weekend that turned that game around. If Mizzou continues to make plays on defense, they will win in Lincoln.
Why Nebraska can win:
Taylor Martinez and the backs led by Rex Burkhead and Roy Helu have run the ball well, but it has been the passing game that made the difference in their road win at Stillwater. Niles Paul and Mike McNeil are both stud wideouts that have helped out the redshirt freshmen Taylor Martinez.
If they can beat the tremendous secondary of the Tigers, then the Huskers have a good shot of pulling off the slight upset.
Danny V's Pick: NEBRASKA 28 MIZZOU 24
JFAV's Pick: MIZZOU 24 NEBRASKA 14
#2 Oregon Ducks at Southern Cal Trojans
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Quarterback Matt Barkley is the so called X-factor, because he can make or break this Trojans team. If he has a spectacular game in the spotlight, then this Trojans team will thrive as the home dogs.
Matchup of the Game:
USC wide receiver Robert Woods against Oregon corner Talmadge Jackson and Cliff Harris will be the critical matchup in this game, because QB Matt Barkley has been threading the needle with the best of them. USC will pull off the upset if they can avoid the big turnover.
Why Oregon can win:
LaMichael James is one of your frontrunners for the Heisman simply because he is the most electrifying man in sports entertainment right now outside of Cam Newton.
The defense has avoided getting gashed against the run, and their secondary is continuing to force the big turnover. If they can keep Derron Thomas healthy in this game, they should pull this one out in a tough atmosphere at the Coliseum.
Why USC can win:
They still have the talent, they just lack the depth. They have a pool of youth in talent, and they have the playmakers on offense to stun and expose this Ducks defense. The bottom line is that the Trojans need to win the turnover battle, because they do not have the Jimmy and the Joe’s to just line up and play smash mouth football.
They cannot expect to roll these Ducks, because the boys from Eugene are the fastest team in the nation. USC is playing in what is the biggest game of the season for them, and a victory would be a great way to start the Lane Kiffin era.
Danny V's Pick: USC 38 OREGON 35
JFAV's Pick: OREGON 45 USC 34