The pretenders fell last this past weekend as separation and clarity was shown for what we can expect to see come bowl season in January.
There were plenty of games that had national title implications at stake, and the outcomes shook things up in the BCS rankings quite a bit.
This weekend features many intriguing games that may not have the overall impact nationally, but will be key in conference rankings to determine who goes to the better bowl. Last weekend, in our weekly picks, Danny V's beat me for the first time in three weeks. Quite handily in fact, going 9-1 in the picks including picking LSU, Texas Tech, Texas A&M and Stanford. I will be looking to regain my crown this weekend with the selections.
The main storyline to watch out for this weekend will be to see if the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the land remain atop the rankings. They both have what could very easily be considered trap games lined up against Cal and Georgia respectively, but look for these games to be interesting regardless.
There is still plenty to be decided college football fans so hold on tight, it's about to get bumpy.
The Noles must establish the ground game early on, but their defense was shredded by T.J Yates for 439 yards. Forget the pressure because the Noles still lead the nation in sacks. Their corners have been getting torched and the safety production has been terrible. I am calling out Greg Reid, Xavier Rhodes, Nick Moody and Terrence Parks.
Matchup to watch
Clemson defensive end Da’Quan Bowers against Florida State left tackle Andrew Datko. The Noles may have to double up on Bowers because he has been the best linemen in the nation thus far into the season. If FSU cannot run the ball, this game could turn out to be bad once again for the boys from Tally.
Why Clemson can win
It is a national TV game in primetime on ABC which could spell trouble for the Tigers, however Kyle Parker and Clemson has owned the Noles the past few seasons. Running back Andre Ellington is out, but they still have Jamie Harper.
The receiving core may be the worst in the ACC, but against arguably the worst pass defense in the ACC the Tigers will find open targets down the field. If Parker avoids the turnovers and can escape pressure then this game will come down to the wire, book it!
Dabo and the Tigers are trying to make some noise in the ACC, and a win this week should continue to turn some heads.
Why Florida State can win
This game is critical since the Noles are in a three-way tie for the ACC Atlantic Division. FSU needs a tad of help, but they have the easiest schedule in comparison to the Terps and Pack. The receiving core had a major case of the "dropsies" last week, and they must catch the ball in traffic or else this Noles offense will be a world of trouble.
They have a top offensive line in the nation, so you would think they would attempt to run the ball more. Look for the Noles to show up on national TV a week in which they choked at Doak. Christian Ponder needs to live up to his hype, and lead the Seminoles to the ACC crown in a weak conference.
Danny V's Pick: FLORIDA STATE 34 CLEMSON 24
JFAV's Pick: FLORIDA STATE 24 CLEMSON 14
The Nittany Lions defense is back in business as they shut down Dan Persa of Northwestern in the passing game. The linebackers can cover any receivers, which makes it that much easier to put pressure on the opposition.
As far an X-factor, why not make it their starting quarterback since they need to avoid what Scott Tolzien did two years ago in a game in which the Badgers dominated the Buckeyes. Oh yeah, did I mention Matt McGloin threw for four touchdowns, and that he better have the game of his life this weekend against a stout Buckeye defense?
Matchup of the Game
PSU wideout Derek Moye against Buckeyes corner Chimdi Chekwa will be a matchup to look forward to watching. If Brutus wants to stay in the national title conversation, they must be able to blanket the receiving core of Penn State.
Why PSU can win
Evan Royster has finally been able to run the ball down oppenents’ throats. He has ran just under 300 yards the past two games. If he can bust a few runs and at least keep the Buckeyes defense honest up front, then this game will be tight for 60 minutes.
Penn State, plain and simple, needs to play their best football game of the year in the hostile enviroment that is the "Horseshoe." Turnovers will be a key factor and they must play better than they did in the game they played in the difficult enviroment of Kinnick Stadium earlier in the year.
Why OSU can win
T-Pryor was very sharp against Minnesota completing 18 for 22 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns. Though it was against Minnesota, the Buckeyes are coming off a bye week in which they rested up.
Rest was crucial for All-American linebacker Ross Homan who was nursing a sprained ankle. Guys like Cameron Heyward, Brian Rolle, Jermale Hines and Dexter Larimore are beasts against the run and will just tee off on Evan Royster. Assuming the Buckeyes offense can manage at least three touchdowns on offense, they will win this game comfortably.
If they are looking ahead to Iowa City the following weekend then they may have trouble, but Jim Tressel is a master coach in November, and ran the same gauntlet of teams last season with success.
Danny V's Pick: OHIO STATE 30 PENN STATE 17
JFAV's Pick: OHIO STATE 27 PENN STATE 21
Running back Adam Robinson missed last week against the Indiana Hoosiers, and though they did not miss him in the running game, they certainly missed him in the passing game and as an emotional leader. He is coming off a concussion, so whether he or Marcus Coker plays, they will impact whether or not the Hawkeyes win this game.
Matchup of the Game
Iowa’s secondary against Northwestern’s wide receivers. Specifically Tyler Sash against Drake Dunsmore. Sash is all over the field and is one of the best safeties in the nation; however, Dunsmore has become one of the elite stars in the Big Ten. His one-handed grab against Penn State was arguably the catch of the day in college football last Saturday.
Why NU can win
This defense got shredded by an average Penn State offense. However, there is some good news for the Cats; they are going up against an often-injured Hawkeye team. Offensively, Dan Persa is possibly one of the smartest quarterbacks in the entire nation and has the ability to pull off Seneca Wallace-type of moves back in the pocket under pressure.
If he can get just enough time from his offensive line, then the Cats can pull this slight upset off in Evanston. Northwestern took down the Hawkeyes last season when they were undefeated and ranked No. 4 in the country. Look for this to be a close and intense ball game.
Why Iowa can win
Stanzi is the manzi! Ricky Stanzi has played exceptionally well in crutch time (save Wisconsin game) and he has one of the best receiving cores in the nation. Marvin McNutt and Derrell Johnson-Koulianos alongside Colin Sandeman and Keenan Davis. They have arguably the best front four in the nation, and they can harass any team that they please to.
The offense was brutal in the redzone last week mainly because Robinson has a nose for the endzone and without him they struggled in short yardage situations. Despite being on the road, they are the far superior team in this matchup.
If the Hawkeyes stay close, expect them to win this one. Northwestern does not know how to close games out, and no lead is too big for the Cats.
Danny V's Pick: IOWA 30 NORTHWESTERN 21
JFAV's Pick: IOWA 40 NORTHWESTERN 28
First off, this game is actually relatively important because the Utah Utes need to bounce back before they head off in the sunset in the Pac 10. Some have the Utes listed as slight favorites in this game since it is on South Bend.
One problem: The Irish have been terrible this year. No Randolph, Allen or Crist in this game. Luckily they still have Michael Floyd, who is also hobbling with some sort of injury. However, I am going to go to the Utes as the X-factor because if Jordan Wynn cannot mentally bounce back then they won’t this game.
Matchup of the Game
Irish cornerback Darrin Walls against Utes wide receiver DaVonte Christopher. Christopher had six catches for 73 yards, but Wynn struggled mightily as he threw two picks, took a sack and forced many ill-advised passes. Wynn better able to carve up this Irish secondary or else Brian Kelly and the Irish will have no chance in heck of making a bowl game (Yes, they still mathematically have a shot).
Why Utah can win
The Utes have a solid group of wideouts and if they can expose this Irish secondary, then they will have no issues putting enough points on the board. Matt Asiata and Eddie Wide were both non factors against the best defense in America.
If they can find some running room against this average Irish run defense, then it will open things up in the middle of the field when one of the safeties are forced to attempt to bottle up the run. Utah will get a chance to show the whole nation that they are not as bad as they looked against a dominant TCU team and can show that they are a team that should go to a reputable bowl game.
Why Notre Dame can win
They have been just bashed for weeks now with the losses on and off the field. Notre Dame has done a terrible job in basically every category in the year of 2010. Brian Kelly has to rally the troops and use the us versus the world mentality in this game. There is much on the line here: pride, respect, bowl game and the future of the program.
They are expected to start Cierre Wood at RB, and he may be the guy that can carry the load for the remaining three games left in the regular season. Tommy Rees at quarterback will play outstanding. If the Horned Frogs can throw with ease, the Irish will be able to as well.
Danny V's Pick: NOTRE DAME 28 UTAH 27
JFAV's Pick: UTAH 35 NOTRE DAME 34
Tyrod Taylor at quarterback for the Hokies has been nothing short of spectacular, and he must be able to succeed on crucial third downs and long against the Heels fast defense.
Matchup of the Game
V Tech left tackle Blake DeChristopher against UNC defensive end Donte Paige-Moss. The Heels front abused the Noles tremendous offensive line during stretches of last weekend’s game. The Hokies do not have that great of an offense, but they have outstanding position players.
Why UNC can win
The Tar Heels are at home and despite being a slight dog, they will show up led by QB T.J Yates. Yates has been remarkable as he absolutely torched the Noles secondary. They have very good wide receivers; however, they are officially scrambling for tailbacks as they were forced to use walk-on Ryan Taylor. Though the Heels got away without a running game, they won’t be able to against a stingy Hokies secondary that has been ball hawking all season long.
Butch Davis is doing a fine job weathering the storm that has engulfed his program this season, and a victory over the favorite to win the conference would show that his players will not give up for their coach.
Why Tech can win
Ryan Williams, Darren Evans and David Wilson form arguably the best trio of backs in the entire nation. They have been unstoppable and despite the run defense struggling, this Hokies team has found a way to rattle off eight wins in a row! They are the hottest team in the nation right now and there is no stopping them.
Coach Beamer and his Hokies are trying to roll these victories right into the conference title and a BCS appearance. No one would have believed it after the first couple of weeks of the season, but they are a team on a mission right now.
Danny V's Pick: VIRGINIA TECH 31 NORTH CAROLINA 24
JFAV Pick: VIRGINIA TECH 34 NORTH CAROLINA 24
Kevin Riley is out for the season at quarterback for the Golden Bears, so his backup better be ready. Brock Mansion is a 6’5", 232 pound junior that better play his A-game or else this game will get ugly very fast.
Matchup to watch
Running back Shane Vereen is the only hope that the Cal Bears have. Going up against a very quick front seven will be a tough task.
Why Cal can win
If Washington can run for over 100 yards, so can an average Cal team. Vereen is one of the best backs in the Pac10 and they have a solid OL that should up some holes. They have a decent defense led by defensive end Cameron Jordan, who is among the top players at his position in the nation.
This would be an amazing upset for the Cal program and send shock waves throughout college football.
Why Oregon can win
Time to get on my soap box. I feel that this Ducks team is the fastest in the nation (barely over TCU), but I am still not sold on their defense up front. They are very quick like I said, but outside of Matthews at linebacker and Bair at defensive end, I am not sold they can shut down or even slow down a team like TCU, Auburn or Boise State.
However, they are clearly the best offensive team in the nation since LaMichael James is just ridiculous. Jeff Maehl has stepped up in the clutch and has made Derron Thomas look like the man all year. Oregon needs to refrain from turning the ball over and play their game against Cal, and they should reach 50+ points again.
Danny V's Pick: OREGON 38 CAL 20
JFAV's Pick: OREGON 62 CAL 27
The defensive line for the Wildcats needs to show that they can stop the Trojans early. They have had their share of difficulties and need to assert themselves as game-changers.
Matchup of the Game
Nick Foles and Juron Criner against the USC secondary. The Trojans will try to bait Foles into a few throws he is not accustomed to making. If Arizona gives Foles some time to throw downfield, this game will be a shootout that should give the ‘Cats the slight edge.
Why USC can win
Matt Barkley gives the Trojans a top-level quarterback that can keep them in any game and win some of them. They are thin at some positions on offense, but they are still dynamically talented; however, they can still threaten a solid top 25 team in Arizona. If this game was not in Tuscon, it would be hard pressed not to take the mighty Trojans.
Why Arizona can win
They will get the ground game early and often led by Keola Antolin who is a little bulldozer. Criner should rip off a big catch here and there, so Stoops should be able to avoid having a near heart attack in this game.
Arizona needs another statement game in this point in the season. They were able to knock off Iowa early in the year, but they need a commanding Pac 10 victory, and this would be just what the doctor ordered.
Danny V's Pick: ARIZONA 31 USC 26
JFAV's Pick: ARIZONA 21 USC 19
Which Greg McElroy is going to show up?
The one that never lost a game since high school coming into this season? Or the one that has now lost two games this year? He has been making some bad decisions and partially they are not his fault, but he needs to throw the ball away and learn to live another down.
Matchup of the Game
Bama left tackle James Carpenter against Bulldogs defensive end Pernell McPhee. This Bulldogs team will not get gashed by Ingram and Richardson. Julio Jones and Marquize Maze, alongside tight ends Preston Dial and Michael Williams, better be able to stretch the field.
Why Bama can win
Their defense as a whole has struggled, specifically at getting after the opposing quarterback. They currently rank 105th in the nation at getting after the QB. If they cannot put some pressure of this Bulldogs spread option offense, then it will be a long night in T-town.
The Tide need to gain momentum quick in order to be ready for the "Iron Bowl" or else they are gonna have to face the wrath of Sir Cameron Newton.
Why Miss St can win
Running back Vick Ballard and quarterback Chris Reif have been sensational at moving the chains this year. I will admit that they have shocked the college football world this year as they are ranked and only have two losses right now.
Their defense has been sensational as they have dominated at both lines of scrimmage. If they can dominate the Tide, then the Bulldogs will be on their way to their first New Years Bowl in nearly a decade.
Danny V's Pick: ALABAMA 24 MISS ST 13
JFAV's Pick: MISS ST 31 ALABAMA 24
The Cocks just got blasted by the boys from Arkansas, and although there was nothing to play for, you still have to be concerned right now for this team. Marcus Lattimore has hit the injury bug and could not come at a worse time.
The Gamecocks need to find a way to run the ball and although Stephen Garcia should be your X-factor since he has struggled mightily in the Swamp as a sophomore, the running game is what will decide this ball game.
Matchup of the Game
Marcus Lattimore against the Gators linebacking core. Lattimore specifically going toe to toe with Jelani Jenkins will be a treat to watch. Jenkins is just a redshirt frosh. If the true frosh Lattimore can run over some crocs this weekend, then Spurrier will finally get that much needed “it” victory.
Another great matchup to look for is between another Jenkins (Janoris) and Alshon Jeffrey, the best wideout in the SEC.
Why Florida can win
This Gators team have found the closest thing to Tebow and Percy as QB/RB/TE Jordan Reed has been sensational. He should be your real X-factor. The Gators defense has all of a sudden been tremendous up front, which has allowed their safeties to play up near the line of scrimmage since their corners can be stranded on islands and still makes plays.
That is the key to success in the land of the SEC: putting pressure on QB’s, running the ball down opponents throats and making no dumb mistakes! Florida has a check mark next to all three in the past few weeks. Plus, coming off a bye week, I give the Gators a big edge being at home as well.
The Gators are getting the breaks and could back themselves into a conference crown to many people's surprise.
Why SC can win
They have the best RB-WR combo in the SEC arguably, but what in the blue hell has happened to this defense? Well, they lost their top player on defense in Chris Culliver a few weeks ago, and in the first game without him they got torched by Mallett.
They need to put pressure on Brantley if they want to have any chance of keeping this game within reach. Look for them to mix up the pass on first down and to run the ball more on second downs. If they become predictable like they were against Pig Suey, then they have no shot in hell against this revamped and rejuvenated defense of the Gators.
Danny V's Pick: FLORIDA 24 SOUTH CAROLINA 17
JFAV's Pick: SOUTH CAROLINA 37 FLORIDA 24
Auburn is 110th out of 120 teams against the pass. Zac Etheridge is All-SEC caliber but nobody else is quite frankly. They thrive on the pressure that the front four gets, but when the opposing OL has time to throw darts the secondary of Auburn turns into swiss cheese. Also, do not forget about UGA’s special teams plays.
They have the best kicker-punter duo in America led by Blair Walsh and Drew Butler. Though UGA must score on the majority of possessions they have, a big field goal kick and a huge cough in punt inside the five may be just enough to keep Cam, Lights, Action’s offense below their usual 500 yards of offense.
Matchup of the Game
Defensive tackle Auburn Nick Fairley against UGA center Ben Jones. UGA better run the ball or else they will get put to sleep. Auburn has lived off putting pressure on opposing QB’s in the SEC: knocking Mallett out, beating up Jefferson, as well as toying with the Bulldog’s offense.
Why Auburn can win
It is funny how Clemson, Miss St, Arkansas and LSU were all winning or within seven points of defeating the so-called “best” team in America earlier in the season. Yet, people still think Auburn is by far the team to beat this year. Cam Newton has deserved everything he has received this season since he has been a one-man wrecking crew.
But the issue for SEC defenses is that War Eagle has three, four backs that carry the load. Onterio McCalebb, Mario Fannin and Michael Dyer can all tote the rock for 10 times a game while running for over 100 yards a piece if need be. Talk about a four-headed, unstoppable monster with Newton in the backfield. No wonder no team on God’s green Earth has been able to slow down this rushing attack.
This game will be more difficult than some may care to admit, but in the end you gotta think the Tigers continue to flex their muscles.
Why Georgia can win
Both teams are coming off essential byes (UGA routed Idaho St 55-7 and Aubie won 62-24). How does Auburn give up 24 points to a non FBS school? I can tell you why! They rank 110 in pass defense, 52nd in total defense, and 55th in scoring defense.
Is that BCS Title worthy? I think not! Georgia is only coming at 5-5 yet they still have top 25 clear, cut talent to me. AJ Greene is the greatest WR in America right now (Justin Blackmon isn’t bad) and there is no stopping him. Throw in a talented backfield led by Washaun Ealey, Carlton Thomas and Caleb King and you may wonder how this team has five losses.
They have had major health issues among suspensions which some may argue were not necessary. Despite being on the road, I believe Mark Richt can prove why he is still a top 20 coach in America and why Gene Chizik may never be known as a “big game winner.” Oh, I cannot wait to see if the Auburn Tigers can handle a hungry Dawgs team.
Danny V's Pick: GEORGIA 34 AUBURN 33
JFAV's Pick: AUBURN 42 GEORGIA 34