Coming into the final weeks of the college football season there are many issues that have not yet been resolved on the field.
This weekend features some games that will move the BCS rankings around a little bit. Conference titles and bowl games will be on the line. It will feature the first weekends of snow as the weather starts to turn for the worst in the northern conferences. While that will not apply to the southern states, conferences like the ACC and the SEC will have battles coming down to the wire.
Last weekend both pickers were able to select some picks that came out to be correct. Danny V correctly picked Notre Dame to defend at home, USC to win a tough road game in Tuscon, and the Crimson Tide beating a up and coming Mississippi State team. I was able to correctly predict South Carolina walking out of "The Swamp" victorious and Cam Newton and the Tigers beating the Bulldogs.
Emotions will be running high this weekend, and it should be another intense weekend of college football!
Boise State has some guys in the secondary that are willing to come up in the box and kick your butt. Safety Jeron Johnson has been putting together a nice senior season and is one of the reasons why this Broncos defense is so good. Johnson can make a big tackle as well as take back a pick to the house. If these dynamic players cause havoc than it could be a blowout.
Matchup to watch:
Boise State’s front four against Fresno State’s running back Robbie Rouse. BSU runs a 4-2-5 defense, but it is that front four that has been absolutely stifling up front. Ryan Winterswyk, Shea McCellin, Bill Winn, and Chase Baker are arguably the best front four in America. They rotate as many as eight-nine guys though, so they have the depth you would need in a BCS conference.
Why Fresno State can win:
Robbie Rouse has just scorching hot as he is now the 15th leading rusher in the nation with 104 YPG. He is coming off a 217 yard, 2 touchdown performance against Nevada so he is more than capable of putting a similar performance against a stout Bronco defense. Simply put, he is making alot of people quickly forget Ryan Mathews.
The Bulldogs defense has been the difference this season in comparison to last season because they are no longer brutal on D. Last year they were the 98th best total defense last year. So far, they are 45th in the nation giving up 349 YPG. Although, that is far from spectacular that has put less pressure on the offense to score on every possession. They will need to play the game of their lives to walk out with the win.
Why Boise State can win:
They may very well be on their way to a BCS Title if Oregon/Auburn lose a game since it seems they clearly will pass TCU if they continue to dominate a solid WAC conference in comparison to the MWC.
Kellen Moore has a bevy of playmakers to throw to, specifically wideouts Titus Young and Austin Pettis. However, guys like Tyler Shoemaker, tight ends Kyle Efaw, Gabe Linehan, and Tommy Gallarda (currently injured) have all been productive. Doug Martin has been a stud in the backfield is complement well by Jeremy Avery.
Their offensive line has kept Kellen Moore’s jersey clean the entire season. However, the key ingredient for this team’s success has been their dominant front four which is second in the nation with 35 sacks. If they can continue be overwhelming on getting pressure on the opposing QB, this game could get out of hand in the first half. Starting linebacker Bryan Hout is out for the season with a foot injury, luckily they are fairly deep in their 4-2-5 defense.
Danny V's Pick: BOISE STATE 52 FRESNO STATE 17
JFAV's Pick: BOISE STATE 41 FRESNO STATE 24
Michigan is not a very fast defense, however they are somewhat stout up front led by nose tackle Mike Martin. Therefore, the Badgers need to put on the afterburners led by freshmen phenom, James White. If White can burst into the secondary on a few runs early on in the game, John Clay (if he plays) and Montee Ball will eventually force this Wolverines defense into submission by the fourth quarter.
Matchup to watch:
Michigan's entire offensive line against Wisconsin defensive end JJ Watt. Watt has been a monster all season currently third in the Big Ten with 10 sacks. He was an All-American on national TV against the Buckeyes, can he do the same in an early kickoff at the Big House?
Why Wisconsin can win:
They have the best offensive line in the nation and they have been running the ball at will against the Big Ten. If they can run for more than their average (228), then they should have no problem winning this game. Quarterback Scott Tolzien must be on target hitting tight end Lance Kendricks, fullback Brady Ewing, and wideouts Nick Toon and David Gilreath. If Tolzien continues to be efficient, then the Badgers will start to smell roses.
This will yet again be a test that will tell if they go to Pasadena. Obviously, the 80+ performance against Indiana was shocking, but remember Michigan has scored near that mark this year against Illinois.
Why Michigan can win:
Denard Robinson and this Wolverines offense must avoid turning the ball over. They were lucky they went up against Purdue, because turning the ball over five times will put them on the cusp of getting embarrassed by this smart Badgers team. Denard has found star wideout Roy Roundtree over and over again this season.
Junior Hemingway has been a solid playmaker for Robinson, but the key reason why these Wolverines have a shot is because of the emergence of a running back. Vincent Smith has rushed for a total of 172 yards the past two weeks which has given Robinson a much needed rest since he cannot do it all against elite competition. If they ground game can be balanced between Robinson and the RB’s, then this game will come down to the wire. The end result may very well be if the Wolverines defense can continue to force some key turnovers. Purdue was only 2-17 on third downs, and if the Wolverine D can avoid getting exhausted, then the Wolverines may pull off the upset.
Danny V's Pick: MICHIGAN 35 WISCONSIN 34
JFAV's Pick: WISCONSIN 37 MICHIGAN 28
This game can/will determine who plays in the ACC Title whether it is FSU, Maryland, or N.C State. Both offenses are great at threading the needle down the field. UNC ranks 36th in passing offense, meanwhile the Pack are 15th in America. Therefore, my X factor will be the secondary of the Heels since Russell Wilson will be licking his chops a week after Tyrod Taylor torched lit that same secondary.
Matchup to Watch:
Heels safety Deunta Williams against the Wolfpack receivers Owen Spencer and Jarvis Williams. Searcy and Brown were two amazing players for the Heels going into the season, but with all the suspensions the Heels have relied on the All-ACC caliber safety to carry this team.UNC ranks 44th against the pass.
Why NC State can win:
Russell Wilson will be a Heisman candidate next season if the Pack can become a legit top 25 team. Right now, their defense has let them down and the lack of a running game (91nd in the nation) has been the difference of staying ranked every weekend. If Wilson can convert on a few thirds downs by his legs, then this Heels defense will be kept off balanced.
This would be a key win for the Wolfpack program, and would be huge in terms of asserting that they are truly the best in the state in football right now.
Why UNC can win:
This game is pretty funny to me because both are pretty talented on paper, but are very inconsistent due to some injuries/suspensions. NC State is 91st in rushing offense, meanwhile the Heels are 92nd in rushing offense.
It just tells you how vital it is to control the line of scrimmage throughout a twelve game season. I do not expect either team to run the ball that well or even commit to it, however I believe TJ Yates will out-duel Russell Wilson in what is a highly anticipated game for ACC fans.
Danny V's Pick: UNC 28 NCST 26
JFAV's Pick: N.C. STATE 21 UNC 10
FSU barely leads the nation in sacks with 39 of them, so defensive ends Markus White and Brandon Jenkins should play a major factor against the Terps. However, DJ Adams is a 5’10, 220 freshman back that reached paydirt three times against the Wahoos (Virginia) last week. If he can hang onto the football (no fumbles) then he a chance to play a major role in this ACC primetime game.
Matchup to Watch:
Terps wideout Torrey Smith against FSU corner Greg Reid/ Xavier Rhodes. The Noles are deep at corner, however they are thin and not nearly as talented at the safety spot.
Therefore the corner better be able to shut down the Terps passing game and not rely on the safeties since they have been torched before. This Noles secondary forced two picks from Kyle Parker, so if they can do the same to quarterback Danny O’Brien they should be just fine.
Why Maryland can win:
They have been owned by the Noles as of recent memory (combined score of 90-45 past 3 meetings, the Terps better grab a lead early on or else they will start to think of the past three years. FSU has clearly had more athletes on the fields in these past meetings, so it is imperative that the Terps hit the Noles in the mouth right out of the gates. FSU was gashed by Jamie Harper last weekend, so look for Maryland to use their two backs early and often in this one.
Why FSU can win:
They have a very good defense on the edges as they still lead the nation in sacks despite failing to get pressure on the opposing QB’s for the past three games essentially. However, they still have LB’s who are as fast as any unit in the nation, though they are not big dudes. Nigel Bradham is a future All-American or at least All-ACC LB and guys like Mister Alexander, Kendall Smith and freshmen Christian Jones and Jeff Luc have been great backups too.
This game may come down to whether or not Ponder (expected to start after missing last week against Clemson) can dissect the Terps secondary. Bert Reed was held catchless for the first time all season, and he is the Noles top wideoute as far as moving the chains. Look for the Noles to be able to run the ball better with their backs more, as well as EJ Manuel getting a few more looks.
Danny V's Pick: FLORIDA STATE 30 MARYLAND 20
JFAV's Pick: MARYLAND 27 FLORIDA STATE 21
Northwestern has a new starting quarterback with Dan Persa now out for the season after rupturing his achilles on the final play of the game in which he threw the game-winner against Iowa.
In comes a true freshman where Evan Watkins is just 3 for 7 for 44 yards on the season. He is a big kid at 6’6, 240 so it will be interesting to see if he can be nearly as productive as Persa has been.
Matchup to Watch:
NW linebacker Quentin Davie against Illini quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase. Davie runs very well for a linebacker as does the entire Cat’s linebacking unit, so if they can roam sideline to sideline against the potent rushing attack of the Illini then they should come out victorious despite the new QB.
Why Northwestern can win:
The Cats have been amazing as underdogs this season. However, this is a different scenario since they have a brand new signal caller without Persa. Look for a lot of quick smoke screens as well as slants over the middle of the field to Drake Dunsmore, Jeremy Ebert, and Demetrius Fields. If they can own the field position early on in the game, that may be enough to keep this team within a field goal or a late touchdown drive towards the end of the game.
It will be quite the atmosphere in Wrigley Field with a chance for Northwestern to garner national exposure under one of the best young coaches in the land in Pat Fitzgerald.
Why Illinois can win:
Once again Ron Zook has lost a game in which the entire world thought they would win. Still, I had this team losing eight games this year, and they are just one more win away from reaching their second bowl appearance in the Zook era. Some think that winning the Big Ten and going to Pasadena was a fluke in 2008. Illinois can make that all history if they can win this game at Wrigley Field in front of a rowdy College Gameday filled crowd.
A necessary rebound to losing to the Big Ten doormates Minnesota is a must. This game is a big one in terms of the rivarly and for bowl position as the season begins to come to an end.
Danny V's Pick: ILLINOIS 26 NORTHWESTERN 19
JFAV's Pick: NORTHWESTERN 30 ILLINOIS 17
Cal quarterback Brock Mansion was not asked much against Oregon since it was his first career start. However, he will be asked to do a little bit more since Stanford will load up the box and force Cal to throw the ball down the field.
Matchup to Watch:
Stanford cornerback Richard Sherman against Cal receiver Marvin Jones- This will be the key matchup to look at since Sherman, the former wideout has had a tremendous season so far.
If Jones cannot create separation for the Bears, they will come up short once again. They played so well against Oregon and came so close, however it will be that much tougher to do come away with a victory against a well coaches Stanford team.
Why Cal can win:
Cal has a very talented running back in Shane Vereen who ran well against the Ducks and if he can do the same against a very physical front 7 in the Cardinal, this game will be much closer than some experts think.
Cal has been close in alot of games and with the huge rivalry with the Cardinal at stake, this game could be a close battle.
Why Stanford can win:
Andrew Luck may very well be invited to New York because has been one of the top Heisman candidates so far. After Newton, Moore, and James, Luck is right there. He uses his full arsenal of backs, tight ends, and wide receivers. If he can continue to be the best pro prospect in America, this team will go all the way to Pasadena possibly.
Danny V's Pick: STANFORD 27 CAL 20
JFAV's Pick: STANFORD 49 CAL 24
Virginia Tech has arguably the best corner in college football as Jayron Hosley already has seven picks. The super soph has been flying all over the field this year and is a reason why the Hokies have now won eight in a row since losing to Boise State AND James Madison. Hosley will be looking for another pick Saturday as Stephen Morris will once again start over Jacory Harris.
Matchup of the Game:
Leonard Hankerson against Hosley!
If Hankerson comes up big, then he will make this game come down to the wire. However, if Morris and him cannot get on the same page then this smells like another close loss for this up and down Canes team.
Why Miami can win:
They still have very good wideouts and backs who can get the job done against stellar competition, it is just a matter of whether or not the offensive line can protect against the Hokies front seven.
I believe the Canes are not lacking good players, but clearly they do not have a 1st or even a 2nd team All-American like some thought. Brendan Harris at corner is still a stud, but has not made the impact that most (at least myself) thought he would make. Miami needs this game bad to salvage a disappointing year.
Why Virginia Tech can win:
They are arguably the hottest team in the nation outside the top ten right now. They can run the ball with Ryan Williams and Darren Evans, and they can now throw the ball with ease as Marcus Davis and Jarrett Boykin. Tyrod Taylor has been spectacular and their defense is as always flying all over the field making big plays.
You defintely have to think that the Hokies are the favorite at this point of the season to win the ACC, and move on to a BCS bowl, but this is a key test in a hostile enviroment for Frank Beamer and the Hokes.
Danny V's Pick: VIRGINIA TECH 27 MIAMI FLA 24
JFAV's Pick: VIRGINIA TECH 34 MIAMI FLA 30
Razorback running back Knile Davis has been simply amazing the past month, and if he continues this torrid pace, the Razorbacks will be virtually unstoppable on offense. They are arguably the most balanced team in America right now.
Matchup of the Game:
Arkansas left tackle DeMarcus Love against Bulldogs end Pernell McPhee. Arkansas better be able to protect Ryan Mallett if they want to win this tough road game.
Why Mississippi State can win:
The Bulldogs can run the ball extremely well against tough competition, and they better be able to because you know the Razorbacks will be putting up some points. They need to get more pressure on Mallett and dial up different blitz packages or else their secondary will get torched (79th in nation).
The Bulldogs have had a great year based on preseason expectations, but they need to finish up the year strong and defend their home field. This game should be a close one.
Why Arkansas can win:
Ryan Mallett and this team could play with any team in the SEC West and the nation for that matter right now. They have not missed a beat since the loss to Auburn. Even without star studded WR Greg Childs, they have the best receiving core in the SEC still.
Defensive end Jake Bequette has been able to get after the quarterback very well, and the linebackers have roamed sideline to sideline very well all season long. This defense was terrible last year, and they have been getting the job done in 2010. This game should come down to the wire, but Mallett and this high octane offense should have the advantage.
Danny V's Pick: ARKANSAS 30 MISSISSIPPI STATE 24
JFAV's Pick: ARKANSAS 24 MISSISSIPPI STATE 21
The Aggies offense has risen to the occasion the past few weeks now, though their underrated defense gave up 503 yards against the Baylor Bears offense.
Regardless, the Aggies have had running back Cyrus Gray go off for about a month right now. 137 yards and 4 touchdowns against Baylor was a pretty darn good performance.
Matchup of the Game:
Huskers corner Prince Amukmara against A&M receiver Jeff Fuller. Arguably the best receiving core in the Big 12 against the best secondary in America will be something to look forward too.
Why A&M can win:
Ryan Tannehill at quarterback has done a tremendous job since replacing Jerrod Johnson. He has a few great targets in Ryan Swope, Jeff Fuller, and Uzoma Nwachukwu have been as reiable as a trio of wideouts as I have seen in America.
If linebacker Michael Hodges can shore up the ground game of Nebraska or at least slow it down a tad, the Aggie fans will be rushing the field once again this season. It is one of the hardest stadiums for any road team to come into, and it will be no expection for the Cornhuskers, in what could be their last visit for quite a while.
Why Nebraska can win:
Taylor Martinez and the backs led by Rex Burkhead and Roy Helu have ran the ball well, but it has been the passing game that made the difference in their road wins this season. Martinez is finally healthy and has a few options to throw to in Mike McNeil and Niles Paul.
It helps that the Blackshirts are nearly back as they are 63rd against the run and 2nd against the pass in America. They have a few studs up front, specifically nose tackle Jared Crick who has been a load to handle. But, make no mistake about it, the secondary have as many as five or six future NFL players. The Cornhuskers can walk out of this game with a "W" if they shut down the passing game of the Aggies plain and simple.
Danny V's Pick: A&M 31 NEBRASKA 30
JFAV's Pick: NEBRASKA 45 A&M 34
If Pryor can play a consistent game than it should be the Buckeyes game to win. Last season he played a consistent but not great game against the Hawkeyes in primetime. If the Hawkeyes can cause Mr. Pryor to turn the ball over than it could be an interesting night in Iowa City.
Matchup of the Game:
Iowa corners against Ohio State wideouts DeVier Posey. The often-maligned Hawkeyes secondary has been picked apart in their losses. Arizona and recently against Northwestern, the corners have been beaten on a consistent basis. Micah Hyde, Greg Castillo, and Shaun Prater need to play their “A” game or else the Hawkeyes will be known as a four loss team.
Why Iowa can win:
Ricky Stanzi struggled against Northwestern, but he has still been a stud under pressure in his career. Sure, he did not get the job done against Arizona or Wisconsin, but he has meant so much this team after leading them to an Orange Bowl victory last year.
They may not be able to go to a BCS Bowl, but they can still play in a New Years Day Bowl if they manage to pull this slight upset off. Running back Adam Robinson has been a touchdown machine when healthy, and he must find paydirt a few times in this game.
Also, this is going to be players like Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, Ricky Stanzi, and Adrian Clayborn last game in Kinnick Stadium, and what a thrill it would be for DJK and Stanzi to beat their homestate Buckeyes once in their careers.
Why Ohio State can win:
T-Pryor needs this game to prove to everybody that he can win a game in a hostile environment in which the Buckeyes need to win in order to win a Big Ten title and reach a BCS Bowl whether it would be the Rose, Orange or perhaps even the Sugar Bowl.
The bottom line for this game of the week is that the Buckeyes have to be willing to open up the playbook against this big play prone Hawkeyes defense (they make great and bad plays). In order for success and victory, they need to roll out Pryor several times early on in the game so he can calm down before the crazed fans at Kinnick get to his head.
Look for the Hawkeyes to grab an early lead and the Buckeyes to come storming back in the 4th quarter. Iowa will load the box up and make Pryor beat them through the air. It may very well come down to the final possession of the game as so many of the Hawkeyes games have been determined in the final minutes of a game.
Danny V's Pick: OHIO STATE 24 IOWA 23
JFAV's Pick: IOWA 31 OHIO STATE 30