The upsets have begun.
South Florida fans can always look ahead to next season, as their national title and Big East title hopes took a hard hit last night at home against Pittsburgh. If Tuesday night’s thriller between Florida Atlantic and Middle Tennessee is any indication, this week’s going to be something to see. But can the upsets continue?
Here are the picks for this week.
No. 23 Oregon at No. 9 USC
The Ducks have the unenviable task of traveling to Southern California just a week after the Trojans were blindsided by Oregon State. Watching USC quarterback Mark Sanchez walk off the field in Corvallis, I realized one thing. He is a real competitor, who took that loss on the chin. I look for Sanchez to have a big night against Oregon.
USC’s defense was embarrassed on numerous occasions by the Beavers’ freshman running back Jacquizz Rodgers. Rodgers rushed for 186 yards and two touchdowns on 37 carries. He almost single-handedly beat the Trojans.
USC’s defense faces two talented running backs again this week in LaGarrett Blount and Jeremiah Johnson. The Trojan defense will need to shut down these two backs, which have combined for over 900 yards and 14 touchdowns.
If Oregon can successfully run the ball against USC’s defense, then they have a shot at pulling off the upset. I just don’t see Mark Sanchez and the celebrated Trojan offense being shut down two weeks straight.
USC in a shootout, 41-37.
No. 13 Auburn at No. 19 Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt has been bullied around in the SEC for years. They haven’t started the season 5-0 since 1943, and this season they have a legitimate chance to get to Atlanta.
The Commodores are facing an Auburn team whose offense struggled against Tennessee, scoring only seven points, and had a difficult time moving the ball across the 50-yard line in the second half.
This may be good news to a Vanderbilt defense that has played very well so far. Their secondary has intercepted 10 passes this season. By juggling between Kodi Burns and Chris Todd, the Tigers may be playing right into Vanderbilt’s hands.
Vandy’s offense hasn’t been spectacular by any means, but quarterback Chris Nickson manages the game well. By limiting mistakes, Vanderbilt has overpowered teams down the stretch, and taken advantage of turnovers.
Auburn’s defense held tough against Tennessee in the second half, and spent most of the half with their backs to their own end zone. Vanderbilt is better, offensively, than Tennessee. If Auburn can’t put together sustained drives against the Commodores, their stay in the Top 25 will be short, and I don’t see how they can improve that much in just a week.
Vanderbilt beats Auburn for the first time in 13 tries, 22-17.
No. 14 Ohio State at No. 18 Wisconsin
Imagine how big this game would be if Ohio State hadn’t been blown out by USC, and Wisconsin hadn’t slipped up against Michigan last week.
It’s hard to get excited about this game since neither team is the favorite to win the Big Ten this season, but consider this: the Buckeyes have a knack for surviving until they are the only team standing at the end of the season. This game may well be for the Big Ten Championship as the Badgers host Penn State next week. Whoever wins this game still has a chance.
Wisconsin is a running team. If they want to win, they need to control the line of scrimmage. They have loads of talent and experience up front on the offensive line, and halfback PJ Hill is on pace for his third straight 1,000-yard season. As is becoming the theme this season, quarterback play will be the key to a Badger win.
Ohio State is starting Terrell Pryor against Wisconsin, which means that the Badgers will need to get after him behind the line of scrimmage with constant pressure.
If Pryor is allowed the time to make plays with either his feet or his arm—he’s thrown five touchdowns or rushed for three—it might be a long night for Wisconsin.
In Pryor’s official coming out party, the Buckeyes roll 31-20.
The Rest of the Best…
No. 1 Oklahoma at Baylor
The Sooners don’t slip up before their meeting with Texas, and dominate Baylor, 45-7.
Kentucky at No. 2 Alabama
I called this one “The Blood Bowl” and I’m not changing my tune now. The Tide will flunk an untested Kentucky defense, 49-21.
No. 12 Florida at Arkansas
The Razorbacks have been blown out each of the last two weeks. Florida makes it three in a row, 55-3. Look for a big game from Tim Tebow.
No. 24 Connecticut at North Carolina
This may be the biggest game of the week. North Carolina is on the rise. So is Connecticut. Get ready for a double overtime thriller, with the Tarheels pulling it out, 39-38.
Last Week: 3-1