Friday, November 29, 2013

Best Games for 11/30

Noon Game
No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes @ Michigan Wolverines (12:00 on ABC)
On the surface, this definitely looks like a homer pick for a noon game. But when you look a little closer, you'll realize it is a total homer pick. It's Ohio State versus Michigan, the greatest rivalry in any sport. Ohio State is looking to cap off its second straight undefeated season and push their streak to 24 games with aspirations of slipping into the National Title conversation. Michigan has really been struggling mightily recently, posting fewer than 200 total yards in three of their last four contests. Still, this rivalry has a history of one team spoiling the other's hopes and dreams. Anything can happen in a game like this, and it honestly wouldn't surprise me if Michigan came out swinging given that they really have nothing to lose at this point. Ohio State just seems to be playing on a totally different plane at this juncture though and Urban has his boys focused on the game in front of them. Despite this game being played in Ann Arbor, I expect Ohio State to handle Michigan fairly easily and take this 38-16.

Afternoon Game
No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide @ No. 4 Auburn Tigers (3:30 on CBS)
Rivalry Saturday in college football has to bee the best Saturday of the year. Alabama has won the last two games of the series by a combined score of 91-14, but this year could be a lot different given how much better Auburn has become under Gus Malzahn this year. And to be totally honest, Alabama is absolutely vulnerable this year. Auburn may not be the team to capitalize on it, but I believe they can definitely expose them. To win this game, I think Auburn is going to play a shootout like they did against Georgia. Alabama still has a very terrific rush defense, but their secondary is a weakness and Auburn has probably the best running back they've seen all year in Tre Mason. Nick Marshall has also had a very solid season at the helm, and Alabama has had difficulties in the past dealing with dual threat quarterbacks. Yet Auburn doesn't have that great of a defense, giving up an average of 34 points to ranked opponents this year. I'd love to see Alabama's chances at a three peat shattered, but I think ultimately they are the better team and win this 34-27.

Evening Game
No. 6 Clemson Tigers @ No. 10 South Carolina Gamecocks (7:00 on ESPN2)
Clemson is looking to break their four game losing streak against their in state rivals. However, this game has more at stake for South Carolina than it does for Clemson who is all but guaranteed a spot in the Orange Bowl since FSU will probably be playing the the championship game. South Carolina is holding out hope that Johnny Football can lead the Aggies to victory over Mizzou, which would give South Carolina the SEC East due to them owning the tie breaker over Mizzou. This will be an interesting game as each team is almost the polar opposite of the other in terms of strengths and weaknesses. South Carolina's defense is technically ranked lower than Clemson's, but they have faced higher competition and the difference between the two is marginal (CL: 20.2 Points Allowed Per; SC: 20.3). Both have solid offenses, but Clemson has the better quarterback and the best receiver on the field with Sammy Waktins. South Carolina meanwhile can be enigmatic and frustrating, although I think they will find more success against Clemson. Yet I think that Clemson will be able to make enough big plays to slip past the Gamecocks and takes this one 27-21.

Night Game
No. 22 UCLA Bruins @ No. 23 USC Trojans (8:00 on ABC)
Too bad USC can't fire Kiffin every year. Since his firing, Ed Orgeron has led USC to a 5-1 record including a home victory over then fourth ranked Stanford. USC has only been giving up 17 points per game while averaging 31.5. UCLA on the other hand has been giving up a lot of points to a lot of sub par teams and has difficulty beating ranked opponents all season long, save a miracle comeback against Nebraska. Offensively, the Bruins have the better quarterback in Brett Hundley, but he hasn't taken that next step forward after such a promising year last year. He looks to be stuck in limbo. Meanwhile, USC QB Cody Kessler has made some significant strides since the beginning of the season and is getting the ball to his two fantastic playmakers, Nelson Agholor and Marqise Lee. This game will probably be decided by who runs the ball more efficiently which will be a lot of fun to watch as each team sports some very good running backs. UCLA has discovered linebacker turned running back Miles Jack can be a powerful, elusive back while USC has two equally good running backs in Tre Madden (5.1 YPC) and Javorius Allen (6.5 YPC). I think that this one can go right down to the wire with the Trojans reclaiming their spot as the rulers of LA, 31-28.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Where does Florida Go From Here?

If any Gators fans are reading this, please step away from the ledge. You have so much to live for. I promise it will get better. I mean really, how can it honestly get any worse? Florida lost this weekend to Georgia Southern and has dropped their seventh game of the season, ensuring the first losing season for Florida since 1979. Georgia Southern is currently an FCS team that is about to move into the Sun Belt, and they were the first FCS team to ever win in the Swamp. As if that wasn't bad enough, Georgia Southern completed a whopping ZERO passes but racked up over 400 yards rushing. Their coach, Jeff Monken, was an understudy to Georgia Tech's Paul Johnson who runs the triple option with frightening efficiency. The triple option can be insanely maddening and difficult to defend, and it isn't like Florida had to prepare to defend it against anyone else on their schedule. Still, the pure amount of athletic ability that Florida garners on a yearly basis should be more than enough to overcome a unique offensive system piloted by FCS players.

The look of being 4-7 and being one week away from
playing the #2 team in the country.
Clearly, changes need to be made to this team. As of today, it appears as though the offensive coordinator and the offensive line coach will be fired at the end of the season while Muschamp will remain as the head coach. It's very obvious that this team needs an overhaul on offense, but the big issue is going to be who can they get that will be more effective than Brent Pease. Whoever they hire must be someone who can give immediate hope to the Gators fans as Will Muschamp has shown that he is completely ineffective as an offensive playcaller. Pease was the offensive coordinator for Boise State during their several years of fantastic runs and imaginative play calling, but none of that has transferred to a team with exponentially more talent. So now the Gators are stuck trying to find a new coordinator while still being attached to the ball-and-chain that is Muschamp. Don't get me wrong, Muschamp is one hell of a defensive coordinator, but his deficiencies in the offensive statistics are blindingly obvious. I honestly don't know what is going to happen in terms of this team hiring an offensive coordinator. This kind of position at a major powerhouse like Florida is certainly going to them their pick from a long line of potential coordinators. But as I've mentioned, who is going to be a guy who is up to Florida's standards? It seems like Florida might have to take a real leap of faith with their next hiring.

One thing to keep in mind with this season is the ridiculous rash of injuries that Florida has suffered on both sides of the ball. A total of 26 players have missed time this year because of an injury, 10 of which were season ending. This includes their starting quarterback Jeff Driskel; starting running back Matt Jones; starting defensive lineman Dominique Easley; and starting wide receiver Andre Debose. Almost to add insult to injury, promising redshirt sophomore quarterback Tyler Murphy has also missed a decent amount of time, forcing Muschamp to resort to true freshman Skyler Mornhenwig. Those three offensive players that I mentioned are obviously the source of a lot of the lack of production on offense. But for the past few years, Driskel has been nothing more than a game manager while Debose never lived up to the hype coming out of college.

Don't panic Florida faithful....
just don't make him a head
coach either.
Chad Morris
If there is one advantage that Muschamp has moving forward, its that he gets to recruit from one of the most talent-laden states in the Union. He has continued the trend of poaching some of the best talent, but it seems that he is starting to lose some ground to Jimbo Fisher and Al Golden as their respective programs being their own resurgence. Given his track record as a terrific defensive coordinator, he should have no problem getting recruits on that side of the ball. However, he is going to need to find an offensive coordinator that can inspire hope in future offense prospects. Florida has yet to land that player who can remind fans of the days of Tebow, Percy Harvin, or, hell, even Chris Leak. Its never a good sign when you can't keep a kid like this in state, especially when he goes all the way across the country. In my non-professional opinion, I think that there are two people who should be on Florida's radar for the offensive coordinator position. The first, sadly for Gators faithful, is Lane Kiffin. Kiffin, who was fired earlier this season from USC, has much more potential as a coordinator than he does as a head coach. He is an understudy of Pete Carrol and knows how to recruit fantastic offensive talent (he is the guy who got Nelson Agholor to leave Florida for USC). I honestly get the feeling that if he were given a chance as an offensive coordinator and had his responsibilities limited, he could do incredibly well at Florida. The other name that I've heard floating around is Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris, who has been able to bring in tons of star talent (he brought in Sammy Watkins from the state of Florida) and has done a great job developing Tajh Boyd. The only issue is that he is seems ready to take a head coaching position. He interviewed with Texas Tech a year ago, but the job was given to Kliff Kingsbury. Maybe he sees that the OC position at Florida would better set him up for a shot as a head coach, but there is also the possibility that he takes a slightly less prestigious head coaching position instead.

All in all, it looks like it could be a rough couple of years for the Gators if they can't make a big splash this offseason when heads start to roll. They are already a bit behind the 8-ball, ranking "only" 15th in the Rivals Recruiting for next year while other SEC East teams like Georgia, Tennessee, and KENTUCKY(?!) are ahead of them. Miami and FSU are also both ahead of Florida and are convincing a lot of prospects to head their way instead of to Gainesville. With guys like Marcus Roberson, Louichez Purifoy, Easley, Driskel, and Debose moving on, next year could be considered more of a rebuilding year than this one. Good luck Gators, you're really gunna need it.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Top 10 for 11/24

1) Florida State Seminoles (beat Idaho Vandals 80-14 at home)
Do you really need analysis for this game? Idaho was 1-9 coming into this game and it absolutely showed in the final score and everything that happened in between. What's crazy is that the Seminoles might be able to top this game's production against the Gators next week.

2) Alabama Crimson Tide (beat Chattanooga Mocs 49-0 at home)
Jesus, did anyone play a team that actually could have been somewhat competitive against them this weekend?

3) Ohio State Buckeyes (beat Indiana Hoosiers 42-14 at home)
Doesn't seem like it. Yet this game was noteworthy for a couple of reasons. Firstly, Ohio State has extended its winning streak to 23 games, best in the nation. It's also the longest streak in their history. It just seems amazing to me that Ohio State could beat Michigan State in the B1G championship game, have a 25 game winning streak, and still get snubbed for the National Title Game. You know that has to piss of Urban Meyer to a degree he wouldn't show publicly. Secondly, running back Carlos Hyde became the first running back to rush for over one thousand yards under Urban Meyer, despite missing the first couple of games with suspension. This little factoid might not seem massive in scope, I just thought it was interesting that all of the talent that Urban had acquired at running back had never produced 1000 yards. One would think for sure that one of those freak athletes he had at Florida would have done it.

4) Missouri Tigers (beat No. 24 Ole Miss Runnin' Rebels 24-10 in Oxford)
Right now, I like Mizzou as an overall team more than Auburn. Auburn has a much more explosive offense, but they were a freak Hail Mary away from blowing a three touchdown lead against Georgia two weeks ago. Missouri, on the other hand, has a ferocious defense that is allowing only 19 points per game. Yesterday was interesting primarily because James Franklin came back from what was thought to be a season ending injury and played decently. However, incumbent Maty Mauk also saw some time in this game, completing 3 of his 7 passes for 83 yards. It will be interesting to see how head coach Gary Pinkel handles having two differently styled, yet very competent quarterbacks. Considering how well this team runs the ball, perhaps Pinkel will consider some sort of Chris Leak/Tebow like combination to keep defenses off balance. Not that they would need to use that tactic against Texas A&M next week whose defense is non-existent.

5) Auburn Tigers (idle this week; next game 11/31 at home against No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide)

6) Clemson Tigers (beat Citadel Bulldogs 52-6 at home)
Clinical. Absolutely clinical. Of course, it was against the Citadel but the fact that Tajh Boyd didn't even look like he had to try out there shows that this team could really be dangerous in the Orange Bowl. Also, pay attention to Sammy Watkins while you can. I know I've mentioned him all season long, but what this kid is doing to opponents is crazy. He didn't blow up this Saturday, but he just makes such great acrobatic catches that it is hard to take your eyes off of him. I can't wait to see who goes first in the draft: him or Mike Evans.

7) Oklahoma State Cowboys (beat No. 4 Baylor Bears 49-17 at home)
I'm stealing this pick from the BCS rankings, but the Cowboys definitely deserve this jump after completely manhandling Baylor this weekend. The 32 point victory was the largest ever over an opponent ranked in the top 4 of the BCS. Cowboy's quarterback Clint Chelf has had a very strong campaign since being benched early in the season and coming back to play in the seventh game of the season. He passed for three touchdowns and 370 yards, distributing the ball very evenly to keep the Bears' defensive backs out of a rhythm. What was most impressive about this team was how they were able to dominate this game despite getting only average production from the running backs. The defense was the real key to this game, holding Baylor to "only" 450 yards, but making huge plays when they had to, including causing a goal line fumble on Baylor's first possession of the game. This victory put Oklahoma State in a position to make it to their second Fiesta Bowl in three years.

8) Michigan State Spartans (beat Northwestern Wildcats 30-6 in Evansville)
Its really unfortunate that Northwestern has imploded this season after starting off so promisingly. But this game is much more about how the Spartans have been able to compliment their number one ranked defense with a solid offense. The offense had some very underwhelming performances in the beginning of the season, but the team has been averaging about 35 points per game over their last four, a lot of which does come back to the tenacity of the defense. Connor Cook, who is only a sophomore, took over the reins early from Andrew Maxwell and has really impressed, throwing for almost 2000 yards, 19 touchdowns, and only three interceptions on the year. He is the perfect compliment to a team that strives to win the battle for field position and has a power running game in Jeremy Langford. Sparty has already locked up their trip to the B1G championship game where they have a very, very serious chance of beating Ohio State.

9) Baylor Bears (lost to No. 10 Oklahoma State Cowboys 17-49 in Stillwater)
Since the Cowboys own the tie breaker, it would take a loss by them for Baylor to get back into the Fiesta Bowl discussion. And that is assuming this team can get past a Texas team that has had a tremendous resurgence after being embarrassed early in the season. Baylor was without some of their best playmakers on offense (Lache Seastrunk; Glasco Martin IV), but it is also pretty concerning when your Heisman Hopeful quarterback trips over his own damn feet at the one yard line (where Baylor would fumble on the next play). Baylor can only play their own game and hope something happens next week against OK State.

10) Stanford Cardinal (beat California Golden Bears 63-13 at home)
Suddenly, Stanford is back in the driver's seat for the Rose Bowl thank to Oregon blowing it at Arizona. Kevin Hogan had the best game possibly of his career, throwing for 329 yards and five touchdowns against the porous Cal defense. Ty Montgomery continues his fantastic year, this time catching only 5 passes but turning that into 4 touchdowns and 160 yards on the night. This might be the first time all year that the passing attack was more effective than the ground game, which still picked up 186 yards. The defense is still great too, not allowing Cal to score again after the 5 minute mark of the second quarter. It would have been nice if Stanford hadn't lost to USC, but them against Ohio State in the Rose Bowl sounds like the most intriguing New Years Day bowl game.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

BCS Bowl Predictions

As this year begins to wind down, we can start to make some inferences about which teams will be playing in the BCS bowl games. Obviously, a lot can happen over the next few weeks which is why I'm going to be predicting the outcome of some future games here and not give you who would currently be playing where. If you are unfamiliar with the BCS system, don't fret because it actually can get a bit confusing. Basically, each BCS bowl is contractually obligated to take the winner of a specific conference. These are known as automatic berths (you have probably heard the B1G or SEC referred to as "AQ" (automatic qualifier) conferences). If a BCS bowl loses a qualifier to a national championship bound team, they get to select a replacement before any other moves are made. After that point, there is an order of the BCS bowls that determines which can pick the second team to play in their bowl. Like I said, this is kind of confusing so it is usually just easier to see it put into practice. But before we go ahead, just know that the order of selection for the second team is as follows: Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Fiesta Bowl.

National Championship Game
Alabama Crimson Tide versus Florida State Seminoles
Alabama has the greater likelihood of losing before reaching the national championship game, but I suspect they will be able to overcome Auburn. The Seminoles, meanwhile, only need to get past Idaho, a historically bad Florida squad, and then probably Duke (if your first reaction is "what the fuck?!", you're not alone) to get into the title game. This is easy to call as it is simply matching up #1 against #2. As long as each of these teams is able to win out, they will secure their trip to Pasadena.

Rose Bowl
Ohio State Buckeyes versus Oregon Ducks
Again, this is another bowl match up that is actually pretty easy to predict. In the history of forever in college football, the Rose Bowl has always been played between the winner of the Big 10 and the winner of the Pac 12. There have been a few exceptions along the way, but for the most part this was the paradigm. Prior to the season, I thought that Stanford would be able to repeat trips to Pasadena to play in the Rose Bowl, but a late season loss to USC has really crushed their chances. Now, Oregon looks to be the favorite as they will likely win the North and should have little trouble beating either UCLA or Arizona State in the Pac 12 Championship game. Meanwhile, Ohio State has a relatively clear path to the Rose Bowl. It is hard to envision them losing at home to Indiana or at Michigan this year given how badly the Wolverines have played all year. Michigan State's defense will provide a great challenge for OSU, but the Spartans offense has been anywhere for anemic to average this year. These teams met several years ago when each was sporting a troubled quarterback (OU: Jeremiah Masoli; OSU: Terrelle Pryor) but these teams are both very different than those teams. This could end up being the best BCS Bowl game.

Orange Bowl
Clemson Tigers versus Wisconsin Badgers
Here we have the first example of things not going according to the plan. Because the Orange Bowl takes the champion of the ACC, they get to replace Florida State automatically since the Seminoles are playing for the national championship. My guess is that Clemson will end the year with only one loss to the Noles, so they are the obvious selection to replace FSU. After that is established, the Orange Bowl also gets the first selection of an at-large team to play against Clemson. Given that fact, the Orange Bowl will most likely go with a Big 10 team with their next pick due to the popularity of the conference across the country and the lack of distance that would be traveled (think of Iowa playing Georgia Tech in 2010). I've seen a lot of experts putting Michigan State here, but I have a feeling that Wisconsin might get the nod over the Spartans. First of all, Wisconsin should only be a one loss team, but a mind numbing display of ineptitude by Pac 12 officials cost them a game at Arizona State. Second of all, I'm not sure if the Orange Bowl committee would want to select Michigan State as they could view it as a consolation prize. Georgia had only lost one game last year prior to the SEC championship and came within five yards of beating Alabama, and they were still relegated to a mid-tier bowl. Michigan State has been yearning for a chance in a BCS Bowl game, but I get the unfortunate feeling that they could be passed over yet again.

Sugar Bowl
Auburn Tigers versus Central Florida Knights
Okay, NOW is when things start to get a bit ridiculous. Central Florida plays in the American Athletic Conference, the abomination formerly known as the Big East. When the Big East was still in existence, they had a contract with the Orange Bowl that stipulated the winner of the Big East play in that bowl game against the winner of the ACC. With the realignment, the AAC (try and keep these straight here) no longer has any sort of loyalty to a specific bowl, but still gets an automatic qualification. Given the proximity of UCF to New Orleans where the Sugar Bowl is played, it is likely, albeit reluctantly, that the Sugar Bowl selects the Knights to satisfy the stipulations. UCF is a solid team that has knocked off Penn State and Louisville on the road, but the lack of a big name program is sure to upset the Sugar Bowl committee. Auburn, however, would be a tremendous catch for the Sugar Bowl. This would happen because the (presumed) SEC champion, Alabama, would be playing in the title game, giving the Sugar Bowl committee an early pick to replace them with another at-large SEC team. As I mentioned, the committee would probably be a bit reluctant to choose the loser of the SECCG (presumably Mizzou) because it would be viewed as a consolation prize. I'm not ruling it out of the realm of possibility, but again given the location of Auburn compared to New Orleans, Auburn would most likely get the nod as an at-large team.

Fiesta Bowl
Baylor Bears versus Fresno State Bulldogs
Welcome to last year's Orange Bowl. The first part of this is straight forward. Unless any combination of Alabama, Florida State, and Ohio State lose, Baylor is not getting into the title game. They are also the most likely to win the Big 12 (or is it Big 8?...Southwest Conference?....shit, I forget) which would make them an automatic qualifier for the Fiesta Bowl. But this is where we begin to delve into the realm of non-AQ schools making it into BCS bowl games. According to the official BCS regulations, a non-AQ school receives a BCS berth if they have won at least nine games and is ranked in the top 12 after the regular season is concluded. Fresno State currently sits at 15 in the BCS, but with multiple teams ahead of them likely to lose over the upcoming weeks, they should move up to the top dozen. This would put them in the Fiesta Bowl against Baylor who would be laughing right now if the Baylor football team read my blog. This is the same sort of nonsensical crap that gave us Florida State against Northern Illinois last year, and should only serve as a reminder that the entire BCS system is FUBAR.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Top 10 for 11/17

1) Florida State Seminoles (beat Syracuse Orangemen 59-3 at home)
If Ohio State can drop for giving up 35 points on the road to Illinois (while still scoring 60), then Alabama can drop for only scoring 20 on the road against Mississippi State. Florida State is the most dominant team in the country by a fairly wide margin at this point. They had the ball for just over eighteen minutes yesterday and destroyed Syracuse. Jameis Winston continues to make this year's Heisman race a sprint to the finish between himself and Manziel, completing 19-21 passes for 277 yards and 2 touchdowns. No team has been able to slow this kid down so far, and it doesn't seem like anyone will be able to until Florida State inevitably plays Alabama. He has easily the best trio of receivers in the country and has a safety valve tight end in Nick O'Leary who is a great mismatch across the middle or in the flat. Defensively, I have yet to find a true weakness in this squad. They are holding opposing passers to 50% completion and are holding all runners to only 3.3 yards per carry. They do a great job of generating pressure with only four rushers which has allowed the back seven to make easy plays and generate turnovers. With the way the Seminoles are handling all competition, even against the lower dregs of the ACC, they have made a case as the most complete team in college football.

2) Alabama Crimson Tide (beat Mississippi State Bulldogs 20-7 in Starkville)
And here is why Alabama is NOT the most complete team in the country. Nick Saban said before this game that Mississippi State was "the best 4-5 team in the country." What does that even mean? That they suck, but not as badly as other 4-5 teams? Anyway, Alabama committed a season high four turnovers in this game and still managed to win. Against a team that isn't 4-5, Alabama most likely loses this game on the road. I simply think that Alabama can not rely on AJ McCarron to come through in the clutch against a team that fields a competent defense. He barely completed 50% of his passes and threw a pair of picks to go along with his two interceptions. The offense is too reliant on TJ Yeldon to get the defense to stack the box so that McCarron has windows of five yards to squeeze the ball into when he needs to pass. Don't get me wrong, Yeldon is one hell of a running back who can put the team on his shoulders. But looking ahead, it seems like its almost guaranteed that Alabama and Florida State are going to meet in the Championship Game. Florida State has the talent and athleticism along the front four to contain Yeldon which is going to cause all kinds of problems for the Tide offense. Factor in that this is the worst secondary that Saban has coached at Alabama, and this is a team that could be exposed very shortly.

3) Ohio State Buckeyes (beat Illinois Fighting Illini 60-35 in Champaign)
For the Buckeyes, this was an ugly game that caused them to drop from 3 to 4 in the AP Polls in favor of Baylor. The score shows that it was a 25 point differential, but the fact that Illinois scored five touchdowns on Ohio State and didn't have a terrible amount of trouble moving the ball against them speaks volumes. Illinois was able to total 420 yards against Ohio State at 4.8 yards per play. Some of this can be attributed to the fact that Ohio State was scoring so quickly with their offense that their defense was on the field very often, but it is still concerning to give up so many big plays considering the talent and depth Ohio State has on defense. Offensively, Braxton struggled passing all day as he only managed to complete 13 out of his 29 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns. However, most of the damage was done by him on the ground as Braxton amassed 184 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries with one coming on a 70 yard touchdown run right out of the gate. Miller was explosive off the run all day but wasn't even the leading rusher. That would be Carlos Hyde, who was well on his way to a fantastic day before two touchdown rushes of over fifty yards in the last five minutes of play gave him 246 rushing yards on the day. Hyde was crucial to the Ohio State's victory, moving the ball at a rate of 6.4 yards per carry and had two touchdown runs before those final two. It wasn't a pretty victory, but at this point there doesn't seem to be any way Ohio State can sneak into the national title game.

4) Baylor Bears (beat Texas Tech Red Raiders 63-34 in Arlington, TX)
I'm pretty bummed out that Stanford lost simply because they were most likely going to go to the Rose Bowl while the Fiesta Bowl would be obligated to take Baylor, and then would probably take at-large Oregon. As it stands, Baylor is still set to get into the Fiesta Bowl and lay out 40 points on whomever they play. Despite going down by a couple of touchdowns early, Art Briles never let his team flinch as they rallied back to dismantle Texas Tech. Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty has gotten some Heisman consideration, and while his numbers are a bit misleading, there is no denying that he leads the nation's most explosive offense. This offense simply has too many playmakers to name them all here, but rest assured that no matter who is playing, this team will score. More importantly, the defense is stepping up and making plays to get off the field and allow them to continue to put up video game numbers. After being down by two touchdowns early, the defense was able to get settled and make a few key stops after which the offense never looked back. With the way that Oklahoma State handled Texas on Saturday, the path to the Fiesta Bowl will go through Waco, Texas if they can walk out of Stillwater next week with a victory.

5) Oregon Ducks (beat Utah Utes 44-21 at home)
This game was close for a while (17-14 right after the half) but Oregon was able to establish their dominance in the second half and is now in the driver's seat for a Rose Bowl berth. Mariota had a bounce back performance, throwing for 288 yards and three touchdowns on 68% completion. It was a bit perplexing that as a team, Oregon only managed to run for 145 yards on a total of 35 carries. Unfortunately, this game will probably go unnoticed as Oregon has already really blown its chance at making it to the national championship game. Although they will probably win the Pac 12 and play Ohio State in the Rose Bowl, it will be considered a disappointment as this team was all but penciled in to be playing for it all in Pasadena.

6) Auburn Tigers (beat No. 25 Georgia Bulldogs 43-38 at home)
I honestly feel bad for you if you missed this game. After losing a twenty point lead at home and trailing by one point with less than two minutes remaining, Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall launched a desperation Hail Mary to Ricardo Louis that, after bouncing off two defenders, fell right into Louis's arms. It was an incredible finish to one of the best games played all year and showed the grit that Auburn has. Marshall, who had only thrown the ball 15 times in his previous two games, aired it out 26 times for 15 completions, including the biggest one probably of his career. His passing statistics weren't that impressive, but he was able to move the ball through the air and pick up crucial first downs when Georgia was playing the run. Marshall was great on the ground however, averaging almost five yards a carry on his way to 90 yards and a touchdown. The threat he possesses to run the ball at any time combined with the ability Tre Mason has at running back makes Auburn a very dangerous team to defend on the ground. The big knock against Auburn has been their defense, and giving up 21 points in less than 10 minutes is an awful looking stat. But considering Alabama's passing offense hasn't looked that great this year, Auburn have something to say about Bama playing for a third straight title.

7) Clemson Tigers (beat Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 55-31 at home)
Georgia Tech came into this game with a 6-3 record, so this is more impressive than the final score would lead you to believe. Tajh Boyd took absolute command of this game, completing 20-26 passes for 340 yards, four touchdowns and a pick. He has really bounced back and shown a lot of poise and leadership since getting annihilated at home by Florida State. Boyd showed some great touch on his passes, especially on the sideline routes to Martavis Bryant that he was able to land right in the outstretched arms. The most impressive on the night, though, was Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins who is going round for round with Mike Evans as the best receiver in the country. Watkins caught five passes for 104 yards and two touchdowns. The second that he caught came off of a screen play where he worked back towards Boyd for the pass, read the blocks, and exploded down the seam for a 44 yards catch and run. Watkins is playing well above his freshman and sophomore years and has truly become a human highlight reel. Lookout for this team should they make the Orange Bowl as an at large bid.

8) Missouri Tigers (idle this week; next game 11/23 at No. 24 Ole Miss Runnin' Rebels)

9) Texas A&M (idle this week; next game 11/23 at No. 22 LSU)

10) Michigan State Spartans (beat Nebraska Cornhuskers 41-28 in Lincoln) 
Most of the polls have the Spartans sitting at around 12-14, but I really think that it is time to move this squad into the top ten. Michigan State sports an absurd defense that ranks in the top seven in all major defensive statistics, including allowing only 13 points per game, best for fourth in the country. I wish I could find the official number now, but I believe something like five or six different Spartans had won defensive player of the week. This week was a bit of an aberration, especially considering the fact that Nebraska was using a back up quarterback, but it was really only 21 points given up by the defense until a garbage time touchdown with ten seconds left. The biggest problem facing Michigan State the rest of the year is the lack of offense. Despite putting up 41 points this game, the Spartans average about 30 points per and a lot of that has to do with their defense giving them great field position. Quarterback Connor Cook is only a sophomore in his first full season as a starter, and while he has taken care of the ball, is pretty much what you would expect from a young, inexperienced starter. The offensive line is brutal and Jeremy Langford has become a solid replacement for Le'veon Bell who will lead this team to a B1G Championship game berth. If the defense continues to play at the level it has been, Sparty might have a pretty decent shot at upsetting Ohio State.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Best Games for 11/16

Noon Game
None. Sleep in and work off the hangover.

Afternoon Game
No. 12 Oklahoma State Cowboys @ No. 24 Texas Longhorns (3:30 on FOX)
How about the job Mack Brown is doing since some ugly, early season losses. Everyone figured that he could be canned mid-season, but right now he has his team tied for first in the Big12. The defense still hasn't totally come together, but the offense has picked up the slack and is averaging 35 points a game. The running backs are getting carries at a very even rate, keeping them fresh and taking pressure off of David Ash. But I think this is where their streak comes to an end. So far, they haven't played a team that has the balance on offense like the Cowboys possess. Not only that, Oklahoma State has one of the better defenses in the Big12, ranking 20th in the nation at just under 20 points per game allowed. This game has huge implications as each of these teams gets to play Baylor, who is currently undefeated, before the season's end. This game could pave the way for a dramatic finish in the last three weeks of the Big12. I got Oklahoma State 42-33.

Evening Game
Florida Gators @ No. 12 South Carolina Gamecocks (7:00 on ESPN2)
I'm definitely reaching here, but who knows. Muschamp and his Gators turned in a dominating performance last year against the Gamecocks, destroying them 44-11. Not only have the wheels come off for Florida since then, but the car's gas tank has ignited and the driver is getting ready to bail out. Their offense has been anemic this year, ranking 99th in passing, 87th in rushing, and 107th (!!) in points for. Thankfully, their defense is still very powerful and has the potential to hold opponents to under 20 any given weekend. South Carolina has a more potent offense, but there have been times this year where they too have underwhelmed. But the fact that this game is being played in Columbia definitely gives them a clear advantage.

Night Game
No. 4 Stanford Cardinal @ USC Trojans (8:00 on ABC)
I never thought I'd be putting the Trojans in a marquee game this season. They have really turned their season around after firing Kiffin, dropping only a single game at Notre Dame by four points. While Cody Kessler is still learning the system, he is finding Nelson Agholor and Marqise Lee more frequently for bigger plays. The defense has come together as well, holding the last five opponents to an average of 18 points per game. Yet they are going to have their hands full with Stanford who is coming off of an absolute beatdown of Oregon. Stanford has the physicality on both sides of the ball to completely dictate the tempo of any game. The front seven of USC is definitely better than the front seven for Oregon, so Cardinal QB Kevin Hogan is probably going to be asked to throw more than 13 times this game. If USC can pressure him and force him into even a single pick, the direction of this game can change very quickly. Even when Stanford had a great team with Andrew Luck at the helm, they went to multiple overtimes in LA. Look for the Trojans to get good field position with Agholor returning punts (he returned two to the houe last week against Cal) and try to play to Stanford's style of clock control. I still have a hard time seeing an upset though and I think Stanford inches closer to another Rose Bowl in this game, 30-14.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Top 10 for Week of 11/10

1) Alabama Crimson Tide (beat No. 13 LSU Tigers 38-17 at home)
This was probably the most complete game that Alabama has really played all year. They completely took advantage of an LSU team that was weaker defensively than it had been in recent years. AJ McCarron had 3 touchdowns and 180 yards on 14-20 passing while TJ Yeldon carried the ball 25 times for 133 yards and two touchdowns himself. The balanced attack kept the Tiger's defense out of rhythm, and the Crimson Tide were able to just keep up a steady pace and wear down LSU. Defensively, Mettenberger was able to make some completions to keep his team in the game, but the Alabama defense didn't let anything get going on the ground. LSU as a whole only rushed for 43 yards, 140 below their average on the season. Alabama's defense was also able to force several key turnovers, especially on LSU's first series when they came away with a goal line strip and recovery. That really set the tone as Alabama began to really assert their dominance after that and had ran away with the game by the early fourth quarter. Alabama has a couple of weeks before their annual visit to Auburn who could be the last roadblock for the Crimson Tide.

2) Florida State Seminoles (beat Wake Forest Demon Deacons 59-3 in Winston-Salem)
What's crazy is how good the Seminoles' defense is and how it serves as a compliment to their offense. I forget the exact stat that was shown, but I think 3 of Wake Forest's first 5 pass attempts were intercepted by the Florida State defense. That is unheard of. I know Wake Forest isn't any good, but that is an absolutely incredible feat. Florida State is able to get all kinds up pressure without having the bring the blitz which greaty helps their back seven make plays. On the day, they had a total of SIX interceptions and had another fumble recovery. The offense only had a total output of 296 yards because they were in prime position to score on every series. If they can get that kind of pressure on, say, Alabama, in the national championship game, Florida State could be the new kings of college football.

3) Ohio State Buckeyes (idle this week; next game November 16 @ Illinois)

4) Stanford Cardinal (beat No. 3 Oregon Ducks 26-20 at home)
This game wasn't really as close as the score may make it seem. It wasn't until the last ten minutes of the fourth quarter that Oregon was able to get on the board. Stanford's defense was absolutely stifling, limiting Heisman hopeful Marcus Mariota to 250 yards and negative 16 yards on the ground. He had pressure in his face all night and even when he completed a pass, it didn't look pretty. Stanford also did a great job of keeping Byron Marshall and De'Anthony Thomas in check, holding them to 76 yards on 17 carries. Offensively, Stanford completely dictated the pace of this game. Kevin Hogan only threw the ball 13 times and that was only when absolutely necessary. For the most part, the Cardinal just relied on the running backs who continuously gained large chunks of yards behind a bruising offensive line. Tyler Gaffney was the workhouse, carrying the ball 45 times for a total of 157 yards. Although the average might not be that impressive, Gaffney did what he had to do to pick up first downs and continue to soak up a lot of the clock to keep the ball out of Mariota's hands. Stanford had the ball for over 42 minutes of the game, and absolutely incredible accomplishment that will definitely serve them well in their eventual BCS Bowl game.

5) Baylor Bears (beat No. 10 Oklahoma Sooners 41-12 at home)
In the span of seven minutes of the second quarter, Baylor buried Oklahoma under three consecutive touchdowns to go up 24-5 and never looked back. Baylor never looked too crisp in this game, but it is hard to deny the end result. Bryce Petty only needed to complete 50% of his passes to garner three touchdowns and 200 yards. Lache Seastrunk had an uncharacteristically bad game, but Shock Linwood picked up the slack and ran for 182 yards on 23 carries. As I had mentioned last week, what is really separating Baylor this year from the past is that they are playing exceptional defense to compliment their high powered offense. Oklahoma managed just under 240 yards of total offense and was never able to get into a rhythm. Blake Bell had a couple of crucial turnovers and the running backs had no lanes to make anything happen. With Texas turning their season around, Baylor has to stay the course until they play the Longhorns in the last game of the season.

6) Oregon Ducks (lost to No. 5 Stanford Cardinal 20-26 in Palo Alto)
I knew I should have stuck with my preseason prediction. Oregon just doesn't have what it takes to win a big game against a physical team. The 2010 Championship game against Auburn and the last two meeting with Stanford have justified that speculation. Mariota struggled throughout the night and the running backs didn't have time to set up their reads and have those explosive plays you're used to seeing Oregon have. Defensively, the Ducks just got manhandled. They knew that the run was going to come on almost every play and yet they still couldn't make a stop. Oregon isn't used to having the ball for too long, but having less than 18 minutes is disastrous. It didn't give them nearly the amount of chances to score that they are so used to having. Looks like another Fiesta Bowl for Oregon.

7) Auburn Tigers (beat Tennessee Volunteers 55-23 in Knoxville)
Gus Malzahn has to be elated by the play of his junior quarterback, Nick Marshall. After struggling the last few years to find a successor to Cam Newton, Malzahn has found Marshall who has come on strong this year. In this most recent game, Marshall ran the ball 14 times for 214 yards and 2 touchdowns. He only passed the ball 7 times, completing 3 for 35 yards. Tre Mason, a runner who must be considered for first team All-SEC honors, tacked on another 117 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries. On the year, Mason has 1038 yards and 16 touchdowns on 181 carries, good for almost six yards a pop. The defense has also really come together for the Tigers this year. After the unit struggled mightily last year, they are now allowing just over 20 points per game and are in the top 25 in scoring defense. Please Auburn, please beat Alabama in the Iron Bowl.

8) Clemson Tigers (idle this week; next game 11/14 against Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at home)

9) Missouri Tigers (beat Kentucky Wildcats 48-17 in Lexington)
Welcome to the Dorial Green-Beckham show. Green-Beckham is a sophomore who was the number one recruit in the country coming out of high school according to Rivals. Due to the offensive system, he really hasn't had the chance to showcase what he is made of (only 28 receptions for 395 yards, five touchdowns in 2012). In this game, he caught seven passes for a hundred yards and four touchdowns, singlehandedly winning this game for the Tigers. New quarterback Maty Mauk has been fantastic since taking over for the injured James Franklin. He may not have the mobility that Franklin possesses, but he is a more accurate thrower and is taking advantage is some serious talent. Missouri is surprisingly good on defense too. They aren't flat out dominant like some other teams in the SEC, but they swarm to the ball when the opponent rushes and are effective at creating turnovers. Missouri actually has sent a great amount of players to the NFL, especially on defense and it continues to show with how head coach Gary Pinkel develops solid but average recruits. Get ready for when Texas A&M comes for a visit on November 30.

10) Texas A&M Aggies (beat Mississippi State Bulldogs 51-41 at home)
If the Aggies defense was even a fraction better, Johnny Football might be looking down the barrel of another Heisman. Manziel continues to do what he wants with defenses, but his own has cost him two games. While Manziel did throw three interceptions, he more than made up for it with five touchdowns and almost five hundred yards of total offense. In a game where the running game could not get going, Manziel found Travis Labhart and Malcome Kennedy each for two touchdowns. Mike Evans didn't have a score in this game, but turned five receptions into 116 yards, including a beautiful 75 yard catch and run. Although Manziel's picks did contribute to Mississippi State keeping this game relatively close, the A&M defense still gave up 537 yards split fairly evenly between multiple running backs and two different quarterbacks. This could be a rough last couple of weeks for the A&M Manziels with trips to LSU and Mizzou in consecutive weeks after their bye.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Who Can Stop the Undefeateds?

Right now, there are only five undefeated teams left. With Alabama and Oregon currently in a position to reach the title game, Florida State, Ohio State, and Baylor are all waiting in anticipation of a loss by anyone who is in front of them. For some, the path to perfection will be more daunting than others. But statement wins mean everything at this point of the season and this is when a team can make it's bid for a shot at the championship. Below are the games in which the currently undefeated teams might lose against. For the most part, I don't think many of these teams will actually drop a game though.

Alabama Crimson Tide
November 9, home against LSU Tigers
The Iron Bowl might seem like the obvious choice here, but I think that Auburn is too one-dimensional on offense to take down Alabama. LSU has a much more balanced offense that would allow them to keep Alabama out of a rhythm on defense. Alabama is weak in the secondary, very uncharacteristic of their trend in recent years. The only player that is playing up to the caliber of past defensive backs is Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix, but he can't cover the entire field by himself. Zach Mettenberger has really had a strong year under new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, throwing for 2500 yards and 19 touchdowns against only 7 interceptions. He has a terrific tandem of receivers with Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry, who have combined for 106 catches and 16 touchdowns and will both be on their ways to the NFL after this year. Mettenberger had his best game last year against Alabama throwing against a secondary better than this year's. LSU also possesses numerous running backs who can gain crucial yards and give the quarterback a break. However, this game would most likely be a shootout much like LSU's game against Georgia. LSU has shown that they have some holes at several spots on the defense and it has been exploited by numerous teams this year. A great coach like Nick Saban is going to find ways to score points against LSU this year. I'm still a believer in Alabama going undefeated in the regular season, but LSU could definitely give them a scare.

Oregon Ducks
November 7, at Stanford Cardinal
Stanford was the only team to hand Oregon a loss last year, so why would it change this year? Oregon is not as unbeatable as many people might believe but that doesn't mean they are going to just lay down and take a beating from Stanford. Oregon has the nation's second most explosive offense behind Baylor, but there have been a couple of close games this year (Washington, tied with UCLA late in the third quarter). For Stanford to win this game, they need to keep the Ducks from getting to the outside on runs and can't give the receivers a free release off of the line. The receivers are too shifty and Marcus Mariota is too talented to allow the receivers to have a big bubble to work with immediately off the line. Oregon's newest running back to put up video game numbers is Byron Marshall, who has the ability to go outside but is a more one cut, downhill running back than previous Oregon backs like LaMichael James. Stanford definitely has the athleticism at the second and third level to make plays on the outside, but this will play into Oregon's plan to run them down and get them tired. Stanford players like Shayne Skov and Ed Reynolds are going to have to corral the running backs to the inside and allow the defensive line to do its job. Stanford needed only 17 points to win last year, but they can't rely on that again. Oregon has some good play makers on defense, but I can see Kevin Hogan having a good day if he stays away from Ifo Ekpre-Olomu's side of the field. I predicted Stanford to take the Pac 12 North, but after seeing them drop to Utah and after watching Oregon continue to slaughter opponents, I have to pick Oregon in this game.

Florida State Seminoles
December 7, neutral field against Miami Hurricanes
Well I had to choose someone. Right now, the rest of the Seminoles' schedule looks like this: @ Wake Forest, home against Syracuse and Idaho, @ Florida. Any other year, this would easily be about Florida. But the Gators are having a shockingly down year, prompting me to believe that the only way Florida State loses is to Miami in the ACC Championship game. This really isn't as far fetched as it may seem at first though. While Miami did lose Duke Johnson for the rest of the year, he was having marginal success against the Noles. Stephen Morris did what he could, but by this time he would have his favorite receiving target back in Phillip Dorsett. And truthfully, the Hurricanes were the only team to make Jameis Winston look somewhat human despite him still having a great night. Given a second chance, Miami head coach Al Golden could look back and find ways to force Winston into more mistakes. The fact that it would also be played at a neutral location could also be a difference maker when these two teams meet back up.

Ohio State Buckeyes
November 30, at Michigan Wolverines
It had to be. It always has to be. Despite Michigan being very average this year, they will not take this game off and will do anything that they can to ruin Ohio State's dream at a second straight undefeated season. Last year, Michigan gave Ohio State their biggest scare of the season outside of the Purdue game in the Shoe. But after watching Michigan struggle to stop Penn State and fail to score a touchdown against Michigan State, the Buckeyes shouldn't have a lot of trouble in this game. The defense has been very disappointing this season, allowing 43 points to Penn State and another 47 to Indiana. Devin Gardner has been wildly inconsistent while primary running back Fitzgerald Toussaint has looked like he is running in mud. But Gardner is a mobile quarterback who can make moves with his feet and give Ohio State fits when the Buckeyes are on defense. The Buckeyes haven't played a true dual threat quarterback all season, so Gardner's presence on the field could pose some problems. The OSU secondary has also been shaken up due to some injury and the inexplicable drop of play from pre-season All American Bradley Roby. Roby goes against the best each opponent has to offer and so far hasn't lived up to the pre-season billing. Wolverines receiver Jeremy Gallon would be the one lining up across from Roby, and his conference record setting performance a couple of weeks ago could be a preclude of some problems to come. If he can make three or four big, downfield plays like he is capable of, Michigan is looking at pulling off the upset.

Baylor Bears
November 23, at Oklahoma State Cowboys
After watching Oklahoma State go and win against Texas Tech in Lubbock, I believe that they could be the only team to hand Baylor a loss this year. The Cowboys have the ability to play a balanced style of offense to limit what the bears can do. Now, in their last game against Tech the time of possession was actually 50-50. But, when your running backs can gain 280 yards on 55 carries, you are going to be able to control the tempo of the game. They need to be able to string a lot of runs together and not be forced to throw if they get into late down and long distance situations. Balance will be key to this game as Baylor has just way too many people who can score with the ball on offense.

Monday, November 4, 2013

New Top 10 for 11/3

1) Alabama Crimson Tide (idle this week; next game 11/9 against No. 13 LSU Tigers)

2) Florida State Seminoles (beat No. 7 Miami Hurricanes 41-14 at home)
This game was about as dominant as many people predicted. While Miami was able to point some points on the board, Florida State was just too good on both sides of the ball to allow Miami to make this a game. While Jameis Winston was forced into two interceptions, he still completed over 70% of his passes for 325 yards and a touchdown. He kept the chains moving and set up the running backs. None of the running backs really wowed, but they collectively gained almost 200 yards which helped Florida State control the ball for 38 minutes of this game. On defense, Miami was not able to get that much going. While Stephen Morris did throw two touchdowns against them, he could not get anything done in the second half and was held to under 200 passing yards. Duke Johnson was having a decent game against them, but he wasn't able to rattle off any explosive plays and was forced to leave the game with a season ending ankle injury. Florida State has a clear shot at remaining undefeated until they travel to Gainesville on November 30.

3) Ohio State Buckeyes (beat Purdue Boilermakers 56-0 in West Lafayette) 
Maybe not as convincing as what FSU did to Miami, but in the last two weeks OSU has outscored it's opponents 129-14. For whatever reason, Ohio State has a tendency to struggle against Purdue, especially when playing at Purdue. This time was different though, as the Buckeyes took the first pass thrown by Purdue back to the house and had basically ended this game by the first quarter. Ohio State cruised to 640 total yards behind the arm of Braxton and the legs of Carlos Hyde, who continues his dominating return from an early season suspension. By the end of the day, Braxton was 19-23 for 233 yards, four touchdowns and one pick. He only had to run the ball once as Hyde was averaging almost 14 yards a carry on eight runs. The Buckeye's defense was just as dominant, keeping Purdue quarterback Danny Etling to 89 yards on 13 completions and holding the running backs to a collective 27 yards. Purdue was just overmatched before this game even began, so while this was impressive, it was very indicative of where OSU stands right now with the rest of the unbeaten teams. And with Michigan's season dropping quickly, we may not until they play someone in a BCS Bowl game.

4) Oregon Ducks (idle this week; next game 11/7 against No. 5 Stanford Cardinal in Palo Alto)

5) Stanford Cardinal (idle this week; next game 11/7 against No. 2 Oregon Ducks at home)

6) Baylor Bears (idle this week; next game 11/7 against No. 12 Oklahoma Sooners at home)

7) Auburn Tigers (beat Arkansas Razorbacks 35-17 in Fayetteville)
I really wonder how long the Tigers can keep winning games using nothing but the rush. Quarterback Nick Marshall only had to throw the ball eight times and complete seven of them for Auburn to crush Arkansas. That stat is in contrast to the 46 rushing attempts by Auburn, 32 of them coming by Tre Mason. Mason has really come on this year after being such a coveted recruit a couple of years ago. The junior used those 32 rushes to gain 168 yards and four touchdowns, propelling them to victory. The team has been riding on his abilities for most of the season, but they really need Marshall to step it up if they want to beat Georgia and Alabama at home in the last two games of their season. Georgia is very vulnerable, but Alabama's strength this year as it has been is stopping the run. If Auburn can't start to take advantage of weaker secondaries, their season could come to a disappointing end after such a great, inexplicable start.

8) Clemson Tigers (beat Virginia Cavaliers 59-10 in Charlottesville)
At this point, it really doesn't even matter for Clemson. They can only hope for an at large bid to a BCS Bowl game, but with Florida State staying behind Oregon in the polls they could be headed for another mid tier bowl. The story of this game was really Tajh Boyd to Sammy Watkins, who connected eight times for 169 yards and two touchdowns, including a 96 yard touchdown on third and 15. Overall, this game isn't that telling as Clemson was supposed to destroy Virginia in this game. Clemson won't get a chance to win back any voters or gain national attention until they take on South Carolina in Columbia on November 30.

9) Missouri Tigers (beat Tennessee Volunteers 31-3 at home)
Again, nothing that telling about this game. Tennessee has been relegated to the bottom of the SEC for some years now and really is of little consequence in their own division. Missouri was expected to run over them, which is exactly what happened. Despite still having to play true freshman Maty Mauk, Mizzou passed for 160 yards and ran for another 340. They have some very capable receivers to take pressure off of Mauk, especially Dorial Green-Beckham who can stretch the field vertically and make a lot of moves with the ball in his hands. Missouri has a tons of talent on defense to keep up with whichever variation of offense is thrown at them. Giving up 20 points a game might like a bit much given who Missouri has played so far, but they won't face another potent offense until getting Texas A&M at the end of the season. Because South Carolina owns the tie-breaker, Missouri definitely needs to win out to get into the SEC Championship game since I can't see the Gamecocks losing to Florida to earn another conference loss.

10) Texas A&M Aggies (beat UTEP Miners 57-7 at home)
For the final time, does this really warrant a write up? UTEP is a 1-7 team that probably doesn't have the talent to compete with the Aggies third string players. Right now, A&M can really only play spoiler to other teams' season. Primarily, the team listed above who also defected out of the Big 12 last year. From this point on out, Aggies fans better enjoy watching what will probably be the last of Manziel's time at College Station.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Best Games for 11/1

Noon Game
No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes @ Purdue Boilermakers (Noon on BTN)
Welcome to another day of crappy games. Hence why a game where Ohio State is a 32 point favorite is considered the game to watch at noon. But as heavily as the Buckeyes are favored, there is a some intrigue in this game. For some miserable, inexplicable reason, Ohio State struggles against Purdue. They were the source of the biggest scare for the Buckeyes's undefeated season last year in Columbus and are good at home against OSU, winning three of the last four. Yet Purdue has normally been pretty solid in those years. Not so much the case this year. Purdue is a dreadful this year, having only one win against Indiana State while ranking in the bottom third in most meaningful offensive and defensive statistics. Still, as much as I may die inside for saying this, don't count out Purdue giving Ohio State some trouble. I ultimately expect Ohio State to win this though being the better team, 42-17. 

Afternoon Game
No. 21 Michigan Wolverines @ No. 22 Michigan State Spartans (3:30 on ABC)
Almost any other year, this spot would belong to Georgia vs. Florida. But because both teams are having a down year, we focus our attention on these two teams who have aspirations of playing in the B1G Championship game. Both teams have one loss, but Michigan has an conference loss to Penn State while Michigan State's only loss was at Notre Dame. A loss by one team here puts the other in prime contention for a spot in Indianapolis. Michigan has been all over the place this year, having close low scoring wins against Akron and UConn while winning a shootout against Indiana. Michigan State has been more consistent this year by comparison. They have a stifling defense that ranks third in points against, but has an offense that can be very underwhelming. Because this game is in East Lansing and because of Michigan's enigmatic offense, I can't see them scoring enough points to keep up with the Spartans. Devin Gardner shows flashes of brilliance and then completely tanks while Brady Hoke refuses to utilize Derrick Green this season. Expect Sparty to take this one, 20-10.

Evening Game
No. 18 Oklahoma State Cowboys @ No. 15 Texas Tech Red Raiders (7:00 on FOX)
Both of these teams are going to fight tooth and nail to get this victory here. Each has an in conference loss (OK St. to WVU; Tech to Oklahoma) and need this win to stay within one game of Baylor, who currently sits at fifth. As with the previous game, a loss by either one here pretty much eliminates them from snatching the Big12 title. What's interesting about these teams is that unlike in previous years, they are actual fielding a defense that can make stops. Oklahoma State's defense ranks 19th in points against (19.6 per) while Texas Tech ranks 26th (21.1). Tech also has the third best passing in the country at a ridiculous 412 yards per game while the Cowboys boast a more balanced attack, yet each is averaging about 39 points per game. The fact that Oklahoma State couldn't put up enough points on the road against West Virginia is one of the biggest factors for me picking the Red Raiders to take this one 38-30 and close the gap with Baylor.

Night Game
No. 7 Miami, Fl. Hurricanes @ No. 3 Florida State Seminoles (8:00 on ABC)
Unfortunately, I don't think that his game is going to be as good as the rankings suggest. Miami has struggled in consecutive weeks to beat 2-5 UNC and 4-4 Wake Forest while the Seminoles have been decimating teams. Miami has got some quality talent on both sides of the ball, but it hasn't fully come together in convincing fashion this year. Stephen Morris can be very up or down (and I bet he'll be down against Florida State's 4th ranked defense) which has only been exacerbated by the loss of his favorite receiver, Philip Dorsett. Canes running back Duke Johnson is a fantastic player, but if Morris can't get going expect the Noles to crowd the box and challenge Morris to lead Miami to victory. When Florida State is on offense, don't look away for a second. They have huge playmakers at every key position that allows them to score on explosive plays. This bitter rivalry game might have the rankings here to make it a compelling match up, but I can't see how Miami is able to stop Jameis Winston and the stable of running backs Jimbo Fisher utilizes. Florida State needs to score some style points here for voters and needs points for the BCS system if they want to give Oregon a taste of their own medicine. I got Florida State by a landslide, 49-24.