October 31st, 2013
By Mike Nowoswiat and Brett Ciancia
By Mike Nowoswiat and Brett Ciancia
SOUTHERN CAL at OREGON STATE
Fri. Nov. 1st, 9:00. ESPN2. AT Reser Stadium.
Oregon State was stifled last Saturday night against the Stanford defense, who played up to the high hype I had been giving them since July. QB Sean Mannion was averaging 420 yards passing per game, but was held to just 270 - the unstoppable force was slowed down enough to cause the Beaver's second loss. Did Stanford produce the blueprint of slowing down OSU's high-powered offense? USC, and Interim Coach Ed Orgeron sure hope so. The Trojans have gone 2-1 since the firing of Lane Kiffin, but huge inconsistencies arise on the offensive side of the ball. Will the unit that scored 38 on Arizona show up, or will the stagnant squad that scored 10 and 19 against Notre Dame and Utah appear again? As expected, USC's lack of depth is again a problem as we enter the final month of the season. The latest victim: Marqise Lee, the defending Biletnikoff Winner. Freshman QB Cody Kessler is showing signs of improvement, and is aided by Running Backs Tre Madden and Silas Redd. This is a crucial game in the PAC-12; USC would fall out of the division race with a third loss, while Oregon State looks to bounce back in the midst of a brutal 5 game stretch. In their first real test, the Beaver offense collapsed. Worn out from that physical battle, and facing another stingy defense, look for Oregon State to drop a second loss in a row... USC 24 Oregon State 20
WISCONSIN at IOWA
Sat. Nov. 2nd, 12:00. ABC/ESPN2. AT Kinnick Stadium.
Wisconsin is basically a one-loss team, with its loss being a one-score loss to the nation's fourth best team, Ohio State, in Columbus. The other loss came at the expense of some poor officiating as the Badgers lost by two at Arizona State. Iowa has played very solid, but not great, football this year. The Hawkeyes are 5-0 against unranked teams and 0-3 against ranked teams. Against ranked teams, Iowa has run for 4.13 yards per carry, totaled 366 yards per game, and allowed 448 yards per game. Against unranked teams, Iowa has run for 4.43 yards per carry, totaled 417 yards per game, and allowed 244 yards per game. Iowa's defense has struggled in losses, and been stellar in wins. Wisconsin may just be the best offense that Iowa will see all season; the Badgers have averaged 40 points per game and had a bye week to prepare for this game. Melvin Gordon already has 1,012 yards and 11 TDs through only seven games as Wisconsin is slowly becoming 'Running Back U.' He is the only Running Back on our Heisman Rankings and is a highly-talented runner, not just a "product of the system." As if Gordon wasn't enough, James White gives the Badgers a two-headed monster out of the backfield as he has already accumulated 672 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground this year. White is also extremely versatile out of the backfield as he is the team's second-leading receiver, having already caught 21 balls for 189 yards and a score. Iowa out muscled Ohio State for the first half, but was eventually worn down in the second. Look for a similar outcome here: a close game at half, with Wisconsin pulling away and hoisting the Heartland Trophy to take a 43-42 all-time series lead... Wisconsin 38 Iowa 24
GEORGIA vs. FLORIDA
Sat. Nov. 2nd, 3:30. CBS. AT Gator Bowl Stadium.
Saying that this game has been more important in the past would be an understatement. For what was once the de facto SEC semifinal game, this game lacks its usual luster. Still, not thinking about the past, this is a big rivalry game. Will Muschamp wants revenge against his alma mater that ruined his chances of going undefeated last year and Mark Richt just wants to keep his job. Aaron Murray is still one of the nation’s elite quarterbacks and the second-most important player to this offense returns in RB Todd Gurley, whose absence has been sorely missed, especially without his back-up, Keith Marshall, there to fill in for him. Since Gurley went down in the LSU game, Georgia has looked terrible. The Bulldogs have lost to Missouri and Vanderbilt and nearly lost to Tennessee. While Gurley was playing, they beat LSU and South Carolina, and nearly beat Clemson in Death Valley. Unfortunately, Florida does not have the luxury of their best player, DT Dominique Easley, returning. Easley was lost for the season with an ACL tear and his absence has been missed. The Gator secondary has carried this team this season, and will need to continue to do so for Florida to win on Saturday. Without Malcolm Mitchell or Justin Scott-Wesley, Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson could shut down the Georgia receivers and put the pressure on Todd Gurley to be the offense in his first game back from injury. Florida is only allowing 3.65 yards per rush and 273 total yards per game. It is easier for me to think of Florida’s performance against Missouri as a fluke as it is for me to think of Todd Gurley’s absence as the sole reason for Georgia’s poor play. Florida secures a PICK SIX to put them a touchdown over their season scoring average…Florida 28 Georgia 24
MICHIGAN at MICHIGAN STATE
Sat. Nov. 2nd, 3:30. ABC. AT Spartan Stadium.
A team averaging 42 points a game meets a defense that allows just 12, as Michigan travels cross-state to East Lansing with the Paul Bunyan Trophy and 365 days of state bragging rights on the line. It had been four years of the state being painted green, until the Wolverines finally broke through last fall with a hard fought, 12-10 win in the Big House. Now, it is Michigan State with the inside track in the BigTen Legends race, as both Michigan and Nebraska have suffered rough upset losses. The Spartan defense has allowed just 3 points over the last 8 quarters while Michigan scored a point-a-minute in their previous game -- something's gotta give. In big games this year, the Spartan offense disappears, and the team relies too heavily on its defense to slow the opponent, and even score themselves! The matchup of WR Jeremy Gallon vs. CB Darqueze Dennard should be very intriguing as well. Look for Michigan's offensive stars to make enough plays to get on the scoreboard first. This is a bad spot for Michigan State to be in, as their weak passing attack is not built to play from behind. In accordance with my preseason prediction (Michigan 2nd, MSU 3rd), the Wolverines, fresh off a bye, will roll here and take back the driver's seat to Indianapolis (for now)... Michigan 27 Michigan State 21
OKLAHOMA STATE at TEXAS TECH
Sat. Nov. 2nd, 7:00. FOX. AT Jones AT&T Stadium.
In what is essentially a Big12 Title elimination game, Texas Tech looks to rebound from a loss to the other school from Oklahoma. This time, the Red Raiders get home field advantage. Oklahoma State scored 58 points last week against Iowa State, but there are apparent flaws behind the scoreboard. QB Clint Chelf struggled passing the ball - just 78 yards. If Chelf's issues continue, will he be looking over his shoulder with JW Walsh behind him? The good news is the emergence of Desmond Roland at Running Back - the Junior had a breakout game last Saturday, carrying 26 times for 219 yards and 4 TD's. Texas Tech simply could not stop the Sooners, especially on the ground, giving up 277 rushing yards. This plays into Oklahoma State's strength, and I see the Cowboys running at will on the Red Raiders. This will be a classic Big 12 shootout, when factoring in the TT air assault. Ultimately, I think Texas Tech will still be reeling from their first loss last week, and Gundy's passing offense will bounce back to complement its already potent ground game... Oklahoma State 41 Texas Tech 35
MIAMI at FLORIDA STATE
Sat Nov. 2nd, 8:00. ABC. AT Doak Campbell Stadium.
ACC Game of the Century II? Not quite. This one has a clear favorite and talent discrepancy. Is Miami being underrated coming into this game? Absolutely. But the average margin of victory for Florida State is 39.6, while Miami’s is 21.9. Most notably, Miami’s average margin of victory against ACC opponents is 7.33, while FSU’s is 34.8, including a matchup with Clemson. So style points are a big, big factor in the perception of this game. Stephen Morris can be one of the best QBs in the nation, but he has been hampered by injuries for most of the season, thus limiting his performance. Jameis Winston is my pick for the Heisman Trophy as he has dissected defenses each week, which has led draft analysts to speak of his name in the same breath as Andrew Luck and John Elway. In addition, Florida State’s defense is truly elite. Miami’s is improved after a lackluster 2012, but is still far from Florida State’s unit in both talent and execution. Florida State has at least one potential first round pick at every level including DT Timmy Jernigan, LB Christian Jones, and S Lamarcus Joyner, who may not be a first round pick because of his height, but is a sure-fire All-American, which is all that really matters in this game. They will have to worry about stopping RB Duke Johnson, who is coming in averaging at least 83 yards in each of his last four games. Against a unit like the FSU defense, Stephen Morris will need to be able to throw the ball better than he has because it will be tough sledding for any one-dimensional offense to put points on the board. Do I think that he can? Yes. Do I think that he can outscore Jameis Winston against a weaker Miami defense? No. Not to mention, Florida State isn’t just worried about winning this game. They are worried about style points as they are in a battle for number two with Oregon…Florida State 52 Miami 17