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Thursday, November 18, 2010

College Football Weekend Setup

This weekend in college football won’t feature any of the top three teams, as they all have a bye week. The most interesting games this weekend are coming out of the Big Ten and the ACC instead of the usual blockbuster games in the SEC. Boise St. also has a prime-time game this Friday with the always anytime, anywhere and any place Fresno State Bulldogs (I love their coach Pat Hill). Ohio State takes on Iowa as the Buckeyes try to break through the three-way logjam at the top of the division and Wisconsin makes a visit to the Big House to face Denard Robinson and the Wolverines. Virginia Tech has a chance to clinch the Coastal Division with a win over Miami. There also is a good match-up in the Big 12 as Nebraska and Texas A&M battle.

Now for the breakdown of the games:

Ohio State (9-1) vs. Iowa (7-3) – The Buckeyes escaped with a victory last week against Penn State on the strength of a second half comeback. Ohio State got two pick sixes after intermission and were able to avoid the upset. Terrelle Pryor hasn’t been putting up the Heisman type numbers everyone thought he would this year, but still has been effective and is the proven leader of his team. The man to watch on the Buckeyes however is now RB Dan Herron. He rushed for 190 yards versus Penn St and has a rushing TD in every game this year since the opener against Marshall. Iowa has to be kicking themselves in the foot as they lost to Northwestern yet again this year (The Hawkeyes have lost five of the past six to the Wildcats, who knew?). Pick six Rick reared his ugly head as Stanzi threw a critical interception deep in Northwestern territory that eventually led to the game-winning Wildcat touchdown. The late game interception has to make Kirk Ferentz nervous going into this one. The Buckeyes have the top rated pass-defense in the Big Ten with 17 interceptions and while only allowing 151.1 yards a game. The Buckeyes also have a dazzling plus 14 turnover margin but the Hawkeyes are not far behind at plus 12. I look for Ohio State to come out and control the game with their running attack and don’t see an answer on Iowa’s defense for Pryor. The Buckeyes defense will force Stanzi into bad decisions and turnovers. Watch out for DE Aaron Clayborn though, he has been dominant this year. The Buckeyes have won 13 of 15 in this series and should keep continue their dominance in this series. The Pick: Ohio State

Wisconsin (9-1) vs. Michigan (7-3) – As I watched the bottom line scores on ESPN and saw how the Badgers hung 83 on Indiana, it got my mind to wondering, how in the world will the Wolverines be able to stop such a potent running attack? Indiana is actually ranked higher than Michigan on defense! The Wolverines have the worst ranked total defense out of all eleven schools in the Big Ten, so this could get ugly. The Badgers didn’t even have their starting running back as John Clay was out with a sprained MCL. The only way I believe the Wolverines stand a chance this game is to score and score a lot. They do have the top ranked offense in the conference thanks to the exploits of QB Denard Robinson .The bad thing about that is that Robinson is coming off his two worst rushing totals of the year with a combined 130 yards against Illinois and Purdue. Robinson also had two interceptions a piece in those games. This game will basically be all about ball control. If the Wolverines can find a way to keep its much maligned defense off the field, they may have a chance. Robinson will have to make good decisions because the Badgers defense preys on mistakes. In the end though, the Badgers run game will be too much with Clay, and James White. When they get their running attack going, you have to look out for QB Scott Tolzien to go play-fake and take a shot down field. I look for the Wolverines to stick with the Badgers until the second half and then give way to the pressure and fatigue that the Wisconsin run game has applied all year to so many of their opponents. The Pick: Wisconsin

Nebraska (9-1) vs. Texas A&M (7-3)- And now to break the monotony of Big Ten games, we have the Cornhuskers vs. the Aggies. The Cornhuskers are another team that has to be upset they couldn’t have pulled out the victory against a down Texas team. If they had beaten the Longhorns, they would be at the forefront of the national title race. QB Taylor Martinez has been nursing an injured ankle but looks to be ready to go in this one. The Aggies were reeling after three straight losses to Oklahoma Stats, Arkansas, and Missouri before turning to QB Ryan Tannehill to take over for the turnover-proned Jerrod Johnson. All Tannehill has done is throw for 1,109 yards and 10 touchdowns to lead the Aggies on a four game winning streak. Texas A&M will need the best from Tannehill as the Cornhuskers are top in the nation in defensive passing efficiency. Nebraska will try to pound the Aggies with their option running attack. Roy Helu Jr. has cooled a bit since his 307 yard game against Missouri but is always a threat. The Aggies run a little option of their own but not as much as they did when Johnson was starting at QB. This one to me looks like an upset. The Aggies have been playing some of the best ball in the land since inserting Tannehill as the starter. Nebraska has been up and down over the past few weekends and with the game being played at Texas A&M, I’m going with the upset. The Pick: Texas A&M

Game of the week – Ohio State vs. Iowa – The Buckeyes look to break the three-way tie atop the Big Ten standings.

Most Intriguing game – Virginia Tech vs. Miami – The Hokies can clinch the ACC coastal division with a win and have won 10 of 15 against the Hurricanes.

Rivalry Game – Tennessee vs. Vandy – The Vols have won four straight over the Commodores since Vandy snapped their 22-game winning streak in 2005. UT has to win this game and their next against Kentucky go get a shot at a bowl game.

Under the radar game – Florida State vs. Maryland – Yet another conference division that has a logjam at the top with three teams (Florida State, N.C. State and Maryland). If Florida State losses this one, they would be eliminated. Fortunate for the Seminoles they have had the Terrapins number going 17-1 against them since they’ve joined the ACC.

Wake me when it’s over game – Memphis vs. UAB – At this point in the season, both of these teams are just playing for pride.

Coach better get it right game – Pittsburgh vs.USF – Dave Wannstedt always has his team in contention but they never seem to get over the hump. The Panthers have talent and their record should be better this year. Wannstedt needs his team to win out to win the conference and to have a winning record.

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