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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sportaholic College Football Weekend Setup

Last weekend was a great array of games including some of the best finishes we will probably see all season. And this Saturday will be even better as there are quite a few statement games on the docket. Florida State vs. Oklahoma of course will be the marquee game of the day as Bob Stoops and #1 ranked Sooners travel to Tallahassee to face the 5th ranked Seminoles. If Florida State is truly looking to join the elite again, then they have every opportunity to do so this Saturday. The annual Tennessee-Florida tilt is a little more exciting this year as UT features a fearless passing attack led by Tyler Bray K-47. This is always one of my favorite games of the year as a SEC fan. It’s the first real test for both teams and the outcome could determine the fate of the SEC East race. The Miami vs. Ohio State game could be called the ineligible bowl (What? You thought about that as well) as everyone who watches college football knows of all the allegations facing both programs, but even with that cloud hanging over this game the talent of the field will be evident. Other good games include Auburn at Clemson, Arizona State vs. Illinois, and Boise State vs. Toledo. All of these games should have a bit of intrigue to them as the college football season finally kicks it into overdrive. Many teams will be tested this week to enjoyment of the fans.

Now for the breakdown of the weekend’s best games:

#1 Oklahoma vs. #5 Florida State – This is the game to watch for obvious reasons this weekend. Florida State hasn’t played a game of this grandeur since 2004 when they faced #6 Virginia (Yeah, you read that right Virginia was ranked #6, surprised me to) and put a beat down on them 36-3. To win this game the Seminoles can not have anything close to the showing they had last year in Norman. Landry Jones absolutely carved them up throwing for 380 yards and 4 touchdowns and his favorite target in the 47-17 massacre was Ryan Broyles caught 12 passes for 124 yards and 1 touchdown. FSU of course is much improved since then as they brought in one of the best recruiting classes in the nation and added a lot more depth in their secondary. The ‘Noles will need to control the clock with their stable of running backs including James Wilder, Chris Thompson, Devonta Freeman or even B.J Manuel who will get his fair share of runs. Speaking of Manuel, he presents a different type of animal then what Oklahoma faced last year with Christian Ponder. The athletically gifted Manuel can do a lot more things out of the pocket and could hurt the defense when he improvises to find open receivers. Manuel has been good taking care of the ball this year as well as he only has two interceptions. As far as the Sooners offense, I believe they have the most balanced team in the nation with the emergence of Dominique Whaley who had a couple of Sportscenter-esque runs. This game has a chance to be a shootout as both teams can put up numbers on offense. If it does come down to this, I have to go with Oklahoma due to the balance of their offense as I stated earlier but it will be much closer than last year’s score. Prediction: Oklahoma

Tennessee vs. Florida – This is my personal favorite game every season because of the tradition that it has. The winner of this game has went on to win the SEC East in 12 of the 19 years of the SEC. The rivalry has fallen on hard times as UT was not completive over the last few seasons but low and behold they have finally got back up. Their offense features maybe the top passing trio in the SEC with Bray, Rogers, and Hunter. Bray has been brilliant this season so far going 51/65 for 698 yards 7 Td passes no interceptions and a 78.5 completion rate. Bray has two great targets in Da’Rick Rogers and Justin Hunter. Both are big, strong, physical receivers who can catch the ball on anyone. Florida will get its first real game for new coach Will Muschamp and his team will get a boost as beast defensive linemen Shariff Floyd comes back from suspension to join the team. Florida’s defense is the strength of the team this year as the have the #1 scoring defense in the nation. The Gators front 7 is as good as it gets in college football with Jaye Howard, Ronald Powell and the aforementioned Floyd. The only weakness it appears to have is in its secondary as they feature two freshman cornerbacks. That has to scare the bejesus out of Muschamp as Bray comes to town. The Florida offense has relied heavily on its two headed monster of Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps to provide explosive plays with their speed. They have been up to the task so far but against far less competition. Jeff Brantley has played solid for the Gators so far this season but nothing spectacular in Charlie Weis’s new pro style offense. Speaking of nothing spectacular Tennessee’s defense has been decent so far this year but they will challenged early and often with the Gators two speedy running backs. The Vols haven’t been strong on the defensive line particularly this year as they don’t have the horses you need to shore up that issue. Malik Jackson has been the team’s most disruptive player on defense but he can’t do it all himself. This game will come down to the two teams strengths which for Tennessee is offense and for Florida is defense. Bray should be able to attack the Gators secondary if he gets enough time. Florida’s defensive line is the as disruptive a line as you will find and will try to touch Bray as much as they can. The ex-factor in this game will be Taurean Poole. If he can gain enough yards to keep the Gators defense honest then UT will be able to throw the ball on them. I think Bray will be in for a shell shock moment when he hears the crowd in the swamp but eventually will lead UT to the win. Florida’s offense just doesn’t seem to have the firepower to this year. Prediction: Tennessee

Miami vs. Ohio State – The ineligible bowl will be played in Miami this year and the Canes are looking for some revenge from last years defeat. I won’t even say the easy jokes and punch lines that come with this one. Ohio State narrowly escaped Toledo last week as they had to play a full game to defeat the Rockets. Miami on the other hand lost altogether to Maryland and those hideous uniforms 24-32. The good thing for the ‘Canes is that they will be getting back starters QB Jacory Harris (Don’t know if that a good thing or bad thing), LB Sean Speance, DT Marcus Fortson, DE Adwale Ojomo, and WR Travis Benjamin. Harris wasn’t very good last year when the two teams faced off in Columbus as he threw four interceptions. But that was last years Buckeyes defense, anyone who saw them against Toledo knows that the Hurricanes should have a few open windows to throw in. The Buckeyes have been doing well in the run stop department as they have only allowed 81 yards so far this season but will be tested by the underrated Miami RB Lamar Miller. Ohio State’s offense isn’t the prettiest thing to watch but it’s effective. Senior Joe Bauserman and freshman Braxton Miller provide a 1-2 punch of sorts with Bauserman usually starting and the Buckeyes running a separate package for the more athletically gifted Miller. The run game is always the name of the game in Columbus and this year Carlos Hyde (33 carries 169 yards 2 Tds) and Rod Smith (25 carries 98 yards 1 Td) have been toting the rock for the Buckeyes this year. This game comes down to if the Buckeye defense can force Harris into the same type of mistakes he made last year. Hurricanes new coach Al Golden anointed Harris the starter coming back off suspension and he needs to show the coach was right in picking him. I believe the Hurricanes will finally stand up and take back some of their dignity this game. Prediction: Miami

Game of the WeekFlorida State vs. Oklahoma: This one was easy this week. Anytime you have the #1 team taking on the #5 team then more than likely that’s going to be your marquee match-up. The hype has been building all week for these two teams. Can the Seminoles re-assert themselves as a major player in the college football world or can the Boomer Sooners reinforce their hold as the #1 ranked team in all the land?

Rivalry Game – BYU vs. Utah: As much as I want to go Tennessee-Florida here, Louisville-Kentucky, or even Colorado vs. Colorado State, I have to pay homage to the holy war of BYU vs. Utah. This game is usually played later in November on rivalry week but because of Utah switching to the Pac-12 they had to move up the date. Both teams are coming off tough losses and would love none other but to put the other on a two game losing skid. This one has all the makings of a great game.

Most Intriguing game - Penn State vs. Temple: Joe Pa and co will have a tougher than expected test against the Owls this year. Temple leads the nation in sacks with 11 so far and will look to get pressure on Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin. The Nittany Lions are 36-3-1 all time against Temple but a lot of experts are saying this one will won’t be easy. We shall see this Saturday.

Under the radar game – West Virginia vs. Maryland: This should be a fun one for all you offensive minded fans. Maryland coming off their victory over Miami and the big controversy over those uniforms welcomes in a West Virginia team that likes to light up the scoreboard. West Virginia has won five in a row over the Terps and haven’t but that means nothing at this point.

Wake when its over game – Miami of Ohio vs. Minnesota: It really sucks that I have to choose this game after the situation that Gophers coach Jerry Kill suffered against USC last weekend. He appears to be ok and will be on the sidelines for this one. As far as the game itself, you have yourself have a Miami of Ohio team that has lost their last 14 non-conference road games and Minnesota who hasn’t beaten anyone of recognition it seems in forever. This one will be a snooze fest and the Big Ten Network is only covering this game because it has to.

Coach better get it right game – Kentucky vs. Louisville: I will lay off of Mark Richt this week as he has enough problems as it is. Kentucky has looked awful in its two wins with an inept offense this year. Head Coach Joker Phillips’ team needs to show some fire for the Wildcat faithful to prove he is the man for the job. No better time to for that than when arch rival Louisville and coach Charlie Strong steps onto the field. Three of the past four meetings have been decided by 7 points or less so this should be a good one.

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