Even as the smoke of the Penn State still hazes over the college football landscape, the games must go on. This week features a few marquee matchups on the itinerary including USC vs. Oregon, Nebraska vs. Michigan, and Oklahoma vs. Baylor. This is really the one breather week college football as the next two weeks will feature rivalry week and conference championship week. Teams are now fighting for bowl position as well with the BCS Bowls still up for grabs. The one loss brigade of Oregon, Alabama, Arkansas, Boise State, Clemson, Stanford and undefeated but non AQ status Houston will fight it out to the end for those spots.
LSU and Oklahoma State are slated for the national championship as we stand now but we all know that can change in a matter of a Les Miles crazy coaching moment or a Brandon Weeden knee injury. Both teams still have tough opponents on their schedule with LSU taking on Arkansas and Ok. State still having the whole Bedlam thing with Oklahoma. The stage is set for another dramatic ending to the season for college football.
#17 Nebraska vs. #20 Michigan – This is Nebraska’s first trip to the Big House since 1962 and they will have to deal with Denard Robinson and the Wolverines offense. Robinson isn’t as hot as he was to begin the season but he still is as explosive as any player in the college game. These mirror each other as they are both 8-2 and 5-2 in the conference. They are ranked 12th and 13th nationally in rushing with the Huskers coming into the game averaging 232.7 and Michigan at 231.3. The Cornhuskers need a big game from Rex Burkhead as he carried the load for his team with 121 yards and a touchdown against Penn State. The Wolverines Fitzgerald Toussiant has started to make his mark at RB and will get his share of the ball in this one. In the end I trust Nebraska’s defense way more than Michigan’s. Taylor Martinez of the Huskers showed some signs against Northwestern as he completed some tough passes and posted good numbers, even though they lost. Look for Nebraska to put the squeeze on the Wolverines offense with their stellar defense.
The Pick: Nebraska
USC vs. #4 Oregon: Let the Deanthony Thomas bowl commence as the Trojans travel to Eugene to face the Ducks. Thomas was the five-star prospect that spurned the Trojans for the Ducks after being committed to the Trojans for months. Matt Barkley and the Trojans offense have found their groove as they have finally found play-makers aside from WR Robert Woods. Curtis McNeal at running back and freshmen wideout Marquise Lee have really come on and solidified their offense. Everyone knows the Ducks story with their break neck speed offense full of weapons. The Ducks easily handled Stanford with LaMichael James and their potent rushing offense leading the way. The surprising aspect of that game was the Ducks defense which had five turnovers as they seem to be hitting their stride on that side of the ball. USC’s best chance is to turn this one into a shoot out but Oregon’s offense can hang with anybody. The Ducks defense should make enough stops to give them the victory.
The Pick: Oregon
#5 Oklahoma vs. #22 Baylor: I still can’t understand the Sooners lost to Texas Tech. They have played lights out since beating Kansas State and Texas A&M 99-42. That just makes the loss to the Red Raiders more puzzling. The Baylor Bears won’t be a tough out for the Sooners either as they feature the electric QB Robert Griffin III. He has been phenomenal this year. He is 224/302 for 3,093 yards 29 touchdowns to just 5 interceptions, Heisman trophy worthy numbers in other words. He has weapons to as WR Kendall Wright has 81 receptions for 1,073 yards and 9 touchdowns and RB Terrance Ganaway has 889 and 10 touchdowns. The Bears explosive offense will test Oklahoma’s stout defense. We all know what the Sooners offense brings to the table as Landry Jones leads their potent attack. There are worries for them as WR Ryan Broyles of course is out for the year with a torn ACL, RB Dominick Whaley out for the year and WR Kenny Stills being plagued with nagging injuries. This one smells like an upset to me as Baylor has the tools on offense to take down the Sooners. If RGIII can get loose early and gain some confidence, then early momentum can carry the Bears. It happened against Texas Tech for the Sooners and Baylor is even better on offense. Oklahoma has been playing great but Baylor can spring the upset.
The Pick: Baylor
Game of the week: Oregon vs. USC – This should be an exciting one with two sizzling offense at the helm. Will the Ducks suffer a letdown after last week’s big victory over the Cardinal? Matt Barkley has and the explosive offense will give them a run for their money.
Most Intriguing game: #16 Kansas State vs. Texas - Colin Klein has become Tim Tebow and is leading the country in rushing TDs. Texas just a couple of weeks was riding high until injuries to RB Fozzy Whitaker and WR Jaxon Shipley. This will be an old fashioned Big 12 slug fest.
Under the radar game: SMU vs. #11 Houston – The Cougars still have an outside chance of making it to a BCS Bowl game if everything falls into place. Case Keenum and the boys take on tougher than advertised in June Jones led Mustangs squad that beat TCU earlier this year.
Coach better get it right game: Vanderbilt vs. Tennessee – The Vols only chance to make a bowl game to beat traditional SEC bottom dwellers Vandy and Kentucky. The problem is that Vanderbilt isn’t a push over this year as Head Coach James Franklin has his team buying into his “All in” message. Tennessee fans won’t except losing to the Commodores, even if they are a decent team. If Derek Dooley can some way to get the Volunteers into a bowl game it would save him a lot of heat going into next year. Coach Dooley, you better get it right.