2011 NCAAF Week 14 Weekend Preview

December 2, 2011

They say that every weekend in the current system is a playoff. Maybe they’ll have to tweak that a little bit.

It seems as if LSU is destined to end up in the national title game, regardless of how this weekend plays out. That is upsetting news for Oklahoma State, which is getting ready for possibly the biggest Battle of Bedlam game the school has ever played in when they take on 13th ranked Oklahoma on Saturday night. It’s also upsetting news for fans who do not want to see LSU-Alabama II. However, at this point, all anyone can do it sit, watch and hope.

Here is a list of my top five games to watch this weekend, as well as five more games to keep an eye on.

5 Games to Pay Attention to This Weekend

#24 Southern Mississippi at #7 Houston (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

The only thing that stands between the Houston Cougars and a BCS bowl bid are the Golden Eagles, another double-digit win team who is less than ten points from being undefeated themselves. Although this is the Conference USA title game, Houston gets the luxury of suiting up in their own stadium, which will serve as a benefit to head coach Kevin Sumlin and his team. Still,  this is without a doubt Houston’s toughest test of the season.

Last weekend, the Cougars went on the road to face a Tulsa team that had a pretty good offense up to that point, and soundly beat the Golden Hurricane 48-16. This weekend, Houston faces the challenge of going up against a team with both a good offense and defense. Southern Miss probably won’t let Houston score over 45 points, but the Golden Eagles will have to abide by the same game plan that the last two C-USA foes have in order to have a chance in this one. Southern Miss will not survive a shootout with the Cougars; if they want a chance, they will have to be the first team to make Houston’s offense look bad.

My Pick: 37-21 Houston

#12 Georgia vs. #1 LSU (Saturday, 4:00 PM ET)

The majority of experts believe that no matter what happens in the SEC Championship Game, the LSU Tigers will still be headed to New Orleans to play for the BCS National Championship. While I would like to hold out hope that one of the two teams currently at the top of the rankings (LSU and Alabama) would suffer from a Georgia victory, I will concede that it seems unlikely. However, that does not mean that the Bulldogs will lay down and let LSU walk all over them. Georgia is one of the most improved teams in the country and will get to prove that to a national audience on Saturday afternoon.

This game will likely come down to the play of the Georgia defense and the play of Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray. The defense is statistically one of the best in the conference, although many of Georgia’s wins have come against teams with mediocre offenses. The Bulldogs will have to play optimistic on that side of the ball if they want to stay in this game; they currently lead the conference in turnovers gained, and will need to force at least a couple on Saturday. As for Murray, he will likely need to play the game of his life in order for Georgia to succeed against LSU’s defense, but he is more than capable of doing so. It may be wishful thinking, but I see an upset in this one that at the very least will guarantee far more controversy than there already is.

My Pick: 24-20 Georgia

#5 Virginia Tech vs. #21 Clemson (Saturday, 8 PM ET)

The Hokies have to be screaming “what about us?” in regards to the national title picture. If Virginia Tech were to beat Clemson on Saturday night, then they too will have beaten every team on their schedule this season (the Hokies suffered a 23-3 loss at home to the Tigers on October 1st). While their overall body of work may not stack up favorably to teams like LSU and Alabama, they will be able to say that they took on all comers and beat them. Besides, I think I made it clear what I think of the “overall body of work” principle last week.

This is a tale of two teams heading in opposite directions. Virginia Tech is playing well and has a lot on the line in this game. Clemson is reeling, having lost three of their last four games and not looking nearly as good on offense as they did during their 8-0 start to the season. This game will probably come down to the running game. Virginia Tech has been successful on the ground this year, thanks to David Wilson, who is averaging 132.9 YPG rushing. Clemson has been similarly unsuccessful at stopping the run, ahead of only Maryland in the ACC in yards given up on the ground. If the Virginia Tech offensive line is able to dominate the Clemson defensive front, and I suspect they will, then the Hokies will be celebrating an ACC title.

My Pick: 28-17 Virginia Tech

#13 Oklahoma at #3 Oklahoma State (Saturday, 8 PM ET)

Oklahoma State, maybe even more so than Virginia Tech, is probably screaming “what about us?” regarding the national title game. However, Virginia Tech didn’t lose to Iowa State, and Oklahoma State doesn’t get to face Iowa State again and claim that they beat everyone on their schedule. Still, this game is looking like it will be one of the biggest in the history of the Battle of Bedlam, and a Cowboys win can’t hurt their argument any.

This game actually sets up pretty nicely for Oklahoma State. They have yet to score less than 30 points in any of their games this season, and Oklahoma’s two losses came against teams who were able to score a lot of points. The Sooners have been suspect at times on defense this year, which could mean good things for Brandon Weeden and the rest of the Cowboy offense. Even so, it has been nine years since Oklahoma State has knocked off their in-state rivals, and the loss to Iowa State was ugly. Expect a close, high scoring game that could come down to the final possession.

My Pick: 38-35 Oklahoma

#15 Wisconsin vs. #11 Michigan State (Saturday, 8 PM ET)

Yet another regular season rematch will decide the first ever Big Ten Championship Game. Both teams are coming into this game with some momentum, and we will be in for a treat if this one is anything like when these two teams squared off on October 22nd. It is fitting that the Big Ten’s first dip into the new age of college football (that is, a conference championship game deciding which team truly wins the league) will be a classic Big Ten battle; Wisconsin’s tough rushing attack against Michigan State’s lockdown rush defense.

Since Wisconsin dropped two games in a row, assuring that they would not be in contention for a national title bid, their offense has been on a mission. Montee Ball has had no trouble running the ball this season, and has yet to score less than two touchdowns on the ground in a game. If Michigan State would like to upset the Badgers once again, they will need to find a way to contain Ball. On the offensive end, the Spartans will look to have the kind of success they did against Wisconsin they had the first time around, but it will be tough. The Badgers stifled Penn State last weekend, and will be coming after Kirk Cousins all game long. It would be an upset of similar magnitude if the Spartans were to win against the Badgers a second time.

My Pick: 31-21 Wisconsin

5 More to Flip To

Ohio vs. Northern Illinois (Friday, 7 PM ET)

The Bobcats will need an answer for Huskies quarterback Chandler Harnish, who has thrown 23 touchdowns and just 4 interceptions this season.

UCLA at #9 Oregon (Friday, 8 PM ET)

Win one for the Neuh? The Bruins will look to send Rick Neuheisel out a winner, as the Pac-12 Championship Game is the final game for the coach whose career at UCLA has been interesting to say the least.

UConn at Cincinnati (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

Thursday night was heartbreaking for the Bearcats. West Virginia’s game-winning field goal to beat South Florida as time expired means that a win by Cincinnati will simply send the Mountaineers to a BCS bowl.

Texas at #19 Baylor (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

What a wonderful job Art Briles has done at Baylor. If the Bears beat Texas and also manage to win their bowl game, they will enjoy only their second 10 win season in school history.

BYU at Hawaii (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET)

It’s always nice to see the Warriors play at home during bowl season, but it may not happen this year. Hawaii needs to beat a solid BYU squad in order to become bowl eligible.

An Expression of Gratitude

In addition to this article being the final “Weekend Preview” post of the season, it also happens to be Around The Corn’s 200th overall post. I honestly cannot believe that I have kept this site going for as long as I have. When I started writing on ATC almost two years ago, it was a way for me to try to revive a dying passion of mine; writing. Now, not only has my passion for writing been restored, but it has grown exponentially stronger. The same can be said of my passion for sports.

I cannot thank all of you who have read even one of my posts over the last two years enough. Without the occasional comment people post to the blog or the sports related conversations that friends start at BW3s, keeping this going would have been a whole lot harder. Not only has this become something that I can do for fun, but it has also been a tool I can use to my advantage in the academic sphere. Not too long ago I used an article I wrote as the basis for an English paper.

Again, I am grateful to everyone who has contributed in even the smallest way. I hope to continue to do this as long as I have a desire to, and I also hope never to be too busy to engage in a conversation with someone about sports. Remember that my email kbecks@aroundthecorn.com is as good a way as any to reach me, and at this point my inbox is pretty clear.

Here’s to 200 more!

– K. Becks

2 Responses to 2011 NCAAF Week 14 Weekend Preview

  1. mancolepig on December 2, 2011 at 11:40 pm

    Congrats to the post Kyle. but georgia? really? another k becks stretch pick lol

    • K. Becks on December 16, 2011 at 8:46 pm

      It looked good for a half.

      Don’t worry; the stretch picks are over. I plan to dominate Bowl Mania this season.

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