2011 NCAAF Week 4 Weekend Preview

September 24, 2011

As expected, “Road Test” Weekend was able to weed out some of the teams that just weren’t for real. The Buckeyes fell when the hurricane rolled through. It was evident that Illini fans pleased the sun god, because the Sun Devils were no match for Illinois at home. Sparty learned that the third time really is a charm for the Fighting Irish. However, some teams proved their worth. Most notably was Oklahoma, who went into Doak Campbell Stadium and dispatched a much improved Florida State team that was looking to help themselves as well as the ACC regain relevance in the college football world.

This week is almost if not more exciting. Some very entertaining conference matchups will take place, which will give us a better idea who is really the cream of the crop in conferences such as the Big 12 and SEC.

Here is a list of my top five games to watch this weekend, as well as five more games to keep an eye on and some storylines that will keep people talking.

5 Games to Pay Attention to This Weekend

San Diego State at #22 Michigan (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

Brady Hoke gets a chance to show his former team just how far he has come as the Aztecs invade Ann Arbor looking to upset a Michigan team that some argue is overrated. San Diego State should feel confident that they will be able to move the ball against the Wolverines. The Aztecs boast sophomore running back Ronnie Hillman, one of the best rushers in the entire nation, and will likely use him a lot in this game. Hillman is second in the nation in rushing yards for the season, and will face a Michigan defense that has been suspect against the run this year.

If San Diego State can control the clock, they have the rushing attack to drive down the field and will be in good position. The Aztecs also have the ability to go blow for blow with Michigan if the game turns into an offensive shootout as well. Do not expect Hoke and the Wolverines to roll right over San Diego State; this one will be entertaining, and it will be close.

My Pick: 38-35 Michigan

#11 Florida State at #21 Clemson (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

After suffering a tough loss to Oklahoma at home, the Seminoles get to travel to Death Valley to take on a Clemson team that is coming off an emotional win against previously undefeated Auburn. If Florida State wants to avoid a letdown, they are going to have to come out ready to play early. Clemson fell behind Auburn 21-7 last weekend, and if Florida State can get out to a similar lead, they have the defense to hold it.

Clemson has a powerful offense thanks to the play of quarterback Tajh Boyd, who looked great in leading his team to victory last weekend. If he can have a similar effort against Florida State, Clemson may be looking at a legitimate shot to win the ACC Atlantic division title. However, Florida State is far better on defense than any team the Tigers have played up to this point. Clemson will have a hard time scoring over 35 points as they have done in their previous three games this season.

My Pick: 33-21 Florida State

#14 Arkansas at #2 Alabama (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

Statistically, Arkansas is the best offensive team in the SEC. However, that is likely to change after they battle with Alabama in Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide have allowed a total of 18 points in their first three games, and seven of those points came from a meaningless touchdown at the end of the game against Penn State. Alabama’s linebackers will look to pressure Razorbacks quarterback Tyler Wilson like he has never been pressured before, and could have a lot of success considering Arkansas’ young offensive line.

This will be a game of opposite strengths to say the least. Arkansas is going to try to make this game an offensive shootout, and hope that Alabama’s offense won’t be able to keep up. Alabama will want to keep Arkansas under 30 points to give them the best shot at winning. If previous battles between these two teams are any indication, this will be a fun one to watch.

My Pick: 27-20 Alabama

#7 Oklahoma State at #7 Texas A&M (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

Contrary to College Gameday being in Morgantown, this is the game of the week in my opinion. Both teams have looked good so far, but that isn’t really saying much, especially for Texas A&M, considering who they have played. However, fans of lots of offense will definitely want to tune in to this one. Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden to Justin Blackmon connections have the potential to be highlight reel worthy every single time. Texas A&M also has a prolific offensive weapon in running back Cyrus Gray, who brings a nice balance to the Aggie offense.

Quite simply, this game will come down to who can score more and who is able to get one or two stops on defense. Both teams have an offense that would be tough to stop for even the most powerful defenses. It won’t be a matter of stopping; it will be a matter of containing. The Aggies have a defense more capable of containing Weeden and Blackmon than the Cowboys have to contain Gray and quarterback Ryan Tannehill, but if enough points are put on the board, this game may come down to pure offensive firepower.

My Pick: 45-38 Texas A&M

#2 LSU at #16 West Virginia (Saturday, 8 PM ET)

This game is yet another one that will come down to the struggle between a good offense and a shutdown defense. Mountaineers coach Dana Holgorsen will face his biggest test yet as he faces one of the best defenses in the entire country. This is a defense that has proven itself to be capable of stopping high powered offenses such as Oregon’s, who LSU bullied on opening weekend. West Virginia runs a similar spread offense, which shouldn’t make Mountaineer fans any less comfortable heading into this one.

West Virginia will need to be quick, efficient, and unpredictable on offense if they want to have success against LSU. Quarterback Geno Smith has a multitude of receivers that he likes to throw to, and will need to use them all in order to keep the Tigers on their toes. Without a running game, LSU will feel confident in blitz packages designed specifically to rattle Smith. If West Virginia can succeed tonight, then the genius of Dana Holgorsen will come to light.

My Pick: 38-27 LSU

5 More to Flip To

Notre Dame at Pittsburgh (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

It is possible that the only people who think this is a huge game are Lou Holtz and Mark May…

North Carolina at #25 Georgia Tech (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

The Yellow Jackets have been picking on the weaker man the entire season. This game will test how good they really are.

Toledo at Syracuse (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

Toledo has played an extremely tough non-conference schedule this season. It doesn’t get any easier in New York, even though it may look that way.

Missouri at #1 Oklahoma (Saturday, 8 PM ET)

After their big win in Tallahassee, the Sooners open up Big 12 play against a feisty Missouri team that has nothing to lose in this game.

#23 USC at Arizona State (Saturday, 10:15 PM ET)

The Sun Devils did very well against the last ranked team that entered Sun Devil Stadium. Something tells me they will do pretty well against this one as well…

Storylines for the Weekend

Who is the cream of the crop?

Well, who has the potential to be the cream of the crop is a better way to phrase the question. The Big 12 and SEC both have some of their higher ranked teams facing off against one another this weekend, and the teams that win will be in very good position to battle for conference titles and possibly national title spots. There is no better way to determine who is the best than by playing the game on the field, and we will finally get to see if teams like Texas A&M and Alabama are deserving of their high ranking.

Braxton’s Big Debut

After Ohio State put up a paltry six points against Miami last Saturday night, it was clear that changes were going to be made to the Buckeye offense. Head Coach Luke Fickell made the right decision by naming Braxton Miller as his starter for the Colorado game, even if Miller made some freshman mistakes last weekend. Miller is the future of the program, and needs all the experience he can get so that in two or three years, when the Buckeyes may have a chance to contend for a national title once again, he is ready to assume a leadership role. The Buckeyes may take their lumps now, but down the road they will not regret that decision.

– K. Becks

One Response to 2011 NCAAF Week 4 Weekend Preview

  1. Guest on September 24, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    Touchdown Irish! Rees to Eifert. Rees coming thru. 7-of-7 on drive. 2-point conversion is good to Eifert. 15-12 notredame 6:48 left.

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