2011 NCAAF Week 5 Weekend Preview

September 30, 2011

Who is really number one in the nation? Well, at this point, it doesn’t really matter. LSU, Oklahoma, Alabama, Boise State…the fact is, they’re all still undefeated, all have beaten at least one decent team to prove their worth. It is too early to worry about which team is the best, because the national championship game teams won’t be chosen for two months. Number one in the nation, at this point, is just a number.

This weekend features several huge games, one in which the two best teams in their respective conference face off against one another. Although number one doesn’t really matter, staying undefeated does. Dreams of hopeful teams will be dashed this weekend.

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

#14 Texas A&M vs. #18 Arkansas (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

Both teams losing last weekend make this game considerably less important from a national standpoint. However, the former Southwest Conference rivalry should still be entertaining and will likely have its fair share of offensive fireworks. Arkansas was hammered by Alabama last Saturday, thanks to Alabama’s talented defense holding the Razorbacks to 17 yards rushing. This weekend won’t be any easier. The Aggies are far and away the best defense against the run in the Big 12, and held Oklahoma State under 50 yards on the ground last weekend.

Texas A&M squandered a 20-3 lead in the second half of last weekend’s game, giving away what should have been a marquee win. It doesn’t help that Ryan Tannehill had more interceptions (3) than touchdowns (2) in the game. The discipline of the Aggies will be tested this week. Tannehill could have a big game, but it won’t mean much if the Aggies give up a big lead that they are capable of building. This game could dictate the direction that both of these teams head in for the rest of the season.

My Pick: 33-24 Texas A&M

Auburn at #10 South Carolina (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

Auburn and South Carolina are the two most unpredictable teams in the SEC in my opinion. With that said, I wouldn’t be surprised with nearly any outcome of this game. However, one thing that is predictable about these teams is that they like to run the ball. A lot. They also have the ability to score a lot of points for teams that rely so heavily on the run, so don’t be scared off by the threat of a defensive struggle. There will be plenty of scoring in this game.

Marcus Lattimore and Michael Dyer will be the key players for their respective team. The running back who gains more yards will likely be the player on the winning end of this battle. Lattimore has been a monster this year, already at the 600 mark for rushing yards on the season. Dyer will look to get his yards in large chunks. He is averaging 6.7 yards per carry, and the task for the South Carolina defense will be to prevent him from getting into open space. If they can do that, the Gamecocks will have a good shot at staying undefeated.

My Pick: 30-23 South Carolina

#13 Clemson at #11 Virginia Tech (Saturday, 6 PM ET)

Clemson has been somewhat of a surprise this season, winning back to back games over ranked opponents in the last two weeks. Much of their success has been thanks to sophomore quarterback Tajh Boyd, who is sixth in the nation in passing yards and has thrown 13 touchdowns to just one interception. His favorite receiver in 2011, freshman Sammy Watkins, hasn’t been too shabby, either. Watkins is extremely quick which makes him difficult to bring down, and he will give the Hokies defense all they can handle on Saturday.

This game will be a classic battle between a team with a powerful offense, and one with a stingy defense. Clemson will assume the role of offensive power, and will look to outscore Virginia Tech as they have against their previous two opponents. Virginia Tech has the stalwart defense, boasting the best defense in the ACC, and will look to shutdown the tandem of Boyd and Watkins. Clemson is a good team, but might need to play an even better game in Blacksburg than they have the past two weeks. Their last two wins were at Death Valley and were emotional charged; this time, they are the prey.

My Pick: 24-21 Virginia Tech

#8 Nebraska at #7 Wisconsin (Saturday, 8 PM ET)

Unfortunately for Big Red fans, Nebraska’s first Big Ten test is a extremely difficult one. Beating Wisconsin in Madison would be a huge statement for the Cornhuskers, but they will need to find a way to at least slow down Wisconsin’s machine-like rushing attack. Nebraska’s defense was supposed to be one of the best in the entire nation, but they have been somewhat of a disappointment thus far. Jared Crick returns to the lineup for the Cornhuskers, which should provide a boost to the defense and could help them return to their 2010 form.

The Badgers have looked like the class of the Big Ten this season, but they too will need to stop what is a potent rushing attack. The play of Taylor Martinez will have a big effect on this game. If the Badgers can keep him from finding green space, and they have the speed to do so, they should be in good shape. However, Nebraska has Rex Burkhead as well as Martinez, and Wisconsin knows as well as any team how difficult it is to stop not one but two talented runners. If Nebraska’s defense had performed better up to this point, I would say that this would be one of the hardest games to predict this season.

My Pick: 34-24 Wisconsin

#3 Alabama at #12 Florida (Saturday, 8 PM ET)

Alabama looked very strong against Arkansas last weekend, but will be facing a very different team when they travel to take on Florida at The Swamp. The Gators have an offense that has relied on speed to make up for the fact that they sometimes have trouble capitalizing on red zone chances. It has been working well thus far, as the Gators have the most productive offense in the SEC.

Florida will have a very difficult time doing to Alabama what they have done to teams like Tennessee and Kentucky. Alabama’s defense is quick enough to contain guys like Jeff Demps, and will take advantage of mistakes that John Brantley makes. It will be extremely important for Florida to put points on the board when they have opportunities in the red zone, because the Crimson Tide won’t give up the big play very often.

My Pick: 30-16 Alabama

5 More to Flip To

Mississippi State at Georgia (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

A win against a decent SEC opponent is just what the doctor ordered for both of these teams to turn around their seasons. Unfortunately, only one of them will come away with a “W”…

Air Force at Navy (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

The battle for the Commander-In-Chief Trophy is always a fun one to follow, even if there will be more running plays in the game than Hawaii will run all season…

#21 Georgia Tech at N.C. State (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

Georgia Tech beat North Carolina last weekend to get their decent win of the season. I’m still not convinced that they are worthy of a Top 25 ranking, though.

Michigan State at Ohio State (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

This is the “Toss Up” Game of the Week. Kirk Cousins has something to prove; losing to a freshman QB making just his second start isn’t flattering.

Washington at Utah (Saturday, 7 PM ET)

This is an extremely important conference game for both teams. Utah coach Kyle Whittingham will need to hope that his team’s offense comes out of its shell this weekend if they want a chance to win.

Storylines for the Weekend


Besides the games, there are no big storylines for this weekend. Enjoy the games!

– K. Becks

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