2011 NCAAF Week 6 Weekend Preview

October 6, 2011

They should have dubbed last weekend “Reality Week”. Last Saturday, we found out a lot about some teams that seemed to be hiding behind their wins over FCS teams or weak FBS opponents for the first four weeks of the season. Where was that top ranked defense, Frank Beamer? We also found out that the gap between the best in the nation and the rest may be a lot bigger than we imagined. Thanks for that realization, Nebraska and Florida.

More of the same please. This weekend, some of these same teams will get pushed out of the rankings completely (we’re looking at you, Gators), or shock the nation and prove that the gap really isn’t that big, after all. It’s also time for redemption for some teams. Texas A&M will look to halt their losing streak in which they blew big second half leads in consecutive weeks. Georgia, for as bad as they looked at the beginning of the season, could be sitting atop the SEC East if things go their way this weekend. It goes to show how predictable the sport can be.

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

Maryland at #13 Georgia Tech (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

It has been a few weeks now since I first began keeping an eye on Georgia Tech’s games, and for the past two weeks I have been waiting for them to fall and show everyone why a team that puts up 500 yards of offense against Western Carolina, Middle Tennessee State and Kansas shouldn’t be considered a Top 25 team. However, the Yellow Jackets continue to prove me wrong, and now they’ve climbed high enough in the polls that even I am going to have to concede that they are a pretty good team if no one beats them soon. Luckily for skeptics, Maryland is an unpredictable team that could offer a stiff test for Paul Johnson’s tricky triple option machine.

Maryland has been surprisingly flat on offense to start games this year, and must come out strong in order to have a chance against the Yellow Jackets. The Terrapins’ offense is good enough to score a lot of points against a suspect Georgia Tech defense, but they cannot afford to have the type of performance they did against Temple two weekends ago. Georgia Tech can score a lot of points even on their worst offensive days, so it will be extremely important to for Maryland to keep up. Considering that the Terrapins give up the most yards on defense in the ACC, keeping up is relative and could be easier said than done.

My Pick: 38-24 Georgia Tech

#3 Oklahoma at #11 Texas (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

Even when one team is clearly better than the other, it is assumed that the Red River Rivalry is going to be a close, hard-fought football game. This year both teams have looked strong, and although both have offenses capable of putting up big numbers, defense should dictate the outcome of this one. The Longhorns and Sooners have the first and third best defenses in the conference respectively. For Texas’ young quarterback David Ash, it will be his first game against the Sooners and the first time that he faces a defense as tough as Oklahoma’s. Much of the Longhorn’s success will depend on the quarterback play, whether it is Ash or someone else.

Another key for in this game will be Texas’ pass rush. They have been hampered by injuries, but the defensive line came alive for Texas against last weekend, collecting 60% of their sacks for the entire season against Iowa State. They will need to put similar pressure on Landry Jones on Saturday, because they afford to let him sit back all day and wait until a receiver gets open. Considering how close this game may be, the pressure on Jones may be the difference between a close win and a heart breaking loss for the Longhorns. Since I believe the Sooners will prevail, here’s the omen of the day: the last two times Texas has been ranked 11th in the AP Poll heading into the Red River Rivalry (in 2000 and 2003), Oklahoma has put up at least 60 points, while the Longhorns only scored in the teens.

My Pick: 28-17 Oklahoma

#17 Florida at #1 LSU (Saturday, 3: 30 PM ET)

John Brantley or not, Florida was exposed last Saturday against Alabama. They were beaten in every facet of the game, and the Crimson Tide made it clear to the SEC and the rest of the nation that while the Gators are continuing to improve, they are in no way ready to truly test the best in college football this season. Unfortunately for Gator fans, they have to play one of the best in the nation yet again, as Florida gets the treat of traveling to Baton Rouge to play the Tigers in Death Valley. This is a game to watch simply because both teams are ranked, but that’s about the only reason why. This one has the potential to get ugly.

After dispatching both Oregon and West Virginia in non-conference play, it was clear that LSU’s defense was truly one of the toughest in the nation. However, the score of those games also indicated that LSU’s offense has the ability to keep pace as well. The offense didn’t miss a beat in beating Kentucky last weekend, which also marked the return of quarterback Jordan Jefferson. With the offense already humming, Jefferson’s return didn’t garner the amount of attention it might have had the Tigers been struggling earlier in the season. LSU would be able to keep pace with the Brantley-less Gators offense even if they didn’t have a tremendous defense, but they have that, too. Don’t expect a shocker in Death Valley this Saturday.

My Pick: 30-14 LSU

#12 Michigan at Northwestern (Saturday, 7 PM ET)

There was talk about Michigan having Denard Robinson throw the ball more this season, but through five games it seems that it was just talk. The Wolverines rank last in the Big Ten in pass attempts per game, but the offense has still been electric thanks to the presence of Robinson, who has been making as good a case as anyone for that bronze bust they give away in New York. This weekend, Robinson & Co. face arguably their toughest test of the season so far (I hear you, Notre Dame fans…and I disagree) in Northwestern, who blew what should have been a big win over Illinois in Champaign last Saturday.

Northwestern’s 2-2 record is not indicative of the potential for destruction that they possess. Illinois found out firsthand how dangerous Dan Persa is, and Michigan’s defense will likely get their taste of Persa, too. Four touchdown passes in three quarters wasn’t enough to upset the Illini, but the scary thing is that Persa could do even better this weekend. It’s hard to tell if Michigan’s defense has gotten any better since the Notre Dame game considering who they’ve played, and if it hasn’t Persa is likely to have a field day. This game could be a shootout that has the fans in purple celebrating a huge, potentially season changing win on their home turf.

My Pick: 42-35 Northwestern

#15 Auburn at #10 Arkansas (Saturday, 7 PM ET)

Talk about a team that is difficult to figure out. At the beginning of the season, Auburn couldn’t stop anyone on defense. However, after becoming the first team this season to shut down South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore, Auburn’s defense seems to have found their stride. The offense, oddly enough, was the area that looked like it needed work. This weekend against Arkansas, the Tigers will need to bring their A game on both sides of the ball if they want to claw their way to the top of the ultra competitive SEC West division.

Arkansas showed a “never give up” attitude last weekend as they came back from a 35-17 halftime deficit to beat a Texas A&M that is making a habit of giving up big leads. A similar course of action would not be advised for the Razorbacks, though. As noted, Auburn’s defense is getting better and doesn’t have a history of letting teams back into games under Gene Chizik. In fact, often times Auburn is the one playing catch up in games. This is where Arkansas can capitalize. Tyler Wilson and the offense have shown the ability to score at will, and if they can get out to a sizable lead early, they will be in great position to win. However, if they learned anything from last weekend, it is that no lead is completely safe.

My Pick: 33-27 Arkansas

5 More to Flip To

Miami (FL) at #21 Virginia Tech (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

The Hokies need to forget and move on from their loss against Clemson last Saturday night. A loss to Miami would be far more embarrassing.

Missouri at #20 Kansas State (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

After an emotional 36-35 win over Baylor, Kansas State is looking to stay on pace with the Big 12 leaders. Missouri poses a decent threat to derail what has been a great season for the Wildcats so far.

Air Force at Notre Dame (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

It is almost assumed these days that at least one military program each year will give the Fighting Irish trouble. The Falcons run the tough to stop triple option and beat Navy, so…

#22 Arizona State at Utah (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

Utah hasn’t exactly received a warm welcome to the Pac-12, and Arizona State won’t make it any warmer.

Georgia at Tennessee (Saturday, 7 PM ET)

Boy, how things can turn around quickly. A month ago, the Bulldogs were 0-2 and Mark Richt’s job security was being questioned. A win in Knoxville and losses by Florida and South Carolina would put Georgia in sole position of the SEC East lead. Job security?

Storylines for the Weekend

Grow some Buckeyes, Ohio State

I thought “grow some nuts” was a bit over the top, but I figure most of you still got the point. The title is in regards to the situation involving running backs Dan Herron and Marcus Hall and receiver DeVier Posey accepting “excessive compensation” for a summer job that they allegedly never did. Athletic director Gene Smith needs to stop paying lip service to the situation and dismiss these disgraced athletes from the program. It is bad enough what the players involved in Tattoo-Gate did, but to go and do something like this when you are already suspended? That is unacceptable. Face it, Gene. The team isn’t going to be all that much better with these players. Have some integrity and show the rest of the nation you actually have some control over your program.

TCU: Team Currently Undecided

New reports are surfacing that the Big 12, in attempts to save the conference, wants to make TCU the 10th team in the league. The Big 12 seemed destined to fall apart after Texas A&M made it official that they would be moving to the SEC and Oklahoma and Texas were considering the Pac-12. This actually makes more sense for the school from a geographical perspective,  and would be much easier for the non revenue sports. Negotiations could get sticky, though. TCU is supposed to join the Big East conference starting in 2012, and the conference recently lost Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the ACC. You can bet that the Big East won’t let their most prized pickup in years walk out the door without a fight.

– K. Becks

One Response to 2011 NCAAF Week 6 Weekend Preview

  1. Borgkum on October 6, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    Here’s my take on the Buck’s qb play: we don’t have a quarterback (or atleast we arn’t playing him). Braxton is an athlete. He runs well, jumps high, can’t read a defense to save his life. While Bauserman is a bit better at reading a defense, he dosn’t have the accuracy to take advantage of those reads. Just because the ‘sexy’ trend in college football is to recruit the dual-threat defense dosn’t mean you should recruit someone based more on their running than actual quarterbacking ability. That being said, if you want to recruit an athlete and put him behind center, don’t expect much in his freshman year if he didn’t show the ability to read a defense in high school and capitalized on superior athletic ability against bad opponents. Things will get better, but in a year where there are other problems with the team the slack won’t be picked up and the team will look like it does. Not really Fickle’s fault, but he loses either way.

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