2012 Week 5 Weekend Preview

September 27, 2012

It didn’t take long for me to fall behind in Around The Corn’s new game. After the first weekend of my head-to-head challenge (last week was against Coleman Mahler), the readers lead 4-1 to 3-2.

This week, my roommate Matt Bidinger will represent the readers. Despite not having a witty preview with literary references, there is a good chance that Mr. Bidinger will extend the readers’ lead.

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

5 Games to Pay Attention to This Weekend

#25 Baylor at #9 West Virginia (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

West Virginia faces a ranked Baylor squad in its inaugural Big 12 contest, but will be playing in front of a home crowd for the fourth time in as many games this season. In a contest to see which mascot would win in a fight,  I wouldn’t put my money on a mountaineer to beat a bear assuming that weapons aren’t involved. However, this isn’t a mascot fight and the Mountaineers do possess a couple of very dangerous weapons.

The weapons I am referring to, of course, are Geno Smith and Tavon Austin. Smith has lived up to the hype thus far as one of the top quarterbacks in the nation in efficiency and passing yards, and will be very difficult for the Bears to stop on Saturday. Smith’s success was expected based on West Virginia’s weak schedule, but also has to do with Austin, the national leader in receiving yards. While Baylor is much better offensively than anything the Mountaineers have seen up to this point, they aren’t any better defensively.

In order for the Bears to pull off a massive upset, it is imperative that they put constant pressure on Smith. Last week Maryland was able to do so and held West Virginia to its lowest point total of the season. If Baylor can force Smith into a few mistakes, they may prove costly as the Bears are capable of scoring a ton of points (they average over 51 points per game). While this is possible, I don’t think it is a likely outcome, which could mean a long day for Baylor.

My Pick: 44-35 West Virginia

Matt’s Take: WVU over Baylor 48-38

#14 Ohio State at #20 Michigan State (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

If you remember watching this matchup last year, do you recollect what you were thinking during almost the entire game? The answer is probably no, because most people wanted to forget the majority of the 10-7 snoozefest that took place on that rainy October afternoon. Quite honestly, it was the most boring game that I’ve ever attended. Unfortunately, because both teams have struggled on offense this season, we may be in for a repeat of last year.

Michigan State has one of the better defenses in the nation. Fortunately for Spartans fans, that is what is keeping Michigan State in games and is the primary reason the team isn’t 2-2 or worse. Unfortunately for Ohio State fans, a strong defense is something that the Buckeyes have only faced once this season (against UCF) and have still been inconsistent on offense. In the UCF game, Braxton Miller took over, rushing for 141 yards and three touchdowns and passing for another score. Don’t expect the sophomore quarterback to be able to dominate similarly against the Spartans.

If the Buckeyes want to win, Miller is going to need to make the Spartans’ secondary respect him as a passer. Otherwise, his rushing attempts will be snuffed out before he has much room to work. A total team effort will be necessary from the winning squad, which in Michigan State’s case means that quarterback Andrew Maxwell will also need to be more proficient as a passer. The team that gets more out of its quarterback through the air will likely end up with a close victory.

My Pick: 17-13 Michigan State

Matt’s Take: OSU thumps MSU 20-17

#12 Texas at Oklahoma State (Saturday, 7:50 PM ET)

The Longhorns have their first real test against Oklahoma State in Stillwater on Saturday night, but it appears as if they are prepared. A role reversal of sorts has taken place since last year, as Texas is the team with no quarterback controversy and a top 15 ranking, while Oklahoma State still has question marks at quarterback and has looked shaky at times.

If Oklahoma State is going to win this game, they are going to need to do it in exciting fashion. Texas’ defense is strong and doesn’t usually give up the big play, but the Cowboys have the offensive personnel to change that. Joseph Randle needs to have a good game in order to open up the passing game, which can be dangerous thanks to Blake Jackson and Josh Stewart. Luckily for Oklahoma State, backup quarterback J.W. Walsh seems capable of making the necessary throws and as an added bonus is mobile.

The Cowboys have had the Longhorns’ number the previous two seasons, but Texas looks ready to make its claim as one of the top programs in the Big 12 once again. If David Ash is effective, the defense will do enough to slow down Oklahoma State and provide Texas with a solid victory.

Final Score: 41-35 Texas

Matt’s Take: Texas survives Oklahoma St. 28-25

Wisconsin at #22 Nebraska (Saturday, 8 PM ET)

Arguably no team has been more disappointing than the Wisconsin Badgers this season. The team came into the season with a former ACC Freshman of the Year at quarterback and a potential Heisman Trophy candidate at running back. Last weekend, that quarterback was benched and the Heisman candidate (Montee Ball) suffered his second concussion in two months and could be out for this Saturday’s game. Talk about a fall from grace.

Nebraska on the other hand has looked pretty good thus far. The Cornhuskers have gotten solid productivity out of quarterback Taylor Martinez, and will need him to be as accurate as he’s been all season on Saturday night if they want to have success against the Badgers. Martinez’s play, which has been inconsistent during his two years and change behind center at Nebraska, could end up being the difference in this game.

If Wisconsin wants to pull off the upset, two things will need to happen. First, Montee Ball will need to be cleared to play. Second, the offensive line will need to get some kind of push against Nebraska’s defensive front. The Badgers have struggled on the offensive line this season, which hasn’t been an issue in years. Wisconsin doesn’t have a chance if the defense can get to the quarterback untested like Oregon State was able to do two weeks ago.

Nebraska was humiliated in Madison last season in its first Big Ten game. Don’t be surprised if the tables are turned this time around.

My Pick: 27-13 Nebraska

Matt’s Take: Nebraska tramples Wisconsin 42-28

#18 Oregon State at Arizona (Saturday, 10 PM ET)

If Wisconsin is the biggest disappointment to date, Oregon State is the biggest surprise. I predicted that the Beavers would win only two games all season, but Mike Riley’s team has upset two ranked teams and now finds itself in the Top 25. However, the Beavers will face a stiff test on Saturday night when they take on Rich Rod’s offense in Tucson.

While it may seem hard to believe that Arizona’s offense is potent after its humiliating 49-0 loss to Oregon last Saturday, such is the case. The Wildcats proved to the nation that they are still the little brother in the Pac-12 when it comes to running the spread offense, but have had success with it other than last weekend for the most part. Thanks to a strong rushing attack led by Ka’Deem Carey, the Wildcats have the ability to beat you through the air or on the ground, and can score quickly. This week, Rich Rod will likely rely on quarterback Matt Scott a lot if he is healthy, because Oregon State has stuffed the run this season.

In order for Oregon State to win this game, they are going to need the help of their own offensive weapons to win a shootout. Quarterback Sean Mannion has the ability to pick apart any defense in the country, while running back Storm Woods can take the pressure off of the passing game. If you are a fan of offense, then this game has the potential to be the most exciting game of the night. Oregon State has been a nice surprise, but I like Arizona to upset a ranked team at home for the second time this season.

My Pick: 48-45 Arizona

Matt’s Take: Oregon St. wallops Arizona 34-27

5 More to Flip To

#8 Stanford at Washington (Thursday, 9 PM ET)

The Huskies can be tough at home, but wasn’t able to do much against LSU’s strong defense.

Arkansas at Texas A&M (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

Arkansas may be this year’s version of the 2011 Texas A&M team.

Virginia Tech at Cincinnati (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

Remember what happened the last time Virginia Tech played a Big East opponent?

Tennessee at #5 Georgia (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

The Bulldogs have been on cruise control this season, but Tennessee could make things interesting, at least for a little while.

#2 Oregon at Washington State (Saturday, 10:30 PM ET)

I thought that the Cougars could upset Oregon at the beginning of the year. I’m not so sure now, but you never know for sure…

If you would like to become a guest prognosticator like Matt did this week, please let me know in one of the following ways: email me at kbecks@aroundthecorn.com, send me a message on Around The Corn’s Facebook page, post a comment under this article or send me a tweet @KBecks_ATC. Opportunities to become a guest prognosticator will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Thanks everyone.

– K. Becks

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