2012 Week 6 Weekend Preview

October 4, 2012

The head-to-head prediction game now stands:

K. Becks: 6-4

Guest Prognosticators: 9-1

At some point, I hope to make a run on my readers. This week, another of my roommates, Zach Mauric, will represent the readers. Since we’re getting into the thick of the season, the games should get more difficult to predict (although, they seem to have been hard enough already for me).

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

#4 LSU at #10 Florida (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

It’s been awhile since these two teams have squared off in a marquee matchup, but this is a monster game. It is the first time since 2007 that both teams head into the rivalry ranked in the top 10, and the outcome will play an important role in the SEC standings (the winner will share the top spot of its respective division).

Of the two teams, Florida has been playing better football this season. The Gators are somewhat of a surprise at 4-0, although they have been favored in all of their games this season. The key for Will Muschamp’s squad has been the running game, which is one of the best in the conference thanks to senior back Mike Gillislee. Gillislee will have his work cut out for him on Saturday, however, as LSU’s run defense is stifling. If Gillislee has trouble on the ground, expect Gators’ quarterback Jeff Driskel to become the key to the game.

Unlike Florida, LSU has been shaky this season. The Tigers have struggled on offense, especially against Auburn two weekends ago. If the Tigers want to avoid an upset, they are going to need quarterback Zach Mettenberger to step up big time. LSU survived Auburn thanks to the other Tigers’ SEC-worst rush defense and three turnovers from the home team. Florida will be tougher against the run, and has only turned the ball over twice this season.

Defense will be important, but quarterback play will be the ultimate decider in this game. Do not underestimate the power of the home crowd or the fact that Florida had an extra week to prepare, either.

My Pick: 23-20 Florida

Zach’s Take: I really don’t have much to say about this game because I haven’t seen much of Florida this year, and I’ve seen only limited action of LSU. But what I know is that these are two teams trying to prove themselves. LSU is trying to show the media that they didn’t deserve to fall in the polls and that they really are the team they set out to be this year.  Florida is trying to prove that they are underrated and that their offense is the real deal. I see LSU winning, but it’s gonna be ugly. LSU 17, UF 14

#8 West Virginia at #11 Texas (Saturday, 7 PM ET)

There are a ton of questions about both teams, and hopefully some of them can be answered at the conclusion of this game. Neither West Virginia nor Texas played much defense last weekend, and it is a safe bet that this weekend will be similar. If you’re a fan of offense, this game will likely be the most exciting one of the weekend.

Geno Smith’s numbers for West Virginia have been absolutely absurd this season. While the Heisman hopeful hasn’t been going against the toughest defenses, there is still reason to believe that Smith can continue his current hot streak. Smith isn’t just able to get the ball to the receiver; he is able to thread the needle when necessary and hits his receivers in stride. On Saturday night, Smith will need to display that ability a bit more than he did against Baylor, but not by a whole lot. Texas is still giving up over 210 yards through the air, which could spell trouble for the Longhorns against Dana Holgoren’s offense.

In order for Texas to win, they will need to find a way to slow down Smith. The best way to do this is to limit the touches by Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin. Of Smith’s 432 yards per game passing, nearly 300 of them are to either Bailey or Austin. Both receivers have the speed to take it the distance if they get the ball, which is why it is imperative for the Longhorns to contain them. The bottom line is, if you give Geno Smith time to find his favorite targets, the Mountaineers will score enough points to make it nearly impossible to beat them.

My Pick: 63-56 West Virginia

Zach’s Take: David Ash is good, Geno Smith is way better. As much as I dislike WVU’s defense their offense is that much better. That performance last week was incredible and Smith will be able to outshine Ash. Texas has a pretty stout defense up the middle and I really like linebacker Jordan Hicks, but it won’t be enough. WVU 41, Texas 35

#5 Georgia at #6 South Carolina (Saturday, 7 PM ET)

The SEC features another big-time matchup when the Bulldogs travel to Columbia to take on the Gamecocks. Both teams are undefeated and are right next to each other in the rankings. Last year’s game was a barnburner (with South Carolina edging Georgia 45-42), but only Georgia would like this year’s game to be dominated by the offenses. South Carolina is coming in with a stingy defense that will look to humble Aaron Murray and the rest of the Georgia offense.

Georgia’s weaknesses seem to match up exactly with South Carolina’s strengths, which is probably making Georgia coach Mark Richt pull his hair out this week. The Bulldogs will need to improve upon three things this weekend if they would like to stay undefeated; protection for quarterback Aaron Murray, ball security, and run defense. South Carolina will make it very difficult to score if Georgia’s offensive line cannot stop the Gamecocks’ sack-happy defensive front. In addition, the Gamecocks will take advantage of turnovers much like Tennessee did last week if Georgia coughs up the ball too much. Finally, the Bulldogs must be better than its ninth-best run defense would suggest, or South Carolina will be able to control the game on the ground.

Although South Carolina appears to have all the advantages heading into Saturday (including home field), there are still some concerns for Steve Spurrier’s team. The Gamecocks have been solid on defense this year, but have yet to play a team with a winning record. Even more concerning is the fact that Vanderbilt (384 YPG) is the most powerful offense South Carolina has faced thus far. I predict that while statistics would suggest South Carolina will try to win with defense, this game will be dictated by the offenses.

My Pick: 38-34 Georgia

Zach’s Take: Aaron Murray! Aaron Murray! That’s all K-Becks has been telling me all year. He’s a top ten draft pick he tells me.  I’m gonna pull a Lee Corso: not so fast my friend! The Gamecocks have a top ten pick themselves in Marcus Lattimore and Connor Shaw has shown that he can play a little bit too. I’m not really sure how, but South Carolina pulls off the upset. SC 31, UGA 28

#21 Nebraska at #12 Ohio State (Saturday, 8 PM ET)

This is the second time in as many weeks that both Nebraska and Ohio State have made it onto my “5 Games to Pay Attention to This Weekend” list. Both teams are coming off wins and are the two highest ranked teams in the Big Ten, which makes it possibly the biggest game of the Big Ten season thus far. Based on the tendencies of each team this season, it is entirely possible that we could see a similar game to the one that took place last year in Lincoln.

Both Ohio State and Nebraska feature athletes at quarterback that have the potential to give opposing defenses major fits. Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez is a viable dual-threat, but has been inconsistent in the past and is still making adjustments to his throwing motion. If the Cornhuskers are to be successful, Martinez is going to have to get things done through the air. Wide receiver Kenny Bell can make a suspect Ohio State secondary pay if he gets the ball, but Martinez will have to find him first. If Martinez insists on using his legs, Nebraska could have a lot of trouble moving the ball because the Buckeyes’ defensive front has been so good.

For Ohio State, Braxton Miller has the ability to be a threat on a more individual level. Before an injury in the Nebraska game last season, Miller was tearing apart the Cornhuskers’ defense and has been showing flashes of brilliance on a weekly basis this season. Unlike Martinez, Miller could get away with using his legs to break down the defense because Nebraska is very aggressive on that side of the ball and struggles against the run. While Martinez will need to get rid of the ball, Miller may simply be able to avoid over pursuing defensemen.

In addition to quarterback play, the potential for one team to surge in the second half could play a pivotal role in the outcome of this game. Ohio State can be inconsistent offensively, but came out strong against Michigan State last weekend and its first touchdown proved to be the difference. Nebraska tends to start slowly and make a second half comeback, but that may be hard to do on the road against a team that will gain confidence as long as they are winning.

My Pick: 30-28 Ohio State

Zach’s Take: Yes, Taylor Martinez is the most accurate passer in the Big Ten (one could argue that means nothing this year), but I don’t think Nebraska has that explosive playmaker on offense. In my mind, Braxton Miller is just a whole different level athlete. If the silver bullets perform like they did last year in the first half of the game, then they contain Martinez. Nebraska’s defense ends up faltering under the bright lights of “The Shoe”. Some may think I’m biased because I’m a Buckeye, but this is honestly how I think the game will turn out. Call me a homer, I don’t care! Ohio State 24, Nebraska 17

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

I had questions about Oregon when the season began, but it appears as though the Ducks are once again the class of the Pac-12 and taking on all comers with open arms. This weekend, Chip Kelly’s team will take on the upset-minded Washington Huskies, who are coming off of a big win last Thursday over Stanford. While that win was huge to Steve Sarkisian’s squad, don’t expect a repeat of that in Eugene.

Washington had two things going for it against Stanford last weekend. First, the Huskies are extremely improved on defense this year, and had the ability to shut down Stanford running back Stephan Taylor. Secondly, Washington keyed on Stanford’s weakness at quarterback, and has a quarterback of its own (Keith Price) who can get the job done. I was not particularly surprised that the Huskies were able to take down the Cardinal, although I will be very surprised if they can do it again against Oregon.

As LSU proved in its season opener against Washington, the Huskies are still not an elite defense. Unfortunately, an elite defense is needed to slow down Oregon’s offensive attack. My concerns with Oregon at the beginning of the season were in regards to redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota, who has done extremely well thus far. In addition to Mariota’s solid play, there is no reason to believe that Oregon wants to slow this game down, which is what Washington would ultimately need to happen in order to make this game close. If Oregon scores at least 30 points, expect another win for the Ducks.

My Pick: 42-27 Oregon

Zach’s Take: Oregon in a landslide. I just don’t see Washington keeping up with that ridiculous offense. I was surprised when Washington beat Stanford last week but Keith Price’s magic doesn’t last. He might be number one in red zone efficiency, but it’s not gonna matter if the Ducks have the ball the entire game. Why doesn’t anyone play defense anymore!? Am I the only one that believes defense wins championships these days? De’Anthony Thomas continues his march to the Heisman and the Duck gets another great workout in.  Oregon 57, Washington 31

5 More to Flip To

#24 Northwestern at Penn State (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

Kain Kolter will attempt to lead the Wildcats to their first 6-0 start since 1962.

Arizona at #18 Stanford (Saturday, 3 PM ET)

Stanford looks to avoid consecutive losses against the upset-minded Wildcats, who nearly handed Oregon State its first loss last weekend.

#17 Oklahoma at Texas Tech (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

The Sooners have historically been vulnerable on the road, and face a team that hasn’t lost to them at home since 2003.

Miami (FL) at #9 Notre Dame (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET)

Notre Dame’s defensive secondary will finally be tested by a team that is capable of throwing the ball.

#3 Florida State at N.C. State (Saturday, 8 PM ET)

Florida State will go on the road for the first time this season against an inconsistent, but capable quarterback in Mike Glennon, who will be looking for revenge after last season’s 34-0 drubbing at the hands of the Seminoles.

If you would like to become a guest prognosticator like Zach 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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