2012 Week 9 Weekend Preview

October 25, 2012

For the first time, I can say that I beat a guest prognosticator. Thanks to a gutsy win by the Toledo Rockets over Cincinnati, I was able to secure a 4-1 record to Trent Gardner’s 2-3 mark. I should consider myself lucky that Trent went to the University of Cincinnati for a year, which I have to imagine had something to do with his 41-17 Cincinnati prediction. Thanks buddy.

As the BCS picture begins to take shape, the games are getting more and more difficult to pick. This week one of my buddy’s roommates, Mike Scholze, will handle the guest prognosticator duties. I’ve applied a bit more pressure on the guests after last weekend, as the overall records now stand:

K. Becks: 19-6

Guest Prognosticators: 20-5

Mike is a Sport Management major at Ohio University, so I expect some stiff competition this week. But I don’t have very many weeks left to overtake the guests, so every game counts. 

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

#23 Ohio at Miami (Ohio) (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

In honor of Mike, the MAC conference makes its first appearance of the year on Around The Corn’s “5 to Watch” list with the annual Ohio-Miami rivalry. Looking at each team’s record this season, at first glance it wouldn’t appear that this will be much of a contest. However, anyone who is familiar with rivalry games knows that anything can happen when two schools that have a general dislike for each other square off on the gridiron. In addition, the Bobcats are the big boys in the MAC this year and will be getting every team’s best shot for the rest of the season.

The Bobcats crept into the Top 25 for the first time in school history on Sunday, and will be looking to keep an undefeated season and possible BCS bowl dream alive when they travel to Oxford this Saturday. Ohio has caught the attention of voters thanks to an offense led by quarterback Tyler Tettleton and running back Beau Blankenship. Both players could have a monster day on the ground, as Miami’s run defense is second worst in the MAC. If they can control the clock using the run game and catch the defense off guard every once in a while, it could be a long day for the RedHawks.

The danger for the Bobcats could be the play of their defensive secondary, which will have its hands full trying to contain Miami quarterback Zac Dysert. Dysert is a very capable passer who can take advantage of a mediocre Ohio secondary, which has given up 16 of the Bobcats 20 touchdowns this season. However, this is provided that Dysert is on the field enough to throw the ball. If Miami’s defense can’t stop the run, the Bobcats should win comfortably.

My Pick: 31-20 Ohio

Mike’s Take: Two schools separated by 182 miles. Ohio. Miami. 1804. 1809. The Battle for the Bricks. The two oldest schools in Ohio. The biggest rivalry in college athletics. Okay, that last one isn’t true, but these teams, these schools do not like each other. (Fair warning, I am a Bobcat.)  That being said, be ready for a great game and one that will be closer than expected. Zac Dysert is the most underrated quarterback in Division 1 football (And has the best hair in the MAC), and he will be leading a passing attack that is 27th in the nation against an Ohio pass defense that  is depleted by injuries and has given up 30 + points to UMass and Buffalo and 28 to Akron in its last three games. Without Travis Carrie and the recent loss of Xavier Hughes, among others, the Bobcats pass defense has looked lost. The Ohio offense, however, should have no problem with the Miami defense that is 111th in points against in the nation. Quarterback Tyler Tettleton has 15 combined touchdowns on the year (One receiving!) and Beau Blankenship is the nation’s 8th leading rusher. These two facts give the RedHawks a grim outlook for Saturday. The Bricks will be coming to Athens again for the seventh straight year, and the program will be .500 all time after Saturday.

Ohio 42, Miami 37

#3 Florida vs. #12 Georgia [in Jacksonville] (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

Both teams still control their own destiny in the SEC East, but after this Saturday that will not be the case. Georgia has looked shaky for three consecutive weeks now, nearly losing to Tennessee and Kentucky and getting thrashed by South Carolina. The Bulldogs desperately need to find a way to stop teams from running all over them, which wasn’t supposed to be a problem this season. Georgia has simply been underperforming defensively, and the offensive line is experiencing issues as well. In short, the Bulldogs need a major turnaround this weekend if they want to upset the Gators.

Florida may not actually be as good as their number three ranking would suggest, but that won’t be apparent this weekend. Two weekends ago South Carolina was able to shut down what had been one of the best offenses in the nation, and on paper the Gators have actually been playing better defense than Steve Spurrier’s squad. While the game isn’t played on paper, this does suggest that Georgia will have similar problems with Florida that it did with the Gamecocks. In addition, the Gators’ heavy reliance on the run game sets up nicely against Georgia’s poor run defense, which gives up almost 168 yards per game.

I really liked Georgia at the beginning of the season, but as I stated earlier, they will need to find a way to plug the holes on defense. Unless this is an offensively dominated game, the Bulldogs could be in trouble. Mark Richt’s team has given up 20 points in all but one game this season, while the Gators have given up 20 points just once. I like the strong defense in this one.

My Pick: 22-16 Florida

Mike’s Take: “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” will be an excellent game and will greatly affect the BCS race.  Georgia’s one loss came to a good South Carolina team, while Florida blew the same South Carolina team out of the water, 44-11.  Georgia has an excellent passing attack led by Aaron Murray, who has 16 touchdowns on the year.  Florida’s strong point, however, is their defense. The Gator defense is 4th in the nation in points against averaging an amazingly low 12.1 points per game. Even though the team is without Jelani Jenkins and cornerback Cody Riggs, Florida will prevail, beating Georgia and taking the Okefenokee Oar.

Florida 31, Georgia 13

#15 Texas Tech at #4 Kansas State (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

So much for a gut check in Morgantown. Kansas State rolled into West Virginia and took away not only the Mountaineer’s pride, but also any chance that Dana Holgorsen’s team would creep back into the national title discussion. Now Bill Snyder’s squad must defend its own turf against a dangerous Texas Tech squad that also bullied the Mountaineers. Don’t expect the Wildcats to become complacent, though; there is still work to be done and voters to impress if Kansas State wants to move into the number two spot in the BCS rankings.

Along with its 7-0 record and #4 AP poll ranking, Kansas State may also possess a future Heisman Trophy finalist. Quarterback Colin Klein showed last weekend why he is one of the most dangerous dual-threats in the nation, ditching his usual run-first style for a take what they give you passing attack. However, along with his 323 passing yards Klein still managed to run for four touchdowns, a stat line that has probably kept Texas Tech’s defensive coordinator up at night all week trying to figure out how to stop him.

The answer is defensive pressure. Klein isn’t the most polished passer, and if the Red Raiders can make him throw before he wants to, they may be able to force some turnovers. On the offensive end, Texas Tech should be able to keep up with the Wildcats thanks to quarterback Seth Doege, who leads the nation in touchdown passes. Like many Big 12 contests, this game should come down to which team performs more effectively on offense. But Texas Tech’s defense will be the X-factor, determining whether Optimus Klein has yet another Heisman-worthy performance. 

My Pick: 38-34 Kansas State

Mike’s Take: Is Kansas State for real? We all know about Heisman front-runner Collin Klein, his 24 combined touchdowns, only two interceptions on the year, and the team’s 10th ranked offense by points. To answer this question, let’s look at last week. The overlooked defense of the Wildcats held Heisman hopeful Geno Smith to just one passing touchdown and West Virginia’s high powered offense to just 14 points in the game.  The rout of 55-14 proves this team is a threat for the national championship. Let’s not overlook the Red Raiders, who are 4th in the nation in passing yards and average the same amount of points as Kansas State at 42.9 per game. However, Collin Klein, along with the Kansas State defense will prove to be too much for Texas Tech, winning by two touchdowns.

Kansas State 49, Texas Tech 35

#5 Notre Dame at #8 Oklahoma (Saturday, 8 PM ET)

The resounding question every week regarding Notre Dame: “are they for real?” Although many analysts and fans may not be convinced just yet, this weekend the Fighting Irish have a chance to silence the doubters. Thanks to a down year for the Big Ten, Oklahoma is far and away the best team Notre Dame will have faced. A win against Bob Stoops in Norman would be monumental, and even I would have to top my cap to the job Brian Kelly has done in South Bend.

Notre Dame has been one of the most improved teams on defense this season. While the secondary appears to be relatively untested, that may just be a testament to how good the defensive front is at applying pressure on opposing quarterbacks. We will get to see what the real answer is on Saturday night, however, as Landry Jones will get to take his shot at the vaunted Notre Dame defense. Jones has thrown for 880 yards and seven touchdowns in his past three games since performing poorly at home against Kansas State one month ago. Without a doubt Jones is the most skilled passer Notre Dame’s defense has faced this year.

If the Fighting Irish can force Jones into mistakes, this game could be very interesting. However, I think that Jones has answered the call since losing to Kansas State and will perform well again this weekend. It will be tough to deal with both the Oklahoma offense and a raucous home crowd that will make things difficult as long as the Sooners keep things close. Also, Bob Stoops has only lost once in Norman to a ranked opponent (to Kansas State this year). When this game is over, one team’s national title hopes will have died, whereas another’s will have been revived.

My Pick: 27-17 Oklahoma

Mike’s Take: The game of the week, in the nation’s eyes, will be Notre Dame taking on Oklahoma in Norman. This will be Notre Dame’s biggest road test, as they only have played two true road games this year. The 6th best defense in the nation belongs to Notre Dame, led by Heisman hopeful Manti Te’o. Te’o is looking to become the first Heisman winner on the defensive side of the ball since Charles Woodson. On the offensive side of the ball, Everett Golson has passed his concussion tests and will be starting for the Fighting Irish.  As for the Sooners, they have the complete team.  The 5th ranked offense in college football and the 12th ranked defense in points given up make the team almost unbeatable, with its one loss coming to Kansas State.  Oklahoma will be too much to handle for the Fighting Irish, and both teams will stand with one loss.

Oklahoma 26, Notre Dame 17

#13 Mississippi State at #1 Alabama (Saturday, 8 PM ET)

Mississippi State has quietly worked its way into the Top 15, but it hasn’t really provided a reason for people to start making a fuss. Dan Mullen’s team has been relatively untested thus far, and will take on its first ranked team on the road this Saturday. Unfortunately for Bulldogs fans, that team is the number one team in the nation. However, this is a potential trap game for the Crimson Tide.

The Bulldogs will have to do what no team has been able to do against Alabama this season in order to have a chance at winning: keep the Crimson Tide below 30 points. This may seem like a tall task, but Mississippi State has the defense to do it. The Bulldogs have a very opportunistic defense that leads the SEC in defensive takeaways, but only by one over Alabama. If Mississippi State is going to force turnovers against the Crimson Tide some luck may be involved, but it doesn’t hurt that they are already very good at causing them.

I believe that the Bulldogs pose the greatest threat that Alabama has seen to ruin its perfect season thus far. Another thing that could help Mississippi State is if the Crimson Tide come out flat, perhaps thinking about next weekend’s national title rematch with LSU. It seems unlikely that a Nick Saban coached squad would fall victim to something like that, but it is possible. With nothing to lose, I expect Mississippi State to keep the Crimson Tide on their heels all four quarters.

My Pick: 27-16 Alabama 

Mike’s Take: Alabama is ranked number one in the nation in not only the BCS standings, but defense as well. The Crimson Tide have only played one ranked team, Michigan, but have absolutely blown out every team they have faced this year.  The Crimson Tide are led by quarterback and Heisman hopeful AJ McCarron, and have a high powered offense that has put up 40+ points in 5 games. The defense could be better than the offense, shutting out Western Kentucky and Arkansas, and has yet to give up more than 14 points this season.  Mississippi State, however, has a high powered offense but narrow wins over the Troy Trojans and Tennessee (who was tied with Akron at halftime), which leaves some question marks for the Bulldogs.  The Tide will Roll, and stay undefeated in a blowout.

Alabama 38, Mississippi State 10

5 More to Flip To

Cincinnati at #16 Louisville (Friday, 8 PM ET)

This was a Top 25 matchup a week ago, but Cincinnati would still love to upset Louisville’s perfect season. As South Florida proved last weekend, the Cardinals are beatable.

TCU at Oklahoma State (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

A reeling TCU squad looks to get back on track after dropping two in a row since losing quarterback Casey Pachall.

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

This was supposed to be one of the marquee Big Ten matchups this season. Neither team is ranked, but don’t be surprised if this game comes down to the wire once again.

#10 Southern California at Arizona (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

The Trojans’ offense hasn’t looked nearly as dominant as we all thought they would at the beginning of the season. Arizona can take advantage of that with its up-tempo style that produces a lot of points.

#20 Michigan at Nebraska (Saturday, 8 PM ET)

The winner of this game takes control of the Big Ten Legends division.

If you would like to become a guest prognosticator like Mike 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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