2013 NCAAF Week 9 Weekend Preview

October 25, 2013

I shouldn’t have spoken so soon.

My “domination” took a slight hit last weekend, as I limped to a 1-4 record after correctly picking the UCF upset last Friday night. Granted, Bill only beat me by one game, so the overall records for the head-to-head prediction game now stand:

K. Becks: 27-13

Guests: 22-18

This week, the last of my roommates to join the prediction party will try to close the gap a little more. Zach Mauric is the guest prognosticator this week.

The matchups continue to get more interesting with each passing week. Ten teams remain undefeated, but they will begin to fall. Whether it is one by one or a lot in one exciting weekend, it will happen. When that starts to happen is when the overall prediction records start to get worse than they already are. Perhaps this week the carnage will begin.

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

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

In just half a season, Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury has become just about as popular in Lubbock as Mike “The Pirate” Leach once was. The former Red Raider quarterback could really position himself as a fan favorite by beating a perennial Big 12 power on the road. Texas Tech may be a surprise to most of the nation this year, but chances are Oklahoma will not be caught off-guard by the Red Raiders.

Texas Tech has been racking up offensive yards left and right through the air, which is very typical for the school. But what is not typical is that the Red Raiders have been getting it done with not one but two quarterbacks sharing the playing time. Both Baker Mayfield and Davis Webb have made appearances in at least five games, have at least 1,400 yards passing and have attempted at least 175 passes this season. But you know what? It’s been working. The Red Raiders are second in the conference to Baylor with 548.1 total yards per game, with an average of 416.4 of those yards coming through the air. But Texas Tech hasn’t exactly been tested yet.

Of the four Big 12 teams Texas Tech has faced (Iowa State, Kansas, TCU, West Virginia), only Kansas is in the top half of the conference in pass defense. Oklahoma is first in the nation. Unless Texas Tech can find a way to jumpstart a rushing attack that ranks next to last in the Big 12, the Sooners are going to be prepared for the one thing the Red Raiders have been able to punish opposing teams with. As much as I’d like to see the best looking coach in college football continue the streak, I think that Bob Stoops will put an end to the party in Norman.

My Pick: 31-24 Oklahoma

Zach’s Take: This game is a tough game to pick, which sounds redundant because most games are this time of year. Texas Tech and new head coach Kliff Kingsbury have had a very impressive year so far, especially since the best looking coach in college football (not my vote) picked a walk-on freshman to start and continues with a two QB system, which I completely disagree with. But their SOS has been weak in my eyes and Oklahoma is the best pass defense (yardage wise) in the country and their SOS is also
similar, but I see Oklahoma pulling an “upset” in this one.

TTU 24, Oklahoma 28

#20 South Carolina at #5 Missouri (Saturday, 7 PM ET)

I have to hand it to Missouri; I did not think that the Tigers would be able to get it done against the Gators last weekend. But then redshirt freshman Maty Mauk came in and shredded Florida’s defense for 295 yards and two touchdowns (one of them rushing). Now the Tigers get a second chance to prove to me that the Gator hunting was not a fluke, because I need to see another impressive performance to give them full credit for what they’ve done so far. Beating South Carolina is a signal that Missouri is for real.

Perhaps more impressive than Mauk’s performance last Saturday is the fact that collectively the Tigers managed to hang 205 rushing yards on a Florida defense that is second in the SEC in run defense. This week, the vaunted Missouri rushing attack, which is No. 15 nationally averaging just over 234 yards per game, gets to face a defense that gives up nearly 40 more yards on the ground than the Gators on average. Even with Jadaveon Clowney, South Carolina’s defense has not been up to par with Florida’s in any way this year.

Remember, Maty Mauk was considered to be a threat to take the starting job from James Franklin for quite some time. Missouri’s offense did not miss a beat without Franklin last week, and that probably wasn’t surprising to anyone within that program. Unless Connor Shaw has a career day on the road, South Carolina is going to suffer back to back losses. In addition to being able to run the ball, Missouri can stop teams who try to do the same. Mike Davis will be subdued in this one.

My Pick: 33-24 Missouri

Zach’s Take: Mizzou! What a run they have had so far with James Franklin and the youngest Mauk brother. Unfortunately, I believe they are firmly overrated and the freshman will most likely fold this week. Frankly, I was surprised they won last week. Not that South Carolina is great or even much better, but the ole ball coach’s terrible game planning will not matter this week. Connor Shaw is…well he’s something. But Mike Davis is a monster and has done a great job replacing Lattimore. I see this being an ugly game.

SC 27, Mizzou 17

#12 UCLA at #2 Oregon (Saturday, 7 PM ET)

Beware, BCS: you may have awakened an angry green giant by favoring Florida State over Oregon in the first BCS rankings of the season. Oregon has done nothing but win, and win convincingly, all season. Apparently that is not enough. However, the Ducks get a chance to once again put an optimistic Pac-12 team in its place this weekend when the UCLA Bruins visit Eugene. College Gameday will be there and the Autzen Zoo will be rocking on Saturday night.

You’d think that UCLA has the offense to hang with Oregon, but we’ve said that about teams before, only to find that Mark Helfrich’s defense steps up when it needs to do so. Plus, it wasn’t encouraging to see the Bruins post just 10 points on a Stanford defense that looked like it was taking steps in the wrong direction before last weekend. Regardless of what happened last Saturday, this much is for sure: UCLA must find a way to score at least 30 points if it wants to beat Oregon. The defense is solid statistically, but has given up a lot of yards to teams with quarterbacks that can get rid of the ball quickly.

Unfortunately, we’ve seen this scenario play out before. A team plays a competitive game with Stanford one week, only to be kicked while it’s down by the Ducks the next week. Last time, the victim was Washington. This time, it will be UCLA. The Ducks have had trouble at home before (in 2012), but only against one of the best defenses in the nation. UCLA does not have that kind of defense.

My Pick: 45-31 Oregon

Zach’s Take: Is this finally the week Oregon craps its pants? I would hope so, but Marcus Mariota is playing like a Heisman candidate. Some say Brett Hundley is as well.  UCLA has played some decent competition after blowing out a lackluster Nebraska team, but faced a talented Stanford team last week and got held to 10 points. I really want to pick UCLA, and I firmly believe Oregon will trip up this year. Just not this week.

UCLA 24, Oregon 38

Penn State at #4 Ohio State (Saturday, 8 PM ET)

The Nittany Lions are showing up on the doorstep of the Big Ten’s best teams to do one thing: ruin a season. That could not be truer in this game, as Penn State is one of the more stable barriers standing in the way of Ohio State and a second consecutive perfect regular season. Being that this game will be played under the lights, it is automatically being pegged as one of the premier games of the weekend. But are the Nittany Lions really a threat to beat the Buckeyes, or have they benefited from the somewhat overrated perceptions of teams they have already beaten?

On paper, Penn State is nothing special. The Nittany Lions are a middle of the pack team in just about every major statistical category save passing offense. And for that reason, Bill O’Brien’s team has a chance to spoil Ohio State’s national title aspirations. Despite the fact that Christian Hackenberg is just a freshman, he has been a main reason why Penn State is 4-2. However, in order to beat the Buckeyes in Columbus, Hackenberg and the rest of the offense is going to need to play a near perfect game. The rushing game doesn’t produce much, and it would have a hard time doing so regardless against Ohio State’s defensive front. Hackenberg will be pressured if the Buckeyes are smart, and will have a tough time getting much done.

Honestly, the reason I chose this game as one of the five to watch is because I knew I wouldn’t finish the preview in time to include the Boise State/BYU game. For what it’s worth, it would be a small miracle if the Nittany Lions were to beat the Buckeyes on Saturday night. Urban Meyer doesn’t mess around with teams like Penn State, who are good enough to take advantage of mistakes but not good enough to win when the opposition plays well. If Ohio State doesn’t win by at least 10 points, it either played badly or Penn State played extremely well. There is no in between here.

My Pick: 35-17 Ohio State

Zach’s Take: I realize the lack of five games to pick from, but c’mon Kyle. I agree this game might be considerably close because of OSU’s porous pass defense, but Christian Hackenberg is just overrated. He will be good, maybe even next year but uh, no, this game will go to the Buckeyes and it won’t be within 14 points. OSU gets the best from every team they face because everyone that isn’t an Ohio State fan hates Ohio State. Well let ’em hate! I love my University and although I’m not as arrogant as half of the fans that pretend that they went here and only have OSU to care about in their lives, I’m still a Buckeye and I bleed Scarlet and Gray. Sorry for the mini rant, but it was necessary. Big Carlos Hyde with a monster day and Bradley Roby is upset about last week’s early
exit. Look out!

OSU 45, PSU 24

#8 Stanford at Oregon State (Saturday, 10:30 PM ET)

The more you think about it, the more confusing it becomes. That is, trying to figure out how the Stanford Cardinal lost to the Utah Utes two weekends ago. At any rate, the lapse has allowed the doubts to creep in about David Shaw’s team. As a result, Oregon State gets the nod as a team that could pull off a big upset on Saturday night. Despite what happened to the Beavers at the beginning of the year, they have transformed into the team everyone thought they would be before the season began. And that’s a team that can compete for the Pac-12 North crown.

The Cardinal were angry last weekend. Like, really angry. It showed, at Stanford was able to effectively shut down one of the Pac-12’s more potent offenses. Hopefully it wasn’t just a product of the added motivation from the loss a week earlier, though, because the Cardinal face another potent offensive attack this weekend. No team in the nation passes for more yards per game than Oregon State, and it’s not even close. The Beavers, led by Sean Mannion, average an astounding 442.1 yards per game through the air. Oregon State is just fine with a shootout, and will be looking to score as quickly as possible. The Cardinal will do the exact opposite, looking to break the Beavers’ run defense and control the clock.

Even Eastern Washington, the only team to beat the Beavers this season, hasn’t been able to slow down Oregon State’s offense much. As good as Stanford’s defense has been I don’t think they will be able to do it completely, either. On the defensive end, Oregon State is pretty good at stopping the run, so Stanford’s chances hinge on Kevin Hogan having a solid game. He probably will, but I’m not sure if it will be quite enough. It wasn’t against Utah.

My Pick: 48-45 Oregon State

Zach’s Take: I honestly don’t have time to learn about Oregon State because I have accounting homework, so I’ll make this one quick. Stanford beat a solid UCLA team last week and Oregon State continues to be the forgotten OSU. I enjoy them being
the upset pick every year, but not this game. Stanford wins big.

Stanford 34, Oregon St 13

5 Games to Flip To

Houston at Rutgers (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

Houston lost a shootout last week to BYU. Expect the Cougars to try to stretch Rutgers’ defense all day long through the air.

#25 Nebraska at Minnesota (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

Who knows what to expect from either of these teams? No one. That’s why this one could be fun.

Tennessee at #1 Alabama (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

As much as everyone would like to see Tennessee make it back-to-back upsets, beating Alabama at home isn’t something that the Volunteers are capable of doing…yet. But we could see some glimpses of the future with Butch Jones’s team that makes this worth watching.

Texas at TCU (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET)

A month ago, Texas was being told it was time for Mack Brown to go. Now, the Longhorns are keeping pace with the Big 12 leaders. It won’t be a cakewalk to keep the good times going on the road against TCU, though.

#15 Fresno State at San Diego State (Saturday, 10:30 PM ET)

Fresno State is fighting every week to stay alive in the BCS conversation. Every game from here on out, the Bulldogs will get the Mountain West’s best shot.

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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