Mentally preparing for consecutive hate weeks has, admittedly, sapped some of my interest in the goings on in the rest of the football world. Since this week is the back end of round deux, some of these will be a bit brief. However, there are two MONSTER potential upset games to keep an eye on this weekend, so I’ll give them their due.
#1 Alabama -7.5 @ #10 Arkansas. 2:30PM. CBS.
For me personally, having this game on Saturday afternoon could not have made our Friday night matchup with SMU arrive at a more perfect time… except I’ll be on an airplane heading to a wedding during part of it. Fail. A double shame because I had an opportunity to attend this game if it weren’t for said wedding. To see those Arkies in an uproar over what is easily the biggest game to roll through Fayetteville since the Hogs joined the SEC would’ve surely been a treat from backwoods heaven.
As for the game, I have conflicting opinions. On the one hand, Arkansas has one of the most potent offenses in the country- 15th overall, 3rd passing – and actually feature a credible defense for the first time in recent memory – 6th in points scored, 11th in yardage- although the level of competition through three weeks leaves a lot to be desired. QB Ryan Mallett got on board the Heisman train when he announced he was coming back for his senior year; after last week’s big win at Georgia, it’s running full blast until the defense comes back to earth and derails him. The Arkansas ground game is a work in progress, and things got much worse when starting RB Dennis Johnson was lost in week 2 due to some sort of, for lack of a better term, butthole injury – seriously, look it up – but with Mallett playing as he has been, the ground game is an afterthought anyway. He currently leads the country in passing yardage, has 9 TDs and a 70% completion rate. But, even though they got the Georgia monkey off their backs last week, and even though they’re at home, Alabama is a different beast altogether.
Alabama, to state is the obvious, is really good. Sure, their schedule has included San Jose State and Duke, but did you see what they did to Penn State? I’m not sure how good Penn State is, but they should be around in the Big Televen race all year, and they were absolutely manhandled by the Tide. Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson provide easily the most solid ground attack in the NCAA to the point that you forget that they have a former top overall WR prospect in Julio Jones on the outside. Fortunately, Arkansas ranks relatively high in run defense, but they’ve never faced anything like they’ll see Saturday and the pass defense is and has always been susceptible. And Alabama does their best work against the pass on defense, so without a running game to create issues, Mallett is going to find out very quickly what he’s made of.
But, earlier in the year I called the upset, so I’ll stick with it. Fayetteville is going to be going absolutely NUTS and you really haven’t seen a true homefield advantage until you’ve seen nearly 80,000 uneducated liquor drunk rednecks screaming at the top of their lungs. It’ll be close, but Arkansas creeps away with a victory and then probably loses to Missisippi State or something down the road. It’s the nature of the beast.
#2 Ohio State -44.5 vs Eastern Michigan. 2:30PM.
They make spreads that high?
#3 Boise State -16.5 vs. #24 Oregon State. 7:00PM. ABC.
Although Arkansas/Alabama is the game of the week from a rankings perspective, for a TCU fan this is THE game of the year that doesn’t involve the Frogs. We can sit here and say that we think Nevada is salty enough to take down Boise at home later in the year, but the fact of the matter is this is the best chance we have for Boise to lose because there’s no reason to think they’ll lose a WAC game ever again. And, since we share a common opponent, this is the most desirable as well, even moreso than Virginia Tech- only the second best team in the state of Virginia. Gameday is headed to Boise – hope they quadruple Erin Andrews protection because she’s entering rape central – the Broncos are still ranked third and getting first place votes, and what else is there to do in Boise on a Saturday night? Needless to say, this will be the most intense football atmosphere ever in Boise, Idaho.
Boise is fresh off an absolute destruction of Wyoming in Laramie and has to feel pretty good about their chances, especially considering they’re a 3 score favorite. As you can imagine, Boise ranks in the top 20 in all offensive categories, and Kellen Moore has been a machine with 585 yards and 5 TDs. But, it’s the Broncos ground game that has been the difference maker this year, chewing up yards and scores with the best of them. And while the Boise run defense looked human against Virginia Tech in allowing 128 yards, they then went and held Wyoming to -21. And they’re just as stout in the passing game, so don’t expect Ryan Katz to do much either.
The Beavers, after accepting their punishment in JerryWorld, took a week off and then snuck by Louisville 35-28 last weekend, getting out gained by the Cardinals 453-319 and were only saved by a late INT and Jacquizz rushing for 3 TDs. But, seeing as how they’ve painted their practice field blue this week, it’s probably safe to assume they were caught looking ahead. Still – 453 yards? To Louisville? 288 passing? Yikes.
On paper, this looks like the Broncos should roll easily. They haven’t lost a game in Boise since 2001 and have twice beaten Oregon State in that span. Jacquizz Rodgers and his brother James are both immensely talented, but while they can make the difference against Louisville, if their defense doesn’t hold up their end of the bargain, this one could get extremely uncomfortable before those guys have a chance to catch their team back up. I don’t know, I just don’t see it happening for Oregon State. I hope I’m wrong.
#5 Oregon Ducks -11.5 @ Arizona State. 9:30 PM.
As this game immediately follows the Boise/Oregon State game, it could either be a phenomenal six hours for the state of Oregon or, more likely, really good for the southern part and not as good for the northern, if I have my geography correct. However, a reversal of that situation could be immensely positive for TCU. Sorry, that was confusing – read: OSU win/OU lose good. OU win/OSU lose bad.
So we all know about the Oregon Ducks. They have an insane offense. Like, maybe the most ridiculous offense ever seen in the NCAA. Averaging 63 points per game and almost 400 yards rushing. 611 yards of offense total on average, which leads the country. You couldn't do that on Xbox if you tried. Shockingly enough, Arizona State actually has one of the better run defenses in the country, giving up only right at 100 yards per game on the ground. However, even with the pounding the Ducks put on them, Tennessee actually has an overall not too bad rush defense of their own, so I’m not sure how we should gauge their chances.
The Sun Devils are coming off a tough loss to 11th ranked Wisconsin last weekend where they lost by one after having an extra point blocked to tie it in the 4th quarter. And they actually have a pretty passable offense, ranking 19th nationally and are especially talented in the passing department. But, Oregon also has a pretty good defense – although they haven’t been tested by any means – and they’re one of those teams that will likely score enough points to stay in any game.
Until proven otherwise, the Ducks hold serve.
#6 Nebraska –no line vs. South Dakota State. 6:00PM.
See #2 above.
#7 Texas -15.5 vs. UCLA. 2:30PM.
A very intriguing matchup just because no one really knows how good, or in UCLA’s case bad, either team is. Unfortunately, as it conflicts with Arkansas/Alabama, I won’t take in one second of this one. You’ll read a lot this week about how the last time UCLA game to Austin it resulted in maybe the worst loss in the history of UT football. I still like reading that.
However, even though UCLA whipped Houston last week, it was without Case Keenum. And UCLA is REALLY REALLY Bad on offense – 99th nationally, 118th in the pass. And while UT isn’t exactly going to set any records on that side of the ball this year – 72nd overall – they are at least fully capable of shutting down even the best offensive units they face. See: Tech, Texas. UCLA features some defense as well, but not that much.
This game will be boring and low scoring… as will most UT games this year once they hit conference play. But no way UCLA pulls the upset.
#8 Oklahoma -14 @ Cincinnati. 5:00PM.
Really, really wish this game was last year. But it’s not. OU will win because Cincy is terrible, terrible, terrible.
#9 Florida -14 vs. Kentucky. 6:00PM.
All signs point to this being the upset special of the weekend because Kentucky can score and Florida most certainly cannot. Florida has pulled out all of their games entirely due to their defense keeping them in the game until the offense can eventually wear down the poorer athletes across the line from them. Kentucky features a QB, Mike Hartline, who has completed 72% of his passes and thrown 5 TDs this year and the 15th ranked rushing attack anywhere led by Derrick Locke and his 5 TDs.
Unfortunately for Kentucky, history isn’t on their side. They haven’t beaten the Gators in 23 years, and haven’t won in the Swamp since 1979. Can you imagine the meltdown that would occur in Gainesville is the streak ends this year? Don’t see it happening, but it will be close.
I apologized in advance for the lack of enthusiasm I have for this thing, and I was right. But, this really could be the week where we move ahead in the rankings. For those of you with nothing to do Saturday, this will be the best upset watch viewing of the year. Godspeed.