While last week definitely qualified as poor movement as we lost ground on the top dogs in the polls, fear not because, outside of Alabama and maybe Oregon, just about every team around us is imminently beatable. Well, Boise is probably not beatable either, but here’s to their schedule beating them in the end as it does every year.
Keep in mind, I’m only taking a look at the games where the outcome could A) directly affect our ranking and B) actually has a chance of being an upset.
#1 Alabama @ #19 South Carolina +7.5. 2:30 PM. I said above that I think Alabama is probably the most unbeatable team in the country, so I understand that including them in this post instantly negates that theory… but might the OBC have something up his sleeve? Might USC QB Stephen Garcia put it together this game at home in what I have to assume is the biggest game for the Gamecocks since joining the SEC? Could phenom RB Marcus Lattimore be the one to finally bust through the Tide’s criminally talented defense?
Eh, probably not. Alabama is better than Carolina in every single aspect of the game on paper. Tide Rolls.
#2 Ohio State -22.5 vs. Indiana. 11:00AM. Does Ohio State ever play road games? Except for last week… Just seems like every single time I notice who they are playing it’s always at home. Conspiracies abound… Also, how terrible is to be a Big Ten school and have to play at 11:00AM every week? I'd rather be a fan of a middle of the road Big 12 school than be subjected to that. But honestly, is this REALLY the #2 ranked team in the country? They aren’t a one man show QUOTE as much as Michigan is with Denard Robinson, but they are certainly 1A in that department. When Terrelle Pryor went down last week against Illinois with an injury, the Buckeyes looked flat out fecal. And even when he was in they didn’t do much and only won 24-13. To Illiinois! A team that squeaked by Northern Illinois! They're in the same state but one is much bigger than the other! A team coached by Ron Zook! A team that, for the love of god, once hired MIKE SCHULTZ to fix their offense! Tragic, tragic times in Columbus.
Sadly the Buckeyes schedule causes them to avoid sudden Big Ten upstart Michigan State in conference play and ESPN LOVES them some Buckeyes and will sack ride them until the execs tell them to stop… fortunately though, they have to travel to Iowa and, barring that upset, will likely drop one they shouldn’t in typical OSU fashion. What I’m trying to say is – Ohio State is, to be current, whack, and they will by no means finish out this season undefeated. I’m confident enough about this that I’m actually saying it has a chance of happening against Indiana this weekend, despite the glamorous spread they have up there.
The Hoosiers, as a refresher, may have let Denard Robinson give them the LaceDarius Dunn treatment last weekend to the tune of almost 500 yards by his lonesome…but they still only lost by 7 points. Yes, Indiana actually has an offense – a one trick pony offense, yes, as they rank 4th in passing and 99th in rushing – but an offense nonetheless, something that Illinois certainly did not have but managed to put SOME points on the board. Not many, but a few.
Unfortunately, they still have to play defense, and based on the above statistics against Michigan, they are not very good at this concept. Nor does their 35 points last week really tell the tale because Michigan is almost as defense averse as the Hoosiers. And Illinois actually has a decent defense, so that and the brief absence of Pryor likely tell the tale of their sad 24 points.
If this game were in Bloomington, I’d genuinely believe that Indiana had a great shot at pulling the upset, but since it’s not, this will be a difficult one to accomplish. But I’m not putting it past the worst second ranked team in recent memory, especially as Terrelle Pryor may or may not be at 100% strength. Drop this one, Buckeyes, and it’s a 3-way race between TCU, Boy-Z and Oregon for the National Championship against Bama. Come on, you know you want to.
#7 Nebraska @ Kansas State +12. Thursday 7:30PM. A Thursday night Big 12 upset treat? Don’t mind if I do! There are several factors at play in this one: Border rivals – even though I don’t know that this actually qualifies as a rivalry-, co-leaders of the Big 12 North, Kansas State actually has some salt this year including a sneaky good ground game, and Nebraska plays UT next week, and we all know how much they’ve been looking forward to this one. I still don’t think Nebraska is a national title contender – when was the last time someone won the big one with a true freshman QB taking all of their snaps? Anyone? They showed some vulnerabilities two weeks ago against South Dakota State when the run game was shut down and QB Taylor Martinez played like a freshman and turned the ball over multiple times… could it happen again?
But Texas coming to town next week is the biggest factor for me. Sure, some of the luster has been removed due to the realities Texas has embraced this season in the failure department, but if there was ever a game Nebraska HAD to win against Texas, it’s next weekend in Lincoln for the last time ever. OU wants to beat Texas every single year solely based on hate; seriously, I know it’s cliché to say that “we could lose every game this year, but as long as we get this one it’ll be a good year” but those Sooner folks genuinely feel that way. That being said, the way Nebraska feels about Texas this year specifically makes UT/OU hate levels look like a gentle simmer. A deep fried, state fair caliber sizzle yes, but a sizzle nonetheless. Facing a 4-0 Wildcats team on the road is the last thing Nebraska needs in the week leading up to this game; on the bright side though, they’ve had 2 weeks to prepare.
Still, the facts are the facts and, at least to the naked eye, Nebraska should win this one fairly easily. The Huskers under Bo Pelini are viewed as a defense first kind of team, and while this was a fair assessment last year, they have stroke on both sides of the ball now. At 40 points and 471 yards per game, they ranked 11th and 14th in the country, and those numbers look even nicer when you match them up against K-State’s 377 and 30. But, both teams' offenses function in very similar fashions as they are all run and very little pass; neither team attempts more than 20 passes per game on average, among the lowest in the country, and both teams average over 42 rushes per game, among the highest. So, if you like your game clock’s a-runnin, this is the game for you! In Taylor Martinez, Nebraska has their best option QB since Eric Crouch got his Heisman on and KS running back Daniel Thomas is one of the top five running backs in college football.
So clearly this one is going to come down to who can stop the run, and it seems Nebraska will be more up to the task, although not by much. Neither team is good against the run, although neither is futilely bad like BYU, but Nebraska has the edge. I’m just basing the potential upset on the inexperience of Taylor Martinez and the overlook factor. Definitely one to keep an eye on while flipping back and forth between Always Sunny on Thursday night.
Just Missed the Cut:
#9 Arizona -8.5 vs. Oregon State. 7:00PM. Probably the biggest upset potential of any game this weekend, but even if the Wildcats win, I don’t think they jump us. Yet. The Zonies are definitely a team to keep an eye on because they are super overvalued and only climbing due to the Pac 10s recently enhanced reputation. Oregon State winning here is a two- fold advantage because after this game the Wildcats get Washington State, Washington and UCLA which should all be wins and would probably escalate them past us… but good luck with that Oregon, USC, Stanford stretch immediately following it, Lil Stoops. If they can run that gauntlet undefeated, I’ll accept our demotion.
#10 Utah @ Iowa State +7.5. 7:00PM. “Experts” are going to love the upset potential here due to the Cyclones knocking off an off the charts mediocre Texas Tech squad last weekend in Ames, and I’ll admit it’s definitely enticing. We know very little about Utah – they snuck past your run of the mill 4-5 loss bound Pitt team, blasted UNLV and New Mexico who are the two worst teams in the MWC and perhaps the world, as well as San Jose State who is the only team ranked lower than New Mexico in most statistical categories. So correction, they've whupped the three worst teams in the world. So yeah, their SOS hasn’t exactly panned out so far. Fortunately the Utes have performed extremely well in these, but what does that mean exactly? But Iowa State hasn’t exactly impressed anyone by beating Tech, Northern Iowa and Northern Illinois, either. I’ll let lyle handle the pre game chatter for this one in his SOS watch, but I’m not sure I’m buying the upset talk outright here.
Not Being Upset This Weekend:
#3 Oregon @ Washington State +36. 4:00PM.
#4 Boise State-39 vs. Toledo. 7:00PM.
#8 Auburn @ Kentucky +6. 6:30PM.
Probably another stagnant week, but hopefully we can get Nebraska off of our backs tomorrow evening, and if Indiana wants to put on their big boy pants and kill kill kill, that’d be swell too. Of course, we have to take care of business first, but seeing as how the Wyoming offense is the kissing cousin to Colorado State’s, as long as Andy can handle the snap, drop back 3-4 steps and make a successful handoff to Ed Wesley, we should be in the clear.