OK, we all saw Boise State last night win in possibly their worst performance of the year. Turnovers were a problem, including a fumble on a kickoff...and, gasp, Kellen Moore threw his SECOND interception of the season (and, much to the chagrin of many Bronco fans, he made the tackle). Yet, they won handily, 49-20 over Louisiana Tech. Moore threw for 298 yards and two touchdown passes and also caught one on (shocking) a Boise State trick play. He also punted once for 53 yards. So, now that we have the Broncos in the win column, let's take a look at ten games I find interesting for this weekend.
Here are my three top games of the week...followed by seven more interesting match-ups!
1. Oregon at USC (8:00 p.m.) - Right now, I think Oregon is the best team in the country...better than Auburn...and we're about to find out if that is really true. USC has been under wraps most of the season. Their offense, led by QB Matt Barkley (1869 yards passing, 20 TD's and a 167.3 QB Rating) is outstanding. Considering they CANNOT go to a bowl game this season...this game is their best shot to show the nation this is a good program. They will do that, but Oregon has even more riding on this game since they CAN go to a bowl. Their top-rated offense is led by quarterback Darron Thomas (1539 yards, 17 TD's and a 158.9 rating) and running back LaMichael James (971 yards and 11 rushing TD's). And, don't forget about their 32nd rated defense...better than you think. And the one they want is the BSC Championship Game in Arizona. Oregon wins a very close game.
2. Missouri at Nebraska (3:30 p.m.) - The winner of this game has the clear inside track to the Big 12 North title and a spot in the Championship Game in Dallas (probably against Oklahoma). Both teams are coming off huge wins...Nebraska out-scored previously-unbeaten Oklahoma State in Stilly...Mizzou knocked off then-No. 1 and also previously-undefeated Oklahoma at home. Now, Blaine Gabbert (1899 yards, 11 TD's, 137.8 rating) and the Tigers get a shot at a really physical Nebraska team...in Lincoln...where, when last seen, the Huskers were getting the tar beat out of them against Texas. Do you think that will be on their minds? Big Red does not lose two in a row at home (when they have a good team). I cannot say I am very confident in this pick, as my Alma Mater does not have a great record up in Lincoln, but then again, they had lost 19 out of 20 to Oklahoma before last Saturday night's big win. That being said, maybe with more of my heart than my head this time...Mizzou upsets Nebraska to continue its magical season.
3. Michigan State at Iowa (3:30 p.m.) - HUGE game in the Big Ten...for Sparty, win this, and there is a real chance you will be playing for the national title...seriously...they play a good schedule and can you imagine the uproar if a 12-0 Big Ten team is not playing in the BSC title game? For the Hawkeyes, coming off a really tough one-point loss to Wisconsin, this game means keeping up in the race. State, meanwhile, is the only undefeated team left in the conference, and quite frankly, their remaining schedule (at Minnesota, vs. Purdue and at Penn State) just is not that tough. MSU 12-0? It is a distinct possibility...if the beat Iowa on Saturday. On paper, I like Iowa, but State has something going on this season...I think they UPSET Iowa...there's something special about this team...trick plays and all...
And here are seven others you might want to keep your eye on:
4. Florida State at North Carolina State (Thursday, 8:00 p.m.) - A win by the Noles basically puts them in the ACC championship game. The Pack need to show the home fans they are a serious contender. Sounds like a close one to me. FSU passes the eyeball test - they just look like the better team. On paper...Russell Wilson, the Pack QB, is a talent. He has passed for 2124 yards, 18 TD's and has a 132.6 QB rating. The leading rusher is Mustafa Greene, with 419 yards. On the other side of the line, FSU QB Christian Ponder has passed for 1187 yards and 12 TD's. His rating is 129.3. Their leading rusher, Chris Thompson, has 445 yards. Again...it will be close, but I think Russell Wilson will be out to make a statement to the Pack faithful. Strange things happen on ESPN on Thursday nights...NCSU upsets FSU.
5. West Virginia at Connecticut (Friday, 8:00 p.m.) - What has happened to the 'Eers? Syracuse beat them in Morgantown and one fan I know said it just didn't surprise him at all. This left them a game behind Pittsburgh...so they need to get back on track. They will, as this year's UCONN team is not one of their better ones lately. WVU by 6.
6. Tennessee at South Carolina (12:20 p.m.) - Yep, the team Coach Steve Spurrier loves to hate ("You cain't spell CITRUS without UT!") especially when he was the head ball coach at his alma mater, Florida (the Gators always went to a bigger, better bowl than the Vols, so the old Citrus Bowl was where the Vols ended up several times). Spurrier has this team on track to be in the SEC championship game...and is he ever lucky to be in the East Division. The West, with Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Mississippi State and Arkansas (all will be bowl eligible) is just deadly. USC (the one in Columbia, not Los Angeles) wins BIG.
7. Florida vs. Georgia (Jacksonville - 3:30 p.m.) - "The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party" does not have the glamour it once had, but both teams still have a shot at the SEC East title. Georgia is 3-3 in conference, Florida is 2-3. The Bulldogs are coming off their third consecutive win (vs. Tennessee, Vandy and Kentucky) after a disastrous 4 game losing streak. Florida, on the other hand, is riding a three game losing streak (vs. Alabama, LSU and Mississippi State). The Gators have beaten Miami (OH), South Florida and Tennessee...hardly a ringing endorsement for bowl boosters. This year, the Bulldogs have more going for them, and, while it will not be a pretty game, Georgia wins.
8. California at Oregon State (3:30 p.m.) - Oregon State is coming off a one-point loss to Washington (Nov. 16) and had a bye last week which gave them a bit more time to work on the game plan for not only this game, but their upcoming game at UCLA on Nov. 6. The Golden Bears are coming off a huge win against Arizona State after their crushing defeat at USC. Let's say this about Cal...they have beaten the teams they should have (UC Davis, Colorado, UCLA and Arizona State) and lost to better teams (Nevada, Arizona and USC). OSU has just one loss in conference, and to keep up with their brothers in Eugene, they must beat a decent Cal team. They will win a close game to stay in the race.
9. Wake Forest at Maryland (3:30 p.m.) - The Terps are 5-2, but are not overwhelming anyone. Wake is 2-5 and, obviously, neither are they. So, this is a good Homecoming match-up for the Terps...but Wake has had their number lately. It is homecoming for area-native Devon Brown, Wake's receiver/runner/kick returner...and he has always come up BIG against the Terps. Should have shown him a little love, Ralph Friedgen...And, the Fridge is not off the hot seat yet. They may be 5-2 today, but they MUST win Saturday...because it is their last good chance to win a game this year. If they lose, and go to 5-3, they will then be playing at Miami, at Virginia (for some reason they really struggle against the Cavs) and finish up with Florida State and NC State at home. This adds up to 5-7, and the end for Ralph Friedgen. A win, however, gets them to 6-2...and if they can beat Virginia and maybe upset FSU or NCSU...maybe a bowl is in their future. So, with this being a huge game, the TERPS WIN! But, good luck, Devon!
10. Michigan at Penn State (8:00 p.m.) - The tale of two quarterbacks...Michigan gets Dennard Robinson (1319 yards, 9 TD's and 159.1 rating) back...and that should be enough. But Penn State may (as of Wednesday it was very doubtful he would play) lose their freshman sensation, Rob Bolden (1307 yards, 5 TD's and 119.2 rating). JoPa said Matt McGloin will compete with Kevin Newsome, who has a minor left knee injury, in an open competition to start if Bolden can't go. He could end up using multiple quarterbacks against the Wolverines. Michigan has an offense (2nd in the nation to Oregon) but their defense is porous (104th)...PSU has a better defense (33rd) than offense (82nd), but what else is new at Linebacker U? I think Robinson coming back gives Michigan a huge lift and they leave Happy Valley very happy, indeed...Michigan wins.
EDITOR'S NOTE: I will NOT be able to post my usual Top Ten Surprises in College Football on Monday, nor will I be posting my preview of next weekend's games as I will be on vacation and will have very limited access to the internet. I hope my picks for this week work out...especially my upsets! Enjoy the weekend! I will be back NOVEMBER 8 with my review of Week 10!
You can always find more content on SportsView's official site: www.martinnicholson.com!