Last weekend's action turned from typical college football Saturday into upset special when the lights went off with an arousing slate of night games which saw two large upsets and a classic Stanford-USC matchup in the Coliseum with Stanford just inching past USC to remain unbeaten.
Should we expect even more this weekend?? Well so far this week there has already been a game with 123 combined points — there's your answer.
Kansas State vs Oklahoma State
This could very well be the last true test for the Oklahoma State Cowboys, who currently sit at 8-0, before their "Bedlam" game with Oklahoma the final week of the season. The Cowboys offense just keeps rolling on as the year progresses as they have put up offensive yardage totals of 420, 533 and 601 in their last three contests. Their 601 yards against Baylor last week was their second-highest total all season and they are averaging over 555 yards per game. Much under-appreciated Cowboy quarterback Brandon Weeden has been sensational recently, throwing for 14 touchdowns and just a single interception in his last five games combined.
Facing the Cowboy offense could prove rather difficult, even for a Kansas State squad who ranks 16th in the country in rush defense and 59th in total defense. The Wildcats will need to be balanced on defense and really put the pressure on Weeden early in hopes of causing some turnovers. Kansas State does have a +9 turnover margin on the season and have turned the ball over just eight times this season themselves.
…..Speaking of turnover margin — the Pokes are tops in the country in that department at +19!! Look for a determined Kansas State team to make this one close, but in the end I think that the Cowboys just have too many weapons on offense.
Prediction: Kansas State – 38 Oklahoma State – 44
Players to Watch: Collin Klein (Jr. – QB) Joseph Randle (So. – RB)
Louisville vs West Virginia
The race has been tight all season long in the ever-competitive Big East and this game could be the key in deciding who sits atop the conference after this week's action. Louisville is currently in a tie with Pittsburgh for third in the conference, but if they can somehow find a way to sneak past West Virginia in Morgantown this weekend they could find themselves atop the conference (if Cincinnati loses to Pittsburgh, of course) by weekend's end.
The Cardinals rank 12th in the country in total defense and are accustomed to playing in tough, close games. The average score of their eight games this season thus far is Louisville – 17.6, Opponents – 16.3.
Taking on the Cardinals will be a West Virginia Mountaineers team that currently sits at 6-2 and second in the Big East behind leaders Cincinnati. Head coach Dana Holgorsen has transformed the Mountaineers passing offense into one of the best in the country, ranking 7th at almost 355 yards-per-contest. The road doesn't get any easier for quarterback Geno Smith and the Mountaineers as they play all three of the other top teams in the conference in three consecutive games, starting with this one. Every win is crucial.
Prediction: Louisville – 21 West Virginia – 26
Players to Watch: Michaelee Harris (Fr. – WR) Geno Smith (Jr. – QB)
Texas A&M vs Oklahoma
The Texas A&M Aggies are once again trying to pick up the pieces from a tough loss. They fell to Missouri last weekend 31-38 in College Station and look to hand the Oklahoma Sooners a second straight loss in Norman….something which seems a monumental task to accomplish. Offense hasn't been a problem for the Aggies, who are averaging over 39 points-per-game. It is the defense that has been worrisome, allowing 27 points-per-game and giving up over 318 passing yards per game, ranking them dead last in the country in passing defense.
When you remember who the Aggies are facing this game seems like an easy victory for their opponents, the Oklahoma Sooners. Quarterback Landry Jones and the Sooners are putting up 46 points-per-game and averaging almost 400 yards of passing per game and should have no trouble whatsoever outgunning the Aggies in this affair.
The Sooners offensive studs Ryan Broyles, Kenny Stills and Roy Finch — just to name a few — should see their fair share of touches and put up big numbers in what should be a very lopsided contest.
Prediction: Texas A&M – 28 Oklahoma – 45
Players to Watch: Cyrus Gray (Sr. – RB) Ryan Broyles (Sr. – WR)
Michigan vs Iowa
While bowl eligibility lies on the line for Iowa, a Big Ten Championship is still teasing Michigan's thoughts. Kirk Ferentz's Iowa team has been very less than impressive this season, however, they do get to face a much-improved Michigan team at home in Kinnick Stadium. Quarterback Denard Robinson and the Wolverines will look to get their high-powered offense revving from the get-go in hopes of staying on track for the inaugural Big Ten Championship game. Michigan's defense has improved dramatically this season giving up almost three touchdowns less per game on average. For this trend to continue, they will need to contain Iowa running back Marcus Coker. Coker is ninth in the country in rushing averaging 121 yards per game with 10 touchdowns and 515 of his 969 yards for the year have come in the last three games alone (including 6 of his 10 touchdowns).
Prediciton: Michigan – 31 Iowa – 17
Players to Watch: Denard Robinson (Jr. – QB) Marcus Coker (So. – RB)
GAME OF THE WEEK
LSU vs Alabama
This is it, folks. The Game of the Century….Game of the Week…..Game of the Millennium….Game of the Year! Whatever you wish to call it — it is the biggest game of this entire college football year so far and the stakes are at their absolute highest given the traditions, prowess and current-season records for these two programs.
LSU comes into this game having given up an average of less than 12 points-per-game on the year (4th ranked total defense) and just a paltry 613 rushing yards in eight games. The Alabama Crimson Tide, meanwhile, rank first in the country (by far) in total defense giving up just 180 yards per game of offense and have possibly the greatest living college football coach in history at their disposal in Nick Saban.
This game will truly, truly be as big and intense of a battle on the football field as you could ever possibly want if you are a college football fan. All will be left on the line with the winner having a decisive edge in the race to this year's National Championship game. Future pro prospects will litter the field of play in droves and a strength-versus-strength matchup for the ages will be witnessed for all of Tuscaloosa, Alabama and the country to see.
Do I have to pick a winner? Seriously?……
OK — COLLEGE FOOTBALL, WINS.
* For my actual prediction, visit my podcast page –> *
Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS