Week Five Picks
Biggest Games(ranked by significance)
1. Florida at Alabama- Is the Tide going to roll? Or is the Tide going to roll over? This is a huge, intriguing matchup of top SEC teams. Florida's win over Tennessee just got bigger after the Vols upset LSU in Baton Rouge. Alabama on the other hand, has yet to beat a top 25 team, and struggled with Arkansas last week at home, a team USC whipped 70-17. If Alabama wants to contend for the SEC and a national title, the Tide must beat teams like Arkansas handily.
Chris Leak is not the best runner and Urban Meyer's spread offense is not as potent without the option run. Florida was forced to kick field goals against Tennessee, but can not to the same at Alabama. The Tide defense is the best Florida will see all season, and will be a big test for the spread. Tuscaloosa is one of the toughest places to play in the country.
Alabama's offense is balanced between the run and pass. Ken Darby and Brodie Croyle must have big games in order for the Tide to pull out the victory. Alabama has not started 5-0 since 1996, and Florida has not started 5-0 since 2001, well one will accomplish it once again this weekend. This is the first meeting between the schools this decade. Last time they met was in the 1999 SEC Championship. Bama and Florida had great games in the 1990's, and this year's game should pick up where they left off. Bama 27, Florida 26.
2. Southern California at Arizona State- This USC's toughest test to date. ASU is playing as good as any team in the country right now, including the Men of Troy. Tempe is not a friendly place to play, and ASU outplayed LSU, but special team mistakes cost the Sun Devils the victory. USC struggled in the first half last week at Oregon, but scored 35 unanswered points in the second half to blowout the Ducks.
Arizona State is going to test the Trojan pass defense all day long. Oregon's spread offense was ineffective in testing USC with the pass. ASU will score points and this game will be a shootout. It is funny that some media members were giving USC grief for the 32 point at Oregon. The Ducks are a borderline top 25 team, and USC gave the game away with an awful first half and still bowled over Oregon.
Sam Keller is an underrated Heisman contender, and I think he will outshine Matt Leinart Saturday, but the Trojans still win. USC 56, ASU 42.
3. Virginia Tech at West Virginia- What a difference preseason hype makes. Last year West Virginia was 4-0 and ranked #6 in the nation, this year they are 4-0, but are just in the others receiving votes. Last year, Virginia Tech was 2-2, with a losses to #1 USC and home to NC State, and were unranked not getting any votes. This year VT is 4-0 and ranked #3 in the country.
last year, Virginia Tech pulled what looked like an upset early on, but by year's end it was evident the Hokies were the better team all year long. West Virginia is a surprising 4-0 with wins at Syracuse and at Maryland. The Mountaineers were not impressive last week against East Carolina, but that is excusable considering Virginia Tech was coming to Morgantown this week.
The City of Morgantown is expecting a victory, or at least are preparing for one. They should be, West Virginia can win this game. It all depends if the run game can get yards on the stingy Virginia Tech defense. This could a close game coming down to the final minutes or Virginia Tech's defense and special teams can take over and rout the Mountaineers. I think Virginia Tech is too good to lose this game, but it will be tougher to pull out a win in Morgantown than it was in Raleigh. Virginia Tech 24, West Virginia 19.
4. Minnesota at Penn State- Another battle of unbeaten BCS teams, with one of them unranked. Penn State has played no one, per se. The opening win over 23-13 win over South Florida does not look so bad, and Northwestern is not a bowl team, but still a Big 10 road win. Now, a win over #18 Minnesota should eliminate doubters.
I am a Penn State believer, I think they have a shot at eight or nine wins, but they must win their home games. On the flipside, I thought Minnesota would have their usually four or five loss season this year. The Gophers can run on anybody, they proved that last week. Penn State's defense is better than Purdue's but struggled last week against Northwestern.
I like Laurence Maroney to rush for over 100 yards, but Penn State will this game if they can control the line of scrimmage. Jump on the Joe Pa bandwagon, Happy Valley will be buzzing, Penn State in a upset, 28-24.
5. Michigan at Michigan State- The only thing that will make Michigan fans happier than beating Michigan State, is beating Ohio State. Michigan is one of the most talented teams in the country, but have sucked on the field of play. Micheal Hart should make his return for the Wolverines this week, his presence has been missed.
Michigan needs to control the clock if they want to win, and that means running the ball with Hart. Will Hart be able to handle the load, all by himself? Chad Henne needs to get the ball to open receivers, otherwise, Michigan State will load up to stop the run.
Michigan State is an offensive juggernaunt, and Drew Stanton is one of top three quarterbacks in the country. I don't expect State to slow down against their hated rival after throwing away a 17 point lead last year. No surprise if the Wolverine eak out the win, but the Spartans in a blowout, 38-17.
6. Notre Dame at Purdue- This is a game I thought Notre Dame could win before the season started. There is no reason to change my mind. Notre Dame is playing great under Charlie Weis. Brady Quinn and Darius Walker are fast becoming All-American candidates. Purdue on the other hand, showed they could not stop the run after all. The Boilermakers face the reality of losing their second straight game, this time in West Lafayette, after many prognosticators predicted them to win the Big Ten and have a chance at unbeaten record.
Notre Dame has a balanced offense, so it is going to be hard for Purdue to focus on stopping the run or the pass. Purdue's offense needs to kick into high gear because the game will be a high scoring affair. Notre Dame's pass defense is very average, and Brandon Kirsch needs to take advantage of it if the Boilermakers want to have a chance at the win.
I like Notre Dame to pull away late. Anthony Fasano will have a big game, as Purdue will have no answer for him. Notre Dame 37, Purdue 31.
7. Iowa State at Nebraska- Another battle of unbeaten BCS teams, one ranked and one not. Who ever comes out victorious will be the early favorite in the Big 12 North division. The Cyclones and Cornhuskers are pretty even, I like Nebraska at home, 21-14.
8. Kansas at Texas Tech- Another battle...see above. Finally, Texas Tech will have to face a D-IA team that has been at IA level longer than a couple of months(see Fla. International). Kansas has not played anyone, either, of any significance. Both of these schools were originally scheduled to play at Fresno State this year, but both pulled out for different reasons(pussies).
Saturday, the nation will find who the creampuff champ is. Texas Tech is really talented and it is a shame that they did not play a meaningful out of conference game. Cody Hodges is continuing the great tradition of Tech senior signal callers. Kansas is better than many think. Their pass defense will be a great test for the Red Raiders, Charles Gordon will have at least one interception.
I think Kansas will give Tech some problems. I don't think they can pull the upset on the road, but it will be closer than many think. Texas Tech 41, Kansas 29.
3 Potential Upsets....
What will happen- Kansas State will beat Oklahoma. The Sooners are only a fraction of the teams of the past five years. Kansas State is 3-0, and look to have rebounded from last year's 4-7 season after pasting North Texas 54-7 last week. That is what fans are used to seeing from Kansas State, what there are not is the Wildcats winning in Norman.
What might happen- Missouri over Texas. The Tigers gave Texas fits last year. The 'Horns are rolling and whipping Oklahoma next week has to be on their minds. This game will be close if Texas is looking ahead to the game at Cotton Bowl. Vince Young and the Longhorns could be down late and face the fact of having to march down the field for the winning score.
What is unlikely to happen- Mississippi State upsets LSU. LSU had short week of preparation after the heartbreaking loss to Tennessee. The Tigers can not have a letdown. Coach Les Miles see Ron Zook, you my friend can not afford a loss at Mississippi State.
Betting Man? Surefire Picks!
Note: Last week USC came through, Georgia let me down, and Central Michigan just lost. For the real lowdown on picking against the spread check out The Wizard.
Texas A&M (-22.5) vs Baylor- Revenge for the loss in Waco last year.
Oregon (-7) at Stanford- Stanford lost to UC Davis at home.
Kansas (+19) at Texas Tech- see above
all other games at D1AFootball.com under Our Picks