Thank God It’s Saturday – Week 5
We all know what this is for — our look at the upcoming weekend of college football and some of the games you should be paying attention to. The biggest game of the weekend is in Athens, leading us to our first preview.
Alabama at Georgia – 7:45/6:45 Central on ESPN
Beware of blackouts with this one as Alabama invades the confines of Sanford Stadium. Nick Saban’s coming to town and he’s bringing Glen Coffee and Mark Ingram with him. They’ll be met by the Great Flying Moreno and a bunch of black jerseys. The showmanship for this game as been entertaining. Let’s hope the game lives up to the hype. Keys for Georgia — pressuring John Parker Wilson into making mistakes and stopping the run (obviously). This game also features a match-up of two fantastic freshman receivers in AJ Green of Georgia and Julio Jones of Alabama.
In light of Edwin Baptiste’s incredible catch, it should be noted Green has been known to make some pretty amazing one-handed catches himself:
Prediction – Georgia scrapes by, 27-24.
Wisconsin at Michigan – 3:30/2:30 Central on ABC
For Wisconsin, this game acts as barometer for where they stand in the Big 10. If they can go to Ann Arbor and easily dispatch the Wolverines, they solidify their place among Penn State and Ohio State as favorites to win the Big 10. For Michigan, this game, like all their others thus far, will indicate just how far they have to go before Rich Rodriguez has a team that fits his needs. Look for the Badgers to pound the ball with P.J. Hill until Michigan proves they can stop him. After that, the Wolverines will have to deal with freshman John Clay as the change-of-pace back.
Prediction – Wisconsin is favored, a rarity for a road team in a conference match-up. Expect that to hold true. Wisconsin 31, Michigan 14.
Illinois at Penn State – 8:00/7:00 Central on ABC
If last weekend belonged to the SEC, the Big 10 is making its claim as best match ups of the weekend — save UGA/Bama. The crown jewel of the Big 10′s schedule is Penn State and Illinois. Considering the Illini defense, don’t expect them to stop WE ARE! PENN STATE!’s spread offense. Daryll Clark and Evan Royster have already combined for 14 touchdowns, and if the Illinois defends like they did against Missouri, that total might double by the end of the game.
For the Lions, obviously, the key to stopping Illinois is to stop Juice Williams.
So far, the highest scoring total Penn State has allowed is 14 — against weaker competition admittedly — Illinois has their work cut out for them. They do, however, represent the best offense the Nittany Lions have gone against this season. Could be a shootout if Penn State isn’t there defensively.
Prediction – Penn State comfortably. 45-21.
Mississippi State at LSU – 7:30/6:30 Central on ESPN
Mississippi State has obviously regressed since last season and that doesn’t bode well as they travel to Death Valley. Although, if they can repeat their defensive performance against Auburn and keep the game close, who knows what can happen. Just ask USC. Still, too much talent on the Tigers side of the football. They aren’t 25-point favorites by accident.
The biggest mystery, unless LSU has a post-Auburn letdown, is the quarterback and who will get the most playing time? Les Miles indicated he expected Brandon Hatch to play, although, you can expect to see lots of Jarrett Lee as well.
Honestly though, as long as Charles Scott is still performing, it won’t really matter who is quarterbacking the Tigers.
Prediction – LSU big. 38-6.
TCU at Oklahoma – 7/6:00 Central on FSN
For some reason, this game is considered a trap game for the 54.6 points-per-game averaging Sooners. Yes, TCU can score the ball very effectively as well. The Horned Frogs are averaging 43 points per themselves; but it’s really hard seeing them as being able to stop Oklahoma from scoring.
The Sooners have an embarrassment of talent and a reliable Sam Bradford distributing the ball to it. If TCU has a chance, it will be with their dual-threat quarterback Andy Dalton. Let’s not forget what Pat White and their spread attack did to Oklahoma last season in the Fiesta Bowl.
While Oklahoma is favored by a large margin — 17.5 — this game could turn into a Boise State/Oklahoma-style shootout.
Prediction – Oklahoma 48, TCU 28, a reversal of the Fiesta Bowl final score.
Other Games of Note
After getting hurricane’d out, I get to reuse this nifty Texas/Arkansas banner I made for week 3. These guys highlight the “best of the rest” bunch we have going on.
Arkansas at Texas – Hurricane Ike gave the Razorbacks a stay of execution here. Expect no such luck tomorrow.
Tennessee at Auburn – This is a huge game for Fire Phil and the Gang. For some reason, I’m thinking Volunteers here; although, I wouldn’t be surprised if Auburn’s defense held them to under 10 points either.
Western Kentucky at Kentucky – My homer pick of the week as these two in-state schools meet for the first time ever. I’d like to see UK’s running game to get back on schedule. The Hilltoppers can also score points and if the Cats come off their bye-week flat, WKU might finish the job Middle Tennessee missed doing by a yard.
Virginia at Duke – Nothing special here, except Duke is favored. That’s still a weird thing to see. Rock on with your bad self, David Cutcliffe. Could he actually get the Blue Devils — gasp — bowl eligible?
North Carolina at Miami – If the Canes drop this to the Heels, all that talk about “on the way back” needs to quiet down until they win a game of note. Texas A&M just doesn’t do it for me.
South Florida at NC State – A word of warning for the Bulls – beware the ECU trap.