Friday, October 13, 2006

College Football Week 7 Preview

Auburn's Jordan-Hare stadium will be full & raucous for the #2 Gators tonight

I didn't bother to do a review of Week 6 because I was so god-awful with my predictions that I couldn't bear to revisit them. But with Week 7 now upon us, and a week of reflection behind me, I can now see the error of my ways. Plus I need to recap what happened last week before I can get to this week. So bear with me.

As I recall I was a not-too-terrible 2-3 in my picks for the week, but my losses were doozies: LSU over Florida 17-14 (Gators won 23-10), Georgia over the Vols 24-21 (the Dawgs got neutered, 51-33) and Oklahoma over Texas 28-24 (the 'Horns walloped the Sooners 28-10.) My 2 correct picks, in hindsight, were pretty easy ones: I had Michigan beating reeling Michigan State 35-13 (Wolverines won 31-13) and Cal taking out Oregon in a shootout, 45-37 (I was close but Oregon couldn't score & lost 45-24.)

So that was my week, and what a week in college ball. The Gators win coupled with Auburn's surprising 27-10 home loss to the upstart Razorbacks (4-1, 3-0 SEC) catapulted Florida into the Tigers' No. 2 slot in the polls, while Auburn dropped all the way to 11th. Ouch. Yet Georgia's embarrassing drubbing at the hands of Eric Ainge and the offensively potent Vols between the hedges only dropped the Dawgs from 10th to 14th; figure that?
Speaking of embarrassing, FSU's loss on Thursday Night Football to Chuck Amato's NC ST. Wolfpack kicked the Noles out of the polls, joining fellow underachieving Sunshine Staters the Hurricanes in the legion of the unranked. Now that's rank!

Now all the talk is focused on what teams are the top 5 in the country. The AP has it like this:
1.)Ohio State (6-0)
2.)Florida (6-0)
3.)USC (5-0)
4.)Michigan (6-0)
5.)West Virginia (6-0)

But every analyst, writer, pollster and peon has their list. So here's this peon blogger's:

1.) Ohio State- until they lose they are the clear No.1; could be undefeated heading into the Michigan game in a month.
2.)Michigan- with a punishing defense and well-balanced offense, this team could become one of Cmmdr. Carr's best squads yet.
3.)Florida- it pains me to rank these guys here, but they haven't done anything to disprove their position; that could change after tonight's tilt at Auburn.
4.)USC- I find it hard to believe that many 'experts' are calling this the best or 2nd best team in the land; we'll find out in a month if they are even the 2nd best team in the PAC-10 when they take on 5-1 Cal.
5.)Louisville(5-0)- everyone was ready to drop the Birds when star RB Michael Bush went down for the season in the 1st game and then stud QB Brian Brohm went out in their 3rd contest against Miami. All the Cards have done is average 500+/ YPG and 44/PPG with a balanced ground (236yds) & aerial (286) attack in their absence; #5 W.Va awaits in 3 weeks.

There you have it. But no matter what the rankings are now, they will all change in the next month when these undefeated teams start squaring off against each other. As usual it's going to be a fun final month of the season. But now let's look at this weeks' Top 5 Games to Watch, along with another batch of my terrific picks:

24 Rutgers (5-0) @ Navy (5-1) 1:30PM
The Scarlet Knights won their 1st game in 36 years as a ranked team 2 weeks ago vs. USF , but this contest will be a lot tougher test for Rutgers. The Middies are back in full force with a running game that is averging 350/YPG, thanks to the 2-pronged backfield of QB Brian Hampton (645yds) & RB Adam Ballard (574yds.) Hampton is an absolute beast: this 5'11" senior has compiled 945 total yards & 12 TDs already this season as a mobile QB, and the solid Scarlet defense is going to have their hands full with him. But Rutgers is no offensive slouch either; the Knights are averaging 31 PPG and 200+ on the ground thanks to the nation's 3rd leading rusher, Ray Rice (806 yds, 11 TDs.) Who'd have thunk it: Rutgers/Navy a must-see game? Crazy.
MY PICK: Navy, 35-31 (sorry Ira & Butchie!)

10 Cal @ Washington State( 4-2) 5PM EST
This could be a trap game for the suddenly resurgent Bears. After their season-opening ass-kicking (35-18) at the hands of the Vols, Cal has ripped off 5 wins in a row while averaging nearly 44/PPG. Their much-maligned defense also came through last week, holding high-scoring Oregon to just 24 points (maybe their hideous Unis distracted the similarly-clad Ducks). But I say this is a trap because Wazzou is much better than their record indicates: their 2 losses were a 4-14 beating by then #4 Auburn and a close (28-22) loss to USC 2 weeks ago. The Cougs have a few weapons, including junior QB Alex Brink (9TDs) and electric receivers Michael Bumpus and Jason Hil. But Cal counters with their high-flying trio of QB Nate Longshore (17TDs), WR DeSean Jackson(8TDs, 18/YPC) and RB Marshawn Lynch, who has been gimpy with an ankle injury all year but has been adequately replaced by junior Justin Forsett (163yds vs. ORE.) All that firepower should be too much for WSU to overcome, but they might keep it interesting-for a half. I just hope they don't bust out those god-awful unis again.
MY PICK: Cal 37- 21

1 Ohio State @ Michigan State(3-3) 3:30PM ABC
Heading into the season this looked like a challenging road test for the Buckeyes. Now it just looks like an East Lansing speed bump as the stumbling Spartans have seen the bottom drop out of their season. Successive losses to Notre Dame, Illinois & Michigan have left the program searching for answers and students & alumni calling for coach John L. Smith's head on a stick. The Buckeyes have superior players on both sides of the ball and should handle the Spartans fairly easily, but they better not forget the old saying: never underestimate a wounded animal; they'll come back to bite ya. And boy are the Spartans wounded. But they still possess quality skill players, including QB Drew Stanton, and are putting up 31/PPG. But when the smoke (or rain) clears in Spartan Stadium the #1 team should be 7-o and awaiting a visit from that other team from Michigan, the Wolverines.
MY PICK: Buckeyes 28-17

4 Michigan @ Penn State (4-2) 8PM ABC

Although the Lions' 2 losses have been to highly-ranked ranked opponents (41-17 to #4 ND; 28-6 to #1 Ohio St.), their wins have been against the likes of Akron, Youngstown and Northwestern. In other words Papa Paterno's resurgent squad from last year (11-1 w/ an Orange Bowl win over FSU) is a distant memory for this rebuilding unit. But the Wolverines come into this one a little bit banged up & distracted. Star WR Mario Manningham(527yds, 9TDs) will not play due to arthroscopic surgery on his knee, and a 23-year-old man was arrested yesterday and charged with stalking & harrassment of Commander Carr. Wow, I know he rubs people the wrong way, but who would want to stalk the guy? The loser sent threatening emails and was actually caught on campus waiting outside the facilities with a bat. Yikes. So Michigan may be slightly off thei game coming in to this one. But they still have QB Chad Henne and RB Mike Hart, plus capable receiver Steve Breaston, and that should be enough to hold off the sure-to-be-fired up Nitny Lions and the 100,000+ fans in Beaver Stadium.
MY PICK: Wolverines 27-10

2 Florida @ 11 Auburn(5-1) 7:45 ESPN
The only matchup this week between 2 ranked teams should be a good old fashioned SEC hate-fest as the Gators come to town flashing their #2 ranking that they swiped form Auburn last week. While the Tigers may have been overlooking Arkansas in favor of this game, that's no reason for a #2 to get destroyed at home by an unranked team, 27-10. Either way you slice it it wasn't a good day for Auburn, but they have the perfect tonic for what ails them skipping into Jordan-Hare Stadium tonight at 7:45 on ESPN.
The Gators reliance on the 2-headed QB animal of Chris Leak (1395yds, 13 TDs) and freshman Tim Tebow(380 tot yds, 5 TDs) has paid off for Urban Meyer so far: last week they confused LSU by allowing Tebow, who was being used to run in goal line situations, to throw for 2 touchdowns, including a miraculous basketball-like jump shot score. I'm not a fan of this type of system but if it's working (it is) and 4-yr starter Leak is fine with it (he is) then more power to them. But I look for Auburn to come out with the same fire & intensity they had when they deconstructed LSU 7-3 a few weeks ago. Auburn just sucked the soul right out of them with suffocating defense and, well that was about it. the Tigers will need to control the ball with power back Kenny Irons and keep the high-scoring Gators off the field for as long as possible. It should be ugly, nasty, and intense. In other words a perfect game to cap our day off with.
In the words of Mills Lane: "Let's get it on!"
MY PICK: Tigers 14-13

1 comment:

Butch said...

Hey man you went against my Scarlet Knights. 34-0 against a good Navy offense. They are now Bowl eligible.