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2011 NCAA Football – Week 4 Best Games

The calm before the storm. College football is essentially a 12-week season with conference teams playing 8 conference games to 4 non-conference games. Typically this works out to a 4-week non-conference slate followed by the conference free for all that will have a lot to do with determining bowl eligibility and to which bowls specific teams qualify for because bowls are largely filled by where certain teams place in their conference.

With that being the general rule, Week 4 is sort of a down week as nobody really wants to face a difficult test right before they open conference play. There aren’t as many games this week that strike my fancy, but the top-6 measure up with any week of the season!

I just want to make a quick note and say that these are the most interesting games to me this week in descending order of importance. Obviously I think the most interesting and most important game of the week is the Sooners/Seminoles matchup. This should give you an idea of why the games are in the order they are.

ROAD PREDICTION HOME
Wow that is an interesting line! I know the Tide are at home, but 11.5 on the 3-0 Razorbacks? The Hogs showed a little vulnerability last week giving up 28 points in a win over Troy which means Alabama could create havoc offensively. Arkansas really hasn’t done a great job stopping the run while playing teams that have no shot at coming with 40 points of the Tide. I think Trent Richardson & Eddie Lacy are going to go nuts. Ronnie Wingo is doing a good job filling in for Knile Davis, but the Arkansas rush YPC isn’t fantastic. This is a passing team going up against the best pass defense in the country. It’ll be interesting to see how dominant Alabama can be here. Current Line: Alabama (-11.5)!
A huge Big XII game. With no divisions, this becomes an integral game as it will give one team a loss which is a serious blow to their national championship hopes. Let’s also assume that both teams lose to Oklahoma. Whichever team loses here is stuck with 2-losses at a minimum which might mean no BCS bowl. As good as the Cowboys have been, they are somewhat of a one dimensional team. A fantastic passing offense that doesn’t rely on the run with an average defense. The Aggies can pretty much do everything with Ryan Tannehill & Cyrus Gray, plus they can play some defense too and they are playing at home. The best defense for A&M is a solid rush offense so Gray & Christine Michael are going to have to have big games. If A&M can’t keep OSU off the field, then they could lose this one. OSU’s rush defense has sucked so far this season so A&M definitely has an edge. Current Line: Texas A&M (-4.5).
This could wind up being the best game of the week. Typically a good judge of good offensive line play is looking at a team’s rushing YPC and then the # of sacks allowed. WVU is horrible at YPC and not all that great at prevent sacks. That doesn’t spell good news when facing LSU’s defensive line which seems primed to destroy the Mountaineers if their stats this far mean anything. I would be excited to seen Dana Holgerson’s offense on display, but LSU managed against Oregon so maybe this could be anticlimatic. If WVU’s O-Line holds up and they don’t beat themselves the way Oregon did, LSU could lose this one. Current Line: LSU (-5.5).
This line started at FSU (-3) so you can imagine how much confidence people are showing Clemson based on the Tigers beating Auburn & FSU losing to Oklahoma. The Sooners might be the best team in the nation while Auburn is the 5th best team in the SEC West! What gives? This is all about bouncing back. FSU’s loss to Oklahoma might preclude them from winning a national championship, but it doesn’t stop them from being 12-1 and making a serious case in case there are no unbeatens. Clemson of course can vault itself into the national spotlight with a win here. Would be really interesting if the Tigers took down Auburn & FSU in back-to-back weeks. Current Line: Clemson (-2).
I don’t get Missouri. I love Gary Pinkel as a HC, but almost losing to Miami-OH followed by losing to Arizona St. doesn’t make much sense. QB James Franklin has actually been pretty good. Maybe the 69-0 win over W.Illinois got them back on track, but W.Illinois isn’t even in the same galaxy as Oklahoma. The star of Oklahoma’s team last week against FSU was the incredible defensive effort of the Sooners. Franklin hasn’t seen anything like it yet. Combine that with Mizzou’s average pass defense and you have the recipe for a blowout. The Tigers are talented & Pinkel will have them ready. Could OU have a let down after such a huge win the week before? Current Line: Oklahoma (-21).
When was the last time the Sun Devils were favored against USC? Despite it being a road game, this matchup actually bodes well for USC. ASU has been more of a passing team, and while Lane Kiffin hasn’t brought USC completely back to the peak Carroll years, Matt Barkley is a stud and the Trojan pass defense is pretty stingy. What USC doesn’t do particularly well is stop the run, but ASU doesn’t run the ball well and ASU isn’t a great pass defense team either. This is probably the game that decides the Pac 12 South. USC can’t play in the title game, but it says something to win the division anyway. Current Line: Arizona St. (-2.5).
Vegas is showing mad respect to Notre Dame with this line. In South Bend, the Irish would be 2+ TD favorites! Realize too that ND has been favored in all 4 games so far. The Irish took the 15th ranked Michigan St. Spartans to the woodshed last week 31-13. Remember too that Sparty is a notoriously difficult opponent for ND. Not anymore. Imagine how good ND would be if they didn’t lead the NCAA in turnovers lost and TO margin? Brian Kelly’s teams are typically on the plus side in TO margin. If ND gets some regression against PITT, this game gets over in a hurry with an Irish blowout. Current Line: Notre Dame (-7).
The Jackets put up some SILLY rushing numbers last week in their 66-24 beatdown of Kansas. GT rushed for over 600 yards & averaged 12+ypc! Carolina has one of the best rush defenses in the natino allowing just 2.4ypc! Obviously this will be the matchup. UNC isn’t going to completely stop GT from running the football, but the Heels are 3-0 which is an accomplishment given the turmoil they faced this past offseason. UNC has talent to be sure and the winner of this game could position themselves nicely should Virginia Tech falter. Remember, GT gets the Hokies in Atlanta. You simply have to love Paul Johnson and that triple option he runs. The next step for GT is winning a BCS bowl. Maybe they can pull that off in a surprise year. The UNC defense will be a test. Current Line: Georgia Tech (-6.5).
The obvious storyline here is current Michigan HC Brady Hoke was coaching at San Diego St. this time last year and now will face his former team in the Big House. Here is a better one. Both Michigan & San Diego St. are tied for 4th in the FBS in TO margin at +6! Michigan certainly got a lot of help with Notre Dame imploding a couple of weeks ago, but these teams are pretty opportunistic when it comes to the defense. Michigan’s defense is a lot better than you think while the Aztecs are going to have trouble stopping Denard Robinson. Who doesn’t? Still, this could come down to mistakes, but I doubt Hoke loses to his old team in his new team’s own stadium. Michigan keeps rolling. Current Line: Michigan (-10.5).
Boise St. by 28? Really? It actually does make some sense. Tulsa is playing on the blue turf where Boise St. never loses, and remember too that Tulsa would have a hard time stopping a very good high school offense. Now throw Kellen Moore into the mix and you have a recipe for Boise St. scoring 60 points in a blowout win. The curious thing here is that Tulsa can actually score points. It probably won’t be a close game, but Tulsa really isn’t as bad as a potential 1-3 might suggest. Those 3 losses were to Oklahoma, Oklahoma St. and maybe Boise St. If they went 9-3 would you be surprised? Current Line: Boise St. (-28).
I’ve listed some interesting MAC/Big East games at the end here. The Bobcats are 3-0 and now square off against Rutgers in Jersey. Rutgers isn’t exactly tearing it up although they did play North Carolina very close. It would be interesting to see Ohio win this one because a win here could potentially see Ohio run the table at 12-0 before playing in the MAC Championship game. A win there could put Ohio at 13-0 with a shot at a perfect season. Along with Toledo, Ohio is probably the best team in the MAC & has a shot at perfection. It would be interesting to see them get it. Even more interesting is that Frank Solich is the HC! Bo Pelini was a HR hire for Nebraska, but maybe getting rid of Solich was a tad premature? Current Line: Rutgers (-4.5).
Toledo and Ohio are poised to meet in the MAC championship, but the Rockets have been dealt a tougher hand of cards as their 2 losses have come against Ohio St. & Boise St. Toledo can argue they should have beaten Ohio St., so they certainly won’t be intimidated by walking into Syracuse. The Orange have had a tough time of it this season getting blown out by USC on the heels of close wins over Rhode Island & Wake Forest! I root hard for Doug Marrone, but what makes this game interesting is that a loss at home to Toledo would seem like a step back although the Rockets are really good & could easily deserve to win the game. Still, the superficial MAC v. Big East hurts Syracuse because they look bad either way. Current Line: Syracuse (-2.5).
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September 21, 2011 - Posted by | Alabama, Arizona St., Arkansas, Clemson, Florida St., Georgia Tech, LSU, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Pittsburgh, Texas AM, USC, West Virginia

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