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2014 NCAA WEEK 5 – GAMES OF THE WEEK

A very interesting week on tap with the collegiate athletes. When I first went over the schedule, I had a hard time getting to 13 games that I thought mattered enough to write about, but the more I looked at the matchups & thought about what I wanted to see in each of them, the more I realized there were some very intriguing games on tap. Never a dull moment on any given Saturday.

 

ROAD WHY IT IS MUST SEE! HOME
The best game of the week hands down! If you are a fan of defense then this probably isn’t the game for you! Consider that A&M enters the game averaging 53PPG while Arkansas averages 49PPG! They rank 2nd & 3rd respectively in the nation! Arkansas ranks 8th in rush offense with 325yds/G! The Aggies rank 4th in passing offense with 405yds/G! After losing to Auburn to open up the season Arkansas has beaten their last 3 opponents by an average score of 58-16! It hasn’t come against great competition but Arkansas is showing quite a bit. We all know A&M & the Kenny Hill story. A neutral site game will be a real test and obviously it’ll be interesting to see if Arkansas’ offense can keep A&M’s offense off the field which will be key. This is a huge game for both teams in a rugged SEC West where every win counts as more than just one W or L.
This game would be a lot more exciting if Arizona St. standout QB Taylor Kelly were playing, but the Sun Devils have to play the hand they are dealt which means they are going to face a very strong UCLA team without a key player in a game that could very well determine the outcome of the Pac 12 South. With so much attrition from last year’s team, ASU has sort of played under the radar to this point starting out 3-0. They are coming off back-to-back road wins while UCLA’s struggles are well known. The Bruins have some solid wins on the resume with a road win over Virginia & a neutral site win over Texas, but UCLA hasn’t dominated like many (including me) thought they would. A win here would definitely put UCLA on the right track & give the Bruins 3 early wins against 3 decent teams. It’s ugly but you can’t ignore victories either.
I don’t think it was possible for the Vols to go into Norman and beat Oklahoma, but Tennessee has the kind of team that should be bowl eligible by year’s end with the capability of winning a game or two that they probably shouldn’t win. The defense is good enough to keep them in games if a superior team doesn’t come to play & I think the play of RBs Marlin Lane & Jalen Hurd is going to keep improving. Georgia is a huge test for Tennessee especially with the rushing attack. The talk is all about Todd Gurley but Sony Michel & Nick Chubb average 10ypc combined! QB Hutson Mason is playing extremely well as the senior is making the most of his only year as a starter. A lot has to go right for UT to win this game especially on the road, but as with Arkansas against A&M, the Vols have to find a way to keep UGA’s offense off the field.
Chris Petersen is doing one of the better jobs in college football without a lot of fanfare. It was interesting to see him finally leave Boise St. for Washington, but so far the Huskies are 4-0 & after a couple of rough first games, UW has settled in. I don’t think enough was made of the Huskies losing QB Keith Price & RB Bishop Sankey. Sankey is now a starting RB in the NFL but current QB Cyler Miles & RB Lavon Coleman are doing decent jobs as replacements. With Stanford we really don’t know what we have yet. The Cardinal was beaten at home by a USC team that subsequently lost to Boston College. Stanford’s only wins have come against UC-Davis & Army. This is their first true road game. If Washington wins they should be able to get 6-0 before traveling to Eugene on October 18th. Note that Oregon plays at UCLA the week prior!
I hate games like this because Oregon St. is one of my favorite teams in college football & I really like Mike Riley as a HC. The problem is that this sets up as a good game for Oregon State. USC probably isn’t that good yet under Sarkisian & the Beavers have a lot of returning starters including QB Sean Mannion. Oregon St. has started off 3-0 & if they were to win this game you can see a scenario in which OSU can get to 10-0/9-1 before their final 2 games at Washington & then at home against Oregon! But this is also the kind of game Oregon St. seems to lose which dashes their hopes pretty quick & they wind up 8-4. USC is sort of in the same boat. They’ve had a bye week to get over BC but a win over Oregon St. could set them up nice for a 10-2 season which would be remarkable in Sarkisian’s first year. A lot on the line in this one.
Missouri is coming off a brutal home loss to perennial Big 10 doormats Indiana by the score of 31-27. It’s a tough pill to swallow given how well the Tigers had played to that point so I think this game will be interesting to see how Gary Pinkel and the Tigers bounce back against a South Carolina team that is all of a sudden playing like South Carolina. Kenny Hill came into Columbia and lit the Gamecocks defense up in the season opener & SC hasn’t seen a QB like Hill until this weekend when Maty Mauk comes to town. Mauk already has 14TD passes so the Tigers offense can air it out. SC’s defense is giving up 36PPG so there will be opportunity to score. The game might come down to Mizzou’s defense & their ability to contain Dylan Thompson. A&M beat him up quite a bit so if Missouri can do the same, SC might lose their 2nd home game.
A friend asked me what I thought he should know about Syracuse & the first thing I told him was that they were a team I wouldn’t want the Irish to overlook. On one hand you have the fact that the Orange beat Villanova by 1 point & was beat up by Maryland. On the other you have a Syracuse squad who destroyed Central Michigan. A C.Michigan team that beat Purdue more easily than the Irish disposed of the Boilermakers. Syracuse is a power rushing team under HC Scott Shafer & they’ve run the ball well although against inferior opponents. ND will be a hard to team to run the ball against & if Maryland put up 34 on the Orange defense, then the Irish could potentially flirt with 40-50 points. It’s a game Notre Dame shouldn’t be concerned with, but those are the kinds of games of late that have come back to haunt Notre Dame.
After losing to Virginia Tech, Ohio st. came back the next week & destroyed Kent St. 66-0! Granted it was Kent St., but at least the Buckeyes got back on their horse. The Virginia Tech loss looks bad with the Hokies dropping a home game to East Carolina, but Ohio St. still has a shot to get to 10-2 assuming they lose to Michigan St. in East Lansing. That’s not a bad season by any means. I’m interesting to see what Cincinnati QB Gunner Kiel can do against the Buckeyes defense. Kiel has had an interesting career despite being just a sophomore. Originally committed to Indiana, he dropped the Hoosiers for LSU. He then dropped LSU for Notre Dame where he redshirted. With the emergence of Everett Golson, Kiel transferred to UC where this year he’s averaging 350 passing yds/G & 5TD! Just a sophomore, he’ll get a chance at a real defense.
Iowa St. is coming off an improbably win over in-state rival Iowa which could have very well dashed the Hawkeyes hopes of playing in the playoffs. Those were long shot odds for the Hawkeyes but they at least had a shot which evaporated with the home loss to the Cyclones. ISU is an interesting team. They barely lost to Kansas St. & dropped a heart breaker to North Dakota St. to open the season. They are an experienced team which gives them that vibe of having the ability to knock off a team they probably shouldn’t. The Bears are outscoring opponents 59-9 in their 3 wins but they haven’t played ANYBODY! Interestingly enough, the last 2 times Baylor has come to Ames, Iowa St. has defended home turf. Beating ranked teams also isn’t uncommon for Iowa State. They beat 4 ranked opponents from 2010-2012. This is tricky for Baylor.
After inexplicably dropping a road game to an inferior Bowling Green squad, Indiana went on the road to the defending SEC East champions and took care of business beating Missouri 31-27! Now Indiana returns to Bloomington to host Maryland in the Terps first ever B1G conference game. This game actually sets up well for the Hoosiers. Maryland likes to run the ball but IU has become a fairly decent run defense. If Indiana has a weakness it’s pass defense but Terps QB CJ Brown hasn’t played particularly well so far. In case you have heard, this is worth watching if only for Indiana RB Tevin Coleman. He’s not getting any Heisman publicity but Coleman is on pace to rush for 2466yds & 26TD averaging 8.6ypc! At 6’1/210lbs, Coleman is a load to carry and I’m not sure Maryland has the goods to stop Coleman or outscore the Hoosiers.
A very intriguing matchup that meant a lot more before the Tar Heels dropped a game to East Carolina. Now it’s almost a game in which you are curious to see if the train wreck is going to manifest itself. The Tigers have started out 1-2 although their two losses have come against Georgia & Florida State. Dabo Swinney & the entire Clemson team have to be kicking themselves for letting the FSU game go with Jameis Winston not playing for the Seminoles. The 23-17 OT loss to FSU could have put their season on a completely different trajectory if they had pulled off the upset. As for UNC, they need to fix the defense in the WORST way. The Heels are scoring 43PPG which is what we expected, but they are giving up 42PPG & gave up 70 to ECU! It doesn’t look great here & a loss could completely demolish a once promising season in Chapel Hill.
First it was a 31-0 humiliation at the hands of one of their biggest rivals. Last week it was a 26-10 home loss to Utah, a team that finished 5-7 a year ago which was good enough for 5th place in the Pac 12 South! Things in Michigan are going horribly awry and it’s not out of the question to compare the Michigan situation with the departure of Lloyd Carr with the Tennessee situation with the departure of Phillip Fulmer. Both teams are suffering through extreme QB droughts & there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. The Wolverines are running the football well behind Derrick Green & the defense is playing well. The QB play has been abysmal with Devin Gardner & Shane Morris. Can Minnesota beat Michigan? I don’t think so because I don’t think the Gophers have enough of a passing attack, but Brady Hoke is done as HC of Michigan.
Speaking of Utah, the Utes come off of that big road win to welcome in Washington State who is coming off a helluva game against Oregon that saw the Cougars almost pull off a stunner! I love the contrasts in this game with both teams. For Utah, the Utes are trying to regain relevance after not playing so well after their admittance into the Pac 12. Life in the Mountain West was much easier, but after last week, Utah could at least get to 4 wins before the schedule gets crazy. As for Washington St., they didn’t get off to a good start with oddball losses to Nevada & Rutgers to start the season. They beat Portland St. in Week 3 & then gave Oregon a scare last week. I thought Washington St. could really contend in the P12 North this season & there is definitely time to turn their season around with some sound conference wins. Must win for both teams.
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September 27, 2014 - Posted by | Arizona St., Arkansas, Baylor, Big Games, Cincinnati, Clemson, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa St., Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Must See Games, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio St, Oregon St., South Carolina, Stanford, Syracuse, Texas AM, UCLA, USC, Utah, Washington, Washington St., Week 5

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