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NCAA Football Week 6 Preview

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BC Tailgate is the official home on Blogcritics for college football news, rants, and riffs. Every conference is covered — we don't play favorites to the big boys.

ACC by Geeves
Big East by Dan McGowan
Big Ten by Geeves
Big XII by Ben Miraski
Conference USA by Matt Sussman
Independents by Benjamin Cossel
MAC by Zach Baker
Mountain West by Matt Sussman
Pac 10 by Steve
SEC by Josh Hathaway
Sun Belt by Jerkwheat
WAC by Brian Szabelski

Man, I'm so glad I picked the ACC to write about this season. We aren't halfway through the year and it's already over. OK, not entirely, though Boston College's death grip on the conference grows stronger every week. Sure, Virginia is 3-0, but that includes Duke and North Carolina, so it doesn't necessarily mean much.

Those two leaders will play a couple of non-conference patsies and likely maintain their leads, nothing riveting there.

Nor is there much else. Will Miami beat UNC? Probably. Will Wake beat Duke? Probably. Will Florida State beat NC State? Probably.

We'll see who uses momentum to their advantage, as Maryland and Georgia Tech both enter this week 3-2 after knocking off top 15 teams (Maryland took down Rutgers, while the Ramblin' Wreck shut down Clemson). I'll put my money on Tashard Choice.

Clemson looks to rebound against a Virginia Tech team that has managed to work its way back into the top 15, but doesn't necessarily deserve to be there. THey're 4-1, sure, but they got smacked around by LSU and managed to beat the lowly East Carolina, Ohio, and North Carolina by a measly 20-8 average (those three schools have given up 30 ppg in their other contests). The bottom will fall out – again – soon.

Winners: Clemson, Maryland, none of the smart schools (NC, NCSU, Duke)

–Geeves

It took all of one month for the Big East to prove itself unworthy of joining the national title picture. Now, with its alleged big three all having a blemish on their record, the conference will look to a couple of unlikely candidates to carry the torch.

This week, South Florida and Cincinnati will continue to do just that.

The sixth ranked Bulls, fresh off a major upset of West Virginia, travel to Fort Lauderdale for a meeting with Florida Atlantic. USF shouldn’t have a problem with the Owls, who were pasted by Kentucky a week ago.

The Bearcats, now ranked 20th in the nation, are drawing a lot of comparisons to last year’s magical Rutgers team. They’ll travel to Piscataway to take on the 21st ranked Scarlet Knights, who hope to avenge last season’s loss and spoil what is shaping up to be a special season. UC hasn’t faced a serious challenge yet so it will be interesting to see how they handle a talented team in a hostile environment. (Can you believe Rutgers Stadium is considered hostile?)

What will be more intriguing is if each team can remain unbeaten until their meeting in Tallahassee on Nov. 3. Most Big East people figured the conference would be decided the following Thursday when West Virginia and Louisville played. Who would have thought a USF/UC game would end up being more relevant?

–Dan McGowan

How disappointing. Minnesota has the worst defense in the conference, Ohio State trounces Northwestern 58-7, and all the Buckeyes can manage is 30-7? Okay, that isn't exactly pitiful, but they should've been able to put that up by halftime. Is Minnesota coming around? *Haha* I know, I know, I just had to throw it out there.

Michigan gets to move back up the ladder against a Directional Michigan (does it matter which one?), Penn State and Iowa will duke it out to get off the 0-2 conference schneid, and it will likely be whichever offense removes it's head from it's…uhh, playbook long enough to get out ahead in the scoring.

Illinois will look to continue their unexpected push to the top of the conference against Wisconsin (at home, no less. Bonus). Indiana should manage to do the same against the aforementioned Gopher defense, and Purdue somehow managed to get themselves ranked. We'll see if they really do have a potent offense, or just a team that has been buoyed by bad opponents, because they have to face #4 Ohio State.

Winners: Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State.

–Geeves

Two major upsets last week have the Big XII South in disarray. Colorado made a huge fourth quarter comeback with a last second field goal to take down Oklahoma. That shocking win might have cost the conference its best shot at a national title participant but it was able to give this preview a win in at least one game last week, leaving us 4-4 for the season.

Kansas (+3) at Kansas State – Kansas State scored a major win against Texas, beating the Longhorns for the second year in a row. Last year’s victory led to a major let down against Kansas the next week. It seems unlikely for a repeat of that despite Kansas’s huge offensive output in their first four games. I am going with Kansas State to win and cover.

Nebraska (+7) at Missouri – Neither team in this game has shown much of a defense, so this one could be a good call for the over. The winner here stays in the race for the North. I think Sam Keller’s arm and Marlon Lucky’s legs will trump Chase Daniel and Tony Temple. Take Nebraska.

Oklahoma (-11) vs. Texas – What should have been the biggest game of the weekend now looks like a fight for survival. The loser of this game will have two conference losses and is all but out of the race for the Big XII title. Texas quarterback Colt McCoy could still be woozy from last week making him vulnerable to the Oklahoma defense. The favorite in this game has won and covered the last four seasons so look for the Sooners to beat the spread.

Oklahoma State (+6.5) at Texas A&M – Dennis Franchione is no longer selling the secrets on how to beat his team. For that reason alone, Oklahoma State will not have a shot to pull off the upset here. The Aggies move to 2-0 in the conference and cover the spread. Aren’t you glad you didn’t pay $1,200 for that advice?

Likely Winners: Colorado (Baylor), Kansas State, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Texas Tech (Iowa State)

Likely Losers: Iowa State, Kansas, Missouri, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Texas

Upset potential: Oklahoma State over Texas A&M, Kansas over Kansas State

–Ben Miraski

"Hey, great idea, boss! Let's have nationally televised conference games at the same time as Game 1 of the MLB playoffs!"

"Excellent work, Dennis! You're getting a promotion!"

Parallel to the Red Sox/Angels and Cubs/Diamondbacks games Wednesday night were the Memphis-Marshall and Rice-USM games. Memphis kept Marshall winless in a highly emotional 24-21 win, honoring their slain teammate Taylor Bradford, who was shot and killed on-campus earlier this week. Meanwhile, Rice tried to stay winless, but they just couldn't blow a 31-7 lead. Southern Miss rattled off 22 unanswered fourth-quarter points to make it interesting, but the Owls held on 31-29. A failed two-point conversion was all that separated USM from a loss and an overtime game.

The Golden Eagles blew a great chance to lead the East. So now the ball's in UCF's court to make it 2-0 in the West with a win over East Carolina. ECU's no pushover, seeing as their normally sputtering offense kept up with Houston last week, so Central Florida's strong start to the season could be plundered by the scurvy dogs of Greenville, North Carolina.

In the West, Tulsa and UTEP may not be what one thinks of when talking about the Red River Shootout, but it is Texas and Oklahoma. No need to be picky here, it'll still be a shootout. These two teams combine to average 70 points a game and allow about 66. So it should be one of the more entertaining C-USA games of the year, and the winner advances to 2-0 in the division.

Houston and Alabama are each coming off bad losses. Someone's gonna leave this meeting extremely pissed off, and it'll probably be Houston if they fail to score, say, 21 points.

Tulane plays Army … nope, nothing interesting there.

–Matt Sussman

Notre Dame @ UCLA
If, as acknowledge by the Notre Dame brain trust that 2007 was going to be a difficult year, you have to wonder who put together this schedule! While ultimately losers, Notre Dame did show some life in the second half against Purdue, outscoring them 19-10.

"For the first time this year, we played a half of football where you could win," said head coach, Charlie Weis. "That's closer to winning football."

Not that any of that really matters, UCLA destroyed Oregon St. last week 41-14 and will look to do the same to the Irish. Irish QB, Evan Sharpley played well coming in for the injured Jimmy Clausen, but the UCLA defense will once again make a mockery of the Irish's feeble offense.

Western Kentucky @ Ball St.
WKU looked absolutely pathetic against Bowling Green and would love to get some revenge this coming weekend. It isn't going to happen against a Ball St. team that just missed taking down Nebraska a few weeks ago. Hilltopper QB K.J. Black was picked off four times against the Falcons and the Ball St. defense will try to shake him up again forcing rushed throws, leading to turnovers.

Navy @ Pittsburgh
Somehow Navy beat Air Force keeping their stranglehold on the Commander-in-Chief trophy last week and a weak Pittsburgh team should pose no real threat to the Midshipmen. Navy takes this one pretty easily.

Tulane @ Army
Army will have their work cut out for them this weekend when they face a Tulane squad that played tough against LSU but ultimately fell apart against a superior team. Army squeaked by Temple and won't have the same success against the Green Wave.

–Benjamin Cossel

This week, let's go one game at a time:

Central Michigan at Ball State

This isn't just the most intriguing game of the week, it's got the potential to be one of the best of the year. Central Michigan is just 2-3 overall, but has been one of the strongest in the Division. Ball State is 2-1 in the MAC, and is coming off a drubbing of Buffalo.

The biggest reason for the Cardinals success may be running back MiQuale Lewis, who is averaging more than 111 yards a game. It's also due to B.J. Smith, who has picked off three passes this season. In fact, most of the problems these teams have had is outside the conference. Ball State had a heartbreaking loss to Nebraska, while the Chippewas have lost three non-conference games.

But aside from terrific quarterback Dan LeFevour, what sets CMU apart has been its defense – at least recently. The Chippewas are giving up an average of 36 points a game, but have given up just 24 total in the last two games. Linebacker Red Keith (the reining defensive player of the week in the conference) has led the way, with a team-leading 55 tackles.

Basically, if you watch one MAC game this week, this is the one.

Some other games worth looking at:

If Kent State wants to move into the East Division race, it needs a win over Miami, which is coming of somewhat of an upset win against Syracuse.  

I won't waste much time talking about Northern Illinois-Temple. The teams are a combined 1-9 this season. What has happened to the Huskies?

Akron plays Western Michigan, who played one league game each. Akron could have its hands full against the Broncos, who put up 261 yards on the ground in a win last week against Toledo. Mark Bonds ran for 143 yards by himself.

Ohio shouldn't have much trouble with Buffalo; nor should Toledo with Liberty.
 
In other non-conference games, Bowling Green and Eastern Michigan ought to be able to cash a big check after Saturday, when they play Boston College and Michigan, respectively. EMU probably has more on its mind than just competing, however.

–Zach Baker

Five weeks in, we still have four teams without a conference loss. Okay, sure, Wyoming and San Diego State have yet to play a MWC game. I'll have you never mention that petty fact again. They're both doing something about it this week.

Wyoming (which was rated by the Trojan condom company as the second most sexually healthy school in the US) will host the TCU Horny Horned Frogs. Texas Christian has rattled off two straight wins, so a victory over a contending team like Wyoming could help TCU hit their stride as their schedule stays tough through October.

San Diego State heads over to 0-4 Colorado State in a battle of perhaps the conference's two worst defenses. So if a game ends 45-41 because of blown coverage, is it still exciting?

Utah can't live on its thrashing of UCLA forever, so they take flight to Louisville for another upset. Why not? Everybody's doing it.

UNLV has a lot to prove against Air Force. At 2-3, the Rebels' two wins came against teams from the state Utah. The AFA is based in Colorado. Not a good sign.

BYU? New Mexico? Hit the showers. You won't be needed this week.

–Matt Sussman

Last week we saw an epic game between California and Oregon that showed Cal actually does have a defense that can shut down a good offense (for the first half, at least). Take a big red marker and circle November 10th on your calendar boys and girls. That's the day that USC comes up to Memorial Stadium to take on California.

Stanford at #2 USC (7:00pm EST)
So USC is finally not the top team in the country anymore. This is probably of little comfort to a Stanford team that is 0-3 in the Pac 10 and 1-3 overall. Just like UCLA in the later game, look for USC to put up some big numbers. What I like about Stanford games is that there is always a reasonable probability of a drunken mascot fight. However, I don't think that would be wise for the Tree to take on the Trojan… seeing as he has a sword and all.

Notre Dame at UCLA (8:00pm EST)
It's a good thing that Charlie Weis has a long term contract, because the Irish look terrible and are 0-5 this season. They are coming to California to play a UCLA team that has some definite talent and will put some points on the board. Look for UCLA to have big numbers and possibly get themselves back into the Top 25 this week. Look for Notre Dame to be 0-6 after the game is over. Also, things aren't looking good for the Irish in the following two weeks either (#7 BC and #2 USC), so wthey could wind up 0-8 before this is all over with.

Other Games
Arizona St at Wash St (4:00pm EST)
Arizona at Oregon St. (4:00pm EST)

–Steve

This is it!  This is the week I prove I'm not a biased, Alabama homer.  How am I going to prove this?  By not giving in-depth analysis of the Alabama/Houston game this week. 

I know what you're thinking, and you're wrong.  I'm not boycotting this game because Alabama has lost two games in a row, nor is it because I've started a hunger strike until struggling QB John "Sarah Jessica" Parker Wilson is benched.  I'm not going to waste our time on this game because it doesn't even merit being mentioned.  Alabama gets no points for winning this and should perhaps be disbanded if they lose.  It's really not worth mentioning.  I'm glad we've settled this.

The big game this week is obviously Florida/LSU.  This one doesn't have the same cache it would have thanks to the Gators choking against a fairly putrid Auburn team last week.  If this isn't LSU's first test, it is their strongest.  The only thing that can stop the Tigers from playing for the contrived National Championship game is themselves.  The Gators are good, the Tigers are better.   It really is that simple.  Tim Tebow should have a tough time doing much of anything against a fierce Tigers defense, led by unmovable object DT Glenn Dorsey.  Thank God my Raiders should still be drafting high enough to land Dorsey or Arkansas RB Darren McFadden!

The other big game this week is Georgia and Tennessee.  Neither team is as good as they've been in the past and both teams enter the game with one SEC loss.  The loser of this game can probably kiss their chances of playing in the SEC Championship goodbye, even though there are no undefeated teams left in the East.  The rumors of Tennessee's defense have been greatly exaggerated.  They don't have one.  Georgia should win this one.

–Josh Hathaway

Week six of Sun Belt action features a pair of intriguing non-conference match-ups, as well as a set of great conference games.

In non-conference play, the Big East's nascent superpower, South Florida, travels to take on the best Sun Belt team in Florida, Florida Atlantic. The 3-2 Owls aren't likely to top the Bulls, but they could keep it interesting for a while if Jim Leavitt's squad comes in overly cocky with their newfound Top 10 ranking.

There is another Sun Belt school is hosting a conference leader as Virginia travels to Middle Tennessee State. The 4-1 Cavs have been hot since getting destroyed at Wyoming and MTSU is coming off it's first win of the season, defeating
FIU last week. One never knows what to expect out of UVA, but they should be able to handle the Blue Raiders convincingly.

In conference play, the struggling Mean Green of North Texas travel to Louisiana-Monroe in a battle to see who can be first to win a game this season. Florida International's bad start is likely to continue as Omar Hougebook and Troy come to town. Look for the Trojans to win this win handily.

In the final Sun Belt showdown of the week, Arkansas State returns to action a week after completing one of the greatest comebacks in NCAA history. This week the [Mascot Redacted]s are taking on 0-4 Louisiana-Lafayette. A-State should take this game, as they appear to be one of the best teams in the Sun Belt, but their inconsistent history says that an upset by the Ragin' Cajuns is not out of the question.

Jerkwheat

Utah State @ #16 Hawaii

Not even 5 interceptions could deter Colt Brennan and Hawaii from winning their second straight conference game. The #16 Warriors bring in Utah State this week, a team that’s only scored six offensive touchdowns, but has 18 touchdowns on defense. Still, the Aggies are letting up over 400 offensive yards a game, and at 0-5, Utah State is in desperate need of a win to reverse course. After Brennan scorches them for 5 touchdowns in the first half, Utah State will be on the way to 0-6.

Fresno State @ Nevada

Right up behind Hawaii is Fresno State, a team whose two losses both came against ranked teams in the form of Texas A&M and Oregon. Meanwhile, Nevada’s two losses came to Nebraska and – gasp – Northwestern. These two teams are fairly balanced against each other, which should prove for an exciting match-up. Nevada’s passing game might run into trouble against a Fresno State defense letting up just under 120 yards passing per game, which could be the key to a win for the Bulldogs.

New Mexico State @ Boise State

After their early season hiccup at Washington, Ian Johnson and Boise State looks primed to make a charge in the WAC. In their WAC season opener, they face off against a New Mexico State team that has put up similar offensive numbers to the Broncos. The difference maker here is going to be which defense performs best. In this shootout, give it to the team that does shootouts best: Boise State.

Other WAC games:

Louisiana Tech @ Mississippi – This is gonna be an ugly game, but Ole Miss will win.
Idaho @ San Jose State – The Spartans should win this one over Idaho and move to 2-0 in the WAC.

Current WAC Standings

#16 Hawaii – 5-0 (2-0)
Fresno State – 2-2 (1-0)
San Jose State – 2-3 (1-0)
Boise State – 3-1 (0-0)
New Mexico State – 3-2 (0-0)
Nevada – 2-2 (0-0)
Idaho – 1-4 (0-1)
Utah State – 0-5 (0-1)
Louisiana Tech – 1-3 (0-2)

–Brian Szabelski, the newest BC Tailgater.

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  • http://daslob.blogspot.com/ Pico

    Josh:

    Two things to look for with LSU/Fla. Number one will Tiger QB Matt Flynn be close enough to 100%? If not, that’s where LSU will lose the game with turnovers, much as they did last year in the Swamp. Number two, can mlb Ali Highsmith and the rest of the Tiger front seven be effective at stopping Tebow’s qb draws? Since Florida doesn’t seem to be a running threat with their running backs, stopping Tebow will be crucial to stopping their running game. I expect the Gators to get a few big pass plays on LSU’s man coverage but if they can’t run, they can’t win. Oh, and rain could be a factor, too.

    BTW, one of this week’s best SEC matchups was already played: #8 Kentucky losing at #11 S. Carolina 38-23. Woodson looked very mortal out there.