Guys I’m not going to lie to you. Yesterday was a long day. I hope you all enjoyed the SEC West breakdown, or at the very least found it informative and/or helpful. Ross and I return with a more fun article today, and perhaps more enjoyable. Ross outperformed me last week going 9-2 outright and 4-7 ATS. I tried to get cute and pick a few upsets, although I was 2 for 4 on upset picks, and struggled to 6-4 outright and 3-7 ATS. They say great quarterbacks have short memories though so I’ll just keep firing. Season standings still favor me though: 50-26 outright and 30-45-1 ATS. Ross is sitting on 45-25 outright and 19-48-2 ATS. Anyway, on to the material.
Notre Dame vs. Arizona State
If you want to take a break from watching Auburn manhandle the artist formerly known as Texas A&M on Saturday afternoon, you can flip the channel to ABC and watch the Notre Dame vs. Arizona State game. It’s a top 10 matchup. Taylor Kelly has returned to lead the balanced Arizona State offense, and Everett Golson led the Fighting Irish to 49 points against Navy last week. I may have dubbed the potential Baylor vs. ASU game as “Baptists vs. Bacchanalians” on Tuesday, but we have a great one here in “Catholics vs. Carousers”.
Keys to the Game
Everett Golson is an immense talent at quarterback for the Fighting Irish, but he has thrown an interception in 5 consecutive games (7 total). He, along with the rest of the offense, has got to protect the ball if they want to win on Saturday. Arizona State has a very good offense and would love to have a few short field opportunities against the Notre Dame defense. On the other side, Notre Dame’s passing defense is average, but opportunistic. The Irish have 12 interceptions this season, but are also giving up over 200 yards a game through the year and nearly 12 yards per completion. This means the Sun Devils will want to turn to Jaelen Strong to have a big game. Strong already has over 800 yards and 8 TDs receiving this season. Those numbers are good for 14th and 8th in the country, respectively.
Prediction: The Devils beat the Catholics this time 36-30
The Irish defense hasn’t lived up to the standards of past Notre Dame defenses. Linebacker Joe Schmidt is out for the year dealing an even bigger blow to the Catholics. This game is in Tempe so that means “Touchdown Jesus” won’t be looking into the stadium like in South Bend. Sun Devils 38, Catholic 31.
TCU vs. Kansas State
Who could have possibly predicted that the Big 12 would be this exciting? Coming in to the season, everyone believed that the conference would be won or lost in the Baylor-Oklahoma tilt. However, that’s not even the best game in the conference this Saturday! TCU has come on strong the past few weeks and shown that they are for real. They did have some trouble in Morgantown on Saturday, but they survived (literally and figuratively those couch burnings are pretty dangerous). Kansas State just keeps getting it done. Bill Snyder is a fantastic coach, and one of the most likable guys in college football.
Keys to the Game
Offense. Offense. Offense. TCU is the third ranked team in the country in total offense, averaging 550 yards per game. They primarily burn you through the air, but they run the ball for over 200 yards per game as well. Trevone Boykin leads the potent Frogs attack, which is also the number two scoring offense. His top target is Josh Doctson. Kansas State is actually pretty balanced. They have the number 15 scoring offense, and the 12th ranked scoring defense. When you score a lot, and you don’t let your opponents score very much you are going to win games right??? One key for Jake Waters and the Wildcat offense on Saturday night is to stay on the field. Gary Patterson’s defense may be relatively unsung, but they are the 6th ranked team in the country at getting teams off of the field on 3rd down. If KSU struggles to put drives together, then they will be in trouble.
Prediction: Don’t Mess With Texas (Christian) 31-20
Guess what? Yep another shootout. This game features two of the best quarterbacks in the Big 12. Boykin is the flashier player, but Jake Waters is a coach’s dream and doesn’t turn the ball over. I don’t know what it is but Old Man Snyder just knows how to win. I like the Wildcats in a close one 31-30.
Michigan State vs. Ohio State
Say what you want about the Big 10, but it has been one of the few things about this season that has gone “as scripted”. Most believed that the Michigan State vs. Ohio State game would be the determining game in the Big 10’s Eastern division, and likely indicate the team in the conference with legitimate playoff potential. Well, here we are and the Buckeyes and Spartans both have one-loss apiece and the winner will, in all likelihood, win the division. It is a shame that there won’t be a Braxton Miller vs. Spartan secondary matchup in this one though.
Keys to the Game
J.T. Barrett has performed admirably after being thrust into the starting role at the beginning of the season. He has thrown 23 touchdowns and rushed for six. He has thrown seven interceptions, but five of those came in the Buckeyes first three games. THE Ohio State University has obliterated everyone they’ve played since losing to Virginia Tech two months ago, except Penn State who took them to double overtime. He hasn’t played a defense like the Spartans, yet. Michigan State has the 5th ranked defense and they are tied for 1st in first downs allowed. They are a three and out machine. Kurtis Drummond and Trae Waynes anchor the ferocious Spartan secondary. They also have a hammer of a rushing attack, led by Jeremy Langford.
Prediction: THIS IS SPARTA!!!!!!!! 28-27
The loser is virtually eliminated from the College Football Playoff race. The Buckeye offense hasn’t missed a beat with J.T. Barrett running the show. He’s thrown for 1856 yards, 23 touchdowns compared to 7 interceptions. He’s also rushed for 496 yards and 6 touchdowns. NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND! Connor Cook had his coming out party in this game last year. This is the first night game in November in Spartan Stadium ever! Sparty wins 34-24.
Alabama vs. LSU
Death Valley at night is always terrifying. I don’t care who you are, or how good you are, or even how good LSU is, the Bayou Bengals are a nightmare to play at home after the sun goes down. Yet, that is exactly what the Tide is going to have to do on Saturday night. Alabama comes in with its national title aspirations still in line (if they win out they win the West). LSU is still clinging to hope of forcing some kind of tie and winning a tiebreaker. However, if LSU loses this weekend they will be out of the running.
Keys to the Game
Speaking of running, get ready to watch some smashmouth football on Saturday night on CBS. Are they sending Verne and Gary to Baton Rouge or Auburn? Does anyone know? Those guys are fantastic, and they LOVE “old-fashioned” football. In short, they love teams like LSU and Alabama. Ironically, Verne was also obsessed with Johnny Manziel too, but enough about Verne and Gary’s oddities. Anyway, where was I? Right, keys to the game. Alabama has become more balanced offensively this season with Kiffin calling the shots. Say what you want about Lane’s head coaching skills or his propensity to say stupid things at stupid moments, but he is a very good play designer and playcaller. Les Miles is also a brilliant football mind, whose clock management skills and eating habits leave something to be desired. The major key though is the LSU passing offense. Alabama is stifling against the run, and simply too good to get beat if your offense is one-dimensional. The Tigers will need to be able to throw the ball on the vulnerable Alabama secondary if they want to keep their SEC West hopes alive on Saturday night.
Prediction: Alabama-27 LSU-24
This is a heavy weight fight between two pound-it-down-your-throat teams. Night games in Baton Rouge are always tough, because they give fans plenty of time to get…ready for the game. LSU controls the clock with the running game and pulls out a win and kills another dream. LSU 17, Alabama 14.