It’s a slow week in college football this weekend. Hopefully, it will give Ross and I an opportunity to pad our records. I was 6-4 (4-6 ATS) and Ross went a whopping 4-6 (1-9 ATS). Season standings are as follows: Sam- 62-34 (40-55-1 ATS) and Ross- 53-37 (23-64-2 ATS).
Minnesota vs. Nebraska
Minnesota managed to keep it relatively close at home against Ohio State, albeit in miserable conditions. They still have a shot at the West title, but a win this weekend is essential. The Huskers also still have Big Ten title aspirations, but they need a win and a Wisconsin loss. Ameer Abdullah may have lost the running back battle last week, but he has a chance to redeem himself this week as he goes head-to-head with another good running back in David Cobb. Mitch Leidner has also developed as a legitimate dual threat for the Golden Gophers as well.
Keys to the Game:
The game is in Nebraska, so the weather should be at least marginally better this week. However, expect the Sea of Red to be at full force for the noon (Eastern time) kickoff. I referenced the key to the game in the overview, and it shouldn’t be any surprise: the running game. It’s fairly simple; whoever establishes the run wins the game.
Prediction: Redemption is sweet for Ameer. Huskers take it 31-17
Even after losing the battle of running backs last week, Ameer Abdullah is still one of the best backs in the nation. The Gophers come off of a tough game in the snow against Ohio State. People in Buffalo would argue that snow was a cake walk compared to what they have experienced this week. Snow shouldn’t be a factor in the corn fields of Nebraska. If you rush it, you will win ($1 to Field of Dreams). Nebraska 34, Minnesota 24.
Ole Miss vs. Arkansas
This is the only SEC West vs. SEC West matchup tomorrow. Can Arkansas make it a streak? Arkansas ended their lengthy conference drought in style last week with a shutout win over LSU in front of their home crowd. Ole Miss hasn’t played a conference game since their heartbreaking loss to Auburn, however their division and conference title hopes are still alive. They have sustained some injuries in recent weeks, so they’ll need some guys to fill in those roles if they want to keep up their high level of play. Laremy Tunsil may return to the offensive line this week though, which would be a huge help.
Keys to the Game:
Arkansas needs to do what they did against LSU if they want to make it two in a row. Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams are quality backs, and their hog mollies up front are big run blocking maulers. If they can control the time of possession, and keep the ball out of Broadway Bo Wallace’s hands then they have a shot. If they give the Rebels plenty of scoring opportunities, then the Rebels will capitalize on them.
Prediction: Rebs keep the dream alive 34-14
We are about to find out just how good Ole Miss is. Good teams show up when faced with adversity. Losing Treadwell and the other Nkemdiche is adversity. How will they respond? The Hogs finally pulled the parachute on their free fall in SEC conference play getting a win last week against LSU. Who did LSU beat earlier in the season? That’s right Ole Miss. I think the Rebel Black Bear Landsharks get caught peaking ahead to next week’s monster matchup in the Egg Bowl. The Razorbacks are notoriously tough at home. Dare I say win streak? Arkansas 20, Ole Miss 17.
Arizona vs. Utah
The Pac-12 South has been the most entertaining non-SEC division this season. Every team in the division is still alive, except dreadful Colorado. The loser of this one is eliminated from contention. Utah does have the advantage of getting to play at home. Arizona has already shown the ability to win big road games though, with a win at Oregon already under their belt.
Keys to the Game:
Utah hasn’t been a particularly great passing team this season, but starter Travis Wilson has only thrown two picks this season and they were both against Oregon. If he can protect the ball and put them in position to score a few touchdowns then he will have done his job. Utah has one of the better defenses in the conference. They have a tall task on Saturday. Anu Solomon and the Wildcats have a top 15 passing offense in the country. Cayleb Jones, Austin Hill, Trey Griffey (Ken Griffey Jr.’s son) and Samajie Grant are a lethal receiving corps and the Utes will need to keep them in check if they want to please the home crowd.
Prediction: The Utes do just enough 27-20
Both teams are technically still alive in the Pac-12 race. They just need a lot of help. And it starts by getting a win Saturday. Utah hasn’t been overly impressive this season, but they continue to find a way to win. They have won 3 games in overtime this season already. Anu Solomon is probably the freshman of the year, and one of the top up-and-coming quarterbacks in the land for the Wildcats. I think the Utes streak of winning close games runs out. I mean Arizona has a guy named Scooby on their team. How can I go against that? Scooby and the Mystery Machine 28, those meddling Utes 24.
USC vs. UCLA
Is Cody Kessler the most underrated QB in USC history? Is he unfairly getting backlash do to the lack of NFL success by Matt Leinart and the Sanchize? Was Troy Aikman the last UCLA quarterback to garner more attention in this game than his counterpart? I don’t know the answers to these questions, as usual, but I think the answer may be yes. Kessler is having a very good season, and the Trojans actually currently lead the Pac-12 South standings. They have had some disappointing losses this season, and pretty much had no national attention since the win over Stanford and subsequent loss to Boston College.
Keys to the Game:
Los Angeles is a city of stars. The biggest stars on football teams are usually the quarterbacks. It seems only fitting, then, that the key to this game be quarterback play. Brett Hundley entered the season as a legitimate Heisman candidate, and some thought as the frontrunner to become the number one pick in May. He has kind of flown under the radar after some early season struggles, but he has completed an astonishing 72.1 % of his passes this season and has 17 TDs to only 4 picks. He’s also added 564 rushing yards and 7 touchdowns on the ground. Kessler’s not much of a runner, but he has a 70.2 % completion percentage and has 29 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. There will be a pretty display of passing on Saturday. One last question: can anyone name the last time two teams played in mid-November and both quarterbacks had completed over 70% of their passes? Seriously, I don’t know.
Prediction: Hundley’s dual threat capabilities make all the difference 42-34
It’s the battle of Los Angeles. Northside vs. Southside. It’s the battle of two of the nation’s best quarterbacks. Kessler is the more polished passer for the Trojans, but Hundley brings that elusive dual-threat element to his game. This one should be entertaining no matter what. Maybe LAX will let them borrow an air traffic controller for all the yards through the air in this one. Ultimately, I think Hundley’s ability to escape the pocket and make play is the difference in this one. I like UCLA in a shootout 45-38.