Week 6 Predictions
1. Nebraska Gets Some Of Its Pride Back By Beating The Tigers In Missouri
I like Missouri and I love Blaine Gabbert, but the Tigers’ high-powered offense will not be enough to overcome Nebraska’s shut-down defense. According to ESPN.com, Missouri is 15th in the nation in points per game (36.8) and 16th in yards per game (453.0), but they go against the defense that is ranked first in scoring (7.0 points per game).
And you’d better believe the Huskers are out for blood. They have lost three straight at Missouri by a combined score of 123-54. And last year Missouri beat Nebraska 52-17 in its conference opener, giving them their worst loss at Memorial Stadium since 1955. To say nothing of the fact that the QB they’re going against had committed to Nebraska and then changed his mind to switch to conference rival Missouri. Great story lines galore.
Despite all of Gabbert’s huge numbers (1,161 yards, 66.4 completion percentage, 11 TDs, 0 INTs, 168.57 rating), I believe he’ll struggle in this game. He has managed to create some plays against bad defenses, but after watching Missouri a couple of times this season, I have to say that their offensive line is one of the worst I’ve ever seen. They’re young, and it really shows. You can overcome that against defenses like Nevada’s, Bowling Green’s, and so on. You can’t overcome that against Nebraska. Count on Gabbert having his first interception of the year in this game.
Missouri’s defense has also been able to overcome serious deficiencies against the 111th-toughest schedule in the country. Aside from Sean Weatherspoon (who I fully expect to have a great game), this defense has no standouts. Their defensive line can’t be counted on to get pressure, and you can’t let Zac Lee just sit back and throw. He’ll kill you. Aside from Virginia Tech, Lee hasn’t had a game this year where his QB rating has been below 170. And, although Missouri as a team is far better than Florida Atlantic, their defense is much closer to Florida Atlantic’s than Virginia Tech’s.
Not that Nebraska is all passing. Running back Roy Helu has been explosive this year, averaging better than six yards per carry and rushing for five TDs, just two shy of his entire season last year. That’s all very bad news for a Missouri squad that has allowed 351.75 per game this season. They allowed 398 yards to Furman. Furman? Seriously!?
This is a rivalry that used to be a great one in days of the Big 8, and this game could help rekindle that great rivalry after years of only one team or the other being good. I anticipate a great shootout. It should be pointed out that Nebraska has only one win in its last 14 games on the road against ranked opponents. But, it might be fate that Missouri finally broke into the top-25 this week. The last time Nebraska won a road game against a ranked opponent was 24th-ranked Texas A&M in 2006. Maybe the Huskers just have a thing for beating teams that are barely ranked.
2. Total Top-5 Chaos When LSU Upsets Florida
I think Florida is very good and I think Urban Meyer is the best coach in college today, but there are too many questions for Florida going into this game. Will Tim Tebow be back? If he is, how will he play? Even if he’s 100%, he’s passing for just 160.75 yards per game. Does he have the passing game to take advantage of LSU’s biggest defensive weakness? How will Florida play on the road against LSU?
It is these questions that make me think Florida will lose, even though LSU has a less-than-stellar QB in Jordan Jefferson and a running back by committee system without any one standout player. I agree with what ZeekGeek said earlier this week, that this could be a very low-scoring, ugly, scrap-fight of a game.
I came into this season fully expecting Florida to play in the championship, but I think this bad timing with Tebow’s injury will be a serious blow to their chances.
If LSU pulls this off, what happens to the top 5? There is no logical reason for LSU to not be ranked number one after defeating Florida at home and Georgia on the road, but will the voters really have them hurdle Texas and Alabama, who are both undefeated and have been dominant in all of their games? How far does Florida fall for losing to a top-5 team? How much of a factor does Tebow’s injury play into the pollster’s considerations?
Virginia Tech is ranked 5th at 4-1 with a loss to No. 11 Miami. USC is ranked 7th with a loss to unranked Washington (that they were playing without their QB seems to be playing a factor in considerations). Do they keep Florida ahead of Virginia Tech and USC with their losses to less prestigious teams, and do they keep them ahead of undefeated teams like Boise State, Cincinnati, TCU and Iowa (assuming they all make it through the weekend without a loss)?
If LSU wins this game, as I think they will, the shakeup this close to the BCS rankings coming out could be very interesting.
3. UCLA Will Halt Oregon’s BCS Hopes
Oregon is one of three Pac-10 teams that are still undefeated in conference play (Stanford is 3-0 and Arizona is 1-0). They’re in good position, especially if they can keep their lone conference loss to USC. Unfortunately for the Ducks, I don’t see that happening.
They are 4-0 at home since losing their opener on the road to Boise State. That’s consistent with history. Oregon is a great home team. The saying that Autzen is where winning streaks go to die couldn’t be more true. However, from 2006 to this season, an Oregon team with a very good overall record (30-14) is 9-10 in away games. 10 of their 14 losses since 2006 have been on the road. So, I’m not wild about them going to UCLA, just right off the bat.
UCLA’s defense is good, despite a lapse against Stanford last week. They’re holding opponents to 281.25 yards and 15.5 points per game. Their offense has been weak, but if they can find it, it could be against Oregon. The Ducks are allowing an average of almost 295 yards per game, and that’s even with them dominating Cal and Washington State the last two weeks. Through their first three games (Boise State, Purdue, Utah), Oregon was allowing 370 yards per game.
Oh, and did I mention the Ducks are missing their starting QB, Jeremiah Masoli, due to a knee injury?
4. Most Dangerous Matchups Of The Weekend For Ole Miss, Oklahoma State, Georgia Tech
All of these teams are serious threats to lose (two of which would be upsets) games that could knock them out of the top 25.
Ole Miss is ranked 20th, but they take on Alabama this weekend, which has looked like the most dominant team in the country through the first five weeks. Unless Ole Miss pulls off a miracle victory like the one against Florida last year, they’ll fall to 3-2. That’s not a horrible mark if you’ve played a schedule like Miami’s. Unfortunately for the Rebels, that would leave them with their only wins coming against No. 83 Vanderbilt, No. 148 Memphis and No. 195 SE Louisiana (according to Jeff Sagarin’s power rankings). That is not enough to keep them in the top 25.
Oklahoma State just lost their star receiver, Dez Bryant. Zac Robinson is a solid QB, but Bryant accounted for more TD receptions than every other player on the team combined. He also accounted for almost as many receptions as the next three receivers combined, and almost as many yards as the next four players combined. Their offense revolved around Bryant, and now they don’t have him as they go to play in College Station, which is never an easy place to play. Texas A&M is a very deceptive 3-1 (having defeated New Mexico, Utah State and Alabama-Birmingham…combined 3-11), but they’ll be looking for revenge after Arkansas humiliated them at home last week. And junior QB Jerrod Johnson has been just great, passing for 11 TD with 0 INTs and rushing for four more TDs. OSU could easily lose this game and fall all the way from 15th out of the top 25.
Georgia Tech is a team that hasn’t played great or consistently this year, and they travel to Florida State to take on the Seminoles, who are trying to salvage their season after losing two straight to South Florida and Boston College. This will be a tough one for the Yellow Jackets who look poised to fall out of the top 25 for the second time this season.
5. Other Teams You Wouldn’t Want To Be – Mississippi State And Arizona
Both of these teams go against opponents this weekend who just had their seasons ruined by teams they should have defeated.
Arizona goes on the road against Washington, which followed up its stunning defeat of USC with road losses to Stanford and Notre Dame. You can bet Jake Locker will be anxious to air it out and get back to winning against a Wildcat team that has allowed 748 combined yards in their last two games against Oregon State and Iowa.
Mississippi State will also be facing a strong passing game with Houston, who just had their BCS dreams dashed by UTEP. But Case Keenum‘s Heisman hopes are still on the line, so count on a statement game from him. His passing yards have increased each game (from 359 opening week when he only played into the third quarter to 536 last week against UTEP). He is averaging 424 yards per game. It could be a very long afternoon for Mississippi State, which has yet to face a very strong passing attack this season.