Five Other Big Games
California at #14 Ohio State
Kevin: Theres just too much raw talent on the Bears to mark this game as a walk. But there really isn't any reason to even think about a potential upset either. Braxton Miller and the Buckeye attack have been nearly flawless thus far, and an awful Bears defense that got torched by Nevada and struggled mightily against Southern Utah won't be slowing things down Saturday. Zach Maynard will have a few bright moments, and the Bear recievers led by Keenan Allen and freshman Bryce Treggs and Chris Harper will have some nice catches. But Isi Sofele and the Cal ground game will be all but absent. Meanwhile, Miller will have another big day, as the Buckeye offense will move on all cylinders.
The Prediction - Ohio State 38, California 21
Prashant: What has happened to the Jeff Tedford era? Let’s face it; this program really hasn’t been the same since the Kevin Riley catastrophe. Primed to be the number 1 team in the country, Cal laid an egg against heavy underdogs Oregon State when Kevin Riley scrambled in bounds as time expired. Cal would go on to lose six out of its last seven regular season games, before barely beating Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl. Fast-forward five years and Cal football really has not recovered. Week 1, this Cal team with explosive playmakers laced throughout the offense, played a stinker and lost to an upset minded Nevada team at Memorial Stadium. At least Week 2, the Golden Bears were able to salvage a victory albeit by giving up 31 points to Southern Utah. Urban Meyer’s more talented group should be able to impose their will in the second half of this game. At the end of the day, Ohio State just has better football players (Braxton Miller is flat out special) and this fact will be reflected in the final score.
The Prediction - Ohio State 38, California 17
#1 Alabama at Arkansas
Kevin: Arkansas just about lost this game on April 24th, 2012. That was the day John L. Smith was hired. Yes, Bobby Petrino was really that good, and with him, this game would have been one of the games of the year, with the winner in supreme position to close out the West. Tyler Wilson might be back, but Arkansas' defense has just been so miserable to start the year, that it'll have zero chance against a Tide offense with an o-line that starts four future millionaires. Something to watch though in this one: the Tide running back rotation. With the injury of Jahston Fowler, Alabama might be one running back injury away from trouble.
The Prediction - Alabama 40, Arkansas 21
Prashant: At least Arkansas doesn’t have to travel to Tuscaloosa… Maybe this is an overreaction to one game, but the Razorback program is in serious trouble. It is not the type of program where the school and tradition do the selling. Arkansas absolutely NEEDS Bobby Petrino. John L. Smith... Keep in mind this guy has won 23 out of his last 50 games. With Tyler Wilson, this team needs to play a perfect game. Simultaneously, Alabama needs to play much worse than their unstoppable best. The Alabama defense should as usual dictate play. AJ McCarron just needs to be steady for this to be a blowout. With TJ Yeldon and Eddie Lacy, Alabama will have more than enough offense for the bad Arkansas defense After the Michigan game, Nick Saban turned to his team and applauded. I would not be one bit surprised if that image is seen again.
The Prediction - Alabama 31, Arkansas 10
#18 Florida at #23 Tennessee
Kevin: Remember when this game was one of the can't miss events of the year? When it would routinely decide the SEC East? When it had the headlines such as Wuerfuel vs. Manning? Those days seem like ten years ago, and for the first time in a while, Florida vs. Tennessee has some luster again, and could have major implications on the SEC East race. Rocky Top will be buzzing for the first time in a while, as this could serve as the turning point in the Derek Dooley era. Florida had some late game heroics last weekend, but still showed little ability to move the ball. The Gator lines are better than their Vol counterparts, and the Florida defense is still nasty. But the gamechanger is the location. Jeff Driskell will make some key mistakes in the hostile Neyland Stadium, turning the ball over twice. Meanwhile, Tyler Bray will take advantage via Justin Hunter and Cordelle Patterson.
The Prediction - Tennessee 28, Florida 21
Prashant: Why exactly is everyone so excited Knoxvillle? I understand that starting off 2-0 is progress for this once proud program, but let’s remind everyone before the excitement level reaches a boiling point. They beat NC State and a Georgia State team playing its first year of Division 1 football. Settle down folks. With all that said, there is some reason for optimism. Tyler Bray might be the best quarterback in the SEC when healthy and some within the Tennessee coaching staff believed Justin Hunter had Heisman potential when he stepped foot on campus. If that duo can stay healthy, Tennessee might have the most dynamic QB/WR combo in the SEC. That counts for something. Meanwhile, the Florida Gators have a great defense but Jeff Driskel is still a question mark. He won the we-love-everybody derby at Florida and he is not without talent. Unfortunately, these aren’t your older brother’s Gators. The Gators lack dynamic playmakers and one or two huge pass plays from the Tennessee offense will make the difference.
The Prediction - Tennessee 24, Florida 14
#20 Notre Dame at #10 Michigan State
Kevin: The Big Ten, to put it nicely, has stunk it up in the non-conference season. The league will be hoping now for the Spartans to carry the banner. Michigan State is 2-0, and has a much better win over Boise State than people will ever care to give them credit for. Notre Dame meanwhile is beginning the nasty part of its sadistic schedule. The Irish still have Michigan next week, and travel to Norman and Los Angeles to face Oklahoma and USC. Thats still not mentioning the dates against BYU, Miami, Stanford, the list goes on. The easiest game the Irish will play might be Pitt, and they were among the preseason favorites in the Big East. Basically, this is a big game for Brian Kelly and the Irish. Unfourtuately for them, the Spartan defense shows very little weaknesses. The Michigan State formula of Le'veon Bell, defense, and enough plays from the passing game will work once again. Everett Golson will hang tough, and the Notre Dame defense will keep it close. It just won't be enough.
The Prediction - Michigan State 27, Notre Dame 20
Prashant: Both teams enter this fixture ranked in the top 20 for the first time in nearly 25 years. I won’t jinx things, but both programs outlooks seem to be on the rise. Although their record won’t reflect it, with perhaps the most idiotic schedule I have ever seen, Notre Dame really has made progress under Brian Kelly. His spread offense is finally giving Notre Dame the schematic advantage that has been promised in recent years. Mark Dantonio is building a juggernaut in East Lansing to complement its better-known basketball team. The Michigan State D will make one big play late in this tightly fought contest to decide this one. Le'veon Bell will hammer away at the Notre Dame defense late in this matchup. Andrew Maxwell will once again make enough plays in a Spartans' victory.
The Prediction - Michigan State 28, Notre Dame 21
Arizona State at Missouri
Kevin: The Todd Graham era has started off on the right foot with two dominant wins, one being over a decent Illinois team. Theres a feeling in some parts that this Sun Devil team could be one of the surprises of the season. With UCLA and Arizona getting a lot of attention with their big wins last weekend, here is Arizona State's shot. Mizzou meanwhile held tough against Georgia last weekend until bowing late. For the PAC 12, this would be more icing on the cake to what has been a marvelous non-conference season thus far. But Mizzou is at home, and looks to be the better football team at some important slots. The Tigers have quarterback James Franklin, and have two game changers on the d-line with Sheldon Richardson and Brad Maddison.
The Prediction - Missouri 31, Arizona State 21
Prashant: Todd Graham might be slimy, and he definitely should have handled his exit from Pitt in a better manner, but these aren’t Dennis Erickson’s Sun Devils. The program will have its road bumps this year, but starting 2-0 is significant. Believed to be the third quarterback in the derby, Taylor Kelly has provided exceptional quarterback play through two games. On the other side of the sidelines, James Franklin will have to be at his dynamic best. If Kendall Lawrence and T.J. Moe can assist in the cause, Mizzou should come out on top in Columbia, Missouri.
The Prediction - Missouri 31, Arizona State 21
A few other games people don't care about but are kinda interesting:
-Utah State at Wisconsin: After Bucky's disastrous week one against Northern Iowa, we should have known that something was wrong. Well now we know. Wisconsin just fired its offensive line coach, and after only 23 rushing attempts last week with a backfield containing Montee Ball, the Badgers should clean house if there are more than 20 passes attempted.
-ULM at Auburn: Okay, so ULM isn't going to beat Auburn. But after its stunning win over Arkansas, there is a little luster to this game. There's a 2-0 team in this game, and it isn't the one wearing blue chanting "war eagle."
-Northern Iowa at Iowa: Don't laugh. Iowa just lost to Iowa State 9-6. Northern Iowa meanwhile almost beat Wisconsin week one, and fattened up last weekend against some school called Central State. If the Hawkeyes lose this one, they'll be in third place in the state of Iowa.