By Casey Keefe
After an exciting first week in college football, it’s now time for week two. We have a plateful of great games to look forward to this weekend. It’s being called “Super Saturday” across the land. I don’t think its worthy of that type of billing, but it’s not far off.
The top matchup features two legendary programs led by two of the top coaches of all time. Let’s take a closer look…
– #18 Penn State @ #1 Alabama (WFAN- 7:30P): Joe Paterno has been playing mind games with his team this week trying psych them up to do the near-impossible…beat Alabama. Paterno has been telling his team they have no chance against the Tide. He said they need an all out miracle to win. The problem is it’s a miracle that won’t come. Penn State has no chance of winning this game. Normally I don’t count out a Joe Pa team before kickoff, but there are so many things working against them this week.
First of all this is one of the youngest Penn State teams of all time. Rob Bolden is the first true freshman quarterback to ever start for Joe Pa. We’re talking about an 18 year old kid that’s about to play in front of 100,000 fans who hate his guts. He’s never experienced anything like he’s about to in Tuscaloosa on Saturday night. Talk about walking into a buzz saw.
The atmosphere isn’t the only thing Bolden will have to deal with. He’ll also have the nightmare of facing a Nick Saban defense. The Tide will show him so many different looks and blitz him every chance they get. The key for Penn State here is to get running back Evan Royster going early and often. That’s the only hope they have to be productive on offense. The problem here is that Alabama will be stacking up against the run, nevermind the fact that Penn State’s offensive line isn’t even that good.
‘Bama also has a huge advantage on offense. Penn State’s defense isn’t horrible, but they don’t have the talent to slow down an offense the caliber of the Tide. Mark Ingram will probably sit out once again due to his knee injury. But as the whole world knows by now Trent Richardson is more than capable of carrying the load. Plus Alabama now has the luxury of a sharper and more mature Greg McElroy at quarterback. He has grown a ton in the past year. State’s secondary isn’t the best so I expect McElroy to distribute the ball around the field and connect with his top receiver Julio Jones on some big plays. There’s no doubt ‘Bama has the advantage up front on the lines.
Whether it’s Richardson, McElroy or Jones, I don’t think the Nittany Lions will be stopping much of anything on defense. They certainly won’t fare much better on the other side of the ball. Penn State’s not a bad team, but they’re way over their heads in this one. The inexperience especially at the quarterback position will drowned them against the Tide…Prediction: Alabama
– #12 Miami @ #2 Ohio State: This is a very interesting game. Both play similar styles and rely on mobile, dual threat quarterbacks. It will be awfully tough for Miami to win in the Horseshoe. ‘Canes quarterback Jacory Harris poses a definite threat to Ohio State’s defense. He is one of the better running QB’s in the country and has improved his passing. The Buckeyes better pay close attention to receiver Leonard Hankerson. If they contain Hankerson and keep Harris in the pocket they will be fine.
On the other side of the ball is where the game will be decided. Can the ‘Canes stop Terrelle Pryor? What about Brandon Saine? I have a hunch the answer is no to both questions. I’m not a huge Pryor fan, but his ability can’t be denied. He’s a nightmare to deal with both on the ground and through the air. Miami is athletic enough to slow down Pryor, but I don’t think they can do it for 60 minutes. Running back Brandon Saine is no slouch to deal with either.
Miami will struggle enough on offense. This is a game they’ll need their defense to come up big. At the end of the day, I think the Buckeyes are just too talented on both sides of the ball. Miami won’t be able to hang in… Prediction: Ohio State
– Michigan @ Notre Dame: Neither of these teams are ranked but its still Michigan-Notre Dame. We’re talking about college football royalty. The 2 winningist programs in the history of the game. Obviously last season’s edition of the rivalry fell in Michigan’s favor. I believe this year will be different.
There are 2 key matchups that will go a long way towards deciding the game. The first one is Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson against the Irish defense. As everyone saw last week, Robinson is a handful to deal with. He ran all over Connecticut’s defense. It didn’t matter the down or distance, Robinson showed tremendous quickness, instincts and poise. Can Notre Dame keep him in check?… It’s a big question. It helps that Robinson doesn’t have many receiving weapons and isn’t a great passer anyways. Notre Dame should be able to zone in on Robinson and make sure he doesn’t get many running lanes.
The other thing to keep your eye on is Dayne Crist against Michigan’s secondary. Crist was sharp last week against Purdue but overall he doesn’t have a lot of experience. The Wolverines are very shaky in their secondary. It’s the weak link of their defense. They will have their hands full trying to deal with wide receiver Michael Floyd and tight end Kyle Rudolph. If Crist is given time in the pocket it’ll only be a matter of time before Floyd and/or Rudolph get free in the secondary. It will be up to Crist to make the correct reads and hit his targets.
In the end, I think playing at home in South Bend will be an enormous advantage for Notre Dame. It will help comfort Crist and the offense. The game will come down to Notre Dame containing Robinson. If they take away his running lanes and force him to throw, expect to see a couple interceptions to the delight of Touchdown Jesus… Prediction: Notre Dame
– #17 Florida State @ #10 Oklahoma: These are 2 teams that jumped out of the gate at different speeds. Florida State came out red hot as they pounded Samford 59-6, while Oklahoma stumbled and looked rusty in their 31-24 escape of Utah State. There’s no doubt Bob Stoops’ team will come out more focused this week.
Despite Oklahoma playing at home and being more talented on paper, I think this game has upset written all over it. Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder is the real deal and certainly isn’t scared of playing in hostile environments. Stoops’ defenses are known for being tough and nasty but where the Seminoles have a huge advantage is with their offensive line. No matter what the Sooners throw at Florida State, I doubt they’ll be able to get consistent pressure on Ponder. He’ll have his shots downfield, but he’ll also need for his running game to show up. It’s important to have a nice balance on offense when playing such a talented defense. They platoon 3 running backs, all of which provide energy and spark.
For Oklahoma to win they need to somehow win the battle up front and get pressure on Ponder. If you cut off the head, you slay the dragon. They also need for their quarterback Landry Jones to get going. Jones is solid and has a dangerous receiver in Ryan Broyles who can get behind a defense in the blink of an eye. Especially this Florida State defense which suffers from a weak secondary. The problem for Jones is I doubt he’ll have enough time to find his men downfield. I expect a lot of blitzes from the Seminoles. More times than not they’ll get to Jones.
This is more of an anti-Oklahoma pick than it is pro-Florida State. I’m not in love with Jimbo Fisher’s team, but I think they match up well in this game. Plus I believe the Sooners are a little overrated this season. Look for ‘Noles to roll on Saturday… Prediction: Florida State
*** Keefe’s Top 10 ***
1. Alabama (1-0): No Ingram, no problem. The Tide just keep on rolling. Without a doubt the best team in the land… This week: Penn State
2. Boise State (1-0): Kellen Moore proved once again why he’s the most clutch player in the country as the Broncos passed their biggest test… This week: Bye
3. Ohio State (1-0): Terrelle Pryor and company made quick work of Marshall. Tressel’s got a good team once again… This week: Miami
4. TCU (1-0): The Horned Frogs were strong on both sides against a good Oregon State team… This week: Tennessee Tech
5. Texas (1-0): Not impressed with Garrett Gilbert. Better iron out the kinks better conference play… This week: Wyoming
6. Iowa (1-0): You can see it all coming together for Ricky Stanzi. His Hawkeyes may be the best team in the Big 10… This week: Iowa State
7. Oregon (1-0): The most impressive team of last weekend. Without LaMichael James they still managed to whoop New Mexico 72-0. Now James is back… this week: @ Tennessee
8. Florida (1-0): The Gators were very shaky last week. John Brantley proved he has a long ways to go to get to Tebow status… This week: South Florida
9. Wisconsin (1-0): John Clay and Montee Ball proved why they’re one of the best running back duos in the country… This Week: San Jose State
10. Nebraska (1-0): Nebraska has the hard-nosed formula to win as they proved last Saturday. They may surpass Texas as the Big 12’s best… This week: Idaho
Questions?… Comments?… Email me: email@example.com
Also, be sure to follow me on Twitter: @CaseyKeefeWFAN