By Casey Keefe
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It never fails to amaze me just how fast the college football season flies by. Here we are, entering week six, almost nearing the midseason mark. Absolutely amazing. Now we get to the meaty part of the schedule where high-stake conference games take place across the landscape on a weekly basis. Lucky us… On to the matchups…
#3 Oklahoma (4-0) vs. #11 Texas (4-0) – 12pm
This is only the second time in the past seven years that both Texas and Oklahoma enter the Red River Rivalry undefeated. The Sooners are a dominant team from top to bottom. Texas on the other hand is very young and inexperienced. It’s a near miracle that they are playing as well as they are.
Part of the reason for the Longhorns’ success is Mack Brown’s decision to bench quarterback Garrett Gilbert (who has announced plans to transfer) in favor of the youth duo of sophomore Case McCoy (Colt’s younger brother) and freshman David Ash. They have played smart, efficient, mistake-free ball for the most part. But the real boost for the offense has come from freshman running back Malcolm Brown and the ground game which is averaging 206 yards per contest.
What worries me about the Longhorns is the aforementioned youth and inexperience. There is very little margin for error for the youngins going up against a dangerous and explosive Sooner club. The pass-catch combo of QB Landry Jones and WR Ryan Broyles is as deadly as it gets, and now they’re finally getting a little production on the ground thanks to Dominique Whaley. Their up-tempo offense has given Texas fits the past several years, leaving the Longhorns confused and winded more often than not.
The Sooners defense poses as big of a threat as the offense. Other than a sometimes questionable secondary they are a very nasty sideline-to-sideline outfit. All of Texas’ playmakers are very young and very inexperienced, especially in big games such as this… Notice a theme? Look, the Longhorns are farther along than what most people expected at this point. But going up against a high-powered BCS title contender such as Oklahoma promises to throw a wrench in the mix.
Maybe the Longhorns will rule the Cotton Bowl next year, but this year is out of the question. Oklahoma’s talent and experience is on a whole other level… Prediction: Oklahoma
#17 Florida (4-1) @ #1 LSU (5-0) – 3:30pm
The hot topic surrounding both these teams has been the quarterback position. Starting Gators QB John Brantley suffered a right leg injury against Alabama last week and will miss a few games. LSU on the other hand welcomed back Jordan Jefferson last week against Kentucky after his lengthy suspension was lifted.
Les Miles plans to stick with Jarrett Lee as his starting quarterback, but he wants to mix Jefferson in on certain situations and packages. That’s good news for Tigers fans. Also good news for Tigers fans is how deep and explosive their run game has been. They have three legitimate backs who are all producing, Spencer Ware, Michael Ford and Alfred Blue.
Florida on the other hand finds themselves in deep trouble. Freshman quarterback Jeff Driskel takes over for the injured Brantley, and when you’re a freshman going up against the second best defense in the country—well that’s a disaster waiting to happen… Where Florida will really struggle is their run game. The Tigers don’t give an inch—and for a team such as the Gators who rely on the run I would say that’s a problem.
Last week, at home in The Swamp against Alabama, the Gators embarrassed themselves. The Tide dominated the line of scrimmage, held Florida to just 15 total rushing yards and rushed for 226 yards themselves. Well, LSU’s defense is almost at the level of Alabama’s (most say it’s even better) and their running game ain’t too bad either… The result for Florida this week will be more of the same… Prediction: LSU
#15 Auburn (4-1) @ #10 Arkansas (4-1) – 7pm
The Tigers surprised me by beating South Carolina a week ago. What was most impressive was them holding Gamecock running back Marcus Lattimore to just 66 yards on the ground. All in all, Auburn’s defense stepped up big time. It goes without saying that unit’s going to need an even better effort this week.
While statistically Auburn possesses the worst defense in the SEC, the Razorbacks on the other hand possess the best offense. Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson is a stud and passed for 510 yards last week against Texas A&M. His top receiver in that game was Jarius Wright who only hauled in 13 catches for 281 yards. Not too shabby, huh?
The bottom line is both these defenses are terrible. One worse than the other (Auburn). If this game turns into a shootout, which it probably will, I can’t see Arkansas losing… Can Auburn slow down the Razorbacks offense? Well, the fact that cornerback Chris Davis will probably miss another game with his ankle injury (and even if he plays he’ll be severely limited) along with the slow progress of the Tigers young defensive line—that puts the icing on the cake for me—Razorbacks win… Prediction: Arkansas
Ohio State (3-2) @ #14 Nebraska (4-1) – 8pm
I know the names Ohio State and Nebraska sound sexy, but this game is a total mismatch. The Buckeyes are pathetic this season—and just when things couldn’t get worse, they did this week as not only did they lose starting wide receiver Verlon Reed for the season (torn knee ligament) but news also came down that the 5 game suspension for WR DeVier Posey and RB Dan Herron has been extended one more week. Without those two, Ohio State really stands no chance, especially on the road in Lincoln… Prediction: Nebraska
Miami (2-2) @ #21 Virginia Tech (4-1) – 3:30pm
Anybody who tells you they weren’t stunned by the way Clemson dominated Virginia Tech last week in Blacksburg would be lying. Frank Beamer had to be sick to his stomach with the 23-3 home loss to a very young Clemson team. Hokie QB Logan Thomas has to get better. He’s been killing the offense… Having said that, expect Tech to bounce back against Miami this week. Why?… Well, for starters you will never see a more hungry and focused Tech team than you will this week. That and the fact that Miami is simply atrocious… Prediction: Virginia Tech
#24 Texas A&M (2-2) @ Texas Tech (4-0) – 7pm
The Aggies are coming off two back-to-back collapses—first against Oklahoma State then last week against Arkansas. Now they travel to Lubbock to take on the always high-powered Red Raider offense led by QB Seth Doege (14 TD’s, 1 INT)… It won’t be easy for the Aggies facing an undefeated Tech team with a chip on their shoulders wondering why they’re still unranked. But the truth is A&M is too good to lose three in a row. Tech is a solid team, but there are holes on their defense that Ryan Tannehill and the Aggies are sure to expose. Expect A&M to get back on track… Prediction: Texas A&M
In closing, it’s sad to see what’s happening to the Big East. TCU who was set to join the conference next year has been intercepted by the Big 12. They’re playing runaway bride and I can’t say I blame them. They’ll be hit with a $5 million penalty by the Big East—but a Big 12 invitation is what they’ve wanted all along.
While jumping ship (while not ever being on the ship) is cowardly, especially considering their recent statements about being committed to the Big East, you know the back-stabbing act was thought necessary due to the conference’s extreme instability and uncertainty… College sports is all about money and stability and TCU figures they need to look out for themselves and not care what anybody else thinks.
Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino said it best yesterday regarding what’s happening to the conference: “It’s one of the most disappointing things I’ve seen in 35 years in the game to see this thing break up like this. We’ve stayed loyal to it all along. We’ve stayed loyal, and by staying loyal we’re not sure what’s going to happen to us.”
Sad… Just sad.
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