By Casey Keefe
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#20 Auburn (5-2) @ #1 LSU (7-0) – 3:30pm
If you’re a young, inexperienced quarterback who has yet to make a single collegiate start, you ideally wouldn’t want that first start to come on the road against the number one team in the land. However, those are the shoes that redshirt sophomore Clint Moseley finds himself in after being named Auburn’s new starter by head coach Gene Chizik.
Moseley talks a big game and shows no signs of being scared of the big moment. He’s a quarterback that wants the ball in his hands and believes that he gives his team the best chance to win. That type of confidence and swagger is something you can’t teach. Unfortunately for Clint, something else you can’t teach is how to lead your team to a win on the road against a defense as ferocious as LSU.
I believe Moseley will be a top-tier quarterback in the SEC one day—but that day is still a ways away… Despite two of LSU’s best and dumbest players getting suspended for failed drug tests (RB Spencer Ware & CB Tyrann Mathieu) I expect LSU to show Auburn who the real Tigers are this year. Their defense is simply too powerful to allow Auburn to stay in the ballgame.
LSU will extend their home winning streak against Auburn to six straight and will reach the mark of 8-0 for the first time since 1973… Prediction: LSU
USC (5-1) @ Notre Dame (4-2) – 7:30pm
The Irish have been great since their rough 0-2 start. The stumble out the gate against South Florida and Michigan cost them any chance at a BCS title game bid (not that they ever had one), but a BCS at-large bid remains very well within reach if Brian Kelly’s bunch can take care of business. This week will be no easy task, but don’t be fooled, this isn’t a “vintage” USC team that they’ll be welcoming into South Bend tomorrow evening in what will be Notre Dame Stadium’s first night game since 1990.
If the Irish used their off week wisely to rest up and prepare for USC then they shouldn’t have too much trouble come tomorrow. Over the past month the offense has finally begun to click. Quarterback Tommy Rees now has more than just receiver Michael Floyd to target, as WR Theo Riddick and TE Tyler Eifert have begun to step up as well.
The ground game with Cierre Wood will be key. I think he and the offensive line will be able to gash USC’s overrated defense… The matchup which really favors Notre Dame lies with their defense. Trojan quarterback Matt Barkley is one of the nation’s best, but he only has one reliable target in WR Robert Woods.
The Irish secondary which has been playing at a high level will devote an enormous amount of attention on Woods and will virtually take him out of the game. Too bad for Barkley he doesn’t have the depth of targets that Notre Dame does. He’ll be looking at a lot of covered receivers while spending a good amount of time on his back… Prediction: Notre Dame
#6 Wisconsin (6-0) @ #16 Michigan State (5-1) – 8pm
This will be an old-school Big 10 clash. Two intense, physical teams who are drop-dead mirrors of each other. Both have nasty (borderline dirty) defenses who are among the best in the nation, both allowing just 10 points per game. Meanwhile, both offenses are led by excellent quarterbacks (Wisc: Russell Wilson, MSU: Kirk Cousins), dangerous deep threats (Wisc: Nick Toon, MSU: B.J. Cunningham) and deep ground games (Wisc: Montee Ball & James White, MSU: Ed Baker & Le’Veon Bell).
I think this will be the best game of the weekend. The Badgers are legitimate BCS title contenders and will be attempting to pick up their first win in East Lansing in 9 years. Not an easy task, especially for a team that has yet to be tested. State on the other hand is already battled-tested and knows what it takes to grind out Big 10 victories—just look at last week’s Michigan game (Hi Bob!).
But in the end, I think the Badgers will indeed come out on top thanks to the combination of their dominant offense line that will help control the line of scrimmage and their defense who will help unearth Cousins’ old ugly mistake-prone side… Prediction: Wisconsin
#25 Washington (5-1) @ #8 Stanford (6-0) – 8pm
The talk of the season from both college and pro fans has been Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. You keep hearing that he’s the best NFL draft prospect since John Elway, or at the very least Peyton Manning. Well, the hype is warranted. The kid is that good…and this week is his first real test of the season as his Cardinal welcome in a pretty solid Washington team to a stadium where Luck is 15-1 in his career (including 10 wins in a row).
With all the hoopla surrounding Luck, two things are being overlooked in this matchup… The “other” quarterback is pretty damn good—Washington’s Keith Price (21 TD’s, 4 INT’s). Not to mention Huskies running back Chris Polk. You can’t sleep on this team on either side of the ball.
The other thing that’s being overlooked is just how good Stanford’s defense is (11 ppg allowed, 295 ypg allowed). The defense will be just as big of a reason why the Cardinal win this game as Luck will be… Prediction: Stanford
Texas Tech (4-2) @ #3 Oklahoma (6-0) – 8pm
These two offenses mirror each other. Both are led by outstanding quarterbacks in Oklahoma’s Landry Jones and Tech’s Seth Doege. Both have deep receiving corps and solid run games. And obviously both know how to chew up yards and score points (OU: 547 ypg, 45 ppg–TT: 534 ypg, 44 ppg)… Unfortunately, this is where the comparisons end for Tech who has nowhere near the defense that Oklahoma possesses.
I expect the Sooners to dominate time of possession and keep Doege and the Red Raiders on the sidelines as long as possible. And when Doege is on the field, I expect him to move the chains here and there, but I also expect him to be running for his life a good portion of the night. The Sooners defense, especially their front seven is no joke. They will smack Doege around early and often.
Keep in mind two stats… Oklahoma has won a nation-leading 39 straight games at home, and Tech on the other hand has lost 26 of their last 29 games on the road against ranked teams. Doesn’t look like things bode well for the Raiders now does it?… Prediction: Oklahoma
Follow Casey Keefe on Twitter: @CaseyKeefeWFAN