Sports

Casey’s Call: Week 9 College Football Preview

Andrew Luck (credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Andrew Luck (credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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By Casey Keefe
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#9 Oklahoma (6-1) @ #8 Kansas State (7-0) – 3:30 p.m.

Last Saturday brought us our first real shocker of the season as Oklahoma saw their 39 game home winning streak snapped at the hands of Texas Tech. Their national championship aspirations have taken a hit and now they’re on the brink of losing their second straight Big 12 game—something that hasn’t happened in 13 years.

Kansas State is one of the real surprises of the season. They didn’t receive a single top 25 vote in the preseason polls, yet flash forward a few months and they find themselves sitting pretty with an unblemished record. Having the game at home will provide a big boost for the Wildcats who have a legitimate shot to knock off the Sooners—don’t doubt that for a second.

With all due respect to Syracuse-Louisville, this is the best and most intriguing game of the weekend. I can honestly see it going either way. All eyes will be on Oklahoma’s defense, a unit which was once thought to be the nation’s best but has been exposed and embarrassed at times this season, most notably last week when they gave up 572 yards to the Red Raiders.

The Wildcats are a heavy running team who average 214 yards on the ground per contest. They have a dangerous running back in John Hubert (637 yards, 2 TD’s) but the straw that stirs the drink is quarterback Collin Klein (670 rush yards, 14 rush TD’s) who poses a much bigger threat with his legs than his arm… The one-dimensionalism of their offense has worked thus far, but sooner or later the lack of a passing attack will cost them. It’ll be a matter of “you know what’s coming, but can you stop it?” for the Sooners defense.

At the end of the day, you need to remember what Oklahoma’s defense is capable of. Yes, their secondary can be shaky, but their front seven is stacked and filled with All-American candidates. This is exactly why this matchup plays into their hands. Oklahoma will stack up against the run and force Klein to beat them over the top with the pass, something I don’t think he can do. The Wildcats will stay committed to the run, but as we know, it’s hard to run the ball late in the game when you’re behind on the scoreboard.

The other thing that sways me to the Sooners in this game is their offense. If you can make your way through the rubble of last week’s disaster you’ll realize that the offense certainly wasn’t the problem. QB Landry Jones (2,589 yards, 21 TD’s, 7 INT’s), WR Ryan Broyles (899 yards, 9 TD’s) and RB Dominique Whaley (627 yards, 9 TD’s) help boost what is arguably the best offensive attack in the country.

Bill Snyder’s Wildcats have not beaten Oklahoma since the 2003 Big 12 title game. I think they’ll put up a heck of a fight tomorrow afternoon. But a win I don’t see happening… Prediction: Oklahoma

#11 Michigan State (6-1) @ #14 Nebraska (6-1) – 12 p.m.

Nebraska coach Bo Pelini warned the Spartans that they better not still be hung up on their miracle Hail Mary win over Wisconsin last week. He said if they’re still caught up in the glory of that win they’ll get their butts kicked by his Cornhuskers… Whether it was Pelini’s place to say such a thing is debatable, but his message rings true.

This game will go a long ways toward deciding the Big 10’s Legends Division. Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead (752 yards, 10 TD’s) has helped rejuvenate the Cornhuskers following their embarrassing early October blowout loss at the hands of the aforementioned Wisconsin Badgers.

It’s too bad Rex and company will be going up against the #2 defense in the country. It’s also too bad that their own defense is pathetic (25 ppg allowed)… Ndamukong Suh and Prince Amukamara are not walking through that door… Prediction: Michigan State

#6 Stanford (7-0) @ USC (6-1) – 8 p.m.

Due to NCAA penalties, the Trojans are banned from post-season play, but that isn’t stopping them from showing up—just look at the thrashing they gave Notre Dame last week in South Bend. Tomorrow evening, Lane Kiffin’s group will be faced with a much tougher challenge.

Stanford is a much deeper and well-rounded team than people think. Yes, Andrew Luck is a special, special talent and it’d be a major upset if he doesn’t win the Heisman—but Luck is only a single part of the machine that is the Stanford Cardinal. They have a dominant running game (219 yards per game, 20 TD’s) and one of the best offensive lines in the country.

As good as the offense is, Stanford will win this game with their defense. They’ve been great all year and match up real well against Matt Barkley and the Trojans. It won’t be a blowout, but at the end of the day I expect the Cardinal to pick up their fourth win in the last five tries against USC and their nation leading win streak to reach 16… Prediction: Stanford

Quick Hits…

- #15 Wisconsin (6-1) @ Ohio State (4-3) – 8 p.m.: This is a big gut-check game for Wisconsin following their extremely emotional and heartbreaking defeat in East Lansing a week ago. They travel to Columbus to take on a suddenly resurgent Buckeye team who have benefited from the eagerly awaited return of running back Dan Herron. Ohio State has had two weeks to prepare for the Badgers… All eyes will be on Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson who saw his Heisman campaign hit a bump in the road with his two costly interceptions against Michigan State… Look for him and the Badgers to bounce back… Prediction: Wisconsin

- #25 West Virginia (5-2) @ Rutgers (5-2) – 3:30p.m.: This is a huge game for the sole reason of how wide open the Big East is. There is not a single good team in the conference—and if you thought West Virginia was, you were certainly proven wrong last week. Having said that, the conference still has an automatic BCS bid (for now) and this game between two of the upper tier clubs in the conference might go a long way towards deciding who plays in January… Prediction: West Virginia

- #5 Clemson (8-0) @ Georgia Tech (6-2) – 8 p.m.: The Tigers are off to stellar start and a win in Atlanta would catapult them to 9-0 for the first time since their 1981 national championship season. They have an easy rest of the schedule and a 12-0 finish is definitely possible… Clemson’s up-tempo offense powered by QB Tajh Boyd and WR Sammy Watkins will be a nightmare for Tech to handle… Prediction: Clemson

- Big East Disaster: It’s almost impossible to follow what’s happening with all the conference realignments without getting sick to my stomach. The amount of lies and backstabbing that’s taking place is downright pathetic. The people in charge of these universities would run over their own mother if it meant making an extra buck… And to think these are people entrusted with of molding young minds and teaching morals… Disgusting.

There are road blocks to overcome, but when the dust clears you’re probably going to have West Virginia taking Missouri’s place in the Big 12—despite the Mountaineers sworn and re-sworn allegiance to the Big East… It’ll be a move which barring a miracle will signal the end of the Big East’s days of being an automatic qualifying conference in the BCS.

Heisman Watch…

1. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford: (1,888 yards, 21 Total TD’s, 3 INT’s, 72%) – There’s no doubt the Heisman is Luck’s to lose. He’s the best player in college football and the hype surrounding his name is downright legendary. Yet another prime-time test awaits him tomorrow evening on the road against a solid Trojan team… Next: @ USC (6-1)

2. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson: (2,379 yards, 28 Total TD’s, 3 INT’s, 62 %) – Clemson is quite possibly the biggest surprise team in the country and Boyd is the main reason why. He has been brilliantly efficient at leading the young and inexperienced Tigers offense. How he fares in Atlanta tomorrow will be pivotal for his Heisman stock… Next: @ Georgia Tech (6-2)

3. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama: (989 yards, 18 Total TD’s, 6.6 ypc) – Richardson has been exactly what we expected him to be thus far in the season. With the young A.J. McCarron at quarterback, he’s had to carry the load of the offense. His moment, for better or worse, will come next week in the showdown against LSU… Next: #1 LSU (8-0) on 11/5

4. Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State: (2,010 yards, 24 TD’s, 5 INT’s, 76%) – With last week’s win over Air Force, Moore tied Colt McCoy for most wins in FBS history with 45. His numbers, as is always the case, have been spectacular. However, with the types of names ahead of him on this list it’ll take a miracle for him to actually win the hardware… Next: @ UNLV (1-5) on 11/5

5. Case Keenum, QB, Houston: (3,219 yards, 32 TD’s, 3 INT’s, 73%) – Knock the quality of competition all you want, but I don’t care who you’re playing—to put up the type of numbers Keenum has is tough to do. His performance last night against Rice was godlike (534 yards, 9 TD’s)… No, he won’t win the Heisman, but he’s worth the attention and deserves a trip to New York… Next: @ UAB (1-6) on 11/5

Follow Casey Keefe on Twitter: @CaseyKeefeWFAN

What’s your college football pick of the week? Let us know in the comments below!