By Joe Curci
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#14 Ohio State @ #20 Michigan State 3:30 p.m.
Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer gets his first real test as the Buckeyes head to East Lansing to take on the Spartans. Last season the Michigan State defense was too much for Ohio State to overcome as they were held to just 178 yards in total offense and 7 points despite forcing three Michigan State turnovers. This year will be a little different.
The Spartans offense has really struggled over the past two games to get into the end zone. They were only able to muster up a field goal in a 20-3 loss against a solid Notre Dame team, and followed that performance by laboring against Easter Michigan before finally putting them away in the fourth quarter. They will need to rely on Junior running back Le’Veon Bell, who took 36 carries for 253 yards last week.
Ohio State comes into this game at 4-0 after wins against unranked opponents. The game will lie in the hands of quarterback Braxton Miller, who leads the team in both passing and rushing. He will need to make some big plays against the Spartan defense in order to give the Buckeyes the upper hand. MSU will make more big plays and win another close one. Pick: Michigan State 23-17.
#25 Baylor @ #9 West Virginia 12:00 p.m.
The Big 12 debut for the Mountaineers won’t be an easy one. The Baylor Bears head to Morgantown with a 3-0 record and a red-hot quarterback to go with it.
Nick Florence has led the way for the Bears throwing for over 300 yards at least 3 touchdowns in each game. Coming off a close game against Maryland, West Virginia will look to make a splash in the Big 12, in order to do so they will have to do a better job with the running games.
Baylor has proven to be susceptible to a strong rushing attack & if the Mountaineers can establish the run early it will open up even more opportunities for WVU quarterback Geno Smith. Count on Baylor to keep it close but in the end it will be all Mountaineers. Pick: West Virginia 45-35.
#20 Oregon State @ Arizona 10:00 p.m.
Arizona had a great opportunity last week to step up and compete with a talented Oregon team. Instead of making a statement in the Pac 12, the Wildcats got shutout 49-0.
Matt Scott threw three interceptions and only completed 50% of his passes in the loss. The Wildcat defense didn’t quite help the matter allowing almost 500 yards in total offense including 25 first downs. Rich Rodriguez will have to tighten up his game plan this weekend to avoid losing the exacta in the state of Oregon as the Oregon State Beavers. The Beavers fresh off a road win at UCLA, look to move to 3-0 and repeat their 37-27 win against the Wildcats last season.
The key will be quarterback Sean Mannion and his ability to stay upright in the pocket and not turn the ball over. Arizona is tough at home and if they can get back to that 56-0 performance from two weeks back they will take this one. Pick: Arizona 28-27.
WEEK 5 QUICK HITS:
Tennessee @ #5 Georgia: Georgia is too well rounded to get picked off at home. Although the Volunteers are a much improved team, they are not up to this big a task yet. Pick: Georgia 28-14.
#12 Texas @ Oklahoma State: I know that Texas is playing very well, but don’t sell Oklahoma State shot. They will continue their rebound from a week 2 loss in Arizona and take care of the Long Horns at home. Pick: Oklahoma State 48-33.
Wisonsin @ #22 Nebraska: Both teams lost tough games to Pac 12 teams. As they enter division play look for Taylor Martinez to step up for the Huskers and avenge there blowout loss at Wisconsin from last season. Pick: Nebraska 30-27.
As Division 1 College Football begins its restructuring process, we have to expect some changes along the way. Earlier this week Notre Dame announced plans to put its historic rivalry with Michigan on hold. This was a tough pill to swallow for both school’s fans, and one of the telling signs that a new year is upon us. Is it for better or for worse? That’s not for me to decide, but sacrificing one of the greatest rivalries in all of sports is certainly a losing situation for us all.
WEEK 3 RECAP; LAST WEEK 4-2:
Biggest Winner: Rutgers. In the first year for head coach Kyle Flood, the Scarlet Knights, led by quarterback Gary Nova, went down and won a road game in Arkansas. This was a huge win for the Big East despite the sluggish start for an Arkansas team that is clearly in transition.
Nova threw for five touchdowns and almost 400 yards in what was his best performance yet as the Rutgers’ quarterback. Rutgers, now 4-0 and ranked 23 in the land, have some tough Big East games ahead. If they can play as efficiently on offense as they have it sets up a huge game in Piscataway on Nov. 29 against Louisville.
Biggest Loser: Oklahoma/UCLA. Both of these teams had an opportunity to win big games last weekend, and both teams dropped the ball.
Oklahoma, facing a much improved Kansas State team, turned the ball over three times, including a Landry Jones fumble and interception. The Sooners, who won at Kansas State by 41 points last season, were outscored 14-6 in the fourth quarter. They also could not stop Wildcat running back John Hubert who rushed for 130 yards on 23 carries with a touchdown.
Out in California, UCLA had a chance to keep building on what had been a great start for first year head coach Jim Mora. The Bruins, who hosted Oregon State, could not keep their drives alive, going a mere 2/15 on third down. Beaver quarterback Sean Mannion threw for 379 yards and two touchdown passes in a 27-20 upset win over the now 3-1 Bruins.
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