Curci: Week 11 College Football Preview
By Joe Curci
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It’s times like these when our lives are put into perspective.
We no longer take things like cable, internet and electricity for granted. We now have a firsthand understanding of how powerful Mother Nature can be. I would like to encourage everyone to donate in any way possible, whether it be financially or just spending some time to help out, or visit a family that is suffering due to Sandy.
In the wake of the storm, the college football world was surging with another great weekend of games. Notre Dame squeaked out a win against Pittsburgh, Kansas State and Oregon continued to impress, and Alabama essentially locked up yet another trip to the national championship game.
This weekend the road to the BCS continues, and the top teams cannot let off the throttle.
#15 Texas A&M @ #1 Alabama 3:30 p.m — CBS-2
Alabama faced their toughest challenge last week in a repeat of last year’s title game. The Tide traveled to LSU and were pushed to the limit against a stingy Tigers defense. A.J. McCarron led a masterful comeback drive late in the fourth quarter and Alabama held on to remain undefeated.
This week Alabama will host the Aggies. In their first year in the SEC, the Aggies have held their own with a 4-2 conference record, doing considerably better than Missouri, who also joined this season. Alabama will have to remain sharp, and cannot afford to have any sort of hangover going into this game.
Johnny Manziel has come into his own this season for A&M and has been really sharp over the past few games, recording seven touchdowns in their past two wins at Auburn and at Mississippi State. Manziel has the ability to beat a defense with the pass and the run, and if Alabama is not sharp they could be in for another very tough afternoon.
In the end I don’t expect the Tide to lose, Manziel will keep it close but this Alabama team is just too much. PICK: Alabama 38 Texas A&M 27
#2 Kansas State @ TCU 7:00 p.m.
Each week the analysts and critics put Kansas State on an upset watch. It will be no different Saturday as they head to TCU to take on the Horned Frogs.
The Horned Frogs’ schedule is simply brutal over the final three weeks, as after this game they will play at Texas and then host Oklahoma to end the season. TCU would want nothing more then to knock off Collin Klein and the undefeated Wildcats.
The key in this one is simple. TCU has to put together some long 10- to 12-play drives to keep Klein and that offense off the field. The Wildcat defense does yield points and this is going to tougher for Kansas State than many believe.
As much as I want to pick TCU in the upset, I think that Klein is just too solid and too smart to take this game for granted. PICK: Kansas State 45 TCU 35
#3 Oregon @ California 10:30 p.m.
The question that everyone is asking this season is, can anyone stop the Oregon offense?
The answer is simple: not Cal.
The Bears have been a big disappointment this season and have lost their last three. They would need to step up tremendously to trip up the Ducks. The only way the Bears get close is if Oregon takes the week off looking ahead to Stanford and Oregon Sate, but Chip Kelly will have his team focused and they will continue to roll. PICK: Oregon 51 Cal 17
#4 Notre Dame @ Boston College 8:00 p.m
As Notre Dame learned last week, there’s immense pressure each and every week when you are undefeated and highly ranked. After barely getting by Pittsburgh, the Irish dropped in the polls, and will now have to travel to face Boston College.
The Golden Eagles have had a long season, but they play well at home. If they want to have a shot against the Irish, their defense will have to force the offense into some turnovers. We all saw last week how Pitt pushed Notre Dame to the brink of defeat by forcing turnovers, and if the Irish are careless with the football again look for Boston College to make it interesting.
In the end, the Irish should — and will — win this game. Due to the way the BCS is set up, Brian Kelly may be forced to try and run up the score to earn a few style points for the Irish. PICK: Notre Dame 41 Boston College 16
Army @ #23 Rutgers
After a disappointing loss to Kent State — yes, Kent State — the Scarlet Knights look to rebound. Quite simply it comes down to one thing. Quarterback Gary Nova had his worst game of the season against Kent State, throwing a dismal six interceptions. I think he will rebound after a week off, and look for Rutgers to regain some momentum as they wrap up with three huge conference games that will determine the Big East champ. PICK: Rutgers 31 Army 14
#11 Oregon State @ #14 Stanford
This is a trivial game for both Oregon State and Stanford. Both teams have yet to take on Oregon and the winner of this one will have a shot to knock off the North division frontrunners and play in the Pac 12 title game. The Cardinal have won three in a row after losing a heart-breaker at Notre Dame, and will have home field advantage. They won at Oregon State last season, but they had Andrew Luck under center. This year Luck will not be on the field for Stanford, but it’s Oregon State that has the issue at quarterback. They have named backup Cody Vaz as the starter over Sean Mannion, who began the season at No. 1. Vaz has seven touchdowns and only one pick in four games for Oregon State, and he will need to keep that efficiency to beat Stanford on Saturday. I think Oregon State will play well, but this will be too big a task for Vaz playing on the road in a hostile environment. PICK: Stanford 24 Oregon State 20
#21 Mississippi State @ #7 LSU
We all knew that Mississippi State was overrated, and they proved that over the past two weeks. LSU is angry, hungry and too talented to have a four-loss season. LSU rolls in this one. PICK: LSU 35 Miss State 10
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