Well, as you can see, I had another "Bye Week" last week. I was absolutely swamped with both school work and "church" work so not only did I take a week off from the corner but I missed a whole bunch of games. I did, however, get to see the Gators blow an easy shot at an SEC title, so that was nice. Let's take a look...
|QB Jeff Driskel and the Gators were brought back to Earth (literally) by the Dawgs last week|
-So the Gators finally got knocked off their cloud. Thank the football gods. The sad part is that I probably would have picked them last week because I had even less faith in the Dawgs. I did always maintain, however, that the idea that the Gators were the #2 team in the country (the computers actually had them #1 which just illustrates the weirdness of the computer calculations and the desperate need for the human element--which then underscores how ridiculous it is that the Coaches Poll is 1/3 of the whole formula when coaches have no time to watch games or follow any team but their own--but I digress) was ludicrous. Now we have a new #2 who may actually have a case for being #1...
|Coach Bill Snyder and QB Collin Klein are leading Kansas State to their most impressive season in years|
-I've been sold on Kansas State since they destroyed my 'Canes in September. Bill Snyder's Wildcat teams have always been a fundamentally sound model of consistency but this is on a whole other level. They've had two close calls--three if you count a 14 point win over North Texas--and one of them was a big time road win over Oklahoma (who rarely lose in Norman). The rest have been 30+ point wins in which the Wildcats have scored 50+ points, two of which were against then-top-15 teams. They're outscoring teams by an average score of 44.4 to 17.1--an average margin of 27.3 points (for those of you allergic to math).
Collin Klein may not be the best quarterback in college football--although in spite of his awkward throwing motion and relatively modest yardage total, he is #2 in the country in QB rating (behind only A.J. McCarron who has comparable passing numbers) and #3 in completion percentage--but you'd have a hard time arguing he isn't the best player playing QB and he has to be considered the top field general in the game. Oh, by the way, he's also averaging 5 yards a carry (600+ yards on the year) and has 16 rushing touchdowns--and he also has a RB in John Hubert who has run for another 700+ yards and 10 touchdowns. Who needs to throw with those numbers?
The way Bill Snyder has these guys playing--especially the defense--there is nobody left on their schedule that has a chance against them because it's going to take a hell of a defense to stop this train and the best defense the Wildcats face from here on out belongs to a TCU team playing without their suspended starting QB. It's hard not to see this team as on a collision course with Alabama in Miami in January.
|LB Manti Te'o and his Notre Dame defense have been so impressive that he's now in the Heisman conversation|
-Notre Dame continues to answer the bell, proving they're the real deal again and again with big time statement games. This time they went into Norman and handled the Sooners easily. This is another team with a clear path to a BCS bowl at least with no more ranked teams on their schedule until they close out the season with a trip to the Coliseum to take on USC--although don't count out the possibility of them slipping up against Pittsburgh or Boston College.
-One story that's not getting a lot of coverage is the fall of Auburn. With a 63-21 throttling at the hands of Texas A&M last week, the Tigers have "clinched" a losing season and at 0-6 in SEC play with Georgia and Alabama their only remain conference games, they're in very serious danger of going winless in SEC play which certainly doesn't bode well for Gene Chizik's job prospects, even if it is just one season (although the Tigers went 8-5 last year and 4-4 in conference last year--not a very impressive post-Cam resume).
CLICK READ MORE FOR THIS WEEK'S PICKS (LSU/BAMA, OREGON/USC, AND MORE)
This may be one of the more intriguing games all year that no one will really pay much attention to. A&M has been very solid on the road so far this year and has been far more tested than the Bulldogs who are coming off of failing their first test last week in a 38-7 thumping at the hands of Alabama. It's hard to judge a team based on what the Tide do to them but Mississippi State hasn't looked particularly impressive in beating a slew of unranked teams where as the Aggies have been in several dogfights, narrowly losing to Florida and LSU at home and squeaking out a shootout win over Louisiana Tech on the road. I like the Aggies on the road.
Hobbitcore sez: Texas A&M
#23 Texas @ #18 Texas Tech -- ABC/ESPN2 -- 3:30pm
This is a really tough one to call mostly because we have no idea who either of these teams are. One week they're blowing away a quality opponent, the next they're taking a brutal beating. One week they're losing a shootout, the next they're winning a defensive struggle. Lubbock is a tough place to play and the Red Raiders have been a bit more impressive so I'm going with them but I have very little confidence in that pick.
Hobbitcore sez: Texas Tech (maybe)
|The fastest man in college football, Oregon RB De'Anthony Thomas|
#4 Oregon @ #17 USC -- Fox -- 7pm
USC is reeling right now and desperate for a win after being shocked by Arizona. They're going to have to play a hell of a lot more defense than they've been playing to beat the Ducks. Not only that but Oregon's defense is much improved and highly underrated this year. They beat that same Arizona team--a team averaging 39 points a game under Rich Rodriguez--49-0 earlier this year. I really can't envision the Trojans pulling the upset here without a lot of crazy things happening (like a whole lot of uncharacteristic Oregon mistakes). Oregon wins big.
Hobbitcore sez: Oregon
#24 Oklahoma State @ #2 Kansas State -- ABC -- 8pm
I think I said enough about Kansas State above to explain why they're going to win the rest of their games, this one included. Bet on it.
Hobbitcore sez: Kansas State
GAME OF THE WEEK
#1 Alabama @ #5 LSU -- CBS -- 8pm
First of all, I love that this is on CBS in primetime. I miss SEC on CBS games and this will probably be the best atmosphere of any game all year--top 5 rematch of last year's BCS title game at night in Death Valley. Once the game starts, however, I think the atmosphere will dissipate a bit. I just think the Tide are significantly better than the Tigers. People use the phrase "closer than the experts think" a lot...I think this one will not be as close as the experts think. LSU's offense is just too anemic and Bama's defense is by far the best they will face this year (which is saying a lot after their debacle against the Gators). If LSU gets even one offensive touchdown, I'll be amazed. The only way LSU has a chance in this game is by creating points on defense and special teams and that's going to take some extremely uncharacteristic mistakes by Saban's squad--and we all know the chances of that happening.
Hobbitpick: Alabama 23, LSU 9
|QB A.J. McCarron is quietly leading the nation in QB rating and leading Alabama back to the BCS title game|
Keys to the Game
-Don't make mistakes (like I have to tell them that...)
-Protect QB A.J. McCarron (LSU may be able to keep this close with their pass rush if they can get to McCarron)
-Stay balanced on offense (probably don't have to tell them that either...really the only key to this game for Alabama is to play the way they always play...)
-Create turnovers (their only chance of winning this game is scoring touchdowns and their only chance of scoring touchdowns is giving QB Zach Mettenberger and co. a short field to work with)
-Get after McCarron (again, if they can knock him around, they have a chance to keep this thing close)
-Don't be afraid to throw (the Tide will almost surely dare the Tigers to throw...if Mettenberger can't make them pay it's gonna be a looong night)
1. QB Collin Klein (Kansas State)
2. QB A.J. McCarron (Alabama)
3. LB Manti Te'o (Notre Dame)
ACC: Florida State over Miami
Big XII: Kansas State
Big East: Louisville
Big Ten: Nebraska over Wisconsin
Pac 12: Oregon over USC
SEC: Alabama over Georgia
BCS Championship: Alabama over Kansas State
Fiesta Bowl: Florida over Clemson
Sugar Bowl: Notre Dame over Louisville
Orange Bowl: Oklahoma over Florida State
Rose Bowl: Oregon over Nebraska