Top 25 Games to Watch: Week 8

The following 17 teams are bowl eligible, having 6 wins or more: Alabama, Boise State, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Houston, Illinois, Kansas State, Louisiana-Lafayette, LSU, Michigan, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Penn State, South Carolina, Stanford, Virginia Tech, and Wisconsin are all bowl eligible. 15 teams have 5 wins and are a win away from being bowl eligible, including: Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, BYU, Cincinnati, Georgia, Michigan State, Nebraska, Oregon, Rutgers, SMU, Southern Miss, Temple, Washington, West Virginia.  I’ll preview matchups involving Top 25 teams and try to offer some insight regarding the games to watch. All hype scores are out of 10.

#15 West Virginia (5-1) (1-0 Big East) @ Syracuse (4-2) (0-1 Big East)

Where to find the game: Friday, October 21st at 8:00 PM EST on ESPN/ESPN3.

Series: Syracuse leads 31-27.

West Virginia: Offense 11th (Rushing 91st; Passing 4th); Defense 18th (Rushing 36th; Passing 14th).

Syracuse: Offense 96th (Rushing 99th; Passing 71st); Defense 75th (Rushing 23rd; Passing 111th).

The battle for the Schwartzwalder Trophy. Syracuse won last year, in Morgantown. Prior to that Syracuse hadn’t beaten West Virginia since 2001. West Virginia looks to become bowl eligible behind Heisman contender QB Geno Smith (2159 passing yards, 63.95% completion, and 16 passing TDs). Smith has weapons such as WRs Stedmon Bailey (634 receiving yards, 18.6/catch, and 5 receiving TDs) and Tavon Austin (564 receiving yards, 13.4/catch, and 2 receiving TDs). RB Dustin Garrison (436 rushing yards, 6.9/carry, and 5 rushing TDs) has also contributed on the ground. QB Ryan Nassib (1294 passing yards, 64.6% completion, and 11 passing TDs) and WRs Alec Lemon (322 receiving yards, 10.4/catch, and 3 receiving TDs) and Van Chew (299 receiving yards, 15.0/catch, and 3 receiving TDs) lead the Syracuse offense through the air. RB Antwon Bailey (553 rushing yards, 4.5/carry, and 5 rushing TDs) has been successful on the ground. Expect the Mountaineers to shred the Orange’s suspect secondary.

Game hype grade: 2.

#4 Oklahoma State (6-0) (3-0 Big 12) @ Missouri (3-3) (1-2 Big 12)

Where to find the game: Saturday, October 22nd at 12:00 PM EST on FX.

Series: Missouri leads 28-22.

Oklahoma State: Offense 2nd (Rushing 64th; Passing 2nd); Defense 103rd (Rushing 80th; Passing 103rd).

Missouri: Offense 13th (Rushing 14th; Passing 34th); Defense 30th (Rushing 30th; Passing 78th).

Last season, Oklahoma State started 6-0, only to lose to Nebraska, finishing the season 11-2. The Cowboys look to avoid a similar result, when they pay a visit to Missouri. Missouri is off to their worst start since 2002, and are still adjusting to life without QB Blaine Gabbart. Missouri’s three losses are against teams who are a combined 17-2, and their two FBS wins against teams who are a combined 5-7, so its tough to get a read on the Tigers. QB James Franklin (1488 passing yards, 61.4% completion, and 17 total TDs) has led the offense, with the help of WR TJ Moe (375 receiving yards, 12.1/catch, and 2 receiving TDs), TE Michael Egnew (275 receiving yards, 12.1/catch, and 2 receiving TDs), and RB Henry Josey (717 rushing yards, 9.7/carry, and 6 rushing TDs). The Pokes are led by QB Brandon Weeden (2098 passing yards, 72.7% completion, and 16 passing TDs), WR Justin Blackmon (608 receiving yards, 11.5/catch, and 7 receiving TDs), and RB Joseph Randle (552 rushing yards, 5.2/carry, and 9 rushing TDs). Neither defense is stout against the pass, and Oklahoma State struggles against the run. If Missouri can keep the Oklahoma State passing game in check, this should be a good one.

Game hype grade: 4.

#7 Clemson (7-0) (4-0 ACC) vs. North Carolina (5-2) (1-2 ACC)

Where to find the game: Saturday, October 22nd at 12:00 PM EST on ESPN/ESPN3.

Series: Clemson leads 32-20-1.

Clemson: Offense 15th (Rushing 31st; Passing 25th); Defense 48th (Rushing 84th; Passing 26th).

North Carolina: Offense 63th (Rushing 55th; Passing 58th); Defense 52nd (Rushing 26th; Passing 87th).

Coach Dabo Swinney is hoping for a little less exciting game this week. Clemson trailed 28-17 at half, and 38-35 after three quarters, before three touchdowns by Clemson’s big three – QB Tajh Boyd (2012 passing yards, 62.5% completion, and 19 passing TDs), WR/KR Sammy Watkins (728 receiving yards, 15.8/catch, and 8 receiving TDs), and RB Andre Ellington (740 rushing yards, 5.3/carry, and 7 rushing TDs). The Tar Heels know about furious comebacks, as they were in a similar situation last week, but came up short. North Carolina was down 27-10 at halftime and at the end of the third quarter. QB Bryn Renner (1593 passing yards, 75.3% completion, and 14 passing TDs) and RB Giovani Bernard (767 rushing yards, 5.9/carry, and 9 rushing TDs) brought the Tar Heels within 6, but that was the closest the game got, losing on their home field. WR Dwight Jones (687 receiving yards, 14.9/catch, and 8 receiving TDs) has also contributed or North Carolina. Expect Bernard to have a field day on the porous Clemson run defense, and Boyd-Watkins, likewise, on an equally porous North Carolina pass defense.

Game hype grade: 3.

#11 Kansas State (6-0) (3-0 Big 12) @ Kansas (2-4) (0-3 Big 12)

Where to find the game: Saturday, October 22nd at 12:00 PM EST.

Series: Kansas leads 65-38-5.

Kansas State: Offense 94th (Rushing 25th; Passing 114th); Defense 17th (Rushing 16th; Passing 39th).

Kansas: Offense 41st (Rushing 23rd; Passing 73rd); Defense 120nd (Rushing 116th; Passing 119th).

Coach Bill Snyder is 15-4 against Kansas, coaching the Wildcats from 1989-2005 and returning again in 2009, last losing to Kansas in 2004; in fact, from 1989-1992, Snyder was 1-3 against his in state rival, since then, he is 14-1. The Wildcats have been playing excellent defense, forcing 10 interceptions, three last week (tied for 11th in NCAA). Last year, through this point, Kansas State averaged giving up 22.3 points/game. This year, Kansas State has averaged giving up 19.5 points/game. Kansas has been led by QB Jordan Webb (1238 passing yards, 65.5% completion, 11 passing TDs, but 5 INT) and RB James Sims (455 rushing yards, 4.5/carry, and 6 rushing TDs). Expect Snyder to extend his streak over Kansas to winning 16 of the last 17, as Kansas ranks near the bottom in almost every defensive category; this should help the Kansas State offense to get going.

Game hype grade: 1.

#23 Illinois (6-1) (2-1 Big Ten) @ Purdue (3-3) (1-1 Big Ten)

Where to find the game: Saturday, October 22nd at 12:00 PM EST on ESPN2/ESPN3.

Series: Illinois leads 42-38-6.

Illinois: Offense 42nd (Rushing 20th; Passing 76th); Defense 15th (Rushing 18th; Passing 56th).

Purdue: Offense 56th (Rushing 24th; Passing 94th); Defense 36th (Rushing 59th; Passing 32nd).

The last time Purdue won two straight in this series, it was 1992-1993. Purdue looks to accomplish that feat, coming off a tough loss at Penn State. QB Caleb TerBush (949 passing yards, 61.3% completion, and 6 passing TDs), RB Ralph Bolden (370 rushing yards, 5.3/carry, and 3 rushing TDs), and RB Akeem Shavers (296 rushing yards, 5.2/carry, and 5 rushing TDs) have led the Purdue offense. Illinois is also coming off a loss, albeit at home, and to a team that caught more passes defensively than offensively (Braxton Miller was 1-for-4 for a TD and the Buckeye defense forced two interceptions). The Illini are led by QB Nathan Scheelhaase (1407 passing yards, 64.9% completion, and 15 total TD), WR AJ Jenkins (895 receiving yards, 16.6/catch, and 7 receiving TDs), RBs Troy Pollard (385 rushing yards, 9.2/carry, and 1 rushing TD), Donovonn Young (327 rushing yards, 5.9/carry, and 4 rushing TD), and Jason Ford (309 rushing yards, 3.4/carry, and 5 rushing TD). Something tells me this is a dangerous game for the Illini, with another divisional contender, Penn State, looming. Expect this one to be close.

Game hype grade: 5.

#9 Arkansas (5-1) (1-1 SEC) @ Ole Miss (2-4) (0-3 SEC)

Where to find the game: Saturday, October 22nd at 12:21 PM EST on SEC Network/ESPN3.

Series: Arkansas leads 30-26-1.

Arkansas: Offense 23rd (Rushing 83rd; Passing 8th); Defense 67th (Rushing 95th; Passing 30th).

Ole Miss: Offense 117th (Rushing 108th; Passing 109th); Defense 86th (Rushing 115th; Passing 53rd).

Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt has coached on both sides of this rivalry, with a record of 9-4 against the opposition (7-3 against Ole Miss, 2-1 against Arkansas), including winning 6 of the last 7 against his rival. Arkansas has played Ole Miss more than any other SEC opponent. QB Tyler Wilson (1779 passing yards, 64.9% completion, and 14 total TD) has led the Razorback offense. Wilson has been aided by WRs Jarius Wright (554 receiving yards, 16.8/catch, and 6 TD), Cobi Hamilton (340 receiving yards, 18.9/catch, and 2 TD), and Joe Adams (284 receiving yards, 10.5/catch, and 2 total TD). It appears that Coach Nutt has settled on Randall Mackey (433 passing yards, 47.1% completion, and 2 TD), who led the Rebels to their first, and only, FBS win this year, at Fresno State. Ole Miss will need better play from their RBs, Jeff Scott (361 rushing yards, 4.8/carry, and 4 TD) and Brandon Bolden (105 rushing yards, 4.6/carry, and 2 TD). Ole Miss may be right behind Arkansas in the SEC West standings, but a huge chasm separates the teams, as Arkansas should roll in this game, big time.

Game hype grade: 1.

#12 Virginia Tech (6-1) (2-1 ACC) vs. Boston College (1-5) (0-3 ACC)

Where to find the game: Saturday, October 22nd at 3:00 PM EST on GamePlan/ESPN3.

Series: Virginia Tech leads 13-6.

Virginia Tech: Offense 48th (Rushing 34th; Passing 63rd); Defense 13th (Rushing 8th; Passing 41st).

Boston College: Offense 105th (Rushing 94th; Passing 87th); Defense 95th (Rushing 68th; Passing 96th).

Under then-Coach Tom O’Brien, Boston College was 10-6 in ACC play, joining in 2005. Then-Coach Jeff Jagodzinski was 11-5, with two losses in the ACC Title game. Current Coach Frank Spaziani is 9-10 in the ACC. Spaziani will need that percentage to improve, or BC will be looking for a new head coach. Boston College has been absolutely dreadful on all sides of the game, but their lone bright spots are QB Chase Rettig (1181 passing yards, 53.4% completion, and 6 passing TDs) and RB Andre Williams (325 rushing yards, 4.7/carry, and 3 rushing TDs). Virginia Tech will need better play from QB Logan Thomas (1476 passing yards, 60.8% completion, and 7 passing TDs, but 5 INTs); RBs David Wilson (903 rushing yards, 6.1/carry, and 6 rushing TDs) and Josh Oglesby (206 rushing yards, 3.7/carry, and 5 rushing TDs) have led the Hokie offense. The Hokies next two games – Boston College and Duke – are incredibly soft, before a matchup with Georgia Tech, with the winner being in the driver’s seat for an ACC Title berth. Expect Virginia Tech to dispose of Boston College, especially in the passing game.

Game hype grade: 1.

#24 Auburn (5-2) (3-1 SEC) @ #1 LSU (7-0) (4-0 SEC)

Where to find the game: Saturday, October 22nd at 3:30 PM EST on CBS.

Series: LSU leads 24-20-1.

Auburn: Offense 86th (Rushing 27th; Passing 106th); Defense 105th (Rushing 87th; Passing 81st).

LSU: Offense 80th (Rushing 29th; Passing 101st); Defense 5th (Rushing 6th; Passing 17th).

When Auburn beat LSU in 2006, LSU rebounded the following year to not only defeat Auburn, but won the BCS National Title. LSU lost to Auburn last year, will they beat Auburn en route to Coach Les Miles’s second BCS National Championship? CB Tyrann Mathieu, the Honey Badger, has led the Tigers defensively, (2 FUM REC, 2 INTs, 2 TDs), as has CB Morris Claiborne (3 INTs, 399 KR yards, 30.7/return, and 1 KR TD). Offensively, LSU has been led by RBs Spencer Ware (512 rushing yards, 4.0/carry, and 6 rushing TD) and Michael Ford (359 rushing yards, 5.4/carry, and 6 rushing TD). Coach Gene Chizik has elected to bench QB Barrett Trotter (1009 passing yards, 54.4% completion, and 10 passing TDs, but 6 INTs) after Trotter has been a combined 8-for-27 for 114 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT in the last two games. QB Clint Moseley now takes over under center. RB Michael Dyer (752 rushing yards, 5.1/carry, and 8 rushing TDs) and WR Emory Blake (333 receiving yards, 17.5/catch, and 4 receiving TD) have led the Tigers’ offense. LSU has defeated SEC opponents by an average of 25.5 points/game, defeating each opponent by more than the previous one. I’d be really surprised if LSU beat Auburn by 32 or more, but LSU should go into the Alabama game undefeated. This game becomes more interesting now that Mathieu, Ware, and CB Therold Simon are suspended for this game, for LSU.

Game hype grade: 5.

#5 Boise State (6-0) (1-0 MWC) vs. Air Force (3-3) (0-2 MWC)

Where to find the game: Saturday, October 22nd at 3:30 PM EST on Versus.

Series: First meeting.

Boise State: Offense 12th (Rushing 35th; Passing 13th); Defense 12th (Rushing 29th; Passing 9th).

Air Force: Offense 10th (Rushing 3rd; Passing 103rd); Defense 106th (Rushing 119th; Passing 34th).

Last week Boise State played their first ever game in the state of Colorado; this week they look to go 2-0 for the program’s history against Colorado schools. Boise State has been led by QB Kellen Moore (1729 passing yards, 75.9% completion, and 21 passing TDs), who has targets such as WRs Geraldo Boldewijn (39 receiving yards, 9.8/catch, and 2 receiving TDs), Matt Miller (308 receiving yards, 11.0/catch, and 3 receiving TDs) and Tyler Shoemaker (401 receiving yards, 16.7/catch, and 8 receiving TDs). Expect Boise State to use RB Doug Martin (622 rushing yards, 5.1/carry, and8 rushing TDs) early and often this week. Air Force, like all of the Service Academies, uses an option attack, led by QB Tim Jefferson (1113 total yards and 13 total TDs), RB Asher Clark (556 rushing yards, 8.2/carry, and 3 rushing TDs), and WR Jonathan Warzeka (254 receiving yards, 13.4/catch, and 3 receiving TDs). Boise State’s opponents have a losing record on the year which won’t help the Broncos cause in their bid for a BCS National Championship appearance. Expect Boise State to run up the score on Air Force.

Game hype grade: 2.

#10 Oregon (5-1) (3-0 PAC-12) @ Colorado (1-6) (0-3 PAC-12)

Where to find the game: Saturday, October 22nd at 3:30 PM EST.

Series: Colorado leads 8-7.

Oregon: Offense 5th (Rushing 5th; Passing 67th); Defense 83rd (Rushing 78th; Passing 76th).

Colorado: Offense 92nd (Rushing 113th; Passing 44th); Defense 64th (Rushing 65th; Passing 93rd).

Three games into the conference slate, Colorado is still searching for its first conference win. Its unlikely to come this week, with a high powered Oregon offense paying a visit to Boulder. RB LaMichael James (852 rushing yards, 9.0/carry, and 8 rushing TDs) should be back for the Ducks this week. James suffered a dislocated elbow two weeks ago against Cal, and remains questionable this week. QB Darron Thomas (1227 passing yards, 61.3% completion, and 17 passing TDs), freshman RB/WR De’Anthony Thomas (286 receiving yards, 16.8/catch, and 6 total TDs), and RB Kenjon Barner (338 rushing yards, 5.8/carry, and 4 rushing TDs) remain the major leaders for Oregon, with WR De’Anthony Thomas, (31 receiving yards, 14.8/catch, and 4 receiving TDs) and WR Lavasier Tuinei (218 receiving yards, 11.5/catch, and 5 receiving TDs) contributing. QB Tyler Hansen (1682 passing yards, 56.5% completion, and 13 passing TDs) and WR Paul Richardson (474 receiving yards, 16.3/catch, and 5 receiving TDs) have led Colorado offensively. Oregon should tie up this series with an easy win.

Game hype grade: 1.

#13 Nebraska (5-1) (1-1 Big Ten) @ Minnesota (1-5) (0-2 Big Ten)

Where to find the game: Saturday, October 22nd at 3:30 PM EST on ABC.

Series: Minnesota leads 29-20-2.

Nebraska: Offense 49th (Rushing 11th; Passing 102nd); Defense 59th (Rushing 75th; Passing 37th).

Minnesota: Offense 110th (Rushing 64th; Passing 108th); Defense 91st (Rushing 74th; Passing 91st).

These teams haven’t met since 1990; Minnesota hasn’t scored a touchdown on Nebraska since 1984, being outscored the last three meetings by a score of 142-7. The last time Minnesota beat Nebraska, it was 1960, their last national championship and second to last Big Ten title (last won the Big Ten title in 1967). Since 1960, the Gophers have had 10 head coaches, Nebraska has had 6, with Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne being the best known. But Coach Bo Pelini is making quite the name for himself in Lincoln. QB Taylor Martinez (1598 total yards, 54.3% completion, 15 total TD, but 6 INT) and RB Rex Burkhead (635 rushing yards, 5.9/carry, and 10 TD) have paced the run game. QB Marqueis Gray (625 passing yards, 48.4% completion, 4 total TDs, but 4 INTs) is expected to start this week, but expect freshman QB Max Shortell (309 passing yards, 49% completion, 2 passing TDs, but 2 INTs) to see some playing time. The Gophers are also led by RBs Duane Bennett (250 rushing yards, 3.7/carry, and 1 rushing TD) and Donnell Kirkwood (155 rushing yards, 4.1/carry, and 3 rushing TDs). Expect Nebraska to pound the Minnesota defensive line, in the same way Michigan did.

Game hype grade: 1.

#17 Texas A&M (4-2) (4-1 Big 12) @ Iowa State (3-3) (0-3 Big 12)

Where to find the game: Saturday, October 22nd at 3:30 PM EST on ABC.

Series: Texas A&M leads 9-1.

Texas A&M: Offense 7th (Rushing 16th; Passing 22nd); Defense 99th (Rushing 5th; Passing 120th).

Iowa State: Offense 74th (Rushing 61st; Passing 61st); Defense 94th (Rushing 110th; Passing 57th).

Sitting at three wins for the past three games, the Cyclones are running out of chances to pick up wins to be bowl eligible  for the sixth time since 2001. Playing Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Texas Tech, and Baylor on four consecutive weeks won’t do much for a team’s pass defense statistics, just ask Coach Mike Sherman. Over that stretch, A&M is 2-2, winning the last two. The Aggies’s balanced offense has helped keep them in games, and to win them, led by QB Ryan Tannehill (1742 passing yards, 67.1% completion, and 13 passing TDs), WR Ryan Swope (619 receiving yards, 15.5/catch, and 6 receiving TDs), and RBs Christine Michael (565 rushing yards, 6.1/carry, and 7 rushing TDs), and Cyrus Gray (521 rushing yards, 4.6/carry, and 7 rushing TDs). In order to be bowl eligible, QB Steele Jantz (1322 passing yards, 54.9% completion, 10 passing TDs, but 8 INTs) is going to need to take better care of the ball. RB James White (384 rushing yards, 5.3/carry, and 5 rushing TDs) and WR Darius Reynolds (522 receiving yards, 18.6/catch, and 6 receiving TDs) have led the Cyclone offense. Expect the Aggies to give the ball to Gray and Michael a lot. Iowa State will try to be the fifth straight team to torch the Texas A&M secondary, but don’t expect them to be as successful as the previous four teams.

Game hype grade: 4.

#22 Georgia Tech (6-1) (3-1 ACC) @ Miami (FL) (3-3) (1-2 ACC)

Where to find the game: Saturday, October 22nd at 3:30 PM EST on ESPN/ESPN3.

Series: Georgia Tech leads 10-6.

Georgia Tech: Offense 9th (Rushing 2nd; Passing 105th); Defense 31st (Rushing 81st; Passing 15th).

Miami (FL): Offense 71st (Rushing 56th; Passing 66th); Defense 82nd (Rushing 94th; Passing 38th).

As predicted, Virginia had success against Georgia Tech on the ground last week, rushing for 272 yards, en route to a 24-21 victory in Charlottesville. QB Tevin Washington (1500 total yards, 48.1% completion, and 18 total TDs), RB Orwin Smith (488 rushing yards, 13.2/carry, and 9 total TDs), RB David Sims (467 rushing yards, 6.1/carry, and 3 rushing TDs), and WR Stephen Hill (552 receiving yards, 32.5/catch, and 4 receiving TDs) were all held in check by the Cavs last week. The Canes hope to bottle up the Yellow Jackets again, led offensively by QB Jacory Harris (1104 passing yards, 67.2% completion, and 12 passing TDs), RB Lamar Miller (706 rushing yards, 6.4/carry, and 5 rushing TDs), and WRs Travis Benjamin (346 receiving yards, 14.4/catch, and 3 receiving TDs) and Tommy Streeter (332 receiving yards, 18.4/catch, and 5 receiving TDs). Georgia Tech is 3-1 in the ACC, but only one win has been by more than a touchdown (10 point win at NC State). I like Miami (FL) in this one, especially coming off a big win in Chapel Hill. Regardless, this should be a good one, provided Miami (FL) can stop the run.

Game hype grade: 7.

#19 Houston (6-0) (2-0 C-USA) vs. Marshall (3-4) (2-1 C-USA)

Where to find the game: Saturday, October 22nd at 4:30 PM EST.

Series: Series tied 1-1.

Houston: Offense 1st (Rushing 51st; Passing 1st); Defense 71st (Rushing 71st; Passing 72nd).

Marshall: Offense 114th (Rushing 103rd; Passing 100th); Defense 69th (Rushing 67th; Passing 84th).

Boise State fans have been complaining about their lack of national recognition; they have found an ally in the Cougars. Houston, like Boise State, suffers from a lack of legitimate competition. However, Houston does have games against SMU and Tulsa looming at the end of the season. First, Houston must get through what could be their toughest test until the last two games. Houston is led by Heisman candidate QB Case Keenum (2309 passing yards, 71.4% completion, and 17 passing TDs), RBs Michael Hayes (364 rushing yards, 6.0/carry, and 6 rushing TDs), and Bryce Beall (286 rushing yards, 5.7/carry, and 6 rushing TDs), and WRs Patrick Edwards (642 receiving yards, 17.4/catch, and 5 receiving TDs) and Tyron Carrier (456 receiving yards, 11.7/catch, and 2 receiving TDs). Its anyone’s guess who will start at quarterback on Saturday for the Herd, as freshman QB Rakeem Cato (1075 passing yards, 55.0% completion, 7 passing TDs, but 7 INTs) has started each game so far this year, but sophomore dual-threat QB AJ Graham (288 total yards, 45.2% completion, 2 total TDs, but 1 INT) led Marshall to the win over Rice last week. WR Aaron Dobson (309 receiving yards, 12.4/catch, and 4 receiving TDs) has led the Herd in receiving numbers. Neither team likes to play defense, but Houston has the capability of putting up points in a hurry. I wouldn’t be surprised if Coach Doc Holliday starts Graham, and he has some success against the Cougs.

Game hype grade: 4.

#21 Penn State (6-1) (3-0 Big Ten) @ Northwestern (2-4) (0-3 Big Ten)

Where to find the game: Saturday, October 22nd at 7:00 PM EST on Big Ten Network.

Series: Penn State leads 11-3.

Penn State: Offense 78th (Rushing 52nd; Passing 80th); Defense 4th (Rushing 22nd; Passing 5th).

Northwestern: Offense 52nd (Rushing 40th; Passing 68th); Defense 104th (Rushing 76th; Passing 97st).

Northwestern hasn’t beaten Penn State since 2004, with the average margin of defeat being 16.5 in 4 games since then. Matt McGloin (903 passing yards, 57.1% completion, 5 passing TDs, but 2 INTs) is now under center for the Lions. Workhorse RB Silas Redd (705 rushing yards, 4.8/carry, and 5 rushing TDs) and WR Derek Moye (485 receiving yards, 17.3/catch, and 3 receiving TDs) have chipped in offensively. QB Dan Persa (700 passing yards, 74.5% completion, and 5 passing TDs) can’t do it all alone for Northwestern. All-purpose Kain Colter (841 total yards, 65.2% completion, and 7 total TDs) and WR Jeremy Ebert (431 receiving yards, 11.1/catch, and 6 receiving TDs) have helped out, but the defense will need to contribute, too. Northwestern’s defense is horrendous, having been exposed by Illinois, Michigan, and Iowa so far in Big Ten play. Penn State doesn’t have as strong of a passing game, but expect more of the same, with the Wildcats having to play catch up, again.

Game hype grade: 6.

#2 Alabama (7-0) (4-0 SEC) vs. Tennessee (3-3) (0-3 SEC)

Where to find the game: Saturday, October 22nd at 7:15 PM EST on ESPN2/ESPN3.

Series: Alabama leads 48-37-8.

Alabama: Offense 24th (Rushing 12th; Passing 72nd); Defense 3rd (Rushing 1st; Passing 4th).

Tennessee: Offense 72nd (Rushing 114th; Passing 24th); Defense 32nd (Rushing 69th; Passing 33rd).

Third Saturday in October. Alabama and Tennessee played on this Saturday prior to the 1992 football season when the SEC split divisions. Alabama Coach Nick Saban is 4-0 against the Vols. RBs Trent Richardson (912 rushing yards, 6.9/carry, and 16 total TDs), Eddie Lacy (419 rushing yards, 8.2/carry, and 5 rushing TDs), and Jalston Fowler (302 rushing yards, 7.9/carry, and 3 rushing TDs) have led the Alabama ground game. QB AJ McCarron (1380 passing yards, 67.2% completion, and 9 passing TDs) won the quarterback competition and is relying on WR Marquis Maze (376 receiving yards, 11.1/catch, and 1 receiving TD). Tennessee is reeling, with losses and injuries, as WR Justin Hunter (314 receiving yards, 18.5/catch, and 2 receiving TDs) is out for the year and QB Tyler Bray (1579 passing yards, 65.9% completion, and 14 passing TDs) is out until the Vanderbilt or Kentucky game. However, RB Tauren Poole (395 rushing yards, 4.1/carry, and 2 rushing TDs) should be healthy. With QB Matt Simms (185 passing yards, 39.3% completion, and 2 INTs) under center, the Vols will need to rely on WR Da’Rick Rogers (576 receiving yards, 16.5/catch, and 6 receiving TDs). ‘Bama should roll.

Game hype grade: 2.


#3 Oklahoma (6-0) (3-0 Big 12) vs. Texas Tech (4-2) (1-2 Big 12)

Where to find the game: Saturday, October 22nd at 8:00 PM EST on ABC.

Series: Oklahoma leads 13-5.

Oklahoma: Offense 4th (Rushing 48th; Passing 5th); Defense 28th (Rushing 31st; Passing 60th).

Texas Tech: Offense 6th (Rushing 54th; Passing 6th); Defense 96th (Rushing 111th; Passing 26th).

Until 2005, Oklahoma led this series 10-2. Since 2005, this series is even. The home team has won seven straight and 11 of the last 13. Oklahoma looks to extend that to eight and 12 of the last 14, respectively. The Sooners have been led by Heisman candidate QB Landry Jones (2177 passing yards, 67.6% completion, and 16 passing TDs, 6 INTs), RB Dominique Whaley (627 rushing yards, 5.5/carry, and 9 rushing TDs), and WRs Ryan Broyles (815 receiving yards, 13.6/catch, and 9 receiving TDs), Jaz Reynolds (363 receiving yards, 19.1/catch, and 1 receiving TD), and Kenny Stills (330 receiving yards, 12.2/catch, and 5 receiving TDs). QB Seth Doege (2167 passing yards, 70.7% completion, and 18 passing TDs), WRs Darrin Moore (339 receiving yards, 16.1/catch, and 4 receiving TDs), Eric Ward (352 receiving yards, 9.3/catch, and 8 receiving TDs), and Alex Torres (381 receiving yards, 10.9/catch, and 1 receiving TDs) have led the Red Raider offense. RB Eric Stephens (570 rushing yards, 5.2/carry, and 8 rushing TDs) is out for the season, a big blow to the Red Raider run game. In preparation for a meeting with Kansas State next week, expect Oklahoma to pound it out on the ground, while the Red Raiders look to use their aerial attack to keep the game close. Should be a good one, but Oklahoma should come out on top.

Game hype grade: 6.

#6 Wisconsin (6-0) (2-0 Big Ten) @ #16 Michigan State (5-1) (2-0 Big Ten)

Where to find the game: Saturday, October 22nd at 8:00 PM EST on ESPN/ESPN3.

Series: Michigan State leads 29-20.

Wisconsin: Offense 8th (Rushing 7th; Passing 31st); Defense 7th (Rushing 42nd; Passing 6th).

Michigan State: Offense 66th (Rushing 66th; Passing 46th); Defense 1st (Rushing 3rd; Passing 2nd).

The home team has won six straight in this series, by an average of 15 points/game, and by only 5.5 points/game on average in the last four meetings. Michigan State hasn’t won two straight over Wisconsin since 1991-1992. This game should be a battle of defenses, as Michigan State has forced 8 interceptions (tied for 24th in all of NCAA) and Wisconsin has forced 7 (tied for 37th in all of NCAA). Michigan State and Wisconsin are tied for the 3rd best scoring defenses in the country, giving up an average of 10.20 points/game. With an average total of 61.5 points/game scored in the last four meetings (64.3 points/game scored in the last six), expect a little more offense. The Spartans are led offensively by QB Kirk Cousins (1317 passing yards, 65.9% completion, 8 passing TDs, but 4 INT), RBs Le’Veon Bell (287 rushing yards, 4.9/carry, and 6 rushing TDs), Edwin Baker (419 rushing yards, 4.8/carry, and 2 rushing TDs), and WR BJ Cunningham (621 receiving yards, 14.8/catch, and 2 receiving TDs). Wisconsin’s high powered offense is led by transfer QB Russell Wilson (1557 passing yards, 74.2% completion, and 14 passing TDs), RBs Montee Ball (653 rushing yards, 6.1/carry, and 16 rushing TDs) and James C. White (416 rushing yards, 6.0/carry, and 4 rushing TDs), and WR Nick Toon (447 receiving yards, 17.9/catch, and 6 receiving TDs). Toon did not play against Indiana, but look for him to be ready this week. Wisconsin is averaging 48.4 points/game against FBS opponents and 53.5 points/game in Big Ten play. I’d be surprised if Wisconsin scored three quarters of the amount they have averaged against FBS opponents. The Spartan defense will keep this close and have a great shot at winning on their home field.

Game hype grade: 9.

#8 Stanford (6-0) (4-0 PAC-12) vs. #25 Washington (5-1) (3-0 PAC-12)

Where to find the game: Saturday, October 22nd at 8:00 PM EST on ABC.

Series: Washington leads 40-36-4.

Stanford: Offense 16th (Rushing 42nd; Passing 14th); Defense 19th (Rushing 2nd; Passing 85th).

Washington: Offense 46th (Rushing 48th; Passing 45th); Defense 101st (Rushing 17th; Passing 117th).

Stanford has now won three straight and five of the last six against Washington. Stanford hasn’t won four straight in this series since 1973-1976. Stanford has yet to face a team with a winning record this season, let alone a top 25 team. They face both of those this week, facing Washington. Heisman trophy candidate QB Andrew Luck (1719 passing yards, 71.3% completion, and 18 passing TDs), RB Stepfan Taylor (559 rushing yards, 5.5/carry, and 5 rushing TDs), TE Colby Fleener (383 receiving yards, 23.9/catch, and 6 receiving TDs), and WR Chris Owusu (309 receiving yards, 12.4/catch, and 2 receiving TDs) lead the Cardinal offensively. The Huskies’s balanced offense is led by QB Keith Price (1466 passing yards, 69.4% completion, and 21 passing TDs) and RB Chris Polk (728 rushing yards, 5.4/carry, and 3 rushing TDs). Price has done a good job spreading the ball around to WRs Devin Aguilar (330 receiving yards, 15.7/catch, and 3 receiving TDs), James Johnson (287 receiving yards, 13.0/catch, and 3 receiving TDs), Jermaine Kearse (284 receiving yards, 12.3/catch, and 6 receiving TDs), and TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (244 receiving yards, 16.3/catch, and 4 receiving TDs). Games against Washington and at USC are big games for Stanford before the Oregon game. Don’t be surprised if Stanford is looking ahead to the USC game a bit.

Game hype grade: 7.


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  1. Pingback: Before Visiting The Sportsbook - New Content Added: Week of October 16th

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