Tag:Keys to the Game
Posted on: November 1, 2011 11:20 am
 

Keys to the Game: Boise State at UNLV

Posted by Chip Patterson

BOISE STATE WILL WIN IF: Feeling pretty comfortable saying there are very few "if's" regarding Boise State's chances at victory on Saturday against UNLV. Coming off a bye week, the Broncos have seen many of the other undefeated teams fall in the last two weeks and know this is an opportunity to seize. I expect Kellen Moore, who needs just one more win to become college football's all-time winningest quarterback, to be as effective as ever carving up the conference's worst passing defense. Moore will spread out UNLV's coverage, and find his receivers in space with pinpoint accuracy, as he has all season.

UNLV WILL WIN IF: One thing Air Force showed in their losing effort to Boise State was a way to limit their effectiveness on offense. By using their ground game to dominate the time of possession, the Moore and the rest of the Boise State offense was given small windows of opportunity to operate. UNLV does not have the effective ground attack of the Falcons, but they can use similar strategies to keep the game from getting out of hand early.  Unfortunately in this matchup, "keeping it from getting out of hand" is about all you could ask for as a Runnin' Rebels fan.  Keep it close early, and hope for a miracle late.

X-FACTOR: Preparation. As if UNLV didn't have enough to worry about with the high-powered Broncos' offense coming to town, one of the nation's last undefeated teams has had extra time to prepare for the conference matchup. Boise State head coach Chris Petersen is 22-2 when having 10 or more days to prepare between games. The Broncos' preparation has been one of the reasons for their sharp execution in notable season-openers and bowl games, and only serves as another sign the trend should continue on Saturday.

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Posted on: November 1, 2011 11:20 am
 

Keys to the Game: Boise State at UNLV

Posted by Chip Patterson

BOISE STATE WILL WIN IF: Feeling pretty comfortable saying there are very few "if's" regarding Boise State's chances at victory on Saturday against UNLV. Coming off a bye week, the Broncos have seen many of the other undefeated teams fall in the last two weeks and know this is an opportunity to seize. I expect Kellen Moore, who needs just one more win to become college football's all-time winningest quarterback, to be as effective as ever carving up the conference's worst passing defense. Moore will spread out UNLV's coverage, and find his receivers in space with pinpoint accuracy, as he has all season.

UNLV WILL WIN IF: One thing Air Force showed in their losing effort to Boise State was a way to limit their effectiveness on offense. By using their ground game to dominate the time of possession, the Moore and the rest of the Boise State offense was given small windows of opportunity to operate. UNLV does not have the effective ground attack of the Falcons, but they can use similar strategies to keep the game from getting out of hand early.  Unfortunately in this matchup, "keeping it from getting out of hand" is about all you could ask for as a Runnin' Rebels fan.  Keep it close early, and hope for a miracle late.

X-FACTOR: Preparation. As if UNLV didn't have enough to worry about with the high-powered Broncos' offense coming to town, one of the nation's last undefeated teams has had extra time to prepare for the conference matchup. Boise State head coach Chris Petersen is 22-2 when having 10 or more days to prepare between games. The Broncos' preparation has been one of the reasons for their sharp execution in notable season-openers and bowl games, and only serves as another sign the trend should continue on Saturday.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: November 1, 2011 11:11 am
 

Keys to the Game: Oklahoma vs. Texas A&M

Posted by Tom Fornelli

OKLAHOMA WILL WIN IF: The team that showed up against Kansas State returns and not the one we saw against Texas Tech. Particularly Landry Jones, who got off to a bit of a slow start in Manhattan last week with two interceptions but then had a second half in which he finally looked like the player we thought he'd be all season. The Texas A&M pass defense has been terrible this season, allowing a Big 12 worst 318.3 yards per game and only 4 interceptions to 14 touchdowns. Though the Oklahoma offensive line could have some trouble with a Texas A&M front seven that loves bringing pressure, as the Aggies trail only the Sooners in sacks this season in the Big 12. If Jones and the Sooners offensive line can deal with the blitzes and pass rush, they should be able to exploit a weak Aggie secondary.

TEXAS A&M WILL WIN IF: It figures out that there are two halves in a football game. During a three-game win streak I thought the Aggies had put the second half sleepwalking behind them, but it returned against Missouri on Saturday when the Tigers outscored the Aggies 21-3 in the second half. I'm not sure what the problem is for the Aggies in the second half this season, but it's safe to say that if they take another half off against Oklahoma, they won't be coming back with a win. The Oklahoma defense may be the best one in the Big 12, but the Texas A&M offense has a lot of weapons on offense and should be able to find some success against it if it plays to its capabilities.

X-FACTOR: Sean Porter. The Texas A&M linebacker has done a great job taking over for Von Miller in the Aggies defense this season, leading the Big 12 with 8.5 sacks. Texas A&M would like to see that number increase this weekend against Landry Jones because Jones and his wide receivers could have a field day against their secondary if given time. So the more you hear Porter's name called by the announcers on Saturday, the better Texas A&M will be doing. 
Posted on: November 1, 2011 10:44 am
 

Keys to the Game: Oklahoma State vs. Kansas State

Posted by Tom Fornelli

OKLAHOMA STATE WILL WIN IF: In order to win this game all Oklahoma State has to do is to keep doing what it has done. Dominate the game with its offense, take care of the ball and take the ball away on defense. It may not look like it if you just look at the teams' records, but Oklahoma State is a much better team than Kansas State. What may surprise you though, is that while Kansas State's defense is considered to be much stronger than Oklahoma State's -- and I tried to debunk the "Oklahoma State defense is bad" theory -- here's something you may not have known: the Kansas State pass defense is worse than Oklahoma State's in just about every category. You have to think that Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon will be able to exploit a defense that's giving up 277.9 yards per game and allowing quarterbacks to complete 63.5% of their passes. Landry Jones just threw for 505 yards and 5 scores against it last week, and Weeden could find similar success.

KANSAS STATE WILL WIN IF: It figure out how to stop spread offenses. While the Kansas State defense got off to a strong start to the season, ever since Big 12 play started and it began facing offenses that spread it out, things have not been going well. In five conference games the Kansas State defense is allowing 33 points and 350.2 yards passing per game. The best way for Kansas State to stop the Oklahoma State offense will be to keep it off the field, which means the Wildcats will have to protect the ball and use its ground game. The good news for Kansas State is that Collin Klein and John Hubert have a chance to do just that. The Oklahoma State defense is giving up 185.5 yards per game on the ground, and Kansas State is rushing for 209.9. That will have to continue for the Wildcats to hand the Cowboys their first loss of the year.

X-FACTOR: Collin Klein. Klein needs to have his best game of the season for Kansas State to win this game. Odds are that Oklahoma State will be geared up to stop Klein and the rushing attack, so he's going to at least provide the threat of passing to open things up for his offense. Last week Klein was only able to complete 8 of his 16 passes for 58 yards, and that allowed the Oklahoma defense to key on stopping the run, and we all know how that worked out for Kansas State. 
Posted on: October 26, 2011 5:01 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Wisconsin at Ohio State

Posted by Adam Jacobi

WISCONSIN WILL WIN IF: Russell Wilson hasn't lost his mojo. Wilson had a rough game in Wisconsin's 37-31 loss to Michigan State last week, complete with two very regrettable throws that ended up getting intercepted, but his stats still weren't very bad, and he's still the second-rated passer in the NCAA so far this season, barely trailing Robert Griffin III. That said, for as great as MSU's defense has been all year long, Wilson's not going to get much respite this week -- even though the Buckeyes' defensive production hasn't yet reached its overall talent level yet.

OHIO STATE WILL WIN IF: It gets four quarters of dominance from its defense. Ohio State's biggest win of the season came against Illinois, when it stifled the Illini attack and surrendered all of seven points for the game. In OSU's most embarrassing loss, the defense still only allowed 10 points to the same MSU team that just put 37 on the scoreboard last week. And for two and a half quarters, Nebraska had been bottled up by the Buckeyes, trailing 27-6. We know how that one turned out, of course, but that's the point: If the Buckeyes go hard for 60 minutes, they can effectively shut down just about anybody. And if OSU doesn't bring defensive intensity for the entire game, an offense like Wisconsin's is more than capable of racking up points in a hurry.

X-FACTOR: The crowd. Ohio Stadium has long been the paramount of the Big Ten's arenas, and it's not hard to see why: the place is huge, seating over 100,000 fans, and its double-tiered setup makes those rabid Buckeye partisans even more deafening, which they usually are. Usually. But with OSU's struggles, the fans have been muted at times, even turning downright hostile during the MSU 10-7 victory in the conference opener. If Wisconsin can jump all over the Buckeyes early -- particularly with defensive stops -- the crowd should be a little more hospitable for Russell Wilson and company to run their offense.
Posted on: October 26, 2011 2:08 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Illinois at Penn State

Posted by Adam Jacobi

ILLINOIS WILL WIN IF: Nathan Scheelhaase can figure out the Penn State defense. In the Big Ten, Penn State trails only Michigan State in every defensive metric except scoring defense -- and there, the Nittany Lions are ranked first. At the same time, PSU hasn't faced a quarterback nearly as dynamic as Nathan Scheelhaase this season, and it'll be crucial for Scheelhaase to make plays happen if Illinois is going to have any shot to pull off this road victory. Whether that means Scheelhaase does it with his feet on scrambles and option runs, or by getting A.J. Jenkins free in the secondary (a tall task for Ron Zook against a defense like this) remains to be seen.

PENN STATE WILL WIN IF: Silas Redd continues to wreck all those in his path. One of the biggest reasons Penn State is the only 4-0 team in Big Ten play is that all of a sudden, opponents can't stop Silas Redd and the Penn State rushing attack. In Big Ten conference games, Redd leads the pack in rushing yards per game with over 140 yards (Montee Ball and Rex Burkhead are close behind, while overall Big Ten rushing leader Denard Robinson's numbers have been curtailed sharply in conference play). This success forces defenses to key on the run, and that in turn opens up Matt McGloin and the passing game nicely.  

X-FACTOR: Will Good Zook or Bad Zook show up? Good Zook encourages his defense to play with maximum effort and puts his best players on offense front and center. Bad Zook loses track of the score, goes for it on 4th down when he doesn't have to, and has a team that comes out flat. Illinois has seen enough of Bad Zook in the last two weeks. 
Posted on: October 26, 2011 12:27 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Michigan State at Nebraska

Posted by Adam Jacobi

MICHIGAN STATE WILL WIN IF: The rushing game starts living up to its preseason billing. Coming into the season, the general consensus was that Wisconsin had the best stable of running backs, but Michigan State with Edwin Baker, Le'Veon Bell, and Larry Caper was a close second. Well, we're halfway into the season, and guess who's dead last in the Big Ten in rushing offense? Indeed: Sparty, at a paltry 138 yards a pop. Nebraska's defensive line is still reeling from the loss of Jared Crick, but it's generally good enough to keep blockers off Lavonte David so the dynamic linebacker can make plays. The challenge to MSU's offensive line is clear: blow open holes and let the running backs do their thing.

NEBRASKA WILL WIN IF: It avoids 3rd and long. Taylor Martinez's passing numbers as a whole aren't horrible this season; he's 67th nationwide in passing efficiency, and his interception rate of 3.93% is downright palatable. Still, Martinez struggles mightily when the opponent knows he needs to throw; he's been chided by announcers for his entire career for his unique mix of poor mechanics and bad read progressions. Getting Nebraska to 3rd and long is much easier said than done, however, with both Martinez and Rex Burkhead so adept at moving the chains on the ground. 

X-FACTOR: As opposed to most of the Big Ten's top games of the season, this matchup between No. 9 MSU and No. 13 Nebraska won't exactly be under the lights; the two teams are kicking off at 11:00 a.m. local time. Usually, the early games are reserved for non-conference cupcakes and basement dwellers. Will the two teams be able to put forth their best 60 minutes with such an early kickoff? Or will it be a 17-point game one way or the other halfway through the second quarter with an announcer snarkily wondering whether the losing team left its effort on the bus?
Posted on: October 25, 2011 7:22 pm
Edited on: November 1, 2011 12:30 pm
 

Keys to the Game: LSU at Alabama

Posted by Jerry Hinnen. Much more in the way of previewing at the LSU-Alabama Daily.

LSU WILL WIN IF: they win the battle of the big play. On a down-to-down, play-by-play basis, we'd give the slimmest of edges to the Tide--the Tigers have been just a shade more yielding on defense (4.0 yards allowed per-play to the Tide's FBS-leading 3.2) and just a shade less consistent on offense (5.6 yards per-play to Alabama's 6.8), though how much of that is the Tide's better play and how much is the Tigers' tougher schedule is open to debate.

What isn't is that if Jarrett Lee can't hit Rueben Randle for one or two of their now-trademark bombs over the top (the sort of play the Tide has been vulnerable to in the past, though less so this season), it won't matter how good Spencer Ware and the LSU offensive line are; Mark Barron and Robert Lester cheating towards the line of scrimmage is going to equal a run-game shutdown. And defensively, if Tyrann Mathieu, Barkevious Mingo, Morris Claiborne can't come up with a handful of turnovers, sacks and the like to get the Tide off the field quickly, even the Tigers' incredible front seven will wear down over the course of the game against Trent Richardson and Co. The good news for the Tigers is that they've done a phenomenal job of generating those kinds of big plays over the course of the season. The bad news is that the Tide are going to make them harder to come by than anyone else on their 2011 schedule.

ALABAMA WILL WIN IF:
they win the battle of field position. One major effect of all those LSU big plays -- particularly from their defense and special teams -- is that they frequently have short fields to work with while forcing their opponents to drive 70, 80 yards or more. (How do you become the No. 1 team in the nation with an offense ranked 78th in total yardage? By using field position to create more red zone attempts than all but five other teams in the country, then getting touchdowns out of 79.5 percent of them and points out of 97 percent. That's how.) But what happens when the Tigers have to defend shorter fields? When they have to consistently string together the 8-, 9-, 10-play drive instead of their opponent?

We don't know for sure. But if AJ McCarron can avoid the killer turnover, if Marquis Maze can flip the Tigers' usual domination of special teams to give the Tide the upper hand, if Richardson can consistently pound out a few first downs when deep in the Tide's territory, we'll find out--and we doubt it would be good news for the Tigers.

THE X-FACTOR: Les Miles. It won't matter that the stakes are as high as they can possibly be for a regular season college football game. Won't matter that his team will be on the road in one of the nation's most hostile venues. Won't matter that making one wrong call at the wrong time could cost his team their shot at a national championship. Miles is Miles is Miles is Miles, and he's going to make whatever "crazy" decision he feels gives his team the best chance to win. And if that decision -- fake punt, no-huddle 4th-and-1 on his own 34 in the first quarter, halfback double-reverse pass, whatever -- works out, it may undo an awful lot of good work elsewhere by the Tide.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com