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Tag:Keys To The Game
Posted on: October 18, 2011 11:58 am
Edited on: October 18, 2011 1:22 pm
 

Keys to the game: Oregon at Colorado

Posted by Bryan Fischer

OREGON WILL WIN IF: If they step off the bus. This is a total mismatch between the conference king (two straight conference titles) and the conference newcomer. The Ducks enter as the 9th-ranked team in the country and lead the conference in most offensive categories. There are some injury concerns, with quarterback Darron Thomas and running back LaMichael James limited or out against the Buffs but that didn't stop the team from rolling 41 points against one of the league's best defenses last week.

COLORADO WILL WIN IF: If there's a blizzard. Jon Embree's squad does not have the talent to stack up against most Pac-12 programs, much less Oregon. The Buffs are 92nd in the country in total offense and 91st in total defense, not the kind of team you want to play the up-tempo Ducks with. There are some playmakers on the team but they'll be without top linebacker Doug Rippy and starting tailback Rodney Stewart. Undermanned and overmatched, it will be tough for Colorado to pull out a win.

X-FACTOR: Injuries on both sides will be a factor. Backup quarterback Bryan Bennett looked efficient running the Oregon offense after coming on in relief for Thomas but is still young and going on the road for the first time. Colorado quarterback Tyler Hansen will be without his top rushing threat and might not have his top receiver for the third straight game. It still looks like this will be a comfortable Oregon victory but you never know how some players will adjust to increased playing time.
Posted on: October 18, 2011 11:32 am
 

Keys to the Game: Notre Dame vs. USC

Posted by Tom Fornelli

NOTRE DAME WILL WIN IF: See if you notice a trend here. In Notre Dame's two losses to start the season, it turned the ball over 10 times. In the four victories since, the Irish have turned the ball over 5 times, including none in the last two games. You think it's a coincidence that the Irish have won those games? I don't. In USC, the Irish will be facing a defense that has forced 10 turnovers on the season and is giving up 23.5 points per game, but gave up 43 points to Arizona State and 41 to Arizona. The Irish offense may be stronger than both of those teams, and as long as Tommy Rees can continue to take care of the football, the Irish should find plenty of success on offense and knock off their hated rivals.

USC WILL WIN IF: The Trojans offense has not been fantastic this season and it's facing a Notre Dame defense that, aside from a couple meaningless fourth quarter touchdowns by Air Force last week, has been very strong over the last month. Much like Notre Dame needs to do, Matt Barkley and the USC offense will have to take care of the ball and use a balanced attack to move the ball down the field and keep Notre Dame's offense off the field. Opposing quarterbacks have completed less than 60% of the passes against the Notre Dame defense, but that unit has also allowed 10 touchdowns through the air and 225 yards per game. So the opportunities will be there for Barkley and Robert Woods, they just need to take advantage of them.

X-FACTOR: Curtis McNeal. While nothing is official yet, after suffering a shoulder injury last weekend, USC's leading rusher Marc Tyler isn't expected to play in this game. Which means McNeal will take over the starting role. He's not as big as Tyler, and while Notre Dame's run defense has been very tough this season, it did give up over 6 yards per carry against Air Force last week. If McNeal can find that kind of room this week and give USC more balance on offense, then the Trojans just might leave South Bend with a victory. 
Posted on: October 18, 2011 11:10 am
 

Keys to the Game: Missouri vs. Oklahoma State

Posted by Tom Fornelli

MISSOURI WILL WIN IF: Missouri needs to find consistency on offense. The good news is that against Iowa State, James Franklin had his best game of the season as he completed 71% of his passes and accounted for 373 total yards and 5 touchdowns. The problem is he also threw 2 interceptions, and against an offense as potent as Oklahoma State, you cannot afford to turn the ball over. Against this Oklahoma State defense, Franklin and running back Henry Josey should find plenty of room to work. However, the Missouri defense, which has been pretty good so far this season, faces its toughest test of the year and must find a way to create turnovers of its own and slow down one of the most potent offenses in the country. I just don't think Missouri can go touchdown for touchdown against this Oklahoma State team and expect to win.

OKLAHOMA STATE WILL WIN IF: Only the Oklahoma defense has given up less yards per game than the Missouri defense in the Big 12, so this will be the toughest test that Brandon Weeden and company have faced this year. Still, there's plenty of reason to believe Weeden will be successful on Saturday. The Missouri secondary has picked off 6 passes compared to the 7 touchdowns it has surrendered through the air, but it has only tallied 14 sacks on the season. Which means Weeden will get time to throw the ball, and when you give Brandon Weeden time, with this offense and his weapons, he can pick you apart. So if the Cowboys offensive line can keep Weeden on his feet, then Oklahoma State should emerge victorious.

X-FACTOR: Brad Madison and Jacquies Smith. These are Missouri's two defensive ends, and so far this season the duo has combined for 5 1/2 sacks. As I said above, both of these players will have to add to those totals against Oklahoma State in order for Missouri to win. If they can get consistent pressure on Brandon Weeden and force him into some throws he doesn't want to make, it could lead to key turnovers that will give Missouri a chance to win. 
Posted on: October 18, 2011 10:47 am
Edited on: October 18, 2011 10:48 am
 

Keys to the Game: Oklahoma vs. Texas Tech

Posted by Tom Fornelli

OKLAHOMA WILL WIN IF: Oklahoma is the better team and it's at home, so as long as the Sooners can play solid football and avoid turnovers, they should win this game. Texas Tech's defense has been giving up points in bunches the last two weeks against Texas A&M and Kansas State, so Landry Jones should be able to put up some pretty good numbers on Saturday. The key to this game, though, will be Oklahoma's defense. The Texas Tech offense has been able to put points on the board as well, so getting to Seth Doege and slowing down the Raiders passing game will go a long way toward a victory for Oklahoma.

TEXAS TECH WILL WIN IF: The biggest killer for Texas Tech in its loss against Kansas State was turnovers. Tech turned the ball over four times in a seven-point loss, including turnovers on three straight possessions in the fourth quarter. Those turnovers loomed large in what was only a seven-point loss. So if Seth Doege and the Texas Tech offense can keep possession of the ball, it should keep the Red Raiders in the game. If a Tech defense that's allowing 40 points a game in Big 12 play can find a way to slow down the Sooners offense, then the Raiders can pull off the upset.

X-FACTOR: DeAndre Washington and Aaron Crawford. I have a feeling that in order for Texas Tech to win this game, it will have to do so in a shootout. In order to do that, both Washington and Crawford will have to step up and have a big game on the ground. Oklahoma's secondary and pass rush is just too good to expect Seth Doege to continually drop back and find consistent success, so if the Tech running game can keep the offense more balanced, then Texas Tech's chances only increase.
Posted on: October 12, 2011 5:09 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Ohio State at Illinois

Posted by Adam Jacobi

OHIO STATE WILL WIN IF: It wins the battle of the trenches. Illinois can move the ball pretty well, and its defensive front seven pretty much ripped Brock Osweiler to shreds when Arizona State came to Champaign in September. That said, Ohio State is supposed to be able to win these types of battles, especially with all-conference linemen like Mike Brewster and Mike Adams up front on offense. So if the OSU rushing attack can push the point of attack 1-2 yards forward on a consistent basis, the stable of Buckeye tailbacks should be able to generate yardage, drives, and points.

ILLINOIS WILL WIN IF: The offense can get A.J. Jenkins free early and often. Ohio State is going to present the toughest challenge the Illinois offense has faced to date, and the running lanes the Illini have gotten thus far in the year won't be quite as wide open on Saturday. Thus, it's going to be imperative that the Illinois downfield passing game gets going, and in case you hadn't noticed, A.J. Jenkins is basically Illinois' entire downfield passing game. That singularity of talent has hardly been a detriment thus far, as Jenkins has an obscene 450 yards receiving in his two Big Ten games this year, but if he gets bottled up Illinois is probably in for a long afternoon. 

X-FACTOR: This is more like the Brax-Factor (actually, let's not call him that ever), as Braxton Miller's ankle is undoubtedly still sore from the injury that took him out of last week's loss at Nebraska. Miller's primary strength is his ability to run the ball, both on designed runs and on scrambles, so if his mobility is limited and he's primarily a pocket passer, that bodes extremely well for the Illini.

Miller's young enough that his read progression is basically Primary Receiver, then Scramble, and maybe a Secondary Receiver between the two if Bo Pelini's feeling optimistic. That's usually not a bad thing, because Miller on the move is generally a net positive for the Buckeye offense, but if he can't get moving as easily, then we're looking at a situation not unlike Nebraska's struggles in 2010 when Taylor Martinez was hampered by lingering ankle problems and was forced to rely on his arm more often. There lay pain for the Huskers, and if Miller's hobbled, there lies trouble for OSU on Sunday.
Posted on: October 11, 2011 2:13 pm
Edited on: October 12, 2011 5:12 pm
 

Week 7 Keys to the Game Roundup

Posted by Eye on College Football staff

Here are the keys to victory for this week's best games. Oklahoma State at Texas should be a high-scoring affair, and we're looking forward to seeing top-ranked LSU head to Neyland Stadium to take on Tennessee. All links open in a new window/tab. 

Chip Patterson

Clemson at Maryland
Virginia Tech at Wake Forest

Adam Jacobi

Indiana at Wisconsin
Michigan at Michigan State
Ohio State
at Illinois

Tom Fornelli

Oklahoma at Kansas
Oklahoma State at Texas
Baylor at Texas A&M

Bryan Fischer

Stanford at Washington State
Arizona State at Oregon

Jerry Hinnen

LSU at Tennessee
Alabama at Ole Miss
Florida at Auburn


Posted on: October 11, 2011 1:01 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Michigan at Michigan State

Posted by Adam Jacobi

MICHIGAN WILL WIN IF: Bad Denard doesn't show up very often. Denard Robinson is almost literally the entire Michigan offense, routinely throwing for 300 yards and rushing for 100 more on any given week. He's also prone to bad throws, as his three interceptions against Northwestern -- all in Wildcat territory, sometimes inside the 10-yard line -- will attest. Bad Denard was also there for the first three quarters of the Notre Dame game, and Michigan found itself in a major hole until Good Denard led that incredible comeback. So if Good Denard is under center for Michigan, the Wolverines will likely move the ball at will, and when that happens, touchdowns and victories are sure to follow.

MICHIGAN STATE WILL WIN IF: The rushing game regains its resolve. One of the most shocking games in the Big Ten this year continues to be Michigan State's 31-13 loss to Notre Dame, in which the Spartans were so ineffective rushing the ball that they abandoned the ground game and left the offense to Kirk Cousins. Not a bad guy to depend on, as quarterbacks go, but the end result was still 13 points and a big fat L. Michigan's defense has bowed up this season, in sharp contrast to the sieve it resembled over the last three years, but if Michigan State wants vaunted tailbacks Edwin Baker and LeVeon Bell to be respected, it will have to impose its will on the Wolverines' front seven. That's a tough task, but it's not impossible.

X-FACTOR: This is a rivalry that used to basically belong to the Wolverines, much to the chagrin of the Spartan faithful in East Lansing. That balance of power has shifted over the past few years, as Michigan State has won three straight against Michigan -- including two games at the Big House. If the Spartans can make it four straight, there'll be a very happy class of seniors this year in East Lansing, and some very embarrassed graduates in Ann Arbor. Rivalries are intense, and mental aspects like that are extremely important to them. It'll be interesting to see whose pride shines through more this weekend.
Posted on: October 11, 2011 12:55 pm
Edited on: October 11, 2011 1:45 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Florida at Auburn

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

FLORIDA WILL WIN IF: their young secondary can continue to make Auburn's suddenly woebegone passing game as inefficient as it's been the past few weeks. The Tigers ran for 290 yards against Arkansas and it still didn't keep them within three touchdowns of the Razorbacks, thanks to a passing game that completed just 9-of-25 attempts and threw three interceptions without a touchdown. But Barrett Trotter has been much more comfortable at home than on the road -- his QB rating of 160.71 at Jordan-Hare Stadium dwarfs his 88.88 rating elsewhere, albeit against substantially lesser competition -- and the Gators didn't respond well to their first road test last week, allowing LSU quarterbacks to complete 10 of 14 passes for a whopping 15.4 yards an attempt and two scores. Despite starting a true freshman at both corner and safety (and a true sophomore, Matt Elam, at the other safety position), the Gator secondary showed in effective performances against Tennessee and Alabama that they have the potential to keep Trotter and Co. on continued lockdown--if they bounce back from their outing in Baton Rouge and do, Auburn will have a difficult time putting points on the board no matter how well they run.

AUBURN WILL WIN IF: they can keep Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey under wraps. Easier said than done, of course, and as Joe Adams' 93-yard touchdown run for Arkansas showed, the Tigers remain highly vulnerable to giving up the big play on the ground to quick, elusive runners ... like, say, Demps and Rainey. But after some early-season difficulties, the Tiger run defense has improved to the point of adequacy the past two weeks; remove Adams' 93 yards from the equation, and Auburn allowed a combined 3.59 yards per-carry against the Razorbacks and South Carolina. Numbers anything close to that mark will mean Auburn will have shifted a big chunk of the offensive burden
to Jacoby Brissett (or, possibly, Jeff Driskel); judging by the LSU game, that's a burden Brissett isn't yet ready to carry.

THE X-FACTOR: Night games against Florida -- a traditional rival of the Tigers, who thanks to the divisional split now visits only rarely -- have been known to bring out the best (read: loudest, rowdiest) in the Jordan-Hare crowd, as evidenced by the Gators' last visit: 2006, when the cauldron of noise helped Tommy Tuberville engineer an upset of the then No. 1 team in the nation (and the only defeat suffered that season by Urban Meyer's eventual national champions). If a hot Auburn start can get its fans past last week's disappointment and back into the full voice of that 2006 victory, it remains to be seen how the inexperienced Gators will react.

 
 
 
 
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