Tag:Keys To The Game
Posted on: October 11, 2011 12:15 pm
Edited on: October 11, 2011 1:46 pm
 

Keys to the game: Arizona State at Oregon

Posted by Bryan Fischer

ARIZONA STATE WILL WIN IF: They continue to force turnovers and take advantage of a short field. At one point in their game against Utah last week, the defense forced three straight turnovers and the offense responded by rattling off 18 points to put the game away. The Sun Devils have playmakers that can move the ball down the field and Brock Osweiler has been very solid as a starter this season. If they can force Oregon to be one-dimensional on offense and throw the ball, some pressure from Vontaze Burfict could create some turnovers and the biggest win Dennis Erickson will have during his time in Tempe.

OREGON WILL WIN IF: They're still the conference king until knocked off their perch so the high-flying Ducks offense will continue to put up points. They're not as good as they were last year on defense and will likely be missing star running back LaMichael James. Kenjon Barner and freshman DeAnthony Thomas are able replacements for him but more of the load for this primetime match up will be placed on the shoulders of quarterback Darron Thomas. The atmosphere at Autzen at night should be a big advantage with plenty of fans yelling at one of college football's loudest stadiums.

THE X-FACTOR: Turnovers. Oregon has only recovered one fumble this season while Arizona State has eight. The story is much the same in the interception department. If the Sun Devils can force a turnover early and capitalize by scoring a touchdown, they could take the crowd out of the game and build on that momentum. Likewise, if it happens the other way - say Cameron Marshall puts it on the turf - that could be a back-breaker for the road team. 

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Posted on: October 11, 2011 12:07 pm
Edited on: October 11, 2011 1:47 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Alabama at Ole Miss

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

ALABAMA WILL WIN IF: a meteor fails to strike the Crimson Tide sideline midgame. And even that might not do it: you'd have to take into account the size of the meteor, the ratio of starters to second- and third-stringers struck down, whether Nick Saban was still ambulatory, etc. Because when Ole Miss's own coach is nearly begging for mercy from the Tide weeks before the game, you know it's a mismatch. And so this one is, as anyone who watched the Rebels' 30-7 loss to Vanderbilt and the Tide's 34-0 win over that same Commodore team knows. As long as Alabama can avoid a sudden, freakish storm of turnovers and special teams mistakes -- and keep quarterback Randall Mackey from improvising a big play here or there -- the Tide will come out of Oxford safe and sound.

OLE MISS WILL WIN IF: their engineering department has figured out a way to arrange for a meteor strike through, like, magnets or something. But, fine, if we're going to approach it seriously, whatever slim-to-none chances of victory the Rebels have rest on their improved defense making Alabama work for their points and possibly pulling out a game-changing turnover here or there. While the Tide have come by their four-yards-and-a-cloud of dust reputation honestly, the 2011 version has also proven surprisingly explosive, as Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy have shown the ability to take it the distance from any point on the field, AJ McCarron has shown impressive downfield touch, and Marquis Maze has become a lethal special teams weapon in the return game. If the Rebels want to stay close, they have to at least force the Tide to drive the field--and hope that somewhere along the way, McCarron makes the kind of killer mistake he's avoided thus far this season.

THE X-FACTOR: Meteors. Or Maze, whose dynamic returns have meant that Alabama isn't just brutally efficient on offense and all-out ruthless on defense--they're probably better than you at special teams, too.

Posted on: October 11, 2011 12:06 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Indiana at Wisconsin

Posted by Adam Jacobi

INDIANA WILL WIN IF: At least 20 players for Wisconsin somehow get lost on the way to the stadium. Indiana simply doesn't have the talent to line up across from Wisconsin and compete on an equal playing field. When the Hoosiers went to Wisconsin last year, they came home with an 83-20 loss to show for it. The scary thing is, with Russell Wilson at the helm, this Badger offense might be even better than it was last year. So whatcha gonna do, Hoosiers, when Russellmania runs wild on you?

WISCONSIN WILL WIN IF: Nothing goes horribly, horribly wrong. Wisconsin is favored by about 40 points in this contest, and if last year is any indication, that's probably too low. Indiana has a little bit of feistiness to it this season -- the Hoosiers led Illinois 10-0 last week before succumbing 41-20 -- but the talent just isn't there in Bloomington yet, so Wisconsin just has to go out, do what it wants to do on offense and defense, and come away with an easy victory.

X-FACTOR: Injuries. For as heavily as Wisconsin is favored and for as likely as the Badgers to win, the game still needs to be played, and over the course of 60 minutes, someone's probably going to go down with an injury. If Wisconsin's key contributors all come out of the game reasonably healthy, then the Badgers will have exactly what they want out of the game: one more victory and one more step toward the Big Ten Championship.

As for Indiana, this game's probably going to be an opportunity to get a lot of young players on the field by the time the fourth quarter rolls around and give them some valuable experience against what'll probably be the best offense they're ever going to face during their time with the Hoosiers. Again, you hope as many guys stay healthy as possible, you put in your work, and you look forward to the next game. 

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Posted on: October 11, 2011 11:55 am
Edited on: October 11, 2011 1:48 pm
 

Keys to the game: Stanford at Washington State

Posted by Bryan Fischer

STANFORD WILL WIN IF: They come out and execute like they have been for the past several years. They have the country's best quarterback in Andrew Luck and the conference's toughest defense (just 10.6 points per game allowed) so this should be a relatively easy road trip for the Cardinal. Head coach David Shaw will likely want to establish the running game this week after tilting heavily in favor of the pass last week against Colorado. The question probably isn't if Stanford will win, but by how much.

WASHINGTON STATE WILL WIN IF: If they force turnovers. A lot of turnovers. The Cougars are an improved squad with a good offense but they are not close to an elite, top 10 team like Stanford. Anything could happen up in the Palouse but there will have to be a few breaks for Paul Wulff's squad. Marshall Lobbestael is in-line to get another start unless former starter Jeff Tuel is healthy enough to take over. The offensive line will have their hands full with a Cardinal defense that leads the Pac-12 in sacks at nearly three per game.

X-FACTOR: Andrew Luck getting hurt. And even then, that might not be enough for Washington State to pull off the big upset. Stanford is looking for some style points after slipping in the polls to Wisconsin and would like to push the margin of victory up. The Cardinal trailed off in the second half last year and didn't blowout the Cougs at home so staying healthy and pulling away are two priorities this week.
Posted on: October 11, 2011 11:45 am
 

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

Posted by Tom Fornelli

BAYLOR WILL WIN IF: It continues to use a more balanced approach on offense. There's not much more fun that can be had while watching college football than watching Robert Griffin drop back and wing the football all over the field to guys like Kendall Wright and Tevin Reese, but it may be the running game that is most important for Baylor. Simply put, the Baylor defense is not very good, as it is giving up nearly 30 points per game. Facing a Texas A&M defense that is giving up 347.6 yards per game through the air may be very enticing for Baylor this week, but it needs to keep feeding the ball to Terrence Ganaway. This Texas A&M offense is pretty good too, and can hang with Baylor point for point if it has to. The best way to keep that from happening is to keep it off the field. If Baylor goes for the quick strikes, odds are Texas A&M will answer back, and while that will make for a fantastic game to watch, it might not lead to a victory for the Bears.

TEXAS A&M WILL WIN IF: It keeps the Baylor offense off of the field. Texas A&M will be able to put up points on this Baylor defense, but it probably doesn't want to get involved in an old fashioned shootout. With two backs like Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael, along with Ryan Tannehill's ability to tuck the ball and run, there's no reason the Aggies can't dominate the time of possession in this game. So Mike Sherman and the Aggies should use Gray and Michael to sustain long scoring drives and keep Robert Griffin off the field as much as possible. Yes, this is a team that can score 48-50 points if it has to, but it will probably be better served scoring somewhere between 35-40 and keeping its defense rested and ready to get after Griffin.

X-FACTOR: Coryell Judie and Terrence Frederick. The Texas A&M secondary has been torched so far this season, and if that's going to stop anytime soon it will be on the shoulders of Judie and Frederick. Both corners will have their hands full with Kendall Wright on Saturday in Waco, but if they can keep him in check and limit the big plays, then there's no reason that Texas A&M shouldn't go home with a win. 
Posted on: October 11, 2011 11:35 am
Edited on: October 11, 2011 11:36 am
 

Keys to the Game: LSU at Tennessee

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

LSU WILL WIN IF: They do anything other than take careful aim at their own foot and blow it off. We've seen enough of both of these teams by now to know that down-to-down, play-to-play, drive-to-drive, the Tigers are the far superior team--especially considering the gigantic advantage LSU has in the running department, where Tennessee is the only team in the SEC averaging less than 100 yards per game. The only way LSU loses to the Vols is if the game becomes less about who's winning the down-to-down battle and more about who's capitalizing on the big play. The Bayou Bengals have made an art out of being that team under Les Miles, but all the same, if the Tigers blow a coverage for a long touchdown against Matt Simms ... if they allow a long return to dynamic Vol freshman Devrin Young ... if Jarrett Lee's old pick-six demons suddenly return to haunt him ... if those kinds of plays bring what could be an unhappy and dormant Neyland Stadium crowd to life ... the Vols could make this a game.

Unfortunately for the Vols, though, if LSU doesn't suffer any self-inflicted wounds, their advantages on both lines-of-scrimmage are such that they may not suffer any wounds at all.

TENNESSEE WILL WIN IF: Well, the aforementioned disaster scenario taking place on LSU's side of things would help immensely. But even in that case, the Vols will need something from their offense to actually pull out a victory. And with Simms in for the injured Tyler Bray, that means offensive coordinator Jim Chaney will have to find some way of snapping the Volunteer running game out of its current stupor. In the Vols two SEC games to date, Chaney's unit has totaled -- this is not a misprint -- minus-29 rushing yards. LSU's hardly the opponent you want to face when trying to fix that kind of problem, but the Vols don't have a choice: either get some measure of push up front, or watch the Tigers swallow your backup quarterback whole. Just ask Florida.

THE X-FACTOR: The echoes of last season. If there's one team the Vols might be irrationally confident about facing, even after last week's dud against Georgia, it's LSU. Despite entering that 2010 game as underdogs nearly as big as they are this year, Tennessee famously had Miles's team beaten until a replay review showed that the Vols had 13 players on the field for the game's chaotic final play--necessitating one more final play, on which the Tigers scored. If Derek Dooley can seize on that performance as reason to believe his Vols can play with the nation's No. 1 team -- and can get some early success to convince the crowd of the same -- they might just do it.

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Posted on: October 11, 2011 11:26 am
 

Keys to the Game: Texas vs. Oklahoma State

Posted by Tom Fornelli

TEXAS WILL WIN IF: The Longhorns can find some consistency between Case McCoy and David Ash, and do not abandon the run game. Texas had trouble against the Oklahoma defense on Saturday, and the Oklahoma State defense is not the same defense. It will bend and break occasionally. Which means that Texas should give a heavy workload to both Malcolm Brown and Fozzy Whittaker on Saturday. Oklahoma State is only giving up 165.8 yards per game on the ground, but that's because opponents have been so far behind they couldn't run the ball. Not only could Texas find success running the ball against Oklahoma State, but most importantly, it will help keep that Oklahoma State offense off the field.

OKLAHOMA STATE WILL WIN IF: It can take advantage of a Texas secondary that finds itself rather thin these days. Considering that Oklahoma State is second in the nation in passing yards per game (431.2) and leading the nation in scoring (51.4 points per game), that ought to be music to the ears of quarterback Brandon Weeden. The Texas defense had been pretty good all season against the pass before Landry Jones threw for 367 yards and 3 touchdowns against it, and you can be sure that Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Todd Monken will be watching a lot of tape to see exactly how Oklahoma attacked it on Saturday and will look to do much of the same.

X-FACTOR: The Texas defensive line. With a thin secondary, the only way the Texas defense will be able to slow down the Oklahoma State offense is if it can get to Brandon Weeden consistently. Something that will not be easy considering the speed Oklahoma State moves at, as it can wear down a line. Still, in order for Texas to be successful on Saturday it's going to need big performances from Alex Okafor, Jackson Jeffcoat, Ashton Dorsey and Kheeston Randall
Posted on: October 11, 2011 11:06 am
Edited on: October 11, 2011 11:07 am
 

Keys to the Game: Kansas vs. Oklahoma

Posted by Tom Fornelli

KANSAS WILL WIN IF: The Sooners somehow get lost on their way to Lawrence and miss the game resulting in some kind of a forfeit. Barring that, it's not likely to happen. Still, if there's anyway that a Kansas defense that's allowing an NCAA-worst 49.4 points and 556 yards per game is going to slow down the Oklahoma offense, it will be by getting pressure on Landry Jones. The most trouble Oklahoma has had this season came on the road against Florida State, and it was because the Seminoles defensive line was in Jones' face all night long. The Jayhawks offense has been able to put points on the board this season, so if the defense can somehow find a way to get to Jones consistently, Kansas might have a shot.

OKLAHOMA WILL WIN IF: The Sooners just keep doing what they've been doing. This will be only the second time this season that Oklahoma has played a game outside of Norman that wasn't a neutral site, and Bob Stoops' teams have had trouble on the road the last few seasons. That being said, Oklahoma has a lot more talent on both sides of the ball than Kansas does, so as long as the Sooners take care of the ball there's really no reason that they should lose this game.

X-FACTOR: Most of the focus with Kansas this season has been how horrible the defense has been, and understandably so. What's been lost in the shuffle, however, has been the performance of quarterback Jordan Webb. Through five games Webb has completed nearly 70% of his passes for 11 touchdowns and 5 interceptions with a quarterback rating of 172.0, better than Kellen Moore's 171.6. If the Jayhawks can keep Webb on his feet, he could make enough plays to keep the Jayhawks in the game and possibly pull off one of the biggest upsets we'd see this season.
 
 
 
 
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