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Tag:Keys To Victory
Posted on: November 8, 2011 5:01 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Florida at South Carolina

Posted by Chip Patterson


SOUTH CAROLINA WILL WIN IF
: The offensive line can protect Conner Shaw and open up lanes for the rushing game. Just a week after running back Brandon Wilds exploded through Tennessee's defense for 137 yards, the freshman was a non-factor against Arkansas picking up just 21 yards on ten carries. Shaw was sacked five times by the Razorback defense and struggled to find his receivers in space. Florida's defense will be looking to pressure Shaw into making mistakes, and the offensive line needs to deliver one their best performances of the season to keep the Gamecocks in the hunt for back-to-back SEC East titles.

FLORIDA WILL WIN IF: They continue to limit the penalties and mental mistakes. The Gators have been one of the most penalized teams in the country this season, but they were only flagged three times in the 26-21 win over Vanderbilt. Penalties were a common thread in Florida's four-game losing streak, and the return of John Brantley combined with mistake-free (or closer to it) football finally helped Will Muschamp's squad snap the slide. The division battle with South Carolina promises to be fast and physical, and the Gators must get disciplined play on all sides of the ball to knock off No. 13 South Carolina and reach bowl eligibility.

X-FACTOR: Chris Rainey's health. Rainey's absence did play a part in Jeff Demps running for a career-high 158 yards against Vanderbilt, but the Gators are a better team with both weapons suited up and ready to play. Rainey is expected to return against South Carolina, but his effectiveness could end up being one of the deciding factors in the division battle.

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Posted on: November 8, 2011 2:17 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Alabama at Mississippi State

Posted by Chip Patterson

ALABAMA WILL WIN IF: They play anyone but their scout team? I imagine that Nick Saban has this Crimson Tide team ready to play at the highest level of execution following their overtime loss to LSU. Remember what Alabama did to Michigan State after Saban was upset with his team's focus during the regular season? I expect a similar result when they face Mississippi State on Saturday. Richardson will run like a man on fire and the defense will strive to shut out a reeling Bulldogs squad.

MISSISSIPPI STATE WILL WIN IF: Alabama has been shaken due to the loss. The Bulldogs will try to use the home field advantage at night as much as possible, but the ground attack of Chris Relf and Vick Ballard just doesn't look productive enough to take on a defense like the Tide. Their best chance to stun Alabama early is to try and force McCarron into making poor decisions and hope for an early turnover. Otherwise, it could be a long and painful night for the Bulldogs.

X-FACTOR: AJ McCarron. After struggling against LSU, I'm interested to see how the first-year starter bounces back against the Bulldogs. If the sophomore quarterback wants to keep his hold on the first-string job in the future, he will need to prove it in these last weeks of the season. Richardson and Lacy are probably enough for Alabama to win on Saturday, but a good performance from McCarron could lead to the domination Tide fans are hoping for.

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Posted on: November 8, 2011 2:14 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Wake Forest at Clemson

Posted by Chip Patterson

CLEMSON WILL WIN IF: The defense can play disciplined on the perimeter. Clemson's offense should be back on track with Andre Ellington back in the lineup, but Wake Forest has every ability to hang with the Tigers in the event of a shootout. Clemson's defense will be looking to rebound after the Georgia Tech loss, and the Demon Deacons present a similar threat with their spread misdirection attack. Wake uses several different screens and bubble plays to give playmakers like Chris Givens the space to break the big one. If the Tigers play disciplined and keep Wake Forest from hitting the home run the offense should be able to take care of the rest.

WAKE FOREST WILL WIN IF: The offense can sustain long scoring drives. Wake Forest's defense is undersized and outmatched against Chad Morris' high-powered attack, but Tanner Price can help neutralize that advantage by orchestrating long, time-consuming drives that end in touchdowns. Brandon Pendergrass and Josh Harris will need to find seams in defense on the ground to create offensive balance, but there are enough short yardage plays for the Demon Deacons to do some damage with proper execution.

X-FACTOR: Trick plays. Wake Forest has burned several opponents this year with halfback passes, wide receiver passes, reverses and flea flickers. Clemson has superior talent and athletes, but that does no good to defend a play you aren't prepared to face. The Tigers' defense must keep their head on a swivel at all times, and never let Givens or Campanaro get behind the safeties.

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Posted on: November 8, 2011 2:10 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech

Posted by Chip Patterson

VIRGINIA TECH WILL WIN IF: Logan Thomas can find a rhythm early against the Yellow Jackets. You figure that David Wilson will be able to get his usual 100+ yards on the ground, but games where Thomas has gotten hot have led to the most impressive Virginia Tech performances. Thomas' streakiness works in the opposite direction as well, and I expect Georgia Tech's defense to try and confuse the redshirt sophomore with different looks from the linebackers. The Hokies defense is banged up, but Bud Foster has had an extra week to prepare them for Paul Johnson's bruising flexbone option. If Virginia Tech's offense can counter the Jackets with their own ball-control ground game, they take away one of Georgia Tech's best weapons in the matchup.

GEORGIA TECH WILL WIN IF: They can jump out to an early lead on the Hokies. Virginia Tech has not been forced to mount a big comeback once this season, and if the Yellow Jackets can score early they will put Logan Thomas in an unfamiliar position. Rattling the first-year starter will be the responsibility of Al Groh's talented crop of linebackers, as they must contain him from getting streaky hot through the air while eliminating his options to run. The Hokies' defense is thin due to injury, so the more time of possession for Georgia Tech the better.

X-FACTOR: The Georgia Tech passing game. Tevin Washington made a difference in the Clemson victory with great reads and big plays on the ground. But the sophomore quarterback has still not regained his earlier season form through the air. If Washington's accuracy is off, Virginia Tech has the secondary that can make him pay. Led by Thorpe semifinalist Jayron Hosley, the defensive backs will be hawking every pass Washington attempts hoping to come up with a game-changing turnover.

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Posted on: November 1, 2011 12:43 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Army at Air Force

Posted by Chip Patterson

AIR FORCE WILL WIN IF: Air Force was able to bounce back from a three-game losing streak to finally notch their first conference win against New Mexico. The Falcons will be looking to capture their second-straight Commander-in-Chief's trophy with a victory over their rivals from West Point. Having defeated Navy in a 35-34 overtime thriller earlier in the season, their sixth-straight victory over Army would seal the 18th outright win in the annual battle between the service academies. The Falcons will need their patented option-rushing attack to help build a big lead early, as neither team has an offense that has shown the ability to mount a fast comeback. With starting quarterback Tim Jefferson's status still unknown, I expect senior running back Asher Clark to step up with an increased workload and production in the rivalry game. If the Falcons run their offense and avoid turnovers, they should emerge victorious again in their first home game since Oct. 13.

ARMY WILL WIN IF: Statistically Army's rushing attack puts up slightly better numbers than Air Force (Army leads the nation with 369.0 yards per game, Air Force is third with 326.88), but the Black Knights will find opportunity for victory if they can force the Falcons to turn the ball over. Air Force turned the ball over 8 times during their three-game slide in October, and it has been the one weakness to the Falcons' offensive attack all season. Army's secondary might find that opportunity through the air, where Air Force quarterbacks have thrown at least one interception in any game where more than 15 passes are attempted.

X-FACTOR: Health of Air Force starting quarterback Tim Jefferson. Jefferson left the Falcon's 42-0 victory over New Mexico with a reported injury to his nose. He was back on the practice field on Monday, but head coach Troy Calhoun did not offer any official comment on his status for Army. The good news for the Falcons was his backup, sophomore Conner Deitz, played exceptionally in his absence. Deitz entered the game and finished as the team's leading rusher with 87 yards on six carries - including a 39 yard touchdown rush to put Air Force up 35-0 before halftime.

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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.

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Posted on: October 11, 2011 10:34 am
 

Keys to the Game: Virginia Tech at Wake Forest

Posted by Chip Patterson

VIRGINIA TECH WILL WIN IF: Logan Thomas performs the way he did against Miami last Saturday. Thomas had struggled with inconsistencies so far in his first year as the Hokies' starter, but his showing against the Hurricanes as good as anyone could expect. The athletic sophomore completed 23 of 25 passes for 310 yards, three touchdowns, and the game-winning 19-yard touchdown run to seal the 38-35 Coastal Division victory. Running back David Wilson is a star, and the ACC's second-leading rusher is going to get his yards against most opponents. But Thomas' accuracy through the air now forces opponents to respect the passing game, which in turn also will open things up for Wilson to get even more yards.

WAKE FOREST WILL WIN IF: The Demon Deacons can get an effecting running game going against a thin Virginia Tech defensive front. The Hokies defense has been hit hard by injuries, particularly on the defensive line. It showed late in the game against Miami as Lamar Miller took over for the Hurricanes in the fourth quarter, collecting all 90 yards on the way to Miami's final touchdown. Wake Forest running back Josh Harris is fresh off a 100-yard performance against Florida State, and backup Brandon Pendergrass has been effective in short yardage situations. The Hokies back seven is well coached and will be less likely to bite on many of the trick plays, so a solid rushing attack will be needed to keep them honest.

X-FACTOR: The Virginia Tech defense and special teams failed to force a turnover against Miami on Saturday. It is the first time the Hokies have not done so in a game since Oct. 16 of last season. Interestingly enough, the opponent on that day was the Demon Deacons. Saturday also marked the end of a 12-game steak of intercepting the opposing quarterback. Thankfully Logan Thomas put together that memorable performance, and the Hokies were able to win on the final drive. With so much of Wake's offensive success relying on quarterback Tanner Price, getting an interception or two to kill drives and rattle the sophomore's confidence could go a long way in keeping the Hokies in the ACC title hunt.

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Posted on: October 11, 2011 10:05 am
 

Keys to the Game: Clemson at Maryland

Posted by Chip Patterson

CLEMSON WILL WIN IF: If the offensive line can keep Tajh Boyd upright and allow him to get comfortable, the Tigers should win against Maryland on Saturday night. They can expect that Maryland will try to bring pressure on Boyd, who suffered a strained hip last week in the win against Boston College. If the offensive line can keep Boyd from getting hit and open up seams for running back Andre Ellington, the Tigers should be able to wear down a Terps defense that has been banged up at key positions in recent weeks.

With Maryland's questions at the quarterback position, defensive end Andre Branch and the Tigers' pass rush should be ready to hunt as well. Clemson has recorded 17 tackles for loss in their last two victories against Virginia Tech and Boston College, after starting the season with just 12 total in their first four contests. The Tigers will need more pressure like this to rattle the Maryland quarterback - whoever ends up getting the nod.

MARYLAND WILL WIN IF: The Terrapins need to feed off of their home crowd and get a fast start, the same way they did in the season opener against Miami. This is Maryland's Homecoming weekend, and their first night game since that win over the Hurricanes. The defense has to create some turnovers to keep Clemson's offense from hitting a rhythm and taking the crowd out of the game early.  On paper a healthy Clemson team should run away with this game, so they'll need every extra boost they can get.  

Head coach Randy Edsall benched Danny O'Brien in the loss to Georgia Tech, allowing freshman C.J. Brown to step in for his first action of the season. Brown struggled to move the ball through the air, but racked up 124 yards rushing including a 77-yard run for a touchdown. We still don't know who will be under center against the Tigers, and probably won't until kickoff. All the more reason for the defense needs to create turnovers to set either quarterback up with a short field.

X-FACTOR: The health of starting quarterback Tajh Boyd. Watching the awkward way Boyd fell to the ground on the play he strained his hip, there was nervousness that he could miss significant time. However every report out of Clemson's camp has been positive, and head coach Dabo Swinney expects him to play against the Terps on Saturday. Backup quarterback Cole Stoudt was able to show the ability to manage the offense in the second half and close out Boston College, but four quarters against Maryland in Byrd Stadium under the lights will be a different challenge.

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