Tag:Michael Dyer
Posted on: November 22, 2011 5:46 pm
 

Keys to the game: Alabama at Auburn

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

ALABAMA WILL WIN IF:
they shut down Michael Dyer and the rest of the Auburn running game. Because the hard truth for the Tigers is that there's little-to-no reason to believe Clint Moseley and the Tiger passing game are going to get anything going against the Tide. Though Moseley has been a slight improvement on Barrett Trotter, neither QB has had much success against any SEC opponent not named Ole Miss--over those six games, Auburn's averaged just 131 yards per-game and 5.8 per attempt, and a 5-to-10 touchdown-to-interception ratio. And unfortunately for the Tigers, the Tide are as good-if-not-better than any of the teams they've faced yet, ranking No. 1 in the FBS in both straight pass defense and opponent's QB rating.

Dyer and the Tiger running game will pose a much more formidable challenge; the speedy Onterio McCalebb may be particularly troubling for the Tide, given their struggle to hold the edge against the option looks of LSU and even Georgia Southern. But if the Tide do keep the Auburn ground game in check, it's hard to see how the Tigers ever more the ball enough to pull out the win.

AUBURN WILL WIN IF: they get some help from AJ McCarron. In our "Keys to the Game" prior to the Tigers' contest against Georgia, we noted that Auburn had been oustanding vs. teams with questionable quarterbacking and terrible vs. teams with anyone decent under center. Aaron Murray? He was far better than decent (14-of-18, 12.4 YPA, 4 TDs) and Auburn was naturally shelled to the tune of 45 points and 528 total yards. Can McCarron reprise anything like Murray's domination? Certain early-season performances suggest he can, but the redshirt sophomore has been noticeably less effcient on the road (three non-Ole Miss games have yielded a combined 5.8 YPA and just one touchdown pass), and his past three SEC games anywhere have yielded just a 1-to-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

If McCarron is on his game, everything about the Tigers' season-to-date suggests they'll give up major yards and points. But that's a big if given the kind of environment McCarron will face and his erratic play of late.

THE X-FACTOR: the Jordan-Hare Stadium crowd. It's often said that a given football team is "a different team on the road" than at home, and that goes double for one as young as Auburn has been this season. That's how it's played out for Gene Chizik's team, which has dodged a few close scrapes (and played a couple of terrible teams) but nonetheless enters the Iron Bowl with a perfect 6-0 home record. It was just two years ago Alabama came to the Plains to face a 7-4 Tiger team with a national title game berth on the line, and left needing a last-minute touchdown and knocked-down Hail Mary to escape with the win. The Auburn team that's shown up for most of the season may not be quite as fierce as the one the Tide has to tangle with Saturday. 
Posted on: November 11, 2011 2:45 pm
 

The Saturday Meal Plan: Week 11

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The Saturday Meal Plan is a helpful guide put together for you to maximize the results of your college football diet.  Just enough to leave you feeling full, but not so much you spend your entire Sunday in the bathroom.

It's been one of the longest weeks that I can remember in the world of college football because of what has been going in in State College this week, and I don't know about you, but I could really use a day to just immerse myself in football games and nothing else at this point.

So, thankfully, we've got a pretty decent slate of games on tap this weekend, though the schedule does get a bit thin toward the end of the day.

BREAKFAST

Texas Tech vs. #2 Oklahoma State - ABC, 12pm ET

Texas Tech has already spoiled the party for Oklahoma this season, and now it will be looking to finish off another Oklahoma school with BCS championship dreams. Of course, considering the way that Texas Tech has looked the last two weeks since that Oklahoma win, a victory against Oklahoma State in this one might be even more of a shocker. - Tom Fornelli

#13 South Carolina vs. Florida - CBS, 12pm ET

Steve Spurrier facing the program built by Steve Spurrier is always a headline-maker, but the bigger story is whether the Gamecocks can stay afloat in the SEC East title race. As in command as Georgia appears to be, a Carolina win over the Gators paired with an Auburn win over the Dawgs would have the East crown clinched for the Gamecocks by the end of the day. Florida may have something to say about that, though, after their previously moribund offense came to life with 410 total yards and 26 points vs. Vandy. - Jerry Hinnen

Iowa vs. #17 Michigan State - ESPN2, 12pm ET

There are approximately three games left (barring disastrous upsets) that will decide the Big Ten Legends Division race. This is one of them. Iowa, even with three losses, still controls its own destiny in the race, and has been undefeated at home. Meanwhile, Michigan State is the putative leader of the division, and a win here puts the Spartans in great shape to make it to Indianapolis in December. MSU hasn't been able to run on anybody, and Iowa hasn't been able to stop anybody on the ground. Something's gotta give. - Adam Jacobi

LUNCH

#5 Boise State vs. TCU - Versus, 3:30pm ET

Here it is, Boise State's Mountain West Super Bowl. With no conference championship, and a soft finish to the regular season schedule, this is the Broncos last chance to make a statement against an opponent with any national recognition.  The Horned Frogs aren't the power they have been the last two seasons, but they definitely present the most difficult challenge to Boise State in the conference.  Bad news for TCU though, the defense that is giving up 200+ yards per game through the air has to face Kellen Moore on the Smurf Turf.  I expect Moore and Co. to take the opportunity to make a statement to the nation, so get the scoreboard warmed up now. - Chip Patterson

#14 Kansas State vs. Texas A&M - ABC, 3:30pm ET

If last week was any indication, we were all a bit early in writing off Kansas State following it's loss to Oklahoma. The Wildcats nearly put an end to Oklahoma State's BCS hopes last weekend, and they will be looking to put another nail in the coffin of Texas A&M this weekend. The Aggies have lost two in a row coming into this game, and lost running back Christine Michael for the season last week. Will the A&M offense be capable of making up for his absence? Also, will it even matter if Collin Klein has another amazing game for the Wildcats? - TF

#15 Georgia vs. #20 Auburn - CBS, 3:30pm ET

Can Mark Richt's team handle the pressure? Win this game, and the Bulldogs will be one home gimme over Kentucky from their first trip to the SEC Championship game since 2005--the sort of stakes under which Richt's team has repeatedly shriveled in those five preceding years. If Aaron Murray plays his game, the Dawg defense forces Clint Moseley to look like the sophomore making a third career start he is, and Isaiah Crowell can find a hole or two, Georgia should be home and dry. But if they don't? The Tigers showed against Carolina and Florida that they're perfectly happy dragging opposing pro-style offenses into a low-scoring slugfest where Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb dominate things ... and the Tigers win. - JH

Florida State vs. Miami - ABC/ESPN, 3:30pm ET

The in-state rivalry enters a new chapter with both Miami and Florida State making coaching changes in the last two seasons.  With EJ Manuel healthy again, the Seminoles are on a four-game winning streak averaging 38.5 points per game.  They are likely out of the ACC Atlantic race, but there is still plenty to play for for these two Florida programs.  Players from both locker rooms have made a point to mention this game meaning a little more, as you can feel the intensity returning to the rivalry.  High profile recruits will be in the house, bragging rights will be on the line, and the Hurricanes are no doubt looking to get revenge after last season's embarrassing 45-17 loss at home. - CP

USC vs. Washington - FX, 3:45pm ET

Although USC can't play in a Pac-12 Championship game this season, it would still like to show the rest of the conference that it's the best team in the Pac-12 South this season, and if it continues to play like it has been the last few weeks, then Washington may be in for a long day. Of course, on the other side of the field is a Washington team that is improving but still doesn't have that signature win under Steve Sarkisian. Going to The Coliseum and handing USC a loss would be just that. - TF

Illinois vs. #24 Michigan - ABC/ESPN, 3:30pm ET


The last two times these teams squared off, the final score was a 67-65 3OT masterpiece in Michigan's favor. We might not see 132 total points scored (or even 100; quelle horreur!), as both defenses have been miles ahead of last year. That said, both teams' exciting quarterbacks are back and putting up solid numbers, and each squad should be extremely motivated to snap a losing streak with a big victory. Folks, it's Denard vs. Scheelhaase; why wouldn't you watch this game? - AJ

DINNER

Maryland vs. Notre Dame - NBC, 7:30pm ET

Do you ever think to yourself that you hate your eyes? Well, if so, then this will be the game for you. Maryland will be breaking out the infamous uniforms we saw in their season opener against Miami earlier this year, and they'll be combined with Notre Dame's Trapper Keeper helmets. By the time the third quarter begins you'll feel like you've been trapped inside a Jackson Pollock painting. - TF

Mississippi State vs. #3 Alabama - ESPN, 7:45pm ET

Oh, Bulldogs, you did not pick the right time to face Alabama. Not that it likely would have any difference--since back-to-back shockers over the Tide in 2006 and 2007, State has lost three straight to Nick Saban's team by a combined score of 93-20. But catching Alabama the week after the wicked sting of losing to LSU won't do much for their chances. Unless Chris Relf and Tyler Russell took some seriously ginormous strides during last week's clobbering of FCS UT-Martin, it's doubtful a Bulldog offense that's had its share of troubles this season will find many solutions against the angry Tide. - JH

#4 Stanford vs. #7 Oregon - ABC, 8pm ET

The Game of the Century may have been in Tuscaloosa this past weekend but the Game of the Century, Western edition will take place Saturday in Palo Alto as Oregon puts their 18 game conference streak against Stanford's nation-leading 17 game winning streak. This was a close game last season before the Ducks pulled away late, something Andrew Luck and company are intent on correcting in order to come out of the game with a win and their national title hopes alive. - Bryan Fischer

LATE NIGHT SNACK

Washington State vs. Arizona State - Versus, 10:30pm ET

Both teams are looking to make a statement and pick up a win but more is on the line for Arizona State after losing control of the Pac-12 South after last week's loss to UCLA. The Cougars are improved but will have to deal with Vontaze Burfict on defense and an offense with plenty of weapons to contain. - BF 
Posted on: October 14, 2011 3:38 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2011 3:40 pm
 

The Saturday Meal Plan: Week 7

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The Saturday Meal Plan is a helpful guide put together for you to maximize the results of your college football diet.  Just enough to leave you feeling full, but not so much you spend your entire Sunday in the bathroom. 

This week we're offering a menu that is a bit low on carbs. It's not that we don't have plenty of interesting choices to offer you this weekend, but there isn't exactly a must-have on the list. Which I suppose is a good thing considering all the big meals we've all been ingesting the last few weeks and the pounds they've packed on, we could all afford to eat a bit more salad this weekend.

BREAKFAST

#23 Michigan State vs. #11 Michigan - ESPN 12pm ET

This game has it all: rivalry, firepower, and consequence. Michigan State is looking to continue its reign in this series, having won the last 3 in the series. Michigan will need to get Heisman candidate Denard Robinson rolling and light up the scoreboard; that hasn't been much of a problem for UM this year. At stake is probably the best shot at challenging Nebraska for the Legends Division crown; the loser, meanwhile, will need a lot of help in the race. - Adam Jacobi

#21 Texas A&M vs. #20 Baylor - FX 12pm ET

Robert Griffin is appointment television no matter who Baylor is playing, but considering that Texas A&M is statistically the worst passing defense in the country, this one could be really fun. Of course, Texas A&M isn't exactly a slouch either, as Ryan Tannehill, Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael have done a good job of covering up that secondary's mistakes on offense. This one could be a pretty nice shootout to start your day with. - Tom Fornelli

Mississippi State vs. #15 South Carolina - SEC Network 12:21pm ET

Is Connor Shaw for real or not? The Gamecocks' now-unquestioned starting quarterback looked the part against Kentucky, but a veteran Bulldog secondary playing at home in Starkville is a much tougher test. And if Tyler Russell's breakout second half against UAB was more than illusion, State could have put some of their offensive woes behind them as well. Whichever quarterback proves last week's performance wasn't a fluke should come away with the victory. - Jerry Hinnen

LUNCH

Tennessee vs. #1 LSU - CBS 3:30pm ET

For the second week in a row, the Tiger defense gets to face a backup quarterback making his first start of the season. The Vols' Matt Simms has a lot of advantages Florida's Jacoby Brissett didn't, though: he'll be at home; he's a senior who started eight games for Tennessee in 2010; and he saw the LSU defense up close and personal playing against them last year. Too bad the Vols don't have the running game to keep the Tigers from teeing off on Simms all the same. - JH

#22 Texas vs. #6 Oklahoma State - ABC/ESPN 3:30pm ET

Did you know that Mack Brown's Texas teams have never lost a game following the Red River Shootout? That record is likely going to be in serious jeopardy with the Oklahoma State offense coming to town, but if the Longhorns can manage to keep Brandon Weeden in check and pull off a win, it'd be a very large step in returning the program to where it once stood. Or you should watch just to see if Oklahoma State can finally hit the century mark. - TF

Virginia vs. #12 Georgia Tech - ESPNU 3:30pm ET

The last time Virginia took the field, they needed overtime to steal a 21-20 victory over Idaho.  With an off week to get healthy and prepare for the Yellow Jackets' option attack, the Cavs defense will try to live up to their 311.8 yards allowed per game (ranked third in the ACC).  Tech coach Paul Johnson criticized the decision making of quarterback Tevin Washington in last week's 21-16 win over Maryland, and cited a lack of "continuity" as a reason for their uncharacteristically low score.  Look for Georgia Tech to try and use this game to get their methodical attack back on track. It might be more than a young Virginia defense can handle, even with a week to prepare. - Chip Patterson

#16 Illinois vs. Ohio State - ABC/ESPN 3:30pm ET

The Illini look to continue their tear through a stunned and unsuspecting slate of opponents and run their record to 7-0. In Illinois' way is mighty Ohio State, who's got the talent to win the battle up front on both sides of the ball. If OSU doesn't have Braxton Miller at 100% after last week's ankle injury, though, can the vaunted Buckeye rushing attack pick up the slack and turn drives into touchdowns? - AJ

DINNER

Maryland vs. #8 Clemson - ESPNU 6:30pm ET

Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd wasn't wearing hip pads for "swag reasons."  Now he has to shed his hip fashion style in order to protect his strained hip against Maryland.  Boyd may have been carted off the field last week against Boston College, but he'll be lining up under center on Saturday night in Byrd Stadium.  Maryland, on the other hand, won't make a decision regarding their starting quarterback until game time.  Starter Danny O'Brien was benched in the 21-16 loss to Georgia Tech in favor of freshman C.J. Brown, who ran for 124 yards in just one half of action against the Yellow Jackets.  But Brown struggled throwing the ball, so it will be interesting to see what head coach Randy Edsall decides to do.  The last time Maryland played a primetime game at home, they wrapped themselves in the state flag and pulled out a victory.  Tune in to see what fashion statement they make this week. - CP 

#24 Auburn vs. Florida - ESPN 7pm ET

In a matchup of teams with passing games that will be lucky to reach "mediocre" -- the Gators thanks to John Brantley's injury, the Tigers due to Barrett Trotter's ongoing struggles -- the winner should prove to be whichever team can get their pair of star tailbacks on track. With Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey on one side and Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb on the other, backfield head-to-heads don't get a whole lot better than this. - JH

Washington State vs. #7 Stanford - FX 7:30pm ET

The Cardinal 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 showed they've got some fight in them last week before coming up short against UCLA. - Bryan Fischer

Kansas vs. #3 Oklahoma - ESPN 2 9:15pm ET

This is a pretty late start for a game that's being played in Kansas, but I have to believe it's some kind of strategy. Maybe the Jayhawks are hoping that by starting the game later, nobody will be watching the Sooners offense destroy a Kansas defense that has been shredded by everybody it's faced this season. This one likely won't be competitive for very long, but who knows? - TF

LATE NIGHT SNACK

#9 Oregon vs. #18 Arizona State - ESPN 10:15pm ET

They're still the conference king until knocked off their perch but Arizona State will present a stiff test for Oregon this weekend. The Ducks are not as good as they were last year on defense and will be missing star running back LaMichael James but Kenjon Barner and freshman DeAnthony Thomas are able replacements for him on offense. The atmosphere at Autzen at night should be a big advantage but expect a tough Sun Devils defense to force a few turnovers and make things interesting. - BF
Posted on: October 8, 2011 11:42 pm
Edited on: October 8, 2011 11:45 pm
 

QUICK HITS: No. 10 Arkansas 38, No. 15 Auburn 14

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

ARKANSAS WON: The Razorbacks spotted Auburn a 14-7 first-quarter lead but finished the game on a 31-0 run as the Tigers' passing attack continued to flail and the Hogs eventually caught up to Gus Malzahn's running game. While Auburn's quarterbacks combined for a 9-of-25, 4.2 yards-per-attempt, zero-touchdown, three-interception performance, Tyler Wilson was his usual steady self: 24-of-36, 262 yards, 7.3 YPA, two touchdowns, no picks. But the highlight reel play of the game belonged to wideout Joe Adams, who took a handoff and went 93 yards for a third-quarter touchdown, the second-longest run in Razorback history.

WHY ARKANSAS WON: It's not their run defense, that's for certain; a week after giving up 381 rushing yards to Texas A&M, the Hogs gave up 290 more to Auburn, with the Tigers' one-two punch of Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb combining for more than 200 yards alone.

But even one terrific dimension isn't usually enough to make up for the lack of a second, as Auburn found out when their offense ground to a halt over the course of the final three quarters. Arkansas, meanwhile, kept moving in large part due to their excellent balance: 7.3 yards averaged over their 36 passes, 5.7 yards on their 31 runs. Sure, many of those rushing yards came on Adams' 93-yard lightning bolt -- the game's pivotal play, taking the Hogs from up 7 and backed up deep in their own territory to two a clear two-touchdown lead -- but Dennis Johnson and Broderick Green ground out plenty enough yards themselves (89 combined on 28 carries) to keep Auburn honest.

Combine that balance with a precision red zone attack that scored 31 points on its final five attempts, and Bobby Petrino's attack finished the night as a model of efficiency--a (relatively light) 438 yards, but 38 points. Auburn's defense had a better day against the Hogs than it did a year ago (or than it did earlier this year vs. Clemson or Utah State), but it hasn't caught up with the likes of Petrino and Co. yet.

WHEN ARKANSAS WON: Auburn actually responded well to the Adams run, using an exchange of punts to flip field position and then driving to the Arkansas 23. But then Malzahn elected to let run-first true freshman Kiehl Frazier make a rare passing attempt ... which was promptly picked off by the Hogs' Eric Bennett. Auburn wouldn't come close to threatening again.

WHAT ARKANSAS WON: Technically speaking, The Hogs remained only a game back in the SEC West race. But more realistically, they reasserted themselves as the SEC's third-best team, stayed in the mix for a top-10 poll position in the near future, and remain cleanly in line for a Capital One Bowl berth. As ugly as that loss to Alabama might have been, Arkansas remains well on track for another superb season.

WHAT AUBURN LOST: A 5-1 start with two massive SEC road wins would have silenced Auburn's doubters for good; as it stands, the Tigers still have work to do if they want to come out of their brutal October slate any better than 4-4. Next week's home date with Florida could be a make-or-break game for both teams.



Posted on: October 7, 2011 2:38 pm
Edited on: October 7, 2011 2:41 pm
 

The Saturday Meal Plan: Week 6

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The Saturday Meal Plan is a helpful guide put together for you to maximize the results of your college football diet.  Just enough to leave you feeling full, but not so much you spend your entire Sunday in the bathroom. 

This is a bit of a bizarro week in your college football diet, as most of the big games on Saturday will be taking place earlier in the day while our nighttime offerings lack some of those bolder flavors we all love. But that's fine, because with some of the entrees you'll be served during the day, you might not have enough room for that 32-ounce steak once dinner comes around.

Though hopefully you have room for one of those steaks at breakfast.

BREAKFAST

#3 Oklahoma vs. #11 Texas - ABC 12pm ET

This is a pretty wonderful way to start the day, isn't it? There are a lot of great rivalries in the world of college football, and this one has to be considered one of the best. For years the winner of this game basically helped decide who was going to win the Big 12, and it will go a long way in deciding the conference champion again this year. Also, Texas finds itself ranked near the top ten once again after a terrible 2010 season, and while things seemed to have turned around in Austin, this game will be the first real indication of how far the Longhorns have come. - Tom Fornelli 

#13 Georgia Tech vs. Maryland - ESPNU 12pm ET

The Yellow Jackets keep scoring in bunches and riding their offense to methodical wins, while Maryland desperately is trying to put the pieces back together following a pair of home losses.  The Terps offense finally got back in a groove against Towson, particularly getting a boost from the return of wide receivers Quintin McCree and Ronnie Tyler.  Maryland's high-tempo offense must keep drives alive in order to give their defense time to rest on the sideline.  Additionally, the defense must get stops on third down or Georgia Tech will slowly wear down Maryland on both sides of the ball.  Let's casually call this one "The Friedgen Bowl" since former Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen said he "could care less about Maryland" and "is flying a Georgia Tech flag now." - Chip Patterson

North Carolina vs. Louisville - ESPN2 12pm ET

Louisville's offense is struggling, averaging less than 20 points per game and ranking dead last in the Big East.  The matchup against North Carolina's talented front seven will provide plenty of work for the Cardinals inexperienced offensive line.  Louisville's greatest strength on defense might be their secondary, but this Tar Heels team has become uncharacteristically run-heavy.  The emergence of Gio Bernard has changed the face of the offense, as the redshirt freshman will look to continue his streak of 100+ yard games to four.  Something that hasn't been done by a North Carolina running back since Ethan Horton in 1984. - CP

LUNCH

#1 LSU vs. #17 Florida - CBS 3:30pm ET

What happens when a Honey Badger smells blood? We may find out when Tyrann Mathieu and the rest of the LSU defense hosts a Gator attack missing John Brantley and still licking the wounds from its strangling at the hands of Alabama. Whatever hope Florida has will rest in their defense shutting down the Bayou Bengals' power-running game, but the return of the bruising Spencer Ware from a hamstring problem won't help them. - Jerry Hinnen [Video Preview]

#20 Kansas State vs. Missouri - ABC 3:30pm ET

Raise your hand if you thought before the season started that Kansas State and Missouri would be pegged as a game appearing on a national network during the middle of the season. Okay, now put your hand down, liar. Missouri has been a bit up and down this season as James Franklin has grown accustomed to filling Blaine Gabbert's shoes, and he doesn't have the easiest defense to go against this week. Then there's Kansas State which has caught just about all of us by surprise so far this year, as Bill Snyder has once again lifted this program back into Big 12 contention. - TF

#21 Virginia Tech vs. Miami - ABC/ESPN 3:30pm ET

Both of these teams need a win if they plan to contend with Georgia Tech for the Coastal Division title, but neither team has put together a truly impressive performance that makes me think they could.  It will be a chance for both teams to prove (to themselves, really) that they belong at the top of the ACC.  Miami has been wildly inconsistent on both sides of the ball this season, but get a huge boost with preseason all-conference safety Ray-Ray Armstrong returning from suspension.  The Hokies' offense will need more than David Wilson to beat the Canes, and that responsibility falls on quarterback Logan Thomas.  Thomas' development has taken longer than some expected, but this would be a great time for him to grow up and lead VT to a huge home win over their longtime rivals. - CP

Penn State vs. Iowa - ABC/ESPN 3:30pm ET

This has been a rather one-sided affair over the last decade or so, but give Iowa-PSU credit: the games are generally exciting, with six of the last 10 meetings featuring either single-score margins or a 4th quarter lead change. Expect more of the same this week, with Iowa bringing the conference's most prolific passing game (seriously) to town and Penn State hoping to turn their offensive fortunes around against a surprisingly green Hawkeye defense. - Adam Jacobi

DINNER

#10 Arkansas vs. #15 Auburn - ESPN 7pm ET

Last year's meeting produced an SEC regulation-time record 108 points, and judging by Tyler Wilson's 500-yard passing day last week (and Texas A&M's 381 yards rushing), Arkansas looks ready to do their part for a repeat performance. But this time, the Tigers have to hope their improving defense can keep them out of a shootout--a struggling passing game has Gus Malzahn's unit leaning heavily on Michael Dyer and ground-out first downs. - JH

Northwestern vs. #12 Michigan - Big Ten Network 7pm ET

If it weren't for that Russell Wilson fellow over in Madison, this game might feature the best two QBs in the conference, as Dan Persa leads the Northwestern charge against visiting Denard Robinson and the Wolverines. Persa shined in his first week back from that Achilles injury last year, but missed the last few minutes for precautionary reasons after an awkward tackle. Can Northwestern make headway against a newly re-energized Michigan defense, or will the Wolverines keep rolling along? - AJ

#7 Stanford vs. Colorado - Versus 7:30pm ET

Colorado isn't terribly good this season but the Buffaloes are rebuilding their program under new head coach Jon Embree and do have several weapons Stanford has to contain. The Buffs are 36th in passing offense and sophomore Paul Richardson is averaging 95 yards receiving a game. As always though, the reason to tune into this game is Heisman candidate Andrew Luck and a balanced attack that can beat you through the air or on the ground. Plus, you never know when something like this is going to happen and make you say wow. - Bryan Fischer

#14 Nebraska vs. Ohio State - ABC 8pm ET

Before this season, this game looked like the second half of a brutal conference opening for Nebraska. Wisconsin held up its end of the bargain last week by beating the Huskers 48-17, but Ohio State is hardly the challenge it used to be without Terrelle Pryor and a host of other stars. If Nebraska's going to show it belongs among the Big Ten elite, it has to bring the pain against a reeling OSU ballclub this week. - AJ

LATE NIGHT SNACK

BYU vs. San Jose State - ESPNU 10:15pm ET

Not exactly a marquee matchup, I know, but it's football and it's on your television. Plus, aside from getting pasted by Utah a few weeks ago, BYU hasn't played a game this season that didn't come down to the final minutes, so the possibility of some midnight HAM is totally in play here. - TF
Posted on: October 7, 2011 1:02 pm
 

Arkansas DE Jake Bequette to return vs. Auburn

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Though no one at Arkansas expected their defensive showing against Texas A&M to be quite the bloodbath it proved to be -- 628 total yards given up, 381 on the ground, even in the win -- the Razorbacks could at least comfort themselves with the fact that multiple key defenders were either banged-up or out completely. And with Auburn on deck for Saturday, they can now comfort themselves that one of those defenders is set to return at last.

Bobby Petrino confirmed Thursday night that All-SEC defensive end (and CBSSports.com College Football 100 member) Jake Bequette will play against the Tigers, ending a four-week absence following a hamstring injury suffered against New Mexico.

"He’s been in there and done a nice job," Petrino said of Bequette's week of practice. "He’ll be ready to go."

It's boost enough for the Razorbacks that Bequette is a decorated senior leader who led the team in sacks in 2010 and has long been one of the team's stouter defenders against the run. But there also might be no position where Arkansas needs the help more than at defensive end, where the Hogs' second projected starter, Tenarius Wright, is still recovering from a broken arm. With both Wright and Bequette out, the Hogs failed to record a single sack on 35 Texas A&M passing attempts and have just five for the season, tied for 98th in the FBS.

With Auburn certain to ride Michael Dyer on the ground and look for big plays down the field in the passing game -- the sort of plays a pass rush would help disrupt -- Bequette could be returning just in time.  With the senior on the field, if the Tigers gouge the Razorbacks in any similar fashion to the way the Aggies did, there's going to be even less comfort this time around.
Posted on: October 6, 2011 3:33 pm
 

SEC Interrogation, Week 6

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

In which we demand the SEC give us answers to its most pressing questions. Here those are:



Florida's running game: can you give your quarterback(s) any breathing room?
Any team that can start Chris Rainey or Jeff Demps at tailback and then substitute the other in for the first is going to be a threat on the ground, regardless of who their team faces; when the tiniest sliver of a crease could equal an 80-yard touchdown before the coaches have their headsets correctly adjusted, the Gator ground game is where a defense's focus is going to start ... and probably finish.

That probably goes double for LSU this Saturday, since with John Brantley out and some combination of true freshman Jeff Driskel and other true freshman Jacoby Brissett taking over at quarterback, the Gators' passing game is the most glaring of question marks. But it doesn't matter how badly the Tigers stack the box, how fearsome LSU's defensive front is, how well John Chavis has his charges prepared--Florida must find a way to get Demps, Rainey, and possibly Trey Burton moving forward on the ground. Even with Brantley looking as sharp as he ever has in the first half, the Gators still couldn't rush the ball at all vs. Alabama; Rainey, Demps, and Mike Gillislee carried 17 times for 13 yards, and the end result was zero points over Florida's final 10 drives.

If Driskel and Brissett have any prayer of completing passes consistently against the carnival of athletic freaks that make up LSU's secondary -- in Baton Rouge, no less -- that secondary is going to have to be not just concerned but downright obsessed with the Florida running game. That won't happen if that running game doesn't pick up some good early gains, maybe break a 20-to-30-yarder somewhere, and keep the Gators out of anything but the occasional third-and-long. Otherwise, Chavis's Tigers will spend all afternoon teeing off on the newbies under center and generally choking the life out of Charlie Weis's attack. Weis failed miserably in his first attempt at finding a way to run the ball against an elite SEC defense; a second failure will equal a potentially even-more-miserable defeat.



Barrett Trotter: are you up to giving Auburn a passing attack again? The Tigers' 4-1 record and road upset of South Carolina has helped mask a major, major flaw in the Tiger offense, and a surprising one given Gus Malzahn's track record: Auburn's vertical passing game has all but vanished. In the five quarters since the start of the second half against Clemson, junior QB Trotter has completed just 52 percent of his passes, for only 5.9 yards an attempt, while throwing 4 (often ugly) interceptions to just 3 touchdowns. That's not to mention the eight sacks taken by Trotter the last two games or that neither FAU nor the Gamecocks are going to be mistaken for having world-class secondaries any time soon.

Judging by Arkansas's efforts to stop the run against Texas A&M (or lack thereof), Trotter should get plenty of help from Michael Dyer and the Auburn running game. But that alone won't be enough for the Tigers to keep pace with the Hogs, not given the way Bobby Petrino's quarterbacks have shredded the Auburn defense the past two seasons (702 combined yards, 7 touchdowns) and the kind of form Tyler Wilson and Jarius Wright are in right now. With the Tiger secondary as flammable as ever (provided your quarterback isn't Stephen Garcia), Arkansas is going to score a boatload of points.

Which is why the injuries to receivers to Trovon Reed and Emory Blake couldn't have come at a worse time for Auburn. Trotter already needed to take a substantial step forward to keep the Tigers within striking distance on the road; now he'll have to do it without two of his top three receivers. If there was ever a week for Malzahn to earn his substantial assistant's salary, this looks to be it.



Georgia secondary: are you for real? When Kellen Moore gouged the Bulldogs for 28-of-34 passing and 3 touchdowns Week 1, it looked like the Bulldog defensive backs had regressed back to their dark Wille Martinez-led days. But with safety Bacarri Rambo returning from suspension, the Dawgs have held their last four opponents to team QB ratings under 86 and rank 11th in the country in opponent's pass efficiency despite the Moore carpet-bombing.

Those past results are no guarantee of future performance, since facing Tyler Bray in Neyland Stadium represents a vast step up in competition from the likes of Garcia, Zack Stoudt, the slumping Chris Relf and whoever it was Coastal Carolina trotted out. But it's worth remembering that the Vols still have next-to-nothing going on the ground; even after totaling 199 yards against Buffalo, the Vols rank a horrid 109th in the country in yards per-carry. If the Dawg defensive backs can slow down Bray at all, the Vol offense could grind to a halt ... and barring another turnover-fest from Aaron Murray, Georgia should be able to walk out of Neyland with the victory.

So: can those Dawg DBs slow down Bray or not? The evidence to date is encouraging, but with the memory of Moore's night at the Georgia Dome still lingering, it's not compelling just yet.

Other SEC questions worth asking: How does AJ McCarron look against the Vanderbilt secondary? (Don't laugh; this is the best set of defensive backs McCarron has faced yet. A strong showing would further cement the belief that the Tide have no Achilles heels.) Can Marcus Lattimore keep pace in the Heisman race? (Sure, most of the attention on Carolina is focused on new quarterback starter Connor Shaw. But a second straight subpar outing against a Kentucky defense that kept LSU's ground game bottled up for a half would put the sophomore badly behind at the midseason mark.) Does Mississippi State have any fight left? (The Bulldogs have looked utterly listless and deflated ever since losing to LSU. Is there any indication that could change down the road vs. UAB?)

Posted on: October 6, 2011 3:06 pm
 

Man vs. Woman vs. Machine: Week 6


Posted by Tom Fornelli


Man vs. Woman vs. Machine is a feature that runs every Thursday afternoon. It is here that Tom Fornelli fights against the rising tide of female empowerment and technology to ensure that men everywhere can at least claim that college football is still theirs. He does this by picking a set of games against the spread against his girlfriend, Lynn, and his Playstation 3.

I dug a pretty deep hole for myself in the first week of the season. After picking 15 games that week, I found myself three games behind both Woman and Machine. I don't know what happened that week, maybe it was because I hadn't seen any teams play this season, and I didn't have much to base my selections on. Maybe I just wanted to make this competition more challenging.

I don't know.

All I do know is that I'm out of the hole. Yes, it took a month, but after Machine imploded on its own, I have now caught Woman. This week I overtake her and reclaim the throne for men everywhere.

Oregon (-24 1/2) vs. Cal - Thurday, 9pm (All times Eastern)

Man - Ever since losing to LSU the Ducks offense seems to be on a mission to prove that the opening night debacle was a fluke. I don't think it was, but I also don't doubt Oregon's ability to put up 60 on Cal. So while I'm leery of this spread, I'm rolling with it anyway. Pick: Oregon

Woman - "How am I supposed to make this pick without an advance peek at the Ducks new sexy-time home jerseys? Here's how: Eight of the last 11 games between the two schools have been decided by 10 points or less." Pick: Cal

Machine - The Machine prefers the hippies who live amongst the trees, not in them. Oregon in a rout, 49-17. Pick: Oregon

Georgia Tech (-15 1/2) vs. Maryland - Saturday, 12pm

Man - I don't think Maryland is going to win this game, but I really feel that at some point the Terps are going to play a game on offense that is much better than anything we've seen the last few weeks. I'm hoping that it's this Saturday, because I'm taking those two touchdowns. Pick: Maryland

Woman - "Maryland, you're up against a team averaging 50 points a game, half your defense is sidelined, you have freshmen playing in their places, and your offense is still trying to 'find itself' - kinda hard when it can't stay on the field for more than thirty seconds. But hey, how 'bout them uniforms!" Pick: Georgia Tech

Machine - The option offense that Georgia Tech runs is a reminder of a world in which The Machine did not exist, therefore The Machine refuses to acknowledge it even exists. Maryland wins 27-20. Pick: Maryland

Oklahoma (-9 1/2) vs. Texas - Saturday, 12pm

Man - There's a part of me hoping that Texas can pick up a win this weekend just because I think it'd make the rest of the Big 12 season incredibly interesting, but even though we already know Bryan Harsin knows how to beat Oklahoma, I'm just not convinced that the Longhorns are ready for this yet. Pick: Oklahoma

Woman - "Just heard an analyst say the Red River Rivalry is a traditionally close game. Really? I checked scores and the winner has prevailed by 10 or more points 7 times out of the last 10 years. With an experienced Landry Jones pitted against a QB committee, it's gonna be 8 out of 11." Pick: Oklahoma

Machine - We have a clean sweep here, as The Machine tells us that Landry Jones will throw for 428 yards and 4 touchdowns as Oklahoma knocks off Texas 37-20. Pick: Oklahoma

Virginia Tech (-7 1/2) vs. Miami - Saturday, 3:30pm

Man - I feel like I'm reading a story about another Miami player being lost for the season every day, and even though the Hokies got a wake-up call from Clemson last week, I still think Virginia Tech is a superior team to Miami. Pick: Virginia Tech

Woman - "A blood rivalry in one of the toughest venues in the country. Miami's got a strong defense but the Hokies need to get the taste of Clemson out of their mouths. They'll win but it won't be a runaway. (And hey, Hokies: bonus points for anyone who posts a pic of David Wilson's tricked-out maroon and burnt orange 1978 Thunderbird. I am jonesing to see it.)" Pick: Miami

Machine - The Machine isn't worried about Virginia Tech's performance last week, but it does seem concerned about all the "viruses" that Miami is dealing with on its injury report. Tech wins 31-17. Pick: Virginia Tech

Kansas State vs. Missouri (-3 1/2) - Saturday, 3:30pm

Man - Bill Snyder has made me a believer in the Wildcats, as has Arthur Brown and that defense. James Franklin has not done the same for the Missouri offense. You want to give me points with a team I believe in at home? I'll take them. Pick: Kansas State

Woman - "So, Vegas is picking a .500 team on the road over an undefeated top-20 team? I guess not enough people were betting." Pick: Kansas State

Machine - James Franklin goes off for 410 total yards and 4 touchdowns as Mizzou puts an end to Kansas State's unbeaten season, 38-14. Pick: Missouri

LSU (-13 1/2) vs. Florida - Saturday, 3:30pm

Man - Here's a better bet for this game: How long until Jeff Driskel decides he doesn't want to play football. I mean, the freshman began his career last week coming on for an injured John Brantley against Alabama. This week he gets the LSU defense. That is no way to begin a career. Pick: LSU

Woman - "Les is more." Pick: LSU

Machine - The Machine has no concept of fear, so it obviously has no idea what Jeff Driskel is going to be dealing with on Saturday night. Florida wins 24-20. Pick: Florida

Arkansas (-10 1/2) vs. Auburn - Saturday, 7pm

Man - If this game is anything like the contest between these two schools that we saw last year, it's going to be very fun, and it's not going to be over before midnight. Still, the more I think about it the less I feel like I can trust the Auburn offense to keep up with Arkansas after Michael Dyer collapses from exhaustion following his 83rd carry in the third quarter. Pick: Arkansas

Woman - "Auburn pulled it out against a scattered South Carolina last week but they were just staving off the inevitable. The Tigers are still last in the SEC in total defense, pass defense and scoring defense and first in the hearts of an Arkansas team that wants revenge. (By the way, I have unearthed some rare NSFW archival footage of native Auburn fans watching last year's Auburn/Arkansas game. Particularly fascinating are the propane tanks inside the house.  Now I know how Margaret Mead must have felt when she first set foot in Samoa.)" Pick: Arkansas

Machine - The Machine doesn't see quite the same shootout we saw last year, but there's not a whole lot of defense in this one either. Arkansas overpowers the Tigers in the end and wins 41-30. Pick: Arkansas

Northwestern vs. Michigan (-5 1/2) - Saturday, 7pm

Man - Northwestern is just a different team with Dan Persa, and I feel like this could be the toughest test the Michigan defense has faced all year. I'm not sure who is going to win or lose, but I'm pretty sure it's going to come down to the final minutes, so I'm taking the points. Pick: Northwestern

Woman - "Northwestern has committed a lot to its 'Persa Strong' campaign. Maybe too much. They'll slap on some Kinesio and stick him out there again but I'm betting he's sidelined before the end of the third quarter and this becomes a blowout." Pick: Michigan

Machine - Apparently The Machine reads Denard Robinson's now deleted Twitter account, as Denard struggles on Saturday night and Northwestern prevails 33-20. Pick: Northwestern

Texas Tech vs. Texas A&M (-6 1/2) - Saturday, 7pm

Man - So far this season I've seen Texas Tech struggle at times with Kansas and Nevada the last two weeks. Sure, I've also seen Texas A&M collapse against Oklahoma State and Arkansas, but Texas Tech isn't Arkansas or Oklahoma State. The Aggies right the ship this week. Pick: Texas A&M

Woman - "Before the pick: After 70 years, we need a little sad goodbye music to commemorate the end of this historic rivalry. Okay, back to business. Hey, Aggies, once burned, shame on you. Twice burned, are you flipping kidding? I'm not putting my hand into the flames a third time, especially when I'm getting points." Pick: Texas Tech

Machine - The second half collapses end this week, as the Aggies have a relatively easy time in Lubbock, winning 45-27. Pick: Texas A&M

Nebraska (-10 1/2) vs. Ohio State - Saturday, 8pm 

Man - I honestly have no faith in either one of these offenses right now, but I'm more confident that Nebraska actually has an offense. I'm not sure I can say the same about Ohio State. Pick: Nebraska

Woman - "After last week's respective debacles, this game feels like I'll be watching two bloodied fighters hoping the other taps the canvas first.  The Buckeyes might put up a fight for the first five minutes but the Huskers ground and pound will drop them soon enough." Pick: Nebraska

Machine - Nebraska enjoys Big Ten games at home a lot more than it does on the road, and the Huskers knock off Ohio State 24-20. Pick: Ohio State

Standings

Season Record (Last week)

1. Woman 34-21 (6-4)
2. Man 34-21 (7-3)
3. Machine 29-26 (6-4) 
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com