If there’s one thing we’ve learned about this season, it’s that there is no such thing as a calm week. So as we here at the Bang settle back into our routines after awesome weekends, here’s a look at some of this week’s top matchups.
#16 Florida State @ NC State
A win pretty much locks up the Coastal Division for the Seminoles, as everyone else is at least 2 games behind. It’s the multi-faceted rushing attack (211 ypg) of Florida State against the high octane passing attack of the Wolfpack, lead by Russell Wilson that averages 312 yards a games (7th). NC State’s rush defense is average (58th, 148 ypg), while the Seminoles pass D allows 209 ypg (49th). The numbers give this shootout potential. Florida State are winners of the last 3 meetings.
#2 Oregon @ USC
Ronald Johnson, Robert Woods and Matt Barkley lead the 7th-best offense in the country. That’s something that might surprise fans who have the back-to-back losses to Washington and Oregon stuck in their minds. The defense is surprisingly what is lacking this team. Ranked 87th, they allow 403 yards a game, almost as many as the offense puts out. Oregon has no problem on the offensive side of the ball either, gaining 569 yards a game, the best in the nation. LaMichael James is the top rusher in the land as well, averaging 162 yds. a game. The difference is that the defense is nationally 1st in turnover margin, 9th in tackles for loss, and 30th overall. The Coliseum still holds a mystique, but there are a ton of weapons for the Trojans to overcome.
#5 Michigan State @ #18 Iowa
Sparty is riding high on their best start in years and are looking to make an impact on the national title discussion. Iowa is coming off of a tough last second loss to Wisconsin and hoping to keep their Big Ten title hopes alive. The 8th ranked Hawkeye rushing defense will look to stop the two-headed rushing attack of Edwin Baker and LeVeon Bell, while controlling Kirk Cousins as well. Adam Robinson is averaging 105 rushing yards a game for Iowa and while MSU’s defense has been good enough, they will have to step up one more time to keep Robinson and QB Ricki Stanzi from pulling the upset. Michigan State hasn’t won in Iowa City since 1988.
#6 Missouri @ #14 Nebraska
Missouri is coming off of one of the biggest wins in the program’s history while Nebraska is trying to climb back up the BCS standings. Blaine Gabbert is leading a passing attack that’s averaging 286 yards a game and the Missouri front 4 is averaging 3 sacks a game. Nebraska’s been charging behind Taylor Martinez’s rushing attack and passing defense that allows only 140 yards a game (3rd nationally). Gabbert will be under pressure and will have to be selective with his throws if he wants to keep Missouri in the title hunt. The Tigers are 1-15 in Lincoln but won the last game there in 2008.
#17 Oklahoma State @ Kansas State
Both teams are coming off of losses. Kansas State has been a surprise in the Big 12 North, powered by RB Daniel Thomas. The passing game is doing enough to keep defenses honest, but their own defense hasn’t been doing them any favors, allowing 435 yards a game. The previously undefeated Cowboys have one of the best passing attacks in the nation, with Brandon Weeden feeding Justin Blackmon and Josh Cooper. Blackmon is averaging 158 yards a game, but will be on the bench this week due to a DUI arrest. The Cowboys defense hasn’t been that great either, so this will likely be a first-to-50 type of game.
#25 Baylor @ Texas
This could be a banner week in Waco. The Bears are ranked for the first time since 1993 and are the surprising leaders in the Big 12 South. They hold a 12-game losing streak to Texas and this is the best shot for them to end it in years. The Longhorns have been playing on a yo-yo, upsetting the #5 Cornhuskers one week, falling to North doormat Iowa State the next. Robert Griffin III will face Texas’ 2nd ranked pass defense, but Jay Finley has shown that he can carry the load of the Bears need him to. The Longhorn offense has been relatively mediocre, Garret Gilbert hasn’t been able to establish the same vaunted offense of his predecessor. Texas will have to lean on their defense to keep this one close to try to take advantage of an average Baylor D. However, they were unable to capitalize last week on an Iowa State defense that ranks 116th overall.
Michigan @ Penn State
Michigan has dropped back-to-back meetings with the Nittany Lions, getting stomped on in both games. Penn State is trying to turn around its season, after just getting by Big 10 doormat Minnesota last week. The story of the Wolverines has been the same all year: incredible offense, horrible defense. Denard Robinson my not be the Heisman fronrunner any more, but he’s still leading the #2 offense in the land and still able to take a game over and create scoring opportunities. Nothing is seemingly going right for Penn State. Their always vaunted defense has been lackluster and true freshman QB Robert Bolden has not been able to learn the offense fast enough to produce. The Lions allow 143 yards a game on the ground and this is where they will have to focus if they hope to keep Michigan from running away from this early. However, there’s always something special about night games in Happy Valley.
Syracuse @ Cincinnati
Who would have seen this coming? The Big East’s powerhouse over the last 3 years utterly collapses while the basement dwellers are a win away from their first trip to a bowl in 6 years. The only time that SU has won in Cinci was 1994 and had only won 1 Big East road game in the last five years (2 already this year). Zack Colloros his stepped up for the Bearkats to fill Tony Pike’s shoes well, averaging 282 yards a game, but the passing defense has been horrible. The rushing D is a top-20 unit, allowing 106 yards a game. Most of their games have ended up as shootouts. Syracuse has been the opposite, getting just enough points out of an average, balanced offense while sporting a pass defense that’s only allowing 180 yards a game (19th nationally). If Colloros can find holes, there’s a good shot Cinci can get back to .500. Otherwise, ‘Cuse could take a step closer to a Big East title.
Florida vs. Georgia @ Jacksonville
The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party doesn’t have the same appeal of recent seasons this year. Both teams are .500 or under in the SEC and will have to get lucky to be in the title game. The Florida offense that was so explosive the last five years has been comparatively anemic with Tebow’s replacement John Brantley seeing little success. The pass defense has been the bright spot, ranking 13th nationally. The Bulldogs are in nearly the same boat, with a slightly better offense, a top-20 pass defense, and no signature wins this year. Enough is similar with these two teams, it looks like it’s going to be a game where the team that plays with the fewest mistakes will come out on top.
Texas A&M; @ Texas Tech
A&M; backs Christine Michael and Cyrus Gray ran wild over TTU last year, with each topping 120 yards in a 52-30 win. Tech, like always, has a top passing offense (8th, 311 ypg) while the rush D has improved (35th, 126 ypg). As always, stopping the Red Raiders centers around stopping the pass and A&M; will have their work cut out for them, as they allow 235 yards a game and could be cut up here by Taylor Potts and his receiving corps.
East Carolina @ UCF
The winner here can lock up the top spot in the C-USA East division. UCF’s record against ECU (1-8) is the worst against all of their current CUSA opponents. The Pirates have won 4 straight. Here’s what the game comes down to: ECU’s 11th ranked pass offense lead by Dominique Davis against UCF’s 9th ranked pass defense. The Pirates need to keep an eye on Knight’s RB Ronnie Weaver as they’ve been known to get cut up by slashing runners.
Whew, there’s a ton of action to follow this week in a line up that’s was thought to be devoid of big games. This week’s commentary has been exclusively provided by Armando.
|#16 Florida State @ NC State||NC State||Florida State||Florida State|
|#2 Oregon @ USC||Oregon||Oregon||Oregon|
|#5 Michigan State @ #18 Iowa||Michigan State||Michigan State||Michigan State|
|#6 Missouri @ #16 Nebraska||Missouri||Nebraska||Missouri||
|#17 Oklahoma State @ Kansas State||Oklahoma State||Oklahoma State||Oklahoma State|
|#25 Baylor @ Texas||Texas||Baylor||Texas|
|Michigan @ Penn State||Michigan||Michigan||Michigan|
|Syracuse @ Cincinnati||Syracuse||Syracuse||Syracuse|
|Florida vs. Georgia||Florida||Florida||Florida|
|Texas A&M; @ Texas Tech||Texas A&M;||Texas A&M;||Texas A&M;||A&M; is 4-3, but those losses are Oklahoma St., Arkansas and Mizzou, and 2 of those were within a touchdown. Not as bad of a team as they seem, folks.|
|East Carolina @ UCF||East Carolina||Central Florida||East Carolina||ECU. The aforementioned best team in Conference USA will pull away from the pack with a win over tough UCF.|