Saturday, November 12, 2005

College Football: 11/12/05

The season is flying by once again. A lot of showdowns coming this Saturday. Here's my take on what's going to happen in the Top 25....(Due to my delayed start only a selected few will be included in my Top 25 Weekly Game Breakdown.)

No. 10 Ohio State (7-2) vs No. 25 Northwestern (6-3)

Story: The Buckeyes are really playing well now. And I don't mean just defensively. It seems Troy Smith has finally come around. The team has scored 35 points or more in the past 4 games. OSU will be in The Shoe when they collide with Northwestern. Northwestern is the most up and down team in the Big Ten. It seems to me that every week the Wildcats are moving around on the polls.

Matchup to Watch For: If there was such thing as College Fantasy Football, I would sure want to have Troy Smith on my team. Smith should have a huge day. The NW defense is near the bottom and that is not a good thing to have when going against a multi-dimensional quarterback like Troy Smith. The matchup between Smith and NW could very easily favor the Bucks, but then again you never know what to expect out of these Wildcats.

Prediction: Northwestern has had there moments this year. They will finish out the season with a bowl game like the Sun Bowl. Once again it was a mistake, Northwestern is not going to be a big factor in the race for the Big Ten title. The Buckeyes are too powerful and are really playing good ball now.

OSU 40 Northwestern 21

No. 17 Florida State (7-2) at Clemson (5-4)

Story: Once again Florida State is already out of the National Championship picture and once again Tommy Bowden is holding on for his job for dear life. FSU is going into this game off of a loss to N.C. State by the score of 15-10. The Seminoles really struggled having only put up a mere 10 points. They will be going against a Clemson team that is fighting just for a bid into the bowl season.

Matchup to Watch For: The starting quarterback for Florida State, Mr. Drew Weatherford was having a good season up until a few weeks ago. He has lost two games in about a month. Already the fans are yelling to put in Xavier Lee. Saturday's game against the Clemson D will really start to give FSU fans an idea on how this young quarterback is going to be in the future. If he struggles again, word will be out in Florida that Weatheford is not a big game player. If he guides his team to victory, that essential faith needed in a quarterback will once gain start to grow.

Prediction: When it comes to the Bowden Bowl, father knows best. In 6 meetings, Bobby has won 5 times. Look for him to roll off yet another one.

FSU 34 Clemson 19

No. 21 Michigan (6-3) vs Indiana (4-5)

Story: Once again it is the classic, lopsided contest between the Wolverines of Michigan and the Hoosiers of Indiana. Michigan seems to really be turning there season around after falling to 3-3. Michael Hart is back and Henne is playing well. Indiana seems to be heading in the right direction for the future. None the less, they are still going into the Big House.

Matchup to Watch For: James Hardy vs. Michigan cornerbacks. Hardy is having a stellar season for the Hoosiers as he currently leads the Big Ten in receiving yards. In order to step up in the class of top performers, Hardy has to be able to make things happen against big time teams such as Michigan. Catching one ball for 7 yards like he did last week against Minnesota in a 42-21 loss, is not going to help. Hardy will be going against a rejuvenated and motivated Michigan secondary that will thrive on all Hoosier mistakes.

Prediction: Why should there be any thought this series will go the other way? Once again Michigan will win, and once again they will win big.

Michigan 45 Indiana 18

No. 12 Florida (7-2) at South Carolina (6-3)

Story: It sounds like the setup for a movie. The Old Ball Coach goes against his Old Team in the movie of the year. I can assure you both teams have been waiting eagerly for this game. Even though it has been talked about numerous times, just seeing Spurrier on the opposite sideline of Florida will be very eerie. It will be something you have to see.

Matchup to Watch For: Florida O vs. Soutch Carolina D. It sounds vague, but it really is so much more. Urban Meyer has yet to get the Gators offense rolling on all four cylinders. Analysts are beginning to become skeptical on the play of Chris Leak. Besides the 40+ points scored against Kentucky and Vandy, Florida really has been having difficulty putting up points on SEC teams. Against Tennessee, Alabama, LSU, and Georgia, Florida scored a total of 50 points. That's an average of about 13 points per SEC showdown. Nothing would make Steve Spurrier happier than to continue that streak of inept offensive play.

Prediction: Everyone is talking about Spurrier beating the Gators. I'm sorry that sounds too much like a Disney movie. Gators are a better team. The Gamecocks have been playing good, but they will be going against a Florida team that seemed for the first time last week to have their offense at full capacity. Come Sunday Gamecocks will be back down to Earth.

Florida 29 South Carolina 17

No. 1 USC (9-0) at California (6-3)

Story: USC will be taking on the team that last beat them. For those of you who don't remember that 2003 California overtime win, it was quite the football game. I can assure you California players vividly remember that day. This matchup is this Saturday's most overrated. California has slipped a lot and already has 3 losses. None the less, everyone is still talking about the Bears possibly winning. USC is better than I thought they were. They will be ready for the Bears.

Matchup to Watch For: Joseph Ayoob vs. USC D. Joe Ayoob is the young fellow who took over for Aaron Rodgers. The Juco transfer has had some impress games...and some nasty ones as well. In the Bears's 3 losses Ayoob has thrown 3 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. His team is a HUGE underdog in my mind come Saturday. The only way California can stay with the Trojan Men is by putting up points. The offense is fully capable of doing that, but again that all lays in Ayoob's hands.

Prediction: I do think Ayoob is a good quarterback. Being a first year starter is tough, especially when you lose some games you should have been victorious in. This California team will get better in the future. The future. USC is just dominating right now. I don't see any reason to think otherwise.

USC 55 California 24

No. 19 Wisconsin (8-2) vs Iowa (5-4)

Story: Barry Alvarez will be coaching in his final home game as a the head coach of Wisconsin. His team has had a successful year. Though they have lost 2 really tough games to swallow, the Badgers are still making noise in the Big Ten. In my opinion the Badgers are one of the most underrated teams in the nation. Alvarez will be going against an Iowa team that has not been having the year they anticipated. Despite all the trouble for the Hawkeyes, it would still mean a lot to know that you beat Barry Alvarez at his last home game.

Matchup to Watch For: Brian Calhoun vs. Iowa D. Calhoun has had a terrific year. His power and speed have made Wisconsin one of the best running teams in the nation. Calhoun is coming off his worst performance of the year. His 20 carries for 38 yards are something he wants analysts to quickly forget. Calhoun's task won't be easy. He'll be going against a shaken up Iowa defense. Iowa's defense has had some hard breaks. They will be pumped up up for the chance to go against a superb athlete such as Brian Calhoun.

Prediction: This is a tough one. Though, if I have learned anything over the last few years it's that Wisconsin is prone to losing those late season Big Ten grudge matches. I just can't help, but picture Alvarez walking off with a frown on his face.

Iowa 26 Wisconsin 21

No. 4 Alabama (9-0) vs No. 5 LSU (7-1)

Story: This Gameday matchup will be one for the books. The Crimson Tide are undefeated and the journey to Atlanta has two more big stops. Once against LSU this weekend, and another against Auburn at the end of the year. The Bayou Bengals have bounced back nicely after that 4th quarter meltdown against Tennessee.

Matchup to Watch For: JaMarcus Russell vs. Alabama D/ Brodie Croyle vs. LSU D. Both quarterbacks have had their moments of well as their times of grief. JaMarcus has been a terrific leader this year, but none the less his difficulties with the offense still exist. All Tiger fans will be watching #4 and how he deals with a hostile crowd and a tenacious D. Brodie Croyle, much like JaMarcus has had his ups and downs. Though unlike JaMarcus, Mr. Croyle's squad is undefeated. The Fans of the Tide will be breathing down Croyle's neck for some points. In their last 3 games the Tide has scored 1 offensive touchdown. If that is to change, Brodie is going to have to execute his playbook against a stiff Bengal defense.

Prediction: Saturday's showdown between LSU and Alabama is the perfect atmosphere. The Tide have been waiting awhile for another National Championship. In order to continue there run they have to get by a determined LSU team. The offense unit in Tuscaloosa did not score any offensive points against a fragile Mississippi State team. In the end, I believe it will be the more efficient offense of LSU that will ultimately decide the outcome of this contest. (Yep, I jinxed them.)

LSU 19 Alabama 17

No. 9 Georgia (7-1) vs No. 15 Auburn (7-2)

Story: The showdown between Georgia and Auburn always ends up being a classic. The main story surrounding this battle is the return of Georgia's senior leader DJ Shockley. The Bulldogs will be facing off against an Auburn team flying under the radar. Tuberville's Bunch still has a chance at a SEC Championship berth with a few strings pulled. The loser can pretty much kiss their SEC Championship dreams goodbye.

Matchup to Watch For: Brandon Cox vs. Georgia D. It may seem that the match to watch would involve Mr. Shockley. Though, Shockley has had his big victories as opposed to Cox. Brandon Cox came into the season with the difficult task of taking over for Jason Campbell. Despite his strides of impressive play, he is none the less in the spotlight again. Cox struggled against Georgia Tech and LSU, the teams only two losses. His play will be a mirror image of whether or not Auburn goes home victorious. For the second time in less than a month, Cox will have to prove himself against the most underrated defense in the SEC. The Bulldogs will be hungry, and the only thing stopping them from harvesting is the leadership of Brandon Cox.

Prediction: The second best matchup in the SEC this weekend is one that is marked with a question mark. Both teams have a solid defense, along with consistent running games. Though the one key difference rests at quarterback. Georgia has a proven quarterback and Auburn doesn't.

Georgia 27 Auburn 17


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Anonymous said...

Mr. Ballay, I was very impressed with your latest entry. The wealth of know in which you possess is extremely large. The ESPN organization is looking for an anchor to accompany Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit on College Gameday. If interested, please contact me. You know the number.

Anonymous said...

Well, your prediction and detail of the LSU game was dead on. Let's see what you can do for the rest of the year.