The Week 10 Games, Part 2
- Final Thoughts
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2011 Fearless Predictions
Final Thoughts, Week
By Matt Zemek
LSU-ALABAMA: LSU's toughest road test in the SEC in September and October? Mississippi State. Alabama's toughest SEC road test in those same two months? Florida.
USC-COLORADO: A longtime Lane Kiffin critic, I'll give credit where it's due: Kiffin shows signs of leading USC out of the wilderness and into the promised land, just in time for the end of postseason ineligibility. He's getting his kids to play hard in years when the Trojans can't play for the Pac-12 or Rose Bowl titles. When the constraints are lifted, he probably will see his team flex its muscles even more. Just one thing, though, Lane: Why did you not go for two (in the second possession of the first overtime against Stanford) the one time when it truly made sense? When you're the weaker team or the team with nothing to lose - being ineligible for the postseason definitely means you have nothing to lose - you should want your best unit to decide the game on one play from the 3, and let Andrew Luck stand helplessly on the other sideline.
LSU-ALABAMA: LSU's October schedule: Kentucky, Florida, Tennessee, Auburn. Alabama's October schedule: Florida, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, Tennessee.
MICHIGAN-IOWA: Iowa is perfectly awful on the road, but the Hawkeyes are perfect at home. Michigan's one particularly tough road game this season was at Michigan State. The Wolverines got whacked. This is a matchup between the weaker team's big strength (Iowa's home field) and the stronger team's noticeable weakness (Michigan playing on the road). The winner will receive a huge boost of confidence for the rest of November.
LSU-ALABAMA: LSU's toughest opponent to date: An Oregon team that could get lit up by Stanford. Alabama's toughest opponent? An Arkansas team that isn't lighting anybody up this year, save Auburn.
TEXAS TECH-TEXAS: The Longhorns are favored by double figures. In other words, people in Las Vegas think you don't (or won't) know how Tommy Tuberville rolls.
LSU-ALABAMA: Nick Saban is clearly the better coach. Les Miles is clearly having the better season.
LOUISVILLE-WEST VIRGINIA: Remember when this was a can't-miss football game? Remember when these two schools played the epic Albuquerque Regional Final on a late-March Saturday in 2005? Remember when these schools both coexisted happily in the Big East? Sad times, college sports - sad times.
LSU-ALABAMA: A.J. McCarron is in position to have a superior career. Jarrett Lee is riding a wave of confidence and good feeling this year, enjoying a brief but brilliant run akin to what the St. Louis Cardinals experienced from late August through late October.
VANDERBILT-FLORIDA: Here's the thing to realize about Vanderbilt: Its attitude is different. Its energy level is different. Coaching? Different. Playcalling? Different. Vibe? Different. Level of physicality? Different. Subculture in the locker room? Different. Yet, the same how-the-heck-did-THAT-happen calamities keep unfolding on Saturdays. It's like the Chicago Cubs in Game 6 of the 2003 National League Championship Series. The only way to kill a curse is to kill it - you can't give it a chance to breathe with a 15-point-swing-causing fumble. You won't stop losing games the Vandy way just because James Franklin is your new stud coach. Mr. Franklin can't carry the ball for you inside the red zone.
LSU-ALABAMA: Because there's no need to pump up an artificial "is the SEC better than X team from another conference" debate this season - at least not this weekend - you will see (and hear) why Gary Danielson is the best college football analyst not named Urban Meyer.
NORTH CAROLINA-NORTH CAROLINA STATE: With NCAA penalties coming, Tar Heels, better beat Tom O'Brien now (you're 0-4 against him in the four years O'Brien has coached N.C. State).
LSU-ALABAMA: Ohio State beat Michigan in a 1-versus-2 showdown in 2006... and got clobbered in the BCS title game. Florida State beat Florida in a 1-versus-2 November game in 1996... and got clobbered in that season's Sugar Bowl (in a rematch against Florida). Notre Dame beat Florida State in a 1-versus-2 showdown in 1993... and stumbled against Boston College the next week.
TEXAS A&M-OKLAHOMA: The Gaggies don't have to worry about gaining a double-digit lead at halftime in this particular contest.
LSU-ALABAMA: If LSU wins, slam the door on any talk of a rematch. If Alabama wins a close game, keep that door wide open... even though rematches in national championship games or bowl games shouldn't happen (see "1997 Sugar Bowl" for proof).
CINCINNATI-PITTSBURGH: Quietly yet quickly, Butch Jones has transformed the trajectory of his collegiate coaching career. Quietly, Jones's Bearcats should win this game because Pittsburgh star Ray Graham isn't healthy.
LSU-ALABAMA: Both teams have two weeks to prepare. As ESPN's Gene Wojciechowski pointed out, that's happened only three times before, and two of those games were Army-Navy affairs back in the day - aka, before color television. The third game? Nebraska-Oklahoma, 1971. If this is half the game that one was, we're in for a treat.
SOUTH CAROLINA-ARKANSAS: South Carolina is ranked ninth? Arkansas is ranked seventh? The only thoughtful response to those realities - and hence, to the reality that this is technically a matchup of two top-10 teams - is as follows: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! As a postscript, I will be stunned speechless if Arkansas wins this game by fewer than 20 points. STUNNED. Georgia will control its fate in the SEC East on Nov. 12 against Auburn - that's the game which will determine the East champion this year.
LSU-ALABAMA: There have been four prior non-bowl meetings of 1 versus 2 in the BCS era. Two were SEC title games, meaning that they were not pre-scheduled games. The other two games: Michigan-Ohio State in 2006, and Ohio State-Texas in (early) 2006. This means, among other things, that the 2006 season is the only season in the BCS era when 1 played 2 in a pre-scheduled regular-season game. Yes, this is a healthy sport which decides TRUE national champions, all right.
ARIZONA STATE-UCLA: This is a genuinely more interesting watch than "Number Nine South Carolina" (cough, cough, HACK, WHEEZE, CHOKE, cough!) versus "Number Seven Arkansas" (gasp, hack, GRUNT, BELCH, COUGH, choke, sneeze!). Unlike Carolina-Arkansas, this game will be competitive. That's right, Gamecocks. Sorry - the truth can and will hurt.
LSU-ALABAMA: If this game is half as wild as the 2007 epic between these two teams, my goodness, we will have some fun in Tuscaloosa.
KANSAS STATE-OKLAHOMA STATE: Bill Snyder is still a genius - always will be - but now the veil has been lifted. The Wildcats really are just a man behind the curtain. Oklahoma State will frolic on the yellow brick road in this Wizard of Oz memorial event.
LSU-ALABAMA: Please, let there not be a replay controversy akin to what we saw in the 2009 meeting between these teams. Please.
NOTRE DAME-WAKE FOREST: When the Fighting Ir--CLICK! That's right - if you're not a paid college football writer/pundit/broadcaster and you're watching this game (or "Number Nine South Carolina versus Number Seven Arkansas") during LSU-Bama, you should seek clinical help.
LSU-ALABAMA: If Nick Saban gets snookered by a Les Miles faked kick, he should return a portion of his salary to the University of Alabama.
LOUISIANA TECH-FRESNO STATE: When LSU-Bama ends, tune in to ESPNU for the second half of a game that will take the pulse of the 2011 WAC. It's a fascinating case study of two programs who occupy a similar place in the standings but have arrived at that point from different starting points... and will play in different conferences next season. Louisiana Tech is thrilled to be where it is, but for Fresno State, life near the top of the WAC - with a poor overall record - rates as a miserable existence. This all-Bulldog battle is a temperature taker.
LSU-ALABAMA: LSU played Oregon and West Virginia out of conference, Alabama played Penn State. Will that matter on Saturday? Anything can, does and will happen in one game, but if the 2011 season is any indication, these teams' non-conference schedules will favor LSU in a big way.
OREGON-WASHINGTON: If you care about college football and consider yourself a grade-A fan, you will immediately switch to this tilt after LSU-Bama ends. If it's close, you'll stick with it until last call on the East Coast. If the three-overtime Stanford-USC Pac-12 special migrates to Seattle, this game really will end around midnight local time... 3 a.m. in the East. WAIT A MINUTE - you get to fall back one hour this weekend! This game could last 4.5 hours, but you'll go to bed at the 3.5-hour mark and STILL know who won. Don't you just love college football?
LSU-ALABAMA: Ask yourself this: Is Tigers-Tide a bigger deal because of the quality of these teams, or because the quality of everyone else in the sport is so clearly inferior by comparison?
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- If you aren't familiar with SEC football, Saturday's football-mageddon between LSU and
Alabama will be a let down. There will be a common theme among SEC outsiders that these
two teams maybe aren't all that they're cracked up to be. That will be a direct result of the speed
and depth featured on the defensive side of the ball on both of these rosters. Defense isn't sexy,
plain and simple.
- But with that said, defense wins championships. It doesn't always have to be top notch
defenses like LSU and Alabama have. Auburn won with an opportunistic defense last season,
and Oklahoma State is doing the same this year. But these two defenses are next-level good,
which should make for a sloppy, ugly, old-fashioned slugfest.
- In my best Bart Scott voice: "CAN'T WAIT."
- No matter what happens, a rematch in the BCS National Championship Game is not going to
happen. The human element and SEC Fatigue will prevent it.
-Hey, did you know that the SEC has another top 10 matchup this weekend? On most
weekends, South Carolina vs. Arkansas would take top billing, but not this week. With that
said, there’s still a lot on the line for both teams, especially South Carolina. Life without Marcus
Lattimore was a struggle last week for the Gamecocks, and even though Brandon Wilds had
a solid performance at Tennessee, can he really handle the full load of the South Carolina
offense? I don’t think so. Arkansas plays a full four quarters for the first time in a long time,
and dominates South Carolina. The Gamecocks are a different team without Lattimore, and will
have a hard time hanging on to their SEC East lead.
-Kansas State's late-season swoon will continue at the hands of Oklahoma State. Get used to
the idea of the Cowboys playing in the BCS National Championship Game, because it is going
- The war or words between North Carolina and N.C. State this week may cause another
Grantham/Franklin moment during the postgame handshake. Ease up, fellas.
- Speaking of James Franklin, is it possible for Vanderbilt to get over the hump and finally
pull out a big win this weekend vs. Florida? You betcha. Former Florida coach Urban Meyer
recruited a track team, not a football team. Clearly, track teams can’t properly run Charlie Weis’
pro-style offense. Will Muschamp blows another gasket or eight, and the Commodores play the
Gators to the wire...and possibly spring the upset.
- Arizona State rolls UCLA at home, and Rich Neuheisel’s seat gets scalding hot...or even
- Oh by the way, did you hear LSU and Alabama are playing this weekend? It’s supposed to be
a pretty big deal, from what I hear.
Final Thoughts, Week