Thursday, September 8, 2011

2011 College Football Preview: Week 2

Notice any resemblance?
College Football is most definitely underway and, with the first week now in the history books, it's time to take a look at Week 2! Week 1 was full of upsets and horrible uniforms. Just to name a few, there was Oklahoma State's confusing choice of silver, Georgia's God-awful Power Ranger costumes with a facemask stripe, and Maryland's uniforms that looked like the state flag vomitted all over them. To be honest, I really didn't hate Maryland's uniforms as everyone else in the Nation seemed to. I thought the concept was a good idea and the jerseys and pants were done well. But those helmets.... I shudder. Way too much going on. Anyway, as is per usual in week 1, upsets seemed to rule the weekend with my beloved Horned Frogs being just one of the teams to fall victim. As far as my predictions are concerned, I was an underwhelming 4-4 last week, but part of the beauty of College Football is it's unpredictability. We'll see if I can do any better this week.

Featured Teams:

1. #25 TCU Horned Frogs @ Air Force Falcons
-Last Week: A young and inexperienced TCU team hit their first pitfall last week in a 50-48 loss to their in-state rivals on the Brazos. The defense has a lot of work to do, particularly in the secondary, and was not typical of Coach Patterson's defenses. I said the matchup to watch would be Robert Griffin against the TCU secondary... I was right, and Robert Griffin won. The one positive that can be taken away from the loss is that the offense looked great. Despite his game ending interception, QB Casey Pachall had an outstanding debut and really stepped into a leadership role for this team. The young WRs and O-line were also particularly impressive. If the defense can't improve quickly, the Frogs may have to rely on simply outscoring opponents in the coming weeks, and they could be in good hands.
-Preview: In almost every year of TCU's membership in the MWC, Air Force has been one of the toughest opponents, and most overlooked by fans, that the Frogs have consistently faced. They are always a very scrappy team, have a complicated offense, and a great head coach. This year, TCU travels to Colorado Springs for this tough conference opener and it will no doubt be a hard fought game. The defense has a lot to prove and the triple option will present a stiff test. LB leadership from Tank Carder will be key. A win for the Frogs will alter the course of their season and put them in prime position to compete for the MWC title. A loss could turn this into a forgettable season. This will be a very tough game, but I predict a close victory for a hungry TCU.
-Matchup to watch: TCU front 7 vs. Air Force option attack
-My Pick: TCU wins, 31-28.

2. Southern Illinois Salukis @ Ole Miss Rebels
-Last Week: Ole Miss became yet another team to fall victim to an upset in their opening game of the season. What stings even more is that it was at home. BYU, which has a much improved team since last year, particularly on defense, stunned the Rebels and scored 14 points in the 4th quarter to win 14-13. As I suggested in my Matchup to watch, the BYU front 7 really stepped up and made many key stops throughout the game. In fact it was the defense that scored the winning TD on a recovered fumble. The Rebs have a little improving to do to get to where they can be and this is a good week to start.
-Preview: A home game against a mediocre FCS team is just what this team needs to get their feet under them. Southern Illinois won't have much of a realistic chance at an upset and unless the Rebels just lay down, they will win. This game will be about working out the kinks, getting reps for backups, and finding some more rhythm on offense, which Ole Miss desperately needs.
-Matchup to Watch: Ole Miss RBs vs. USI Defense. They've got to get things going the worst.
-My Pick: Ole Miss wins, 48-10

Games to Watch

1. BYU Cougars @ #24 Texas Longhorns
-Last Week: While BYU rolled to an impressive comeback victory in a defensive game against Ole Miss, the Longhorns won most unimpressively against Rice.
-Preview: BYU is primed for another road upset as they roll into Austin with arguably their best team since '06. BYU's defense has made leaps and bounds of improvement over the last few years while Texas has only regressed. UT will have better athletes, speed, and a hostile crowd, but it would be most unwise to write off the Cougs from the start. One interesting fun fact is that Texas is actually 0-2 against BYU all-time. QB Jake Heaps looks good for BYU and as I already mentioned, the defense is pretty stout. I know it won't be a popular pick in most circles, but I liked what I saw out of BYU last week and I can definitely see them upsetting this Longhorn team that is short on leadership.
-Matchup to Watch: Texas RBs vs BYU front 7
-My Pick: BYU wins, 28-24.

2. #16 Mississippi State Bulldogs @ Auburn Tigers
-Last Week: Mississippi State rolled past an inferior Memphis team while Auburn struggled and had to comeback to beat Utah State, 42-38. By all rights, Auburn should have lost that game.
-Preview: This is a pretty juicy matchup between two top 25 teams, depending on which rankings you're reading. There's no question that Auburn is down this year. Conversely, Mississippi State is on their way up, behind a solid defense and a pretty good offense. If last week was any indication, expect the Bulldogs to storm into Auburn and take this one from the Tigers in both teams' conference openers. This could be the start of a pretty memorable season for the cowbell-jinglers.
-Matchup to Watch: MSU offense vs. Auburn Defense
-My Pick: MSU wins, 35-17

3. Utah Utes @ USC Trojans
-Last Week: Utah sleep-walked through their game with Montana State and were no doubt looking forward to this week 2 matchup as they only won 27-10. USC also had a narrow escape, winning 19-17 against arguably the Big Ten's worst team, Minnesota.
-Preview: After years of BCS-buster status, this is Utah's first game in the Pac-12 and as a BCS school. And what better way to start things off than in LA Coliseum? I feel like a lot of experts are grossly underestimating Utah this season. While I didn't pick them as my Pac-12 South favorite, I would not be the least bit surprised if they won it and found their way into the first ever Pac-12 championship. On the other hand, I haven't been impressed with USC in years. This seems like the perfect scenario for a Utah upset. Keep your eyes open.
-Matchup to Watch: Utah QB Jordan Wynn (pictured right) vs. USC Secondary
-My Pick: Utah wins, 21-17.

4. Arizona Wildcats @ #9 Oklahoma State Cowboys
-Last Week: OK State's offense was on display as they beat UL-Lafayette convincingly, 61-34. Arizona's offense also looked good in a 41-10 victory over Northern Arizona.
-Preview: By all rights, this game should be a shootout. Two good offenses are led by two great QBs: Arizona's Nick Foles and OSU's Brandon Weeden. Does it really make any since though to pick against a top 10 team at home? This one could be exciting, but look for the Cowboy win and a fun night in Stillwater.
-Matchup to Watch: The QB battle: Weeden vs. Foles
-My Pick: OSU wins, 45-38.

5. Notre Dame Fighting Irish @ Michigan Wolverines
-Last Week: USF scored the upset against Notre Dame in South Bend, 23-20. Michigan won a snore-fest against Western Michigan, 34-10.
-Preview: We've all heard the hype. It's already a historic rivalry, and now it's going to be played in the first ever Michigan night game with both teams wearing some snazzy throwback uniforms. Realistically, this game doesn't have all that much impact on the national stage, but it should be a fun one to watch. Notre Dame will likely start QB Tommy Rees over Dayne Crist, which should give the offense a boost. I'm very leery to predict an Irish victory though. Michigan will be fired up beyond belief and they've got a pretty good thing going with their new coach and a lot of talent. I'm expecting Michigan to have a fast start this year, fading out late in the season, and Notre Dame should be another victim of that fast start.
-Matchup to Watch: Michigan QB Denard Robinson vs. Irish Defense
-My Pick: Michigan wins, 31-28.

*Game of the Week*

#3 Alabama Crimson Tide @ #23 Penn State Nittany Lions
-Last Week: 'Bama and PSU both put away inferior opponents with ease. The Tide beat Kent State, 48-7, while PSU beat Indiana State, 41-7.
-Preview: This is a pretty well documented rivalry with some history, and it only adds to the fun that both teams are nationally ranked and competing for their respective conference titles this year. Although LSU has a better team than Penn State, I wouldn't be surprised if (in retrospective) this turns out to be Alabama's toughest game of the season. PSU will have a hostile crowd and the defense is always stiff. I still think 'Bama will leave Happy Valley with a W, but it will be a slug-fest and a great game to watch.
-Matchup to Watch: Alabama's RB Trent Richardson vs. PSU front 7.
-My Pick: Alabama wins, 24-21.

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