Friday, September 12, 2008

week 3 college football preview: ohio state livin' on a pray-uh

Coach creasy bear is resurrecting the weekly preview, at least for this week. Let's take a look at this weekend's most intriguing matchups:

#2 Georgia at South Carolina - The Gamecocks came out limp last week versus lowly Vanderbilt, quickly losing the top 25 ranking they earned after shutting down North Carolina State the previous week. On offense, they are rather inconsistent. The Ol' Ball Coach clearly hasn't been able to recruit the same level of talent in Columbia as he could when at Florida. Still, they have a stingy defense, especially against the pass. And somehow, for some reason, they always seem to show up when they play Georgia. The Bulldogs Knowshon Moreno (edit: not pronounced like the last name of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective star Dan Marino) will probably get his 100+ yards. But I predict QB Matt Stafford will struggle, as he has the past two times he's faced SCAR. Bulldogs win, but it will stay close until a late touchdown. Georgia 27-13

UCLA at #18 BYU - UCLA was able to beat Tennessee two weeks ago despite throwing four interceptions in the first half alone. But they had two things working for them in that game that they won't have this Saturday: homefield advantage, and the opposing defensive coordinator being incompetent. I think QB Max Hall will have a good game through the air, and the Cougars will get it done on the ground too. BYU is very tough to beat in Provo. I like the direction the Bruins are headed, but I'm not ready to concede this victory. BYU 30-24
(Update: My original score prediction was 46-30. Obviously, I should've kept that one.)

Unranked Michigan at Unranked Notre Dame - Given my distaste for both of these teams, I like to explicitly point out that neither is ranked. As for the game, on the one hand, the Irish have homefield advantage. But how much will that really mean, given that they had that last week too versus a terrible San Diego State team and barely beat them thanks in part to a controversial fumble call that kept the Aztecs out of the end zone. On the other hand, you have a Michigan team, which improved last week after having lost to Utah, but still didn't look that great. I look at the coaches: Charlie Weis is getting top 10 and 15 recruiting classes, and has done nothing with it. Rich Rodriguez, while a good offensive-minded coach, doesn't yet have personnel that fits his system. I'm pretty sure this is going to be a fairly ugly game, with each side turning the ball over their fair share, and it will be decided by an either dumb play or great play, depending on who you're rooting for. Since I'll be rooting for neither, no matter who loses, I win. Notre Dame 20-19

#10 Wisconsin at #21 Fresno State - "Anyone, anytime, anywhere." That's Fresno Coach Pat Hill's motto. After beating down Rutgers in their first game, I immediately took notice of the Bulldogs. After North Carolina went into NJ and beat the Scarlet Knights even worse than Fresno did, suddenly I wasn't quite as impressed, with either Fresno or Rutgers (especially Rutgers...that might be my worst conference champion pick ever). Fresno does have quality players on both sides of the ball. Their fans will be fired up for a game versus a Top 10 opponent, even though they have no apparent real rivalry with the Big 11. However, Wisconsin is very strong and disciplined. Head Coach Bret Bielema has done a superb job replacing a legend in Barry Alvarez. He will have his team ready and focused. I can't see them giving this game away, which, in my opinion, is the only way they could lose it. Wisconsin 31-14

#5 Ohio State at #1 USC - As I think about this, the ABC Primetime, game on Saturday night, one question continually goes through my mind: How is Ohio State not going to get killed? Here are some key facts:

- Chris "Beanie" Wells will not play, according to the HC Sweater Vest
- Rey Maualuga is a freak
- Todd Boeckman is.....not that good

How Ohio State can win: USC is not really going to have to respect Buckeyes' running game with Wells out. Boeckman is obviously going to have to play an outstanding game. He can't turn the ball over. In fact, nobody on the Buckeyes can turn the ball over. They will have to rely heavily on their defense and special teams, like a vintage Virginia Tech Beamer-ball team. Also, USC is going to have to beat itself somewhat, which frankly, they have shown an ability to do sometimes (how else do you explain them losing at home to a 6-touchdown underdog last season?). QB Jonathan Sanchez does, at times, appear to have mental lapses. The Buckeyes are going to need him to throw picks, and for the Trojan running backs to be careless with the football. They'll also need them to miss field goals, kick punts short, and not cover their kicks well.

Any of these things doesn't seem particularly improbable. But for them all to happen seems virtually impossible. And I'm not sure Ohio State can win otherwise. Yes, they're ranked in the Top 5, but does anyone actually believe that? I think all people are thinking about is how bad they've looked the last two times they've played an elite team on a national stage. To what extent are Buckeye players themselves thinking this? To me, that is the biggest question of all. USC 35-17