Analyzing Michigan State-Ohio State, Auburn-Florida & Other Key Games
It’s Deep Breath Saturday in college football, as there are several teams doing just that with patsy conference games or by having bye weeks. You know it’s slow when the biggest game draws nothing but yawns from anywhere outside of two campuses in the Deep South.
Yet there are other things to keep an eye on besides what happens on the field.
Joe Moorhead may be more or less headed out of Mississippi State and onto Rutgers, leaving the sanity of the SEC for the sanctuary of a team that is better suited to be in a small Eastern league.
Things are bleak in Blacksburg, people are still feeling a little blue in Chapel Hill and they are red-faced – but still undefeated – in Clemson. In Los Angeles, Hot Seat Helton actually said “wait until you see us in November.” Sure, but after watching his Trojans in September and October there likely won’t be a lot of fans in the Coliseum stands to actually see them.
Onto this weekend’s games. All times Pacific because the Pigskin Prognosticator lives on the West Coast.
Oklahoma at Kansas (9 a.m., ABC)
The Big Red Machine will be kicking up a lot of dust all over the Kansas plains and won’t stop until there’s nothing left to stir up anymore. Jalen Hurts is going to find a secondary as generous as a grandmother on a child’s birthday as he passes for more yards than the distance between Norman and Lawrence. Les Miles is going to be thinking that coaching the Jayhawks is for the birds as he watches blurs of streaking Boomers run by him on their way to another touchdown. Winner: Oklahoma
Purdue at Penn State (9 a.m., ESPN)
Coming off their of mauling of the soft-shell Terps, the Nits return to a very Happy Valley looking to continue to claw their way up the rankings. The Locomotives lost a lot of steam when their starting quarterback went down and and as a result are not up to full power. But not even a fully-loaded steam engine would be able to railroad these cats. Winner: Penn State
Iowa at Michigan (9 a.m.)
The Iowans come into the Big House looking for big things and on paper they should easily be able to walk out as winners. After all, the khaki coach’s kids are playing offense like somebody forgot to give them the playbook. But games are played on football fields and not on paper and the history of these teams shows that somehow, Big Blue always manages to come out the victors, if not in the West then certainly in this game. Winner: Michigan
Texas at West Virginia (12:3o p.m,. ABC)
The Couch Burners will try and light a fire to grill the visiting Steers, but as they about to discover, you can’t create a flame without a good spark. They simply don’t have the firepower to stay with the Horns and instead of fanning the upset flames, they will be the ones getting torched. Winner: Texas
Auburn at Florida (12:30 p.m., CBS)
The Tigers look to tie a prehistoric beast to their tail when they do a little Gator hunting in the Swamp, but the felines will find they are out of their comfort zone when they get near water. The murky wetlands of Gainesville will present all kinds of challenges and Bo Nix will find that what looks calm really has all kinds of dangers lurking beneath the surface. The Gus Bus will be loaded with all kinds of trick plays and the Mullen Machine will pull out a few, too. The Gators get six suspended players back for this one and while that won’t be the tipping point, the Gators will take just enough chomps out of the visiting felines to come away with the W. Winner – in a close one – Florida.
Virginia Tech at Miami (12:30 p.m., ESPN)
The hobbling Hokies limp into the Florida Hurricanes Center with a storm brewing in their own backyard. Justin Fuente’s hot seat is steaming like a turkey fresh out of the oven on Thanksgiving, as Gobblers fans are about ready to gobble up their coach’s contract. The conditions are not exactly calm for the Canes’ coach either, but he has one advantage his opponent does not: he gets to play Virginia Tech. Winner: Miami
Georgia at Tennessee (4 p.m., ESPN)
Captain Kirby is not one to come to the aid of an opponent, but he may just unknowingly be throwing a life raft to the head of the sinking Volunteer Navy. Still pumped up from that big win over the Leprechauns ‘tween the Hedges, the Dawgs are in danger of capsizing on the banks of the Tennessee River if they don’t patch up a few leaks. This is the chance for Jeremy Pruitt to right his ship for the season before the fans – and perhaps his meddling and egotistical athletic director – abandon ship. Winner: Georgia
Michigan State at Ohio State (4:30 p.m., ABC)
The Acorns have been going nuts this year with Justin Fields at quarterback, and despite Sparty’s stingy D, the warriors from East Lansing have little chance of causing the Buckeyes to fall in Ohio Stadium. The offense is just too spartan to stay on the field with Fields and, despite the occasional moments where the green team makes a game of it, Brutus will be brutal to his visitors this year. Winner: Ohio State
Cal at Oregon (5 p.m., FOX)
Fresh off their “oh well, there goes the Pac-12’s lone longshot at making the playoffs” loss, the Papa Bears go Duck hunting in Eugene where the hosts are still reeling from blowing their season-opening game to a bunch of boys from the plains of Auburn. The visitors from California will unpack something not seen very often in these parts – defense – and that will have the hosts huddling back at the pond trying to come up with a solution. In the end, the Grizzlies will be rulers of this area of the Pacific Northwest. Winner: Cal
Oregon State at UCLA (6 p.m.)
After coming up dry in the desert, the Trampolines try and bounce back in frigid Corvallis, where the game-time temperature is to be in the 40s. Fortunately for them, they face a team of Beavers that can’t dam up their own den and while this should be a breather for the Baby Bears, there’s no rest for these weary hibernators. Winner: UCLA
Washington at Stanford (7:30 p.m., ESPN)
Chris Petersen takes his hustlin’ Huskies to the Farm for a little workout that in the past would have had them plowing the fields looking to produce anything substantial. But these are not your farm boys of recent years he’s facing, and the only thing the Cardinal can grow here is that unusual tree of a mascot. Winner: Washington