Saturday, October 5, 2013

Some Week Six Predictions

Saturday's slate of college football games kicks off in a less than an hour. While there are no marquee match-ups like last week's Georgia-LSU contest, there are many intriguing contests out there and some of them will impact conference standings, national rankings, and perhaps the national title outlook. Here are a few predictions on how they will play out:

Ohio State at Northwestern
Coached by Patrick Fitzgerald, its former All-American LB, Northwestern has quietly built a very strong program over the last seven or eight years. Right now they are the only team left in the Big Ten that has a realistic chance to knock off the Buckeyes, and they get this game on their home turf with Ohio State coming off the kind of big win that is often followed by a drop-off in intensity the following week. There is a reason they are ranked, and I am predicting they will grab America's attention today with a signature win that some will consider a major upset. Wildcats 31-28

Washington at Stanford
The Huskies are back, they are for real, and Husky Stadium has a vibe it hasn't felt in years, but this game is not at Husky Stadium. And Stanford is too powerful up front, too capable of controlling the ball, and too focused to not prevail in the Pac 12's biggest game so far this season. Cardinal 28-17

Maryland at Florida State
This doesn't sound like a big game, but Maryland cracked the AP Top 25 last week and both teams are undefeated. Maryland has had two weeks to prepare for this one and will put up a good fight, but they won't be undefeated when their bus leaves Doak Campbell this afternoon. Seminoles 37-28

Georgia Tech at Miami
I thought Georgia Tech was a legitimate sleeper to make a run this year due to a scrappy defense, typically prolific running game, and unusually effective passing game. Then Virginia Tech handed the Jackets their tuckuses and revealed that their program is not "there" yet. I still believe they are a talented bunch and I still believe they could beat Miami if Miami doesn't bring its A game; however, Miami is feeling that it has a chance to enter the national championship picture and there is no way it will take the field with anything less than its A game. Hurricanes 35-17

Arkansas at Florida
Their record might not reflect it, but Arkansas is much improved from last year and is sure to score some big wins before the season ends. Florida might seem to be the perfect victim because the national press keeps playing up the significance of the players the Gators have lost to injury, but there is a case to be a made that losing QB Jeff Driskell will help rather than hurt them. Plus, the Gators' main strength is their depth on defense, and that depth, combined with the home crowd, will be too much for Arkansas today. Gators 23-16

West Virginia at Baylor
For West Virginia, which last week notched the school's biggest win in several years, this is a chance to prove they are a genuine factor in the Big 12. For Baylor, which has not faced a quality opponent all season, this is also a chance to prove to prove they are for real. I expect Baylor to prevail because I don't think West Virginia can play back to back like they did against Oklahoma State last Saturday. Bears 30-22

Ole Miss at Auburn
I figured I'd save my alma mater's game for last. I am pleased with the way Auburn has improved from game to game and the way they scrapped back in the loss at LSU. They are showing the kind of character that is necessary to make last year's 3-9 disaster fade from memory. Ole Miss provides a challenge because they are legitimately ranked and far more talented than usual, and (contrary to what some media people claimed) they played well last week in Tuscaloosa. Beating Ole Miss is usually not a major accomplishment, but it will be this year if Auburn can do it. I can think of as many reasons to predict an Auburn loss as I can an Auburn victory; but am going to go way out on a limb and forecast that, with two weeks to prepare, Gus Malzahn will come up with the right strategy for his team to pull out a squeaker. Tigers 29-27

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