Report Card Day! Week 7 from Bub
Arizona State at USC- Southern Cal still has a very decent shot at the title game and a 50-50 shot at worst of the Rose Bowl. Arizona State is trying to stop he bleeding from getting embarrassed two weeks ago at home to Oregon. I think we were all in agreement that ASU was a team on the rise before the season, but the quarterback coup that saw Rudy Carpenter get installed as the starter changed how the rest of the country saw the team, then they played like a team with no confidence.
USC reloaded and looks almost as good as they did last year. On paper, ASU shouldn't be much of a challenge. 'SC struggles at some point this season, but not against ASU. 'SC by double digits.
Missouri at Texas A&M- The Big 12's feel good story as the Tigers are still undefeated and if they can pick off Nebraska, could be headed for a date with the Longhorns in the Big 12 Title game. While not challenged yet, they play well on both sides of the ball and, of course, win.
Texas A&M lost at home to Texas Tech. While the Red Raiders excel at pinball football with lesser teams, beating A&M was a big win for them and a bigger loss for the Aggies, especially in College Station.
We know that really the only thing that matters is beating Texas, and they aren't on the field in Aggieland Saturday. The Big 12 North, dubbed by some as the Big 12 Lite, really has played well this year. Expect a passionate game from under loved Mizzou and rumblings from he crowd as the Tigers win by 6 on the road.
UCLA at Oregon- So, you get waxed by the tree huggers in Berkley. What do you do. What do you do? You beat the living snot out of UCLA at home, that's what you do.
Oregon's case for USC's waterboy was gone within the first forty-five minutes against a much improved Cal team on mostly national television last weekend. The defense looked inept as Cal scored, and scored, and scored again. It was Oregon that had a beef to settle from last year, not getting in the Fiesta Bowl. Yet, Cal showed why they were highly regarded to begin the year by pouring orange sauce all over the Ducks.
Now, with UCLA losing their #1 quarterback, there can be redemption again. If Oregon cannot win this came by at least a touchdown, then the program is in trouble this year. Until Cal slaughtered the defense, Oregon could boast of the fact that they had the best defense in the conference. Not after last week.
This is a right the ship game, which the Ducks should win by at least 10.
Rutgers at Navy- If Rutgers is to be taken seriously, they need this game. If Ray Rice wants to be invited to New York, he needs to win this game. Navy is a scrappy team full of good players and can be pesky to those who don't prepare for them.
Not only is Rutgers looking for a bowl game this year, making the first time that they would have played in bowl games in back to back seasons, they still have a decent shot at a good one, and an outside shot at a BCS game. That, however, crashes to earth if they lose to Navy. The Midshipman may find a bowl, but they aren't a serious threat to the really good teams. Rutgers believes that they belong in the really good pile.
Whether they are or not is yet to be determined, but they can continue to make that case and continue to raise the Big East profile with a comfortable win in Annapolis. I don't know if it will be comfortable, but they will win, and Rice continues to make it hard for Heisman voters to ignore him.
Michigan at Penn State- The chatter has been righting the wrong of last year's last second loss at the Big House for the Nittany Lions. It may have been a BS call that cost them, but they would have been the odd team out in the USC-Texas Rose Bowl.
Flash forward to this year and the roles are reversed. It's Michigan that is undefeated now, and Penn State looking confused and unsure. Yes, Mario Manningham will not play and yes, Mike Hart is banged up, but does Penn State have anyone on the offense that can beat you?
After underwhelming performances against Ohio State and Notre Dame, Joepa's boys need to play a perfect game to win. No penalties and no turnovers, and have Anthony Morrelli play the game of his life. Michigan has shown they are deep at wide receiver, strong on both lines, and, oh yeah, they play defense too.
If you are a Wolverine fan, his is the one game that can throw the monkey wrench into the plans of Ohio State being for all the marbles, the Big 10 and Glendale. Talent wise, it's a mis-match, but you better believe that 97,000 rabid fans and Paterno's magic will have them ready for Michigan.
Michigan wins, and if it remains a game after the first quarter, it will be by only a field goal. Penn State has a big heart, they'll need it to knock off Michigan.
Florida at Auburn- Who did the Gators upset at SEC headquarters? Let's see, Alabama, LSU, at Auburn, and Georgia in four weeks. That's like making your dog do stupid tricks to show his loyalty. Yet, add Tennessee to the early season mix and that's Florida's first half schedule. Add finding a cure for cancer and AIDS and Urban Meyer might find the second half of his schedule a bit easier. Yet, actually having an offense has been the biggest check mark on the Gators list of success. Meyer's use of Chris Leak and Tim Tebow has been perfect. Coaches, using two quarterbacks to find a starter is bad, using two quarterbacks with talent to throw off your defense is good. The big difference is that Leak is the starter, and not fighting for his job. Oh, and Florida can play defense too.
Now, if you thought that this game might have had Glendale written all over it back in August, you would have been right, here's $50. Hold it, give me back that $50 if you thought it would have been for Auburn's ticket. While the home team for this week's ESPN full spin boo-yeah, overhypetitude game of the century, yes, it is still three days until Brian and I play tidly winks on Monday night, is in fact the Auburn Tigers, the magic ride ended at the hands of Arkansas last week.
Now the Tigers will be lucky just to get to Atlanta, and face the Gators again for any BCS hopes. Like a bad mystery novel, most teams figured out that of you put eight upfront to stop Kenny Irons, that Brandon Cox would be forced to beat you. Since this is college, some teams could put fifteen in the box, but not have the talent to stop Irons. The reality is, that not only is Cox a suspect call to beat you single handily, he didn't even get the chance to try last week as the defense couldn't keep Arkansas from running the football. Chinese water torture for the bandwagon.
We know that Florida can beat you in the air, and on he ground. We also know that Auburn is a really, really good team, that has taken a long nap after getting lucky beating LSU. Now that they will not break Ohio State's lucky national championship run of a few years back, (forget the PI call, just look at the Purdue game that year.) it remains to be seen if the teeth in the Tigers mouth are real or dentures.
In years past, this has been a shoot-out. If Florida gets up by ten, it's over. This Auburn team cannot score at will. They need to be within seven at all times to win, which they could do. The defense failed last week, they need to make amends.
I think Florida will be #1 come Sunday, they win by 5.
Sweaty palms, dry mouth, hard swallowing. No, not your first date, but your feelings on every other sixth or ninth Friday while you were (or are) in high school. I was lucky enough to do it two different ways in two different schools, (the report card, not the date thing), and the anxiety of getting your report card handed to you at the end of the day, well, you couldn't fudge it in the photocopier waiting for the bus. Or wait until it came in the mail at the end of the year. ***fingers drumming***
(Why is he going on about report cards?)
Dear reader, sometime on Sunday afternoon the first Bowl Championship Series standings will be released, presented by Dr Pepper who would do anything for money AND will do that, and all the schools with big money payouts in their minds will know exactly where they stand. The honor roll schools will be pleased, but like a pushy parent, some schools will underachieve. Six weeks left to change your fortune. Progress reports now come weekly. Study hard, boys.
One last chance to impress the human voters before the pressure gets ratcheted up a notch or two this weekend. With 50% of the BCS formula in the hands of the pollsters, they need to leave a lasting impression as changing slots becomes a lot harder, unless you lose.
Onto the games: