This week we get back down to Earth on the college gridiron. The past two weeks have been crazy with multiple top-5 and top-10 matchups. It was fun while it lasted but this week the “other guys” get the spotlight.
#3 Ole Miss at #24 LSU
I’m not calling for the upset here. I am calling for whatever is between upset and cakewalk. We’ll call it a surprisingly good game between a top-5 squad and a barely-ranked squad. On the surface there’s no reason to expect anything but a Tiger-stomping courtesy of the Rebels. I think, though, that people forget a couple things here.
Baton Rouge is a notoriously tough place to play at night. Many a squad has gone there only to be upended. Yes, this particular LSU squad is raw, but they’ll feed off that energy. Also remember that LSU hasn’t exactly been awful the last two weeks. Since getting stomped by Auburn, the Tigers beat Florida on the road, and they curb-stomped a young but talented Kentucky team last week.
Granted, Florida is a dumpster fire and Kentucky is young. Look beyond the wins to how LSU has won. They’ve returned to their physical style of play and they’ve controlled the line-of-scrimmage. Terrence Magee and Leonard Fournette combined for 397 yards in those games, and Anthony Jennings did not throw a pick in either game.
All that said, Ole Miss’s defense allows only 10 points per game–10 points per game! They’ve also scored almost as many touchdowns (4) as they’ve allowed (6). Throw in the fact that Rebel QB Bo Wallace hasn’t thrown a pick in the last three weeks, and Ole Miss is probably just too good to lose this game. It should be fun, though.
Ole Miss 31, LSU 20
#5 Auburn vs South Carolina
Expect the bad times to continue for the ball coach. Gus Malzahn has a tough offense to prepare for under normal circumstances. He’s had two weeks to prepare for Spurrier’s crew, and it will likely leave a mark on the boys from Columbia.
Auburn gets safety Jermaine Whitehead back for this game–not that the secondary has exactly struggled without him. He started prior to his suspension for mouthing off to a coach before the K-State game. This increases the team’s depth and versatility if nothing else, and makes it less likely that South Carolina QB Dylan Thompson throws for his first 300-yard game since the season opener.
Mike Davis plays as the bright spot offensively for South Carolina. He’s run for 100 yards or more in three consecutive games. The bad news for the Gamecocks is that Auburn ranks 20th in the country against the run, and basically starts four defensive tackles on the d-line.
South Carolina looks to avoid losing 3 consecutive SEC games for the first time since 2009 while attempting to beat Auburn for the first time since joining the SEC in 1991. Neither will happen.
Auburn 41, South Carolina 17
#13 Ohio State vs Penn State
The only game of import and meaning that remains on the Big 10 schedule is Ohio State vs Michigan State. Michigan State vs Michigan interests from a standpoint of morbid curiosity. Will the Spartans score 70? Will Brady Hoke finally wear headphones? Even if only to block out the cacophony of boos descending upon him?
Since this matchup remains still three weeks away, I highlight because of the trap-game potential. Ohio State feels good about themselves right now, and they should. Penn State feels the opposite of good about themselves, and they should. These two teams head in completely opposite directions.
Joe Fortenbaugh says in the National Football Post that “the Buckeyes have won four straight contests by the staggering average of 38.7 points per game, while the Nittany Lions have dropped their last two outings by an average of 14.0 points per game after opening the season 4-0.”
What’s worse, Penn State’s offense ranks 11th in the country, and Ohio State’s stands at 4th. Ohio State could get caught looking ahead to Michigan State in this game–not likely, but it could happen.
There will be a White Out in Happy Valley on Saturday, and as we know, all sports teams play better when all their fans wear exactly the same thing. Not really, since the Nittany Lions are only batting .500 (3-3) in White Out games. There’s always the chance for magic there.
But there’s much more potential for a Buckeye beat down.
Ohio State 45, Penn State 10