What to Watch This Weekend

BY MICHAEL LEESE

No. 5 FLORIDA STATE (5-0) AT No.3 CLEMSON (6-0)   For the last four seasons, the winner of this game has won the Atlantic Division, and again, the winner of this game will be in the driver’s seat to play in the ACC Championship Game.   The Seminole offense that is ranked third in the country, averaging 53.6 points per game.  Red-shirt Freshmen quarterback Jameis Winston leads the Noles, completing 73-percent of his passes, for 1,441 yards and a 17/2 touchdown to interception ratio!  The Seminole defense also comes in ranked third in the nation, allowing only 12 PPG. But the Tigers have won the last five games played at Clemson in this series, and quarterback Tajh Boyd returned to Clemson for his senior season for this opportunity. He has stated that he wants to take his team to the BCS National Championship. A win here would be a huge step in that direction. So far this season, Boyd has completed 66-percent of his passes, good for 1,783 yards and 15 touchdowns, and he has rushed for five more. Defensive coordinator Brent Venables was brought into rebuild a porous Tiger defense. He has done that, as the Tigers are allowing only 16.2 PPG, the 10th best mark in the nation, and the Tigers have held five straight opponents to under 14 points. This game comes down to a battle between Winston and Boyd.  I’ll go with the experienced Boyd as the Seminoles dream of an undefeated season dies in Death Valley. Clemson 33 – Florida State 30

CENTRAL FLORIDA (4-1) AT No.8 LOUISVILLE (6-0)  These two schools are the heavyweights of the American Athletic Conference.  This is likely to be the battle for the conference title, because the AAC does not play a championship game.  The Golden Knights are led by quarterback Blake Bortles, who has completed 65-percent of his passes, for 1,334 yards and nine scores. Storm Johnson anchors the running game with 455 yards and seven TDs. The Knights defense has guarded the goal line, allowing only 16.6 PPG.  They’ll be tested by a Louisville team that is loaded on offense. Teddy Bridgewater is a Heisman hopeful and has played like it! He has completed 71-percent of his passes and thrown 18 touchdown passes to six different receivers. The trio of taibacks, Senorise Perry, Dominique Brown and Michael Dyer, have combined for more than 900 rushing yards, giving the Cardinals one of the better balanced offenses in the nation!  I think the Knights hang around early in this one, but in the end, Teddy & Cos. National Championship hopes make it through another Knights.  Cardinals 41 -Golden Knights 28

No. 24 AUBURN (5-1) AT No. 7 TEXAS A&M (5-1) Auburn has been a pleasant surprise in Gus Malzahn’s first tour, as the Tigers have used a dominating ground attack to move into the Top-25. Tre Mason, Cameron Artis-Payne and Carey Grant have combined for 1,235 rushing yards, averaging 287 yards per game on the ground, good for 7th in the country. The blueprint for success against A&M is a solid running game, and keeping the ball out of Johnny Manziel‘s hands, because we all know about Manziel and what he can do with the football.  In the end, the Aggies simply have too much on offense for the Tigers to overcome here.  The Aggies tame the Tigers -51-24

No.22 FLORIDA (4-2) AT No.14 MISSOURI (6-0) Did you think Missouri would be undefeated at this point in the season?  I certainly didn’t!   Will they be able to stay undefeated against a Florida team that is coming in off a physical 17-6 loss at LSU, a game in which they lost running back Matt Jones for the season?   So far this season, the Gators average only 21.8 PPG on offense and only 15 PPG on the road.  To have a shot in this game, they’ll need to rely heavily on their 4th ranked defense, which is giving up only 13 PPG. Missouri, meanwhile suffered a huge loss of its own, with the loss of quarterback James Franklin to a separated shoulder. He will miss at least four weeks, so Freshman Maty Mauk will step in to replace Franklin. He has the benefit of two great receivers in LaDamian Washington and Dorial Green-Beckham, who have combined for 854 yards and 11 scores! The Tigers also feature a solid running game with three running backs that have more than 300 yards rushing. A key to the game, could very well be the fact that the Tigers lead the FBS in interceptions with 13.  I also question the emotional states as the Gators now have no shot of a BCS berth, while Missouri is coming off its biggest win in years.  I don’t this the depleted Gators can tame these Tigers. Mizzou wins this big SEC matchup 26-20.

No.9 UCLA (5-0) AT No.13 STANFORD (5-1)   Stanford fans had dreams of a perfect season, and a BCS National Championship Game appearance.  That dream ended in Salt Lake City last week, when Utah stunned the nation with an upset of the Cardinal. For the Bruins, this is the first of two huge road games, as they head to Oregon next weekend.  They come in  7th nationally in scoring offense at 45.8 per game.  Brett Hundley leads the Bruin attack, completing 68-percent of his passes, good for 1,469 yards and twelve TDs. The Cardinal have now struggled two weeks in a row. They narrowly defeated Washington and were beaten by Utah last week. Head coach David Shaw has said the team needs to get back to the basics, and they will.  Stanford has playmakers in running back Tyler Gaffney and receiver Ty Montgomery, and I think they will be the difference this week.  The Cardinal get back in the win column, Stanford 33-27.

OTHER NOTABLE GAMES……

USC 34- NOTRE DAME 30  Under interim-head coach Ed Orgeron, the Trojans are motivated and a team to watch the rest of the way! They should get back Marquise Lee back Saturday, and have won five straight in South Bend. Make it six!

ARIZONA STATE 33 – WASHINGTON 30 The Huskies have played Stanford and Oregon the past two weeks, and I’m not sure what’s left in the tank here.  I think the last team to have the ball wins this one!

ARIZONA 34 – UTAH 28 Trevor Wilson has been outstanding for the Utes, but Rich Rodriguez really needs this one.  I think he gets it!

OREGON 66 – WASHINGTON STATE 21  It would be more, but the Ducks will be displaying pink helmets, which will be distracting.  I have to deduct a touchdown for this!  Seriously, the Ducks are raising money for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.    http://kayyow.com/

 

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