BY MICHAEL LEESE
RICE (6-2/4-0) at NORTH TEXAS (5-3/3-1) This winner of this game will be in control of their own destiny on the way to winning the Western Division of Conference USA. The Owls will try to over-power the Mean Green with a physical running game. Charles Ross, a 235-pound running back leads the Owls with 697 yards and averages 6.2 yards per carry. Quarterback Taylor McHargue also can run, as he has added 328 yards on the ground. The Mean Green will counter with quarterback Derek Thompson and his favorite targets, Brelon Chancellor and Darnell Smith. Thompson has hit on 68-percent of his passes for 1,980 yards and eleven scores. This Halloween match-up should feature a few tricks and a few treats, but the Owls win a spooky one 33-27.
GEORGIA (4-3/3-2) vs. FLORIDA (4-3/3-2) The World’s Largest Cocktail Party has been shaken, as both teams are crawling into Jacksonville with the same record, and hanging-low following two straight losses. Injuries have hit both teams extremely hard this season. The Bulldogs have suffered season ending injuries to several key offensive performers, including the top three receivers. The Gators have been hit equally as hard, losing starting quarterback Jeff Driskell, running back Matt Jones and standouts on the defense and line. The mix of Aaron Murray and Todd Gurley makes all the difference, as Bulldogs bite gators 33-18!
No. 21 MICHIGAN (6-1/2-1) AT No.22 MICHIGAN STATE (7-1/4-0) The big game of the week in the Big Ten, with the winner taking control of the Legends Division race, and the Paul Bunyan Trophy. The Wolverines will take their 8th-ranked offense, scoring 42.4 PPG, to East Lansing to face the Spartans 3rd ranked defense! For Michigan, Devin Gardner has been brilliant at times and has impressive numbers, throwing for 1,779 yards and 13 TDs. But he has had ball security issues, throwing 10 picks and losing several key fumbles. The Spartans have run off four consecutive victories since falling to Notre Dame 17-13. Since being named the starting quarterback, Connor Cook has been the difference. The Sophomore signal caller has a solid 12/2 touchdown to interception ratio! Michigan is coming off of a bye week, and had the advantage of having extra time to prepare. The team that has the most rushing yards has won 40 out of the last 43 games in this series, and Gardner and Fitzgerald Toussaint give the Wolverines that edge! Wolverines stun Sparty, 27 – 23.
No. 18 OKLAHOMA STATE (6-1/3-1) AT No. 15 TEXAS TECH (7-1/4-1) This could well be one of the better games in the country this weekend. Both teams enter the contest with one conference loss, a loss here will probably end all hopes of a conference title. The Cowboys have confused me all season long, as I expected a lot more firepower from their offense. Surprisingly, it’s been the defense that has been the strength of the team to this point, allowing only 19.6 PPG. In Lubbock, Kliff Kingsbury has pushed all the right buttons for an over-achieving Red Raiders team. Kingsbury might have his toughest challenge yet, as his team is off its first loss of the season. The Red Raiders have the third best passing offense in the nation at 420 yards per game, and I think the consistency of the Red Raider offense will be the difference in this game. Texas Tech gets revenge for last years 59-21 loss, as the Matador Song plays and the Cowboys are sent packing, 41-30.
No.7 MIAMI, FLA (7-0/3-0) AT No.3 FLORIDA STATE (7-0/5-0) The battle for ACC and State of Florida supremacy is scheduled for Saturday, as both teams come in ranked in the Top-10 and undefeated. Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston has been remarkable in his Freshman campaign, leading an offense that is third nationally in scoring at 52.6 points per game. He has completed 70-percent of his passes for 2,177 yards and 23 touchdowns. The Seminoles also have the fourth best defense in the country and are allowing only 13 points per game! The Hurricanes will need to climb on the back of Duke Johnson to have any shot in this game. Johnson leads the team with 823 yards and six touchdowns. If Johnson and the Hurricane offense can keep the ball out of Jameis Winston’s hands they might have a shot to stay close. I think the Seminoles just have to many advantages on both sides of the ball. Ten out of the last 12 games in this series have been decided by a touchdown or less!, but I think this year Florida State moves to 8-0 with a decisive 42-14 victory.
OTHER NOTABLE GAMES…….
INDIANA 44 – MINNESOTA 28 The home team has won ten out of the last eleven in this series, and this is a must win for the Hoosiers if they want to go to a bowl game. I think the Hoosiers play their best game of the season, as the Gophers will be flat after last weeks home win over Nebraska.
OREGON STATE 37 – USC 26 Will the Beavers bounce back after a loss to Stanford? They are at home and t he visiting team has lost five straight in this series. I think Sean Mannion and Brandin Cooks get back on track versus a thin USC defense. Beavers Roll.
MISSOURI 45 – TENNESSEE 17 The Tigers are hungry to get back on the field after suffering a bitter defeat to South Carolina last week in overtime. This game could get ugly early, as the Tigers Roar!