BY MICHAEL LEESE
No. 25 GEORGIA (6-3/4-2) AT No.7 AUBURN (9-1/5-1) For the fourth time this season, Georgia is facing a nationally ranked Tigers team, this time it is Auburn. The story line is Aaron Murray versus the Auburn ground game in this SEC battle. This game has a huge impact on the bowl picture for several teams, as both teams can still claim their division titles, but the loser will not win their division. Murray comes in completing 63-percent of his passes good for 2,477 yards and 20 scores. Todd Gurley is back and healthy, providing the Bulldogs with a solid ground game. The Tigers will counter with a dynamic ground game ranked No. 3 in the nation, averaging 320 yards per game! Tre Mason leads the assault with 1,088 yards, and Nick Marshall, Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant all have more than 500 yards. The Tigers have won six in a row since dropping a 35-21 decision at LSU. A win by the Tigers sets up a SEC West showdown with Alabama for the division title. Georgia has won six out of the last seven in this series by an average of 22 points, including a 38-0 shutout last season. The Tigers will keep this one close, but in the end Murray and Gurley get it done. BULLDOGS 34 TIGERS 24.
No. 12 OKLAHOMA STATE (8-1/5-1) AT No.24 TEXAS (7-2/6-0) The Cowboys have won five straight, while the Longhorns have reeled off six in a row and are undefeated in conference play! The Pokes are a hard read, as Clint Chelf has taken over as the starting quarterback and the offense seems to have found its groove. I just have a difficult time getting behind a team, whose quarterback only completes 51-percent of his passes. For the Cowboys, this is the start of a three-game stretch that has Baylor and Oklahoma ahead. A loss here would make it almost impossible for State to win the conference. Meanwhile, the Longhorns continue to suffer huge injuries each week. At West Virginia this past weekend, top tailback Johnathan Gray went down and he is lost for the season. Quarterback Case McCoy played his best game of the season in the overtime win, and he will need a huge effort here to get the win. The Cowboys actually have the better defense allowing only 19.7 PPG. The home team has dropped the last four in this series. Those two facts have me picking the Cowboys! MAKE IT FIVE IN A ROW FOR THE ROAD TEAM…..COWBOYS RIDE ON, 30 – 23
No. 16 MICHIGAN STATE (8-1/5-0) AT NEBRASKA (7-2/4-1) This is the battle for the Legends Division crown in the Big 10. The Spartans have won five in a row since quarterback Connor Cook to control of the offense. He has been efficient completing 59-percent of his passes, and throwing 13 TDs. Jeremy Langford balances the offense, rushing for 775 yards and 10 scores. The real strength of the Spartans is their, “Smack you in the mouth” defense. They allow only 11.6 points per game, third best in the country! They’ll face a Nebraska team led by Tommy Armstrong Jr., who is actually 5-0 as a starter for Nebraska. The Huskers will have to get a huge game from Ameer Abdullah who is ranked seventh in the country with 1,213 yards. In seven meetings, Nebraska has never lost to Michigan State. Armstrong has thrown more interceptions than TDs, it’s time to start a new trend. Look for a “Pick Six” for the Spartans, in a Victory for MSU. MICHIGAN STATE 23 NEBRASKA 13
No.4 STANFORD (8-1/6-1) AT USC (7-3/4-2) I cannot wait to watch this battle! Will Stanford suffer a letdown after last week’s intense 26-20 win over Oregon? Tyler Gaffney leads the Cardinal attack with his 1,043 yards rushing, and is coming off a game where he had 45 carries for 157 yards! The Trojans are 4-1 under interim head coach Ed Orgeron. Quarterback Cody Kessler has been getting better every week, and the Trojan ground attack has improved behind Silas Redd and Javorius Allen who has two 100-yard games the past two weeks. The Cardinal have won the last four meetings in this series, but the Southern Cal homecoming crowd makes the difference. THE MEN OF TROY 29 – CARDINAL 24
OTHER NOTABLE GAMES………..
HOUSTON AT NO. 20 LOUISVILLE Both teams enter this AAC matchup at 4-1 in conference play, with both losing only to UCF. The loser really has no chance at a conference title, and Teddy Bridgewater is the difference here. Cardinals 38 Cougars 28
FLORIDA AT No.10 SOUTH CAROLINA It’s hard to imagine that Florida may be on the outside looking in during the bowl season. That’s exactly what we will get if the Gators can’t find a way to win this one. Too many injuries for the Gators, as the Gamecocks roll 35-17
TEXAS TECH AT No.5 BAYLOR Could Baylor be in letdown mode after defeating Oklahoma last Thursday night? The answer is NO. Red Raiders have dropped three straight and face a team they won’t be able to outscore! It’s spawning season in Waco, as the Ba Bears leave a mark on the Red Raiders 55-34.
MICHIGAN AT NORTHWESTERN After a 4-0 start, the wheels have fallen off for Northwestern as they have dropped five straight. This is a must win for the Wildcats if they hope to go bowling. The good news is, that the Wolverines are struggling as well. Wildcats win a shootout 44-41.