What to Watch this Weekend – Cougars and Tigers and Bears and More

BY MICHAEL LEESE

BAYLOR (9-0/6-0) AT OKLAHOMA STATE (9-1/6-1)  This game should decide the Big 12 title! Baylor takes to the road travelling to Stillwater, where the Bears have had a difficult time winning. The Bears have the better offense averaging 61.2 PPG to 40.4 PPG, and the better defense, allowing only 17.4 PPG to the Cowboys 19 PPG. They also have a huge advantage at quarterback, where Bryce Petty shines with a stunning 24-1 touchdown to interception rate!  The problem for the Bears has been injuries as running backs Lache Seastrunk, Glasco Martin, receiver Tevin Reese and linebacker Bryce Hager could all miss this game!  Despite the injuries, I will side with a hungry Bear bunch. Baylor wins a shootout 48-44.

MISSOURI (9-1/5-1) AT MISSISSIPPI (7-3/3-3)  This is a huge game for the Missouri Tigers as they look to protect a one win lead in the SEC East. If the Tigers win out, they will win the East division championship, but a loss here means that South Carolina will go to the SEC Championship Game.   James Franklin figures to return at quarterback following a five game absence after suffering a separated shoulder. Franklin was outstanding prior to the injury completing 67-percent of his passes and tossing 14 touchdowns!   Meanwhile, Ole Miss rides into this game on a four-game winning streak that includes a big home win over LSU.  This game will be decided by the quarterback battle between Bo Wallace and Franklin.  I think Franklin might be a little rusty, and I love the home crowd edge on senior day. Rebels yell! 34-31.

TEXAS A&M (8-2/4-2) AT LSU (7-3/3-3)  A fun fact  — the Aggies are 9-0 on the road in SEC play!  Will they make it 10 in a row?  Johnny Manziel enters this contest having completed 73-percent of his passes for 3,313 yards and 31 touchdowns! Mike Evans has been the recipient of 12 of those touchdown passes, and presents a match-up nightmare for opposing defenses. The Tigers will need a flawless performance from Zach Mettenberger and solid ball control on offense to have a shot in this game.  Look for Jeremy Hill  (964 yards this year), Terrence Magee and Kenny Hilliard to play key roles in the ground game for the Tigers.  LSU forced five turnovers against A&M last year, en route to a 24-19 victory. I look for more of the same this year in this Death Vallley.  TIGERS INTERCEPT AGGIES, WIN 37-28.

ARIZONA STATE (8-2/6-1) AT UCLA (8-2/5-2)  The Sun Devils control their own destiny in the PAC-12 South race. If they win here, they play in the Pac-12 Championship Game. This game is a toss-up as both teams are similar in many ways.  For the Sun Devils, Marion Grice will be the key to victory. He enters the game with 901 yards rushing, while scoring 14 touchdowns on the ground and adds 43 receptions with an six more touchdowns!  In Westwood, Brett Hundley leads the Bruin attack. The Sophomore quarterback has thrown for 2,384 yards and 20 scores. He also leads the team in rushing, with 502 yards and seven rushing touchdowns!  I’ll give the Sun Devils a slight edge on defense, with their front-seven making the difference. Overtime thriller here as Sparky and the Devils survive and win the division, 41-38.

SOME OTHER HIGH-IMPACT GAMES THIS WEEKEND

CINCINNATI (8-2/5-1) AT HOUSTON (7-3/4-2) This is a must win game for Bearcats who are trying to stay in the AAC race.  Brandon Kay has been solid since taking over the starting quarterback spot for Munchie Legaux who tore his ACL. Kay has completes 73-percent of his passes with 20 touchdown tosses. The Bearcats also have the 10th best defense in the nation, allowing only 18.6 PPG.  Meanwhile, the Cougars are coming back from two straight road losses, at Louisville and Central Florida.  BEARCATS GET BIG ROAD WIN 31-20.

BOISE STATE (7-3/5-1) AT SAN DIEGO STATE (6-4/5-1)  Boise State must win to stay at top of the Mountain Division of the MWC. This game features two of the top running backs in the conference as Jay Ajayi leads The Broncos with 1,078 yards and 15 touchdowns, while the Aztecs counter with Adam Muema who has 958 yards on the ground with 11 scores. The Broncos are seeking revenge as they suffered a 21-19 loss at home last season to the Aztecs. They won’t get it, as a motivated home team on senior day has the Broncos singing the Blues! UPSET SPECIAL…….AZTECS 34 – BRONCOS 30.

MICHIGAN (7-3/3-3) AT IOWA (6-4/3-3) Michigan needed triple overtime to get past Northwestern last week and break a two-game losing streak.  Turnovers have killed many a drive this season for the Wolverines, and Iowa will use its 12th ranked defense to force a few more, then ride workhorse tailback Mark Weisman for the win!  HAWKEYES TAME WOLVERINES 22-17.

PITT (5-5/2-4) AT SYRACUSE (5-5/3-3)   Through different conferences and other changes, these teams have played every season since 1955.  In their first year in the ACC, nearly every league game these two teams have played this season has been a toss-up, excluding Clemson and Florida State.    This game is too, as both teams are coming off losses, and need one more win for bowl eligibility. The problem for the Panthers is they have no real identity on offense.  Syracuse does, and that is pounding the football.  The home team has won seven out of the last 10 in this series. MAKE IT EIGHT OF ELEVEN, ORANGE 20 PANTHERS 13.

UTAH (4-6/1-6) AT WASHINGTON STATE (5-5/3-4) The Cougars are coming off a huge win in the desert, beating Arizona 24-17, and the fan base is actually talking about going to a bowl game!   The Utes have hit the skids after losing starting quarterback Travis Wilson for the season. For the Cougars,  Connor Halliday has thrown for 3,417 yards and 22 scores. He adds to that total in a big way as the Cougars go bowling for the first time since 2003. COUGARS POUNCE ON UNSUSPECTING UTES 38-24.

BYU (7-3) AT NOTRE DAME (7-3)  These Cougars journey to South Bend in what’s been termed, Mormons versus Catholics.  BYU has the better offense, the better defense and the better running game.  I guess the better bet is to take the Cougars in a road victory 24-21.

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