BY MICHAEL LEESE
We should have a better read on the Pac-12 South on Sunday, after this weekends games. Four teams are currently in the hunt for the division lead and the right to play Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game. USC will face off against UCLA, while Arizona heads to Utah to face the Utes. Arizona State will host Washington State Saturday morning in Tempe. The Trojans currently have a half game lead in the south sitting at 6-2. Arizona, Arizona State and UCLA all sit at 5-2. Several other games of interest will involve teams trying to get bowl eligible. Arkansas, Tennessee and Michigan will all be at home looking for their sixth win of the season. Will they get it? My predictions below.
No.12 KANSAS STATE (7-2) AT WEST VIRGINIA (6-4) Kansas State sits in a virtual three-way tie, with Baylor and TCU in the Big 12 standings and could secure at least a share of the Big 12 title by winning out, Quarterback play will ultimately decide this contest, as Jake Waters and Clint Trickett figure to wage a heated battle. Waters has led the Wildcats to a solid season, throwing for 2,169 yards and 13 scores. He is also second on the team in rushing with 406 yards. Trickett has enjoyed a solid season as well, completing 68% of his passes, good for 3,173 yards and 18 touchdowns! Mountaineers leading receiver Kevin White has been held without a touchdown for two consecutive weeks. He is fourth in FBS in receiving yards with 1,207. Trickett to White will be the difference in this game.. MOUNTIES HOLD THE FORT 33-27.
No.25 MINNESOTA (7-3) AT No.23 NEBRASKA (8-2) Both these teams enter this game off a loss. Nebraska was embarrassed last Saturday at Wisconsin as the “Black Shirts” gave up 581 rushing yards to the Badgers! The Gophers put up a good fight at home, but eventually fell to Ohio State. These two squads will rely heavily on their running games. David Cobb leads the Gophers with 1,350 yards rushing. He has accounted for more than 40 percent of the offense. Ameer Abdullah is rounding back into shape after suffering a knee injury three weeks ago. He leads the Husker offense with 1,319 yards and 17 touchdowns. Last year the Gophers defeated the Huskers 34-23, breaking a 16 game losing streak. This is the final home game this season for Nebraska and I expect a much better performance than last week. HUSKERS GO GOPHER HUNTING, GET PAYBACK 37-20.
No.15 ARIZONA (8-2) AT No.17 UTAH (7-3) This is virtually an elimination game in the Pac-12 South. Both teams are still mathematically alive for the division crown. Both teams pulled out dramatic wins last weekend to set the stage here in Salt Lake City, The Wildcats were outplayed last week at home by the Washington Huskies and needed a last second field goal to get a win. Utah defeated Stanford 20-17 in its school-record third overtime game of the season. Five of the Utes’ conference games have been decided by three points or fewer. This figures to be a defensive battle as the Utes own the best pass rush in the nation, featuring Nate orchard. Orchard leads the nation with 16 1/2 sacks. UTES TAME WILDCATS 23-20.
No.16 WISCONSIN (8-2) AT IOWA (7-3) Wisconsin enters this contest winners of five in a row. Melvin Gordon could once again make history Saturday, as he’s just 91 yards shy of that rare 2,000-yard plateau and 201 yards short of Wisconsin’s single-season rushing record set by Ron Dayne in 1996. The Badgers could well be 10-0, but a fourth quarter meltdown in the season opener against LSU and a stunning road loss at Northwestern. Iowa has also had an up and down campaign, and just two weeks ago were hammered on the road at Minnesota. This game will simply be decided on how well the Hawkeyes contain Gordon. The answer is also simple. They won’t! BADGERS FEAST ON HAWKEYES, 41-21.
No.19 USC (7-3) AT No.9 UCLA (8-2) The Bruins control their own destiny in the Pac-12 South. If they win out, they will meet Oregon for the conference title. I’ve been riding the Trojan bandwagon a few weeks now, and now is no time to jump off. Cody kessler and Brett Hundley are two of the better quarterbacks in the country. Both have had outstanding seasons and could be headed to the NFL at the end of the season. A look inside the numbers shows us everything we need to know about this game. Kessler, has thrown for 2,919 yards and 29 touchdowns. Hundley, has thrown for 2,547 yards and 17 touchdowns. Edge goes to Kessler. The Trojans have the better offensive line, and Kessler has more weapons to distribute the ball too. USC, also has the better defense, that will harass Hundley all night long. TROY RISES AGAIN, TAME BRUINS 35-28.
NORTH CAROLINA (5-5) AT DUKE (8-2) There is a lot on the line Thursday night in Durham. Duke controls their own destiny in the coastal division of the ACC. Two more wins and they will play for the ACC crown. North Carolina needs one more win to become bowl eligible. The Tar Heels have dominated this backyard rivalry, winning 21 out of the last 24 meetings. However, the Blue Devils have won two straight. Quarterback Marquise Williams will be the best player on the field. The dual-threat signal caller directs a Tar Hell offense that puts up 36 points per game. It’s the Tar Heel defense that has me concerned as they have the worst total defense by far in the ACC, allowing 512 yards per game, 122 more than the next-worst team (Duke). The Blue Devils have not lost back-to-back games all season. The last time Duke went a whole season without losing consecutive games was in 1962. THAT STREAK CONTINUES, HEELS WIN BATTLE FOR VICTORY BELL 42-38.
PICK-SIX SPECIALS, SIX GAMES, SIX WORDS
* MARYLAND AT MICHIGAN……….Final home game for Hoke? WOLVERINES RALLY 26-17.
* STANFORD AT CALIFORNIA……….Offense versus defense. Defense prevails. STANFORD 41-33.
* OREGON STATE AT WASHINGTON……….Losing Terron Ward is a Beaver Killer! HUSKIES 31-20.
* MISSOURI AT TENNESSEE……….Tigers have won nine straight road games. MAKE IT TEN 35-31.
* MISSISSIPPI AT ARKANSAS……….To much on the line for Rebels to lose. HOGS FALL SHORT 27-17.
* SYRACUSE AT PITTSBURGH……….Panthers keep faint bowl hopes alive. PITT 38-17.
SEASON RECORDS PICKING WINNERS
WHAT I’M WATCHING 41-14
PICK SIX-PACK 31-17
UPSET SPECIALS 9-3