HALLOWEEN WEEKEND is always my favorite weekend during the regular season. This is where the students tend to shine. Across the country this weekend you will see some special moments as the student sections will be in full costumes. I will look to capture this with tons of photos from the two games I will be in attendance. Thursday night action will feature three games that figure to be great matchups. The three top tilts, will have a big impact on bowl seating. North Carolina will travel to Pittsburgh, West Virginia will battle TCU, and Oregon will be in the desert facing Arizona State. I’ll be in Ft. Worth for the TCU game.
A LOOK BACK AT WEEK EIGHT
Utah’s loss to USC dropped the Utes from the ranks of the unbeatens. The Pac-12 now is the only Power five conference without an undefeated team. The loss by the Utes leaves the Pac-12, in a quandary, as to whether they will get a team into the final four. Utah still controls their own destiny. If they win out, they will represent the South in a championship game. Stanford at 6-1 in the North, also controls their own outcome. I simply don’t believe a two loss team makes the playoff.
In the SEC, Mississippi bounced back in a big way, dominating Texas A&M 23-3. The Rebels were beaten by Memphis the week before, but came out swinging at home against the Aggies. Hugh Freeze had gone on record after the loss, saying that his team, was still the best in the country. The Rebels held the Aggies to just 12 first downs and 192 total yards. Alabama held off a late rally versus Tennessee to set up a monster matchup with LSU next week. Both teams have a bye this week before the big game in Tuscaloosa. Auburn’s season continues to go sideways. The Tigers four overtime loss to Arkansas now leaves them in jeopardy of making a bowl game!
The loss of potential Heisman hopeful Seth Russell of Baylor could cost the Bears a national championship. Russell broke a bone in his neck and will be lost for the rest of the season. The good news is that Russell should completely recover. It also pretty much assures, the junior quarterback will come back for a senior season. True Freshman Jarrett Stidham will take over under center. In mop up duty, Stidham has completed 86% of his passes, while tossing six touchdowns. Stidham must face Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas in the coming weeks. A very tough task for a freshman quarterback.
Leonard Fournette, Ezekiel Elliot, and Trevone Boykin are my top three candidates at this point. A fourth guy, Luke Falk, has a chance to make a major impression this coming Saturday. The sophomore gunslinger from Washington State has the Cougars at 5-2, with back to back road wins at Oregon and Arizona. Falk has thrown for 2,885 yards, and completes 73% of his tosses with a solid 26/4 touchdown to interception ratio. A win over Stanford at home this weekend would put the Cougars in a bowl game and on top of the Pac-12 North standings.
COOL FACTS OF THE WEEK
- It wasn’t quite the Iron Bowl, but Texas State pulled off its own “Kick Six” against South Alabama. Brandon McDowell caught a 53-yard field goal attempt on the fly and returned it 100 yards for a touchdown.
- Nebraska fell to 3-5 in coach Mike Riley’s first season after losing to Northwestern. The Cornhuskers have lost five games by a combined 13 points.
Washington State quarterback Luke Falk in a 45-42 victory at Arizona, threw for the most passing yards ever allowed by the Wildcats. Falk threw five touchdowns, four of them to Gabe Marks.
- USC freshman linebacker Cam Smith picked off Travis Wilson three times and finished with 122 return yards, including 54 on a second-quarter touchdown that made it 28-14.
Temple’s win over East Carolina improved the Owls to 7-0. There best record to start a season in team history.
- Pitt had lost 32 straight games when trailing at any point in the fourth quarter, including a brutal defeat at the hands of Iowa earlier this year. But Pat Narduzzi reached into his bag of tricks, calling for a gutsy fake punt to preserve the final game-winning drive and the Panthers’ Coastal hopes.
- Christian Hackenberg of Penn State, became the school career leader in completions (608) and yards passing (7,453), displacing Zach Mills in both categories.
Stanford has now won 26 consecutive home night games!
- Colorado’s win over Oregon State Saturday broke a 14 game conference losing streak.
TOP GAMES THIS WEEK
OREGON (4-3) AT ARIZONA STATE (4-3) Both teams come into this clash off a bye week, with identical records. To this point both clubs have had disappointing seasons. The Ducks are actually getting healthy with quarterback Vernon Adams finally healing from a broken finger, and the addition of a couple of key defenders. The Ducks average nearly a full 100 yards more per game on offense, and that’s without Adams. The Sun Devils, will counter with quarterback Mike Bercovici, who should have a lot of success against a vulnerable Duck secondary. I will go to the record books for a game time winner here. The Ducks have won eight straight in this series with an average victory by 11 points. SPARKY GETS WEBBED FEET, DUCKS OUTLAST DEVILS 44-33.
GEORGIA (5-2) AT No.11 FLORIDA (6-1) This game has lost some of its luster with the loss of Georgia running back Nick Chubb and Florida quarterback Will Grier. The Bulldogs really need a win in this game, if they have any hope of playing in the SEC championship game. A loss would almost assuredly put the Gators in the title game. Bulldog quarterback Greyson Lambert has been wildly inconsistent since mid-September,but I expect a solid performance here. Treon Harris will make his second start since the suspension of Grier. He was solid in the loss to LSU. I fully expect this game to be decided by the defenses. I will give that edge to Georgia. DEFENSIVE SLUGFEST GOES TO THE BULLDOGS IN THE WORLDS LARGEST COCKTAIL PARTY 16-13.
No.9 NOTRE DAME (6-1) AT No.21 TEMPLE (7-0) ESPN’s college gameday will descend on the “City of Brotherly Love” in front of Independence Hall on Saturday morning. This game will be the 1st ranked matchup in Temple’s history, and only the 9th game the Owls have ever played as a ranked team. I have been touting this Temple team all the way back to before the season started. The Owls will play this game at Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Eagles. Tickets for this game are selling like hot cakes, as Notre Dame will bring a huge contingent of fans. Temple needed a fourth quarter comeback to get past East Carolina last weekend. The Irish are off a bye week and figure to be well rested in this one. I expect this game to go to the fourth quarter with both teams trading punches. The Irish will get this one late, imposing their physical advantage. IRISH EEKE OUT 26-21 VICTORY.
USC (4-3) AT CALIFORNIA (5-2) The Trojans snapped a two game losing streak, taking down Utah 42-24 on Saturday. The hops is that, the Trojans will put all the turmoil behind them, that has followed them all season long. Cody Kessler and Jared Goff should stage an epic battle in this game. Both quarterbacks will play in the NFL. The Bears started 5-0 but have since lost back to back games against Utah and UCLA. The Bears can beat anyone in the country, but to do so, they have to play mistake free football, and rely on their defense to force turnovers. To beat the Trojans you must have a solid ground game. The Bears don’t have that, and that will provide us with a big edge for the Trojans. I really think the Trojans will finish the season strong. They get a solild road win here. MIGHTY TROY RISES UP, TROJANS 49-35.
No.12 OKLAHOMA STATE (7-0) AT TEXAS TECH (5-3) If you like offense, this will be the game you want to watch. The Red Raiders have the ability to beat anyone on their home field. Offensively, the Raiders have the advantage in this game, but they have been gouged by teams that run the football. The Cowboys will certainly try to take advantage of this. Cowboy quarterback Mason Rudolph has done just enough on offense to keep his team unbeaten. Patrick Mahomes and DeAndre Washington provide a solid one-two punch for the Raiders. I think the Cowboys have played a soft schedule to this point as their best wins so far are against West Virginia and Texas. This is a tough road game, and they have TCU at home next week. HALLOWEEN PROVES TO BE TO SPOOKY IN LUBBOCK, RAIDERS GUNDOWN COWBOYS 48-44.
NORTH CAROLINA (6-1) AT No.23 PITTSBURGH (6-1) North Carolina is 3-0 in league play for the first time since 1997. The Tar Heels have only finished first in the division once since the ACC split into two in 2005. Quarterback Marquise Williams will be the key to the Tar Heel attack. If the dual-threat signal caller has time to throw, he could have a monster game. Pitt head coach Patt Narduzzi has the Panthers exceeding all expectations. The Panthers have leaned heavily on a tough defense for their strong start. Tennessee transfer Nathan Peterman and freshman running back Qadree Ollison have given the offense a shot in the arm. Ollison, who took over for ACC player of the year James Connor, now has three 100 yard plus games with his 103 yard performance in a win over Syracuse last week. Heinz Field will be rocking for this Thursday night affair. PANTHERS ON THE PROWL 29-24.
PICK SIX—SIX GAMES, SIX WORDS, SIX PICKS
VANDERBILT AT HOUSTON——Cougars pick on an SEC foe, MAUL VANDY 38-20.
WEST VIRGINIA AT TCU——Boykin to Doctson for three scores, FROGS HORN MOUNTAINEERS 47-35.
TENNESSEE AT KENTUCKY—–Vols 29-1 last 30 in series, WILDCATS SUPRISE 38-37.
LOUISIANNA TECH AT RICE—–Big game for C-USA West supremacy, TECHSTERS 37-28.
STANFORD AT WASHINGTON STATE—–The Cardinal have won seven straight, MAKE IT EIGHT 45-42.
UTEP AT SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI—–Golden Eagles become bowl eligible again, EAGLES 42-21.
SEASON RESULTS TO DATE
KEY GAMES 27-13
PICK SIX 30-17
UPSET EXPRESS STRAIGHT 5-3 SPREAD 6-2