Honors Courses – Week 7

Week seven marks the return of Honors Courses. I took a one-week hiatus last week… and can’t really offer a good explanation as to why, other than this isn’t my full-time job, and frankly life just gets in the way sometimes. I couldn’t take this week off, though. There are simply too  many good games to not weigh in. Everyone knows why you should watch Texas/Oklahoma in the Red River Shootout, but what about LSU/Florida, or Tennessee/Georgia? Why is Northwestern probably going to take out Michigan State? Find out in this week’s edition of Honors Courses.

(5) Texas vs. (1) Oklahoma at Dallas – 11:00 a.m.
The Red River Shootout is the game of the week, and it’s not even close. If you can only watch one game this week, make sure it’s this one. Both teams are undefeated heading in, and you better believe this game has National Title implications. From what I’ve read, it seems everyone is just assuming that OU will come out on top. Maybe that’s because of the Sooners’ No. 1 ranking heading in. Maybe it’s because the Sooners have won six of the past eight games in the series. That assumption could be a mistake, however. This game features two Heisman-hopeful QBs in Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford and Texas’ Colt McCoy. Both offenses are clicking. In fact, in scoring offense, the numbers look remarkably similar, with the Sooners racking up 248 points and the Longhorns racking up 236 points through five games. Even looking at numbers on total offense doesn’t clear the water. Oklahoma might have the edge with 548.4 yards, good enough for 5th in the nation, but Texas weighs in with 483 yards, giving them the No. 11 offense in the land. I’ll spare you the numbers on defense, but believe me when I say that points against are equally similar for both teams. Beware anyone who claims to know with absolute certainty who will win this game, because picking it is truly a fool’s errand. Expect this one to be up in the air going into the fourth quarter, and it could very well come down to the last possession.

Tennessee at (10) Georgia – 2:30 p.m.
This one could be boring. Strike that, this one probably will be boring. I’ll be tuning in, though because I have a healthy curiosity about how Georgia will rebound from it’s crushing defeat at the hands of the Crimson Tide. Look, Georgia leads Tennessee this season in just about every category that matters, but keep in mind that Tennessee has won the past two meetings  in this series. Tennesse was also able to solve Knowhawn Moreno in their last meeting, holding the dynamic runner to just 30 yards last season. There aren’t many defenses that can accomplish that feat. If Tennessee is going to win this game, that’s exactly what they’re going to need to do again. Good news, Vols, Moreno is still suffering from that bruised elbow. Of course, dude doesn’t run with his elbows.

(23) Michigan State at Northwestern – 2:30 p.m.
If you don’t want to bore yourself to death with the SEC match up above, give this one from the Big Ten a try. I like that this one is in Evanston, where Northwestern historically plays well. Truth be told, Northwestern should probably be the ranked team in this game, and that’s very well how it might end up afterward. I should let my Northwestern friend Brad write this one, but it wouldn’t be objective. He’ll just be happy I picked this one to highlight. It will probably be the most interesting game in the Big Ten this week. The only other game that would come close would be Penn State/Wisconsin, and I don’t expect that one to be in question very long. Lets take a quick look at some numbers. We have two teams who put up similar numbers on offense, with Michigan State averaging 28.5 points per game and 384 yards, while Northwestern is putting up 25 points and 364 yards per game. The difference between the two teams, though, is on the defensive side of the ball. Michigan State is giving up a respectable 16.2 points per game, but that number jumps to 30 on the road. Northwestern is downright stingy, only allowing opponents 12.4 ppg on the season, and a silly 8.3 ppg at home. I look for this one to be a low scoring affair, and I’ll give the edge to the Wildcats based on location and their defensive presence at home.

(17) Okie State at (3) Missouri – 7:00 p.m.

So I learned this week that some Oklahoma State fans don’t particularly like being referred to as “Okie State” or “Okie Lite.” That’s cool. I can respect that. Doesn’t mean I won’t still throw the occasional “Okie Lite” reference out there, because, frankly, it’s one of my favorites. But I’ll try to be better. Everyone seems to think this one will be a shootout. The over/under is set at 80, and the spread is just 14. Missouri doesn’t often see a spread that low. I’m going to follow the lead of my pal Slow Jerk and call this one a blow out, and I’d take the under and wouldn’t lose a wink of sleep over it. This game is setting up to be a replay of last year’s Missouri/Texas Tech game, where all of the experts predicted a shootout and had all kinds of fun ideas about how many total yards the game would produce. The same reasons then are the same reasons now: Tech/Okie Lite (damn, there it is again) has a dynamic offense that can put up yards, and the Missouri secondary is suspect. The thing is, oSu (is that better?) is a team that racks up its yardage on the ground, and Missouri has a more-than-respectable run defense. Remember how that Texas Tech game turned out last season? Tech scored 10 points. I’m not saying Missouri will hold oSu to 10, but I am saying that a lot of people are going to second guess their prediction models after the dust settles on this one. Watch this game because even if only one offense shows up, you’re pretty much assured of having a great time watching it.

(4) LSU at (11) Florida – 7:00 p.m.

I know what game I’ll be watching come 7 p.m. Saturday night, but as the scores tick across the board at Faurot Field in Columbia, MO, I’ll be keeping an eye out for this one. And the first thing I’ll do when I get home is hit up SportsCenter and the Interweb to see if loudmouth LSU defensive tackle Ricky Jean-Francois was able to follow up on his promise to “knock Tebow out of the game.” Big talk for a dude most people have never heard of before he opined on Tremendous Timmy’s game fortunes. I like it. These teams don’t like each other, and that usually makes for an intense battle where composure becomes key. Once again we have a game where the stats for each side are quite similar. Surprisingly, at least to this blowhard, LSU actually comes into the game averaging more yards per game on offense than Florida. I knew that the Gator attack hadn’t been what we’ve come to expect from Urban Meyer’s fast-paced spread offense, but I wouldn’t have thought a team like LSU would lead them in total yards of offense. Hey, that just makes this game more interesting. I’d like to give the edge to the home team here, but LSU has won two of the past three meetings in Gainesville. If Percy Harvin is back AND he’s legitimately healthy, that should be an edge to Florida, because he will be the most electrifying player on the field. I’m skeptical, though, because we’ve heard this same song and dance from Florida about Harvin’s health before. This season, in fact. This guy must be as fragile as a Hummel figurine. Too bad, because he’s got all the tools to dominate.

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