#8 Florida vs. #6 Georgia - Formerly the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party,” this year’s Florida-Georgia matchup shapes up to be heavily important on a SEC and even national level. Florida has looked good since losing to Ole Miss at home, bashing Kentucky 63-5 last week. Tim Tebow, even though not running as often as last year, has jumped up to 11th in pass efficiency after starting rough. Young speedsters Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey, along with versatile Percy Harvin, have provided a running game not found since Emmitt Smith. They are not individually good, but can keep each other fresh to pound the opposing defense. Speaking of defense, Florida’s is one of the best in the nation. They are allowing on average just under 12 points per game and just over 100 rushing a game. This may be important because of the caliber of running back in Knowshon Moreno. Moreno is averaging 115 yards a game on the ground while quarterback Matthew Stafford is leading the best passing game in the SEC. Stafford looked good last week while hanging 52 on and LSU defense that Florida put 51 on. These two offenses are very similar but their defenses are not, Florida’s is much better and should be able to somewhat shut down the powerful Georgia offense. And, oh, yeah, remember that "Georgia Stomp" last year? Revenge is sweet.
#1 Texas @ #7 Texas Tech – Texas is nearing the end of the treacherous stretch unmatched by any schedule in the country that featured 4 top 11 teams in a row. The first was Oklahoma at a neutral site in Dallas. The next two were against Missouri and Oklahoma State, both at home. But this time, they head on the road to Lubbock to take on the Texas Tech Red Raiders. The Tech offense has put up outrageous numbers, averaging 557 yards and 48 points per game, including 63 against Kansas. Quarterback Graham Harrell and wide receiver Michael Crabtree form the best hook-up in the nation. Both are potential Heisman candidates, and each make each other better. Harrell has thrown for 3147 yards and 28 touchdowns, much better than Texas’ Colt McCoy (2285, 21). The Raider offensive line has allowed 3 sacks all years, approximately one for every 120 snaps. Brian Orakpo is good, but may not be that good. The Texas Tech defense is better than most people think, only allowing 21 points to an explosive Kansas offense. The Red Raiders won’t be able to shut down the Longhorns’ offense, but could slow it.
Texas Tech, 56-52
#15 Florida State @ Georgia Tech – A matchup of ACC heavyweights pits Mickey Andrews’ swarming defense against Paul Johnson’s triple option offense. The matchup appears to favor Florida State’s defense, ranked 3rd in total defense and 7th in rushing defense. The game figures to be an old-school, slug-it-out, smash mouth football game. Expect quarterback Josh Nesbitt and running back Jonathan Dwyer to try to control the clock and keep the ball out of improving Christian Ponder’s hands. The ‘Nole defensive line has been dominant all year long, not only in the running game but also in the passing game, where they have 22 sacks on the year. In the end, Florida State should be able to pull out the victory.
Florida State, 20-13
#24 Oregon @ California – Puzzling Cal Golden Bears come into game still trying to figure out who their starting quarterback is while Oregon just looks to run the ball. The Ducks lead the nation in rushing TDs mostly because of the lack of a consistent starting quarterback. Oregon has been decimated by injuries at the quarterback position, playing with their fourth string at one point. LeGarrette Blount leads the Ducks on the ground, averaging 81 yards a game. Cal’s defense has been inconsistent at best, but has shown flashes of greatness. In this important Pac-10 game, Oregon’s running beats Cal’s passing.
Northwestern @ #17 Minnesota – Surprise 6-2 Northwestern meets even more surprising 7-1 Minnesota. Northwestern lost to Indiana last week, but also lost their starting quarterback and running back. Look for the Golden Gophers to pound the Wildcats all the way back to Chicago.
Wisconsin @ #22 Michigan State – Wisconsin was supposed to be a good team. They were a good team. But that was then, and this is now, where the Badgers suck. East Lansing should be going crazy on Saturday after Javon Ringer gets back on track against a struggling Wisconsin team.
Michigan State, 30-17
West Virginia @ #25 Connecticut – Mountaineers and Huskies meet in the “Big East Championship” in what looks to be the worst conference in the nation. Running back Donald Brown has carried the Huskies thus far, leading the nation in rushing yards. On the other side, West Virginia quarterback Pat White has suffered since Rich Rodriguez left and running back Noel Devine has been just all right. Both teams run the ball exceptionally well, so expect another smash mouth close game.
Pittsburgh @ Notre Dame – Finally Notre Dame plays a good team. Notre Dame has feasted on lesser opponents but not face a legitimate test in the Pitt Panthers. Coming off an ugly loss to Rutgers, the Panthers will be hungry for a win, especially against Notre Dame. LeSean “Shady” McCoy should be given the ball up to 40 times on Saturday to pound away at the suspect Irish defense. Jimmy Clausen will get his numbers but won’t be spectacular.
Last Week: 6-2. Even in defeat, pretty close to score and almost nailed a few games.