Friday, September 10, 2010

Big Games Highlight College Football Weekend

After a bit of a slow go through the first week of the season -- slow especially if you're a fan of Kansas and Mississippi -- the college football schedule is quite impressive in Week 2.

There is likely not going to be an instant classic in the bunch for a number of reasons, but there are big names playing against each other, and that should count for something.

The best chance -- I think -- for a great game in the bunch will be in Columbus, where Miami visits Ohio State. The U has come a long way in the last couple years, and they appear ready to reclaim their spot as a marquee "franchise" in college football. The Hurricanes had a layup in Week 1, as did Ohio State, so we can't look too hard at those games.

Instead, look at the talent. Miami lines up with the athletic Jacory Harris at quarterback. He's not the biggest run threat, but he can move around, and he has a live arm. I like their receivers, led by Leonard Hankerson and Travis Benjamin, and Graig Cooper should have a big say in this game's outcome with his running ability.

Of course, Miami has their hands full on defense. Terrelle Pryor is Ohio State's starting quarterback, and he's not just a thrower. He might be the best running quarterback in the nation, even if you count option quarterbacks like Navy's Ricky Dobbs. Pryor led the Buckeyes in rushing last year, beating out back Brandon Saine. He is gaining confidence as a passer, even if there are still games where he doesn't look like he's all there yet.

Linebackers Colin McCarthy and Sean Spence of Miami will have their hands full with tOSU's strong backfield tandem.

This should be a fun game. These are teams that can push the pace, even if they primarily run the ball. They will spread the field and attack, and both teams sport confident, hard-hitting defenses.

I have said all along that I really like what I saw from Pryor in the Rose Bowl last year. It was the kind of game that screamed of being a "leap" game for him, the kind of game that makes him the star player we have all been waiting for him to become.

The problem with that thought is that we've seen games like this from him before, so he still has to prove he can be a consistently productive quarterback for Ohio State to beat a good team like Miami, even when the game is at home.

I'll take the home team, largely because I think it's time for Pryor to turn the corner, and Ohio State has a bit more talent and balance overall.

The pick: Ohio State

The other game I'm really looking forward to is Florida State at Oklahoma. The Seminoles have a high-flying passing game, and the Sooners have a problem. With all due respect to Utah State, the Sooners' secondary was abused last week by ... Utah State. I really like USU's quarterback and receivers, but they're just not good enough to be running up and down the field on Oklahoma without there being an apparent problem with Oklahoma.

The Sooners can move the ball. DeMarco Murray is great, and Landry Jones will come into his own this season. Meanwhile, Christian Ponder might be another overrated Florida State quarterback, but he's talented enough -- with good receivers -- for FSU to go into Norman and give the Sooners a scare. They might just be good enough to do more than that, and I'll call for the upset.

Simply put, I think Florida State has more balance and more experience than the Sooners, and they will play better defense when it matters most.

The pick: Florida State

Other games (home team in CAPS):

Michigan State over FLORIDA ATLANTIC
(Note: This game is in freaking Detroit. And Florida Atlantic is the home team. What a joke. It's simply a grab for money and attendance figures by FAU, and their supporters should be completely pissed about it.)
PURDUE over Western Illinois
NORTHWESTERN over Illinois State
MINNESOTA over South Dakota
WISCONSIN over San Jose State
IOWA over Iowa State
Michigan over NOTRE DAME
AIR FORCE over Brigham Young
Oregon over TENNESSEE
ALABAMA over Penn State
ILLINOIS over Southern Illinois
Stanford over UCLA

Last week: 16-2
Season: 16-2

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