We are told on a regular basis, that labels can hurt. Labeling things or people can be damaging. So, you know what we are going to do here? Darn right. We are going to label. It will be about giving you the games of the week with characterizations, classifications, and correlations. We are going to make sense of week six of the college football games, because we have a label maker and we know how to use it. Here is this week’s College Football Preview.
College Football Preview; Week 6
Ole Miss (2-2, 0-1) @ Auburn (4-1, 2-0); Sat., 12noon ET SEC Network
We will label this the “Will do anything for a win vs. Needs a win,” game. Ole Miss has been rocked by scandal, strife, and squabbling. The Rebels have lost to the two good teams on their schedule to this point, Cal and Alabama. No one can blame them for either one, but with everything going on, a 66-3 beating to the Tide last week had to sting. Auburn needs the win. The Tigers are on the upswing, with the only loss being to Clemson. They have been impressive through most of the season, but if they are going to seriously contend for a shot at Bama, they have to continue to pound the lesser teams in the SEC.
Ole Miss is not to be taken lightly despite the discord in the program. Quarterback Shea Patterson is leading the SEC in yards passing, (1,446) and touchdown passes (11). Auburn is going to counter with a defense that gives up only 142 yards passing per game right now. Auburn running back Kerryon Johnson has had spotty health issues this season, so quarterback Jarrett Stidham will need to be sharp. He has completed 81% of his passes over the last three games.
West Virginia (3-1, 1-0) @ TCU (4-0, 1-0); Sat., 3:30pm ET FS1
This is the “Catch me if you can,” game. Few outside of Fort Worth or Morgantown figured this match-up could have Big XII title implications. Now, you have two nationally ranked teams who can’t stop each other’s strengths. The Mountaineers have a pair of outstanding wide receivers in David Sills and Gary Jennings. Sills has seven touchdown receptions already and Jennings leads the team with 438 receiving yards.
They will face a TCU secondary that gives up big chunks of yards, including 400 yards passing in the win over Oklahoma State. Conversely, the Horned Frogs are averaging just over five yards per carry and have the 25th best rushing offense in the country. West Virginia’s defense gives up tons of acreage on the ground. Kansas….yes, Kansas, ran for 291 yards against the Mountaineers. West Virginia is giving up nearly 500 yards of offense per game. The first one to get a defensive stop wins.
Miami (3-0, 1-0) @ Florida State (1-2, 1-0); Sat 3:30pm ET ESPN
This is the “Memories,” game, for those that remember the days when it used to be THE game of the college football season. Now, both teams are trying to make up ground for being short a game due to Florida’s propensity for real life hurricanes. Miami feels like it is leap years ahead of Florida State right now. The Seminoles have yet to fully recover from losing starting quarterback Deondre Francois. True freshman James Blackman has thrown for less than 400 yards and only two touchdowns since stepping in for Francois. Part of the problem is, he is scrambling for his life a little too much. The Seminoles offensive line is giving up 11 tackles for loss per game, the worst in the nation.
They now host a Miami defense that is second in the country in TFL’s. The Canes boast a defense that is giving up only 16.3 points per game. Quarterback Malik Rosier has filled out the position nicely with 820 yards passing and eight touchdowns in the three games. Going back to people’s memories, the Seminoles have won the last seven in this series. Three of the last five games have been decided by five points or less.
Michigan State (3-1, 1-0) @ Michigan (4-0, 1-0); Sat., 7:30pm ET ABC
This is the “Keep your eyes open for any points,” game. The Spartans are averaging a very Big 10-esque 24.5 points per game. They managed all of 88 yards rushing and 300 overall in a win over Iowa last week. It is their defense that is keeping them in games. While the offense may not be a juggernaut, the defense gave up only 19 yards rushing in that win over Iowa. They will face a Wolverines team that defines defense. Michigan leads the nation in run defense. They gave up 109 yards to Florida, Cincinnati and Purdue….combined! The Wolverines have given up a total of six touchdowns. Only four were by the defense and the other two were off interceptions thrown by quarterback Wilton Speight.
Speaking of Speight, he will also miss this game with an injury and John O’Korn will be the starter for the second week in a row. He was 18-of-26 for 270 yards, one touchdown and one interception last week in the win over Purdue. Hey, for this match-up those might be lightning-like stats. Michigan State gets to focus all of its attention on this game. In the following weeks, it has very winnable games against Minnesota, Indiana and Northwestern.
Washington State (5-0, 2-0) @ Oregon (4-1, 1-1); Sat., 8pm ET Fox
This is the “Hey, you…pay attention,” game. All too often the Pac 12 gets the time slots that two-thirds of the country does not see. This one is plenty early for everyone and it deserves your time. Washington State is coming off one of the biggest wins in the Mike Leach era. The 30-27 win over USC was so significant, it made the legal blogs. Of course, that was because a USC player allegedly decked a celebrating Cougars fan on the field after the game and is being investigated for assault. That is another matter. The win was huge. Quarterback Luke Falk was merely average by his standards with 340 yards passing, two touchdowns and one interception. Still, the Cougars have the number two passing offense in the country.
They will need it at Autzen Stadium, one of the toughest venues for visitors in the country. Oregon will be trying to figure out who will be taking snaps all night. Starting quarterback Justin Herbert is out with a broken collarbone. He had thrown for nearly 1,300 yards and nine touchdowns already. The choices for first year head coach Willie Taggert are fifth year senior Taylor Alie or true freshman Braxton Burmeister. Alie brings a veteran poise, while Burmeister brings the bigger skill set. For a change, it is Oregon’s defense that is getting headlines. They had seven sacks and 11 tackles for loss in the win at Cal last week. Still, this is the Pac 12, at night, and points, points, and more points are expected. The last time the two teams met at Autzen, Falk threw for 505 yards and five touchdowns. Stay up past your bed time. It will be worth it.