No. 11 Michigan at No. 23 Michigan State (East Lansing, MI, Saturday, 12pm, ESPN)
It’s the battle for the Paul Bunyan Trophy. The Michigan Wolverines are coming off a mediocre first half and great second half against Northwestern. The Spartans of Michigan State come off an impressive defensive win against Ohio State. That’s expected when you have the number one defense in the country. Although they have a great defense, you cannot say the same about the Spartan offense, which is ranked 60th in the nation with just under 400 yards per game. The Wolverines should have no problem keeping a grasp on Michigan State’s offense. Whether or not their offense can move against the Spartans defense is the question. Last week against Northwestern, the Wolverines only scored 14 points in the first half. They eventually picked it up in the second half, but that was Northwestern and not Michigan State, their rivals, their top Big Ten Legends division competition, and the best defense in college football, statistically. This game will come down to whether or not Michigan’s Denard Robinson can cook against this Spartan’s defense. I don’t expect a huge game out of him, but I do expect enough from him to lead the Wolverines to victory. Michigan State’s held the Paul Bunyan Trophy for three straight years, but that will change this weekend.
No. 20 Baylor at No. 21 Texas A&M (College Station, TX, Saturday, 12pm, FX)
How Texas A&M is STILL ranked in the Top 25 is mind boggling to me. They’re coming off a meh-worthy 45-40 win against un-ranked Texas Tech. The two weeks before that game, they gave up two HUGE leads en route to losses against Oklahoma State and Arkansas. This team has the word “pretender” written all over their face. Not to mention, their pass defense ranks last in the entire NCAA. Unfortunately for the Aggies, their opponent this week is led by one of the leading candidates for the Heisman trophy. Robert Griffin III comes into this game with a QB rating of 212.9, and leads a Baylor offense averaging 563 yards per game; 335 of those come through the air. Baylor is averaging 47.6 points each contest and Texas A&M has given up at least 40 their last two outings. If Texas A&M found a way to play a full game, then they would probably be sitting pretty a 5-0 and be the favorite to win this. Too bad they haven’t displayed that ability yet. I’m truly expecting Baylor to throw the ball up and down the field against A&M and for Griffin to add this game to his Heisman resume. If that doesn’t happen, I will be surprised. Baylor covers their 8 1/2 point spread and continues on lighting up the scoreboards.
No. 9 Oregon vs. No. 18 Arizona State (Eugene, OR, Saturday, 10:15pm, ESPN)
Here we have a potential Pac 12 championship match-up. The Oregon Ducks are undefeated in the North Division and the surprisingly good Sun Devils of ASU are doing the same in the South. Last year, the Ducks beat the Sun Devils 42-31 thanks to seven turnovers by Arizona State. Seeing as the Sun Devils racked up 597 yards to Oregon’s 385, I think it’s safe to say they could have won that game if it weren’t for the turnovers. This year, they shouldn’t have a problem tallying up the yards against a Ducks defense that ranks 84th nationally. The challenge will be whether or not they can stop Oregon’s annual high-powered offense that lights up teams for 50 points a game. The Ducks’ Heisman hopeful and star RB LaMichael James is doubtful after dislocating his elbow last week, but that shouldn’t hurt the offense too bad. Oregon have two freshman running backs in DeAnthony Thomas and Tra Carson willing to take the load for James. Arizona State has a major challenge playing in Autzen Stadium where the Ducks have won 19 straight games. The Sun Devils haven’t beat top 10 team since 2002 when they beat No. 6 Oregon Ducks. Nine years later, I think the Arizona State Sun Devils can do it again and pull off the upset to break Oregon’s home streak and their streak against top 10 teams.
No. 6 Oklahoma State at No. 22 Texas (Austin, TX, Saturday, 3:30pm, ABC)
Interesting fact, Texas head coach Mack Brown has never lost a game in the following after the Red River Shootout. Yes, in 13 years as the Longhorns head coach, he’s 13-0 following their annual game with Oklahoma. That streak may be in jeopardy this year as the Longhorns face they ridiculously high powered Cowboys’ offense of Oklahoma State. The Cowboys’ offense is playing lights out this season averaging 577 yards per game and a nation best 51.4 points per game. They have last years Fred Biletnikoff Award (best WR) winner in Justin Blackmon and a highly accurate QB in Brandon Weeden. Those two make up one of the best, if not the best, QB-WR duo in the nation. Texas hadn’t been exposed to a great offense until they played Oklahoma last week and that didn’t turn out good (a 55-17 lost). I don’t see this week getting any better for Mack’s Longhorns. He’ll lost his first game following the Red River Shootout as the Cowboys’ offense busts Texas’ defense wide open, in what could end up being a blow out.