Tag: CFB

SEC West Showdown: What You Missed and What To Expect

By far the biggest shocker of Week 11 was Auburn’s stunning upset at the hands of Texas A&M. The Tigers have enjoyed plenty of fortuitous bounces over the last couple years, but their luck finally ran out.

Auburn rallied from an 18-point halftime deficit and drew within three at 41-38 but couldn’t get the go-ahead score. Twice late in the fourth quarter, the Tigers appeared poised to score the go-ahead touchdown only to fumble.

Auburn got down to the two-yard line before a botched handoff was recovered by Texas A&M. The Aggies had to punt, and Auburn drove inside the 30. There was a miscommunication on the snap, and the ball was snapped before the quarterback was ready. A&M recovered and ran out the clock.

A&M’s freshman quarterback, Kyle Allen, threw four touchdowns passes, and Auburn running back Cameron Artis-Payne rushed for 221 yards and two touchdowns in a losing effort.

Elsewhere in the SEC, Mississippi State had no trouble with UT-Martin, and Ole Miss shut out Presbyterian 48-0. Georgia blasted Kentucky 63-31 behind 170 rushing yards from Nick Chubb and four touchdown passes from Hutson Mason.

Alabama survived on the road in Baton Rouge, outlasting LSU 20-13 in overtime. A fumble by T.J. Yeldon deep in Alabama territory allowed LSU to kick a go-ahead field goal with 50 seconds left. Blake Sims drove the Crimson Tide down the field to get in position for a tying field goal then threw a touchdown pass in overtime. LSU couldn’t match it.

In ACC action, Florida State rallied from an early deficit yet again and defeated Virginia 34-20. Clemson beat Wake Forest 34-20 while Duke took down Syracuse 27-10. Georgia Tech manhandled NC State 56-23.

The Big 12 had an eventful day. Baylor had taken plenty of flak for its weak schedule, but the Bears served notice that they are a team to be reckoned with after demolishing #15 Oklahoma in Norman 48-14. Bryce Petty threw for 387 yards on 32-of-42 passing with a touchdown, and Corey Coleman caught 15 passes for 224 with one receiving touchdown and one rushing touchdown.

It was Baylor’s first win over the Sooners in Norman and the Bears’ first road win over a ranked team under Art Briles. The Sooners jumped out to an early 14-3 lead, but Baylor scored the game’s next 45 points.

In the later game, #9 TCU ran all over #7 Kansas State 41-20. Trevone Boykin threw for 219 yards with a touchdown while also rushing for 123 yards and three touchdowns. Aaron Green also had 171 yards rushing on 18 carries for the Horned Frogs. Kansas State’s Tyler Lockett caught 11 passes for 196 yards, breaking the school record for career receiving yards held by his father.

Texas upset #23 West Virginia 33-16 behind 101 yards rushing and three touchdowns from Johnathan Gray.

In the Big Ten, Ohio State got past its nemesis, Michigan State, 49-37. Buckeye quarterback J.T. Barrett accounted for five touchdowns as Ohio State racked up 568 yards of offense against the Spartans’ much-heralded defense.

Wisconsin easily beat Purdue, 34-16.

The Pac-12 managed to avoid any upsets as #18 UCLA beat Washington 44-30 while Arizona pulled away from Colorado late, 38-20.

Fourth-ranked Oregon got all it could handle from #17 Utah before putting the game away in the fourth quarter. The Utes pulled to within 30-27 early in the fourth before the Ducks scored 21 unanswered points to get some breathing room.

Marcus Mariota threw for 239 yards and three touchdowns while also rushing for 114 yards and a score. Royce Freeman also ran for 99 yards and touchdown for the Ducks, who held Utah running back Devontae Booker to just 65 yards rushing.  Booker did tally 110 receiving yards, though. Utah also sacked Mariota four times, but it wasn’t enough.

Arizona State prevailed over #10 Notre Dame in a wild affair. The Sun Devils raced out to a 34-3 lead in the first half then nearly gave it away as the Fighting Irish clawed back to make it a 34-31 game. ASU responded, however, scoring 21 unanswered points to put the Irish away 55-31.

The Sun Devils forced five turnovers out of Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson, including two interceptions returned for touchdowns. Golso did throw for 446 yards with two touchdowns, but his four picks doomed the Irish.

Arizona State’s Taylor Kelly was 17-of-28 for 227 yards and three touchdowns while running back D.J. Foster had a big day on the ground, rushing for 120 yards on 21 carries. Along with the five turnovers, ASU’s defense also sacked Golson seven times.

Looking Ahead to Week 12

Week 12 is going for quality rather than quantity as there aren’t many marquee matchups on the docket.

Florida State, undefeated and ranked third in the latest playoff committee rankings, travels to Miami in a game many feel is ripe for an upset.

The Hurricanes are unranked but have really come on over the past few weeks.  True freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya leads the ACC in touchdowns, quarterback rating, yards per attempt, and yards per completion. He has thrown 20 touchdowns against just nine interceptions; Florida State’s Jameis Winston, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, has thrown 17 touchdowns with 11 picks.

Duke Johnson gives Miami a clear edge in the running game, rushing for 1,213 yards and nine touchdowns while averaging 7.7 yards-per-carry. The Hurricanes lead the conference in making big plays on offense and also preventing them on defense. However, Miami hasn’t beaten the Seminoles since 2009 and has been outscored 142-70 in the last four games in the series.

Florida State has made a habit of falling behind early only to come roaring back in the second half. That’s not something that can be sustained, and if the Seminoles fall behind again, will this be the time it comes back to bite them?

The ACC also features one of the weekend’s few games pitting ranked teams. Georgia Tech, ranked 22nd, takes on #19 Clemson in a game that is crucial to both teams’ ACC title hopes. Both teams are a game behind their division leaders and need a win to keep pace.

Clemson is stout against the run and is the country’s stingiest third-down defense, but the Tigers will be tested by Georgia Tech’s triple-option offense. The Yellow Jackets are the best in the land at converting third downs and are second in rushing with an of average 335.6 yards a game.

Clemson should receive a huge boost with the return of quarterback Deshaun Watson, who missed three games with a hand injury. The freshman has thrown for 1,176 yards and 12 touchdowns with only two picks, and Clemson averages nearly 18 points more a game with him at the helm.

The nineteenth-ranked Duke Blue Devils are leading the ACC Coastal and face a struggling Virginia Tech team at home.

The Big Ten has a pair of big games with conference implications this weekend.

Ohio State moved up to #8 in the latest committee rankings after beating Michigan State, but the Buckeyes will have to avoid becoming complacent if they want to stay there. Ohio State takes on #25 Minnesota.

The Golden Gophers are 7-2 and coming off a 51-14 shellacking of Iowa. They are also undefeated at home this year, where it figures to be quite cold this weekend.

Still, Ohio State has J.T. Barrett and an explosive offense that torched Michigan State. Barrett has vastly improved over the course of the year and is completing nearly 65 percent of his passes for 2,156 yards and 26 touchdowns against only seven interceptions. He’s also rushed for almost 600 yards and eight touchdowns.

The other big game in the conference pits #16 Nebraska against #20 Wisconsin in a game featuring two of the country’s best running backs: Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah and the Badgers’ Melvin Gordon.

Abdullah, who will likely be hobbled by a knee injury, leads the country in all-purpose yards per game while Gordon is tops in the nation in rushing yards per game. Abdullah averages 6.7 yards a carry and has rushed for 1,250 yards and 17 touchdowns while Gordon averages 7.6 yards per carry with 1,501 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns.

Provided Ohio State defeats Minnesota, the winner of this game will be in the driver’s seat in the Big Ten West.

Michigan State takes looks to rebound from its devastating loss to Ohio State as it faces unranked Maryland.

Along with the weekend’s biggest game–which we’ll get to in a moment–the SEC also boasts a matchup between top-15 teams as #9 Auburn looks to rebound against #15 Georgia.

The Tigers have to regroup after falling unexpectedly to Texas A&M, and it will be a tall order. Auburn may be without its leading receiver while Georgia will have star running back Todd Gurley back. Gurley was a leading Heisman contender before being suspended due to NCAA rules violations. Freshman Nick Chubb shined in Gurley’s absence, giving the Bulldogs a 1-2 punch at running back few teams, if any, can match.

Georgia needs a win to keep pace with Missouri in the SEC East while Auburn can’t afford another loss and already needs help if it wants to win the SEC West and have a shot at the playoff.

LSU has to regroup after falling to Alabama and faces a tough task against Arkansas. The LSU-Alabama game is always a physical, hard-fought affair, and the Tigers now have to recover by taking on a tough, physical Razorbacks squad eager to notch its first SEC win under Bret Bielema.

Texas A&M returns to the rankings after taking down Auburn, a position the Aggies haven’t been in since the early part of the season. The Aggies face a Missouri team that is unranked but is still 7-2 and leading the SEC East.

Texas A&M has a capable offense but can’t stop anyone while Missouri struggles to move the ball but has a capable defense. This game does feature two of the premier pass rushers in the country, though, with Mizzou’s Shane Ray and the Aggies’ Myles Garrett.

Sixth-ranked Arizona State takes on struggling Arizona State while in-state rival Arizona hosts Washington. Utah looks to end a two-game losing streak as it travels to California to take on Stanford.

The Big 12 has a pretty light weekend. Fourth-ranked TCU takes on woeful Kansas, and that’s about it.

 Game of the Week

#1 Mississipi State vs. #5 Alabama

By far the biggest game this weekend, Mississippi State heads down to Tuscaloosa to take on the Alabama Crimson Tide. The Bulldogs are one of just three undefeated teams in the nation, but they’ll face their biggest test to date.

The winner will be in first place in the SEC West and in control of their conference and playoff destiny. If Alabama loses, the Tide will likely be out of the running for a playoff berth. If Mississippi State loses, they will still have a chance but will need some help.

Alabama is a remarkable 3-1 against number one teams in the past five seasons and is favored in this game.

It will be a matchup of strength versus strength as the SEC’s top offense (Mississippi State) squares off against the conference’s toughest defense (Alabama). Led by Heisman candidate Dak Prescott (2,231 passing yards; 18 touchdowns; 779 rushing yards; 11 rushing touchdowns) and running back Josh Robinson (second in the SEC in rushing), the Bulldogs average almost 40 points a game.

Alabama gives up just 13.9 points a game.

The Crimson Tide also has some weapons of its own on offense. Quarterback Blake Sims has thrown for over 2,200 yards with 17 touchdowns, and receiver Amari Cooper is second nationally in receiving yards with 1,215.

These are uncharted waters for Mississippi State, and Alabama is outscoring its opponents at home by an average of 40.2 points. However, they Crimson Tide have struggled at times this year and are coming off a draining, physical game against LSU. Will there be a letdown?

Prediction: Alabama

 

 

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College Football Saturday: Trimming the Herd

By far the biggest news from week 9 was #3 and undefeated Ole Miss falling on the road to LSU, 10-7. The Rebels forced four turnovers but couldn’t translate them to points. A narrow 7-3 lead turned to a 10-7 deficit when LSU finally scored with five minutes left in the game.

Ole Miss had a chance to tie the game late, but a delay-of-game penalty prevented a potential 42-yard field goal attempt. Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze opted to run another play rather than try a 47-yarder, and quarterback Bo Wallace was picked off, sealing the upset for the Tigers.

LSU rushed for 264 yards against an Ole Miss defense that came in yielding less than 100 yards per game on the ground. The LSU defense shut down Ole Miss’ offense, holding Wallace to just 176 yards passing on 14-of-33 attempts.

The other SEC West contenders managed to survive unscathed, but it wasn’t easy. Mississippi State couldn’t pull away from Kentucky, as the Wildcats pulled within a touchdown four times.

Dak Prescott accounted for three touchdowns while Josh Robinson added another pair along with 198 yards on the ground, but thanks to Patrick Towles’ 390 yards passing and two touchdowns, Kentucky hung around. The game wasn’t decided until Christian Holmes returned an onside kick 61-yards for a touchdown for the Bulldogs.

Auburn held off South Carolina 42-35 as Nick Marshall ran for three touchdowns and threw for another. South Carolina’s Dylan Thompson threw five touchdown passes but also was picked off three times, including twice in the end zone in the fourth quarter.

Amari Cooper’s big day lead Alabama past Tennessee 34-20. Cooper had 224 yards and two touchdowns on nine receptions. Alabama built a 27-0 lead, but Tennessee rallied to cut the lead to ten. Another touchdown gave the Crimson Tide more breathing room, and the Volunteers couldn’t muster more than a field goal after that.

The top two contenders in the Big 12 had easy days. Kansas State shut out Texas 23-0. Jake Waters passed for 224 yards, and Texas was shut out for the first time in ten years.

TCU walloped Texas Tech 82-27. Quarterback Trevone Boykin threw a school-record seven touchdown passes, and the 82 points were the most in both school and Big 12 history. The Horned Frogs scored so much that they actually used up their entire pyrotechnics stash for the entire season.

Ohio State had to go to double overtime against Penn State, but the Buckeyes managed to hang on and pull out a 31-24 victory in a game marred by controversial officiating.

Out west, the state of Arizona prevailed against the state of Washington 2-0 as Arizona defeated Washington State 59-37 behind five touchdown passes from Anu Solomon while Arizona State beat Washington 24-10. Taylor Kelly threw a pair of touchdown passes in his return after missing more than a month with injury, and the Sun Devils earned their ninth-consecutive victory over the Huskies.

Utah continued its late-game heroics and earned a huge win over USC. Travis Wilson threw a 1-yard touchdown pass with just eight seconds left to give the Utes a 24-21 lead and keep them in the hunt for the Pac-12 South crown.

Looking Ahead to Week 10: Playoff Races Start to Become More Clear

Week 10 kicked off with a bang as Florida State once again faced a halftime deficit only to come roaring back in the second half and claim victory. The Seminoles were down 21-0 in the first half then 21-7 at halftime, but three touchdown passes from Jameis Winston and a huge day on the ground from Dalvin Cook (9 carries, 110 yards, 2 TDs) allowed the Seminoles to pull out a 42-31 win over Louisville.

The rest of the weekend should help clarify the muddled playoff picture, too, especially out west in the Pac-12. The headliner is Oregon hosting Stanford, but that game has lost some its luster due to Stanford’s struggles this year. The Cardinal are unranked and already have three losses, and the main culprit has been an anemic offense. Stanford’s usually potent running game has not been there this year, as the Cardinal currently rank fourth-worst in the conference in rushing.

Stanford’s vaunted defense has lived up to its billing, however, but the unit will need to bring its “A” game against Oregon’s Marcus Mariota. The Heisman favorite has thrown for 24 touchdowns with just one interception this season.

That game should clear things up in the North division race, and the muddled South division will also have a clearer picture after Saturday. Arizona heads to Los Angeles to take on UCLA in a critical game for both teams. The Bruins are just a game out of first and need a win to keep pace with the leaders, one of whom is Arizona. The Wildcats need a win to stay tied for first in the division.

UCLA has not looked good of late. After losing at home to Utah, the Bruins were blown out–also at home–by Oregon, then followed that up with unconvincing road wins against the two worst teams in the conference a year ago. UCLA almost blew a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter against woeful Colorado before prevailing in double overtime.

Arizona redshirt freshman Anu Solomon is having a sensational year for the Wildcats, throwing for over 2,400 yards and 20 touchdowns with only four interceptions. With both offenses averaging over five touchdowns a game while giving up nearly 30 points a game, expect this one to be a shootout.

The biggest Pac-12 game this weekend, though, will take place down in Tempe when Utah goes up against Arizona State. Both teams are 6-1 with a lone Pac-12 loss, and both are tied for first in the division.

The Sun Devils have won ten-straight games in their history with Utah, including all three Pac-12 contests. ASU is in the midst of a three-game winning streak, having beaten USC and Washington on the road around a home victory over Stanford. Quarterback Taylor Kelly is back, and the defense has given up 20 points total in its past two games.

The Utes are also on a three-game winning streak, although all three games came down to the wire. Utah survived a missed field goal to upset UCLA, got past Oregon State in double overtime, then scored a touchdown with eight seconds left to beat USC. Utah will also be without top receiver Dres Anderson. That’s a huge blow to a an offense that already struggles in the passing game.

However, Utah’s defense is salty and aggressive, and the Utes’ ferocious pass rush will be facing an ASU offensive line that will be missing a key piece in guard Christian Westerman.

In the Big 12, all three of the leading contenders will be in action, although Kansas State and Baylor shouldn’t have much trouble. Both are at home against unranked teams; K-State hosts Oklahoma State while Baylor plays Kansas.

TCU, however, does face a stiff test in red-hot West Virginia. The Mountaineers have won four-straight, including an upset of then-undefeated and #4 Baylor.

Clint Trickett has been outstanding this year, completing 68.3 percent of his passes for 2,763 yards and 17 touchdowns. He looks early and often for star receiver Kevin White, who already has caught 72 passes for 1,047 yards and 8 touchdowns. He topped the 100-yard mark in the first eight games of the season and has scored a touchdown in every game but one.

The Horned Frogs have long been known for their stout defenses, but this year’s team currently leads the nation in scoring offense, averaging 50.4 points per game. They are coming off an 82-27 beatdown of Texas Tech in which Trevone Boykin threw for a career-high 433 yards and seven touchdown passes in the blowout and has 2,306 passing yards and 21 touchdowns with only three interceptions on the season.

Hotty Toddy Gosh Almighty

While ESPN has been accused of SEC bias, we here at Guysgirl apparently have some of that since this is at least the fifth SEC tradition that’s been featured here.

When Ole Miss fans are asked, “Are you ready?” they respond with, “Hell yeah! Damn right! Hotty Toddy, Gosh Almighty, who the hell are we? Hey! Flim flam, bim bam, Ole Miss by damn!”

The chant’s first documented appearance came in the school’s student newspaper during the mid-1920s, and over time, it became the much-loved chant used today.

“Hotty toddy” is also used much like “Roll Tide” or “War Eagle.” Ole Miss fans say it in greeting and, well, pretty much any other situation.

A hot toddy is also a type of beverage consisting of liquor–usually whiskey or bourbon–and water mixed with a variety of spices and sugar then served hot. It is a mainstay at Ole Miss tailgating festivities.

Speaking of tailgating, Ole Miss boasts one of the most iconic tailgating venues around: The Grove.

Located in the center of campus, The Grove is about ten-acres of open space surrounded by oak, elm, and magnolia trees. Thousands of fans descend on the area each weekend to stake out their tailgating locations.

Students dress up for the occasion: men wear dress slacks, dress shirts, sport coats, and ties while women don sundresses.

When Billy Brewer took over coaching duties in 1983, he began the practice of taking the team on a walk through campus to the stadium on game days using various routes. In 1985, he settled on just one route through The Grove and their legion of fans. Today, throngs of fans line the route to cheer on their Rebels as they make their way to the stadium.

In 1998, an arch bearing the sign “Walk of Champions” was built where the team begins its walk. The arch was donated by the 1962 Ole Miss football team, which is the only one in school history to finish undefeated. That squad won the SEC title and was named national champion by the Litkenhous Ratings.

Game of the Week

Auburn vs. Ole Miss

In keeping with the theme of clarifying the playoff picture, the SEC West race will be clearer after Saturday when Ole Miss plays Auburn in Oxford, Mississippi.

Both teams are in the top four in the inaugural college playoff selection committee rankings, and a loss would severely damage the loser’s playoff hopes.

Ole Miss gives up an average of 10.5 points while Auburn puts up nearly 40. The Rebels are a little banged-up on defense, and that could be a cause for concern considering Auburn is coming off its best rushing total of the season thus far, a 395-yard effort against South Carolina.

Ole Miss’ offense was dreadful in the Rebels’ loss last week, and it must be more productive this week against Auburn. The Tigers did spring some leaks against South Carolina, so whichever one of those units can rebound the most could determine who wins this game.

Prediction: Auburn

 

[featured image via Drew Story of Tiger Rag]

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CFB Playoff Contenders Can Now Take a Breather

Well that was fun. Welcome back, Florida State.

Week 8 was another wild and crazy week in college football. Two more undefeated teams went down while a few one-loss teams served notice that they’re not to be counted out just yet.

In the week’s marquee matchup, Florida State rallied past Notre Dame, then held on with a dramatic 4th-and-goal stop to seal a 31-27 victory and remain perfect on the year.

Florida State rallied from three second-half deficits and finally took the lead 31-27 on a Karlos Williams touchdown run with just under eight minutes to play, but the Fighting Irish weren’t done yet.

Everett Golson managed to lead the Irish to Florida State’s 2-yard line with under a minute to go, extending the drive with a crazy 4th-and-19 conversion. He appeared to have thrown the game-winning touchdown pass with 13 seconds left, but the play was called back due to offensive pass interference. Notre Dame then had 4th-and-goal from the 18, and Golson’s pass was intercepted.

A week after a dramatic come-from-behind victory over TCU, Baylor couldn’t repeat the feat, falling to West Virginia 41-27 in a penalty-marred game. The Bears were whistled for eight pass interference penalties and tallied 18 penalties for a conference-record 215 yards.

West Virginia’s defense held Baylor to just 318 yards, over 300 below its season average. The Mountaineers sacked Bryce Petty four times and limited the Bears to just one touchdown in the second half.

TCU rebounded from that heartbreaking loss to Baylor in a promising fashion: the Horned Frogs crushed Oklahoma State 42-9. Trevone Boykin threw for 410 yards and three touchdowns while TCU’s defense held Oklahoma State to just 258 yards and kept the Cowboys from scoring a touchdown for the first time in seven years.

As if that wasn’t bad enough for the state of Oklahoma, the Sooners were pretty much knocked out of the playoff race by dropping a game at home to Kansas State, 31-30. The kicking game doomed the Sooners, as Oklahoma had an extra point blocked and missed two field goals, including a chip-shot from the 1-yard line with four minutes to go. Kansas State quarterback Jake Waters was outstanding, passing for 225 yards and two TDs while adding another 51 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

Arizona State exorcized some of its demons by defeating Stanford 26-10. The Sun Devils were dominated by Stanford twice last season, including in the Pac-12 championship game on their home turf.

ASU scored the most points against Stanford’s defense all season while its own defense turned in its best performance of the year. ASU’s defense has nine new starters and has struggled this year, but the unit managed to hold Stanford to just 76 yards rushing and 288 yards of offense.

Texas A&M and Alabama have had some wildly entertaining matchups featuring plenty of offense the past two years, and that was half-true this year. There was plenty of offense, just none of it belonged to A&M.

Alabama trounced the Aggies 59-0, scoring 35 points in the second quarter alone. Alabama held A&M to just 172 total yards of offense while racking up 602. It was the Crimson Tide’s largest win since 1991 and largest SEC win since 1979.

Looking Ahead to Week 9:

Yikes.

There’s not much on the schedule this week. Aside from our Game of the Week, there is only one other matchup involving two ranked teams, and that’s #3 Ole Miss taking on #24 LSU in Baton Rouge on Saturday night. Ole Miss leads the nation in scoring defense (10.6 points per game) and is tied for first in interceptions (15).

LSU has struggled against the SEC this year, going 0-2 against Mississippi State and Auburn. LSU’s defense is once again among the best in the country, but its offense leaves much to be desired.  The Tigers rank 98th in passing offense, and quarterback Anthony Jennings is only completing 50 percent of his passes. LSU needs to be able to run the ball to keep Jennings from having to try and beat Ole Miss solely with his arm.

Other SEC contenders will be in action, but none are in marquee games. Top-ranked Mississippi State heads to Kentucky, #4 Alabama faces Tennessee, and #5 Auburn hosts South Carolina in the only game that has the potential for intrigue. South Carolina has been a huge disappointment thus far, but the Gamecocks were ranked in the top ten coming into the season and a favorite to win the SEC East. If they can play up to that potential, then things could get interesting. However, South Carolina has given up an average of 31 points a game this year, and that’s been against teams that aren’t nearly as capable on offense as Auburn.

In the Big Ten, Ohio States looks to rebuild its reputation and continue to claw its way back up the polls after that disastrous home loss to Virginia Tech a few weeks back.

The Buckeyes are on a roll, having won four-straight and scoring at least 50 points in each game. Penn State has lost its past two, to Northwestern and woeful Michigan, and has struggled mightily along the offensive line.

However, this will be the first true big test for Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett. The game will be primetime at night, on the road, in a hostile environment with 100,000+ fans. Can he keep his composure?

Elsewhere in the conference, Nebraska looks to keep pace with division-leader Minnesota–yes, you read that right–against Rutgers.

Michigan State hosts Michigan. Viewer discretion is advised.

Out west, Kansas State hosts Texas while West Virginia looks to maintain its momentum going against Oklahoma State a week after upsetting previously-undefeated Baylor. The Mountaineers are banged up, but having Kevin White helps. The receiver leads the nation in receiving yards per game at 145.7 and has topped 100 yards in every game this season.

The Pac-12 ought to once again provide some late-evening entertainment. It’s an inter-state battle as Washington takes on Arizona State while Arizona faces Washington State.

The Sun Devils should have quarterback Taylor Kelly back. The senior missed over a month with a foot injury. If he isn’t ready to go, then ASU has a more-than-capable backup in junior Mike Bercovici, who has thrown for over 1,300 yards with ten touchdowns and two picks in Kelly’s absence.

Arizona looks to get back on track after dropping one to USC two weeks ago. The Wildcats face pass-happy Washington State and quarterback Connor Halliday, who has already thrown for over 3,330 yards with 28 touchdowns. To put that in perspective, the next-closest passer is 695 yards behind Halliday, and that’s with Halliday already having a bye week. Considering Arizona ranks 106th in pass defense, expect this to be a wild one.

The MUSS

If you ever watch a Utah football or basketball game, you’ve probably heard of the MUSS, or Mighty Utah Student Section.

The MUSS was established in 2002 and takes its name from a line in the school’s fight song: “no other gang of college men dare meet us in the muss.” It is more than just the Utah student section, though; the MUSS is more along the lines of a European football team fan group.

Students register to join the MUSS and get reserved seating at football games, an exclusive pregame tailgate, and discounted prices to an away game. MUSS members also get customized t-shirts that distinguish them from other fans. The MUSS is open to students only, although MUSS members can register non-student guests for events.

At Utah football games, the MUSS is about 6,000 strong and has a number of gameday traditions such as the Third Down Jump and False Start Tally. The former requires the MUSS to jump around and go nuts whenever an opponent faces third down while the latter entails hanging a “5” on the railing whenever the opposing team has a false start penalty. It’s akin to the K’s you see at a baseball game.

In 2004, the football team began wearing a MUSS decal on the back of its helmets.

 

Game of the Week:

#20 USC vs. #19 Utah

In a battle for supremacy in the Pac-12 South, USC travels to Salt Lake City to take on the Utah Utes on Saturday night.

Both teams are on a roll. USC has won its past two games, knocking off then-undefeated and #10 Arizona at home followed by a drubbing of woeful Colorado. Quarterback Cody Kessler set a school record by throwing seven touchdown passes against the Buffs, including four in the first quarter alone.

He’ll have to keep up that stellar play against the Utes, as USC’s potent rushing attack, led by Javorius Allen, may find yards few-and-far-between in this one.

Utah ranks second in the Pac-12 in rush defense and leads the country in sacks. The Utes average 5.5 sacks and 10.2 tackles for loss per game, tops in the country for both stats.

Utah blew a big lead against Washington State, but the Utes have rebounded, upsetting then-undefeated and #8 UCLA on the road then prevailing in double overtime against Oregon State.

Devonte Booker has carried the load, and he ranks right behind Allen in rushing yards per game in the conference at 123.7 and is coming off a 229-yard, three touchdown performance against the Beavers.

Utah’s defense will need to come up big once again because if Kessler can get going and make some plays through the air, the Utes will hard-pressed to keep up. Utah has struggled throwing the ball; the Utes are second-to-last in the conference, averaging just under 200 yards through the air per game. Throw in the fact–no pun intended–that USC leads the conference in interceptions, and it’s clear that Utah’s quarterbacks will need to perform better than they have this season if they want to beat USC.

Prediction: USC

 

 

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