This weekend’s match-ups are loaded with All-American talent. These should be great games. Let’s cut to the chase, here are my picks:
1. #4 LSU at #18 Georgia
This is the premier SEC match-up so far and I don’t think it will disappoint. LSU has a lot to prove with their lofty #4 ranking. Georgia is looking to forget their season opening loss to Oklahoma State with a win this weekend. Both are SEC powerhouses year inand year out, and both teams have a lot on the line.
LSU’s secondary is as good as you’ll find anywhere. They’ll need this unit to play its best game yet as they try to contain sophomore sensation A.J. Greene. Greene has 25 receptions for 428 yards and 4 TD’s through the first third of the season. LSU star corner back and fellow sophomore, Patrick Paterson, will be the best competition Greene will have seen this year. The same can be said for Paterson as no WR he’s faced has the raw talent of Greene. The two have similar builds and identical athletic abilities; this will be the battle to watch, and I’m sure it will be worth the hype.
LSU’s running game was non-existent against MSU last week, and running back Charles Scott is playing nowhere near the level he was this time last year. Georgia’s defense has been porous at times and I’m not sure what to expect from them this week. They rank second to last, in the SEC, in total defense, allowing 355.8 ypg. Lucky for Georgia, that LSU is ranked 105th nationally in total offense with only 310.0 ypg. This game will be much closer than their respective rankings would lead you to believe. Georgia pulls off the upset with superman A.J. Greene leading the way. Georgia 24 – LSU 17
2. #7 USC at # 24 California
This game will make or break one of the teams’ conference title hopes and absolutely eliminate them from BCS title contention. Both teams have fresh losses on their minds and hopefully neither will let it affect them. Last week’s 42-3 debacle didn’t completely derail Cal’s championship aspirations but it certainly hindered them. They cannot afford another let down, if they want to keep their dreams alive. USC’s inexplicable 16-13 loss to Washington isn’t their first. They’ll need all the experience they can muster to rebound. Cal’s much better than Washington State, and Washington for that matter, and USC needs to stay focused to win. Pete Carroll’s been here before and I think he’ll have them ready.
As if USC needed more distractions, last season’s leading rusher, Stafon Johnson, will never suit up for the Trojans again, after a nasty weight room accident left him with a crushed neck and larynx. Joe McKnight will have to step-up, along with freshman QB Matt Barkley. Barkley is coming off a bruised shoulder but is expected to be a 100% for the game. They will definitely need him competing at his highest level if their passing game is to improve. Neither teams passing has been where their coaches I’m sure, expected it to be, ranking 66th and 63rd nationally.
Jahvid Best is coming off his worst performance of the year and he’ll need to get over it before he runs into the Trojan’s front seven tomorrow. His stats, coming into last week’s game, had him in the front running for a Heisman trophy. He’ll need a Heisman-like performance against USC, if he expects his team to win. Berkeley will be “rockin’” Saturday night but I still think USC pulls out the win. USC 21- Cal 17
3. #8 Oklahoma at #17 Miami
I’m so disappointed in the Canes. I thought they were the real deal. Well, this weekend, they can prove to me and the rest of America that they are, by turning in a good performance, at home, against BCS title contender Oklahoma. Their chances might have improved since Heisman trophy winner Sam Bradford will be out again, still recovering from his strained shoulder. Redshirt freshman, Landry Jones, has picked up most of the slack, setting a school record for TDs in a single game, with 6, against Tulsa two weeks ago.
Miami is fresh off a humbling loss to Virginia Tech and should be fired up. Both teams still have shots at their conference titles and Oklahoma, at least, has a realistic shot at the national championship. This game means a lot to both sides and should be very hard fought. Randy Shannon says his team needs to go “back to the basics” and he’s right. Miami missed 17 tackles that accounted for 180 extra yards and his receivers dropped 8 passes, where all but one would have resulted in a first down and/or touchdown. If Miami can correct these juvenile mistakes, they can compete with anyone. Virginia tech manhandled their offensive line and disrupted Jacory Harris all night. Look for Oklahoma to run multiple blitz packages and disguises to upset that young offensive line again. If Miami expects to compete they have to get their running game more involved. Whether Jacory Harris looks like a Heisman candidate or not he is still just a sophomore and Miami can’t depend on him to bail them out.
Oklahoma’s passing game isn’t near the well-oiled machine it was last year without All-American tight end Jermaine Gresham and Bradford. They need someone to step-up and while Jones is doing his best, he still needs help. From a statistical standpoint, Oklahoma’s offense is way down but they aren’t out either. Look for Jones to pick his way through Miami’s secondary, late. Oklahoma will find a way to win to take a lead in the all-time series 4-3. Oklahoma 31- Miami 18