Friday, October 5, 2012

Preview: Oregon vs. Washington

The Border War always promises to be an exciting game, and this year looks to be no different. With the Ducks seemingly on the fast track to the national championship game - assuming they can get past USC and perhaps even an up-and-coming Oregon State - the Huskies will be looking to play the roll of spoiler.

The Breakdown

The key to hanging with (and maybe even beating) Oregon is simple: keep up with the tempo. Last year Washington couldn't keep pace after halftime with Oregon's supreme conditioning last year, giving up 17 second half points to their 7. The same story happened last week for Oregon against Washington State, going into half the Ducks were clinging to a 4 point lead before churning out 18 2nd half points in an eventual 51-26 win. If Washington State can gun it out with the Ducks, then surely Washington can do the same.

Coming off of a huge victory over the formerly 8th ranked Cardinal, the Huskies and Keith Price are looking to carry momentum into the rivalry game. Sporting the countries 21st ranked defense, they will need to bring their A-game against the 4th ranked scoring offense.

Players to watch:

Marcus Mariota has shown that he is in complete control
of Chip Kelly's offense. (Photo courtesy of The Register-Guard)
DAT: 50 touches, 495 yards, and 8 touchdowns. This man is a threat to score every play.
Marcus Mariota: Wouldn't know he was a freshman if someone didn't tell you. 11:4 TD:Int ratio
Kenjon Barner: No LaMichael James? No problem. 9 TDs on 605 yards and 96 carries makes for a    
productive back in any offensive system.

Keith Price: 5 TDs to 2 Ints this year, but he is incredibly efficient over his career.
Bishop Sankey: 5.1 yards a pop usually yields good results.
Kasen Williams/Austin Seferian-Jenkins: If the ball is put in the air, chances are it's going to one of these two. 513 yards, 47 receptions, and 4 TDs combined.

Prediction: Oregon 45 Washington 14

Washington keeps it close for the first half, but Oregon runs away with it late.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Preview: Neb @ OSU

We've reached the magical time of the college football year known as conference play and yet again we know absolutely nothing about who the contenders and pretenders are (Sorry Alabama you too).  Let's shift our focus to two teams in a bad (awful?) conference that have really underwhelmed so far this year. #12 Ohio State vs. #21 Nebraska.

The Breakdown

Key Matchup: Miller vs. the "Blackshirts"

Braxton Miller has been stellar this year and he is licking his chops yet again as he gets to see a defense he annihilated in Lincoln (pre-twisted ankle). Nebraska's defense has struggled over the past few years with mobile quarterbacks, most recently Brett Hundley of UCLA.  If Nebraska can contain Miller (70% of Ohio State's offense) it could be a long day for the Buckeyes in Columbus. That said, I am highly skeptical of Nebraska's team speed in the front seven and their physicality against an improving Ohio State offensive line. EDGE: MILLER

Key Player(s):

Taylor Martinez: He has been GREAT this year for Nebraska 11 TD:1 INT. He has been efficient and effective running the ball. However, UCLA flustered Martinez on the road and neutralized his ability to run in the second half. If Martinez gets it going early, Nebraska could make this a classic, if not this game will end sometime in around halftime.

Buckeye Secondary: Last week, this unit struggled tackling in space. They were awful on one of Michigan State's touchdowns and just downright bad all game. The Buckeye secondary's ability to tackle in the open field will be pushed to the limit by Kenny Bell, Kyler Reed, Jamal Turner, Ameer Abdullah and lastly, but not least Rex Burkhead. Shaky tackling early on could turn this game into a shootout that Ohio State's offense (aka Braxton Miller) will not be able to win. Like every football game, tackling will determine the winner.

Prediction:  Ohio State 31 Nebraska 17

Plain and simple. Bo Pelini teams tend to start slow (Wisconsin, Michigan, Missouri 2009). Nebraska has gotten into the nasty habit of digging a hole it can't climb out of.  "The Shoe" will not be as forgiving as Memorial Stadium was last week. Ohio State will get a few early scores (aided by Husker turnovers) and Nebraska will enter into the proverbial tailspin.  While Martinez may engineer a few scoring drives in the second half, I expect Carlos Hyde to wear out the Nebraska front 7 and the clock in the second half as Ohio State remains undefeated.