By Josh Kramer
Week 9 of the College Football was “mighty fine.” It was highlighted by a Braxton Miller hail mary toss and a very gutsy triple overtime win by the Standford Cardinal at the Coliseum. But this is the week we have all been waiting for. The “Game of the Year” is set to take place in Tuscaloosa Saturday night. Grab your popcorn. There will be some fireworks when number one takes on number two.
Here are the marquee matchups.
South Carolina at Arkansas: Razorbacks by 7
Headline: The lack of Lattimore kills the Gamecocks at Razorback Stadium.
-Many are unaware that the SEC features a pair of matchups between top ten teams this week. How often does that happen? Talk about a conference being head and shoulders above the rest. But in actuality, many are overlooking this game. All eyes are on Tuscaloosa. And that is understandable, but you better believe this showdown has the makings of a great game.
-South Carolina demonstrated that life in the post Lattimore days may not be all that fun (hopefully he will be back stronger than ever next year). They hobbled their way to a two point victory against Tennessee last Saturday. Ironically, their rushing attack appeared to not miss a beat while the aerial attack was horrific. Well this is to be expected. Without Lattimore on the field, teams can focus heavily on shutting down junior star wideout, Alshon Jeffery. Well expect Arkansas to do much of the same. In addition, the Razorbacks are a bit more efficient offensively than the Volunteers. If Lattimore was healthy, my pick would most likely be different. But with the combination of the injured running back and a hostile road atmosphere, I do not see South Carolina picking up the road win.
Kansas State at Oklahoma State: Cowboys by 14
Headline: The three-headed monster of Weeden, Randle, and Blackmon continue to take no prisoners.
-This had the makings of a huge Big 12 matchup between two undefeated opponents. Unfortunately, Kansas State did not hold up their end of the bargain last week, taking one on the nose from the Oklahoma Sooners by 41. Sadly for the Wildcats, things do not get any easier against arguably the most electric offense in the entire country.
-Kansas State is a solid team. But really, who had they played before taking on the Sooners last week? I guess they did defeat Baylor, though it was a one point nail biter. Oklahoma State on the other hand appears to be nearly unstoppable. Weeden is tossing the pigskin around as well as any quarterback in the country. Justin Blackmon may be the top receiver in all the land. Plus Joseph Randle has been a heck of a playmaker and perhaps is the nation’s biggest surprise. Not only were the Wildcats exposed last week at home, now they head on the road to take on a team who appears to be every bit as good as the Sooners. Good luck K State.
LSU at Alabama: Tigers by 3
Headline: The road team wins a thriller that lives up to all the hype and more.
-Any game that features the nation’s number one ranked team is hotly anticipated. Any game that features the nation’s number two ranked team is also a big deal. But a game that features one versus two? You better believe that may not just be the game of the week, but perhaps the game of the year. Well that is exactly what we have going in Tuscaloosa Saturday night as the nation’s top two teams battle it out at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
-I think everyone in the country is well aware of not only the overall talent that both of these teams features, but the insanely good defensive units. This game will feature as close to NFL caliber play on the defensive side of the ball as you will get to witness all year at the college level. Both of these teams are deep, talented, hungry, and of course fast. And as you all are already aware, speed kills. Flip a coin on which defense you are taking in this game. In addition, good luck on choosing which offensive unit is more formidable. The Tide average 39.4 points a game while the Tigers average 39.3. In addition, both Les Miles and Nick Saban know what it takes to bring home a National Championship and appear poised to add to their current totals.
-The real key to this game in my opinion will be which quarterback can take care of the ball, especially at crunch time. I know it sounds simple. But each of these teams have tenacious defenses that will get after the quarterback. The special teams units are comparable. And they both feature vicious ground attacks that should be able to run the ball effectively on anybody (Richardson versus Ware is a coin flip in my eyes). In order to win this game though, somebody will have to strike through the air at some point. Who would you rather have making decisions and throwing the ball late in a close game? McCarron or the combination of Lee/Jefferson? Though McCarron only has thrown three INTs on the year, that is two more than the combination of Lee/Jefferson. Plus Lee and Jefferson are both seniors. McCarron is a sophomore. Despite being on the road, I am taking the experienced QB’s of LSU to be the difference in the showdown of the nation’s top two teams.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.