It might have been the first week of college basketball, but it's the weekend again, meaning it's time to switch back to college football mode. You won't want to miss this week's matchups.
We have Ohio State at Iowa -- Ohio State might have the better offense, but ultimately this game will come down to who comes up with the most stops on defense. The Nebraska-Texas A&M matchup shows off two talented quarterbacks who can dominate a game.
The Virginia Tech-Miami game is always a hard-fought battle, and this game could come down to the wire. Anytime Arkansas' quarterback Ryan Mallett is on the field, it's must-see TV, especially after Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy was able to pass so easily on Mississippi State's defense. For the Army-Notre Dame game, the only reason it made on this weeks top 5 is because of all the tradition and hard-fought battles these teams have had in the past. Here's an in-depth look into this week's top 5 matchups.
Don't forget to tune in on Monday to see where your favorite team ranks in Xtra Point Football's NCAA Top 25 Rankings.
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Ohio State at Iowa
A win this week for Ohio State would almost wrap up their 6th straight conference title and another BCS berth. However, a loss would result in a disappointing season playing in a second tier bowl game. So a lot of pressure rides on the Buckeyes shoulders this week and it wont be an easy game. Last years matchup was a battle, resulting in an Ohio State win in overtime. This week's game could be the same result, but that depends on the play of quarterback Terrelle Pryor and the Ohio State defense. Pryor is one of the most talented quarterbacks in the league, but is known to be inconsistent at times.
Will he be able to produce against a very talented Iowa defense? Expect Pryor to be passing more then running, since the Iowa defense has looked susceptible at times through the air. The Ohio State defense also is important to the result of this game. Iowa might not be an offensive powerhouse, but they have some players that could change a game. Ohio State's defense might be ranked 5th nationally averaging 13.6 points per game, but playing in a hostile environment could cause a problem for this defense (they haven't played well all season away from home).
Iowa is on the outside looking in. A win would give them a better chance of making the Big Ten championship, but its highly unlikely. Regardless of their fate, they can still act as the spoiler. In order to come out with a win, Iowa's offense will have to produce. Quarterback Ricky Stanzi has played extremely well this year, he's cut down on the turnovers and improved almost all statistical categories from last year. Stanzi has not faced the Ohio State defense yet in his career, missing last years matchup due to an injury. This is going to be a test for him, let's see if he passes (no pun intended). Another important player to the offense is running back Adam Robinson. Robinson has played well so far this season, but needs to be more consistent. He will have games like 114 yards against Wisconsin, but also have games like 5 yards against Arizona. Iowa hopes this will be a good week for him, since they will be facing a stingy defense. If Stanzi and Robinson aren't productive this week, then it should be another loss for the Hawkeyes.
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Nebraska at Texas A&M
Nebraska is coming off the best defensive performance in school history, that's very scary for the Texas A&M team. Last week Nebraska's defense held Kansas to 87 total yards, 15 passing. It might've been against Kansas, but regardless of the team, holding anyone to 87 total yards is very impressive. What's even scarier is that Nebraska gets cornerback Alfonso Dennard back from injury after missing two weeks. Dennard paired with Prince Amukamara, Nebraska has the best two shutdown cornerbacks in college football. Those cornerbacks will be important to stopping the high-powered passing offense of Texas A&M. On offense, Nebraska's quarterback will have his second straight game back from injury. Last week he was rusty throwing for 167 yards and rushing for 71 yards. Expect a better game out of Martinez this week, he has the potential of blowing up this week against a pretty bad Texas A&M defense.
Texas A&M has a small chance of winning this game, but at least there still is a chance. Their success relies mainly on quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who has helped the Aggies win four straight since being named the starter. But this might be too much pressure for a quarterback who's only started four games in his career. For defense, this unit has had some troubles. But look at their record (7-3), they obviously have done enough to win games. But will they be able to do enough this game? Probably not since they go up against a dual threat quarterback and a very talented running back in Roy Helu Jr. The only thing they have on their side is the crowd, since the game will be held at Kyle Field, home of Texas A&M.
Virginia Tech at Miami
The Xtra Point Football Game of the Week. Virginia Tech still hasn't gained the respect of the public after losing their first two games, the second being to a top FCS team, James Madison. Even after winning eight straight games, people still go back to the horrible start the Hokies had. Winning this game could erase all of that, since a win this week will clinch the ACC Coastal. But it wont be easy, since these two teams are very evenly matched. On offense, Tyrod Taylor continues to be one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the league, since he has quietly thrown for 1,988 yards with 18 touchdowns and four interceptions. The Hokies will rely mostly on Taylor, since their rushing attack has been very poor this year. On defense, Virginia Tech once again has a solid defense. Defensive coordinator Bud Foster, week in and week out has his defense motivated with his fiery attitude. However, the offense or defense might not win the game for them, its Beamer Ball that can change a game. Whether it's a block punt or a kick, or whether it's a kick return or punt return, almost every game the special teams makes a big play that changes the game. Keep an eye on the special teams, because we all know at any moment something could happen in their favor.
Miami should come into this game highly motivated, as they were embarrassed last year 31-7 in Blacksburg. That loss hurt a lot, there were plenty of talks swirling around that Miami is "back" after unexpectedly starting their season 2-0. The Miami players have not forgotten that game, they will be looking for revenge this weekend. But can they win this rivalry matchup with true freshmen quarterback Stephen Morris? Morris has not looked like a freshmen ever since taking over for injured Jacory Harris, he has led the team to two straight wins, while rejuvenating the offense. Morris has might have a lot of pressure this week, but the play of the running backs could definitely take some weight off of him. Last week Miami had four different running backs rush for a touchdown. If Miami sticks to the running game again this week, then they could be successful. However they are going up against a Virginia Tech defense that has stopped the run this season. On defense, Miami needs to contain quarterback Tyrod Taylor. In last years loss, it was all the running backs. But this year is different, Taylor is the focus of the offense. If they can contain him, the Hurricanes have a good chance of coming out with a victory.
Arkansas at Mississippi State
Mississippi State struggled against Greg McElroy, just think about what Arkansas's quarterback Ryan Mallett will do. Mallet has to be foaming from the mouth in anticipation of this game. The 6-foot-6 quarterback has been on point all season, placing him as one of the elite quarterbacks in the nation. For the season so far, Mallett has completed 67 percent of his passes, throwing for 2,967 yards and 24 touchdowns. He also has led the offense to score an average of 38 points per game. On defense, Arkansas does enough for a win. Besides the 65 points Auburn put up in a win, Arkansas defense only allows an average of 17 points per game. With their offense, that is far more then enough for a win. However this week could be tough for the defense, considering they have to contain a running game that is ranked 18th in the nation.
Mississippi State hopes that last game was just an off week for them. They were dominated on both sides of the ball, losing to Alabama 30-10. This week could be the same result, as they have to face one of the most talented quarterbacks in the nation. The Bulldogs better have a game plan to frustrate Mallett or else it could be a long game for the defense. For the Offense, they have to get their running game started early. Quarterback Chris Relf and running back Vick Ballard have lead the rushing offense to a ranking of 18 with 211.7 yards. If they are going to have any chance this week, Mississippi's rushing attack better score early and often, since they will have to outscore the Arkansas offense.
Army vs Notre Dame
Whether you like the Yankees or not, you have to understand how special the opportunity is to play the first football game in Yankee Stadium. It should be an electrifying environment with a sold out crowd.
Army will look to continue their success after gaining 233 yards against the number one ranked rushing defense, Kent State. Army's rushing offense ranks 8th in the nation, but their passing offense ranks dead last (120th), therefore don't expect Army to pass the ball that much. But you can expect a slow game because of the offensive scheme of Army. With a win last week against Kent State, they made themselves bowl eligible. With a win this week, they only improve their bowl status.
Last weeks win was a big bright spot to their season, and might have turned around the program. They were very impressive in their win over Utah, getting two big plays from special teams, and a game plan that allowed for freshmen quarterback Tommy Rees to be comfortable. The Notre Dame fans poured onto the field and celebrated their biggest win in years. In order to continue their momentum and win this week, Notre Dame will have to stop the run. You wont want to miss this game, not only is it at Yankee Stadium, but also these two teams have rich history together.
Player to keep your eye on: Taylor Martinez, quarterback for Nebraska. Martinez looked a little rusty last week, but don't expect the same out of him this week. He goes up against a Texas A&M defense that looked awful last week. If the Aggies defense plays a similar game, then look out for Martinez to have a huge day.
Tailgate item of the week: Did someone say Tailgate? This Sunday the Bing National Tailgating Championship Contest will be held at the New Meadowlands in New Jersey prior to the Houston Texans vs. NY Jets game. If you're in town, come on out for a great time. If not, don't despair, check the schedule as the traveling contest still has four more dates left in cities throughout the country.
Now for this weeks item, Maple Mustard Chicken Skewers. - This is a simple but yummy recipe that will soon be a family favorite at every tailgate party. Plus, who doesn't love food on a stick! The night before the game, mix well maple syrup, mustard and mayonnaise in large airtight container. Cut up chicken breasts into large bite sized pieces and add to airtight container. Combine well. Place covered container of marinade and chicken in the fridge overnight. When ready to grill, skewer chicken pieces using bamboo skewers. Grill until cooked through. Enjoy! - Jared Levine
Jared is a Journalism and Sports Administration major at the University of Miami providing introspective, insight, information and opinion on the world of College Football.
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