This week is not like any of the previous weeks in college football. This week is headlined by two BCS busters, TCU and Utah. There's a lot at stake and the winner of this matchup will most likely decide the conference champion and also remain as a BCS buster. Another top matchup this week is Alabama and LSU, a battle of one-loss teams in contention for the national title. The rest of the top five matchups of the week consist of teams battling to stay in the big picture. Here is a preview of this week's matchups, but be sure to tune back in on Monday for the results of Xtra Point Football's NCAA Top 25 Rankings.
Alabama at LSU
Alabama might be back in the race for another national championship, but it may not be for long because they will be facing teams like LSU, Mississippi State, and Auburn to finish the season. Alabama had a successful bye week with the losses from Missouri and Michigan State, but Alabama knows they will have to win out if they are going to make it back to the national championship game, and that starts with LSU. Alabama's offense will need to score early, not only to take LSU out of the game, but also LSU's fans out of the game. They will need both running backs Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson to establish a running game, something that hasn't been too successful in previous weeks. They will also need quarterback Greg McElroy to continue to play well; he has thrown for 798 yards and four touchdowns in his last three games. The defense should not be an issue this week, as LSU still looks terrible on offense. Let's see if Alabama can pull out a win and get by Death Valley and the LSU defense.
It's the same situation every week for LSU, either the defense does just enough for the win, or the offense does not do enough in a loss. However, luckily for LSU, it's mostly been the defense has done enough to help the team win. Again this week, they will need the defense to step up. But it wont be easy, as they will be facing plenty of offensive weapons in running backs Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson, quarterback Greg McElroy, and wide receiver Julio Jones. For the offense, any points would be an added plus, taking pressure off the defense to win the game for them. Like Alabama, LSU will look to score early; not only does that give them confidence on offense, but that will get the crowd into the game and become a huge factor. This game will be an interesting one to watch, don't miss it!
TCU at Utah
The Xtra Point Football NCAA Game of the Week featuring two non-BCS teams. The battle of the BCS busters with two very similar teams, TCU and Utah. The game could come down to the final drive, making this game an interesting one to watch.
All season TCU has crushed their competition, but that's not saying much since their toughest game was the first game of the season against Oregon State. On offense, TCU has two weapons that are game changers. Quarterback Andy Dalton is one of the elite quarterbacks in the league; he has thrown for 1,887 yards with 16 touchdowns and rushed for five touchdowns. When TCU is not throwing, they are handing off the ball to explosive running back Ed Wesley. He has been impressive so far this season, rushing for 938 yards with 10 touchdowns for the season. As successful the offense has been this season, the defense has outperformed them. TCU's defense is ranked #1 this season with an average of 8.7 points allowed per game. This might come against inferior opponents, but having a number one rank in any category is still impressive.
Like TCU, Utah is solid on both sides of the football. On offense they are ranked 3rd with an average of 45.3 points per game. The offense's success is partly because of the play of quarterback Jordan Wynn. He has thrown for 1,431 yards with 13 touchdowns so far this season; keep in mind he missed two games early in the season. Utah also has two running backs, Eddie Wide and Matt Asiata, who have been able to find the end zone at ease all season, combining for 15 touchdowns. It won't be easy for the offense, though, as TCU has the #1 scoring defense. On defense, Utah has the 6th ranked defense averaging 14.1 points per game. But like TCU, their only quality game came against Pittsburgh at the beginning of the year. Since TCU and Utah are similar in every sense, it should be a hard fought game, with the team that makes the least amount of mistakes prevailing. It's tough to say this, but this game could potentially be an exciting one to watch.
Baylor at Oklahoma State
At the beginning of the year, no one would have mentioned these names as one of the top matchups of the week. But it's time to believe in these two teams as they have played well this season, deserving top 25 spots. Baylor has been especially surprising this year, since they have finished last in their previous 13 Big 12 seasons. They are coming off a big win last week against Texas, something that no one would have thought of happening at the beginning of the season. Baylor is now at the top of their conference, and a win this week will further their chances of winning the Big 12 South. In order to come out with a win, their offense needs to continue their success. The offense is led by quarterback Robert Griffin III, who has thrown for 2,592 yards and 20 touchdowns. However, he hasn't had to do it all, with running back Jay Finley providing plenty of yards and touchdowns. Finley has ran for 813 yards with six touchdowns, averaging 169.7 yards rushing per game.
Even though Baylor has a powerful offense, Oklahoma State's offense is that much better. They have plenty of weapons, Brandon Weeden at quarterback, Kendall Hunter at running back, and Justin Blackmon at wide receiver. It's of no surprise then that their offense is ranked 3rd overall with 45.3 points per game. Watch out for Blackmon in this game as he returns to this week's lineup after he was arrested on a misdemeanor DUI charge last week. The players and the fans will forget about that quickly, since he will most likely provide plenty of offense for the Cowboys. This should be a shootout and just another interesting matchup in this week's edition. It will be a high-scoring matchup, what else can you ask for?
Arkansas at South Carolina
It's a matchup of two teams with 6-2 records, and two teams with standout quarterbacks. For Arkansas and quarterback Ryan Mallett, they boast a #2 ranking in passing yards with 360.3 yards per game. He's been explosive all year, and if it wasn't for two injuries in two crucial games, they could have been undefeated (but that is probably still a stretch). Luckily for Arkansas and Mallett, South Carolina has the worst passing defense in the SEC, allowing 259.9 yards per game. Mallett, like other previous quarterbacks facing South Carolina's defense, should not have a problem picking apart the defense. But there is one problem for Mallett; he will be without top wide receiver and his favorite target Greg Childs for the rest of the season. We'll see if that proves to be a huge problem, but it doesn't seem like it will, since they have depth at that position.
South Carolina boasts something that Arkansas couldn't do: they beat then top-ranked Alabama. But South Carolina lost to unranked Kentucky, something that Arkansas hasn't done either. So the inconsistencies are there, and that has plagued coach Steve Spurrier in his previous seasons at South Carolina. South Carolina has two stars that are crucial to their success this weekend. Quarterback Stephen Garcia started off the season slow, but he continued to improve as the season went on. Another key player to this game is freshman running back Marcus Lattimore. His speed and vision could single handedly change the game. He currently ranks 3rd in the SEC with 11 touchdowns, something coach Spurrier hopes he continues. Spurrier's plan is to continue to run the ball as much as possible, hoping to take time away from opposing quarterback Ryan Mallett. If his plan works, then the results should be in his favor.
Arizona at Stanford
Arizona might have gotten their starting quarterback back at the right time, as Nick Foles should provide the team with a jumpstart and plenty of offense. Last year Foles threw for 415 yards and three touchdowns, leading Arizona to a 43-38 win. In this year's matchup, Foles will be needed to put up similar numbers. But Arizona's offense wont be in the spotlight this week, it will be their defense. Arizona's defense is ranked 7th with 14.4 points per game. Will the defense be able to hold off Stanford's offensive attack?
Stanford is not known for their defense, but they have improved greatly. Last week's performance against Washington was very impressive, holding them to 107 total yards while shutting them out. But they might have their hands full this week, as they will be facing quarterback Nick Foles, who will be healthy and ready to play. Now on to Stanford's offense, which has performed well week by week. Their success so far can be attributed to quarterback Andrew Luck. He has put up numbers that make a case for the Heisman, but we all know it is now Auburn's Cameron Newton's to lose. Luck has thrown for 1,920 yards with 20 touchdowns this season, causing problems for opposing defenses weekly. Stanford has another weapon on offense in running back Stepfan Taylor. For the season, Taylor has rushed for 728 yards with seven touchdowns. Stanford's Taylor will be the key to this game; if he is able to run on the Arizona defense, not only could he score, but would open up the passing game.
Player to keep your eye on: Ed Wesley, RB, TCU. His performance this week is crucial for the Horned Frogs. He might have performed well so far this season, but that was against weaker opponents. If he is able to run on the Utah defense, then watch out for TCU in this matchup. If not, then it should be an interesting one.
Tailgate item of the week: Did someone say Tailgate? See where your tailgating prowess ranks as the Bing National Tailgating Championship Contest is coming to a stadium near you!
Now for this weeks item, Shrimp on the Barbie. Shrimp is very easy to prepare, all you do is take them out and throw them on the Barbeque. Then voila, you have a great tasting meal that everyone can enjoy. For this type of shrimp, you can either marinate them in a barbeque sauce, or use it to dip, since it goes great with this meal. You could also put them on a skewer with vegetables. You can't go wrong with this decision. 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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