You can finally sit back and relax college football fans, as this week should be drama free (except for Auburn fans dealing with the Cameron Newton situation). But just like any of the previous weeks, anything could happen, so don't let your guard down.
One of the top matchups this week is the South Carolina- Florida game. South Carolina will travel to the Swamp this weekend, which is trouble for the Gamecocks since they have never won at that stadium. Another interesting matchup this week is Mississippi State and Alabama. These two teams have switched roles over the past weeks, with Mississippi State climbing up the rankings and Alabama falling down. The Penn State- Ohio State and Georgia- Auburn rivalries have enjoyed plenty of hard fought games that became classics.
These five matchups should be intriguing to watch, it could come down to the last minute for some, or it could be over right from the start. Here is some insight into this weekend's top five 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.
Mississippi State at Alabama
It's hard to believe at this point in the season that Mississippi State and Alabama have the same record. As expected, Mississippi State is the clear underdog with Alabama a 13 point favorite. But this doesn't faze a Mississippi State team out to prove everyone wrong. To prove the doubters wrong, they will need a big game out of running back Vick Ballard. Ballard continues to play well, in his last four games he has averaged 113.5 yards and close to two touchdowns per game. He will need to have a huge game this week, since they have had problems at the quarterback position all year.
Mississippi's defense is the reason for their success so far this season. They have a ninth ranked defense that allows only 17 points per game. The defense will be important this week, as they will be called upon to stop the running game of Alabama. If they can stop the run, watch out for Mississippi State.
Alabama has not played like the National Championship team from a year ago. What sets them apart from last years team is consistency. Alabama has dominated some opponents (Florida) but also has looked flat in other games (South Carolina). Whether its consistency that's the problem or not, they have to bounce back after a loss to LSU last weekend. If they do, they still have a small chance for an SEC Championship; if not then their SEC title hopes are over with. In order for them to win this week, Alabama will have to stick to the running game and hand the ball off to their two talented running backs. Mark Ingram rushed for 97 yards and a touchdown last week, but Trent Richardson was not a factor, rushing for just 28 yards. Alabama will need both of them to produce, since they will be facing a very stingy defense where points could be scarce. But as good as Mississippi State's defense is, Alabama's defense is even better. Alabama is ranked fifth overall with 13.8 points allowed per game. The Mississippi State offense has similarities to LSU, though, which could be a problem since LSU gained 433 yards and scored 24 points for a win. This week's matchup could either be a close one or a blowout from the start, so make sure you watch this game; it could be an interesting one.
South Carolina at Florida
The Xtra Point Football NCAA Game of the Week. South Carolina heads into this game already at a slight disadvantage as they'll be playing at The Swamp. South Carolina has never won there, losing by 50 in their last visit. It doesn't help that they have struggled of late on offense, turning the ball over 11 times in their three loses. One way to lower the amount of turnovers is to hand the ball off to their star running back, Marcus Lattimore. South Carolina is hoping Lattimore is 100 percent after bruising his knee after last week's loss to Arkansas. If he is healthy, he could be a game changer, and that's what South Carolina is going to need him to be. Quarterback Stephen Garcia will also need to play turnover free. He has thrown at least one interception in his past five games, something that the Gators could take advantage of. I'm not totally sold on Florida's resurgence on offense, but regardless, South Carolina's defense has to shape up. Last week, the defense allowed 41 points and 443 yards, something that is not acceptable for a team still in the mix for a SEC Championship.
The Gators have some momentum heading into this matchup, which is hard to believe after their poor offensive start to the season. But can they keep it up or will they go back to playing poorly? The Gators offense does not look like offense in previous years. Yes, it might be unfair to compare this team to the National Champion years, but they just have not produced. That all starts with quarterback John Brantley, who had to fill Tebow's shoes, but also had a huge amount of hype coming into this season. Brantley has not lived up to the expectations just yet, but a productive week resulting in a win could save him. Brantley will be called on a lot in this matchup since South Carolina's defense allowed 303 yards passing last week. Another important part to the team's success this week is defense. They are allowing an average of 19.6 points per game, which is not bad for a team whose offense has been pretty bad. The key for the defense is to watch out for running back Marcus Lattimore, he might not be 100 percent but he can still be dangerous.
USC at Arizona
USC has had to battle the idea of not being bowl eligible all season. They have had to motivate themselves, trying to take on the role of the spoiler each week. USC will take that role again this week, as they try to knock Arizona out of t he Pac 10 Championship completely. But if USC is going to pull out with a win, their defense is going to have to wake up. So far this season, USC has not been able to stop anything, hence their 75th ranking in points against. But luckily for USC, they have a high-powered offense that can offset the horrid defense. The offense, led by quarterback Matt Barkley, ranks 14th in total offense with 470.8 yards per game. Last week, against Arizona State, Barkley threw for 215 yards with three touchdowns, a typical performance from him this season. But will he be able to perform at that level against Arizona? Last year Barkley was held to 144 yards, his second worst game of his career. The offense depends on him, so if he has a bad game, then it could be a bad game for the Trojans.
Arizona needs to bounce back this week after getting dominated on both sides of the ball against Stanford. The defense gave up a season's worst 516 yards, with 217 of those yards coming on the ground. It was an uncharacteristic game for the Wildcats, as they lead the Pac-10 in scoring defense with 17.4 points per game and in rushing defense with 102.7 yards per game. Arizona's defense better not let that happen again this week, as USC's offense could potentially cause some damage. On offense, quarterback Nick Foles will be expected to do a lot more this week, as it will be his second week back from an injury. The matchup of USC's offense and Arizona's defense will be interesting, with the better of the two coming out victorious.
Penn State at Ohio State
Right after Penn State's win over Northwestern, coach Joe Paterno immediately turned his attention over to Ohio State. He didn't even let his 400th win celebration last, immediately saying, "Now that the celebration's over, let's go beat Ohio State!" The enthusiasm is great, and of coarse all the Penn State fans loved it, but he might have been a little presumptuous. First off, the Penn State defense will have the assignment of containing quarterback Terrelle Pryor. Second, even though sophomore quarterback Matthew McGloin has been productive he hasn't been tested, with this week being his first test. What a test this game will be for him, but don't expect him to pass this test since he hasn't seen any competition like this ever since he took over the starting job.
Ohio State should be more than ready for this week's matchup. They are coming off a bye week well-prepared and rested. This is scary for an offense that's headlined by super athlete Terrelle Pryor. His play so far this season has included him in the Heisman mix, and with the recent drama with Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton, he could be the new frontrunner after this week. Ohio State's defense also will not allow Penn State's offense to do much. They rank third overall with points against, averaging 13.6 points per game. Don't expect Penn State to do much in this matchup, it could be a blowout.
Georgia at Auburn
Georgia heads into this matchup aiming to not only become bowl eligible with a win, but also take down number two Auburn. It's been an abysmal season so far for Georgia, but a win this week could change everything. In order to do that, quarterback Aaron Murray must be on point. Not only on point, but he has to get arguably one of the best wide receivers in the nation, A.J. Green, the ball numerous times. On defense, Georgia is going to have their hands full. They will have to be able to contain quarterback Cameron Newton, but not one team has been fortunate enough to stop him.
Don't expect anything different this week, as this game is Auburn's to lose. The offense, led by Cameron Newton, should dominate and lead them to another victory. On defense, they will have to focus their attention or receiver A.J. Green. Auburn cannot let him touch the ball too often, as he could potentially change a game with a big play or two. Auburn doesn't have much to worry about this week; it should be an easy win for them.
Player to keep your eye on: Matthew McGloin, QB, Penn State. McGloin has the tough task of leading the offense this week against Ohio State. He has performed well ever since taking over the offense four weeks ago, but is that enough experience for a quarterback that heads to the Horseshoe for the first time to upset Ohio State? This will be a major test for McGloin, but don't count him out.
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, Chicken Quesadillas. Everyone loves themselves a Quesadilla. They are quick and easy to make and fun to eat. A perfect party food, adults and children alike love Quesadillas. But what's great about Quesadillas is that you can put whatever ingredients you want in them; it's totally up to you. You can use these Quesadillas as your featured tailgate item, or you could use it as a snack. Whatever you decide to do, Quesadillas will not let you down. 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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