NCAA Football Column: NCAAF with Michael Emmett
Games You Shouldn't Ignore
All the pressure is on the Ducks. Every trend points to them and so do most of the matchups. A two-touchdown favorite, Oregon is supposed to win easily. Saddled with probation, the Trojans have far less to gain or lose. USC was impressive in a loss to Stanford a few weeks back and should cause problems for the high powered Ducks offense.
USC has been unsuccessful in its last five visits to the state of Oregon (losses to the Ducks in 2007 and 2009, and to Oregon State in 2006, 2008 and 2010) and has won only twice in its last seven trips to Eugene. If this game were in Los Angeles, I’d go with the upset. But Oregon is the sexy pick and some believe when it is all said and done they will be playing in New Orleans for the crystal ball. Clearly, this must be an impressive win if they are hoping to impress the voters across the country.
The pick: Oregon 45-31
2) No. 5 Oklahoma at No. 25 Baylor
If the Sooners can get beat at home by Texas Tech, they can lose to anybody. The Bears are certainly a far more qualified opponent than the Red Raiders, who came into their game at Oklahoma riding a two-game losing streak and since leaving Norman have lost three in a row by a stunning combined score of 159-33. This might be remembered as the greatest upset in Big 12 history – especially after what has transpired the last 3 weeks.
Oklahoma (8-1, 5-1) has been rejuvenated by Stanford and Boise State getting knocked from the ranks of the undefeated last Saturday, but the Sooners need to avoid the temptation of thinking about Bedlam too much. Without Broyles and Whaley this is certainly a red flag game and must be treated as a dangerous opponent or the Bears might be celebrating as the Red Raiders did one month ago.
The pick: Oklahoma 41-27
3) No. 17 Nebraska at No. 20 Michigan
The Cornhuskers did an admirable job blocking out all the distractions at Penn State last Saturday, coming away with a 17-14 victory that kept them in the running for the Big Ten’s Legends Division.
This will be the second time this season that the Cornhuskers play on the road in consecutive weeks. In the first instance, Nebraska got whipped at Wisconsin, 48-17.
The pick: Michigan 21-20
4) No. 1 LSU at Mississippi
The only thing the Rebels have going for them is history. But not even past results can help this miserable team.Last year, LSU needed a last-minute touchdown to beat Mississippi, 43-36, which was a huge upgrade for the Tigers, who inexplicably lost their previous two games to the Rebels. Ole Miss (2-8, 0-6 in SEC), which got humiliated last week in a 27-7 loss at home to Louisiana Tech, doesn’t have a shot to pull off anything remotely similar against Louisiana State (10-0, 6-0). This will be a blowout in every facet. LSU will be resting their starters for much of the second half.
The pick: LSU 41-3
5) No. 21 Penn State at Ohio State
Tom Bradley vs. Luke Fickell. It doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as Joe Paterno vs. Jim Tressel, but if you dig deep enough through the muck, it’s still Penn State vs. Ohio State and both teams have a lot to play for on the football field.
Penn State (8-2, 5-1 in Big Ten) can clinch at least a share of the Leaders Division title with a victory over Ohio State (6-4, 3-3).
Both teams are looking to rebound from disappointing losses that saw them fall three points short. The Nittany Lions got beat, 17-14, by Nebraska at home, while the Buckeyes fell, 26-23, in overtime at Purdue.
The pick: Ohio State 24-17
Email Michael Emmett: email@example.com
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