Weekend Preview

RaiderPower.com takes a look at the marquee matchups around the nation and the Big 12.

Around the Nation

#5 Georgia at #8 Tennessee
A huge SEC rivalry with huge SEC east implications, Georgia (4-0) (2-0) travels to Neyland Stadium to face Tennessee (3-1) (1-1). The Volunteers should be riding high after a miraculous come from behind win at LSU. Quarterback Rick Clausen led the Vols back from a twenty one point half-time deficit to win 30-27. Surely that performance finally ended the quarterback controversy that has plagued Tennessee the last two seasons. There's no quarterback controversy between the hedges, Senior D.J. Shockley waited patiently for three years behind David Greene, and now he's the man. He leads a Georgia offense that has an arsenal of powerful running backs and big tight-ends, a perfect mix for coach Mark Richt's offense. Georgia can maintain their strangle hold on the SEC east with a win, while Tennessee needs a win just to stay in the hunt.

#10 California at #20 UCLA
Another big in-state rivalry game for the weekend, Bruins vs. Golden Bears, what's the difference? I'll tell you one, Cal is overrated, and UCLA is not. Maybe I am a bit biased since our Red Raiders stomped them last year, but I am just not convinced with new quarterback Joe Ayoob. I am convinced with UCLA's signal caller Drew Olsen, who helped the Bruins light up the scoreboard during non-conference play, including a thrashing of Oklahoma. I don't feel that Cal has played a solid opponent all year and it may comeback to haunt them. Whoever wins this game will become USC's only challenger in the weak Pac-10.

#6 Ohio State at #16 Penn State
Is #16 Penn State (5-0)(2-0) for real? Some stopped asking that question last week, but not me. So they ripped apart #18 Minnesota, big deal, the week before they almost lost to Northwestern. This week they face their first big time test when #6 Ohio State (3-1)(1-0) comes to Happy Valley. The valley has indeed been happy the last few weeks, as a young athletic Penn State offense has been scoring points in bunches. I don't expect this trend to continue against the Buckeyes. The Nittany Lions have yet to face a defense this talented, and I think their youth and inexperience will cost them. I expect a typical low scoring Big Ten battle that will be determined by defense and special teams, advantage Ohio State.


Big 12 Preview

Texas A&M at Colorado
Colorado (3-1) (0-1) was impressive last week shutting out Oklahoma State in Stillwater 34-0. Texas A&M was anything but impressive in a 16-13 overtime victory at home against Baylor. Colorado's dominated every aspect of their game against the Cowboys, while A&M was dominated in every aspect of their game with Baylor other than the all important scoreboard. A&M would've been out of the game late if not for two Bear miscues inside the Aggie five yard line. Reggie McNeal has struggled with his accuracy throwing the ball, but is always a threat to run. The Buffs faced two mobile quarterbacks last week against Oklahoma State and had little trouble. Baylor had success in the air and on the ground against the Aggie defense, and the Buffalo offense led by senior Joel Klatt poses an even tougher test. If Texas A&M doesn't improve dramatically from what I saw last week, they will get blasted in Boulder.

Oklahoma vs. #2 Texas
The Red River shootout resumes as #2 Texas (4-0)(1-0) meets an oddly unranked Oklahoma (2-2) (1-0) team. Usually this is a battle of two top ten teams, but this year the Sooners haven't lived up to their end of the bargain. Practically dormant for the first three games of the year, the Oklahoma offense showed signs of life against K-State. The sooners accumulated their highest point total of 2005 with forty three, but lost running back Adrian Peterson to a high ankle sprain early in the second half. If Peterson can't go or isn't 100% on Saturday, you have to wonder where the offense is going to come from. Match that struggling Sooner offense against stellar Longhorn defense, and Oklahoma is in trouble. All signs point to this being the year for Mack Brown to finally get a victory over Bob Stoops. Browns' team is confident, playing well, and led by a flat out playmaker in Vince Young. If Oklahoma can keep Young from running, they might be able to keep it close. The problem is no one can stop him from running. Texas gets their revenge, finally.

Baylor at Iowa State
This is a battle of two teams coming off overtime heartbreakers. Baylor (3-1)(0-1) should still be undefeated but two goal-line turnovers cost them a win at Kyle Field. Iowa State (3-1) (0-1) went to Lincoln ranked #23, but couldn't convert a fourth and ten in the 2nd overtime and fell 27-20. Which team can recover? Iowa State has played well at home this season, claiming a win over in state rival and then top ten team Iowa. I don't think anyone remembers the last time Baylor beat a top ten team, or won a Big 12 road game. Until they do I can't say they will beat Iowa State. The combo of quarterback Brett Meyer and running back Stevie Hicks will be enough to outscore a sluggish Baylor offense.

Missouri at Oklahoma State
In the who cares Big 12 game of the week, (2-2)(0-1) Missouri travels to Stillwater to take on (3-1)(0-1) Oklahoma State. Home-field advantage? Don't tell it to the Cowboys or the Tigers. Last weekend the Cowboys were routed 34-0 by Colorado at Boone Pickens Stadium, while the Tigers were manhandled 51-20 by Texas in Columbia. All I have to say about this game is quarterback Brad Smith. Missouri has him, and that should be enough to outscore Oklahoma State's pathetic attempt at a spread offense. OSU quarterbacks Bobby Reid and Donovan Woods each have one touchdown pass through four games.

#13 Texas Tech at Nebraska
I can't imagine any member of the Husker nation that doesn't have revenge on their mind this week. Finally a chance to atone for the 60 point drumming they received at the hands of the Red Raiders last season. The Huskers offensive struggles have been well documented; in fact they've barely outscored the defense. Texas Tech and offensive struggles usually don't belong in the same sentence, but that was not the case against Kansas. Tech's spread offense only produced one passing touchdown all game, and a young offensive line allowed several sacks. Both teams have looked solid defensively which raises the question, can two teams running a spread offense play a low scoring defensive game? I say they can, but whoever's offense comes alive first could run away with this one. Tech has yet to win in Lincoln, but I see that changing this weekend.

Kansas at Kansas State
The in the battle for the sunflower state (3-1) Kansas travels to Manhattan to face (3-1) Kansas State. The records aren't the only similarity between these two teams, they're basically having the same season. Neither team has beaten a solid opponent; both teams have struggled with less than solid opponents. Last week both teams ran into solid competition in their Big 12 openers, and were handled with relative ease. The Jayhawks showed toughness on defense, but never seemed very threatening offensively in a 30-17 loss to Texas Tech. The Wildcats went into Norman thinking they had a strong defense as well, turns out they don't. The Cats gave up forty three points to Oklahoma, which had been struggling to find the end-zone during the non-conference schedule. Don't forget, Adrian Peterson was out most of the second half with a high ankle sprain. So the question in this one is what's worse? The Kansas offense or the Kansas State defense? I'd say the Kansas offense, I expect a low scoring, boring game, K-State gets the win since it's in Manhattan.


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