Friday, 16 November 2012

College Football Preview Week 12

Iowa @ #21 Michigan

The season may be pretty much done for Iowa, with bowl eligibility meaning they have to beat both Michigan this week and Nebraska the Saturday after, but for the Wolverines this is a very important win to get at home as they try and reach the BIG 10 championship game.

Despite having an OT win against Michigan State, the Hawkeyes have been in a four game slump which includes a loss to lowly Indiana, and things will only get tougher in the Big House this Saturday as they come up against a Michigan team that has regained some swag with last weeks upset of then #24 Northwestern.
But despite this, the Wolverines have one big question on senior day, will Denard Robinson (#16, QB, Sr)  play? Since injuring a nerve in his throwing elbow against Nebraska the offence has been in the hands of WR turned QB, Devin Gardner (#12, QB/WR, Jr), who took Michigan past both Minnesota and Northwestern. No one is certain if Shoelace will play this Saturday, but questions have still arisen as to whether Gardner should be left in at QB even if Robinson is healthy. However, if Robinson is healthy, I expect to see him under center with Gardner getting spot duty in the form of Wildcat at the very least.

In terms of the on field product, I find it hard to pick against Michigan who’s defence has been surprisingly good, except against Alabama, and who’s offence is going to be deadly with Robinson or Gardner at the helm. Iowa will have to cling to their running game, limit turnovers and hope that their defence gets enough stops to be close enough at the end to maybe pinch this one.

Prediction: Michigan gash the Hawkeyes early and cruise to a 31-10 victory.

North Carolina State @ #11 Clemson

This one should be interesting to watch, as the highly potent Clemson offence rolls into Memorial Stadium to take on a North Carolina team that has shown moments of brilliance this season (a 17-16 win over Florida State) but has also had some embarrassing moments (last weeks 33-6 loss to Virginia).

It might have been a while since you saw the Clemson team, since they lost a lot of their relevance when they went down to Florida State, but they are tied at the top of the ACC Atlantic division at 9-1 next to Florida State and still have a offence that can put up points on any team in the country, averaging 42.9/game. Now, a lot of you will know about Clemson’s sophomore star Sammy Watkins (#2, WR, So), but so far this season he’s been experiencing the famed sophomore slump due some nagging injuries, suspension as well as being the weapon that every opposition’s defence want to take away. However, the good news for Tigers fans is that DeAndre Hopkins (#6, WR, Jr) has stepped up and delivered, having over 1000 yards with 14 TDs and averaging 16.6 yards/catch. Herein lies the secret to Clemson’s success, they just have too many weapons and options to be defended against, giving at least one of their explosive playmakers a chance to open up any game.

NC State’s supports must be more than a little perplexed at how States season has gone so far and that has made them a little unpredictable for their opponents. Mike Glennon (#8, QB, Sr) has had a very up and down season, showing both flashes of brilliance as well as bonehead plays that you wouldn’t associate with seniors, and with such a heavy reliance on their passing game, States season has gone as Mike Glennon has. If he has a big game against a average Clemson defence, look for the score to be closer than expected, but if he struggles, it could be all orange traffic.

As a side note to this game, I came across the story of Clemson’s freshman WR Daniel Rodriguez (#83) and his vow to play college football to a friend he lost in the military whilst fighting alongside him in Iraq. I don’t have time to go into detail about the story so if you’re interested in this cool story watch this youtube video, and read this article.

#13 Stanford @ #2 Oregon

By far the best game on this Saturdays slate sees the newly #2 Ducks defending their own turf in Autzen Stadium against a Cardinal team that has been playing great defence but has recently switched to a freshman quarterback to lead their offence.

At this point, Oregon have complete control of their own destiny, knowing that by winning out and then beating their opponent in the Pac-12 Championship game, they will be heading to the national championship game. Stanford on the other hand are trying to position themselves for a good spot in bowl play, and whilst they may not be expected to beat Oregon on the road, they do need to play well enough to maintain some relative stability in the standings and land a solid post season bowl game.
With that said, both teams still have to perform in the national spotlight on Saturday, and both teams have some key plays to keep and eye on.

For Oregon, freshman wonder Marcus Mariota (#8, QB) is facing the toughest defence he has been up against yet and whilst he doesn’t necessarily need to have another 6 TD game like last week, he still needs to bring his best to the table in order to keep Stanford honest. Mariota will be very ably assisted by Kenjon Barner (#24, RB, Sr), who will be looking to have a big game on senior day to not only go out with a bang, but also to bolster his already impressive resume to perhaps capture the Heisman trophy.

Stanford’s freshman quarterback is 6 foot 4 Kevin Hogan (#8, QB, Fr), who, despite having two interceptions last week against Oregon State, has impressed the Stanford coaching staff so far. In similar circumstance to Mariota, this will be the best defence that he has faced yet, with plenty of speed, and able to close up throwing lanes very quickly. I expect that he won’t be asked to throw the ball a lot this game as the Cardinal will try to grind out a result on the ground.

Prediction: The key for Stanford is to keep their defence off the field as long as possible and let the rest up, but I forsee a couple of turnovers really killing the Cardinals in the second half as they play catch up. Oregon 40 – Stanford 24.

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