Friday, September 26, 2008

College Football Preview

We haven't even reached Saturday and already we've had a colossal upset, as those wacky Beavers of Oregon State once again knocked off a supremely overrated USC team. Somewhere Mark May is fixin' to jump off a ledge, which would make everybody happy. And while this upset would be enough for most fans, we have a full Saturday to go, chock full of huge games across the country. Lets get it.
GDB Brew Battle of the Week

Oh my god to be in Athens, Georgia right now. Everywhere you turn, and everyone you talk to, is completely enthralled by the game tomorrow night in Sanford Stadium between #3 Georgia and #8 Alabama. There are so many angles in play here: 2 top-10 teams, heisman candidates, spectacular freshmen on both sides, return to glory for a famous team, shit-talking, SEC football in primetime, and of course the trim. What this all adds up to is a game, and an entire town, that is nearing bedlam. Lets take a look quickly at how both teams got here and what they do well, and then i'll dare make a prediction for tomorrow
THE TIDE: It hasn't taken Nick Saban long to put his imprint on Alabama. If you watched any of the Tide's victories over Clemson or Arkansas, you would see a superior physical team that plays ball-hawking defense and runs the ball very effectively. And with such a fast start, Saban's young squad is brimming with confidence. Alabama goes 3 deep with solid running backs behind one of the best O-lines in the conference, and have ample playmakers on the outside. On defense, linemen Terrance Cody and Brandon Deaderick have allowed playmaking linebacks like Rolando McClain to feast on opponents running backs. The Crimson Tide is a tough team that is only getting stronger.

Them Dawgs: For some reason the Dawgs have dropped to #3 in the polls despite being 4-0. They are now coming off their most complete game of the season against ASU and look to be coming into their own just as they start the SEC gauntlet. Knowshon Moreno has been spectacular at running back, Matt Stafford looks like the most experienced passer in the conference, and AJ Green has given them the deep threat that hasn't existed in Athens since Fred Gibson turned into a biiig biiiitch. The Dawgs are also doing an incredible job stopping their opponents running game, holding foes to under 50 yards a game. A lot of the credit for the defense has to go to Rennie Curran, who has been without a doubt the best defensive player in the nation, regardless of what idiots in Bristol will tell you. He saved Georgia against Carolina and is good for about 10 impact plays a game. Watch 35 on Saturday and tell me he's not the best linebacker in America.

What will decide this game: There are two huge issues that will decide this game. First is the play on both sides of the interior line. I doubt either Georgia or Bama can win this game if they can't establish the run. While Bama has had the better line units so far, they also have not faced an opposition as strong as the Dawgs. And despite the Dawgs struggles, the team is still averaging near 200 yards per game in rushing while leading the SEC in rushing defense. If young interior linemen like Ben Jones and Cordy Glenn can hold up against human sinkhole Terrance Cody, then Moreno should be able to get to the 2nd level and make his huge plays. It will be key for the Dawgs to mount a pass rush on the Tide as well, something they have not done effectively so far this year. The second big issue in this game will be quarterback play. Georgia appears to have a huge advantage at this position, and John Parker Wilson will have to play mistake-free for the Tide to win. So far this season he has not made the debilitating mistakes he was prone to in years past, but this will be the toughest defense he has faced all year and one mistake could be deadly. For Matt Stafford, he has to be patient and take what Saban's defense gives him. It is certain that he will see some unique coverage looks this week, and he must lean on his running game and preparation to make the correct reads.

Prediction: In week's past I've been very nervous for each Georgia game. I knew we'd struggle against SC despite their shittiness, and I also thought the ASU battle was a definite trap game. Now we're going up against Bama yet i feel very calm about it, because it seems to me as if the Dawgs are starting to come into their own. This is the type of game that players dream of, under the lights against a big time opponent on a national stage. Mark Richt is an amazing big game coach and he will have his boys fired up for the 745 kickoff. And while i don't discredit what Nick Saban can do, I am not sure his young team is quite ready to handle an atmopshere like Sanford Stadium will provide tomorrow night. The first 15 minutes of this game are huge. If Bama can keep it close than anything can happen, if they make a lot of mistakes then Georgia could blow them out of the water. Deep down, I feel like this is the game that Georgia makes its statement to the world that they are still the top Dawgs, and behind the excellence of Moreno, Stafford and Curran, the Dawgs win 28-14 between the hedges.
Other SEC Games:
Tennessee @ Auburn - This one could be really ugly for the Vols. Auburn is going to be pissed off at how they lost to LSU and that defense will be in full out search and destroy mode. Their offense is only getting better, and quite frankly it doesn't look like Tenneseee coaches have a clue of what their doing. I know the Vols usually win games like this and continue to annoy the shit out of you in the process, but i smell ass whooping on the plains. Auburn wins 34-0.

Ole Miss @ Florida - The Rebels seemed slightly frisky this year, until Vandy came in and stole their soul in the 4th quarter. Now they will either cave in or fight even harder against a big name opponent this week. The Rebs have the talent on the D-Line to make life difficult for Tebow, and Jevan Snead could give the Gator defense problems if he's on his game. I think this will be a pretty close game throughout until Flo-Rida pulls away late. UF wins 41-27.

Miss. St. @ LSU - LSU has the biggest win of the season to date against Arkansas. Now they come back to the Bayou to face a struggling MSU squad. If the Bulldogs get more than 7 points I will be shocked. LSU destroys MSU 51-6.


Illinois (22) @ Penn State(12). The Nittany Lions victory over Oregon State is looking a lot better now after last night, but they still haven't proven much in their fast start. They finally get a ranked opponent with a chance to prove they are the cream of the Big 10 crop. Now that Anthony Morelli has been turned into dog food, Penn State's offense has exploded. And with Illinois sporting one of the wackest defenses in the nation, don't look for the trend to stop. Penn State momentum + a white out in Beaver Stadium = Zook Ether. Penn State wins big 45-14.

TCU (24) @ Oklahoma (2). Oklahoma has been raping scoreboards this year thanks to Sam Bradford's greatness. TCU is a strong team out of the suprising Mountain West Conference. While it appears to be a mismatch on paper, TCU has a chance to make things interesting. The Horned Frogs always play inspired defense, which has led them to upsets of Oklahoma the last 2 times in Norman, including in 2005. The Sooners appear unstoppable right now but they cannot afford to look past these guys toward the Big 12 slate that awaits them. Usually OU doesn't melt down until the second half of the season, and I think they will win this game pretty handily because they just have too many playmakes for them Frogs to contain. Sooners 38-19.

Ranked teams on Upset Alert:

Keep an eye on South Florida at NC State, because the Bulls played like shit last week and could be looking ahead to bigger games. Plus Tom O'Brien is steadily improving his frisky Wolfpack. The other game I'm looking at is Clemson-Maryland. Both teams are about as reliable as a Charter Cable technician, and because of that its possible that those wacky Terps walk into Death Valley and knock off the still bitch-made Tigers. No Clemson word bond.

With that I'm off to begin preparations for tomorrow's game. Hopefully there will be a GDB field report with the day's festivities in Athens, but you never really know whats going to happen in this towwwwwn. Look for Sweezy on Gameday, and then enjoy a spectacular battle between the hedges later that night.