Friday, November 2, 2012

BIg Game Saturday--Bama and Oregon Should Win

Alabama at LSU, Oregon at USC. Because of these two monster games, this Saturday is the day college football fans have been waiting for all year. Each game, though, has a little less luster. This was supposed to be the battle of the unbeatens. But LSU has one loss and USC has two. Both games, though, should still be bone-crushing battles.

Oregon (8-0) at USC )6-2):.

Picked by many in the pre-season as the No. 1 team, USC  isn't even the No.1 team in the Pac-12. That honor, easily, belongs to Oregon. The Trojans, it turns out, are full of holes. First of all, this team is thoroughly undisciplined, the Oakland Raiders of college football. USC leads the nation in penalties. Last Saturday, in the 39-36 loss to Arizona, the Trojans reached a penalty peak, being flagged 13 times. Coupled with the five turnovers, USC did a bang-up job of beating itself.

In the 21-14  loss to Stanford, USC didn't beat itself.  The bruising Cardinal did the whipping. Stanford's two beefy, rugged lines simply out-muscled the Trojans. After that game, the bloom was off the SC rose. It was clear they weren't tough enough to be the nation's No.1 team. It was also clear that QB Matt Barkley, who couldn't pull his team out of that hole, wasn't quite Heisman caliber. He's not even the best player on the team. That's WR Marquis Lee, who caught 16 passes for a staggering 345 yards against Arizona. Lee just might be the best player in the country.

Another problem. SC doesn't have a championship defense. Arizona's QB Matt Scott, who's not even top-notch, destroyed the SC pass defense. If Arizona can do that imagine what QB Marcus Mariota and that super-speed Oregon offense will do. Arizona is a fast team, but Oregon, with sprinters Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas at running back, is even faster. Oregon, by the way, ripped Arizona apart, 49-0.

Skeptics say Oregon hasn't been tested. But they've blown out all their opponents. Typically Oregon has mangled teams by the end of the first half. Sometimes the issue is settled by the end of the first quarter. They usually take their foot off the pedal early, or else they'd crack 100 against the weaker teams. Oregon doesn't have a great defense, but it's pretty good, certainly solid enough to keep a team like USC in check. The Trojans' strength is their passing game, which should account for at least three or four TDs. But the USC defense isn't sturdy enough to slow down the high-flying Ducks. Oregon. a 7-8 point favorite, wins this one, by a TD or two.

Alabama (8-0) at LSU (7-1):

Another boring battle of impenetrable defenses? Probably. Neither team has an explosive offense. LSU's, run by so-so- QB Zach Mettenberger, is pretty weak. Bama's is better but it's still just average. But Bama has a QB, A.J. McCarron, who's cool under pressure, doesn't make mistakes and can deliver a few TDs. With that ferocious D crippling most offenses, that's all the nation's No. 1 team needs to win most games.

Bama hasn't lost a game but it's had an easier schedule, featuring Michigan and Mississippi State, than LSU, which has had to battle Florida and South Carolina. LSU's resume has a lone blemish, that 14-6  loss to Florida, 14-6. The Tigers' problem is generating offense. In fact, the Tigers will be lucky to score against Bama. Look for the Bama offense, which boasts the country's best O line, to create running room for the Tide's RBs. And you can be sure that the Bama defensive line, with nose tackle Jesse Williams clogging the middle, will make it impossible for LSU backs to do very much.A 9-point favorite, Bama should win what shapes up as another low-scoring contest.