By Stewart Mandel
November 07, 2013
Can quarterback Blake Bell (10) and Oklahoma keep pace with high-scoring Baylor in Waco on Thursday?
Jackson Laizure/Getty Images
Thursday, Nov. 7
7:30 p.m. ET (Fox Sports 1) No. 12 Oklahoma (7-1) at No. 5 Baylor (7-0)
While we're all excited to watch the Bears' offense (717.3 yards per game) finally face a ranked foe, this game will also serve as a gauge of Baylor's largely untested defense (4.17 yards per play, No. 3 nationally). Sooners quarterback Blake Bell has had his moments, but the loss of fullback Trey Millard may hamper Oklahoma's inside running game, leading to the type of shootout Bob Stoops' team can't win.
9 p.m. ET (ESPN) No. 2 Oregon (8-0) at No. 6 Stanford (7-1)
The Cardinal's defense was superb in last year's 17-14 OT win. Stanford's front seven is even more dominant in 2013, but it's unrealistic to think it will slow QB Marcus Mariota and the Ducks to the same extent. More troubling for the Cardinal is the fact that its offense has averaged just 23.7 points the last three games; Oregon has the nation's eighth-ranked scoring defense (16.9 points per game).
Saturday, Nov. 9
Noon ET (ABC) No. 3 Florida State (8-0) at Wake Forest (4-5)
The Demon Deacons have been a thorn in the Seminoles' side of late, winning three straight games from 2006 to '08, and another in '11. But Florida State is no longer an underachieving team, and the Seminoles won 52-0 last fall. QB Jameis Winston and the 'Noles won't get off to their usual fast start (perhaps due to stud Wake Forest nose tackle Nikita Whitlock), but they will pour it on eventually.
Noon ET (ESPN) No. 7 Auburn (8-1) at Tennessee (4-5)
Like most young teams, the Volunteers are better at home (4-1, 36.4 points per game) than on the road (0-4, 11.0 points per game). This may be a chance for Tennessee QB Joshua Dobbs, making his second start, to gain confidence. But the Vols can't stop the run (5.1 yards per carry, 110th nationally), which could be a big problem against the Tigers' No. 7 rushing attack (6.26 yards per carry).
Noon ET (ESPN2) Penn State (5-3) at Minnesota (7-2)
The Golden Gophers haven't won four straight Big Ten games in a season since 1973. That drought may continue. Minnesota can stop the run, but not the pass, ranking 77th nationally in pass efficiency defense. The Golden Gophers' offense won't be able to keep up with Nittany Lions quarterback Christian Hackenberg and wideout Allen Robinson (130.4 receiving yards per game).
3:30 p.m. ET (ABC) Nebraska (6-2) at Michigan (6-2)
The Cornhuskers, who are 3-1 in the Big Ten, are likely the last team with a chance to catch Michigan State in the Legends Division. Their conference victories, the last of which came on a Hail Mary, have come against the three teams that are winless in league play. The Wolverines don't have a ground game that can shred the Huskers' D, but they will feast on Nebraska's propensity for turnovers (16).
3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN) BYU (6-2) at No. 21 Wisconsin (6-2)
Badgers coach Gary Andersen, the former Utah State coach and a former Utah assistant, knows the Cougars well. Both teams can run the ball and stuff the run. BYU QB Taysom Hill is tough to defend, but Wisconsin is more dominant on defense (No. 5 nationally) and more explosive on offense, with big-play tailback Melvin Gordon (8.7 yards per carry) and, if he's healthy, wideout Jared Abbrederis.
3:30 p.m. ET (CBS) Mississippi State (4-4) at No. 11 Texas A&M (7-2)
It seems like only yesterday that Johnny Manziel was serving a half-game suspension in the season opener. Now, the Aggies' QB is playing what may be his final game at Kyle Field. Johnny Football should carve up the nation's 72nd-ranked pass efficiency defense. The Bulldogs may be able to run the ball early against A&M's beleaguered D, but this one could get ugly in the second half.
7 p.m. ET (ESPN) Virginia Tech (6-3) at No. 14 Miami (7-1)
The Hurricanes suffered a crushing blow when star running back Duke Johnson went down last Saturday with a broken ankle. Dallas Crawford is a fine backup, but Miami may have to lean heavily on interception-prone QB Stephen Morris against a stingy Hokies' pass defense. Fortunately for Morris, the Hurricanes' defense should be able to keep the score low against Tech's one-dimensional attack.
7 p.m. ET (ESPN2) Houston (7-1) at No. 19 UCF (6-1)
The only remaining teams without a loss in AAC play meet in a game with BCS implications. Cougars true freshman QB John O'Korn (22 touchdowns, four interceptions), a Florida native, has been sensational. Houston's defense, meanwhile, has issues defending the pass (7.2 yards per attempt, 70th nationally). Expect the Knights' Blake Bortles (9.4 yards per attempt, No. 8 nationally) to shine.
8 p.m. ET (ABC) No. 24 Notre Dame (7-2) at Pittsburgh (4-4)
Dating back to last season, the Fighting Irish have a bizarre trend playing better away from home. They flexed their muscle in a neutral-site win over Arizona State (now 6-2) on Oct. 5, and they walloped Air Force in Colorado Springs on Oct. 26. The Panthers' offense has weapons in wideouts Devin Street and Tyler Boyd, but the Notre Dame pass rush will help negate big-plays from Pitt QB Tom Savage.
8 p.m. ET (CBS) No. 10 LSU (7-2) at No. 1 Alabama (8-0)
It's possible that Tigers QB Zach Mettenberger and receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry will carve up the Crimson Tide's secondary the way Manziel and Mike Evans did. But don't count on it. Alabama's defense has been dominant, while LSU has taken its lumps against Georgia and Ole Miss. Tide QB AJ McCarron (16 touchdowns, three interceptions) should have a big night.
10 p.m. ET (ESPN) No. 16 UCLA (6-2) at Arizona (6-2)
Wildcats running back Ka'Deem Carey leads the nation in rushing for a second straight year (153.1 yards per game), and he's gotten a boost from the recent improvement of quarterback B.J. Denker. But both players will struggle against linebacker Anthony Barr and the Bruins' defense. Meanwhile, the Arizona D has just eight sacks, and won't disrupt Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley.
10:15 p.m. ET (ESPN2) No. 17 Fresno State (8-0) at Wyoming (4-4)
The Bulldogs have been living dangerously, winning two games in overtime, one by a point and another in which they nearly blew a 42-3 lead. This could be the week their luck runs out. The Cowboys' defense is terrible (No. 95 nationally), but Wyoming running back Shaun Wick (235 rushing yards in his last game) and QB Brett Smith (295.9 passing yards per game) could have big games. Why not?
Record Last Week: 9-1               Record This Season: 80-31

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