Thursday, June 16, 2011

Conference Clashes 2011

This is not an all-inclusive list by any stretch; I just as easily could have included Texas A&M-Texas, OU-OKSt, the Iron Bowl, the Game, or fifteen others. But, I feel these are some of the biggest conference match-ups heading into this season, whether they be trap games, division deciders, or big time welcomes for new league members. I left a few out simply because I wasn't ready to pick them, like SoCar-Georgia, and a few from leagues that already had a few on the list.

Oregon at Stanford - This late season match-up will most likely decide the Pac-12 North. Stanford will be a good football team in '11, but I don't see them being quite as successful as last year without Harbaugh. Luck will keep them in this one late, but I see bigger things for Oregon this season. Oregon 34, Staford 24

LSU at Alabama - This is another division decider, but it might mean a lot more than that for the Tide. I see LSU carrying a loss or two into this one, setting them up perfectly to play spoiler to an unbeaten Alabama. Both teams have bye weeks before hand, so look for Saban to use that time to clean up and tighten down while Miles uses it to work up some trick play. It'll be close, but I'll take discipline over cud chewing. Alabama 27, LSU 19

Nebraska at Wisconsin - Welcome to the Big Ten, Corn Huskers. While the teams are from different divisions, this one's big because it's Nebraska's first conference away game in their new league. Both teams will be playing for national prominence and will both likely be unbeaten coming into the match-up. This will be a great dress rehearsal for the inaugural Big Ten Championship game, as both teams should win their sides of the conference. I like the home team in this one, but it'll be close. Wisky 23, Nebraska 20

Texas-Oklahoma (Dallas) - I've said that I think Texas will be much improved and that I don't see OU running the table, so I guess I better put up, huh? Gilbert will be comfortable by the RRR, having beaten BYU and UCLA by then, OU will already have a loss and be working a few things out. Also, b2b wins are tough in this series and the 'Horns will be bouncing back big time. Texas 30, Oklahoma 20

TCU at Boise St - The Broncos just got here and now the Frogs are leaving. To punish TCU, the league moved the game to Boise and that might be just enough edge. If the game was in Ft. Worth, I'd pick the Frogs, but on the smurf turf, I'll take Boise. Boise State 20, TCU 17

Arkansas-Alabama - This is the conference opener for both teams, it's a big division game, and it carries expectations and pressures on both sides. Alabama will be playing for perfection and a return to the BCS title game, Arkansas will be playing to prove that they've honestly arrived and 2010 wasn't just Ryan Mallet. I think the Hawgs' offense will be very difficult to contain, but if there's a D that can do it, it's probably the Tide, who return 10 starters on that side of the ball. Alabama has the advantage of hosting the game, which makes it harder for Arkansas to play spoiler and hang around. Alabama 31, Arkansas 23

Clemson at Virginia Tech - The Hokies could be a very serious contender next year. They bring in a young QB that many are high on and have an easy schedule. Their biggest tests will be Miami and this match-up with the Tigers, both at home. While this is not a division game, it could have huge implications on VT's national chances. We always say the Hokies blow a game somewhere...but I don't think this is it. VA Tech 31, Clemson 20

Arizona State at UCLA - UCLA needs a turn around season, but this schedule is tough. They return a lot of starters, but will suffer some early losses before clicking. This game will decide who represents the PAC-12 North in the inaugural league championship game, since likely champ USC cannot actually play in the game. Arizona State should have a strong season, but I see them slipping on the road in Pasadena. UCLA 23, Arizona State 21

Michigan State at Nebraska - I have a feeling some cracks will show on the Spartans this year. I'm not saying they'll have a losing year, but it'll be tough to win 11 games again. On the other hand, Wisconsin will be accustomed to Big Ten play by this game and get the added benefit of hosting. Though the teams are evenly matched, this looks like it could set up for things to get out of hand unless State really holds it together on the road. Wisconsin 37, Michigan State 20

West Virginia at USF - Um, because I felt I needed to include a Big East game. I like Holtz in year two over Hologorsen in year one, and this game should settle the entire conference, as the 'Neers will be coming off a Backyard Brawl win over  Pitt the week before. I'll take the home team. USF 30, WVU 26

Florida State at Clemson - This game should decide the Atlantic division, but we all know Clemson's gonna drop a couple late. FSU on the other hand should roll through their late season conference play until the rivalry with Miami. However, this game is in September and the Noles will be coming off a BIG win over Oklahoma...big enough to inflate their heads. And nothing pops an overinflated head like a tiger claw. Clemson 16, FSU 14

Utah at USC - This is another expansion inclusion. This is the Utes' first league game and it comes on the road in the inhospitable confines of the Coliseum against an angry team with nothing to lose. Though I see Utah evening out and competing later in the season, things could get ugly early. USC 40, Utah 20

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