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Ace Goes Collegiate

As we hit the halfway point of the NFL season, week nine of Ace’s Advice is throwing you a Halloween twist. As we finish the best sports month of the year, I want to discuss three huge college games this weekend before returning to my NFL picks next week.
If you are a college football fan like myself, then you have been anticipating this weekend for months. Although there are decent games in the afternoon, the main attractions start at 7 p.m. EST as unbeaten #4 Oregon travels to SoCal to take on Matt Barkley and the #17 USC Trojans. After watching the first quarter plus of that game, I will be switching to the game of the year at 8, as undefeated #1 Alabama travels to Death Valley to face the #5 ranked LSU Tigers in a matchup of SEC powerhouses. The other game at 8pm is #2 Kansas State hosting #24 Oklahoma State in a game featuring Heisman frontrunner Colin Klein. With four of the top five teams in the country in action at the same time, let’s take a look at how these games may go.

#4 OREGON (-7) @ #17 USC
It is tough to talk about this game without throwing a lot of numbers out there. The knock on the undefeated Ducks so far is that they haven’t played a dominant team yet, making them slide to #4 from their once #2 ranking in the polls. Personally, I still think they should be #2 ahead of Kansas St. and Notre Dame, and here are the many, many reasons why. They score more points per game (53.4) than anyone in the country (Plus don’t forget their starters are usually pulled by the fourth quarter.). They rush for 330 yards a game. Yes, that was 330 – it wasn’t a typo. Their D is respectable, as they rank #24 out of 120 FBS schools in points allowed at 19.4. They have won 13 straight on the road, thanks in part to them outscoring their opponents 290-56 in the first half. Staggering stats, but the best one of all may be that in the two games they have played vs. teams ranked at the time, they have outscored them 101-21. As for USC, let’s face it, they are simply not the championship caliber team everyone thought they would be before the season. People say Oregon hasn’t played anyone, but USC lost to Stanford, the only ranked team they played. Don’t get me wrong, Matt Barkley is still one of the nation’s best, and should have a solid day, but he has not looked like the #1 pick many think he is. It will be tough for him to keep up with the high powered Oregon offense, especially after the USC defense gave up 39 to Arizona last week, a team that averages twenty points less than the Ducks. It also doesn’t help that USC has more penalties a game than anyone in the country at 10.3/game, and according to Lane Kiffin, there is no answer in sight. “I’m open for any suggestions (on how to fix this),” Kiffin said. “I’ve tried it all.” Never a good sign if you ask me, and if they stand any chance of winning against the mighty Ducks, they need to find a way to fix it and find it fast. Expect Oregon to win in familiar fashion, a shootout, and have USC fall to 1-9 when giving up over 150 yards on the ground, a number that may be reached in the first half by Oregon. Prediction: OREGON over USC 44-31.

Colin Klein has been the best player in the country so far, and is the latest dual threat QB to take over college football. I expect the 6-5 225 pound QB to continue his tremendous pace Saturday against an OK ST defense that while improved, is still able to be scored on by good opponents. The real reason I think KSU will remain unbeaten however is that their Defense is more than respectable as they allow only 17 points a game, and showed two weeks ago against Geno Smith and West Virginia that they can stop high powered offenses. Chalk this one up to the Wildcats at home. Prediction: KSU over OSU 48-28.

#1 ALABAMA (-9.5) @ #5 LSU
It’s finally here. ‘Bama. LSU. Rematch of last year’s national championship game and the “rubber match” after the teams split their two meetings last year. This spread is higher than most would have guessed in August, but can you blame Vegas after watching Alabama roll (no pun intended…ok yes there was) through their first eight opponents like they were high school teams? The closest a team has come to beating the Tide is 19 points, and in two games vs. teams ranked in the top 11 at the time, ‘Bama has won by a combined score of 79-21, or +58 vs. two top 11 teams. LSU is dominant at home on Saturday nights under Les Miles however, and who knows what the “mad hatter” has done with an extra week to prepare, even though he has tamed things down this fall. In what should be another low scoring defensive battle (‘Bama #1 in D at 8 points/game, LSU #9 at 14), this game will once again come down to the NFL prospects in the trenches. That is where the best matchups will take place, as I’m really excited to watch Chance Warmack, Barrett Jones, and the rest of the Alabama o-line go against two of the best d lineman in football in Barkevious Mingo, and Sam Montgomery for LSU. Like most games, QB play is sure to hinder the outcome, specifically which quarterback turns the ball over the least. I’m not buying the AJ McCarron for Heisman hype like some people in Tuscaloosa are, but as long as he manages games and keeps his 18TD/0INT rate strong, he could win another ring in January. Tiger fans better hope Zach Mettenberger takes some serious strides this week, or else LSU will just be another win on Alabama’s belt. I think LSU will keep it closer than the experts think (cue Corso), but in the end, ‘Bama fans will be screamin’ Rolllllll Tide Rollll all the way back from Cajun’ Country. Prediction: ALABAMA over LSU 20-13
Hope you all enjoyed the twist in what will be a great weekend of football. I will return to my NFL picks next week, and until then GO BILLS!

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