UCLA Bruins at Stanford Cardinal
Once upon a time the Bruins were a legit football program who were constantly chalking up victories over the Cardinal, but, in recent years, it seems like these two storied teams have swapped places and are currently moving in opposite directions.
Last season, the Bruins were on the receiving end of a 38-0 whipping at the hands of Andrew Luck and the Cardinal at the Rose Bowl, and this season, it looks like Stanford are going to continue where they left off.
Maybe to make things fair, the NCAA should spot UCLA a 10-point lead at kickoff, just to make things a little less embarrassing for the Bruins.
Stanford enters this game with the top-ranked run defense in the nation, a Heisman front runner in Andrew Luck, and an offense that ranks 9th in scoring, and 24th in total offense. UCLA, on the other hand, ranks 98th in total defense, 91st in scoring defense, and 72nd against the pass. Mismatch much?
Stanford comes into this game red hot as they have won 11 straight games, scoring no less than 37 points in all contests.
As mentioned earlier, these are two programs moving in opposite directions-Stanford are driving towards a BCS National Championship berth, while Rick Neuheisel is just trying to keep his job at UCLA.
Stanford Cardinal 48 – UCLA Bruins 13
Nevada Wolf Pack at Boise State Broncos
Arguably the worst defeat the Broncos have ever endured came last November at the hands of Nevada in a stunning 31-34 overtime loss. Boise State were right in the thick of things in regards to busting the BCS system and making a statement to be included in the BCS National Championship talks, but, the upset at the hands of the Wolf Pack shattered the dreams of Boise State. What many people remember from this game, especially Broncos kicker Kyle Brotzman, was the two short field-goal misses that could have changed the game drastically. Instead, the Broncos were the first top 10 program to lose to Nevada in Wolf Pack history.
That was last year, this is 2011.
Broncos coach, Chris Petersen, has the Broncos back in the top 10, and again, in the BCS title conversation. Surely, Broncos quarterback, Kellen Moore remembers that loss last season very well, and will definitely be ready for Nevada this time around.
What can’t be overlooked here is the consistency of the Broncos at home on the smurf-turf. Boise State are 63-0 as hosts since 2001, and have won their last five home games agains the Wolf Pack.
Kellen Moore will highlight his high-powered offense that ranks 8th in the nation in passing (354.0 yards per game) against a Nevada defense that ranks 78th.
Considering that the Broncos are very pass-happy, and like to air the ball out, this game could see quite a workout on the scoreboard.
Boise State’s Tyler Shoemaker has been a suitable replacement for the departed Austin Pettis. Shoemaker has hauled in six touchdown passes this season, and seems to be the new “go-to” guy for Moore.
Interesting note, this season the Broncos have not attempted a single field-goal. Are Boise State scared to get back on the bike after falling off last season to Nevada? That scrape the Broncos got after their fall should have healed by now. Don’t underestimate the power of the three-point play, Broncos. But, then again, today Boise State may not need to resort to field-goals. This is going to be a romp.
Boise State Broncos 54 (yeah, we’re going with two missed PAT’s today) – Nevada Wolf Pack 13
Northwestern Wildcats at Illinois Fighting Illini
The Dan Persa Show returns for the first episode of the season.
Northwestern’s golden boy is set to start his first game of the season after recovering from an Achilles injury he suffered last season.
Are the billboards back up around the Chicago area, campaigning Persa’s Heisman push? Hmm.
The prolific quarterback may not be Heisman material, but, he can, however, right the ship that is the Wildcats football season. Northwestern are currently sitting on a 2-1 record and coming off of a bye week as they visit their first Big Ten foe, the 4-0 Illinois Fighting Illini.
Please note, the Illini have lost six of the last eight games against the Wildcats, and have also dropped their last three conference opening games since their 27-14 win over Indiana in 2007.
These both seem like ideal scenarios for Northwestern today.
What Illinois offense is going to show up today? Will it be the offense that runs up the scoreboard like it did against FCS opponents? Or, will the offense that struggled against Western Michigan and Arizona State be the one that takes the field today?
Illini running back Troy Pollard will be a major factor in this game. Pollard averages 10 yards per carry and has a keen eye at finding holes in defenses that allow him to explode through them.
Northwestern struggled against Army’s run game a few weeks back, so, Pollard and the Illini could expose this lacklustre defense early, and put the Wildcats in a hole. However, if the Wildcats unit holds and improves this week, Illinois could be in a lot of trouble.
It’s understandable that one person doesn’t win games on their own, but, today, Dan Persa is going to make all the difference in the world. Can he return to his early 2010 form for Northwestern? Will he work gingerly to avoid another injury?
Considering the magnitude of this game (albeit, it’s nowhere near Nebraska vs. Wisconsin), Dan Persa and the Wildcats are looking for that first big statement win of the season, and what better way to get it than by knocking off the 24th-ranked Illini on the road.
Northwestern Dan Persa…err…Wildcats 27 – Illinois Fighting Illini 23