Collegiate Athletics just cannot catch a break. One week after the WORST scandal in the history of the NCAA - not only does another similar scandal come to light involving the Syracuse Men's basketball program - but Oklahoma State is now reporting that the Women's Head Coach, Kurt Budke, and assistant coach Miranda Serna have died in a plane crash when they were on their way to a recruiting visit. This tragedy occurs 10 years after Oklahoma State faced a similar tragedy in which 10 men associated with the Men's Basketball program were killed in a plane crash. Brutal. These past couple of week's have really highlighted the importance of life - doing what's right - and helping those in need.
Click for predictions on this week's insignificant games after the jump...
No. 17 Nebraska vs. No. 20 Michigan (-3.5), Noon - ESPN
So I was doing some cutting edge research and found out that the Big Ten actually has 12 teams and is broken up into two divisions (Legends and Leaders). This is all news to me. Michigan and Nebraska are each 4-2 in the Legends division and trail the Spartans of Michigan State who have posted a 5-1 conference record so far. Basically the loser of this game is out of contention for the Legends division crown - not really sure what that means. I'm assuming the Legends winner plays the Leaders winner for the overall Big Ten (or 12) championship? I could probably figure this all out with a couple of clicks - but I'd rather let the suspense draw itself out. I like Nebraska to keep this game close given the high stakes on this game plus Michigan QB Denard Robinson said his wrist hurts. I know he doesn't throw the ball much but when he does, he will likely be less accurate than usual. I'll take the Cornhuskers plus the points on the road.
Mississippi State vs. No. 6 Arkansas (-13.5), 3:30 ET - CBS
Arkansas has the opportunity to blow shit up in the BCS. Not this week - this should be an easy win over Mississippi State. Next week, the Razorbacks head to LSU to play the Tigers and will have the chance to play for the SEC Championship. This game might be close early on as Mississippi State does have a decent defense - but Arkansas and QB Tyler Wilson simply have too much firepower for the Bulldogs to contain. Plus the Razorbacks had one of the most ridiculous punt returns I've seen:
I'll take the Razorbacks to roll in this one.
Southern Methodist vs. No. 11 Houston (-20), 3:30 ET - FSN
Houston's QB Case Keenum is good. Check that, he's been Great this year. Keenum has completed 74.2% of his passes, thrown for 37 TDs, 3 INTs, and 3,951 yards in 10 games and is making a CASE for the Heisman - see what I did there?! It's no secret that Houston puts up a LOT of points - they average 54.7 ppg and their last four games they have won by an average score of 62-16. Easy game. Pick Houston, right? I probably should, but something tells me SMU Head Coach June Jones won't let the Cougars off that easily. SMU has already beaten TCU (then ranked 20th in the country) 40-33 on the road. The Mustangs will have to take care of the football and rely on Senior QB J.J. McDermott to make the right decisions as well as get a strong running game going with Conference-USA leading rusher Zach Line (122 ypg). It may be because I just saw Boise St. blow a chance at perfection, but I like the Mustangs to keep this one against Houston close. (UPDATE: SMU RB Zach Line is out for the remainder of the year due to a foot injury. Looks like its the end of the Line for his season and the Mustangs hope at an upset. I'll take the Cougars and lay the points here.)
No. 18 USC vs. No. 4 Oregon (-14.5) , 8 ET - ABC
Oregon handled Stanford last week in the Pac-12 matchup of the week. This week the Ducks get their shot at another first-round QB in USC's Matt Barkley. Unlike Andrew Luck, Barkley is equipped with collegiate athletes that have an ounce of athleticism. USC WR Robert Woods has flat out been one of the best receivers in the country (92 receptions, 1,126 yards, and 11 TDs in 10 contests). Meanwhile, the Ducks have been on a convincing 9 game winning streak since their opening loss to LSU. They run a fast-paced offense - sometimes it looks like they are playing a video game and continue to press 'X' as many times as possible in order to hike the ball right after the previous play is whistled down. I'm not even sure they call a play before every snap. Oregon should continue to put up points at a high pace - but I like the Trojans to keep this one close up in Eugene.
No. 5 Oklahoma (-16) vs. No. 25 Baylor, 8 ET - ABC
Even after their inexplicable slip-up against Texas Tech, Oklahoma still has an outside chance at making it to the BCS Championship game. They will obviously need to win out (especially against Oklahoma St.) and get some help from teams in front of them. They've lost All American WR Ryan Broyles to a torn ACL so they will definitely have their work cut out for them. While Baylor has been good at home (5-0), QB Robert Griffin III will not be able to contain a still potent Oklahoma offense. I look for the Sooners to hand the Bears of Baylor their 21st straight loss in this series by a wide margin.
Last Week: 2-3
Season Record: 25-23-2