Posted by Frazier
Ok, the slate of games this weekend is simply too good to be ignored. We at the 323 have decided to start previewing some games, beyond simply the picks section. They deserve a bit more debate and discussion than we have been giving them. Of course, this week has so many stellar games that we had to break this into two parts. Here is the first:
Why Nebraska Will Win:
We have come to assume that USC can overcome any injuries due to their enviable depth. Well, they better pray that is true. The loss of Pinkard, their stud safety, and his replacement with a raw freshman, couldn't have come at a worse time. Furthermore, the loss of NT Sedrick Ellis is another tough blow for the young defense. These injuries are more problematic because they weaken the Trojans against both the run and the pass, against a Nebraska team that has been incredibly balanced (and dominant) on offense this season. Add that to the fact that the blackshirt defense has been rebuilt, with Carriker leading the assault, and an inexperienced front line for the boys from Troy, Booty could end up flat on his, well, booty. USC played well in its' only game this year, but it's hard to believe they won't buy their hype, when what they really needed was another week to get better in a real contest, not read all their headlines about how they haven't lost a step. This team hasn't proven anything yet, and on Saturday they'll only prove that you can't be excellent every year.
Why USC Will Win:
Well in my mind it's not whether USC will win this game, but rather by how much. Bill Callahan has done a tremendous job in Lincoln, and transformed that program back into the national power it should always be. But this game isn't in Lincoln. It's in Southern California where the Trojans haven't lost since 2001, back when Carson Palmer was nothing more than an underachieving Junior. I think that this Nebraska team has the firepower on offense, and the team speed on defense, to keep this game closer than the ridiculous spread this matchup has been handicapped at. But in previewing this game, certain themes are self evident: (1) Nebraska's defensive strength is their front 7, and they have nobody that can cover the tandem of Steve Smith and Dwayne Jarrett; (2) USC has possibly the only pair of tackles in America who are good pass blockers to slow down the terrifying pass rushing combo of Adam Carriker and Jay Moore; and (3) Pete Carroll has had two weeks to scheme and prepare his defense for Callahan's west coast offense attack (which Carroll should be very familiar with, lest we forget he was defensive coordinator under west coast guru George Seifert in San Francisco).
Why Oregon Will Win:
As much as the big man might hate on the Ducks, they have been a hell of a lot more impressive than the Sooners. Adrian Peterson will get his yards, no doubt, but Paul Thompson will face his first real road test, and it couldn't have come at a worse time. It's tough enough coming halfway across the country to play anyone, it's harder when that team has enviable balance on offense, and a defense that has done enough to stop a good team when they had to, and created a pair of turnovers last week. Oh, and when that game is in Autzen Stadium, one of the loudest, most difficult places to play in all of college football? Yeah, good luck Paul. The Ducks also mark the return of Jonathan Stewart, their stud tailback, and this a week after the ducks ran for almost 150 yards against a tough Fresno St. defense. The Oklahoma defense has yet to show any real signs of life, and they have started slowly in their first two games against weak competition. Another slow start could mean a big Oregon lead, and would force Oklahoma to try to win the game on the arm of Paul Thompson, who has been mistake-prone in his first two starts. I think the Ducks like their chances in that type of game, and it's the type of game they're going to get.
Why Oklahoma Will Win:
While I won't argue with results, I do think it's a tad premature to label this Duck team worthy of their preseason hype. Witness the fact that they beat a TERRIBLE Stanford team (who followed up that stinker by losing to San Jose State), and should have lost to Fresno State if not for an inexcusable special teams brain fart. While Oklahoma has done nothing to warrant its hype, neither have the Ducks. Now as for the players on the field. Oregon's defense has been inconsistent all season. Their primary concern was supposed to be their pass defense after losing both starting corners to graduation. The pass defense looked fine against Stanford but once again has to be a concern after losing starting corner Jackie Bates for the season. On the flip side, Oklahoma's Paul Thompson played much better in the Sooners' second game, and the emergence of speedster wideout Malcolm Kelley (6 catches, 121 yards, 2 TD against Washington) bodes poorly for the Ducks. Of course there is also the matter of Adrian Peterson matching up against the Ducks rush defense that was absolutely TORCHED by Fresno State's Dwaye Wright. Wright is a great back in his own right, but Peterson is on another level. The Sooners have the ability to put up some major points in this one, and they have enough defensive talent to at least slow down Jonathan Stewart (who won't be 100% for this one despite not playing against Fresno) and the rest of the Oregon offense.
Why Louisville Will Win:
I know I'm going to hear a lot about Michael Bush, and he's a hell of a player, but this offense runs through Brian Brohm, and he's a hell of a player too. Louisville has a couple of solid options in the run game, which will keep the Louisville attack balanced, and shouldn't allow Miami to tee-up against the pass. If Miami can't protect their home field against a team that the following week almost shit the bed against Troy (nee Troy St.) than how can you expect them to come in to Louisville and shut down such a dynamic offense. If you think Miami's offense will win them this game, you are sorely mistaken. 51 points might look impressive, but that was a pathetic 1-AA opponent, and Miami hasn't shown any offensive life for a long time now. The Hurricanes officially lost their swagger when LSU took them behind the woodshed to the tune of 40-3 in their bowl game last year. Louisville has been on the verge of breaking through, but couldn't quite get past the aura of this program. Well, that aura is dead as a door nail, stiffer than Jimmy Johnson's hair, and Bobby Petrino is so much the superior coach, that it isn't worth discussing. If the game is even close at halftime, Petrino will find a way to make the necessary adjustments to win the game, while Coker will probably just sit around wondering if he can find a way to get balder.
Why Miami Will Win:
While I believe Bush is the better player, it is hard to argue with my esteemed co-blogger's annointing of Brohm as the penultimate Cardinal. That said, this is the game where Bush's injury will devestate Louisville's season. The strength of Miami is obviously their defense. But more specifically it is their pass defense and you aren't going to find a better secondary that's not playing on Sundays. As good as Brohm is, he still needs his recievers to get open, and that is going to be a chore against Brandon Merriweather, Kenny Phillips and Co. Without Michael Bush to run the ball and force a safety into the box, my money is on the Hurricane secondary staying with the Cardinal recievers until the front four converge for a sack. On offense, the Hurricane's have been abysmal all season. That could change with the return of star tailback Tyrone Moss this week, who provides Miami with the kind of gamebreaker they have been sorely lacking.