Football Games To Watch This Weekend [Opinion]
The weekend is here…and that means FOOTBALL! Here are the games that I think will be the ones to watch:
#9 SOUTH CAROLINA (6-1) AT #3 FLORIDA (6-0) 1:30 p.m. on CBS
Florida hosts the Gamecocks in the first of a five-game home stand that could position the Gators for their first trip to the SEC title game since 2008. With #9 South Carolina coming to town, Florida got some good news this week as it appears that five starters—including three offensive linemen—who missed all or part of last week’s game at Vanderbilt should be back this week. Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel rushed for a school-record 177 yards and five touchdowns. He’ll need another solid game against a Gamecocks defense that ranks fifth nationally in scoring defense. South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore (35 yards rushing) and quarterback Connor Shaw (19/34 for 177 yards, two interceptions, four sacks) both had games they’d rather forget last week at LSU and will look to recover in another tough road environment. The Gamecocks are seeking their first-ever three-game winning streak against Florida.
#4 KANSAS STATE (6-0) AT #17 WEST VIRGINIA (5-1) 5 p.m. on Fox
After laying an egg last week at Texas Tech, West Virginia’s high-powered offense will look to regroup against a Kansas State team that, through solid but not flashy play, suddenly finds itself in the national championship mix. Don’t expect KSU quarterback Collin Klein to duplicate the 499-yard passing effort from Tech’s Seth Doege, but the run-first Wildcat offense (11th nationally in rushing) should be able to find plenty of success against a Mountaineer defense that ranks 114th nationally in total defense and has given up over 37 points per game. After being held to just 275 yards and one touchdown, West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith will look to return to the form (399 yards per game and 24 touchdowns before last week’s game) that made him the Heisman frontrunner.
#6 LOUISIANA STATE (6-1) AT #20 TEXAS A&M (5-1) 10 a.m. on ESPN
Texas A&M freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel has been the hottest quarterback in the country the last three weeks, throwing for 1,095 yards, rushing for 414 more and scoring 12 touchdowns. However, he’ll face the toughest test of his young career this week against an LSU defense that ranks second nationally in pass defense. But this week bigger challenge this week may come for the LSU offense, which has struggled to score this year. Last week against South Carolina, quarterback Zach Mettenberger completed just 48 percent of his passes for four touchdowns and no interceptions while four of the Tigers’ five trips into the Gamecocks’ red zone resulted in field goal attempts. As good as LSU’s defense is, field goals might not be enough for the Tigers to pull off a road win against an A&M squad that has scored 48 or more points in five of its last seven games.
MICHIGAN STATE (4-3) AT #23 MICHIGAN (4-2) 1:30 p.m. on Big Ten Network
After struggling in losses to Alabama and Notre Dame, Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson returned to “Shoelace” form, racking up 577 total yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions in his last two games. This week, he’ll look to get his first and only win against the Spartans. But to do that, he’ll have to get past a Michigan State defense that ranks seventh nationally in total defense, eighth in rushing and 14th in scoring. The Spartans are seeking a school-record five-game winning streak in this rivalry that dates back to 1898.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS (3-3) AT N.Y. GIANTS (4-2) 11 a.m. on Fox
The Giants were impressive in routing the 49ers last week. Eli Manning and the league’s third-ranked offense will test a Redskins defense that gives up a league-high 328.3 passing yards per game. Washington has the league’s second-ranked rushing offense, with quarterback Robert Griffin III and running back Alfred Morris leading the way. The Redskins may try to exploit the New York secondary to keep the Giants from crowding the line of scrimmage.
BALTIMORE RAVENS (5-1) AT HOUSTON TEXANS (5-1) 11a.m. on CBS
For me this is the game of the week. Injuries to linebacker Ray Lewis and cornerback Lardarius Webb will hurt Baltimore on the defensive side of the ball. The Ravens have just the 26th-ranked defense in total yards, but they are stingy, allowing just 19.7 points per game. The Texans will test Baltimore with running back Arian Foster, whose 561 yards rushing rank second in the league. Houston is without injured linebacker Brian Cushing. They missed him while giving up six touchdown passes against Green Bay last week. They’ll face a Ravens offense rolling up an average of 385 yards per game behind quarterback Joe Flacco.
ARIZONA CARDINALS (4-2) AT MINNESOTA VIKINGS (4-2) 11 a.m. on Fox
Arizona will be without quarterback Kevin Kolb, who is out with a rib injury. John Skelton will replace Kolb as the Cardinals’ starter, but he’ll face the Vikings’ eighth-ranked defense, led by tackle-machine Chad Greenway. On offense, Minnesota is led by Adrian Peterson, whose 499 rushing yards rank sixth in the league. The Cardinals are weaker against the run than they are the pass.
N.Y. JETS (3-3) AT NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (3-3) 2:25 p.m. on CBS
The Jets took advantage of a weak Colts rushing defense to get a win last weekend. Despite that success, New York still ranks 30th in the league in total offense with an average of 295.5 yards per game. The Patriots are tough against the run, giving up just 82.7 yards per game. However, quarterbacks like Kevin Kolb and Russell Wilson have been able to beat the New England defensive scheme for big plays late in games. New England has the league’s most productive offense, averaging 445.3 yards per game. With the Jets’ defense allowing just 209.3 yards per game through the air, fifth-best in the NFL, the Patriots’ game plan could feature running back Stevan Ridley, whose 524 rushing yards rank fifth in the league.
Enjoy the games!