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NCAAF: Week 5, AP Top-25 Game Previews

By: Kevin Cunningham, Managing Editor of Internet Content

There were a couple picks I was happy I made a week ago. Kentucky beating Missouri was one of my favorites. Kentucky is always seen as a bottom-dweller in the SEC, but they were at home, and I finally got off Missouri quarterback, Maty Mauk’s, bandwagon.

Kentucky went on to win at home, 21-13. Mauk actually didn’t play terrible, but he just hasn’t performed well enough to be “one of the best quarterbacks in college football,” as he went 15 of 30 for 180 yards and one touchdown. Sorry, but you have to do more against Kentucky.

Texas Tech giving TCU all it could handle – I called that one. The Red Raiders actually probably should have won. Josh Rosen proved he was legitimate to me by going on the road and throwing up 56 points on Arizona. And Utah beating Oregon, 62-20? Yikes.

Let’s also not talk about Georgia Tech losing to Duke.

(1) Ohio State at Indiana

Indiana’s actually 4-0 this season. Who knew? Is Tevin Coleman sneaking in on Saturdays and coming back to slaughter college football competition? If he’s not, look for Ohio State to win comfortably on the road.

It’s the Buckeyes’ first Big Ten game of the season, and they’ll want to go out on the road and prove to the country that they’re the No. 1 team once again.

Ohio State wins 45-10

(2) Michigan State vs. Purdue

The easily better team is at home. I love, yet hate previewing these games. Let’s make the top-two teams in the country win by the exact same score.

Michigan State wins 45-10

(3) Ole Miss at (25) Florida

You know what would be cool? If Florida didn’t have over 20 players getting the flu bug this week before facing the No. 3 team in the country. Gators quarterback Will Grier is questionable to start. If that’s the case, good luck.

Ole Miss is definitely the better team, but I think Florida could have had a chance. With that many players not being at 100 percent, it’s tough to see the upset happen, though. Florida’s at home, and Ole Miss is only favored by 6.5, but, take the points. The Rebels will win by double-digits.

Ole Miss wins 31-17

(4) TCU vs. Texas

Man oh man was Texas Tech close to beating TCU a week ago. I think TCU will end up playing Ohio State in the College Football Playoff (CFP) title game at the end of the year, but Baylor’s the best team in the Big 12. I’ve said that a lot this season, and for one of the last times, it’s because TCU gets Baylor at home.

This game against Texas should be a better game than what it is, because, well… it’s Texas. Charlie Strong will have them headed in the right direction soon. I think it’s only a matter of time. The real question is whether he’ll get that time or not. (See what he did at Louisville and where they are now)

TCU wins 52-17

(5) Baylor vs. Texas Tech

It may not look like it at the end of the game, but Baylor is going to thoroughly control this one. They have a better pass rush than TCU does, which will limit Texas Tech’s air raid offense just enough. Baylor’s at home and Texas Tech is coming off an incredibly emotional defeat in its own backyard.

Baylor wins 59-35

(6) Notre Dame at (12) Clemson

This is probably the game of the week. Everyone knows about both teams. Notre Dame has a new starting quarterback thanks to injury (well, two weeks old), but possesses a great defense. Clemson on the other hand, had a stout defense a year ago, but that isn’t the case anymore.

Its offense, though, is fantastic as long as quarterback Deshaun Watson stays healthy. Watson’s a great talent and Clemson’s at home. Realistically, with the better quarterback and being at home, I shouldn’t overthink this one, but, I will.

Maybe I’m reeling off emotion that Georgia Tech was the best team in the ACC coming into the season and that Clemson just wasn’t as great as people thought. I know Notre Dame has the better defense and the better running back that will eventually play on Sundays (C.J. Prosise). They’ll be able to control the tempo against a Tigers team that’s favored, and again, are at home with the better quarterback.

This will be a close game, but if Notre Dame does pull this one out, it’ll be thanks to what I mentioned above. By the way, the Fighting Irish’s toughest contests left on the schedule after this game are at home to USC, and the team’s final game on the road at Stanford. Look out, College Football Playoff.

Notre Dame wins 34-27

(7) UCLA vs. Arizona State

UCLA is coming off a huge win at Arizona a week ago. And honestly, if they were at Arizona State this week, I’d pick the upset. I think the Bruins are lucky to be at home. They still have a freshman quarterback, despite how good he is, and Arizona State is massively better than its 2-2 record shows.

This game will be a lot closer than Vegas thinks (UCLA favored by 13.5). Take Arizona State to cover. I’m telling you.

UCLA wins 31-30

(8) Georgia vs. (13) Alabama

If Notre Dame-Clemson isn’t the biggest game today, then this is. Boy is it going to be interesting seeing Alabama go 3-2 overall. It obviously doesn’t happen much, but I think it will here. People wondered if their dynasty was over, and while I thought it has been for a short while now, this will only confirm it.

During the dynasty run, you could see Alabama pulling this one out. I mean, Georgia’s a good football team, don’t get me wrong. But realistically, they are extremely reliant on their running game. Georgia’s quarterback, Greyson Lambert, is less talented than Alabama’s Jake Coker.

It has to be said though, and this is insane, that over the last two games, Lambert is 33 of 35 passing (no, that’s not a typo) for 476 yards with five touchdowns to zero interceptions. Oh, and one of those opponents was South Carolina (where he went 24 of 25). They’re not cupcake-city.

And you know what? That’s all Lambert has to do all season long. Be accurate, make safe throws, and rely on your running game. Georgia’s quarterback has a nice gig with the stable of backs he has to hand it off to, and Nick Chubb will display that against Alabama’s highly regarded front seven.

Georgia wins 34-24

(9) LSU vs. Eastern Michigan

Want to know a guy that’s going to put up huge numbers and be a must-start in daily college football league? Leonard Fournette. You’ve probably heard of him.

LSU wins 56-0

(10) Utah – BYE

Just in case you didn’t read it above, Utah beat Oregon on the road last week, 62-20. That’s all you need to know.

(11) Florida State at Wake Forest

The better team isn’t at home here. As far as the Seminoles go, they just keep winning games. And looking at its schedule, the ‘Noles should be 8-0 heading into the game at Clemson as long as my Yellow Jackets don’t beat them first.

Florida State wins 38-17

(14) Texas A&M vs. (21) Mississippi State

The by far more talented team is at home here and is coming off an overtime victory over Arkansas. The Aggies will be ready to explode in this one. Mississippi State, for those that don’t know, have really impressed to this point.

They were picked to not be much of a factor, but after losing to LSU by two points, they are now coming off a victory at Auburn. Now, Auburn’s struggling, but still. Quarterback Dak Prescott won’t let Mississippi State die. Going on the road to Texas A&M though, could be the toughest test for any team in the SEC.

Texas A&M wins 38-24

(15) Oklahoma vs. (23) West Virginia

Realistically, Oklahoma’s the better team and is at home. The matchup should be that simple. Yet, both teams are 3-0, and West Virginia’s no pushover. The issue for the Mountaineers is, they are on the road, and to this point, have certainly not been tested.

When your best opponent through three weeks is a 2-2 Maryland team, this game will take some getting used to for West Virginia. Oklahoma’s about as good as they’re ranked, which is a pretty solid football team. I’d be surprised to see an upset, and honestly, the Sooners should be favored by more than seven points. (Back-door cover, anyone?)

Oklahoma wins 34-21

(16) Northwestern vs. Minnesota

Northwestern is just so disrespected. I’ll say this – that Northwestern is probably the 25th best team in the country. But, to be fair, they’re favored by 4.5 points AT HOME to a 3-1, unranked, Minnesota team. Minnesota’s not terrible, but come on.

Watch Northwestern beat the spread once again. They were underdogs to Duke on the road a couple games ago and ended up winning by nine. Northwestern’s 3-1 against the spread this season and will soon be 4-1. I’m talking about gambling more than usual in this blog… oh well.

Northwestern wins 31-21

(17) USC – BYE

(18) Stanford vs. Arizona

Arizona lost big to UCLA at home last week. But at the same time, its quarterback went out with an injury in the second quarter, (yes, they were losing big at the time) and were ranked No. 16 in the country (UCLA was No. 9). Why in the heck is Arizona unranked and are now 13.5-point underdogs to Stanford?

Yes, Stanford’s good, and I’m going to pick them in this game, but geez. Arizona’s a top-25 team, and while I like Northwestern, they’re the better version of Wildcats. I guess Arizona’s going to “surprise” someone down the line before they earn respect again.

Stanford wins 27-24

(19) Wisconsin vs. Iowa

Talk about another fringe top-25 Big Ten team (Wisconsin). Actually, Iowa could belong there, too. If Iowa were to win, they would be in the top-25. The Hawkeyes are 4-0 and have a good defense. If they were at home, I’d go with them.

I think Wisconsin’s slightly better, and since they’re at home, we’ll go with the Badgers. Wisconsin’s only favored by 6.5 for a reason, though.

Wisconsin wins 27-17

(20) Oklahoma State vs. Kansas State

Kansas State has gotten some loving these last few years and rightfully so. Yet, they’re 3-0 this season and aren’t ranked. Oklahoma State is better than people think, though. The Cowboys are only favored by a touchdown, but that should be the line if the game was at Kansas State.

Oklahoma State wins 31-17

(22) Michigan at Maryland

Maryland is not good, and Michigan is. They proved that they were last week. I questioned them, and they responded with a 31-0 win over BYU. Jim Harbaugh has this team going in the right direction, and it’s not stopping against the Terrapins.

Michigan wins 38-14

(24) California vs. Washington State

Jared Goff could end up as the No. 1-rated quarterback prospect entering the 2016 NFL Draft. If you don’t know him yet, you will soon. He’s California’s quarterback, and the Golden Bears travel to Utah next week, play at UCLA the week after, and then are at home to USC. Goff will have his work cut out for him.

California wins 42-21

2015 Overall Record: 63-13

College Football Ohio State Buckeyes Red Light Sports Ramble RLSN Shows

“Red Light Sports Ramble” ~ Bill Rabinowitz author of “The Chase: How Ohio State Captured the First College Football Playoff” talks about his latest book.

Check Out Sports Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Red Light Sports Network on BlogTalkRadio

Sometimes we think of big time college players as machines. They work out and practice to win football games. In many college towns, football is a way of life, and a win can set the mood for the whole town. At the end of the day, we need to remember that these are young men, primarily 18-22 year-olds who are people. When the jerseys come off, they are just like you and me. We welcome Bill Rabinowitz to the show to talk about his new book The Chase: How Ohio State Captured the First College Football Playoff.

The following is the official press release, courtesy of Samantha Frontera of Triumph Books:

Ohio State’s 2014 national championship season was the stuff of fiction. The Buckeyes lost two quarterbacks to injury, were upset early at home by mediocre Virginia Tech and suffered through the suicide of a teammate. These obstacles could have derailed their season. Instead, they provided the backdrop to one of the most magical stories in college football history. Bill Rabinowitz, Ohio State beat writer for the Columbus Dispatch, details the story of the 2014 Buckeyes in The Chase: How Ohio State Captured the First College Football Playoff (Triumph Books, 2015). Drawing on more than 50 in-depth interviews including coach Urban Meyer, Rabinowitz tells the story of Ohio State’s season from the inside out. Rabinowitz explains how the culture and leadership instilled and exemplified by his players enabled Ohio State to reach the top of the college football world.

51W1ucv8oCL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_“Want to know how the path to a national title was paved?” said Armen Keteyian, lead sports correspondent for 60 Minutes. “The Chase lays it out brick by championship brick. One of those rare post-season books that actually delivers – taking you deep inside the offices, meetings and minds of those who brought the first College Football Playoff trophy back to Columbus. Rich in detail and packed with powerful insight, The Chase is a gift that every Buckeyes fan will treasure.”

The book weaves in the stories of the coaches and players along with the games. One chapter is devoted to quarterback Cardale Jones, who had perhaps the greatest three-game starting debut in football history. Jones’ performance was all the more remarkable Rabinowitz shows, in light of his difficult upbringing in Cleveland and bumpy early career at Ohio State. Jones was so discouraged after losing the job to Barrett that he planned to transfer after the 2014 season. That is one of many revelations in “The Chase.” Among others:

• An obscure author from Indiana paved the way for Meyer to return to coaching with a roadmap that would prevent him from repeating the mistakes that caused him to burn out at Florida.

• Meyer considered firing defensive coordinator Luke Fickell after the 2013 season but chose to keep the longtime assistant, a decision that would pay off as the Ohio State reclaimed the “Silver Bullets” nickname.

• College Football Playoff selection committee head Jeff Long details the process of picking the four teams in the playoff and reveals that Ohio State was not the only team in the four-team field that came “very close” to not getting a bid.

“The Chase” covers in detail the strategy and key plays in the Buckeyes’ biggest victories. But the book is not only for the hard-core football fan. Rabinowitz writes about players and coaches as people first, describing the struggles they eventually transformed into triumph.

About the Author:
Bill Rabinowitz is an award-winning writer who has written for the Columbus Dispatch since 1999 and has been on Ohio State football beat since 2011. He lives in Columbus, Ohio.

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“Red Light Sports Ramble” ~ NFL week 3 recap; Roethlisberger injures knee, Bengals are 3-0

Check Out Sports Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Red Light Sports Network on BlogTalkRadio

Three weeks into the NFL season and another starting quarterback has sustained an injury that will keep him out of games. Ben Roethlisberger joins the list of injured starting quarterbacks. Early in the third quarter, Roethlisberger stepped up in the pocket and as he moved forward Rams safety Mark Barron rolled up on his leg. Findings revealed a sprained MCL and a bone bruise. Roethlisberger is expected to miss four to six weeks. Michael Vick will take over the reigns and try to keep the ship afloat until Roethlisberger returns. The value of a backup quarterback is rising, and could change the demographic of how GM’s build their rosters.

It may be early to put teams in the playoffs, but there are seven undefeated teams remaining. The New England Patriots steamrolled the Jacksonville Jaguars 51-14. Tom Brady became the fourth quarterback to pass for 400 career touchdowns. LeGarrette Blount scored three touchdowns and led all running backs with 78 yards.

Julio Jones is making a statement and helping the Atlanta Falcons stay undefeated. The Dallas Cowboys ran out to a big lead, but Matt Ryan and the Falcons kept playing. They outscored the Cowboys 22-0 in the second half to remain unbeaten.

Steve Smith announced his retirement before the season started, and he probably didn’t imagine the Baltimore Ravens would start 0-3. The Ravens pass defense struggled once again as Andy Dalton completed 20-32 passes for 382 yards and three touchdowns. Joe Flacco erased a 14 point defect in the fourth quarter, and it looked like the Ravens were on their way to victory number one. However, Dalton found his favorite target of the day, A.J. Green, for a seven-yard touchdown to give the Bengals the lead and victory. The Bengals are 3-0 and in first place in the AFC North.

The last time the Carolina Panthers were 3-0 was their Super Bowl year in 2003. Luke McCown filled in admirably for the injured Drew Brees completing 31 of 38 passes for 310 yards. However, he failed to throw for a touchdown, and the Saints fell to the Panthers 27-22. Cam Newton used his arm and legs to help the Panthers score. He tossed two touchdown passes to Greg Olsen and ran for another score. The Panthers take their 3-0 record to Tampa Bay next weekend.

Before Carson Palmer could find a groove in this game, his defense spotted him a 14 point lead. Justin Bethel returned an interception 21 yards to give the Cardinals a 7-0 lead. On the next series, Tyrann Mathieu returned another Colin Kaepernick interception 33 yards for a 14-0 lead. The Cardinals held the 49ers to 156 yards while piling up 446 yards and 47 points. Larry Fitzgerald seems to be rejuvenated this season setting season highs in receptions (9) and yards (134). After three games, he has 23 receptions for 333 yards and five touchdowns. The 3-0 Cardinals will host division rival St. Louis next Sunday.

After making the playoffs, in 2014, the Detroit Lions have stumbled out of the gate. The aging Peyton Manning showed that he still has some strength left, throwing a 45-yard touchdown Demaryius Thomas on a fourth and one with five seconds left in the first half. The Broncos forced three Matthew Stafford turnovers (two interceptions and a fumble), to seal the victory. The Broncos are still searching for a running game. They rushed 19 times for a mere 41 yards. C.J. Anderson was the Broncos leading rusher with only 18 yards. The Broncos will host the 2-1 Minnesota Vikings, on Sunday.