Utah State (8-2) @ #20 Louisiana Tech (9-1)
Saturday, November 17
Louisiana Tech Offense vs Utah State Defense
Louisiana Tech has one of the best offenses in the nation, statistically speaking. They like to run the spread, hurry-up offense with a balance of quick passes and running plays out of the shotgun. They are averaging 576 total yards per game, which ranks #1 in the country. Utah State's defense will certainly have their hands full on Saturday, but the Aggies are very capable of slowing the potent La Tech offense down. Utah State ranks 1st in the WAC in total defense, and 6th in the nation in scoring defense by allowing only 13.5 points per game. Louisiana Tech will probably move the ball on Utah State throughout most of the night, but don't expect the Aggies to give up anything easy. Utah State is coming off of a bye week, so they have had two weeks to prepare for this dynamic Louisiana Tech offense. Expect some of that preparation to pay off on Saturday.
Utah State Offense vs Louisiana Tech Defense
For as good as Louisiana Tech's offense is, their defense is downright awful. The Bulldogs rank #105 in scoring defense, and #120 in total defense. Last week, against a subpar Texas State offense that ranks #101 in total yards, Louisiana Tech was shredded for 597 yards and 55 points. Texas State has the same shotgun, "run and gun" offense that Utah State likes to run, and the Aggies have been much more effective at it this season. Utah State has an extremely balanced offense that ranks 31st in the nation in total yardage. They are led by QB, Chuckie Keeton, who ranks 17th in the nation in passer rating, having totaled 23 TDs and 7 INTs while completing over 68% of his passes. Keeton, and the rest of the Aggies' offense should have a lot of success through theon Saturday afternoon.
Even though Utah State has covered the spread in every game this season, they continue to be undervalued by the public. In my opinion, Utah State is more deserving of a top 25 ranking than Louisiana Tech. In fact, LA Tech's strength of schedule ranks #112 in the nation, while Utah State ranks #54. The Aggies have posted good wins on the road at Utah early in the season, and demolishing WAC contender San Jose State also. The extra week of preparation will really help Utah State in this game, and I have them winning and covering on Saturday afternoon. TAKE UTAH STATE -3.
#11 Oregon State (7-1) @ #14 Stanford (7-2)
Saturday, November 10
In my opinion, Oregon State and Stanford are pretty much dead even. This should be a traditional, grind-it-out style of game as both teams have good defenses and methodical offenses. This game will be played at Stanford, where the Cardinal have had pretty good success this season. However, the Beavers have proven to be a very capable road team this year.
Oregon State offense vs Stanford defense
Oregon State's QB, Cody Vaz, has done very well after taking over for the former starter, Mannion. In Vaz’s first game as a starter, against a very good BYU defense on the road, he went for 332 yards 3 TD and 0 INT. He also came in late in the fourth quarter at Washington to almost lead his team to a comeback victory. They are going to rely heavily on his arm Saturday, because Stanford has the #1 rush defense in the country. The way to beat Stanford and keep drives going is to throw the intermediate and deep routes. Stanford has a pass defense rated #99 in the nation, and as Arizona showed earlier in the season, there are some holes to be found in the Cardinal secondary. Vaz will need to churn out a performance similar to the one he displayed against BYU to move the ball consistently against Stanford.
Stanford Offense vs Oregon State Defense
Stanford will start redshirt freshman QB, Kevin Hogan, this Saturday. He is filling in for the struggling Josh Nunes. This will be Hogan's first career start against one of the Pac-12's best defenses in Oregon State. Hogan was very efficient last week at Colorado, but the Buffaloes have one of the worst defenses in all of college football this season. Many people say that Hogan will jump-start the Stanford offense, but it will be interesting to see how the young QB responds to the pressure and adversity of being in a tough spot against a quality opponent.
Stanford likes to run a relatively vanilla downhill running game, mixing in play action to their tight ends. Oregon State has gone up against similar offenses in Utah and Wisconsin earlier in the season. The Beavers held those two opponents to 3.0 and 1.5 yards per carry respectively. Oregon State ranks #14 in the nation overall in run defense this season. Expect the Beavers to load the box, stop the run, and make the freshman QB execute tight downfield throws to sustain drives. If Oregon State can do that, they should have a good chance to win this game outright.
I’m expecting a semi-low scoring game in this one. I could easily see this game coming down to a field goal by either team. In that case, I’ll take the team with the more capable offense and proven quarterback getting the 4.5 points. Take Oregon State +4.5.