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That was then... This is now!
So, sure, the Horns and the Red Raiders meet every season, but last year’s 39-33 Texas Tech win was an all-timer. It may have been the best win in Texas Tech history and it was the loss that cost Texas a shot at the Big 12 title and a national championship. Texas players have said they haven’t even looked at the schedule, but trust me, they all knew when this one was taking place: Saturday September 19th - This Saturday, boys!
Catch Lance Zierlein from 6 to 10 am daily, alongside John Granato. Listen to John Harris on the Sean and John show, with Sean Pendergast show 3 to 7 PM daily. www.1560thegame.com
TENNESSEE (1-1) VS. FLORIDA (2-0)
September 19, 2009 CBS 2:30 PM CST
It’s a shame that during the Tim Tebow era the Tennessee Volunteers have been a joke. Sure, in 2006 when Tebow was a true freshman and Chris Leak was under center, the Vols made it competitive, but the last two years have been an abomination - 89-26 combined score. But, this year’s Tennessee Players to Watch different...the RB #11 Bryce Brown Gators are actually RB #2 Montario Hardesty mad at Tennessee. FS #14 Eric Berry Uh oh. Tennessee PR #7 Nu’keese Richardson head coach Lane Kiffin ran his mouth all spring and summer long like the cocksure 12 year old who could write checks his butt couldn’t cash. But, the Gators insist this isn’t about proving Kiffin wrong, but somehow, it is.
VEGAS SAYS: FLA -29
Stopping the Tebow-led offense is easy: take away Jeff Demps. Whoa, whaaaa??? Yes, you heard me, take away explosive running back Jeff Demps (and if you can do that, you can stop Chris Rainey as well) and the Gator offense is perhaps a level below “god-like”. There’s so much discussion about Tebow, that many don’t realize the key to the offense is the burst Demps has and the ability he has to take every single run to the house. Contain Florida Players to Watch Demps. Don’t let QB # 15 Tim Tebow LB #51 Brandon Spikes him hit the 14.7 DE #8 Carlos Dunlap yards per carry CB #1 Janoris Jenkins mark and you have a chance. But, don’t let Jonathan Crompton turn it over and kill any chance you’ve got to win. RBs Montario Hardesty and Bryce Brown can pound 30 to 35 times, so let them and, well...
PREDICTION: FLORIDA - 38 VS. TENNESSEE - 17
...maybe? Okay, maybe, but, more than likely, maybe not. The Gators have started a little slowly in each of the first two wins, but don’t expect that in this one. Head coach Urban Meyer won’t need to rub it in, a thorough drubbing will work, especially with #15 on the sideline in the 4th quarter.
NEBRASKA (2-0) VS. VA. TECH (1-1)
September 12, 2009 ABC/ESPN2 2:30 PM CST
Who misses Darren Evans raise your hand? Virginia Tech fans may have panicked early on during pre-season camp when Evans went down with a knee injury. But, the Hokies proved last week, that the Ryan WilliamsDavid Wilson combination might prove to be a bit much for everybody, including the visiting Nebraska Huskers. Behind Williams’ strong first half, the Hokies jumped to a big lead against Marshall and didn’t look back. Wilson did the damage in a backup role, but could see more carries this week to give Williams a blow. This is the way Virginia Tech wants to win games - play defense and run the football. But, with a little Tyrod Taylor mixed in, the Hokies are dangerous on offense. QB #5 Zac Lee DT #93 Ndamukong Suh RB #10 Roy Helu Jr. S #4 Larry Asante
Nebraska Players to Watch
VEGAS SAYS: VT -4
The key for Virginia Tech is moving, or just occupying, All-American DT Ndamukong Suh. He can completely disrupt the Hokies blocking scheme and his battle with Sergio Render et al is the penultimate matchup this weekend. Coach Bo Pelini may have thought his defense was soft, but with Suh on board, that isn’t true. Nebraska QB Zac Lee has been a pleasant surprise, especially last week against Arkansas State. He was 27 Va. Tech Players to Watch RB #34 Ryan Williams of 35 for 340 yards RB #4 David Wilson and four DE #6 Jason Worilds touchdowns. Most G #70 Sergio Render importantly, he didn’t throw any picks. The Hokie defense is opportunistic and will harrass Lee with a variety of zone blitz looks and ‘robber’ coverage. If he gets off to a bad start, the Huskers could really struggle. The Huskers tackles must contain DE Jason Worilds
PREDICTION: VIRGINIA TECH - 28 VS. NEBRASKA - 17
This is what I love about Nebraska. Amongst the FAUs and the Arkansas State’s of the world, it’ll take on a Virginia Tech on the back end of a home and home, while VT has already played Alabama. That Alabama experience will be hugely valuable for VT. Virginia Tech will run the ball well and pick off Lee a couple of times in a statement win.
HOUSTON (0-1) VS. TENNESSEE (0-1)
September 20, 2009 CBS 12:00 PM CST
I fully expect the Texans to come out in this one and show a great deal of improvement with their running game. Last week the Texans had a very difficult time keeping the Jets defensive linemen from getting penetration and that lead to LBs running free. The Titans have a tough run defense, but they rely on speed as well as physicality and the Texans tend to deal with fast defensive lines better than strong ones. If the Texans don't run the ball well, the play-action game will be a non-factor once again. I also think you'll see the Texans get Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels involved early on in the game. The Jets blitz packages confused the Texans last week, but look for the Titans to rush just four for much of the game. The Titans have proven in the past that while they are a running team, they aren't afraid to trust Kerry Collins with the passing attack and Collins is capable in that
VEGAS SAYS: TEN -6.5 / 40.5
role. Last year in the Texans 13-12 win, the Texans came into the game with a plan to blitz Collins between the tackles. Their rationale was that Collins wasn't evasive enough to sidestep their blitzes from up the middle and if he saw the pressure coming, he would be much less likely to make good decisions. The Texans gameplan worked. This time around, the Titans will be prepared for the blitzes they saw last year, but I still believe that they will lean on Chris Johnson and Lendale White to win this game for them. The Texans have quite a bit to prove after last weeks pathetic effort and there is no question that they are looking forward to showing fans and others around the league that they aren't soft. I look for the Texans to have more success on offense that some expect, but I also think that the Texans defense is in for a dogfight against a very good Titans defensive line and a homerun threat in Chris Johnson.
PREDICTION: TENNESSEE - 21 VS. HOUSTON - 16
BALTIMORE (1-0) VS. SAN DIEGO (1-0)
September 20, 2009 CBS 3:15 PM CST
VEGAS SAYS: SD -3 / 40.5
Ravens or they will find themselves in trouble by halftime. QB Philip Rivers is a tough player who can make plays and he was able to keep his mistakes at a The San Diego Chargers made it to the playoffs last year, minimum last year which is critical. but they were underachievers all along the way. The Ravens made it to the On the other side of the ball, the AFC Championship game last year Fantasy Report Ravens are opening up the playbook thanks to an overachieving team who If you have Darren Sproles and for Joe Flacco in his second year and played physically on both sides of the you are excited about the they saw plenty of positives last week. ball and who tested the mental and possibility of additional carries this However, that was the Chiefs and this week, slow your roll. The physical toughness of every team they Chargers are going to have him is the Chargers and the Chargers are played last year. share carries with Michael going to get after Flacco for much of Bennett if Tomlinson can't go and the game if they don't establish the So are the Chargers tough enough? Sproles has to take on the Ravens run early on. defense which won't be any fun Football fans know that there isn't a for him at all. If the Ravens don't run the ball, I huge drop off these days between don't think Flacco can pull it out LaDainian Tomlinson and Darren without a defensive touchdown. They Sproles, but this one isn't going to be won or lost at the RB position and the Chargers know it. won’t and the Chargers will get their second win. The Chargers have to play physically early on against the
PREDICTION: SAN DIEGO - 20 VS. BALTIMORE - 16
FANTASY/NFL NEWS AND NOTES
There are plenty of fantasy owners who think they are about to get over on everyone with their waiver-wire pickup of either Pierre Garcon or Austin Collie as the new WR2 in Indy. There are some problems with that. While Garcon is likely the the WR2, Collie will get plenty of snaps too. However, both guys will be options behind Dallas Clark and Reggie Wayne so neither guy will be prolific. For owners off Greg Olsen who are freaking out because of his non-existent Sunday Night Football performance, fear not. The Packers went out of their way to make covering Olsen a priority. I expect Olsen to bounce-back (provided Cutler's had doesn't explode). If I'm the Carolina Panthers brain trust, I'm meeting behind closed doors and trying to figure out if there is anything that can be done about our QB situation. Jake Delhomme was terrible against the Eagles and did everything he could to lose that one. Delhomme finished with 4 INTS and a fumble while finishing with a 14.7 QB rating. That’s bad, but when you consider that in his last game of 2008 he had 5 INTs and a fumble while losing to Arizona at home 33-13, you can see why the Panthers might be panicking. There are two calls that I would make tomorrow. I would call the Minnesota Vikings to see if Sage Rosenfels is available and I would call the Kansas City Chiefs to see if Tyler Thigpen is available.
COLLEGE NEWS AND NOTES
I can’t tell you how impressed I was with Michigan QB Tate Forcier against Notre Dame. He did a little bit of everything against Notre Dame, but most importantly, he established himself as The Man for the Michigan offense. Michigan’s Pat White if you will. His 43 yard touchdown run showed his blazing speed, almost as much as backup QB Denard Robinson, who was a Florida HS sprint champion last year. His late touchdown drive and touchdown throw to WR Greg Mathews showed his moxie and poise. Michigan CB Donovan Warren is going to be the next Ty Law/Charles Woodson/Leon Hall. He’s physical, quick and makes plays on the ball. Michigan DC Greg Robinson has to love what that cat does on the field. For all of the great players on the field on Saturday, though, Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd is still the number one player on that field. What he does as a receiver is amazing - his body control, hands, speed, power and determination are without peer. The Irish lost that game when he went out of the game with a cut on his leg requiring stitches. Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen has come a long way, there’s no question, but Floyd is a big reason why. Also, get on the Kyle Rudolph bandwagon now, people. He’s going to win the John Mackey Award going away with Jermaine Gresham out for the year.
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