CAN THE BEARS DO IT AGAIN?
California was the lone team to knock off Southern Cal last season, and it cost the Trojans sole possession of the national title. One loss all season cost USC big, and it came in triple overtime. If you don't think the Trojans will be pumped up for this one, then you probably don't care to read this article. Not only are the Bears responsible for last year's "co-national championship," but the teams are also in-state rivals, which always adds a little flare to things.
When you consider the revenge theory, it may seem at first that USC should demolish the Bears. After all, the Trojans are the consensus #1 ranked team in the land and are led by the likes of QB Matt Leinart and RBs LenDale White and Reggie Bush, each a legitimate conference and all-America candidate. However, what makes this game all the more interesting is the fact that Cal is actually a better team this year than last.
The Bears lead the conference in both total offense and total defense with an average margin of victory of 37 points. Cal is scoring an average of 49 points a game while giving up just a dozen per contest. That offensive point total is also good enough to lead Division I so far this season, while the defensive stat is good enough for the nation's 7th best thus far.
The Bears' offensive attack is led by QB Aaron Rodgers (6 TD, 2 INT), RB J.J. Arrington (7 TD, 8.6 YPC), and WR Chase Lyman (5 TD, 32 YPC). If the Trojans are to come away victorious, controlling these offensive threats is the place to start. If the game was in Berkley, I would definitely take the Bears. However, the contest is set for L.A., and when you consider the revenge factor, it's tough not to go with USC. Therefore, I will...but not by much.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH IN WEEK SIX
(1) It's that time of year again. Time for the Red River Shootout between Oklahoma and Texas, set for Saturday morning in Dallas, Texas. Time and time again (four straight seasons, to be exact), the Longhorns have come into the game with high hopes but failed to get the job done. To finish the task this season, Mac Brown & Co. will have to find a way to beat last year's Heisman Trophy winner and possibly the best true freshman in the country in RB Adrian Peterson.
(2) Besides the matchup mentioned above, there are two other games between unbeaten teams this weekend: Minnesota at Michigan and California at Southern Cal. All four teams are ranked in this week's SCS.com Fab 15 and could dramatically improve or solidify that position with a victory on Saturday. Michigan, SCS.com's preseason favorite in the Big Ten, has not been all that impressive this season and must now try to slow down one of the nation's best offenses. Speaking of good offenses, California has another high-powered attack, but after last year's let-down, expect USC to be ready for the Bears this weekend.
(3) Can they keep it going? That's a theme in Week Six, and we're talking about teams like Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech, Louisiana Tech, Purdue, and NC State. These five are all rolling (a combined 12-game win streak), but all five will be on the road this weekend. The Cowboys head to Colorado, the Hokies to Wake Forest, LA Tech to Auburn, Purdue to Penn State, and NC State to rival North Carolina. SCS.com expects three of these teams, VT, Purdue, and NCSU, to come out on top this week.
WHAT WE WATCHED LAST WEEK
(1) Like we said, it was West Virginia's big chance. The Mountaineers fell behind early, battled back in the second half, but came up short at Virginia Tech. WVU is now probably out of the national title hunt and now just chasing the Big East title and BCS berth. It will be interesting to see if Rich Rodriquez's team rebounds to finish the season strong or begins to fade and loses another couple of games.
(2) In the SEC's three big matchups last weekend (Arkansas/Florida, LSU/Georgia, Auburn/Tennessee), SCS.com picked the three road teams to win. The Hogs rallied but came up short, LSU was done before they got started, and Auburn demolished the Vols. It's clear that Georgia and Auburn are the class of their respective SEC divisions and that the likes of Florida, Arkansas, LSU, and Tennessee are a full step behind. And don't forget about South Carolina. The Gamecocks' only loss came against UGA.
(3) We pointed out 14 big road games around the country (including the three mentioned above) and said that eleven of them would find the road team winning. When the weekend was done, the games were split right down the middle with seven home winners and seven road victors. Among those fourteen games, a few upsets of note: VT over WVU, LA Tech over Fresno State, Texas A&M over Kansas State, and Northwestern over Ohio State. All four of those upset winners played on their home turf.
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