NCAA Football Week 14: Rivalry Week!

Chris Davis Jr. missed field goal return for TD
The 2014 NCAA College Football season has been a spectacular one so far, to say the least and this week, week 14, is the biggest and most important week of the season for nearly every team. It is the week before Conference Championships and it’s the week where teams looking to make a leap in the nation standings, will be playing their biggest game of the season, to date. This season has been filled with surprises and upsets, which has made for some phenomenal unscripted drama. This week’s game will determine which teams will earn the chance to play for their conference title, which in turn will lead to a great bid for a massive bowl game come late December.
This weekend also represents one of the biggest, if not, the biggest weekend in the season in terms of rivalry games. Week 14 is jam-packed with several major rivalry games, most, which have massive implications for conference titles. If you have never watched college football in your life, this would be one of the best weeks to start because there is so much on the line in so many games and it will make for a ton of action-packed football games.
With that being said, here are some of the biggest games of the week to watch out for.
#13 Arizona State Sun Devils (9 – 2) vs. #11 Arizona Wildcats (9 – 2)
Last weekend the Arizona State Sun Devils played host to their PAC 12 foes, the Washington State Cougars, and were able to earn a 52-31 victory and improved their record to 9-2 on the season and have moved into a share of the PAC 12 South lead with their state rivals, the Wildcats of Arizona. Senior QB Taylor Kelly, who has thrown for 1,730 yards, 18 touchdowns and only five interceptions so far this season, leads this Sun Devil offense alongside RB D.J. Foster, WR’s Jaelen Strong and Cameron Smith. The Arizona State offense ranks 30th in the nation in terms of overall offensive production, however, they have looked stronger when passing the ball, rather than running it. Their offense hasn’t been much of an issue this season, it’s their defensive production, which ranks 84th in the country overall. The Sun Devil defense has had significant trouble stopping the pass this season after losing some defenders to the NFL in this spring’s draft. Last weekend the Arizona Wildcats travelled into Utah to battle their PAC 12 foes, the Utah Utes, and were able to earn their ninth victory of the season as they routed Utah by a score of 42-10. Freshman QB Anu Solomon, who has thrown for over 3,200, 25 touchdowns and only seven interceptions this season, leads the Wildcats’ offense alongside RB Nick Wilson WR’s Cayleb Jones and Samajie Grant. The Arizona offense has been clicking as of late and has been looking better and better each week and they have now earned the nation’s 14th overall ranking in terms of overall offensive production. When it comes to defensive production, the Wildcats rank 95th in the nation in terms of overall production and they have really struggled the most when it comes to defending the pass. Both teams will look to attack their opponents through the air, while taking advantages of the weak pass defenses that each of these teams boast. This game could go either way, however, look for the Sun Devils to try and control the pace of this game with their offense that is led by a senior QB who knows the pressure of big games.
Game details: Kickoff on Friday, November 28th at 3:30pm from Arizona Stadium in Tucson, Arizona.
#16 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (9 – 2) vs. #9 Georgia Bulldogs (9 – 2)
Last week Georgia Tech played hosted to their ACC foes, the Clemson Tigers, and were able to earn the 22-6 victory thus getting their ninth win of the season. Dual threat QB Justin Thomas, who has thrown for over 1,300 yards, 15 touchdowns and only four interceptions so far this year and has also, rushed for over 800 yards and five touchdowns leads this Yellow Jackets offense. Thomas isn’t the only playmaker on the ACC squad; RB’s Zach Laskey, Synjyn Days and WR DeAndre Smelter help boost this Georgia Tech offense. This offense ranks 23rd in the nation in terms of overall offensive production, however, their rushing attack is way more potent than their passing attack. In terms of rushing production, Georgia Tech ranks 4th in the nation, but their passing attack is only 118th in college football. On the defensive side of the ball, the Yellow Jackets rank 60th in the nation in terms of overall defense and they have struggled stopping the run at times. Last weekend the Georgia Bulldogs played host to Charleston Southern and were able to thump their opponents as they went on to win by a score of 55-9. QB Hutson Mason, who has thrown for over 1,800 yards, 19 touchdowns and only three interceptions this season, alongside RB’s Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, WR’s Chris Conley and Michael Bennett lead the Georgia offensive attack. The Georgia offense ranks 26th in the nation in terms of overall production, however, their solid rushing game is to thank for that because at times they have struggled with the pass and have relied a little too much on the run. On the other side of the ball, the Bulldogs defense ranks 13th in the nation in terms of overall defense and they can thank their stout secondary for that ranking because they have made it tough for opposing QB’s to throw the ball against them. This game could be a trap game for the Bulldogs, who are one win away from the SEC Championship game, so the Bulldogs cannot afford to take their opponents lightly. The Georgia offense will miss the presence of RB Todd Gurley, who suffered a season-ending knee injury, for this game; however, they do have other guys that can run the ball. If Georgia wants to be successful in this game they will need to have a solid day running the ball and limit the number of big plays that their defense gives up to the Yellow Jackets. If Georgia Tech wants to be successful, it will come down to their defense first and for most and stopping that great Georgia rushing attack. Georgia won by a score of 41-34 last time these two teams met back in 2013 so the Yellow Jackets would sure like to redeem themselves this season and this match up should make for a very exciting game.
Game details: Kickoff on Saturday, November 29th at 1:00pm from Sanford Stadium in Athens, Georgia.
Florida Gators (6 – 4) vs. #3 Florida State Seminoles (11 – 0)
Last week the Florida Gators played host to Eastern Kentucky in a game where they were able to win by a score of 52-3 as they earned their sixth win of the season. QB’s Jeff Driskel and Treon Harris, whom combined have more than 1,800 yards and 15 touchdowns; however, they do have 11 interceptions, 10 of which were thrown by Driskel. It’s very visible that QB play isn’t the strength of this Gator team; however, RB’s Matt Jones, Kelvin Taylor, WR’s Demarcus Robinson and Quinton Dunbar help lead this Gator offense as well. The Florida offense ranks 81st in the nation in terms of overall offensive production and they can thank their underwhelming passing game for that as it ranks 104th in the nation. These poor offensive numbers are very un-Florida like and have led to the dismissal of their Head Coach, Will Muschamp. On the other side of the ball is where Florida makes their money, so to speak, with their 11th ranked overall defense; the Gators are one of the best teams in the country at stopping the run. They have looked very good in pass defense as well, which is a great sign. Last week the Florida State Seminoles played host to their ACC rivals, the Boston College Eagles and were barely able to squeak out a 20-17 win to earn their eleventh victory of the season. None other than QB Jameis Winston, who has thrown for over 3,100 yards, 19 touchdowns and 13 interceptions so far this season, leads the Seminoles offense. RB’s Karlos Williams, Dalvin Cook, WR’s Rashad Greene and Nick O’Leary are all playmakers that add a seriously skillful dimension to the ‘Noles offense. The Florida State attack ranks 36th in the nation in terms of overall production, but, they have had a lot more success passing the ball than running the ball, statistically speaking. On the other side of the ball, the Seminole defense ranks 53rd in the nation in terms of overall defense and they have looked vulnerable stopping the opposing passing attack all season too. Though the Seminoles are undefeated and are playing a Gator team with four losses, it’s important that they don’t try to cruise and think they can easily beat the Gators, because they can’t. That Florida defense is the key for them in this game, if they want to win. They will have to neutralize the Seminoles offense all game and try to stop Jameis Winston from beating them with his arm and/or legs. This game could truly go either way. If the Gators want to be successful on offense, they will need to come up with better passing plays because they cannot simply rely on the run against a fairly stout Florida State defensive line. This game will come down to the team that plays better on defense. The last time these two teams met was last season, the Florida State Seminoles won the game by a score of 37-7 so look for the Florida Gators to come out hungry as they look to avenge last season’s loss to their in state rivals, the ‘Noles.
Game details: Kickoff on Saturday, November 29th at 3:30pm from Bobby Bowden Field in Tallahassee, Florida.
#4 Mississippi State Bulldogs (10 – 1) vs. #19 Mississippi Rebels (8 – 3)
Last week the Mississippi State Bulldogs played host to their SEC foes, Vanderbilt, and were able to pull away with the massive 51-0 victory and improve their record to 10-1 on the season, with that one loss coming at the hands of Alabama the week before. Dual threat and Heisman hopeful QB Dak Prescott, who has thrown for over 2,700 yards 23 touchdowns and 10 interceptions so far this season, spearheads the Bulldog offensive attack. Prescott can do it with his feet too; he has rushed for nearly 900 yards and 12 touchdowns. Other offensive weapons for Mississippi State include RB Josh Robinson, WR’s De’Runnya Wilson, Malcolm Johnson and Fred Brown. The Bulldog offense ranks 9th in the country in terms of overall production and their great rushing attack has a lot to do with that. On the other side of the ball, the Bulldog defense ranks 68th in the nation in terms of overall production however, they have had a lot more success when it comes to stopping the run this season and have struggled quite a bit in their pass defense. Last week the Rebels of Ole Miss went into Arkansas to battle their SEC foes and were shutout in a 30-0 loss. Last week’s embarrassing loss pushed the Rebels to 8-3 and they have now lost three of their last four games, a streak which they will look to turn around against their biggest rivals this weekend. Dual threat QB Bo Wallace, who has thrown for nearly 2,800 yards, 22 touchdowns and 10 interceptions so far this season, helps lead this Rebel offense. Ole Miss has some playmakers on the offensive side of the ball including RB Jaylen Walton, WR’s Vince Sanders and Cody Core; however, they are missing their best threat in WR Laquon Treadwell, who has been dealing with injuries. The Ole Miss offense ranks 44th in the nation in terms of production and they have been a team that can throw the ball better as their rushing attack hasn’t been at its best this season. On the other side of the ball, the Ole Miss defense ranks 10th in the nation in terms of overall production and they can thank their ball-hawking secondary for that because they have made it a living nightmare for teams to throw the ball against them. If the Bulldogs want to be effective, they will need to play tempo against the Rebels defense and rush the ball with authority. Playing tempo will take the defense off their game plan and Ole Miss isn’t as good in their rush defense as they are in the pass defense. If the Rebels want to be successful they will need to contain QB Dak Prescott because he can burn teams with his feet and arm. The Rebels passing game needs to step up and take advantage of an awful Mississippi State secondary, If Mississippi State can limit the amount of big passing plays that are orchestrated by Bo Wallace; they have a great chance at winning this game. The last time these teams met back in 2013, the Bulldogs won a tightly contested matchup by a score of 17-10 so you know the Rebels are eager to avenge that loss.
Game details: Kickoff on Saturday, November 29th at 3:30pm from Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Mississippi.
#15 Auburn Tigers (8 – 3) vs. #1 Alabama Crimson Tide (10 – 1)
Last weekend the Auburn Tigers played host to the Samford Bulldogs and were able to earn a 31-7 win as they improved their record to 8-3 so far on this season. Dual threat QB Nick Marshall, who has thrown for over 1,800 yards, 15 touchdowns and six interceptions so far this season, leads this Auburn offensive attack. Marshall has also run for over 700 yards this season and 11 touchdowns. However, he is not their only playmaker on offense, RB Cameron Artis-Payne, WR’s D’haquille Williams and Sammie Coats are just a couple of the team’s best offensive weapons. The Auburn offense ranks 21st in the nation in terms of overall offensive production and a big part of that ranking is due to the fact that they have a dominant rushing attack that ranks in the top ten. They are a team that prides itself on the run, but, don’t be fooled, they have big play ability when it comes to the passing game and have beaten teams deep downfield. The Auburn defense ranks 51st in the country in terms of overall defensive production and they are a defense that have proven they can stop the run, though, they have struggled at times in their pass defense. Last weekend the Alabama Crimson Tide played host to the Western Carolina Catamounts in a game where they were able to win by a score of 48-14 and earn their tenth win of the season. QB Blake Sims, who has thrown for over 2,600 yards, 20 touchdowns and only four interceptions so far this season, leads the Crimson Tide offense. The Crimson Tide are loaded with offensive talent and a few of their big name players that help lead their attack include RB’s T.J. Yeldon, Derrick Henry, WR’s Amari Cooper and DeAndrew White. These playmakers help lead the 20th ranked Alabama offense, an offense that is as balanced at they come because they have proven that they can run the ball effectively and also pass the ball effectively without relying on one element more than the other. The Crimson Tide defense ranks 5th in the nation in terms of overall defense and they have proven to be very effective as of late, especially when it comes to stopping the rush, where they are indeed one of the best teams in that category. If Auburn wants to be successful in this game, they will need to move the ball in the air, they can’t rely solely on their rushing attack against this Alabama defense that has just neutralized opposing rushing attacks. If attacking the Alabama secondary will be their best option. If Alabama wants to be effective in this game, they will also need to attack in the air and take advantage of a mediocre Auburn secondary. However, their other key to victory will be eliminating runs by QB Nick Marshall, if they can pressure and contain Marshall they have a great shot at winning this game. We all remember what happened last season, the missed potential game-winning Alabama field goal that was returned 100+ yards by Auburn’s Chris Davis for a touchdown as time expired to win the Iron Bowl for Auburn. When these two powerhouses meet, anything can happen, and that is not an exaggeration. Alabama will be seeking revenge in this game and will stop at nothing to ensure that they do their best to earn a statement win this weekend.

 

Game details: Kickoff on Saturday, November 29th at 7:45pm from Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. 
 
Matt Kassabian
@PassDaKassabian

Author: Matthew Kassabian

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