Big matchups in week 10 could sharpen National Championship picture



Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback AJ McCarron (10) throws to wide receiver DeAndrew White (2) for a touchdown in the first quarter against the Michigan Wolverines in the Cowboys Classic at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Saturday, September 1, 2012. Photo by Paul Moseley/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT.

Chris Ginley

Showdown in So Cal

At the start of the season, the Oregon vs. USC game was circled on each team’s calendar. Both teams had the potential, and were expected, to be undefeated heading into Saturday’s game.

The No. 4 Oregon Ducks (8-0, 5-0 PAC-12) had succeeded in that regard, while the USC Trojans (6-2, 4-2 PAC-12) went another way.

The obvious strength of Oregon is its offense, which is averaging a jaw-dropping 53.4 points per game.

Oregon is led by quarterback Marcus Mariota, who has thrown for 1,483 passing yards on the season with 18 touchdowns and five interceptions.

Assisting Mariota in leading the prolific Oregon offense is running back Kenjon Barner, who has amassed 974 yards and 14 touchdowns so far this season.

USC is led by quarterback Matt Barkley, who has thrown for 2,266 passing yards and 25 touchdowns with eight interceptions on the season. Barkley is slowly creeping his way back up the Heisman list.

Complementing Barkley is probably the best receiving duo in the nation, Marqise Lee, who has 1,129 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns on the season, and Robert Woods, who has 585 receiving yards and nine touchdowns on the season.

The question in this game is: Can the USC defense slow down the high-flying Oregon offense?

My prediction: Oregon overwhelms the USC defense and wins 31-21.

Kansas State vs. Oklahoma State

The No. 2 Kansas State Wildcats will have a tough test on Saturday, as the team will face its third straight-ranked opponent, in the No. 24 Oklahoma State Cowboys.

The Wildcats continue to be one of the biggest surprises this season, as the team has scored at least 55 points in three of the last four games.

Kansas State is led by quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate, Collin Klein. Klein has thrown for 1,630 passing yards and 12 touchdowns with two interceptions, and has rushed for 634 yards and 16 touchdowns this season.

The Kansas State and Oklahoma State offenses are averaging nearly identical amounts of points per game, at 44.4 and 44.3 points, respectively.

Oklahoma State is led by quarterback J.W. Walsh, who was tasked with the tough job of replacing current Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden, has thrown for 1,467 passing yards and 10 touchdowns with three interceptions.

Assisting Walsh in leading the Cowboy offensive attack is running back Joseph Randle, who has rushed for 891 yards and nine touchdowns.

Can the Oklahoma State defense, which has held three straight opponents to 14 points or less, contain Collin Klein and the rest of the prolific Kansas State offense?

My prediction: Kansas State continues their dream season and beats Oklahoma State 31-17.

Rematch of the Century

Redemption will be on the minds of the No. 5 LSU Tigers on Saturday, as they go up against the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide.

Tiger Stadium will be rocking on Saturday, as LSU hopes to avenge its 21-0 loss to Alabama in last January’s BSC National Championship Game.

Leading Alabama will be quarterback AJ McCarron, who has thrown for 1,684 passing yards and 18 touchdowns with zero interceptions.

McCarron’s weapons include running backs T.J. Yeldon, who has rushed for 649 yards and seven touchdowns, and Eddie Lacy, who has rushed for 596 yards and seven touchdowns.

LSU, who had high hopes to start the season, stumbled three weeks ago, in a 14-6 loss to Florida.

LSU is led by quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who has thrown for 1,419 passing yards and seven touchdowns with four interceptions on the season.

Leading the Tiger rushing attack is running back Kenny Hilliard, who has rushed for 420 yards and six touchdowns this season.

The LSU defense, which has not been at full strength all season as a result of former defensive back Tyrann Mathieu, who was kicked off the team as a result of multiple failed drug tests, will have their hands full trying to contain an Alabama offense that is averaging 40.6 points per game.

The Tigers will try to throw a wrench in the BCS Standings and try to ruin Alabama’s dream of a perfect season.

My prediction: LSU puts up a fight, but Alabama will prevail 24-14.

Contact Chris Ginley at [email protected].