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College Football Week 14 – Playing with Fire and Surviving

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Last week was pretty calm across the landscape of college football, but this upcoming will be the football equivalent of golf’s “moving day.” There are many quality match-ups that will have a significant impact on the college football playoff race. Teams can play their way in or out with a good or bad four quarters of football. The teams with the most on the line: Alabama, Mississippi State, and Florida State. All three have formidable match-ups, and all three are in must win situations. 

What We Learned Last Week

FSU is Notre Dame Circa 2012

Florida State keeps playing with fire and surviving, much like Notre Dame did during their unbeaten regular season in 2012. It didn’t go so well for the Irish when they finally played an elite team and found themselves out of the game by halftime. They eventually lost to Alabama by a final score of 42-14. Florida State seems to be destined for the same fate should they squeak by Florida in the regular season finale and a likely meeting with Georgia Tech in the ACC title game. There is an enormous gap between the AP’s No.1 ranked team in Florida State and the best teams in college football. The Seminoles have had to squeak out games in the fourth quarter far too frequently this season, and they are on borrowed time. It’s just a matter of time before Florida State gets blown out this season. 

Arkansas is Really Good

The 2014 Arkansas Razorbacks are better than their 6-5 record would indicate. They have not allowed a single point in their last two games – an impressive stat regardless of who they played. But when you talk about these shutout wins coming against LSU and Ole Miss, it certainly makes you take notice. Although it’s hard to count quality losses in this era, keep this in mind as well; they lost by 1 point to Alabama, by 7 to Mississippi State, and 7 again in OT to Texas A&M. That’s the mark of a team that is still learning to finish, and with their last two wins, this team has certainly learned to play a complete four quarters. 

UCLA is Hitting Its Stride

Might be a little late for the Bruins, but they are hitting their stride and playing some great football. Hosting Southern Cal last Saturday night under the Rose Bowl lights, Brett Hundley and the Bruins showed they are one of the Pac-12’s elite teams with a 38-20 win over the Trojans. The Bruins control their own destiny for the Pac-12 South crown, and with a win over the Cardinal of Stanford Friday, they would be set for a redemption game with Oregon. 

Stat of The Week:

Oklahoma Freshman RB, Samaje Perine, broke Melvin Gordon’s one-week-old NCAA single game rushing record with 427 yards on 34 carries. Incredible. 

What We Are Looking Forward To:

Can The Maize and Blue Get Brutus? 

On Saturday, the Wolverines travel to Columbus to try and salvage what has been a disastrous season. A win against the Buckeyes would make the Wolverines bowl eligible and give them bragging rights over “that team from Ohio” for the next year. It’s a long shot at best for Michigan who enters the game as a three touchdown underdog. The teams that are the most dangerous though are desperate teams, and Michigan is certainly a desperate team. This is one of the best rivalries in all of sports and for football fans everywhere, let’s hope they add another classic to this already storied rivalry. 

Alabama Needs to Win the Iron Bowl

Alabama is the selection committee’s No.1 team, but that wouldn’t last long if they can’t defeat Auburn in Tuscaloosa Saturday night. A loss to Auburn would likely put the Tide out of the SEC Title game and likely eliminate them from a shot at the playoff. Auburn has had an up and down year with moments of brilliance and complete letdowns. This is the most meaningful game of the year in a state that sees football as a way of life. Auburn will need QB Nick Marshall to be absolutely brilliant if they are to take down Alabama in Tuscaloosa. 

Who Will Win the West?

The western division of the Big Ten is on the line as the Golden Gophers of Minnesota head to Madison to take on one of the nation’s most formidable running attacks in Melvin Gordon and Wisconsin. Minnesota is coming off a big win at Nebraska while the Badgers have been piling up rushing yards on opponents as of late. Gordon is now over 2,100 yards for the season and has put Barry Sanders single season FBS rushing record in serious jeopardy. He needs just 520 yards to eclipse the mark set by Sanders back in 1988. A win by the Badgers on Saturday would send them to the Big Ten Title game against Ohio State and give Gordon an additional game to chase down the record. 

Upset Pick:

Florida saves their season and knocks off the ‘Noles in Tallahassee. The Gators will play like they have nothing to lose and send Muschamp out on a high note in his final regular season game as head coach.