JMU, WM out? HU, UR in?

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 11, 2005

Suffolk News-Herald

With Miami’s show of dominance last Saturday, as long as USC and Texas hold serve, that’s #1 and #2, and Alabama would become the second straight SEC team to go undefeated and come in #3.

All three teams have challenges to get past between now and bowling with LSU at the Tide being the showcase this weekend.

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Locally, Hampton and Richmond are making runs to take over the 1-AA crown James Madison brought to the Commonwealth last year.

Hampton has regularly been the class of the MEAC and lost last year to William and Mary in the 1-AA tournament.

This season though, the Pirates are 9-0, #2 in the nation, have already clinched their conference title (and a playoff spot again), and now finish up their regular schedule with two homes games (11/12 – Florida A&M and 11/19 – Savannah State).

The Spiders surprisingly have one of the best records in 1-AA’s toughest conference.

In a division usually ruled by W&M, JMU and Delaware, UR only has the Tribe, out of that trio, to get past on Nov. 19 in the 115th episode of the South’s Oldest Rivalry.

Before that though, UR has to beat Towson, another team having a surprisingly good season, to stay in the hunt.

Today

Rutgers (6-3) at #23 Louisville (6-2) (8:00 – ESPN2)

Rutgers quietly has been the pleasant surprise of the Big East.

Part of that quietness is because even with their six wins, none have been against true big name opponents.

Louisville has been the disappointment of the Big East after so many people predicted the Cardinals would enter the conference and immediately be conquerors by scoring 70 points a game.

The 70 points per game has been accurate enough to have Louisville still be an exciting team to watch; but not accurate enough game-in, game-out for Louisville.

Since 2001, Louisville has scored 40+ points in 26 games; Rutgers, two.

It’s been a long time since Rutgers has been in a bowl, and they’ll be there this year, but they still aren’t talented enough to stay with Louisville, as long as the right Louisville shows up.

My pick – Louisville 47, Rutgers 35

Saturday

First course – #25 Northwestern (6-3) at #10 Ohio State (7-2) (12:00 – ESPN)

Northwestern’s victory last season over Ohio State broke a 24-game winning streak the Bucks had over the ‘Cats.

While both teams have averaged more than 30 points per game, Northwestern is also giving up more than 30 while OSU is giving up 15.

Ohio State alums, the same ones that helped get John Cooper fired, Maurice Clarett’s career practically ended, and give a poor reputation to the whole school, are unhappy with this Buckeye season.

They should realize OSU’s two losses have been against one team headed for the national title game, and another that is having its best season in more than a decade.

If Brett Basanez makes big plays, as he’s done versus every Big Ten opponent except Michigan, Northwest-ern could make OSU’s season a truly unfortunate one.

My pick – Northwestern 43, Ohio State 41

During commercials – #18 (I-AA) Richmond (6-3) at Towson (6-3) (12:00 – Comcast)

Towson has been a surprise team in the A-10 too, so this will be tough for UR.

UR has a five-game winning streak which includes wins over JMU and Delaware.

In four of those five games, UR’s defense has held the opponent to 20 points or less.

QB Stacy Tutt is dangerous because he’s a running quarterback who has also been a very good decision maker this season.

Tutt has thrown 12 TDs versus just four picks, while also being UR’s leading rusher with 429 yards and five TDs.

My pick – Richmond 29, Towson 20

Second course – #5 LSU (7-1) at #4 Alabama (9-0) (3:30 – CBS)

This is clearly the game of the week as far as national implications go.

USC and Cal, also this afternoon, was going to be a showdown until Cal lost three of their four October games.

In their last three SEC games, the Tide has averaged 12 points, with only one offensive score in the span.

Since LSU’s second half collapse against UT, the Tiger defense has been dominant.

In four of the last six games, LSU has kept opponents in single digits, although last week against Appalachian State shouldn’t even count.

With their best offensive athlete (Tyrone Prothro) out for most of this year, if ‘Bama still navigates the SEC with a perfect record, it’s too bad they seemingly won’t have a say in the national title game.

My pick – Alabama 19, LSU 14

During commercials – #24 Georgia Tech (6-2) at Virginia (5-3) (3:30 – ABC)

Virginia still needs one more win to be bowl eligible and sadly for the Cavs, the Jackets are their best shot to get that one more win.

UVA has Tech in a week and the Orange Bowl on Nov. 26.

That 7-5 loss could be the difference between a successful UVA campaign and a pitiful one.

The Cavs certainly have the talent to beat GT, they even have the talent to beat VT, if they do what they did against Florida State.

The Yellow Jackets put up an impressive game all the way back against Auburn, but since then they’ve struggled against anyone with a strong defense.

(Va. Tech 51-7 L, NC St. 17-14 L, Clemson 10-9 W)

The Cavs have a good defense, see 7-5.

My pick – Virginia 28, Ga. Tech 23

Final course – #15 Auburn (7-2) at #9 Georgia (7-1) (7:45 – ESPN)

Personally, &uot;the ESPN family of networks&uot; should have chosen to have South Carolina at Florida on Saturday night primetime.

&uot;The Old Ball Coach&uot; getting his hat (or some other part of him) handed to him in the Swamp would be good entertainment.

Auburn’s gotten better and better as the year has gone on but now have two tough tests in Georgia and Alabama.

Kenny Irons has picked up where Auburn’s NFL first round picks left off.

Irons has 923 yards and 10 TDs while having no fumbles all year.

UGA QB D. J. Shockley is supposed to be back in the lineup and the Bulldogs still have the inside track at getting to the SEC title game.

Therefore, don’t expect Georgia to be down even after losing their undefeated record last week.

My pick – Georgia 30, Auburn 24

Last week’s record: 3-2

For the season: 30-19