NCAA Games of the Week: Upset watch in Stillwater

Matt McClain

Sports Blogger

@mattdmcclain

 

West Virginia at Oklahoma State, 11 a.m. Saturday on Fox

Oklahoma State linebacker Chad Whitener (45) celebrates during the Cowboys' victory against West Virginia last season. (O'Colly File Photo)

Oklahoma State linebacker Chad Whitener (45) celebrates during the Cowboys’ victory against West Virginia last season.
(O’Colly File Photo)

The Mountaineers make their way to Stillwater on Saturday. ESPN’s Football Power Index favors the Cowboys. It’s homecoming for OSU, so the Cowboys have an extra incentive to win. WVU’s defense has been stifling, allowing only 17 points per game and holding Texas Tech, an outstanding offensive team, to 17 points. The Cowboy defense has been less sturdy. OSU has held one opponent under 20 points this season. Despite OSU’s flexible defense, I think the Cowboys get a boost from homecoming and end up giving the Mountaineers their first loss of 2016.

OSU 45, WVU 41

 

Washington at Utah, 2:30 p.m. Saturday on Fox Sports 1

The Utes return home this week after a bye week and two road games. Washington is the lone unbeaten Pac-12 team, and it has a huge target on its back. The Huskies have the best player on the field in quarterback Jake Browning. Browning has thrown 26 touchdowns and two interceptions and is fourth in the nation in yards per attempt with 9.9. However, Utah has defensive back Brian Allen on the other side of the ball, who is tied for third in the nation with four interceptions. Despite Allen’s performance, Utah’s pass defense allows 243 passing yards per game. I think Browning gets the best of the Utah defense Saturday and the Huskies stay unbeaten.

Washington 44, Utah 36

 

Florida at Georgia, 2:30 p.m. Saturday on CBS

On the surface, it looks like Florida should win this game easily. It’s a rivalry game, though, and rivalry games bring out the best in teams, even if the team has struggled. Georgia has lost three of its last four, including a 17-16 loss last week to Vanderbilt. Florida has been the opposite, taking four of their last five. Georgia running back Nick Chubb, an early Heisman contender, has been lackluster this season for the Bulldogs. He’s averaged 5.1 yards per carry this season, which is a 3-yard drop in production from 2015. I think Georgia rides its emotion to make the game closer than it should be, but Florida will hang on to win.

Florida 31, Georgia 27

 

Nebraska at Wisconsin, 6 p.m. Saturday on ESPN

Nebraska has quietly made its way into the top 10, but a week schedule contributed to that standing; Oregon has been Nebraska’s toughest opponent thus far. Wisconsin has faced a much tougher schedule. The Badgers have played close games against second-ranked Michigan and then-No. 2 Ohio State. The Badgers took the Buckeyes to overtime and lost to Michigan by one score. Wisconsin has been reliant on the run game and running back Corey Clement. He’s run for 617 yards and six touchdowns, but Nebraska’s run defense has been stout. The Cornhuskers allow about 120 yards per game on the ground. I think Nebraska’s lack of experience hampers them in its first true test. Wisconsin has hung in there with great teams, so I think they pummel Nebraska.

Wisconsin 24, Nebraska 10

 

Clemson at Florida State, 7 p.m. Saturday on ABC

This game figures to be the most exciting of the weekend. Both teams are coming off byes, which means they had extra time to prepare. Clemson is undefeated but has had its fair share of adversity, such as an overtime win against North Carolina State. Quarterback Deshaun Watson has thrown eight interceptions, and his poor decision-making can put Clemson in a bad spot when games are close. Florida State has the defense to force turnovers. The Seminoles have caused 15 turnovers, nine of which have been interceptions. FSU running back Dalvin Cook has rushed for 900 yards, but Clemson allows only 132 rushing yards per game, so Seminoles’ quarterback Deondre Francois will need to step up. I don’t think Francois, a true freshman, can handle the pressure. I’ll take Clemson in a close one.

Clemson 30, FSU 28

ozone@ocolly.com

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