Arizona at #9 Oklahoma State
Thursday night games have been very bad for highly ranked teams in the recent years. Since 2005, 23 ranked teams have been upset by unranked opponents Some of these upsets have changed the National Championship picture as #1 Southern California, #2 South Florida and #2 Oregon have all felt the sting of Thursday night. So is Oklahoma State next? If Nick Foles and Arizona have anything to say about it… yes. While the Cowboys are led by an underrated quarterback in Brandon Weeden and perhaps the most talented receiver in the nation in Justin Blackmon, the Wildcats have some firepower of their own.
Senior QB Nick Foles may not get the hype or headlines that fellow Pac12 signal callers Andrew Luck and Matt Barkley receive but he certainly isn’t standing in their shadows. Completing 67 percent of his passes for over 3000 yards last year Foles has shown he is more than an efficient QB, and Foles, like Weeden isn’t lacking in weapons either. With capable running backs in Ka’Deem Carey and Keola Antolin not to mention a stable of experienced receivers including Juron Criner Arizona has the offensive firepower to put up points in a hurry. In a game that is likely to be a back and forth shootout the Cowboys could find themselves on the wrong end of the scoreboard at the end of the night.
#16 Mississippi State at Auburn
There may not be a team who was more surprising (in a bad way) then Auburn last week. The Auburn defense looked abysmal allowing Utah State to outgain the Tigers offense 448 yards to 364 including an astonishing 149 yard advantage on the ground. So why on earth would a Mississippi State team that racked up 645 total yards against Memphis last week be on the upset watch? Simply put, because the Auburn defense was embarrassed last week. Neiko Thorpe has to be fuming right about now with the performance his defense put on display. He also, along with the rest of the Tigers defense, has to be dying to get back out on the field.
But Auburn will need much more than a stout defense to upset the 16th ranked Bulldogs, and that’s where they’re in luck. Completing 74 percent of his passes in his first start, junior QB Barrett Trotter was very efficient on Saturday. Trotter looked poised in the pocket throwing for 261 yards and three touchdowns including a critical touchdown strike to junior tight end Phillip Lutzenkirchen with 2:07 left in the game. Also, it’s not very likely that the tailback duo of sophomore Michael Dyer and junior Onterio McCaleb repeat their Saturday performances. Despite scoring two touchdowns, Dyer had a modest day, carrying the ball 14 times for a total of 57 yards. McCaleb added 44 yards in nine carries and five catches for 43 yards. Even more surprising was McCaleb’s inability to create an explosive play against the Aggie defense. Look for both running backs to get going early and the Auburn defense to make things difficult for senior RB Vick Ballard and the Bulldogs.
#12 South Carolina at Georgia
The Connor Shaw experiment seems to be over, and Georgia was completely abused by Kellen Moore and the Boise State Broncos. On paper this doesn’t look fair, but the Georgia Bulldogs have more than a fighting chance in this one. In a game that is likely to be decided by a touchdown (seven of the last ten have), Georgia certainly has the firepower to hang in for the long-haul. Last week Georgia looked average on offense. Frankly, this offense has too much talent to play average two weeks in a row. Aaron Murray, who was only sacked 24 times last season, was dropped by the Broncos defense six times Saturday night. A stat that’s completely unacceptable for Georgia’s veteran offensive line. The sophomore Murray looked uncomfortable in the pocket completing just 55 percent of his passes and forcing throws resulting in missed targets and an interception.
Murray and the Bulldogs know what a loss means, not only will Georgia have to play catch up with South Carolina in the SEC East but head coach Mark Richt will feel his seat get a little warmer. A second loss in a row could put the ‘Dawgs in a tailspin, something they have shown in the past is difficult to recover from. Against a team that allowed 345 total yards to East Carolina and only put up 351 of their own Georgia should be able to put up the points to pull the upset. So while South Carolina may look like a runaway favorite they should certainly be wary of the upset in Athens.