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Early Predictions of the Top 50 Games

Discussion in 'All Other Sports' started by BoltsFanUK, Aug 8, 2007.

  1. BoltsFanUK
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    The biggest games of the year go through Baton Rouge, led by an October 6th showdown with Florida. Here's a quick, thumbnail look at the top games of the season with our July predictions.



    Quick Predictions for the Biggest Games of 2007

    Early picks for the season's most important, must-see battles

    Here's a countdown of the biggest, most important, most interesting games going into the 2007 season, and the early July calls for each. Some predictions will change by game time, but until then, here are our off-the-cuff, very rudimentary picks with the season starting up in two weeks. Some are obvious rivalry games that everyone looks forward to each season, and some are new matchups with good storylines. In any event, these are the games you'll care about. The detailed predictions and breakdowns will come over the course of the year.


    10. Rutgers at Louisville, Nov. 29
    Louisville was this close to being unbeaten and in the national title game, but its lone loss came on a late field goal to Rutgers. This year, the potential is there for the game to be even bigger in the regular season finale. Outside of Rutgers' home date against West Virginia, and Louisville's road game with the Mountaineers, the two will likely be favored against everyone else and with a lot of luck, could each be unbeaten with the Big East title, and a whole bunch more, on the line. Rutgers will be the real deal with the offense and the lines to battle with anyone in the nation, but Louisville appears to be special. It's all there for the Cardinals from future top ten draft pick Brian Brohm to an unstoppable receiving corps to a great defensive line, and then there's the home field advantage winning 19 in a row in Papa John's.
    Predicted score in July: Louisville 38 ... Rutgers 30

    9. USC at California, Nov. 10
    For all the noise made by California after the stunning 34-31 upset of the Trojans in 2003, the program hasn't been able to get over the hump. Oh sure, Jeff Tedford's team has been extremely close, but it needs to start beating the biggest of the big boys, and it needs to win the Pac 10 title. Getting to the BCS for the first time will almost certainly require a win over USC, who's loaded for a national title run. As hyped as the game might be, USC might be coming into Berkeley a bit beaten up after dealing with road games against Notre Dane and Oregon, and a revenge showdown against a very good Oregon State team. Cal will also have a tough road with road games against UCLA and Arizona State before a home date with Washington State. While it's unlikely for both teams to be unbeaten, the winner could all but wrap up the Pac 10 title. That'll be USC, who'll come in on the even keel needed to win a showdown like this. Cal's secondary won't be able to hold up against the USC passing game, but it'll be the Trojan defensive front that controls the game and gets the win.
    Predicted score in July: USC 31 ... California 21

    8. Michigan at Wisconsin, Nov. 10
    Wisconsin might have reestablished itself as a Big Ten powerhouse, and it might have just one fewer win than Michigan over the last five years, but it always seems to get screwed up by the Wolverines when everything is on the line. In the three huge Badger seasons since the 1993 Rose Bowl season, 1998, 1999 and 2006, UW went 33-4, with three of the losses coming to Michigan (the other in a 1999 stunner to Cincinnati). Wisconsin would've played Ohio State for the national title last season if it had come up with a win in Ann Arbor, but a dominant Michigan defensive performance prevented that from happening. Michigan's schedule is light enough to be 10-0 and unbeaten, while Wisconsin will certainly be in the top five, and possibly in the top three, if it's unbeaten here with road wins at Penn State and Ohio State. Despite coming off the trip to Columbus, the Badgers will come up with its revenge for last year's loss with a dominant game from its offensive line, making up for its 2006 fiasco, and a stellar performance from a secondary that'll keep the loaded Michigan receiving corps, specifically Mario Manningham, from breaking things open like last year.
    Predicted score in July: Wisconsin 23 ... Michigan 21

    7. Louisville at West Virginia, Nov. 8
    No longer just the quaint showdown between two good teams, the burgeoning rivalry has taken on national significance for the two new superpowers. Since Louisville joined the league two years ago, the two teams have played classics, with West Virginia winning a multi-overtime 46-44 thriller in 2005, and the Cardinals winning a 44-34 slugfest last year. The key will be health. Mountaineer running back Steve Slaton was dinged up in last year's loss, and while that's not entirely the reason Louisville won, it didn't help. This year, assuming everyone is healthy, West Virginia will hold serve at home with its running game doing just enough to keep Brian Brohm and the high-octane UofL offense off the field. It might be a case of the last team with the ball in its hands getting the wins.
    Predicted score in July: West Virginia 42 ... Louisville 38

    6. USC at Nebraska, Sept. 15
    If Nebraska is ready to make a statement and show that the program is back to being among the elite of the elite, this is the game to do it. Last year, USC beat the Huskers 28-10 with surprising ease, but it seemed like the Nebraska coaching staff left the offensive gameplan in Lincoln. With former Arizona State quarterback Sam Keller likely at the Husker helm, there will be plenty of bombs and plenty of big plays against the best USC defense yet under head coach Pete Carroll. The Trojans will get a warmup game against Idaho before getting two weeks off to prepare, while Nebraska will have played Nevada and at Wake Forest. Nebraska will play well, and the atmosphere will be one of the best anywhere this season, but USC got to be USC by winning games like this. After withstanding an early barrage, and a stunning deficit, the Trojans will coolly and calmly get back into the game early in the fourth quarter, and then the defense will do the rest with two big interceptions of Keller to change things around.
    Predicted score in July: USC 27 ... Nebraska 20

    5. UCLA at USC, Dec. 1
    All USC had to do was beat UCLA in the 2006 regular season finale and it would've played Ohio State for the national title, while Florida would've obliterated Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl. This year's Bruin team is even better, with an experienced, talented offense and a lights-out D that welcomes back ten starters. This is a legitimate top ten team that should make the trip down the road with a chance to win the Pac 10 title with a second straight win over its arch-rival. It won't happen. USC, traditionally, has a funny way of handling UCLA. After the Bruins pushed the Trojans to the wall in a 29-24 loss in 2004, they got obliterated in a Reggie Bush-Heisman sealing 66-19 debacle the following year. After the Trojans scraped by 38-35 in 2000, they won easily 27-0 the following year. After seeing the seven-game winning streak to the Bruins get snapped last year, and after all the inevitable chirping to be done in Westwood throughout the year, USC will take care of business and methodically come up with the win to earn a trip to New Orleans to play for the national title.
    Predicted score in July: USC 31 ... UCLA 13

    4. Ohio State at Michigan, Nov. 17
    It's the best rivalry in all of sports, and it always has a say in the Big Ten title, and last year, the national championship, but this year, until Ohio State proves it can reload on offense, and Michigan can show it has replacements for all the lost defensive stars, the game slips a bit from one of the top spots (although that might quickly change come November). Former Ohio State head coach John Cooper was an unqualified success, but he couldn't get by Michigan enough. Now the burden is on Michigan's Lloyd Carr, who has a national championship on his résumé, and has led the team to three Rose Bowls in the past four years, but he's 3-6 in his last nine games against the Buckeyes and has lost three straight in the series. The slide stops this year. The Buckeye offense will turn out to be fine, but by the end of the season, the Michigan defense will make the bigger strides and will be the difference. Don't expect the Buckeye running game to do much, and don't expect the shootout of last year.
    Predicted score in July: Michigan 24 ... Ohio State 19

    3. Oklahoma vs. Texas, Oct. 6
    The rivalry is back on in a big way. From 2000 to 2004, the question was whether or not Texas, and more specifically, Mack Brown, could beat an OU program that returned to national prominence under Bob Stoops. After a dominant 45-12 spanking in 2005, Texas finally broke the hex, but there was a little bit of a "yeah, but" about it. Yeah, Texas won, but Adrian Peterson was banged up and Brown had Vince Young to carry the team. All Longhorn concerns stopped last year with a 28-10 win, but while Texas won the battle, OU won the war, reeling off six straight wins for the Big 12 title. This year, both teams are loaded with each good enough to win the national title. The Sooners will get Miami in Norman early on, but shouldn't be tested in the other four games and should come in 5-0. Texas will have a nasty landmine in TCU to sidestep, and a revenge date with Kansas State to deal with, but it should also be 5-0. Texas has the quarterback edge and will be stronger in the defensive front seven, but OU will have the far better offensive line and far, far better secondary. The Sooner front five will control the tempo and get the running game going, while the secondary will do a better job on the insanely good Texas receiving corps than the Texas secondary will do on the insanely good OU receiving corps.
    Predicted score in July: Oklahoma 23 ... Texas 17

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