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The first Saturday of October 2014 may go down as one this decade’s finest days in sports. Playoff baseball was beginning to heat up and the college football slate was outstanding, delivering exciting endings -- namely Arizona State’s victory over USC on a hail mary -- and upsets.
Four teams ranked in the top six fell last week, with three of them falling on Saturday. Unranked Arizona defeated No. 2 Oregon in Eugene on Thursday night.
Last weekend’s most notable result was No. 11 Ole Miss defeating No. 3 Alabama 23-17. The Rebels were 0-10 against AP No. 1 teams in their history, but optimism was contagious in Oxford, thanks to quarterback Bo Wallace and an outstanding defense.
The Rebels’ defense delivered on Saturday, holding Alabama’s offense to just 10 points. The Crimson Tide’s other touchdown came on a 13-yard fumble return.
No. 12 Mississippi State knocking off No. 6 Texas A&M was another headliner from last Saturday. The Aggies were coming off a shaky performance against Arkansas the week prior, so the upset shouldn’t have shocked many.
Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott, who is a fast-rising Heisman candidate, accounted for five total touchdowns. Meanwhile, Texas A&M quarterback Kenny Hill continues his inefficient play, turning the ball over three times.
The last of Saturday’s major upsets was No. 25 TCU knocking off No. 4 Oklahoma. The Horned Frogs were in need a signature Big 12 victory. Before last Saturday, since moving to the conference in 2012, TCU was just 6-12 in the conference. Quarterback Trevone Boykin is righting the ship. He has accounted for 1,436 total yards (260 rushing) and 13 touchdowns (three rushing).
The Horned Frogs were at their best when they had Andy Dalton under center complimenting head coach Gary Patterson’s defense. Perhaps they can re-create that situation with Boykin under center.
Write off Alabama, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Texas A&M at your own peril, though. One loss teams routinely appeared in the BCS championship game, so the door remains wide-open for these teams to recover and push for a berth in the four-team playoff.
Last Week: 5-0
Season Record: 25-7
No. 13 Georgia at No. 23 Missouri
Time/TV: 12:00 PM EST Oct. 11, CBS
Prediction: Yesterday news broke that Georgia suspended running back Todd Gurley indefinitely for violating NCAA rules. Losing Gurley for an extended period or the entire season is a major setback for the Bulldogs, who many feel could reach the SEC championship. The only blemish on Missouri’s record is their loss at Indiana. The Hoosiers did an outstanding job running the football against them, rushing for 241 yards. Missouri played South Carolina the following week, and did a fine job of holding the Gamecocks to 119 rushing yards. Missouri’s defense should have an easier job duplicating the South Carolina result with Gurley out.
Missouri 27 Georgia 17
No. 2 Auburn at No. 3 Mississippi State
Time/TV: 3:30 PM EST Oct. 11, CBS
Prediction: Auburn’s victory over LSU is similar to Alabama’s victory over Florida on September 20. The victories seem bigger than they are because of the reputation of LSU and Florida. Don’t take the bait. A victory over Florida or even LSU isn’t as significant as it was a few years ago. We found that out when Alabama fell to Ole Miss last week. Auburn’s 20-14 victory against Kansas State is the game I look at when examining their season. The Wildcats played them well, but several of their drives stalled in Auburn territory, and they failed to connect on several field goals. Mississippi State won’t have that problem on Saturday, as drives don’t stall with Prescott under center. The Bulldogs will finish their drives, beat Auburn, and Prescott will ascend to the No. 1 spot in this week’s Heisman Watch.
Mississippi State 41 Auburn 27
No. 9 TCU at No. 5 Baylor
Time/TV: 3:30 PM EST Oct. 11, ABC
Prediction: Despite their 28-7 victory, Baylor's offense struggled against Texas last week. Quarterback Bryce Petty completed just 24 percent of his passes, as Texas confused him with a number of different looks. Petty goes from facing one creative defensive mind (Charlie Strong) to facing another (Gary Patterson). TCU will also throw unique looks his way. Additionally, the Horned Frogs have a better offense than Texas does, so Petty needs to play better. I think he will.
Baylor 38 TCU 30
No. 12 Oregon at No. 18 UCLA
Time/TV: 3:30 PM EST OCT 11, FOX
Prediction: Perhaps no 2014 regular-season game will have more NFL scouts in attendance than this week’s tilt between Oregon and UCLA. Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota and UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley both have the potential to go in the top 10 of next year’s draft. Oregon’s defense -- which has looked pitiful in back-to-back games -- needs to pressure Hundley into making mistakes. Hundley will carve them up if he has enough time in the pocket. While the Ducks pass rush isn’t great, UCLA’s offensive line is even worse.
Oregon 37 UCLA 30
No. 3 Ole Miss at No. 14 Texas A&M
Time/TV: 9:00 PM EST Oct. 11, ESPN
Prediction: After an impressive start to the season, Hill has come back to earth. He's turned the ball over in three consecutive games. He did have a big passing day against Mississippi State, but much of his production came in garbage time. He needs a bounce-back performance against arguably the best defense in the SEC. Ole Miss, who is riding a wave of emotion following Saturday’s upset over Alabama, faces a potential letdown against the Aggies. The Rebels won’t play this game with the same kind of fire they had against Alabama. The Aggies also need this game more, so all the emotion will be on their side. They’ll get the job done at home as long as Hill doesn’t turn the ball over.
Texas A&M 27 Ole Miss 21