Found October 20, 2011 on isportsweb.com:

Suspensions due to not passing drug tests? At a major university?? I’m shocked, I tell you…shocked.

Yep…and almost immediately the line started dropping for LSU, the nation’s No. 1 team heading into this weekend’s slate of games. Will Auburn capitalize? Lots of folks think they will…oh, they probably won’t win the game, but if you got in early enough, you already have a 22.5 or 23.5 point lead…so maybe that will do it…That, and a couple of big rivalry games headline this week in college football.  SO…instead of my usual Top Five Games, I present my Top Seven Games this week!

Here are the top seven college football games to watch this weekend:

1. Oklahoma State at Missouri (Noon, FX) - Will OK State’s 28-year-old QB Brandon Weeden (above) continue putting up huge numbers against the Big 12 conference…or will Mizzou pull the shocker and upset the Pokes? I don’t think my Alma Mater can keep up with Weeden and his passing attack…but I think they will do better than they did against Oklahoma. The Pokes are 2nd in the nation in offense, but a porous 100th in defense…and this is where Mizzou can hurt them. The Tigers are 13th in offense, averaging 35.5 PPG and are 31st in defense. Lots of people are waiting for Oklahoma State to have that one bad game that they end up losing when not expected to…this could be it. But, I don’t think Missouri has enough to be that team…but they can keep it close.

MISSOURI +6-1/2.

2. Kansas State at Kansas (Noon) - The Sunflower Showdown (weak name…) features a solid favorite (KSU) and if you know me, I’m not going to pick Kansas…ever. The line has not moved from the opening point (-11) and I just cannot see a reason to think KU will cover this week.

KANSAS STATE -11.

3. Nebraska at Minnesota (3:30 p.m.) - I said I would pick Minnesota’s next opponent no matter the spread…and I am doing so. The Huskers will dominate both sides of the line against the Gophers. In fact, Minne’s lack of physical play has killed them this year. Taylor Martinez (above) should have a great day in the beautiful Twin Cities area on Saturday.

NEBRASKA -24-1/2.

4. Oregon at Colorado (3:30 p.m.) – Another huge (-30-1/2) favorite, Oregon is just one of those teams that has such a strong offense that their defense is almost not important (See: Oklahoma State). The Ducks look like they will have QB Darron Thomas (above) back for this one in Boulder. The No. 5 ranked offense in the country averages 48.7 PPG. The Buffaloes are ranked 86th and give up 36 PPG. I think the line is huge…but I think the Ducks are still trying to get style points just in case some teams ahead of them nationally lose. Still, probably won’t be enough to go beyond the Rose Bowl this year because of the opening loss to LSU.

OREGON -30-1/2.

5. Auburn at LSU (3:30 p.m., CBS) – Because of the suspensions of at least three LSU players earlier this week due to failed drug tests, the line for this game has moved …but not as much as many people thought. I have seen both teams play nearly every week this season and yet, I keep getting asked, “How can Auburn keep winning?” Simple…their opponents have not been that good. South Carolina and Florida are the two best teams Auburn has beaten while the best team they have faced, Clemson, handed them a 14-point defeat. LSU, on the other hand, has beaten Oregon and West Virginia, two teams that should win the Pac-12 and Big East conferences. Saturday, Auburn goes to Baton Rouge, with a quarterback who has never played there before…going up against the nation’s 7th ranked defense…one that yields just 11.7 PPG…and that’s where the mismatch occurs. They rank 86th on offense…and they will be hard-pressed to do much when they have the ball. Yes, I know, running back Spencer Ware and Tyrann Mathieu, their big-play defensive specialist will not play. But I don’t think Auburn can take advantage of Mathieu’s absence…and he is the key person suspended. I think LSU rallies and gets outstanding team play this week.

LSU -21.

6. USC at Notre Dame (7:30 p.m., NBC) – It won’t be for the national title, but an old rivalry game like this can make or break someone’s season. Notre Dame has secondary issues that Michigan State exploited earlier this year. USC meanwhile, is giving up 271.7 yards passing per game…105th in the nation. The Irish have not had a turnover in their last two games. Tommy Rees and receiver Michael Floyd will move the ball for Notre Dame. On the other side, the Trojans’ Matt Barkley is a good passer. He and Robert Woods can make plays. I love Irish Coach Brian Kelley and have followed his career from the time he was at Grand Valley State and winning national titles in D-II. He has been a winner there, at Central Michigan, at Cincinnati and now at Notre Dame. He is a masterful recruiter and there will be 25-plus recruits (for both teams) at this game I have been told by an ND insider. I think Notre Dame will win this game…but Southern Cal covers the spread.

USC +8-1/2

Wisconsin QB Russell Wilson made an easy transition from NC State to the Big Ten and a possibly the Heisman Awards ceremony.

7. Wisconsin at Michigan State (8:00 p.m., ESPN) – This is the one we have been waiting for. Russell Wilson will need to have an outstanding game if the Badgers want to contend not only for the Big Ten title, but nationally, for an outside shot at the BCS…but they need a lot of help to get there. Can Sparty win this game? Yes…and here’s how: 1: They need to stop the run…and their defense has done just that all season. 2: They need to keep Wilson, who leads the nation in pass efficiency (210.94), completes 74.2% of his passes and averages 12.2 yards per attempt (and also averages 7.6 yards per rush), in check. Treat him like a drop-back quarterback and get pressure on him…when he tries to run, that’s where you must stop him. 3: Don’t give up many big pass plays. Sounds simple enough…but remember, Wisconsin’s offensive line averages around 327 pounds…give or take a Big Mac or three…and they make huge holes for their running attack, headed by Montee Ball. I think Wisconsin, with Wilson making a big Heisman bid, pulls this one out…but it will be close.

MICHIGAN STATE +8

I will be back with my Top Five Things I Learned About College Football (Week 8) on Monday!

THE BACKYARD
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