Fearless Predictions

SATURDAY'S FEATURED GAME

 
Oklahoma Sooners NCAAA Football Team No. 3 Texas(4-0)
vs. No. 11 Oklahoma (4-0)

Saturday, Noon ET
Line: Oklahoma -9.5
Texas Longhorns NCAA Football Team

With one win in Saturday's Red River Rivalry, Texas can get back to being Texas again.

Rebuilding the Longhorns into a national title superpower appears to be a bit of a process for head coach Mack Brown, fighting through an inconsistent offense and getting through life after defensive coordinator Will Muschamp. But there's no questioning the talent level and there's no question the speed and athleticism are impressive enough to stay with anyone in America. Now the big wins have to start coming, and it starts with trying to beat Oklahoma for the third time in four years.

The Sooners are No. 1 in the only poll that matters — the Coaches Poll — but compared to LSU, Stanford, Wisconsin and Alabama, they've been a little shaky. It's all relative, but the offense sputtered a bit against Florida State, and the defense got a little loose late against Missouri, but those are two strong teams and OU won both games by double digits. The last time the Sooners came up with any sort of a streak in the series was 2000-04, and while putting down the rival is always nice, they have bigger fish to fry. Every game for the Sooners has national title implications this year, but getting by Texas is a key piece to the puzzle.

This is when OU needs to flex a little muscle just to show that it can, but really, it doesn't matter too much at the moment. As long as the Sooners keep winning, they'll finish in the top two and will play for the national title, but with Stanford and Wisconsin nipping, a blowout over Texas would all but end the debate for the time being.

Texas, on the flip side, just needs to win to be in the national title chase. Beating the No. 1 team would instantly put the Longhorns into the top five — and possibly the top three — and with three home games in a row and four in the next five, the expectations would be back to a 2009 level. However, as tough as this week's game is, getting by Oklahoma State next week won't be much easier, and big road games against Missouri, Texas A&M and Baylor are looming, but for now, dealing with OU is enough to worry about.

Why Oklahoma might win: Texas doesn't have the offense to keep up the pace. Life has been better without Garrett Gilbert — the star-crossed wonder-recruit who never found his way and announced Wednesday he'll transfer out of Austin — but it's not like the Longhorn attack is blowing up. The offensive line is playing far better than it did last year, and the running game has found something in freshman star Malcolm Brown, while the passing game is still trying to crank out yards and still trying to find the right mix. The efficiency is there and the big plays are starting to come, but the offense has been steady and consistent over the last two games in good performances against UCLA and Iowa State. Of course, Oklahoma's defense is better than UCLA's and Iowa State's.

Why Texas might win: Special teams, particularly punt returns. This rivalry over the last several years has been defined by big plays in key moments, and sometimes the special teams ends up providing the spark, like they did in the classic 2008 game when Jordan Shipley turned the momentum around with a return for a score on the way to a 45-35 win. Oklahoma was the far better team last year and Texas still battled well and had a chance in a 28-20 loss. The last four games have been fights, and if it comes down to something quirky happening, Texas might be in the better position to catch the break.

What to watch for: The Oklahoma secondary is due to be tested. It was pushed a wee bit by Florida State, and Missouri's James Franklin kept forcing the ball in the loss, and now the Sooners have to hope their secondary is back to normal. Star corner Jamell Fleming has had a decent first part of the season, but he's coming off a concussion, as is safety Aaron Colvin, a good hitter who was out of the Ball State game and is needed to help out on the short to mid-range plays. Can the Texas passing game provide the needed push? Case McCoy was steady against Iowa State, completing 7 of 12 passes for 110 yards, and while he appears to be the long term answer, David Ash has been every bit as strong, completing 7 of 12 for 145 yards and two scores last week.

Prediction:

  Oklahoma 31, Texas 17
Complete Fearless Prediction | GameTrax

NO. 17 FLORIDA AT NO. 1 LSU

 
Florida Gators No. 17 Florida (4-1) at No. 1 LSU (5-0)
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
Line: LSU -14
LSU Tigers

No team in America is playing with more of an attitude than LSU. The Tigers bullied Mississippi State, ran over Oregon and rolled through West Virginia to come up with a terrific résumé, and this could be yet another confidence-builder after going through the motions to beat a bad Kentucky team last week. Oklahoma might be great, Wisconsin might look unstoppable and Alabama has been dominant, but LSU has a true national champion look that only comes from coming up with tremendous road wins and beating an elite team like Oregon. With a pounding running game, a nasty run defense and a secondary that can make a case for being the best unit among any at any position in college football, everything is working. Unlike previous years, this Tiger team isn't getting by with any smoke or mirrors, it's not getting any wacky miracles and it hasn't needed to do anything but line up and be better than everyone else. Florida is one of only two teams left on the schedule with the same talent level — 'Bama being the other — but the Tigers are more mature. At least they have been so far. If LSU plays like it has over the first part of the season, it shouldn't have any problems. This is still Florida, though, and the defense is still good, the speed on offense is still great and the coaching staff is top shelf. The Tigers will have to do more than put on the uniform, and no matter what happens, the SEC and national title picture will get a bit clearer.

Prediction:

  LSU 27, Florida 13
Complete Fearless Prediction | GameTrax

NO. 15 AUBURN AT NO. 10 ARKANSAS

 
Auburn Tigers No. 15 Auburn (4-1) at No. 10 Arkansas (4-1)
Saturday, 7 p.m. ET
Line: Arkansas -10
Arkansas Razorbacks

The 2011 Auburn Tigers are a shadow of the 2010 version, and they might be rebuilding and reloading thanks to a few great recruiting classes, but at 4-1 and 2-0 in conference play, they're still in the discussion. They might not be very good, but they're not boring and they have two nice wins against Mississippi State and South Carolina to show that they might end up having some say in the SEC West. The schedule doesn't ease up with road games at LSU and Georgia still to deal with and home dates against Florida and Alabama, but the bar is set a little bit lower this year and the expectations are reasonable. No, Auburn isn't going to win the West, and it's not going to be in the mix for the national title, but it can be New Year's Day bowl-worthy as one of the league's better teams. It'll take a win over Arkansas to get there. Call this the equalizer for the Hogs. The world jumped off the bandwagon after a 38-14 drubbing from Alabama, but as it turns out, they aren't alone in getting blown away by the Tide. Coming back to beat Texas A&M with a jaw-dropping 510-yard passing day from Tyler Wilson was the momentum-saver, and now it's time to go on a run with winnable road dates at Ole Miss and Vanderbilt up next followed up by three straight home games against South Carolina, Tennessee and Mississippi State. This might not be the Arkansas team everyone was hoping for, but a win this week will all but ensure a terrific bowl bid while keeping West title dreams alive.

Prediction:

  Arkansas 41, Auburn 30
Complete Fearless Prediction | GameTrax

OHIO STATE AT NO. 14 NEBRASKA

 
Ohio State Buckeyes Ohio State (3-2) at No. 14 Nebraska (4-1)
Saturday, 8 p.m. ET
Line: Nebraska -11
Nebraska Cornhuskers

Ohio State and Nebraska are obviously two of the greatest programs in college football history, with legacies and legends that have been part of the very definition of the sport almost since it began. But when it comes to these two superpowers among superpowers playing each other, there's a gaping hole. You'd think they'd have met somewhere at some point in some bowl game. Nope. You'd think they'd have played some epic national title colossus that ranks among the greatest games in the history of time. They came close at times in the 1990s, but no. You'd think they'd have come up with some sort of a regular home-and-home arrangement. Not really. Separated by a not-that-far-in-college-football-world 800 miles — roughly the distance between Minneapolis and Columbus and shorter than a trip from Lincoln to Austin — it's been a college football travesty that the only two times they've played were in the 1955 and 1956 season openers, and both teams sort of stunk then. The Huskers won their first four games by double digits, but they were shaky, while Ohio State should have lost to Toledo, didn't show up against Miami and was miserable against Michigan State. It's a bit of a stretch to suggest that the loser this week is in trouble for a decent bowl bid, but this is probably an elimination game in the Big Ten title chase.

Prediction:

  Nebraska 19, Ohio State 13
Complete Fearless Prediction | GameTrax

NO. 24 TEXAS A&M AT TEXAS TECH

 
Baylor Bears No. 20 Baylor (4-1) at No. 21 Texas A&M (3-2)
on FX

Saturday, Noon ET
Line: Texas A&M -9
Texas A&M Aggies

These teams aren’t out of the Big 12 title chase quite yet, but it'll take something major to take the championship with each already losing a game, and with each still having to deal with Oklahoma. This week, the repercussions in the conference race don't really matter, and for lovers of great defensive play, this will be torturous. For everyone else, welcome to college football eye-candy. Texas A&M has been bombed the past few weeks and is dead last in the nation in pass defense, but it has an offense loaded with as much NFL talent as any team in the country, and can bomb away with anyone. With three road games in the next four, including dates at Oklahoma and Kansas State, coming up with a home win over the Bears is not only expected, it's a must. Everyone has owned Baylor in the Big 12 era, but this is a far better and more explosive Baylor team. Thanks to the play of Robert Griffin, the Bears have been phenomenal with the most efficient passing game in America, and an attack that's third in the nation in yards and fourth in scoring. This is a flawed team, but Griffin is having a special sort of a season to make up for the problems.

Prediction:

  Texas A&M 45, Baylor 31
Complete Fearless Prediction | GameTrax

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