It’s another Wednesday, meaning that it’s time for another edition of “The Crystal Ball,” our week-by-week look ahead at how the 2012 college football season is going to shake out.
Last week the Crystal Ball spit out four winners for us, as Washington shocked Stanford in a Thursday night showdown, Georgia put a damper on Tennessee’s SEC East title hopes (as well as added some heat to Derek Dooley’s contentious job status) Michigan State beat Ohio State and Texas held on against Oklahoma State.
So what’s in store for Week 6? Let’s take a look:
Saturday, October 5: Georgia at South Carolina
Of all the unfortunate quirks of college football realignment, few have more frustrating to fans than re-shuffled schedules. That’s also why a Week 2 staple- Georgia and South Carolina- has now been bumped to Week 6 and early October… much to the disappointment of Steve Spurrier. That’s right, Georgia is coming to town, and they’re coming without a single player still on suspension. Bummer!
But once they do get to Billy Brice Stadium though, things don’t go as expected. The ‘Dawgs are plenty worn down from an emotional win over Tennessee in Week 5, while South Carolina will be rested and ready after a relatively weak early season schedule. Look for Connor Shaw to have a breakout game- the Crystal Ball tells us two passing touchdowns and a one rushing for Shaw- and for the Gamecocks defensive line to go hard after Aaron Murray. With no established running back able to open things up, South Carolina unleashes Jadeveon Clowney on Georgia, and he finishes the afternoon with three tackles for loss and a sack.
South Carolina has gotten the better of Georgia two years in a row now. And on October 5, it becomes three.
South Carolina 24, Georgia 13
Saturday, October 5: Florida State at NC State
The Crystal Ball has already told us that Florida State survived their Week 4 showdown with Clemson, meaning that at first glance it should be smooth sailing straight up until their November trip to Virginia Tech. Unfortunately, looks can be deceiving, and the Seminoles are going to have a battle on their hands when they visit NC State in Raleigh. As a matter of fact, with the Noles undefeated and NC State at 4-1, the Crystal Ball is also telling us that College Gameday will be on-site for the occasion as well.
Unfortunately, even Chris, Kirk, Lee, Desmond and fill-in-the-blank-female-sideline-reporter can’t bring any magic to a listless NC State offense on this particular evening. As good as Mike Glennon has been so far in 2012 (and as we speak, he’s in the running for ACC Player of the Year), he simply has yet to see a defense like Florida State’s. An overwhelming front from harasses Glennon all day, and a late Xavier Rhodes interception return for a touchdown seals things in the fourth quarter.
E.J. Manuel and the offense aren’t great, but on this night they don’t have to be. The Noles take down the Pack.
Florida State 24, NC State 6
Saturday, October 5: LSU at Florida
Heading back to the SEC, we’ve got to ask the question: After getting Brad Wing-ed a year ago on the Bayou, will the Florida Gators have revenge on their mind when they host No. 2 ranked LSU? Frankly, they better, as the Crystal Ball has already tipped us off to two early season losses for the Gators; in Week 2 at Texas A&M and the following Saturday when they were Rocky Topped by Tennessee.
Thankfully Will Muschamp’s boys have a bye week before LSU comes to town, and in the first two quarters of this showdown, it’s clear they’ve taken advantage. The Gators even give LSU a taste of their own trick-play medicine, when Florida takes the lead on a Jacoby Brissett touchdown catch right before halftime.
All is well in the Swamp… at least until the second half, when LSU simply does what they do every week. It starts on offense, where they overwhelm and wear down the Florida front (it’s a particularly big day for Alfred Blue) and on defense, they slowly strangle the life out of a still very young and very limited group of Gators. A late Tyrann Mathieu interception return for a touchdown (apparently, it’s “The Day of the Pick-Six”) seals the deal.
LSU stays undefeated, as another loss gets piled onto Will Muschamp’s all-of-a-sudden hot-seatish resume.
LSU 24, Florida 13
Saturday, October 5: Miami vs. Notre Dame (Soldier Field, Chicago), 7:30 p.m. NBC
“Catholics vs. Convicts” it is not, but Miami and Notre Dame provides a plenty fascinating cross-sectional and cross-cultural matchup to close out Week 6. And while no one will ever mistake this for the classic matchups of the late 1980’s, the 2012 version proves to be hotly contested and surprisingly competitive throughout.
Early on the edge goes to Miami, as The U gets a big first half from true freshman running back Duke Johnson. The speed of Johnson- a five star 2012 recruit from Miami- proves to be too much, as an early second quarter touchdown run gives the U the lead, and Notre Dame’s defense gasping for air. In addition, Miami’s young defense holds up surprisingly well against a Notre Dame offense that just put up 35 points on a fantastic Michigan team a few weeks earlier.
But in the end, Notre Dame’s depth and experience prove to be too much for Miami. The Irish get a big evening from the passing game as quarterback… well, crap, even the Crystal Ball doesn’t know who Notre Dame’s quarterback will be by Week 6, tosses a couple third quarter touchdown passes. And when the young Hurricanes backs can’t hold onto to the ball in the cold, wet Chicago night, the Irish are able to capitalize. A Manti T’eo fumble recovery in the early fourth leads to a field goal which ends up as the icing on a Notre Dame victory.
Another week, and another close Notre Dame win. Maybe this Brian Kelly guy knows what he’s doing after all.
Notre Dame 30, Miami 21
For all his insight, analysis and opinion on college football, be sure to follow Aaron on Twitter @Aaron_Torres.