Tom Layberger

Conference Call

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Matchups or mismatches?

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

There are reasons why the game is played. On paper, a running back may appear to be in for a career-type game against a defense that struggles to slow the ground game. Many times, however, it doesn’t work out that way. None of the matchups below may work out either, but many appear pretty juicy heading into the sixth week of the college football season.

Orwin Smith RB, Georgia Tech vs Maryland
The Yellow Jackets lead the nation with 378 yards per game on the ground. Smith is leading the way with 423 yards on the season and a ridiculous 15.1 yards per carry in Paul Johnson’s thrilling option attack. In their last game against a FBS opponent, the Terps were gashed by Temple’s Bernard Pierce and enter this game 90th against the run. (Averaging better than 18 yards per touch, Smith is also a threat receiving and returning kicks.)

Tajh Boyd QB, Clemson vs Boston College
The BC pass defense is allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete nearly 70 percent of their passes -- and have to go against Boyd at Clemson.

Big 12
Brandon Weeden QB, Oklahoma State vs Kansas
The Cowboys are third nationally with an average of 572 yards per game. The Jayhawks are 119th allowing 545 yards per game. With respect to Weeden, the senior is averaging 398 yards passing while the KU pass defense not only ranks 108th yielding 293 yards, but the unit has allowed 9 TD passes with only one interception in four games.

Christine Mitchell/Cyrus Gray RB, Texas A&M at Texas Tech
Take your pick. Mitchell announced his arrival against Arkansas with 32-230-3 and Gray is the veteran who recently had a streak of nine 100-yard games snapped. The Red Raiders are allowing 229 yards per game on the ground to rank 117th.

Big East
Geno Smith QB, West Virginia vs Connecticut
The Huskies allowed Western Michigan’s Alex Carder to throw for 479 and 5 TDs last week. You think Smith, fifth nationally in passing yards per game with 382, is licking his chops?

Big Ten
Nathan Scheelhaase QB, Illinois at Indiana
The sophomore QB might get it done through the air and on the ground against the Hoosiers. Indiana is allowing 190 yards per game on the ground to rank 97th, so it could be a field day for Illinois, which has four rushers with more than 200 yards. Among them is Scheelhaasse, who could be in for a big day all-around. (I know, Penn State could only muster 16 points against IU last week. But the Nittany Lions moved the ball well.)

Bernard Pierce RB, Temple at Ball State
The Owls are mad that they followed a rout of Maryland with a poor outing at home against Toledo. Somebody will pay and it will likely be a BSU run defense that ranks 110th. Pierce ran for 125 yards and 2 TDs against the Cardinals in 2009.

Nick Foles QB, Arizona OR Sean Mannion QB, Oregon State
It might be an all-out aerial assault in Corvallis. Foles is the only bright spot in a dismal first five weeks for the Wildcats. His 1,877 yards passing rank second nationally and he will go against a Beaver defense that is allowing opposing QBs to complete two-thirds of their passes. Mannion, Oregon State’s new starting QB, will face a UA defense that is 110th against the pass. He did throw 4 INTs last week against Arizona State, but has shown promise and facing Arizona could provide a confidence boost.

Marcus Lattimore RB, South Carolina vs Kentucky
After five games, Lattimore is the leading rusher in the SEC and fifth nationally. The Wildcats run defense ranks 100th, allowing a little under 200 yards per game. After being surprisingly bottled up by Auburn (17-66) last week, Lattimore will want to hit the century mark by the half.

Vick Ballard RB, Mississippi State at UAB
After erupting in the first two weeks for a combined 301 yards against Memphis and Auburn, Ballard has been held to 129 yards the past three weeks, including just 8-23 against Georgia. That will likely change against a Blazers’ rush defense that ranks 115th.

Kellen Moore QB, Boise State at Fresno State
Moore has played 44 games and last week’s win against Nevada was the first time he threw for less than 200 yards AND was picked more than once. You think he’s hungry to turn the tables? The Bulldogs’ pass defense has been solid and ranks 46th nationally. But the unit has not faced any marquee QBs.

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