Tom Layberger

Conference Call

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Desert Duel

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

By and large it might be the defenses coming up big in most games involving the ACC and Big East. Hence, I didn’t see anything that stood out as far as a glaring match-up. Not so with the mega-watt Big 12 and a pair of quarterbacks dueling in the desert in a rivalry game.

Big 12

RB Joseph Randle, Oklahoma State at Iowa State (Friday)
While Brandon Weeden can add to his Heisman push, Randle could run wild against a run defense that is allowing more than 200 yards per game on the ground and ranks 104th.

RB Cyrus Gray, Texas A&M vs Kansas
With Christine Michael out for the season, Gray is the main man. Last week against Kansas State was the first game without Michael and Gray had season highs of 30-224. Sure, the numbers were buoyed by the fact the game went 4 OTs. The bottom line is Gray should be busy and effective against an ISU run defense that is next-to-last nationally. The senior needs 49 yards to reach 1,000 for the second straight season.

QB Landry Jones, Oklahoma at Baylor
I know. Jones does not have Robert Broyles to go to. But the quarterback with 3,349 yards and 28 touchdowns has a couple of very good receivers in sophomores Kenny Stills (41-610-8 in seven games) and Jaz Reynolds (32-578-5 also in seven games). What’s more, with a bye last week, Jones has had two weeks to work with these guys as his primary receivers. The Bears are 89th in pass efficiency defense and are allowing nearly 3 TDs per game via the air.

Big Ten
QB Dan Persa, Northwestern vs Minnesota
The Golden Gophers are middle of the pack as far as passing yards allowed with 230, but that’s as good as it gets. They have yielded 21 TD passes with only 3 picks and have allowed opposing QBs to complete nearly 70 percent of their passes. Persa and WR Jeremy Ebert might play catch all day.

Conferece USA
QB G.J. Kinne, Tulsa at UTEP
Kinne has four 300-yard efforts in his last six games, during which he has thrown 15 TD passes and ran for two more scores. The Miners overall have been pretty effective against the pass, but are still allowing 251 yards per game through the air to rank 92nd.    

QB Kriss Proctor, Navy at San Jose State
The Middies’ option attack is second nationally with an average of 320 rushing yards per game. Proctor could pile up the yards on the ground and perhaps with a quick hit or two through the air. The senior has four 100-yard games and 735 rushing yards on the season with 10 TDs.  Proctor also has 684 yards passing and 7 touchdowns. The Spartans are allowing 203 yards per game on the ground and rank 103rd

RB Adonis Thomas, Toledo at Central Michigan (Friday)
After injuries kept him out the first three games of October, the senior returned big time. In the last two games, he had 476 yards rushing with 4 TDs and another 81 yards receiving with a score.  While the Chips have not been that bad against the run, Eastern Michigan and Ohio ran right through them and Thomas could do the same.

RB Chris Polk, Washington at Oregon State
Regardless if Keith Price or Nick Montana is under center against the Beavers, this is a game that the Huskies can win by riding Polk. After being a non-factor against USC last week, Polk is ready to erupt.  He had seven 100-yard games in the Huskies’ first eight before being held to 116 yards the last two weeks. For the record, OSU ranks 86th against the run.

QB Brock Osweiler, Arizona State vs Arizona
Osweiler has thrown for at least 250 yards in all but one game this season and has topped 300 four times. No reason to think he will not have strong numbers against a Wildcats pass defense that is allowing 277 yards per game to place 107th.

QB Nick Foles, Arizona at Arizona State
It should be a shootout in the desert between Foles and Osweiler. ASU does not rank much better (98th) when it comes to passing yards allowed and Foles is fourth in the country with an average of 361 yards per game.

RB Isaiah Crowell, Georgia vs Kentucky
Aaron Murray is on fire for the Dawgs and while the QB may have a strong game against the Wildcats, I like Crowell against a run defense that is allowing nearly 200 yards per game. After serving a one-game suspension, the freshman returned with a vengeance going 24-132-1 in a rout of Auburn last week. Look for his fifth 100-yard game.

RB Zac Stacy, Vanderbilt at Tennessee
Stacy has been busier of late with 81 carries in the last four games and he topped 125 yards in three of them. Stacy needs 109 yards for 1,000 and he is averaging 6.5 yards per tote. You know he and the Commodores, who need a win to become bowl eligible, would love nothing more than to beat the Vols while they are down. Tennessee, by the way, is 68th against the run.

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