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Friday, September 27, 2013

Week 5 Saturday Preview: The 3:30-6:30 games

An EPA-centric preview of every game this weekend.  To find out more about Expected Points Added, click here.

#6 LSU (4-0) at #9 Georgia (2-1), 3:30, CBS

LSU rush O (.17) vs. UGA rush D (-.006)
LSU pass O (.59) vs. UGA pass D (.185)
UGA rush O (.08) vs. LSU rush D (-.011)
UGA pass O (.61) vs. LSU pass D (-.081)
Zach Mettenberger indeed has been much better this season, and it seems that's the national story of the week.  As good as he's been, Aaron Murray has been better, with slightly better per-play stats against considerably better competition.  Murray always seems to thrive out of the spotlight, and despite his elite level of play so far, that's exactly where he finds himself in the days leading up to this game.  LSU's defense has hardly proven to be elite, registering as slightly above average against underwhelming competition so far.  While EPA suggests LSU will have a clear mismatch when throwing the ball, adjusting for opponent suggests it might not be as much of an advantage as it seems.  Georgia has already faced two teams that could very well be better than LSU this year.  LSU hasn't faced anything comparable to Georgia, and they're on the road.  Am I predicting a Georgia win?  I'm not predicting anything either way.  I've simply noticed a disproportionate number of analysts taking the Tigers in what should be a close, exciting game.   
Player to watch: Georgia QB Aaron Murray (53.5 EPA) ranks 2nd in the country in opponent-adjusted EPA.

UTEP (1-2) at Colorado State (1-3) - I like the Rams in this one, mostly due to UTEP being bad at defense this year.

#14 Oklahoma (3-0) at #22 Notre Dame (3-1), 3:30, NBC

OU rush O (.17) vs. ND rush D (-.029)
OU pass O (.07) vs. ND pass D (-.010)
ND rush O (-.10) vs. OU rush D (-.136)
ND pass O (.14) vs. OU pass D (-.211)
The Oklahoma defense has been very effective this year, and coupled with a somewhat balanced offense, the Sooners should have the advantage in this game.  It's a premier matchup between two storied programs.  This is what all non-conference games should be.
Player to watch: Oklahoma QB Blake Bell (31.3 EPA) ranks 9th nationally in opponent-adjusted EPA per pass.

#8 Florida State (3-0) at Boston College (2-1), 3:30, ABC/ESPN2

FSU rush O (.39) vs. BC rush D (.033)
FSU pass O (.59) vs. BC pass D (-.006)
BC rush O (-.08) vs. FSU rush D (-.041)
BC pass O (.01) vs. FSU pass D (-.354)
I'm surprised this game gets a national billing, as FSU seems poised for a blowout victory.  There's not a facet of the game where I expect the Eagles to get the upper hand.
Player to watch: Florida State QB Jameis Winston (51.5 EPA) ranks 7th in opponent-adjusted passing EPA.

Iowa (3-1) at Minnesota (4-0), 3:30, ABC/ESPN2

Iowa rush O (.05) vs. Minn rush D (-.173)
Iowa pass O (.06) vs. Minn pass D (.125)
Minn rush O (.28) vs. Iowa rush D (-.217)
Minn pass O (.00) vs. Iowa pass D (-.172)
Last week, I promised that I'd be a Gopher believer if they handled San Jose State.  They did, and now I am.  Unfortunately, I'm going to pick Iowa to win.  The Hawkeyes are more battle tested and their defense is pretty superior to Minnesota's.  However, the Gophers are improved yet again under Jerry Kill, and if they took home Floyd of Rosedale for the second straight year, it would be only a mild surprise.
Player to watch: Minnesota RB David Cobb (14.9 EPA) is 23rd in rushing EPA.

Central Michigan (1-3) at NC State (2-1) - NC State will win, but they haven't been quite right on offense since Brandon Mitchell's injury.

Wake Forest (2-2) at #3 Clemson (3-0), 3:30, ESPNU

Wake rush O (-.14) vs. Clemson rush D (-.011)
Wake pass O (.00) vs. Clemson pass D (-.020)
Clemson rush O (.06) vs. Wake rush D (-.122)
Clemson pass O (.22) vs. Wake pass D (-.158)
Clemson is in the top 5, and now it seems everyone is just playing the waiting game - waiting for Clemson to Clemson.  I don't think this game is likely to be that game, as Wake's offense is unlikely to keep up with Clemson's.  Despite superior defensive stats, I'm not entirely sure Wake's defense is all that better.  They haven't played Georgia or anyone on par with Georgia.  Clemson should win easily.  Unless they Clemson, of course.
Player to watch: Wake Forest WR Michael Campanaro (32.1 EPA) is 10th nationally in opponent-adjusted receiving EPA.

Connecticut (0-3) at Buffalo (1-2) - Which is worse for Connecticut?  Having to play a road game at Buffalo or having to consider that road game a must-win?

Army (1-3) at Louisiana Tech (1-3) - This is the Fox Sports 1 3:30 game, but did it really deserve a detailed analysis?  I can only presume that Fox allowed Terry Bradshaw to pick one game for the new channel to air, and he chose one of the few games his alma mater might win this year.

Houston (3-0) at UTSA (2-2) - Houston is 3-0 thanks to a terrible schedule and some not terrible run defense.  I expect I'll type the same thing next week, but with 4-0 as the record of note.

Temple (0-3) at Idaho (0-4) - Even though it's still September, matchups between winless teams feel notable.  Temple should find the W column.

Albany (1-3) at Old Dominion (2-2) - In the four games that Old Dominion has participated in since joining FBS, 359 points have been scored.

#21 Ole Miss (3-0) at #1 Alabama (3-0), 6:30, ESPN

Ole Miss rush O (.33) vs. Bama rush D (-.123)
Ole Miss pass O (.03) vs. Bama pass D (-.033)
Bama rush O (.05) vs. Ole Miss rush D (-.146)
Bama pass O (.26) vs. Ole Miss pass D (.154)
It seems almost trendy right now to pick Alabama to lose.  This year's iteration hasn't been nearly as impressive as the last two, and they do give off the vibe that they will fall at some point along the schedule.  After all, the last two championship teams couldn't make it through their schedule unfazed - why should this flawed one?  However, I don't think Ole Miss is the team to do that, and it boils down to matchups.  Ole Miss strength is running the ball, which doesn't exploit the closest thing Alabama has to a weakness on defense - an average pass defense.  Alabama's offensive strength is the passing game, however, and that directly exploits what has been a weakness for the Rebels - a very subpar pass D.  As much fun as it'd be to see an upset of Bama, I don't think this is the week we will.
Player to watch: Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace (32.1 EPA)

Brent Blackwell compiles the EPA rankings for  Follow Brent on Twitter by mashing the pretty button below.

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