It may not be the most illustrious game on the docket today, but it could be the most prestigious. #13 Stanford heads in to Washington sitting at 6-1 record while Washington has struggled to stay above .500. But that is not the intrigue of this game. Eyes will be focused on both starting quarterbacks, Andrew Luck and Jake Locker as this has all the makings of a heavy-weight title fight. Both quarterbacks are considered to be top NFL prospects at their respective positions. Highlighted below are both quarterbacks statistics thus far...
Andrew Luck (6'4", 235 LBS - Junior)
Completion Percentage: 66.5%
Longest: 81 Yards
Jake Locker (6'3", 230 LBS - Senior)
Completion Percentage: 56.5%
Longest: 57 Yards
It seems pretty clear that Luck has Locker in just about every statistical category. Some folks have gone on to speculate that Locker doesn't have the same supporting cast that Luck has at Stanford. Whether that's true or not is irrelevant. If you look at the mechanics, accuracy and moxie of both quarterbacks, it seems that Luck would have the edge there as well. While Locker is sometimes quick to jump out of the pocket and run before he has to, Luck studies the field before he instinctually makes any moves. Locker is however, the better all around athlete of the two and can flat out fly when need be. Do not be surprised if he breaks off one or two touchdowns, or long runs using his legs. Since the game is being played on Washington's home turf, this one should be very intriguing even if it winds up being a one-sided game. Heading in to the season, these two, amongst most pundits were considered to be the top two at their position. We will see today how accurate those estimations were. The game will kickoff at 7pm EST.
There is a few more interesting matchups this afternoon that will be highlighted after the jump.
Another one bites the dust...and another one, and another one, and anoth... well you get the point; that has been the theme for the last few weeks. The #1 ranked Sooners bit the dust last week against the Missouri Tigers who just flat out played a better, smarter game. That marked the third straight week that an unbeaten #1 has gone down following Alabama's loss to the Gamecocks in week 6 and Ohio State's loss to Wisconsin in week 7. As far as the BCS is concerened, Auburn is now ranked #1 in the nation although it seems as though Oregon has earned the right to that spot. Ole Miss may have what it takes to upset another #1 this week as they take on Cam Newton and the rest of the Tigers though. Is it possible? If the theme continues, the last three weeks would suggest, "yes" to that.
TODAY'S BIG MATCHUPS
#5 Michigan State vs. #18 Iowa
Besides Stanford at Washington, this could be the most anticipated game of the week. There will be two more very talented quarterbacks in this one. Kirk Cousins and Ricky Stanzi are regarded pretty high up on most boards to date. Cousins has exceeded most peoples expectations this year. He has been supported by a very solid ground game which has, and will continue to take some of the load off. The defense has had it's ups and downs but Greg Jones may be able to rally the troops just enough to eek out the win. Cornerback Chris Rucker, who was pulled over recently on suspicion of a DUI traveled to Iowa with the team this week; it's uncertain if he will suit up yet but I suspect he will. Ricky Stanzi has had the support of his running backs as well and has made it easier for the Senior quarterback to focus on making good plays. His big play guy Marvin McNutt will have to play above par if they want to smooth sail over the Spartans. The defense will be led by Adrian Clayborn and Tyler Sash, both of which are regarded as top pro prospects to enter the draft next year.
#6 Missouri vs. #14 Nebraska
Missouri quarterback, Blaine Gabbert bumped his draft stock up quite a bit last week with a moving performance against a stout Sooners defense. If he can string together another solid game against a defense like Nebraska's, he will indefinitely rise in to the top five prospects at the quarterback position; possibly even supassing Jake Locker and Ryan Mallett for the number two overall spot behind Luck depending on how well he does. I won't get too far ahead of myself but I have really liked what I've seen from the 6'5", 235 LB Junior quarterback. Who knows, he may even stay another year to try and earn a top-two spot for the 2012 NFL Draft. Either way, he's played great football in games that have counted up to this point. Nebraska has it's own talent at the quarterback position as well and has seemed to emerge out of nowhere. Taylor Martinez has grown up in a hurry and has proved to have big-time playmaker ability. We could be looking at the next Michael Vick potentially. It will be interesting to say the least to see how this one pans out. There's no shortage of pro-caliber-talent in this game today.
#1 Auburn vs. Mississippi
Cam Newton...ahhhh...the joys of a running back playing the quarterback position.
All jokes aside, Newton is an incredible athlete with a not-so-great work ethic ala Jamarcus Russell. He rely's solely on his athletic ability to get him by week to week and so far it's worked because it's looking more and more like he is the front runner for the Heisman Trophy. LaMichael James and Denard Robinson are there breathing down his neck though. With 6 more weeks left in the season, it still may be too early to call. The Tigers should not overlook the Rebels in this one because even though Jermiah Masoli has had a rough road this year following everything that happened while he was at Oregon, he is still a gamer. Mississippi is ranked 19th in the nation in rushing, so we should see no shortage of running the ball on both sides today. Who's front seven is ready for the challenge? And will we see another unbeaten #1 ranked team bite the dust once again in week 9 in this SEC showdown? Does Auburn really deserve the #1 spot? All these questions will be answered by the end of the day.
#13 Stanford vs. Washington
As highlighted above, this game may be bigger than Stanford vs. Washington this evening. Andrew Luck vs. Jake Locker will hold most of the focus. It's quite possible that Sarkisian can coach his way past Stanford but last year when these two met, Stanford upset the then #24 ranked Washington Huskies. However, it was all Toby Gerhart as he ran for 200 yards on a less than stellar Huskie defense and Andrew Luck only went 7 for 14 with 103 yards. Jake Locker didn't have the best game either as his completion percentage was barely above 50%. He had 2 interceptions and only 1 touchdown pass in the loss. I suspect that the numbers for both QB's will be much improved as a lot more is riding on both their shoulders this year. Every move by both these guys will be watched with an eagle eye. Plenty of pro scouts will be in attendance for what could turn out to be a barn burner.
#2 Oregon vs. USC
Oregon may just have too much fire power on offense for the Trojans to keep up. Matt Barkley will have to have a spectacular, nearly flawless game just to stay on pace. Running back, LaMichael James is considered to be a top 5 Heisman candidate and rightfully so. When this kid puts the pads on, he turns in to bolt of lightning with thunder that follows. There is no question (barring major injury of course), that this young phenom will be playing for a long time on Sunday's. Darron Thomas is just as exciting to watch for the Ducks as James. Together they create enormous headaches for opposing defensive coordinators to game plan for. Southern Cal has been getting better and better each week on the defensive side of the ball but they could just be outmatched in this one. But do not be surprised if somehow, someway they pull off the miracle in the always mystical Los Angeles Colesium this evening.
Well that does it for Week 9... enjoy the games today!