By Taylor Sturm @TSturmRS on September 4, 2014
In perhaps the biggest matchup of the early 2014 college football season, the No. 7 Michigan State Spartans will travel to Eugene, OR, to face the No. 3 Oregon Ducks on Saturday. The Ducks are desperate to prove that they are legitimate national championship contenders, while the Spartans are hoping to stay undefeated for a run to the playoffs. Here are five bold predictions for the first top 10 matchup of the season.
Whether it’s an early pick or a few ill-advised runs, Mariota will come into this game a little shaky. He’s one of the top quarterbacks in college football, but his first real test of 2014 is against perhaps the best defensive team in the country. Expect some early-season jitters as Mariota feels weight of the national title expectations from his home crowd.
Marshall is an athletic freak. He’s an explosive running back who can also catch the football. Todd Gurley may be the favorite for Heisman, but with Oregon facing some easy wins down the road, a big game against Michigan State would mean that Marshall immediately jumps into at least the top 10 Heisman candidates moving forward.
Neither team has shown much in their first games, but each team’s staple was on display. The Spartans’ defense and the Ducks’ offense are considered elite in college football, but the Ducks’ defense is far more adept than most people think. Strong tackling is a necessity if Oregon is to hold off the upset bid.
As much as I like the Spartans to win the Big Ten, Oregon is far too talented offensively to be held in check for the entire game. Expect a close game, but the Ducks will to pull away in the fourth quarter on a huge play.
Unfortunately, with Michigan State predicted to lose to Oregon, there won't a team in the Big Ten talented enough to go undefeated, which means that it will likely be Oklahoma or Baylor from the Big 12 keeping the Big Ten out of the playoffs.
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