Week Five Preview
In honor of week five here are five random (non-SEC) games that you should look forward to this weekend:
5. Stanford at Washington (Thursday, 9:00 PM): The Stanford Cardinal is/are the best college football team in America according to several computer polls that will factor into the BCS Poll beginning October 14th. There are two reasons for this: 1. Stanford’s proximity to Silicon Valley – a.k.a. the motherland for computers and the nerds that operate them, and 2. The fact that Stanford’s three opponents (San Jose State, Duke and USC) are 9-0 outside of their losses to the Cardinal. Now, you and I both know that San Jose State and Duke are garbage teams and that USC has been tried once and defeated once. But, computers don’t know that. You and I can see that Stanford is a good team and might be a very good team, but the Luck-less squad is not great and is a long way from the best. But, computers can’t see that. In the spirit of all that is right with college football (the SEC) we all need to start rooting for losses by 8th ranked (in real polls) Stanford, and that starts tonight against the Washington Huskies. Is a loss likely for the trees? No, probably not. But it seems like every year there is a cute little Thursday night upset in the Pac-12 (remember Jacquizz Rodgers and Oregon State over USC in 2008?). I’d like it to be tonight.
I love Stanford!!!
4. Ohio State at Michigan State (Saturday, 3:30 PM): Ohio State / Michigan State is the new Ohio State / Michigan. The Buckeyes have had a good time whooping up on their non-conference schedule (Miami OH, UCF, Cal and UAB) and now head into a stretch of eight straight Big 10 games. The Spartans meanwhile have already defeated a ranked Boise State squad and lost to a Notre Dame team that may or may not actually be good. These two teams are very much the class of the Big 10 and may square off again in the conference championship game. The winner starts paving the way to a BCS Bowl.
3. Texas at Oklahoma State (Saturday, 7:50 PM): This game may not actually have the legs I want it to, but here is why it intrigues me. Oklahoma State boasts the nation’s most explosive offense at over 62 points per game. And yet, the Cowboys have a blemished record thanks to a loss to Arizona. The Cowboys will square off against a Texas defense that is only allowing 16 points per game. And yet, the Longhorns gave up 31 to an Ole Miss team that scored fewer points against UTEP. The paper shows the Longhorns as the better team (ranked 14th in the nation), but this is a classic example of two teams who have played two very different schedules early on and are being evaluated on different levels. I’m not saying that Texas isn’t the 14th best team in the land or that Oklahoma State is better, I’m simply saying that from where I sit anything could happen in this game. And, with the season still developing a win by the Cowboys over the Cows could vault OK State into the top-25 and drop Texas out. There is a lot of volatility in this game.
2. Middle Tennessee at Georgia Tech (Saturday, 12:00 PM): If you want to believe in some really crazy upset on Saturday, this might be your best bet. Georgia Tech has lost two heart-breaking overtime games to Virginia Tech and Miami already this season and thus all but eliminated themselves from ACC contention. Their dire circumstances and the emotional toll that put the Jackets in this position could very well vest itself in the form of a lackluster day for Paul Johnson’s squad. MTSU meanwhile comes in with a competent QB (156.7 QB rating) and a balanced rushing attack to take on a Tech defense that can only occasionally stop teams. The Blue Raiders will be severely outmatched on both the offensive and defensive lines, but they could prove more scrappy than the Yellow Jackets in this battle of colorful teams.
1. Oregon State at Arizona (Saturday, 10:00 PM): This is a must-watch game because I want to see if my readers can stay up later than I can on Saturday night. There’s no way I make it past midnight. The Oregon State bandwagon is filling up after back-to-back wins over ranked teams (Wisconsin and UCLA), but I have to wonder about the Beavers’ offense since it scored only 10 points against a Wisconsin defense that’s allowed over 20 points per game in three other games (Northern Iowa, Utah State, UTEP) and barely scored more against UCLA than the Bruins gave up (on average) to Rice, Nebraska and Houston. I’m impressed by Oregon State on defense, but there are a lot of questions on offense. Arizona, meanwhile, is still looking for an identity. Are they the team that beat 18th ranked Oklahoma State by 21 points and won 56-0 over South Carolina State? Or, are they the team that needed overtime to take down Toledo and lost 49-0 against Oregon. A win by the Wildcats makes their matchup with Stanford the following Saturday pretty darn interesting. A win by Oregon State sets the Beavers up as a top-15 team before a fortuitous run against Washington State, Utah and Washington and then dates with Arizona State and Stanford in early November.
There is good news for a number of SEC teams this weekend. Vanderbilt and Auburn get the week off to nurse their wounds after each team started the season 1-3 overall and 0-2 in the conference. The bad news is the fact that both teams have the distinct pleasure of being last in their respective division. The good news is neither team will lose this weekend!
Vanderbilt Football…undefeated since our last game!
Florida and Mississippi State also get a chance to rest, but these two teams actually have noteworthy accomplishments to their credit. Both teams are off to 4-0 starts and the Gators have the unique claim of being the only 3-0 team in SEC play – although South Carolina and Georgia may catch the Gators this weekend.
Arkansas gets to travel to familiar College Station (the Starkville of Texas, or so I’m told) and take on the Aggies from Texas A&M. The hometeam is favored by 13 points, but I’m going to root for the upset in an effort to end the madness that is the Arkansas tailspin and keep A&M out of the SEC’s win column. Keep in mind that somewhere, buried in a very deep and dark place, is a really talented Arkansas offense managed by a highly regarded pro prospect at QB and an explosive once-Heisman candidate at running back. Keep in mind that someday that team might show up (although my long-term bet is that it’s on November 23rd against LSU).
Missouri travels to Central Florida this weekend where the Knights are favored by as many as three points. And, in case you are confused and haven’t been following the Knights are Central Florida’s mascot, and Missouri just joined the SEC. So yeah, in the name of “expansion” and “progress” and other feel-goody stuff the Southeastern Conference has added a team that is now an underdog to Central Florida. Great move. I pick Missouri in the upset. SEC! SEC! SEC!
South Carolina gets to roll to Lexington and take on the Kentucky Wildcats. Connor Shaw will not complete 20 consecutive passes this week, because frankly I’m not sure that he’ll attempt 20 passes. Gamecocks win.
LSU plays host to the Tigers of Towson. Look for the upset here as the Towson Tigers build on their big victory against the St. Francis (PA) Red Flash and take down the Bayou Bengals. LSU wins.
The Ole Miss Rebels’ football season will come crashing down in a big way as they travel to Tuscaloosa to take on Alabama in the toe-jam of the south. Ole Miss is averaging just short of 260 rushing yards per game this season. Alabama’s defense is just allowing 62. I wouldn’t count on Ole Miss holding onto the football too much in this game. The Tide rolls.
Georgia will play host to Tennessee this weekend, but there will be much more on that tomorrow.
…And a little bit more right now. This week’s game could very much dictate Derek Dooley’s future in Knoxville. A win gives him a “signature” victory over a top-25 team. A loss drops the Vols to 0-2 in conference play with three more top-25 opponentes (Mississippi State, Alabama, South Carolina) looming in October. It could get ugly for old Derek.
Just don’t tell Derek’s mom that I said that.
That’s all I got/