1. Oklahoma vs Texas 12:00 ABC
This is THE game this weekend, per many of the national media experts and pundits. Personally, I’m not sure I’m drinking the kool-aid. I don’t particularly find Texas a very impressive football team. Perhaps they’ll prove me wrong this Saturday afternoon, but I would actually be very surprised if they were able to play with Oklahoma for four quarters.
That said, it’s still the Red River Shootout, it’s still a rivalry game, and it’s still two of the nations most polarizing programs. So it clearly takes the cake as the early game to watch on Saturday.
Who knows, the Texas pass defense has been outstanding this year, will it be enough to slow down the prolific Oklahoma passing attack led by Landry Jones? It’s going to have to be. Otherwise Oklahoma will win this one going away.
2. Maryland at Georgia Tech 12:00 ESPNU
Maryland has one of the weaker run defenses in college football, while Georgia Tech possesses one of the most dynamic ground attacks in recent memory. You put the two together and we should see quite a few points put up by the Yellow Jackets.
The question will be how many will they allow Maryland? Since their season opening victory over Miami the Terps have been anything but impressive. They scored a mere 7 points against Temple, and only 28 against the mighty Towson Tigers. They will certainly need far more than that to keep pace with the Yellow Jackets. Don’t count on it. Expect Tech to creep closer to the top ten this week.
3. Florida State at Wake Forest 12:30 ACC Network
The Florida State national title campaign is no longer in play, but the Seminoles still are hoping to contend for the ACC. Granted, Clemson getting past Virginia Tech puts Florida State in a very unenviable position in still needing two more Clemson losses.
First things first though, Florida State needs to take care of a Wake Forest team who is an overtime loss to Syracuse away from being unbeaten themselves. The Demon Deacons have shown an ability to fling the football all over the field, throwing for 316 yards per game. Having seen what Clemson’s attack did to Florida State’s defense, Wake Forest quarterback Tanner Price has to like his chances to put up some points.
E.J. Manuel though will be back at the helm for Florida State, and that might be the difference that elevates Florida State past Wake Forest. However, a loss, which is possible on the road, would leave the ‘Noles below .500, and leave fans realizing Florida State may still be a lot further away from being “back” than they thought when the season began.
Kentucky at South Carolina 12:00 SEC Network
Connor Shaw takes over for the beleaguered Stephen Garcia at quarterback for South Carolina, but it really shouldn’t make much of a difference. Kentucky is a really bad football team who faces serious offensive challenges. Yes, the Gamecocks might still be suffering a late down from blowing their 4th quarter lead against Auburn last week, but it shouldn’t keep them from easily disposing of a bad Kentucky team.
Louisville at North Carolina 12:00 ESPN2
The Tar Heels will look to move to 5-1 by taking on a Louisville team that has losses to Florida International and Marshall. The Cardinals are one of the worst offenses in the country, and going up against North Carolina’s front seven doesn’t figure to cure what ails Louisville. Expect the Heels to roll, and possibly make an appearance in the top 25 next Monday.
1. Florida at LSU 3:30 CBS
This one tops the list for reasons similar to Oklahoma and Texas being the must see game of the early games. It’s simply put, two huge programs going at each other. The problem is, it’s not two equal teams.
With Jeff Brantley out, the LSU defense is absolutely salivating at the thought of welcoming a young freshmen quarterback who looked completely lost and out of place at home last weekend against Alabama. Jeff Driskell should be better than he was a week ago, but that won’t be enough.
The Tiger defense is downright nasty, and Tiger Stadium isn’t the place for a freshmen to make his first start. The Gators will be lucky to make this a competitive game in the 2nd half, and a loss here will leave their SEC title hopes on life support, as they still have to play Georgia and South Carolina.
For LSU it seems more and more like theirs is a one game season, the Alabama game. This tilt with the Gators should not be anything more than a small speed bump on their way to an epic showdown with the Tide.
2. Miami at Virginia Tech 3:30 ABC
The Miami Hurricanes season quite possibly hangs in the balance in this matchup with Virginia Tech. The Hokies were the chic pick to win the ACC, but have been less than impressive thus far in 2011. The loss to Clemson last week seemed to bring to light the fears Hokies fans may have had about their team.
Offensively they could do nothing right, and while they weren’t bad defensively, they weren’t good enough to keep their team in the game.
The key will be which Jacory Harris shows up. If it’s the good Jacory Harris, Miami has a real chance to steal an upset victory and re-enter the ACC title race, despite their early season troubles.
However, if Harris doesn’t play well and the Miami offense can’t get them a lead early, the lack of confidence permeating throughout the Miami program and team could spell trouble for the Hurricanes, and Miami could find itself at the very bottom of the ACC before the second week of October gets here.
3. Air Force at Notre Dame 3:30 NBC
Notre Dame is arguably a far better football team than their 3-2 record would indicate. Turnovers are killer, and nobody knows this quite like Brian Kelly’s Irish squad.
Defensively Notre Dame has held their last three opponents to 13 points or fewer, so the defense has begun to turn things around lately as well.
However, if there’s one thing the Irish are susceptible to it’s a lack of discipline. And a lack of discipline can get you hurt badly by an option offense such as the one Air Force runs. If Notre Dame can avoid defensive lapses, and protect the football, the Irish should win, and win easily.
But that’s a couple large ifs, ifs I’m not sure Notre Dame is ready to consistently answer to.
Arizona State at Utah 3:30 FSN
The Sun Devils have separated themselves from the rest of the Pac-12 south crowd, however, if there’s one serious hurdle for them to clear, it’s likely going to be the Utes of Utah.
Utah gave USC all they could handle in a losing effort, but the Utes are still 0-2 and seeking their first conference win. Playing at home could be a huge benefit for the Utes, so don’t expect Arizona State to just march through them like they aren’t there. However, do expect the Sun Devils to move to 3-0 and further elevate themselves in the Pac-12 race.
Iowa at Penn State 3:30 ESPN
With home games looming against Northwestern and Indiana, followed by a road trip to Minnesota, this game is exceptionally huge for Iowa. A win here, and it’s extremely likely they will enter the Michigan game at 7-1 with an unblemished Big Ten mark and find themselves squarely in place to contend for a division title.
Penn State owns one of the best defenses in all of college football and they know they need all the early season wins they can get. They close the season with the likes of Illinois, Nebraska, Ohio State and Wisconsin. The possibility exists, that despite the greatness of their defense, the Nittany Lions could lose their final four games. Having already been beaten by Alabama, a loss to Iowa could leave Penn State staring down the barrel of a .500 season.
1. Auburn at Arkansas 7:00 ESPN
Auburn’s surprising victory over South Carolina last week in Columbia enabled the Tigers to serve notice they’re still going to have something to say about who wins the SEC West. That said, the task this weekend may be even tougher.
Auburn’s defensive shortcomings are no secret, and only the ineptitude of South Carolina’s offense was able to mask them last week. Arkansas does not suffer from a lack of offense and will force the Tigers to try and keep up in what should be a high scoring affair.
Arkansas thrashing at the hands of Alabama may have made them the forgotten team in the SEC West race, but a victory over Auburn would enable them to keep hope alive. A home loss though to the Tigers and Arkansas’s season will be off the tracks before the weather turns cold.
2. Georgia at Tennessee 7:00 ESPN2
The Auburn victory over South Carolina coupled with the Alabama throttling of Florida was the perfect medicine for Georgia. Georgia now enters the rest of their SEC slate in a great position to still win the SEC East.
However, losing in Knoxville would end those dreams just as quickly as they flared back up. Georgia is still a young team, and playing on the road in Knoxville will not be an easy task for a team that is remarkably inconsistent from quarter to quarter.
The Georgia defense has shown great improvement under Todd Grantham, and will almost surely make Tennessee one dimensional. If Georgia can get out to an early lead they will be able to unleash the pass rush on the Volunteers and ultimately pull away.
However, if Georgia’s forced to try to use their offense to play catch up at any point to Tennessee, that may be a task too daunting.
3. Ohio State at Nebraska 8:00 ABC
The Buckeyes are quickly becoming a major dumpster fire, and it will likely get worse this week on the road against Nebraska. The Cornhuskers are one ticked off bunch after the egg they laid against Wisconsin. They know their Big Ten championship hopes can ill afford another loss, so expect a fired up Nebraska squad to come out to the “Sea of Red”.
As for Ohio State, their season has already begun to see the wheels fall of, and it figures to get worse. The mess that has become their athletic department has certainly trickled down to the on field product as well. With Illinois on the road, and Wisconsin to follow, the Buckeyes mess may just be beginning.
Texas A&M at Texas Tech 7:00 FX
The Aggies desperately want to get back in the win column, suffering consecutive close losses to Oklahoma State and Arkansas. Both are fine teams in their own right, and there is no shame in losing to either team. However, for A&M, the fear of a hangover from two tough losses is very real, and it’s amplified by the fact that they are on the road in a conference game.
Texas Tech is a quiet 4-0, perhaps it’s because they weren’t exactly impressive in their wins over Nevada and Kansas, but 4-0 is still 4-0, and the offense is still averaging over 47 points per game. They’re probably going to need all 47 to hang with Texas A&M, but a victory over the Aggies would be a huge boost for Tommy Tubberville’s team.
TCU at San Diego State 10:30 CBS College Network
The Aztecs don’t just have goals of making a bowl this season, they firmly expect to compete for a conference title. TCU’s loss to SMU further illustrated that these Horned Frogs aren’t the same ones of years past, and aside from Boise State, leaves an open space at the top of the Mountain West conference.
With Boise positioned for a BCS bowl bid, the number two team in the Mountain West could be primed to slide into their place in the bowl pecking order. A win at home over TCU would point San Diego State in the right direction and serve notice to Boise that there fiercest competition might just be from southern California.