Top BCS Impact Games of Week 7 in College Football
The first official BCS standings are due out next Sunday, Oct. 20, but the jockeying for positions started long before that. Thanks to the simulated BCS standings (compiled by BCS Guru), we already have a pretty good idea of which teams are ranked where.
The big news last week was Clemson's leapfrogging over Oregon into the No. 2 spot in the simulated BCS. That will probably last just a week, as the Ducks have a high-profile matchup against bitter rival Washington. A victory will assuredly vault Oregon back to the second spot, behind Alabama.
Further down the standings, a couple other unbeaten teams also have important games that will impact their positions in the race for the BCS championship. With all the conferences going into the meat of their schedules, we will finally get a chance to see some serious separation of pretenders from contenders.
Rankings according to simulated BCS standings at BCSGuru.com.
The rankings method is a simulation of the actual BCS standings with the following variations: (1) The AP Poll is used in place of the Harris Interactive Poll, which is not published until Oct. 13; (2) Peter Wolfe's computer ratings, which will not be available until the BCS standings are released, is replaced by the median ranking of 52 computer ratings.
Rutgers at No. 10 Louisville
When: Thursday at 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Louisville has beaten every team on its schedule by at least two touchdowns, yet it's slipped from eighth to 10th in the simulated BCS standings over the past two weeks. The problem is that the Cardinals haven't played any serious competition and likely won't face any ranked team for the rest of the season.
As it is, this Thursday night encounter might be the toughest one for Louisville this season. It features the two teams that will be leaving the fledgling American Athletic Conference next season, with Louisville going to the ACC and Rutgers heading to the Big Ten.
The Scarlet Knights just might have enough offense to keep up with Teddy Bridgewater and Co. Rutgers is coming off a thrilling 55-52 overtime win over SMU—its second OT game this season, the other being a 52-51 loss to Fresno State in the season opener. The Knights have averaged 40 points per game this season and will present the Cardinals defense with its first serious test.
“Every team they’ve played against they’ve put a lot of points on the board,” Louisville defense coordinator Vance Bedford said of Rutgers (via Michael Grant of the Courier-Journal). “We have to get ready for the deep ball. We need to eliminate big plays. They’re a scary team.”
No. 8 Oklahoma vs. Texas in Dallas
When: Saturday at noon ET, ABC
Under siege even after last week's narrow escape against Iowa State, this could be the last Red River Shootout for Mack Brown. The embattled Texas coach will, at a minimum, need to win this game to save his job. If he can't halt the Longhorns' three-game losing streak against OU, it's likely the rest of the season would just be an extended plank walk.
After back-to-back tough victories over Notre Dame and TCU, Oklahoma has a chance to emerge as the class of a mediocre Big 12. It's the highest ranked team in the conference, though it still must face fellow unbeatens Baylor and Texas Tech. A loss to the heavy underdog Longhorns will extinguish any hopes of an OU run for the BCS championship.
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops has a pretty good idea about what kind of heat his counterpart is under. “People get bored with you, even when you win a lot,” Stoops said this week (via Berry Tramel of NewsOK).
Stoops noted, “I think Mack and I have a mutual respect for one another. I know I do, and I feel he does. ... Ultimately, we're all facing a lot of the same issues, through players, through media, through whatever. So you have a better feeling for what a guy's going through than somebody else might.”
No. 20 Missouri at No. 7 Georgia
When: Saturday at noon ET, ESPN
Before the season began, it would've been reasonable to project one of those two teams to go undefeated entering this game. The surprise, of course, is that besides Alabama, the only other unbeaten SEC team at this point is Mizzou.
The Tigers have averaged 46.6 points in their first five games, scoring at least 38 in each. They should fit in with the new, wide-open SEC just fine. What we will find out, starting this week, is if their defense can stop anybody—it hasn't exactly been tested by quality competition yet.
Georgia, meanwhile, will be facing a fourth ranked opponent in six games and its depleted roster is becoming a serious concern. The Bulldogs barely survived Tennessee last week in overtime, and quarterback Aaron Murray will once again have to be at his very best to keep them going.
Mizzou coach Gary Pinkel said having Murray will offset a lot of Georgia's injury issues (via Cody Pace of RedandBlack.com):
“They’ve got good depth, they’ve got good players," Pinkel said. "They might not have any experience but they have good athletes on the field. With Aaron Murray back there, his ability to perform and make the plays that he makes, and a great offensive line, I think that helps that whole adjustment with some of those injuries.”
No. 17 Florida at No. 9 LSU
When: Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
Florida seems to be the only SEC team still committed to play defense, as it's given up an average of just 12.2 points in its first five games of the season. But the Gators will finally face an elite offense, led by LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger, and their true mettle will be tested in Death Valley.
"Since the beginning of the season, he's just been on," LSU receiver Odell Beckham Jr. said of his quarterback (via Glenn Guilbeau of USA Today). "He's making all the right reads, all the right throws. It's just good to be a part of this offense. Honestly, I don't even know where it was last year compared to now."
The loser of this game will be out of the running for the BCS championship, as each team already has a loss. But the stakes are higher for LSU, as it still has games against Alabama and Texas A&M remaining. Already with a loss to Georgia, another setback in conference play will certainly keep the Tigers out of the SEC Championship Game.
No. 3 Oregon at No. 18 Washington
When: Saturday at 4 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1
Washington lost a heartbreaker to Stanford last week, going down to defeat only after an apparent fourth-down conversion was reversed by replay. The Huskies still have a slim chance to win the incredibly tough Pac-12 North, but they must beat the Ducks first.
And that's a tall order. Once upon a time, this was a great rivalry, but in recent years it's become as one-sided as they come. Oregon has won nine straight in this series—all of them routs—with the Huskies never coming within fewer than 17 points.
The Ducks have their sights set on something more than a mere division or conference title. Last year, they came tantalizingly close to playing in a second BCS Championship Game in three seasons. Oregon will try to keep the nation's second-leading offense rolling against its old rivals.
“Playing in it last year, you realize how much is in it for the fans and the communities,” said Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, a Heisman frontrunner. “Obviously I’m looking forward to it. I have an uncle who is an alumnus from Washington. He’s been in my ear all week. I’m looking forward to hopefully quieting him a little bit.”