As we approach the third weekend in the 2007 college football season, I took the time to look over all this weekend's games, and decide which one's will be / are the most intriguing, whether determining who'll lose this week's match-up of 0-2 Notre Dame and Michigan and send their coach to the college football coaching abyss, or who'll be on the inside track in the BCS/ national title race, as the USC @ Nebraska game will determine. Here are my choices in which games bear the most importance on this year's BCS make-up and/or could raise the most eyebrows this weekend....
Aforementioned USC @ Nebraska. Most seem to think USC will roll over Nebraska, but I think this game has the potential to be a ESPN Instant Classic. Callahan has yet to clinch a signature win while at Nebraska, and Husker Nation will be in full force for what could be the biggest game during Callahan's tenure. Nebraska's plan should fully mimic UCLA's plan in last years 13-9 upset over USC - KEEP USC'S OFFENSE OUT OF SYNC. Sam Keller (who transferred from ASU to Nebraska because he said "I get one more chance at USC if I go to Nebraska..") hasn't been ultra-spectacular in his first two games, particularly at Wake Forest. USC's defense will surely contain Nebraska's offense to some degree, so the Husker's main goal should be to keep the scoring low, blitz the heck outta Booty, and keep USC's receiving corp at bay. If they can contain the Trojan offense, and get a big play or two with their opportunistic defense and special teams, Nebraska could pull off it's biggest win in the post-Osborne era. In addition, if you keep it close, you ultimately keep the crowd in the game, and Husker Nation can be a classy but raucous bunch. My gutsy pick, Nebraska stuns USC 21 - 20.
West Virginia @ Maryland. As Nebraska will have to do against USC, Maryland will have to contain WVU's offense to have any chance in this game, obviously easier said than done. Marshall showed us last week (as South Florida did in 2006) that Slaton/White/( addendum Devine) can be contained - though Marshall become worn out in the 2nd half and let the WVU offensive flood gates open. WVU can score - alot - in a short amount of time, and like most ACC teams, Maryland does not have the offense for a shoot-out. Their options, keep it close, pray that Slaton/White have an off game, play and attack aggressively, establish the run and keep WVU's offense on the bench, and play defense the entire 60 minutes. I'm not sure the Terps can do that, but I'm going to make another gutsy call and say they keep it interesting until the end, but barring major gaffes by WVU's offense - they win 38 - 31.
Ohio State @ Washington. I hate to ever think my school [Ohio State] could lose, but their offensive performance against Akron was dismal at best. 3-2, @ halftime, @ home is unacceptable. Que the defense forcing FOURTEEN punts. I do think this will be an ugly, grind it out, defensive game. I've been impressed by Washington so far, especially in beating Boise State. The Huskies run D against Wells and company will be an interesting match-up, and the winner of that match-up will be favored to win the game, or at least keep it an eye-opener until the end. I say the Buckeyes stout defense overpower the Huskies in the end, and win an ugly 17 - 10 slugfest.
Notre Dame @ Michigan. It's a shame two of the most recognizable names in the game have fallen to the levels they have this year. 0-2, both playing dismal in both their respective games. I don't care if Appa-who State is the two time D-I AA champion. Michigan is, "Michigan" - and if they're so high and mighty as they claim, they shoulda won that game after a close 1st half easily. Let's not go there on their performance against the chosen-to-be-middle-of-the-pack in the Pac10 Oregon Ducks, mind you at home. Then you have Notre Dame, in all it's glory, having yet to score an offensive touchdown. Wasn't Weis the offensive coordinator of the Patriot Superbowl winning juggernaut? And at the collegiate level, he has yet to score a TD against the likes of Georgia Tech at home, and Penn State (not exactly LSU and USC here people...). Lloyd Carr definitely has more riding on this game than does Weis, although I think it's too late to salvage his career at UofM. Then again, as fickle as The Fighting Irish fan base can be - Weis had better get Clausen's arm tossing TDs or he's as good as gone too. I don't know what to expect of this game, which is why it's an interesting game. Notre Dame could come out and put up 70 against Michigan's junior college at best defense (note: Notre Dame's isn't much better, but they have been excellent when compared to UofM's this year), or that Wolverine defense could see the glory land and punish the Irish for a 3rd straight week. I think it'll be another ugly slugfest, with the last team with the ball winning on a 17 yard field-goal (any farther and it'll miss) that banks in off the left upright, in 5OT. Michigan and their new QB muster enough energy to win at home, 16-13, but not save Carr's coaching career in Ann Arbor.
Utah State @ Oklahoma. Kind of a joke, I know. Interesting because, I'd like to take bets on how many points the Sooners will rack up against Utah State. 57? 65? 73? 82? Actually, I'm thinking they'll score around 92, possibly in the first three quarters.
Tennessee @ Florida. First big SEC match-up of 2007, and probably will be a barn-burner. Florida's new and yet untested defense (which was exposed in the 2nd half of the Troy game if you missed...) get's it's first big test, and Tennessee gets a third test of the year (California and Southern Miss ARE quality opponents). I'm predicting this game is a WAC-like shoot-out (Hawai'i vs. Louisiana Tech anyone...). Tebow and company could hang half a hundred on the Vols, but I think Tennessee will only be about a touchdown behind the whole game, only because of the loud obnoxious crowd constantly doing the "Gator Chomp". Florida bests the Vols, 42 - 35.
Arkansas @ Alabama. Saban's first big game, and a chance to prove he and his team are for real, and not just some overrated paparrazi inflaming ensemble. The Crimson Tide's defense is great - and have a chance to prove just how great against a preseason Heisman candidate in Darren McFadden. If you've ever taken a glance at McFadden's stats, he does NOT cower in big game situations and against great opponents. I felt a little gutsy and picked Arkansas to "upset" Alabama (The Tide are the favorite, yet it's the Razorbacks who are in the Top 25...). I'm not impressed with Bama's 24 - 10 win over Vanderbilt last week, and I don't care how much they are a team on the up and coming. Not this time, Nick. Arkansas bests Alabama at home, 20 - 17.
Louisville @ Kentucky. This game could have more points and less defense than a NBA All-star game. Kentucky, one of the last place teams in D-I in defense last year versus a Louisville team that gave up more than 550 yards of offense at home and 42 points - 21 in the first quarter, to Middle Tennessee State!?!? (they didn't get HALF of either total their opener against Florida... ATLANTIC, in which they lost). Kentucky has one of the SEC's stand-out QBs, and Louisville has one of the nation's stand-out QBs. And neither team can play a lick of defense, though Kentucky has been respectable by last year's standards thus far. There could be 90 points by halftime. I'm predicting, the team with the slightly better QB to win, though again - could be another whoever has the ball last wins game. Louisville best Wildcats on a missed XP, 52 - 51.
Other games to watch:
Florida State @ Colorado. Don't be shocked if the Buffaloes pull it out.... Boston College @ Georgia Tech. After Virginia Tech debacle, winner could be on inside track to ACC Championship Game.... Fresno State @ Oregon. The Ducks romped Michigan, the Bulldogs took A&M to OT (three of them actually... at Kyle Field). Should be an interesting game, but Oregon should prevail easily if they're as good as last week.... Hawai'i @ UNLV. Hawai-i's BCS hopes could have taken a hit with last week's 45-44 escape at Louisiana Tech in OT (because L-Tech went for the 2 pt. conversion, and nearly scored). UNLV nearly knocked off Top-Ten and apparent Big10 heir to the throne Wisconsin on its home field last week. Should be interesting to see how both teams fair this week, and whether Hawai-i's BCS dreams are real....