Seriously, we are almost halfway finished with this season. That would normally be depressing, but this season seems to have taken a while to get warmed up. There have been a handful of injuries that have shaped the early action as much as anything.
The Top 10 is largely in place, while the major upset (BYU over Oklahoma) was as much the result of shell-shocked Sooner squad as anything the Cougars did.
With two huge SEC games plus a Big Ten balancer in Iowa City, I think the season is about to turn the corner. The best part of that scenario is that this weekend’s schedule is far more balanced than before.
THURSDAY, OCT. 8
Nebraska v. Missouri
Chris Fowler, Craig James, Jesse Palmer, Erin Andrews
Am I the only one who thinks the Big 12 has been a disappointment since Texas’ national championship? I feel like the entire conference is soft now, which is probably from all of the spread offenses.
It seems like any physical team takes it to a Big 12 team these, although Nebraska seems to show early signs of becoming physically imposing.
Oklahoma has been horrible out of conference but dominate in conference. Texas recruits as well as anybody but seem to lack playmakers on offense.
Texas Tech reminds me of Houston and their run-and-shoot in the 1980s; they destroy terrible teams and get exposed against good ones.
Baylor is hysterical, even with that QB, and Texas A&M is irrelevant. I am excited for tonight's game as I think Missouri pulls off a close one at home.
I am not sold on Nebraska’s secondary, which got exposed against Tyrod Taylor, the worst passing QB in the country. Nebraska’s front seven is downright scary. They can really shut down a running attack.
SATURDAY, OCT. 10
(17)Auburn v. Arkansas
Dave Pasch, Bob Griese, Chris Spielman
This is go-to game for the noon slot. No questions asked.
Sure, Fayetteville is the site of horrifically poor offensive battles in 2007 (9-7) and 2003 (10-3), but there is no way that happens this time around.
Meanwhile, the Tigers are 3-1 in Fayetteville since 2000. Gussy Gus returns to the scene of his first college “success.”
While recognized as a top-flight coordinator in his lone year in Fayetteville, Malzahn left within days of the end of the season.
Now, he has native son and Michigan transfer Ryan Mallett slinging it around. Arkansas’ pass defense is awful, and Auburn has been clicking in every way early on. Depending on your view of the SEC, this game may make you a believer in Auburn.
Georgia v. Tennessee
SEC Network, 12:00pm
Dave Neal, Andre Ware, Cara Capuano
It is not often that you get one decent SEC game at noon, much less a pair of totally watchable ones.
If you are more of a traditionalist, you may tend towards this game as a mainstay instead of a flip. Of course, you may not get the SEC Network, in which case you will be relegated to flipping to …
Boston College v. (5)Virginia Tech
Tim Brant, Rick Walker, Mike Hogewood
If you would asked me before the season, I would have told you that BC would win three games total. But after an emotional weekend with FSU in town, you have to wonder have much the Eagles have left.
This is the fifth meeting between these teams in just more than 24 months, which has to be some kind of record.
The series is 2-2, and the last time these two met in Lane Stadium, the Eagles walked out with a miracle 14-10 victory behind Matty Ice (followed by one of those most awkward coaching celebrations).
You do not need to worry about the coverage maps this weekend, but here they are anyway.
Wisconsin v. (9) Ohio State
Sean McDonough, Matt Millen, Holly Rowe
This is an example of great time slot distribution. You will be watching the Buckeyes, of course, but you cannot get much better on the flip spot.
You cannot miss any plays from this game and you will not feel like you are missing the other game of the day as CBS mercifully placed the Florida v. LSU game on at night. The Bama game is nice but …
(3)Alabama v. (20)Mississippi
Craig Bolerjack, Steve Beurelein
… the way these teams have played so far, there is little reason to believe that the Tide will not punish the Rebels as badly as they have everyone else.
That fact makes the Ohio State game that much more enjoyable. And, SEC games on CBS typically run a little long so you should have some extra football watch after the Buckeyes get done with Wisky.
(1)Florida v. (4)LSU
Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson, Tracy Wolfson
Do we have another earthquake game on our hands? I am not sure if there are any seismographs on campus, but if the Tigers are able to pull this off, you can sure the ripples will be felt across the college football landscape.
Along with the USC/Ohio State game, this has to be considered the other great game of the season.
This game is rife with storylines and good football players, so you have no excuse to miss it. Your conference biases may lead to watch more of the Big Ten night cap, but there is no way I can recommend turning away from this one until it is decided.
Michigan v. (12) Iowa
Brent Musburger, Kirk Herbstreit, Lisa Salters
Unlike last week, your preferred flip game is actually available in HD on regular television. I am stunned that Iowa is a 8-point favorite. Am I the only one who thinks the Hawkeyes are ripe for a loss?
Barely squeaking by Northern Iowa in week one is an aberration, putzing around with Arkansas State is cause for alarm. Even against a suspect Michigan defense, don’t look for the Hawkeyes to light up the scoreboard. First team to 20 wins.
P.S.: You have to give the schedulers at ABC a lot of credit for selecting this game for prime time. I am not sure how many fans outside of Ann Arbor and Iowa City believed this would be a serious elimination game in the Big Ten.