Conference play intensifies this weekend and that means big games will be played that really start the process of determining who will play in Phoenix for the national title in January.
You want to be the smartest college football fan and the one who keeps the conversation going at home, the office, or with your buddies. Our job is to give you the information you need to reach that goal, so here are your talking points.
Florida travels to Tuscaloosa to play Alabama in the headline game of the weekend.
This is the one everyone is talking about this week, so it is important for you to be up to speed on what to expect when Alabama and Florida football collide at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Reason to watch: Besides being the last two national champs, their SEC Championship game showdowns and both being favored to meet in Atlanta for this year’s SEC title with a possible BCS title game going to the winner?
- Florida plans to go big with their defensive front by moving a few players around. The objective of the shift is to slow down Alabama’s running game.
- Alabama QB Greg McElroy did not look sharp throwing the ball down the field against Arkansas and has been limping in practice this week. If Bama can’t run he will need to have a big game for the Tide to roll.
- Will Florida QB Trey Burton be a factor? The freshman played a role similar to Tim Tebow in his freshman year, but with better results. Here is what Burton did. He scored five touchdowns running the football, caught one for a score and completed a 42-yard pass. His toss was the longest of the year for Florida.
- The last time Alabama gave up 100 yards to a running back? Go back to the 2007 season when the Tide played Ole Miss. BenJarvus Green-Ellis put up 131 yards against Bama.
- Don’t’a Hightower is not playing middle linebacker for Alabama. Nico Johnson is filling the middle spot, but Hightower is still on the field. He is playing his more natural outside linebacker position.
- Florida needs a quick start. The Gators have only scored 14 points in the first quarter this season.
- Good Florida stat: Florida leads the nation in interceptions with twelve.
- Bad Alabama Stat: Alabama is ranked 116 in the nation when t comes to tackles for a loss.
Stanford at Oregon is second biggest game and the winner has a real shot at the BCS title game
Stanford football is very good this year. You read that correctly. Stanford is very good. Oregon is also a talented team and just rewarded coach Chip Kelly with a six year, $20.5 million contract.
Reason to watch: There are three teams that look like the top of the Pac-10: Oregon, Stanford and Arizona. The winner of this game gets to stay in the race for a BCS bowl, possibly even the biggest one.
- Keep an eye on Stanford’s Owen Marecic. He will be easy to find. He wears number 48 and is the starting fullback for Stanford. He is also a starting linebacker. Last weekend against Notre Dame he scored on an interception and running the ball.
- Get ready for some offense. Oregon leads the nation in scoring offense with an average of 57.5 points per game. Stanford is pretty good at putting points on the board too. They put up 48 points a game and are fourth in the country.
- Both teams are fairly balanced with their offensive attack. Oregon accounts for 57 percent of their yards on the ground and 42 percent through the air. Stanford gets 48 percent on the ground and 51 percent passing.
- Some question if Oregon is for real. They had a tough game with Arizona State last weekend. The rest of their schedule has been New Mexico, Tennessee, and Portland State. Things are not normal in Knoxville and New Mexico is last in the nation for scoring defense. They give up 56 points a game. Their best game was holding UNLV to 45 points.
- Stanford QB Andrew Luck is one of the best two quarterbacks in the nation, and may get the Cardinal a Heisman they thought belonged to Toby Gerhart last year.
What is not really being talked about: Texas and Oklahoma meet in Red River game.
This game has held the nation’s attention for almost a decade, but the hype is much lower this year with Texas losing to UCLA last week and Oklahoma playing inconsistently so far this year.
Reason to watch: This game still features two of college football’s top teams and if you take a look at the AP top 25 you will see Oklahoma is undefeated at number eight. Texas only has one loss and checks in at number 21.
- Oklahoma and Texas have combined to play in six of the last ten BCS championship games.
- If you missed the Longhorns game with UCLA you might not have noticed Texas lost four fumbles and had one pass picked off in the game. It is hard to turn the ball over five times in a game and expect to win.
- Oklahoma averages 429 yards of offense per game. Their defense gives up 421. Yes, at the end of the game the defense is giving back all but eight yards of what the offense picks up.
- DeMarco Murray needs to have a big day for Oklahoma to win. The team that wins the rushing battle between Texas and Oklahoma has won this game eleven of the last twelve times.
- Some think the catfish tacos are the best food at the Texas State Fair. Don’t miss the chocolate-covered strawberry waffle balls though. You will get bonus points for working this into a college football conversation. Both are fried.
Quick conversation starters
- Georgia coach Mark Richt finds his place at Georgia rather insecure after the dismal start by the Bulldogs this fall. Colorado lacked the money to fire Dan Hawkins at the end of last season. Will the loser of their game this weekend seal his fate?
- Both Boise State and TCU will be pulling hard for Oregon State the rest of the year. Both schools need the strength of schedule help the Beavers can deliver. Don’t expect Oregon State to provide much assistance. Their only win was a close game with Louisville. Fans of the Big Six will be pulling against the Beavers the balance of the year.
- Clayton Kendrick-Holmes is the head coach at tiny Maritime College in New York. In November he will deploy to Afghanistan to serve as a member of the Navy reserve. The school plays at the NCAA Division III level and is 4-0 on the season. Want to read his story? Click here for the article from the New York Times. It is a great read.
- Has anyone noticed North Carolina State has reeled off four straight win and is still undefeated?
There you have it. This week’s college football talking points. We will keep you informed. You keep the conversation going until next week.