The Big 12 and SEC steal most of the thunder this weekend. Arguably, the top two teams in each conference square off. The Buckeyes are strategically placed between those to titanic battles, so this weekend is set up to be one of the best viewing opportunities of the season. And, you get a nice amuse bouche tonight with a decent ACC matchup. Quite honestly, they only get to decent on the quality meter these days.
Clemson v. (21)Wake Forest
Chris Fowler, Jesse Palmer, Craig James, Erin Andrews
Aside from Utah’s miracle comeback last week, ranked have been doomed to failure on Thursday night. Wake looks to avoid that trend, but I would be hopeful as a Deacon fan. Both teams have been off for 12 days since puzzling losses, but only one team is without their All-American kicker – Wake. It’s very telling when the loss of your punter/kicker is a major blow to the team’s chances.
I have bitched about how the noon slot is relegated to the scrap heap with low budget Big Ten and Big East game dominating the docket. To make matters worse, you usually get Pam Ward. Well, consider this bizarro weekend as one of the two best games is decidedly not under the lights. As an Ohio State you get to enjoy uninterrupted, delicious football and libations.
Here is your ABC/ESPN coverage map for the 3:30pm slot. If you live in Chicago, you get the Buckeyes on ESPN. Looks like Ohio viewers will only be able to see ND/UNC in standard def. I have no idea why. Anyone care to explain that?
(5)Texas v. (1)Oklahoma
Brent Musburger, Kirk Herbstreit, Lisa Salters
It is a bit absurd that this one is on at noon, meaning an 11:00am kickoff in Dallas but I am not complaining. I have always hated neutral site rivalries and I was upset when these schools renegotiated with Dallas to keep the game. Still, the evenly divided stadium is very cool. In the BlogPoll Roundtable 4.4 I picked Texas as the underdog most likely to win this weekend and I expect a close game despite what everyone is telling me. Neither one has played a competitive game this season with Texas defeating three different opponents by a score of 52-10. I can guarantee that will not happen in this one. Both quarterbacks are Heisman contenders with McCoy, perhaps, not receiving enough dap. Neither team is running exceptionally well. Texas has a great defensive line and will have to win it with their front four. If Orakpo gets loose too many times, Bradford may actually throw an incompletion.
Michigan v. Toledo
Thom Brennaman, Charles Davis, Charissa Thompson
You can tune in to this one for cathartic purposes (At least we are not this bad!). But I would caution against hoping for a Michigan flop. Aside from the obvious damage it wreaks on the league’s image – you can hear it now, “Wisconsin lost to Michigan who could not even beat Toledo, at home!” – there is a serious Karmic element at play. The football gods will notice if you are kicking a team while they are down, figuratively speaking. You do not have to cheer for the Wolverines just try to watch with an unbiased eye.
Here is the BTN coverage map if you are cable subscriber. If you are DIRECTV guy, you can tune into to channel 623. That is probably more information than you need, but every time slot needs a flip game.
Purdue v. (11)Ohio State
Ron Franklin, Ed Cunningham, Jack Arute
Is this the classic trap game for the Buckeyes? Probably, but Purdue kinda-really-actually sucks on offense. What happened to Painter? Statistically, this is his worst season. The Penn State result is actually good for the Buckeyes as it may provide a requisite level of concern that was not previously available. The 20-6 score is deceptive as the Boilermakers were never in the game and PSU gained 425 yards, but Purdue was in the game into the third quarter. Here’s hoping the Pistol formation produces a ton of yards this weekend while the down-the-line option is hopefully eliminated.
(19)Michigan State v. (22)Northwestern
Pam Ward, Ray Bentley
If you looked at the schedule before the season started and said this would be the only Big Ten matchup of ranked teams, you are reading this from the deck of your yacht while making money in the stock market. I think Northwestern is 5-0 for the first time since football was invented and Michigan State has managed to convince most fans (myself included) that they are not going to enjoy another late season swoon. If it were not for the presence of Pam Ward, this would be a markedly more attractive flip game. As it stands now, you have to presence recall button AND the mute. That type of extra remote effort can kill an otherwise enjoyable flip experience. Consider yourself warned.
Tennessee v. (10)Georgia
Craig Bolerjack, Steve Beuerlein
I could probably leave this one off and no one would care, but if you enjoy a good Tennessee beating like me than you like to flip over once and a while to see the carnage. Georgia needs a major image upgrade after the thrashing from Alabama so I look for Richt to run up the score a little bit.
(3)LSU v. (12)Florida
Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson, Tracy Wolfson
This time slot is loaded. If I were in front of television at 8:00pm, I would be glued to this game with only requisite flip action to the games below. A Florida win means we move one step closer to the incessant arguments about a one-loss being more deserving than every other team ever created. That possibility may be enough for you to root for LSU. In the meantime, I am secretly hoping that Miles goes Tecmo Bowl on the Gators and goes for it on every fourth down. If anyone is going to do that, it is The Hat.
(6)Penn State v. Wisconsin
Mike Patrick, Todd Blackledge, Holly Rowe
This game seems like it should be more attractive but I am struggling to find reasons to justify that suspicion. This would be my main flipper despite the lack of logic. Maybe my Big Ten upbringing created a Pavlovian response to any B10 game in primetime. Will Wisconsin play a full game and win a big game at home? Or, will they get down early and roll over? Maybe the band will have a drunken, Cheese Whiz-drenched, orgy in the stands. Does any of that sound like a reason to tune in? I would say this game is worth one flip per quarter.
(17)Oklahoma State v. (2)Missouri
Mark Jones, Bob Davie, Erin Andrews
When in doubt, flip to this game because there is a good chance this is the most exciting game of the night. There is also a chance for an EA sighting. I am not convinced either team can stop the other and we may be treated to a classic Pac 10 shootout masquerading as a Big 12 game. The danger of flipping to this game is that you may be sucked in by the offenses (and Erin Andrews) and miss some action in the game you really want to watch. Maybe that means this is the game you really want to watch.