The Bye Week Blues: What to Watch While You Wait

SportMonkAnalyst INovember 19, 2008

Well, college football fans, it's Rivalry Week. The matchups available to us will be some of the best of the year, all in one day. Many can't wait to pack the stadiums and cheer their team to victory.

Some of us will have to wait until next week.

Nebraska, whose most prized rivalry was heartlessly murdered by the addition of those silly Texas teams into the Big 8, is 7-4 and has an extra week to prepare for Colorado on the Friday after Turkey Day.

Most of us Nebraska fans wish we could be gearing up for OU-Nebraska with title hopes hanging in the balance, like the good ol' days, instead.

But we've got the bye week blues, and we're certainly not the only ones.

But college football fans, just because your team doesn't play for another notch in the win column Saturday doesn't mean college football doesn't go on happening.

Here are the five best games we should watch as we wait patiently for next week and the next chance to cheer on our own teams again. I'll even tell you who to root for.


5. No. 14 BYU at No. 7 Utah

Both teams fight to legitimize their claim to a BCS bowl. However, in my mind, no non-BCS team has a "legitimate" claim to playing in a top bowl until they line up to play the big boys for 12 games a year.

Utah could possibly be competitive in a conference like the SEC or the Big 12, but stick BYU in the Big 12 and they finish seventh or eighth.

The winner is essentially guaranteed a spot in an at-large bowl since everyone else they've played has been cupcakes.

I'll be rooting for both teams to lose. BCS busters annoy me.


4. Mississippi at No. 18 LSU

Houston Nutt has had immediate results with Ole Miss, and LSU is reeling from the loss to top-ranked Alabama last week.

This game will be exciting because the SEC has the best defenses in college football this year and is second only to the Big Ten in the potential for high-ranked teams to be knocked off by lowly, unranked ones.

Houston Nutt screwed over my good friend Dan Bailey, now the kicker at Oklahoma State, with his recruiting scandals at Arkansas. Nutt now coaches the school Eli Manning played for. Manning beat Nebraska in a bowl matchup in 2002 and then went to the pros and beat my Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. That means Ole Miss is evil (somehow).

Current Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini served as defensive coordinator for two years with the LSU Tigers, helping them win the national championship last year. But LSU head coach Les Miles screwed over Oklahoma State like a Southern Rich Rod, taking the LSU job after swearing allegiance to the Cowboys.

Still, cheer for LSU to win this one. Ole Miss has committed more evils.


3. Michigan at No. 10 Ohio State

"The Game" lacks its usual luster this year, as aforementioned Rich Rod guides this Wolverines team to their worst record in Michigan's rich history. I bet he's wishing Mike Hart hadn't graduated right about now.

Ohio State has been playing well the last couple of weeks and holds a four-game win streak over the Wolverines. Will they make it five?

However, Ohio State's Maurice Clarett in 2002 made me want to punch people in the face. He singlehandedly brought down any chance I would cheer for Ohio State to win a game.

In 1997, the Nebraska Cornhuskers should have been the undisputed best team in the country and taken home both national championship trophies. Instead, stupid ol' Michigan, with a weaker schedule and fewer displays of dominance, laid claim to a share of the title just because they're Michigan and the voters like them.

Nebraska got the last laugh, however, beating Michigan 32-28 in the 2005 Alamo Bowl, handing Michigan their first five-loss season in 21 years and beginning the decline of the program that has since culminated in Rich Rod's horrendous start with the Wolverines.

If they both could lose, I'd be happy. Still, Maurice Clarett was six years ago. I'll be cheering for the Buckeyes.


2. No. 15 Michigan State at No. 8 Penn State

The two teams will battle for control of their own destinies, a Big Ten title, and an automatic bid to a BCS bowl. If Michigan pulls a win over Ohio State out of nowhere, the winner of this matchup wins the Big Ten title and a Rose Bowl appearance.

If Ohio State wins and Penn State wins, Penn State takes the title and the bowl appearance.

I hold nothing against Michigan State. I have no reason to cheer against them. Their logo is pretty cool, and they've played great football.

Who can hold a candle to JoePa? The man's been coaching longer than my grandparents have been married. And he hasn't just trudged along (much like Bobby Bowden has the last few seasons 'til now). He's won games.

As for Penn State the team? I don't really have a feeling either way.

A USC/Oregon State against Michigan State/Penn State/Ohio State matchup would be pretty interesting to watch in the Rose Bowl, so whoever wins, wins.


1. No. 2 Texas Tech at No. 5 Oklahoma

This game excites me. Oklahoma has bounced back strong after the loss to Texas to dominate their opponents. Texas Tech beat Texas and Oklahoma State in back-to-back weeks and finishes the schedule from hell Saturday in Norman, Okla.

With three Big 12 teams in the Top Five, I don't have to worry about one knocking the whole conference out of national championship contention.

A Texas Tech win solidifies the Red Raiders atop the Big 12 South and sends them to Kansas City, where Missouri poses little threat along the path to the national championship.

An Oklahoma win throws a wrench in the system, but Oklahoma would still have to beat Oklahoma State next week to stay alive in contention.

Nebraska played Tech close and was an interception away from beating them in overtime. Nebraska was killed by Oklahoma, but I love Oklahoma fans.

This is no contest for me: I'll be cheering on Oklahoma.


Honorable mentions:

No. 20 Pittsburgh at No. 19 Cincinnati, Stanford at California


So watch and cheer and enjoy. Your bye week blues will be gone come Sunday morning.


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