College Football 2011: 25 Things to Watch for on Saturday
Texas Tech and Michigan State were able to pull off a couple of large upsets last week to finally throw a wrench in the top of the BCS standings.
There is potential for a few more upsets this week as well. The BCS will wait another week for the highly anticipated matchup between LSU and Alabama, and the nation continues to watch conferences discuss and realign.
Here are 25 things to watch for this Saturday.
Big East Superconference
A mega conference is one thing. When you say mega, the number 16 is thrown around. But after this super-conference idea came about thanks to Conference USA and the Mountain West, the idea of 20 to 30-plus teams in one conference seems appealing for some reason.
Really, it's a ridiculous concept that only desperate will try. That's why the Big East is discussing it. For now, they've called the meeting off, but if they lose West Virginia, who knows what will happen.
Mountaineers Jumping Ship
West Virginia was guaranteed a spot in the Big 12, but it looks like Missouri has to leave first. If Mizzou decides to leave, the Mountaineers will likely join the conference. Can both Missouri and West Virginia be Big 12 members? You'd have to think yes.
For now, the Big 12 is probably trying to pressure Missouri into a decision, but something could change at any moment. A conference that looked dead in the water a few weeks ago has new life, and one other team wants in on the action.
Louisville Wants Out
Now Louisville is trying to leave the Big East. It was expected that West Virginia may try and jump ship, but Louisville is almost the Big East's only lifeline right now.
Without Louisville, West Virginia, Syracuse and Pittsburgh in the conference, the Big East may be done. They, like the Big 12, are probably waiting for Missouri to decide.
The Tigers control much more than their own destiny.
Potential 2012 SEC Matchup
For now, it's a Big 12 meeting. But next year, these two teams could be meeting as SEC squads. Texas A&M is set to host Missouri this weekend at Kyle Field in College Station.
The Aggies have a formidable offense, but defensively, they're a train that wrecked before it left the station.
Missouri has been in some close games this season, and it wouldn't be shocking to see an upset here. That being said, the Tigers may struggle to outscore A&M, even while facing such a terrible defense.
Nation's Leading Rusher
If you had to guess right now, before reading on, who the nation's leading rusher is, who would you say? The name David Wilson probably wouldn't come to mind.
Wilson plays for Virginia Tech and is a fast, strong, versatile player that plays a huge role for the defending ACC champions. He has eight total touchdowns (seven rushing) on the season and is the first back to reach the 1,000-yard rushing mark on the season.
The Hokies play Duke this season, and one of Wilson's goals was to rush for 260-plus yards in one game. That could happen here, so stay tuned.
Here Come the Spartans
One tough loss to Notre Dame and everyone forgot about Michigan State. That is, until they shocked Wisconsin on a hail Mary game-winning touchdown pass to end the Badgers hopes of a national title.
Now, the Spartans are underdogs again as they go on the road to Nebraska. Two upsets, two weeks in a row? Absolutely. The Spartans are hot and have a great chance to sneak out of Lincoln with a win.
Purdue in the Big House
The Boilermakers are coming off a win against Illinois, and the Wolverines had a week to think about a loss to their rival Michigan State.
The Wolverines rank 12th in the nation in rushing and should be able to put up a big number against Purdue. Denard Robinson should lead Michigan to victory.
A Vandy Upset
This is a long shot, but Arkansas could get caught looking ahead. That, and the Razorbacks struggled against Ole Miss last week.
A home game with South Carolina looms large in the SEC standings, but Arkansas can't be focused on next week. Will Vandy win? Unlikely, but they will at least make it interesting.
Upset Alert in Stillwater
Robert Griffin III is still considered a Heisman candidate by some, so a win on the road against the third ranked team in the BCS should help the quarterback's campaign.
It's a long shot, but with Griffin III, anything is possible. Texas Tech went in to Oklahoma and laid down the law, so why can't Baylor do the same to Oklahoma State?
Huge Big 12 Matchup
There are a couple of Cinderella stories in college football this season, and Kansas State is one of them. However, they are just entering the thick of their schedule, and who better to do it against than Oklahoma.
The Wildcats aren't getting much respect, either. They're a 14-point dog at home. Maybe take the Wildcats against the spread, but don't bet on them to win. It's hard to imagine Oklahoma losing two in a row.
Who Will Kick the Most Field Goals in University Park?
If you're looking for a thriller, you may want to turn the channel if you stumble across this one. Penn State has a phenomenal defense, but no offense.
Illinois has an average offense with a good defense. This will be a low scoring affair, while Illinois looks to avoid their third loss in a row.
Bulldogs at Gators
This is an interesting matchup between two SEC programs that have seen better days. Georgia has rebounded nicely after a slow start, but Florida has lost three straight.
Of those three losses, they've all been conference games. Georgia has an outside chance of making an SEC Championship game appearance, and to keep that alive, they'll need to win at a neutral site in Jacksonville.
However, look for the Gators to end their skid and get moving in the right direction.
Midshipmen Fight the Irish
Navy against Notre Dame has always been a great tradition, but up until recent years, it wasn't much of a game. Now, the Midshipmen come to play.
Notre Dame is coming off a home loss to hated rival USC, and they're a much better football team overall than Navy is. There's no reason Notre Dame should lose this game, but they better come to play.
Battle for Big East
West Virginia and Rutgers each have a conference loss. The loser of this game likely loses their shot at a BCS game. Rutgers had been playing good football before their loss to Louisville, and West Virginia is coming off a pretty shocking loss to Syracuse.
Both teams have a shot at this one, and Rutgers has home field. West Virginia is the better team, but they struggle to finish games.
After starting 4-0, then losing two close games to Texas A&M and Kansas State, Texas Tech provided the nation with this year's biggest upset when they traveled to Norman and upset Oklahoma.
The Red Raiders host Iowa State this week, who has been struggling in recent weeks and will look to improve on their 5-2 record.
The Red Raiders third-ranked passing offense should have a field day against the Cyclones.
South Carolina on the Road
Will Tennessee finally break through and get their first conference win of the season? It could happen this week against South Carolina. Yes, the Gamecocks are solid, but they're not the same team without Marcus Lattimore.
Mississippi State almost knocked off the Gamecocks last week, so don't be surprised to see the Volunteers ahead when the clock strikes zero.
Road Test for Clemson
Clemson is 8-0 and Tajh Boyd is rolling on all cylinders. Don't forget about their stud freshman, Sammy Watkins, either. These two are quite a duo and are the main reason Clemson is undefeated at this point in the season.
Going into Bobby Dodd Stadium to take on Georgia Tech is tough, no matter how much the Yellow Jackets are struggling. Their offense provides certain teams big issues, primarily in picking up the Yellow Jackets blocking schemes.
The Tigers could trip up here. They'll still make it to the ACC Championship, but at this point, they're striving for a national title.
Stanford at USC
This is a huge matchup for the Stanford Cardinal. Andrew Luck leads a team that ranks 25th in passing, 17th in rushing and second in scoring. The Stanford defense ranks fourth in the nation in points against, allowing only 12.6 per game.
Stanford is good across the board. They're one of the most balanced college football teams, offensively and defensively, you'll ever see. They're coming off a dominating performance against a solid Washington team, and will look to keep their national championship hopes alive with a win against USC.
It's tough to see Stanford not winning this game.
Luck for Heisman?
At this point, there's no sure fire Heisman front-runner. Andrew Luck has a chance to change that this weekend. It's tough for a west coast team, other than USC, to break into the spotlight because of the time they play their games.
Obviously, everyone knows about Luck. He will likely win the Davey O'Brien award and be near the top for the Maxwell and Heisman. But will he win it?
So far, more than 1,800 yards through the air, 20 touchdowns, three interceptions and a completion percentage of 71. He also leads an undefeated team, which is key. It's still early, but Luck may just be the front-runner.
Wisconsin in the Horseshoe
Such an emotional loss and only one week to prepare for another tough road trip against a stout defense. Wisconsin will play Ohio State and look to improve their conference record.
A Rose Bowl is still in play for the Badgers, and as long as Russell Wilson is leading the way, everything's going to be OK. Probably no national title this year, but Badger fans should enjoy Wilson as long as he's suiting up in a Wisconsin uniform.
The Badgers win big in Columbus.
Utah Goes for Pac-12 Win No. 1
The Utes' first four conference games in the Pac-12 haven't gone so well. They host 2-5 Oregon State this weekend.
It's now or maybe next year for Utah.
The Huskies are having a good season, but they give up way too many points to beat elite teams like Stanford. Offensively, this is a solid football team, and they should be favored 10 out of 10 times to beat times like Arizona.
Washington will win this week because Arizona is weak. But if the Huskies want to be feared, they'll need their defense to start playing better.
Thursday Night Football in Houston
The Houston Cougars try to remain undefeated as they host Rice, which is also located around the Houston area.
Rice should pose no issues for the Cougars. The other Thursday night game should be more entertaining.
Thursday Night Football in Miami
Virginia and Miami are two ACC teams that are playing good football. Miami is a better football team with more talent than UVA, but you never know when the Hurricanes will run out of wind.
Both teams have beaten Georgia Tech within the last two weeks, but UVA is coming off a home loss to N.C. State.
This game should be entertaining, but Miami's Lamar Miller will be too much for UVA to handle.
Friday Night Lights
TCU is 5-2 and will host 6-2 BYU. Neither team has an impressive win on their resume, but TCU has a couple of almost victories.
TCU almost held on after a huge comeback against Baylor before Robert Griffin III decided to gig'em some more Horned Frog like he was an Aggie. They also had an overtime loss to SMU.
TCU is the better team, they're at home and they're going to win; big for that matter.
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