TEN GAMES TO WATCH
Looking for the Thursday night game? Head down to the ACC section.
Cincinnati at No. 16 Louisville, 8:00 PM ESPN
Cincinnati (5-1, 1-0) tries to shake off their first loss of the year as they head on the road to No. 16 Louisville (7-0, 2-0). Cincinnati started the year with five straight wins--including victories over Pittsburgh and well...you know...Virginia Tech--before dropping their last game to Toledo, 29-23. Louisville has been in a lot of tight contests, winning four games by 7 points or less. Wins are wins though and they have them over North Carolina, Pitt and South Florida. The key to this one will be Cincy's rushing attack versus the Louisville defense. This one is huge for deciding the Big East as it would give the winner a bit of a cushion when they eventually play Rutgers.
Tennessee at No. 13 South Carolina, 12:00 PM ESPN
Tennessee (3-4, 0-4) has had a forgettable season, with their only wins coming against NC State, Georgia State and Akron--really only the NC State game was one to write home about. Their four losses have come to No. 18 Florida, No. 5 Georgia, No. 19 Mississippi State and No. 1 Alabama, so you can kind of understand why they've lost their games. Tennessee's coach Derek Dooley is, supposedly, on the hot seat and it will warm up even more as the Vols head to No. 13 South Carolina (6-2, 4-2). The Gamecocks are coming off back-to-back losses to No. 9 LSU and No. 2 Florida, with the Florida loss being a double-digit loss. They should be able to get back on track this week against the Vols, but it'll be interesting to see if there's any sort of "hangover" from losing two in a row.
No. 2 Florida vs. No. 10 Georgia, 3:30 PM CBS
No. 2 Florida (7-0, 6-0) faces No. 10 Georgia (6-1, 4-1) in Jacksonville, Fla. in a huge SEC East game. This game is one of the marquee match-ups and it's perfectly understandable why that's the case as these teams very well may be battling for the SEC East title this weekend. Florida has Georgia this week and Missouri next week as their remaining SEC games so they could lock up the SEC East with a win over Georgia. Plus, Florida looks to keep their National Championship dreams alive. Georgia won last year's contest, but the Gators have won four of the last five and seven of the last 10. The Gators should feel pretty good about themselves after a 44-11 thrashing of No. 7 South Carolina last weekend. Georgia lost to No. 6 South Carolina, 35-7, back on Oct. 6, but followed up with a win over Kentucky. As noted above, Georgia would have to win this game to stay in the hunt for the SEC East. I think this game will come down to Aaron Murray versus that stingy Gator defense, allowing just over 12 points a game.
No. 14 Texas Tech at No. 3 Kansas State, 3:30 PM FOX
No. 14 Texas Tech (6-1, 3-1) takes their great passing game on the road to face No. 3 Kansas State (7-0, 4-0) in a big game for the Big 12 title hunt. The Red Raiders made their first big mark on the 2012 season with a 49-14 spanking of the then No. 5 West Virginia Mountaineers and followed it with a triple overtime shootout with No. 23 TCU. Kansas State earned their first big win of the year by defeating No. 6 Oklahoma 24-19 and then earned big win number two by embarrassing No. 13 West Virginia, 55-14, last weekend. Both teams have wins over WVU and Iowa State, but only K-State has a win over the other common opponent, Oklahoma. This game is not only important for the Big 12 race, but will turn out to be big for K-State's title dreams. Both teams have very capable offenses, but for this game I'm going to give the edge to Kansas State for their defensive play.
No. 9 USC at Arizona, 3:30 PM ABC/ESPN2
No. 9 USC (6-1, 4-1) goes on the road to face Arizona (4-3, 1-3). USC has had a pretty good season thus far, but it was sullied early on with a loss to No. 21 Stanford and the Trojans have had to battle a lot of other teams that have ascended the rankings to be where they are now. In their favor though, the Trojans have won every game since the loss to Stanford by double-digits. Arizona may be a little better than their 4-3 record indicates, as they boast one of the top passing games in the nation, throwing for over 350 yards a game. The Wildcats went through a rough stretch, losing games to No. 3 Oregon, No. 18 Oregon State and falling to No. 18 Stanford in overtime. I wouldn't be shocked at all if Arizona was able to keep pace with the Trojans.
TCU at Oklahoma State, 3:30 PM
TCU (5-2, 2-2) will go on the road to Oklahoma State (4-2, 2-1) in what could prove to be a big game down the road in the Big 12. These two teams have underachieved so far this season, in my opinion. Given the circumstances for TCU, they've done okay adjusting on the fly after the departure of starting quarterback Casey Pachall. OK State has done a good job putting points up on the board, but in their two losses their middle of the road defense was unable to hold against the offenses of Arizona and Texas. This one will probably come down to how the Horned Frogs fare on defense.
Ohio State at Penn State, 5:30 PM ESPN
I know what you're thinking: two games in a row between unranked teams? Well, this one sort of falls under that category. Ohio State actually has a perfect 8-0 record, but due to things that make me laugh they are unable to be ranked in the BCS and compete in bowl games. This is a good Big Ten battle and despite all the controversy surrounding BOTH programs, it should still be a pretty entertaining game. The thing to watch in this game is Braxton Miller's health, as the Buckeye quarterback left last week's game early.
No. 5 Notre Dame at No. 8 Oklahoma, 8:00 PM ABC
The Fighting Irish (7-0) put their national title hopes on the line on the road against No. 8 Oklahoma (5-1), their fourth game against teams ranked in the top 20. The Irish have used their stifling defense to earn wins over No. 10 Michigan State, No. 18 Michigan and No. 17 Stanford and have allowed a season high of just 17 points. On the flip side, Oklahoma's high-powered offense has put up over 44 points a game, thanks to a fairly balanced run and pass game. Obviously the big storyline in this game will be the Notre Dame defense versus the Oklahoma offense, but the second storyline will be the health of Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson, who suffered a concussion against Stanford.
No. 11 Mississippi State at No. 1 Alabama, 8:30 PM ESPN
Man, there are some really good games on this weekend. Chalk this one up as the fourth between ranked teams. No. 11 Mississippi State (7-0, 3-0) has been one of the surprise stories of the year and they take that clean record on the road against a very deserving No. 1 Alabama (7-0, 4-0). Both of these teams play very solid defense--Mississippi State allowing just over 14 points a game and Alabama a paltry 8.3. To put Alabama's defense in perspective, the Tide have allowed just seven touchdowns all year. That's two fewer than WVU gave up to Baylor in one game. I'm going to go ahead and give Alabama the edge on this one because of what they can do on both sides of the ball, but I think Mississippi State is definitely capable of pulling off the upset. Then again, I wouldn't be shocked at all if Nick Saban prepared his team so well for this game that they came out and embarrassed the Bulldogs, just to further the thought of the Tide being the best team in the nation.
No. 7 Oregon State at Washington, 10:15 PM PAC-12 NETWORK
No. 7 Oregon State (6-0, 4-0) goes on the road to Washington (3-4, 1-3) for a PAC-12 battle, hoping to stay undefeated and continue to make their case for BCS bowls in the process. The Beavers have wins over No. 13 Wisconsin, No. 19 UCLA, Arizona, and Utah. The Beavers have been in a lot of close games, winning five of six games by two or fewer scores. So are we in for another tight one against Washington? Probably. Then again, the Huskies have had a rough go of it lately, losing games to No. 2 Oregon, No. 11 USC and Arizona. In fact, their only win over a BCS conference team has been their 17-13 win over No. 8 Stanford back on September 27th. The Huskies have struggled to find any sort of offensive identity and the same goes for defense. Oregon State uses primarily a passing game on offense and relies on a pretty good defense to keep them in it.
FIVE ACC GAMES TO WATCH
Theirs only five ACC games this week so here they all are.
No. 18 Clemson at Wake Forest, 7:30 PM ESPN
No. 18 Clemson (6-1, 3-1) goes on the road to play Wake Forest (4-3, 2-3) in a ACC Atlantic match-up. Tahj Boyd and the Tigers played Virginia Tech in their last game out and well we all know how that freaking went. Clemson could continue a push for the Atlantic division with a win. Wake Forest has losses to No. 5 Florida State, Duke and Maryland, but has wins over North Carolina, Army (eh) and UVA (eh again). I'm bored with this one already. Clemson should easily roll Wake.
North Carolina State at North Carolina, 12:30 PM ESPN3
NC State (5-2, 2-1) heads to play in-state rival North Carolina (5-3, 2-2). NC State has had a pretty solid season, losing to Tennessee and Miami at the last minute, but beating No. 3 Florida State to end the undefeated season fro the Noles. The Pack is just a win away from bowl eligibility and it could come this week against an inconsistent UNC team. UNC dropped games to Wake Forest and No. 19 Louisville before winning four straight games. After their 18-14 victory over Miami, the Tar Heels lost to Duke by three points. This may be a tight game, depending on Mike Glennon's ability to find openings in the Tar Heel defense.
Maryland at Boston College, 1:00 PM ESPN3
Maryland (4-3, 2-1) takes on fellow ACC Atlantic division foe Boston College (1-6, 0-4). Maryland has wins over William & Mary, Temple, Wake Forest and Virginia, but has dropped games to Connecticut, No. 8 West Virginia and North Carolina State. Perry Hills leads the attack for the Terrapins who have found much more success in the passing game than the running game. BC...well...it hasn't been pretty. BC has a win over Maine, but has lost every other game. Boston College actually has a pretty decent passing game, but I think they just have way too many flaws to be able to pull out a win.
BYU at Georgia Tech, 3:00 PM ESPN3
BYU (4-4) heads to Atlanta to play a under-performing Georgia Tech (3-4). BYU has had an odd season, alternated pairs of wins with pairs of losses. The three Cougar losses have come to No. 24 Boise State, No. 10 Oregon State and No. 5 Notre Dame. Georgia Tech has wins over Presbyterian, UVA and Boston College--three pretty unimpressive wins. Losses came to No. 16 Virginia Tech (ah those were the days...), Miami, Middle Tennessee and No. 15 Clemson. I really don't care too much about this game, but go ACC I guess?
Duke at No. 12 Florida State, 3:30 PM ESPNU
Duke (6-2, 3-1) travels to No. 12 Florida State (7-1, 4-1) in what, surprisingly, will actually be a big ACC game. Duke has become bowl eligible, which is pretty awesome for their program, and actually has a pretty solid team to put out against the Seminoles. FSU has dropped their only game of the year to NC State, a shocker for many college football fans. FSU should be able to win this one, but an upset by Duke would definitely help a.) Clemson's push for the Atlantic division and b.) Duke's push to get ranked.