Let's try something new this week. In the comments section, pick the winners of the games below and if you're right, you get internet points. We will use this week as a trial run and starting next week, we may go to a system tabbing up points and the end of season winner may get a t-shirt or something like that.
Ten Games to Watch This Weekend
(in order of play. All times ET, all games subject to local network blackouts)
No. 13 USC at Utah, 9:00 PM ESPN
USC (3-1, 1-1) goes on the road to play the Utah Utes (2-2, 0-1) for your Thursday night game. The Trojans started the season with wins over Hawaii and Syracuse, but were defeated at Stanford to fall from the top five. The Trojans rebounded two Saturdays ago with a 27-9 win over Cal. Utah has alternated wins and losses, beating Northern Colorado, falling to Utah State for the first time since 1997, defeating No. 25 BYU and then losing to Arizona State by 30. USC should be able to handle Utah with ease.
Pittsburgh at Syracuse, 7:00 PM ESPN
Pittsburgh (2-2, 0-1) started the season with double-digit losses to Youngstown State and Cincinnati and well, you know what happened next. Pitt upset our beloved Hokies 35-17 and then steamrolled Gardner-Webb 55-10. Looks like the Panthers might have found their offense. Syracuse (1-3, 0-0) opened with a one point loss to Northwestern, was in the game against USC...before the fourth quarter started, beat Stony Brook 28-17, and then lost to Minnesota by a touchdown. So, though they're 1-3, they may not be as bad as their record indicates. I think this game will come down to which version of each team shows up. Syracuse's offense ranks 10th in the nation in passing yards per game (341.8), and if Pitt can limit the passing game they have a better shot of winning this one.
No. 24 Northwestern at Penn State, 12:00 PM ESPN
Northwestern (5-0, 1-0) travels to Happy Valley to play the Penn State (3-2, 1-0), and try to stay undefeated. Northwestern has wins over Syracuse, Vanderbilt, Boston College, South Dakota and Indiana, so take that for what it's worth. Penn State dropped their opening two games to Ohio and UVA, but have won three straight, defeating Navy, Temple and Illinois. Northwestern runs for over 250 yards per game so the big match-up will be their ground game versus Penn State's defense, which allows a shade under 130 yards on the ground.
Arkansas at Auburn, 12:00 PM ESPN2
Arkansas (1-4, 0-2) started the season as the No. 8 team in the land and defeated Jacksonville State to start the season. Then started the downward spiral: losing four straight games, starting with a three-point overtime loss to Louisiana-Monroe, a 52-0 spanking from No. 1 Alabama, 35-26 loss to Rutgers and a 58-10 loss to Texas A&M last week. The Razorbacks are making me feel a little better about how we've done this year. Auburn (1-3, 0-2) opened the season with a losses to Clemson and Mississippi State before beating Louisiana-Monroe (in OT). The Tigers almost pulled off a big upset against LSU, but fell just short of a win. So, why did I select a match-up from a 1-4 team and a 1-3 team? Well, they're both desperate for a win and they're both kind of bad right now so it very well may turn into a high-scoring game.
Arizona at No. 18 Stanford, 3:00 PM FOX
Arizona (3-2, 0-2) goes on the road to play No. 18 Stanford (3-1, 1-1). Arizona started the season with three wins, including a 21-point win over then No. 18 Oklahoma State. Then they met the No. 3 Oregon Ducks. Oregon ran over Arizona with a 49-0 win and the Wildcats fell to Oregon State by a field goal the next game out. Stanford hosts the Wildcats and looks to shake off the first loss of the season, last Thursday to Washington. Stanford narrowly beat San Jose State (20-17), beat up on Duke (50-13) and then upset No. 2 USC 21-14. Save the Duke game, Stanford has struggled to score points so trying to keep up with the Arizona offense may be the biggest aspect of this game.
No. 4 LSU at No. 10 Florida, 3:30 PM CBS
No. 4 LSU (5-0, 1-0) has struggled of late and heading to the swamp to face the Florida Gators (4-0, 3-0). LSU started the season with multiple score wins over North Texas, Washington and Idaho, but just edged Auburn 12-10, and had far more trouble with Towson than they should have. Florida struggled with Bowling Green in their opener, leading just 17-14 after three quarters of play. The following week the Gators edged Texas A&M, 20-17, and knocked off No. 23 Tennessee 37-20 in week three. The Gators shut out Kentucky 38-0 in week four and had a bye week last week. These two teams rank 9th (LSU) and 10th (Florida) in the nation in points allowed on defense and 18th (LSU) and 20th (Florida) in rushing yards per game so it might come down to a matter of which offense breaks through.
No. 5 Georgia at No. 6 South Carolina, 7:00 PM ESPN
The Bulldogs (5-0, 3-0) heads on the road to play South Carolina (5-0, 3-0) in what is one of the biggest games of the season. The Bulldogs have defeated Buffalo, Missouri, Florida Atlantic, Vanderbilt and Tennessee thus far and have done so in convincing fashion on offense, scoring over 40 in every game. South Carolina started the season with a four-point win over Vanderbilt, one that was a bit tainted by a missed pass interference call on third down for Vanderbilt. Damn replacement refs. The Gamecocks then defeated East Carolina, UAB, Missouri and Kentucky to improve to 5-0. The Gamecocks have a stingy defense, allowing just over 11 points a game. The big story coming into the game is that Georgia will be without their leading receiver, sophomore Michael Bennett. Bennett tore his ACL in Tuesday's practice and will miss the rest of the season. The game will pretty much hinge on South Carolina's defense and whether or not they can stop Aaron Murray and the Bulldogs.
No. 8 West Virginia at No. 11 Texas, 7:00 PM FOX
If you haven't heard about Geno Smith's performance last week for No. 8 West Virginia (4-0, 1-0), then I feel bad for you. Smith was 45/51 for for 656 yards and 8 (!) touchdowns in the Mountaineers' wild, wild win over No. 25 Baylor. It was a truly incredible performance, but here's something to note: Smith HAD to play that well for the Mountaineers to win by seven over the Bears. The game showed two things: how powerful this offense can be, and how horrible the defense can be. This is a defense that gave up 63 points last week, 34 to Marshall and 21 to Maryland. Who do the Mountaineers get to face this week? Texas. A team that can put up big numbers on offense and can play defense a lot better than the last opponent for the Mountaineers. The key to the game lies with the WVU defense. If they can actually stop someone...anyone...then they have a chance to beat Texas. If not? We're potentially in for another shootout.
No. 21 Nebraska at No. 12 Ohio State, 8:00 PM ABC
Taylor Martinez and No. 21 Nebraska (4-1, 1-0) goes to Columbus to play Braxton Miller and the No. 12 Ohio State Buckeyes (5-0, 1-0). Nebraska has wins over Southern Mississippi, Arkansas State, Idaho State and Wisconsin and lost to No. 22 UCLA in week two. The Cornhuskers have a tough task at hand to go on the road and face the Buckeyes. However, the Buckeyes may not be as good as their 5-0 record indicates. The Buckeyes almost fell to Michigan State last week (17-16), struggled with UAB, Cal and UCF. Nebraska could give Ohio State lots of problems as they put a lot of points up and have a pretty good defense, something that may be tough for the Ohio State offense to crack.
No. 23 Washington at No. 2 Oregon, 10:30 PM ESPN
No. 23 Washington (3-1, 1-0) goes into Autzen Stadium to face the high-powered offense of the No. 2 Oregon Ducks (5-0, 2-0). Washington opened with a win over San Diego State and was then hammered by No. 2 LSU 41-3 in week two. Washington won their next two contests, including a 17-13 upset of No. 8 Stanford last Thursday. Oregon's offense is clicking right now as they're top 10 in rushing yards per game (303.0) and points per game (52.4). The Ducks have wins over Arkansas State, Fresno State, Tennessee Tech, No. 22 Arizona and Washington State. The big statement game thus far was the 49-0 win over a ranked Arizona team. Oregon puts up a lot of points so Washington will really need their defense to try to keep them in the game because I really don't think their offense can keep pace with Oregon.
Five ACC games to watch this weekend
(Games are subject to local viewing stations)
Virginia at Duke, 3:00 PM (Check local)
Virginia (2-3, 0-1) travels to play Duke (4-1, 1-0) in what may turn out to be a big ACC Coastal game. UVA started out 2-0, but was demolished by Georgia Tech in week three, lost at TCU week four and dropped a home game to Louisiana Tech (it's not as bad as it sounds, actually). The Cavaliers have struggled to find any sort of consistency on offense and it's cost them. Duke is an impressive 4-1...until you look at their wins: Florida International, North Carolina Central, Memphis and Wake Forest. Good thing for Duke? UVA may not be too much of a step-up in talent. This one should be a good game to watch, but I sure as hell won't watch. I mean, I'm not ready to die of boredom.
Wake Forest at Maryland, 3:30 PM ESPNU
Wake Forest (3-2, 1-2) will head to College Park to take on the Maryland Terrapins (2-2, 0-0). Wake edged Liberty and North Carolina, got embarrassed by No. 5 Florida State, beat Army, but lost to Duke last week. Maryland opened the season with a THRILLING 7-6 victory over William & Mary, defeated Temple, and then dropped games to Connecticut and No. 8 West Virginia (though it was closer than many expected.
Georgia Tech at No. 15 Clemson, 3:30 PM ESPN
Georgia Tech (2-3, 1-2) is feeling the pressure and a trip to Clemson (4-1, 1-1) probably won't help. You know how the Yellow Jackets started the season, and they followed that with wins over Presbyterian and UVA. Then the shit hit the fan with an overtime loss to Miami and 21-point loss AT HOME to Middle Tennessee. Clemson started 3-0 and was No. 10 in the nation when they lost to No. 4 FSU. Perhaps feeling a bit hungover from the loss to FSU, the Tigers allowed 31 points to Boston College last week. Clemson could help Virginia Tech out in the ACC Coastal race by downing the Yellow Jackets.
Miami at No. 9 Notre Dame, 7:30 PM NBC
Miami (4-1) heads to
South Bend Soldier Field (thanks, @trevorsgreene ) to play the No. 9 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (4-0). Miami fell to Kansas State 52-13 in week two, but has since beat Georgia Tech and NC State (and Bethune-Cookman). Notre Dame started the season with a win over Navy in Ireland, edged Purdue by three points, and then knocked off No. 10 Michigan State and No. 18 Michigan in back-to-back weeks. The Fighting Irish may not put up all that many points, but their defense allows just nine a game. Miami may have a tough go of it trying to put any points up on the Notre Dame defense.
No. 3 Florida State at North Carolina State, 8:00 PM ESPN2
No. 3 Florida State (5-0, 2-0) travels to NC State (3-2, 0-1) this week, looking to stay undefeated. Florida State's signature victory thus far this season was the 49-37 win over No. 10 Clemson. EJ Manuel and the FSU offense are number six in the nation in points for per game, and they even had a game cut short due to weather. NC State opened the season with a loss to Tennessee, won three straight--albeit against UConn, South Alabama and The Citadel--before falling to Miami last week in a wild game. The Wolfpack are lead by Mike Glennon at quarterback and I guess David Amerson on defense, though he's been abused by quarterbacks thus far. FSU should easily be able to win this one and remain undefeated.
Which games are you most excited about for this weekend?