TEN* GAMES TO WATCH
*Had to trim this week's edition down a bit due to some prior commitments. Previewing the top six games, listing the other four games.
No. 16 Texas A&M at No. 15 Mississippi State, 12:00 PM ESPN
No. 16 Texas A&M (6-2, 3-2) head to Starkville to play No. 15 Mississippi State (7-1, 3-1). TAMU is coming off a 42-point win over Auburn and has only suffered losses to No. 24 Florida and No. 6 LSU. TAMU's offense is one of the top ones in the nation and is capable of putting up a lot of points. They'll get a good test Saturday against a Mississippi State team that allows just over 17 points a game. If the Bulldogs can stop Johnny Manziel, they can stay in this one and earn an important win.
TCU at No. 21 West Virginia, 3:00 PM FOX
TCU (5-3, 2-3) heads to Morgantown to face a WVU (5-2, 2-2) team that has lost two straight contests. TCU started out hot, winning their opening four games, but dropped three out of their last four games--something that's probably associated with QB Casey Pachall leaving the program due to substance abuse. WVU started off really hot, soaring to eighth in the nation before getting spanked in back-to-back weeks by Texas Tech and Kansas State. West Virginia is in desperate need of of a win, but TCU is capable of handing them another loss.
No. 23 Texas at No. 18 Texas Tech, 3:30 PM ABC/ESPN2
No. 23 Texas (6-2, 3-2) heads to Lubbock to play No. 18 Texas Tech (6-2, 3-2). Both Texas and Texas Tech trail Kansas State in the Big 12 title hunt and one team will pretty much be eliminated from contention with a loss this weekend. The Longhorns started off with four straight wins, but lost back-to-back contests to No. 8 West Virginia and to No. 13 Oklahoma (in embarrassing fashion). The Longhorns bounced back with close wins over Baylor and Kansas, both games they would have preferred to dominate. Texas Tech was up to No. 14 in the nation before last week's loss to Kansas State, a 55-24 pummeling. The Red Raiders rely on their strong passing game to put points on the board and prior to back-to-back 50+ point games, their defense has done a fairly good job.
No. 4 Oregon at No. 17 USC, 7:00 PM FOX
No. 4 Oregon (8-0, 5-0) gets a shot to prove themselves with a big road game at No. 17 USC (6-2, 4-2). Oregon has been nothing short of great as an offensive unit, putting up over 53 points per game and rushing for over 330 per. Their defense has been pretty good too, allowing a respectable 19.4 points per game. Oregon will be tested on both sides of the ball as they face a pretty good USC defense and a very good passing offense, lead by Matt Barkley. This is a huge game for Oregon as they try to prove that they belong in the National Championship discussion with Alabama, Notre Dame and Kansas State. Alabama and Kansas State could both potentially lose this weekend and Oregon would need a win in this one to keep near the top. However, don't count the Trojans out as spoilers for the Ducks.
No. 1 Alabama at No. 5 LSU, 8:00 PM CBS
No. 1 Alabama (8-0, 5-0) heads to wild Death Valley for a enormous match-up with No. 5 LSU (7-1, 3-1). This game is essentially for the SEC West title and a potential shot at the National Championship, a game that these two teams squared off in last year. Alabama has been spectacular thus far, bullying any team that steps in their way. Their two games against ranked opponents, No. 8 Michigan and No. 11 Mississippi State, were decided by 27 and 31 points, respectively. They haven't had the toughest of tests in between those two bookends, but they have handled every game with an authoritative manner. Saturday's game against LSU will be by far the toughest test of the season for the Crimson Tide. LSU has lost just one game, 14-6 against a very good No. 10 Florida team. The Tigers shook off that loss with back-to-back victories over ranked opponents, upsetting No. 3 South Carolina and then beating No. 18 Texas A&M. The Tigers don't win games in a pretty fashion, but they get the job done and use their stout defense to their advantage. This game should be really interesting to watch as two really good defenses will square off and with what is on the line, you can bet these two teams are going to leave everything on the field.
No. 24 Oklahoma State at No. 2 Kansas State, 8:00 PM ABC
No. 24 Oklahoma State (5-2, 3-1) goes on the road to play a soaring No. 2 Kansas State team (8-0, 5-0). This game will feature two really strong offenses with varying styles. Oklahoma State is a very pass heavy team, while Kansas State leans more towards the run game (though they can pass the ball pretty well, also). The big difference between these two teams is how well K-State plays defense. The Wildcats have a pretty solid defense and that should give them the edge over the Cowboys.
Last four games:
- Missouri at No. 7 Florida, 12:00 PM ESPN2
- Pittsburgh at No. 3 Notre Dame, 3:30 PM NBC
- No. 20 Nebraska at Michigan State, 3:30 PM ABC/ESPN2
- Arizona State at No. 11 Oregon State, 10:30 PM ESPN2
FOUR ACC GAMES TO WATCH
Theirs only five ACC games this week so here they all are.
Georgia Tech at Maryland, 12:30 PM ESPN3
Georgia Tech (3-5, 2-3) heads to Maryland (4-4, 2-2). Georgia Tech has lost four of their last five games, giving up 40 or more points in every loss. Maryland has alternated pairs of wins and pairs of losses, including a loss most recently to Boston College. Georgia Tech is coming off a 41-17 loss to BYU, thanks to four touchdowns by Jamaal Williams. Maryland struggles on the offensive side of the ball, but makes up for it with a decent defense (one that held WVU to just 31...and yes, I said "just 31"). GT is pretty much out of the Coastal division picture so there's not much in terms of implications for the Hokies.
Virginia at North Carolina State, 12:30 PM ESPN3
Virginia (2-6, 4-4) goes on the road to play NC State (5-3, 2-2). Virginia started out okay, beating Richmond and Penn State. Since then? They've dropped six straight, including a 16-10 loss to Wake Forest last game out. The UVA offense has struggled to find consistency, bouncing between quarterbacks and having issues rushing the ball. North Carolina State knocked off then No. 3 Florida State and followed it up with a win over Maryland, but fell to UNC last week on a punt return for a touchdown by Giovanni Bernard. I think Mike Glennon and the Wolfpack will tear up the Cavs.
Boston College at Wake Forest, 3:30 PM ESPN3
Boston College (2-6, 1-4) heads down south to play Wake Forest (4-4, 2-4). Boston College is pretty bad all around, with Chase Rettig pretty much being the saving grace for the Eagles. Rettig has passed for about 2,200 yards and 15 touchdowns for the Eagles and their air attack is pretty much all they have going for them. As their 4-4 record indicates, Wake has been inconsistent all year long. They have wins over Liberty, UNC, Army and Liberty, but have been beaten by Duke, Maryland, Florida State and Clemson. This game will probably not be all that entertaining and perhaps painful at times.
No. 13 Clemson at Duke, 7:00 PM ESPN2
No. 13 Clemson (7-1, 4-1) heads north to play a bowl eligible Duke team (6-3, 3-2). Clemson has rebounded from their loss to No. 4 Florida State with four straight wins by a double digit margin. The Tigers' prolific offense has been tough to stop, scoring over 40 a game on average. Duke has had one of the "feel good" story seasons, becoming bowl eligible and is actually still in the hunt for the ACC Coastal title. However, for the Blue Devils to remain in the Coastal hunt, they'll need to upset a very talented Clemson team. Man, I never thought I'd envy the record of Duke football team.