Thursday November 1
Teams: #11 Virginia Tech (6-2) at Georgia Tech (5-3)
Time (TV): 7:30 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: Georgia Tech
No team in America can claim two better quality losses than the Hokies. Congrats, you scrappy bunch of losers you. With losses to #2 Boston College and #3 LSU, you can wear a crown of jewels like few others. Who cares if your only quality win is against the mal-consistent Clemson Tigers. We applaud you for your losses. Since a loss to Georgia Tech would not be viewed as a quality loss, we must assume that the Hokies will win. It's not yet known if Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor will be back, though there is mention that he may be ready to go. If he is, his mobility will allow him to buy time against Georgia Tech's incredibly overrated blitz packages. If the Hokies have to go with Sean Glennon again, look for them to rely on running back Brandon Ore. Ore hasn't produced as expected this season, but did have a good game last week against Boston College. This isn't going to be the prettiest of games. Expect something like a 20-16 win for the Hokies.
Friday November 2
Teams: Akron (3-5) at Bowling Green (4-4)
Time (TV): 7:30 pm (ESPNU)
Cheer For: Akron
Friday night at Doyt Perry. There's nothing like it. I assume. I can't speak to it personally, as I've never been. My time in Bowling Green as a youth was better spent in apartment complexes learning how to become the Euchre great that stands before you now.
Teams: Nevada (4-4) at New Mexico State (4-5)
Time (TV): 8:00 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: Nevada
Since Nevada inserted redshirt freshman quarterback Colin Kaepernick into the lineup, the Wolfpack offense has become very machine-like. Kaepernick is averaging 250 yards passing and 76 yards rushing per game and has accounted for 13 touchdowns in four games. Kaepernick is 6'6", but he runs a 4.5 and he can break a play at any time. Against New Mexico State, the Aggies will likely accommodate most kindly. First one to 50 may actually lose this one. Should be an entertaining game to watch if you like offense and think defense is dumb.
Saturday November 3
Teams: Purdue (7-2) at Penn State (6-3)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: Purdue
I assume Penn State is going to win. I am wondering, however, if Penn State is just going to collapse this week. Every Ohio State opponent except Youngstown State has lost the week following their Ohio State loss. Is it just coincidence? Probably. But who am I to question perceived reality? Unfavorite son Anthony Morelli has so much pressure upon his shoulders right now that he could crumble at any moment. You should probably keep an eye on this game to see happens to Morelli. If he starts slow, the Penn State fans may treat him like they treat every other enemy--by pummeling him with beer cans.
Teams: Iowa (4-5) at Northwestern (5-4)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ESPN2)
Cheer For: Northwestern
Tyrell Sutton is back at running back for Northwestern, but he's being worked back slowly. That's okay because Omar Conteh has played well in his place. If quarterback C.J. Bacher can remain calm and accurate, the Wildcats could have a shot at eight wins this season. Last week, Purdue ran for 220 yards on the Wildcats, so look for the Hawkeyes to pound the ball with a resurgent Albert Young. After this game, Iowa finishes with Minnesota and Western Michigan. If they lose this game, they aren't guaranteed a bowl bid with six wins. If they do win, however, they'll win out and will definitely go bowling. There is a lot on the line for both teams, so even though it's a very "who cares" game to others, to the two teams, this is one of their most important games. Look for both teams to give supreme effort on Saturday.
Teams: Ball State (5-4) at Indiana (5-4)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (BTN)
Cheer For: Indiana
The two best teams in the state of Indiana meet in Bloomington on Saturday and the stakes couldn't be any higher...for games played in the state of Indiana. The Hoosiers are still looking for their elusive sixth win, but the way things are going, they may actually need a seventh to go bowling. Finishing at Northwestern and at home against Purdue won't be easy, but it's also not an impossible task. But before they get to that point, they can't overlook a Ball State team that has given several teams trouble over the last couple of years. I'm sure we all remember last year when Ball State had the ball on Michigan's goal line trying to tie the game late in the fourth quarter. And then earlier this season, the Cardinals scored 40 points in a one-point loss at Nebraska. The Hoosiers will be in for a bit of a shootout as Ball State quarterback Nate Davis is one of the best quarterbacks you know nothing about. Ball State will be able to move the ball, so the Hoosiers can't have the same offensive letdown that hit them last week at Madison. They need to regroup and get James Hardy involved again. Kellen Lewis needs to take over and lead this team into the postseason, and it starts with this game.
Teams: Syracuse (2-6) at Pittsburgh (3-5)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (Gameplan)
Cheer For: Syracuse
The only person that looks forward to watching a Syracuse football game is Dave Wannstedt. I've heard he likes Syracuse because he likes teams whose colors are also flavors. Although his handlers may want to try to keep him from licking a Syracuse jersey this year. It was so embarrassing watching Wannstedt's pre-game interview before this game last year when all he could manage was "Them tastes orangey" when asked what he thought about the Syracuse team.
Teams: #24 Wake Forest (6-2) at #23 Virginia (7-2)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (Gameplan)
Cheer For: Wake Forest
I realize that this is sorta like a big game in the ACC, but c'mon. Virginia, to my immediate recollection, has been involved in important games twice. The first was sometime back in high school when they had Herman Moore and were ranked #1 for some reason and I remember talking to a classmate about them as we were walking into school. The second time would be when they beat Florida State a few years later, giving the Seminoles their first ever ACC loss. Other than that, there's been nothing. Now I'm not saying that my recollection is the end-all and be-all, but let's be honest, it's pretty close. I'm gonna go with Wake Forest in this one because they've been here before (albeit just once.)
Teams: Nebraska (4-5) at #8 Kansas (8-0)
Time (TV): 12:30 pm (FSN)
Cheer For: Kansas
All the talk this year has seemingly been about Kansas' offense, and for good reason--they're averaging 42.5 points per game. However, in the last two weeks, they've won at Colorado and at Texas A&M and only scored 19 points in each contest. Their defense has stepped up as the offense has hit a bit of a lull. But fortunately for Kansas, the aunt of all lull-killers has come to town--Nebraska. (Nebraska is only the aunt because Notre Dame is the mother, they're like sisters, I guess.) The Jayhawks' offense should be back on track this week, provided quarterback Todd Reesing gets back to playing like he was a month ago. And even if he doesn't, Kansas should still be able to run the ball and play defense well enough to win by at least ten points.
Teams: Vanderbilt (5-3) at #20 Florida (5-3)
Time (TV): 12:30 pm (LF - Gameplan)
Cheer For: Vanderbilt
Vandy and Florida...peers. Don't believe me? Just look at their identical 5-3 records. It's hard to even tell these two teams apart. Although, if you put them all together in a dark room, you'd still be able to find Lord Tebow on account of his resplendent glow. Tebow has been a bit banged up lately, but don't put any of the blame on Urban Meyer. If Tebow can't handle 20 carries per game, then he shouldn't be playing quarterback at the University of Florida! That kid needs to toughen up. It's not like he's only got one shoulder.
Teams: Troy (6-2) at #10 Georgia (6-2)
Time (TV): 1:00 pm
Cheer For: Troy
How hilarious would it be if Troy goes into Athens and beats Georgia one week after the Bulldogs put the sweet spot on Florida and hammered it? Would the damage to the SEC be irreparable? Of course not. There is no such thing as irreparable damage in the south. That's why you see houses with duct tape siding and foundations by Michelin.
Teams: Navy (4-4) at Notre Dame (1-7)
Time (TV): 2:30 pm (NBC)
Cheer For: Navy
Notre Dame comes into this game having beaten Navy 43-straight times. They also come into this game with the world's worst offense. Fortunately for the Irish, the Navy defense is terrible. In fact, last week Navy lost 59-52 to Delaware. Now we can't expect the Irish to have an offense on par with Delaware's, but the Irish could actually put up 17-24 points this week. Unfortunately for the Irish, Navy scored 52 points on Delaware last week, and we can't expect Notre Dame to play defense as well as the Blue Hens. Something may or may not have to give. Navy is rushing for 343 yards per game to this point so Notre Dame will come into this game obviously intent on stopping the run. But since when has Notre Dame's intent mattered this year? This may be the most entertaining game of the week. Better Notre Dame teams have barely beaten worse Navy teams. I like the Midshipmen in this one.
Teams: #12 Michigan (7-2) at Michigan State (5-4)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (ABC)
Cheer For: Michigan
We should cheer for Michigan, but I can't root against Mark Dantonio. The Spartans have been looking forward to this game since Dantonio took the job, and you have to respect that. So now they finally get what they've been wanting for the last ten months.
It looks like Mike Hart will be able to go for Michigan, but the rumors are swirling that the same cannot be said for Henne. Per usual, I buy no rumors from Michigan until the ball kicks off, so I'm expecting Henne to be out there. Why am I expecting Henne to be out there? Because if he's not, Dantonio will attack Ryan Mallett until Mallett finally bursts into tears and sobs. Actually, that may not be a bad thing to do to Henne either. Regardless of who's back there, Michael Hart will carry the ball as much as his little brittle body will allow. Mario Manningham has been on fire for the last month, so it will be interesting to see if this continues against the Spartans. Obviously, Michigan won't be the only team playing offense. Michigan’s run defense has played well since linebacker Chris Graham has come back from injury and he'll get quite the workout this week.
This will be the first time in a while the Wolverines will be able to play a base 4-3 defense again. It would be bad news if any of those linebackers get matched up with receiver Devin Thomas as Thomas will line up everywhere. Minnesota had success running the ball last week, but they did it with the read option. Spartan quarterback Brian Hoyer doesn't have that ability, so Michigan will be better prepared to play this defense. I think the Spartans will get the ball to Devin Thomas and Javon Ringer out wide and try to stretch the defense, and then they'll pound the thinned-out defense with Jehuu Caulcrick. I'm not sure how the Spartans will do it, but I'm going with Dantonio in this one on the basis of his Tressel discipleship.
Teams: #15 Texas (7-2) at Oklahoma State (5-3)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (ABC)
Cheer For: Oklahoma State
What ever happened to Texas? Oh, that's right, Vince Young left for the NFL. Last week, Jamaal Charles rushed for over 200 yards in the fourth quarter against Nebraska. I'm not sure if we should take that effort to mean that the Longhorns are going to pick up right where they left off, or if they'll start slow just like they did last week. They can't start too slow, because Oklahoma State can move the ball and score. I'd be pretty surprised if Texas wins this one, and the sad thing is that they have no reason to lose it. There's talent there. It's pretty apparent that Mack Brown lost his Vince Young jetpack and has come back down to earth. We can pretty much disregard Texas for the rest of Mack's career. He will never have another Vince Young, and that's what it took for him to be a champion in the first place.
Teams: Cincinnati (6-2) at #18 USF (6-2)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (ABC)
Cheer For: Cincinnati
Both teams are 1-2 in conference to this point. If that doesn't speak to the level of play in the Big East, then it probably speaks to how bad Cincinnati and USF really are. This game will come down to defense and turnovers. Both defenses are relatively good, but both teams have good quarterbacks who can make plays with their feet and their arms. Whichever quarterback tries too hard to the point of turning the ball over will probably lose. How's that for strategy: "Don't try too hard!" Actually, it should be some lame cliché of "Play within yourself", but nobody really knows what that means. Usually you want players to play better than they ever have. That's not exactly playing "within" yourself. But I guarantee nobody would understand "Play outside yourself". And playing "without" yourself, while selfless, makes no sense. That's why I always stick with the old stand-by of: "Hey, let's go play good, huh?!"
Teams: #3 LSU (7-1) at #17 Alabama (6-2)
Time (TV): 5:30 pm (CBS)
Cheer For: Alabama
Other than Nick Saban's arrival, this game is the biggest thing to happen to Tuscaloosa since Randy Taggart caught that 30-lb catfish in the Black Warrior River with his bare hands in '88. Since then, there hasn't been much going on in town. But now Les Miles and his semi-automatic fingerguns come into Alabama with the love of an entire nation behind them. But I'm not one of those ridiculous LSU adorers. You could probably classify me a hater, but if you do, then you're just as big of a hater. Let's face it, LSU's offense is merely okay. Their defense is pretty good, but they have coverage issues and with Glenn Dorsey banged up, the pass rush could have trouble. Alabama can run and throw a little bit, and that's really all that you need to do to move the ball on LSU. If Alabama doesn't turn the ball over, LSU can't beat them. If LSU does force turnovers, then Alabama is in trouble. However, as long as Les Miles is on the sideline, the opponent is never out of it. I'll roll with the Tide in this one.
Teams: #9 Missouri (7-1) at Colorado (5-4)
Time (TV): 6:30 pm (FSN)
Cheer For: Colorado
We're cheering for Colorado in order to clear out an unnecessary one-loss team. Plus, we like Dan Hawkins as a head coach. And we like what Colorado has done this season. Colorado nearly beat Kansas at home a couple of weeks ago, losing 19-14. The Buffs put a pretty good defensive effort together last week at Texas Tech, beating the Red Raiders 31-26. And now Missouri comes to Boulder. This may be the most complete offense the Buffs will face this year, but I think the defense is up to the task. Coach's son, and freshman quarterback, Cody Hawkins has had his battles with consistency this season, but played a good game last week by controlling the ball and not turning it over. If Colorado can run the ball with Hugh Charles and keep the third downs reasonable, I like the Buffs in this one. If Missouri comes out and stuffs the run, they'll win by 10-14.
Teams: Washington (2-6) at Stanford (3-5)
Time (TV): 6:30 pm (FCSP)
Cheer For: Washington
It's Ty's homecoming. You wanna bet that Stanford has changed the locks? When they see him pull into the driveway, they'll run around the house turning all of the lights out.
Teams: # 4 Arizona State (8-0) at #5 Oregon (7-1)
Time (TV): 6:45 pm (ESPN & FSN, state-dependant)
Cheer For: Arizona State
Why are we cheering for Arizona State? Because they'd be a better match-up for "whatever team" would end up playing them in the BCS National Championship game. But we'll be cheering in vain. Sun Devil quarterback Rudy Carpenter is battling a sprained throwing thumb and it's not yet clear just how game-ready he'll be. With the loss of running back Ryan Torain a couple of weeks ago, Carpenter will be relied on heavily to complete passes in order to open up the running game for back-up Keegan Herring. Herring is a former starter, and he's explosive. But Torain was powerful and a chain-mover. Arizona State will miss that this week. Of course, as much turmoil as the Devils have on offense, it will be up to their defense to slow down the best offense in the country. Quarterback Dennis Dixon is playing his best football as a Duck and the offense is pert near unstoppable right now. I just don't think Arizona State will stop the Ducks enough times to keep their suddenly suspect offense in the game. I'm thinking the Ducks by 14 or so. Pac 10 games have a way of turning into 28-point blowouts pretty quickly.
Teams: Rutgers (5-3) at #13 Connecticut (7-1)
Time (TV): 7:15 pm (ESPNU)
Cheer For: Connecticut
Yes, this is a big game in the Big East and no, I don't care. Will I watch it? Maybe if it's close in the fourth quarter. Color me elitist, but I just don't care to learn about UConn football. I don't like it. I'm not comfortable with it. And I don't want it in my home. Stepping away from my completely justifiable biases for a moment, I have to wonder if Rutgers can pull off the upset. Probably not. UConn has been winning with defense and...I have no idea what else. I think I usually pick against UConn. That will end this week. I'll go with the Huskies. Sorry, UConn.
Teams: Florida State (5-3) at #2 Boston College (8-0)
Time (TV): 8:00 pm (ABC)
Cheer For: Boston College
Boston College comes into this game as a huge favorite, and they come in off of a tremendous win the week before in Blacksburg. Florida State comes in with Drew Weatherford back at quarterback. The offense is in a terrible way right now and there's no way they can be expected to compete in this game. However, this is the ACC, which means that nothing is as it seems. This is one of those weeks where everything points to a Boston College win by four touchdowns, which of course means that the Seminoles will have a fourth-quarter lead in this game. I'm not going to be brazen enough to pick Florida State in this one. But I think I've said enough that if the Noles actually pull the upset, I can say "I told you so".
Teams: Oregon State (5-3) at #19 USC (6-2)
Time (TV): 8:00 pm (ABC)
Cheer For: Oregon State
In the wake of USC's impending NCAA doom, the Trojans may be a bit distracted this week. I wonder if ABC will spend an entire quarter talking about it. I bet not. I also wonder if the television talkabouts will call for Pete Carroll to resign amidst all of the mounting evidence. Again...bet not. And if Herbstreit is in the booth, I wonder if he tries to put a stop to the probation talk. I bet so.
Teams: Texas A&M (6-3) at #6 Oklahoma (7-1)
Time (TV): 8:00 pm (ABC)
Cheer For: Texas A&M
The Aggies have no shot in this game. You would think. But the Sooners have had three tough outings since their loss at Colorado, but have won all three. If Texas A&M can run the ball, then they'll have a shot to play into the fourth quarter before Oklahoma ultimately pulls it out. Oklahoma has struggled with turnovers lately, but I don't expect A&M to make many plays on defense. The Sooners will be able to run the ball with Allen Patrick and DeMarco Murray, and it will be those two players who outshine Texas A&M's duo of Jorvorskie Lane and Mike Goodson. Quarterback Stephen McGee needs to play his best game as an Aggie if A&M is going to win this one.
Teams: South Carolina (6-3) at Arkansas (5-3)
Time (TV): 8:00 pm (ESPN2)
Cheer For: Arkansas
Arkansas is 1-3 in the SEC. I think it says a lot about the conference when they can hold a one-dimensional Arkansas team to a .250 winning percentage. Last week, Steve Spurrier finally benched Chris Smelley in favor of Blake Mitchell. Mitchell threw for 290 yards last week against Tennessee and he gives the Gamecocks a veteran at quarterback, which is really all you need in the SEC. You don't need to be talented; you just need to not suck incredibly bad. Unfortunately for Arkansas, they have no such quarterback. Still, it remains to be seen if South Carolina can continue their one-week offensive outburst without having the good fortune of playing Tennessee in back-to-back weeks. I think South Carolina will be able to play defense well-enough to win, but it will be up to the offense to continue their play from last week. I'll go with the Gamecocks 30-24.
Teams: Illinois (6-3) at Minnesota (1-8)
Time (TV): 8:00 pm (BTN)
Cheer For: Illinois
If this game doesn't make you giggle, then you're not paying attention. Illinois comes into this game already bowl eligible, but looking for more. Minnesota comes into this game with an incredible disdain for playing football. This situation is like a finely-tailored suit sewn onto Ron Zook's back. This game screams out for a Ron Zook classic. Obviously, Illinois is much better than Minnesota, but so what. The Illini have lost two-straight to Iowa and Michigan, so they don't have a lot of momentum right now. Not that momentum really matters when Zook is at the helm.
Teams: #21 Wisconsin (7-2) at #1 Ohio State (9-0)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (BTN)
Cheer For: Ohio State
If P.J. Hill plays the Badgers will stand a much better shot in this game. But even then, they'd still be at a distinct disadvantage. The Badgers have held their last two opponents (Northern Illinois and Indiana) to six total points, but prior to that, four of five opponents had scored more than 30. I'd like to think the Buckeyes are better than Northern Illinois and Indiana, but then again, I don't want to look like a homer. Ohio State's defense has yet to allow a touchdown at home and there's a pretty good chance that that streak will continue. Although, by my mentioning it, I have doomed the streak. I do think Buckeye fans are a little too confident about this one--me included. I'm in no mood for a close game here. No mood!