It’s interesting how a full Saturday of college football progresses.
Last week got off to a surprising start in the Big Ten, as Michigan State trailed Indiana and Penn State worked toward knocking off previously unbeaten Northwestern. As the day wore on, Oklahoma took care of business and LSU and Florida became a defensive struggle that at times was tough to watch … and, whoa, was Iowa State really beating TCU?
Then time for a quick dinner break and the evening channel flipping began. With Georgia/South Carolina, West Virginia/Texas, Nebraska/Ohio State, Florida State/NC State and Notre Dame/Miami all happening at the same time, it was another frantic evening in front of the TV.
And when the night cap is Washington/Oregon, it’s really tough to call it a night before that game has been decided.
This week, it looks like more of the same.
The schedule is so intriguing, 12 games are previewed this week. There just weren’t any to cut out from the list. But fortunately for the TV thumbs, the “big” games are a bit more spread out this week.
Just don’t plan on leaving your couch all day though.
Let’s take a quick review through last week before jumping into Saturday’s games.
Suit-able for Review: Five themes worth remembering
It was quite a week for two teams in the SEC as South Carolina dominated its way to a 35-7 win over Georgia and Florida won a huge game at home over LSU, 14-6. But those weren’t the only two noteworthy performances. Penn State won its fourth-straight game, knocking off previously unbeaten Northwestern, 39-28. And Vanderbilt kept Missouri from winning its first SEC game, 19-15.
High-octane offense is the buzz phrase in college football this year. And last week, four games lived up to their offensive expectations. West Virginia continued as a juggernaut and toppled Texas in a wild one, 48-45. Ohio State hung more than 60 points on the once highly-touted Nebraska, 63-38. After a slow start, Kansas State found its rhythm on offense to the tune of a 56-16 trouncing of Kansas. And Notre Dame showed a glimmer of offensive hope in a 41-3 win over Miami. (Which begs the question, is Notre Dame finding its offense, or is the Miami defense just that bad?)
Close Calls … and Misses
The stunner of the day easily was Florida State, yet again failing to live up to expectations and falling to NC State on a late touchdown, 17-16. (Watch the game highlights below.) But two other teams came awfully close to suffering unexpected defeats of their own. Michigan State trailed Indiana by 17 points before rallying in the second half to a 31-27 win. And Stanford (yes, the team that knocked off USC a couple of weeks ago) needed overtime to defeat Arizona, 54-48.
What’s going on?
No, your eyes aren’t fooling you. The following four things really did happen last week:
- Iowa State really knocked off then-No. 15 TCU, 37-23. The win pushed the Cyclones to 4-1 on the year. More on Iowa State in a bit.
- Duke dominated (yes, dominated is the correct term) Virginia, 42-17. Duke is now 5-1 on the year. A win this week over Virginia Tech would make the Blue Devils bowl eligible.
- What happened to Purdue? The team some prognosticators predicted to win the Big Ten Leaders division was steamrolled by Michigan, 44-13. And now with a test this weekend against Wisconsin, Purdue’s hopes at a significant bowl game are waning.
- Louisiana Tech has very quietly lifted itself to a perfect season, sitting at 5-0 after a 58-31 win over UNLV. Will the Bulldogs become one last gasp for the WAC?
With the sixth week of the season coming and going, four teams sit at 6-0 … and three are officially bowl eligible. South Carolina and Oregon became the first two major conference teams to earn bowl eligibility. The third, however, is a bit of a surprise. Yes, your Ohio Bobcats will be going bowling, after their 38-31 win over Buffalo. The fourth team is Ohio State, which moved to 6-0 but is ineligible for the postseason.
Suit-able for Preview: 12 games worth watching
(All times Eastern)
Kansas State at Iowa State, Noon , FX: Kansas State is 5-0. Iowa State is 4-1. This is a game the boys in purple can’t afford to take lightly. Just ask TCU. Or Iowa.
Northwestern at Minnesota, Noon, ESPN2: After a tough loss at Penn State last weekend, Northwestern again hits the road to face a Minnesota team that isn’t your typical pushover. The Golden Gophers suffered their first loss of the season at Iowa, 31-13, on Sept. 29 and are coming off a bye. Which team will rebound to a win?
Texas vs. Oklahoma, Noon, ABC: Does it get any better than the Red River Rivalry? Not when both teams are once again ranked in the Top 25. This is Landry Jones’ opportunity to crawl back into the Heisman race for Oklahoma. Texas, meanwhile, needs to rebound after last week’s loss to West Virginia. Lots on the line in this one, not just bragging rights.
Wisconsin at Purdue, Noon, Big Ten Network: If Purdue has any hopes of earning a prominent bowl berth, it needs to take care of business at home against the Badgers. But that’s not an easy task.
Duke at Virginia Tech, 12:30 p.m.: Friday night marks the beginning of the basketball season at Cameron Indoor, with Midnight Madness. But the Blue Devils have a football team to pay attention to this year. With a win Saturday at Virginia Tech, Duke will be heading to a bowl game. This one’s televised regionally, but worth a look on ESPN3 if you’re near your computer.
North Carolina at Miami, 2:30 p.m, ESPNU: The Hurricanes have had a split-personality this year, getting blown out by Kansas State and Notre Dame, yet rallying for a big wins against Georgia Tech and NC State (which now looks bigger after the Wolfpack knocked off Florida State last week). Which Miami team shows up for this game? And don’t count out North Carolina. After last week’s win over Virginia Tech, the Tar Heels are 4-2.
Stanford at Notre Dame, 3:30 p.m., NBC: It’s been a strange year for Stanford – beat USC, lose to Oregon State, then needing overtime to beat Arizona. Notre Dame, meanwhile, has pulled out three-straight impressive wins over Michigan, Michigan State and Miami. If the Irish win this game, will the critics finally hold their peace?
Oregon State at BYU, 3:30 p.m., ABC: This is the sneaky-good game of the week as the Beavers hit the road to face a BYU team that would love nothing more than to play spoiler.
West Virginia at Texas Tech, 3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN: The Mountaineers play for their third-consecutive Big 12 win … and bowl eligibility. Texas Tech stumbled last week against Oklahoma and looks to try to contain Geno Smith and the WVU offensive ridiculousness. The over/under for this game is 77.5.
South Carolina at LSU, 8 p.m., ESPN: The gauntlet continues for the Gamecocks. After last week’s huge win over Georgia, South Carolina now travels to the Bayou to face a Tiger squad that will be playing with a chip on its shoulder after its loss last week at Florida. Expect this one to be a grind-it-out SEC affair.
Texas A&M at Louisiana Tech, 9 p.m., ESPNU: Another sneaky good one. A&M is still adjusting to life in the SEC, but holding its own at 4-1. Louisiana Tech is looking to remain unbeaten and earn a bowl berth. Both teams are ranked. A Louisiana Tech win in this one would be a big bolster to its strength of schedule.
Tennessee at Mississippi State, 9 p.m., ESPN2: Time to find out whether Mississippi State is for real. The Bulldogs are 5-0 and hosting a Tennessee team that’s reeling, having lost to Florida and Georgia and keeping things too close for comfort against Akron. With a win in this one, SEC fans will suddenly be circling Oct. 27 on their calendars. Who would have thought that Mississippi State at Alabama could be a matchup between unbeatens?