It's that time again - Thursday morning, meaning the weekend is just around the corner. And of course weekends in the fall are all about college football Saturdays and hoping I'll win my weekly fantasy matchup on Sundays.
This week is different from the first two in two ways: first, Tennessee finally FINALLY plays a freakin' home game. This good because (a) I'm pretty sure every Tennessee fan is ready to play another game, if for no other reason than to get the remaining bitterness from UCLA out of the mouth and look ahead to the Florida-Auburn-Georgia death-road and (b) home games weekends are what make my fall semesters (don't forget about the facelift renovations to Neyland Stadium as well).
While Tennessee plays a cupcake in UAB, there's plenty of other games around the country to look forward to this week. It's the week before conference play becomes the norm and there are some great matchups.
You know the deal by now - I'll talk about the SEC games and then the national games of note. However from this point on I'll change my approach with this section: I'll be more decisive and selective with which games, and they'll get attention the same way the SEC games do. Why am I switching things up a little? Because I want to. And I can. Anyways, the games...
UAB at Tennessee: Oh, to be back in the student section at Neyland Stadium. I already said what I was looking for this weekend here, so I won't go into that. What I'm probably most excited about the actual game? Finally getting to sit in D, thanks to the death of Orange's Nation illegal block seating.
Arkansas at Texas
(ABC, 3:30): Hurricane Ike striketh (not literally...yet) - Arkansas won't go down to Austin and get hammered until September 27. They host Alabama next weekend, an intriguing game and the first SEC game in under Bobby Petrino. My guess is the Hogs will need the work after escaping total embarrassment by slipping past Western Illinois and UL Monroe.
Georgia at South Carolina (CBS, 3:30): So now Georgia begins the utter brutality (yes, more brutal than a cop at an East Carolina game) that is their schedule. The desperate Chickens seem to be reeling - or wait, that's just reality setting in...
I'm interested to see how UGA handles their first big test of the year. South Carolina's defense should keep it close, but are the Gamecocks gonna score? I know they always play UGA tough at home, this game is generally a pretty hard fought, low-scoring game, and Spurrier is good for one win a year over the East's Big Three, but I just don't see them winning this game.
Middle Tennessee State at Kentucky/Rice at Vanderbilt: These would be snooze games, except for the small fact that BOTH UK and Vandy - whom I was not expecting much from - have a chance to be 3-0. These were the penciled-in Ws for both teams coming in, and losing would really put a damper on any bowl hopes, especially for the Commodores.
Western Kentucky at Alabama/Samford at Ole Miss: Snooze games of the week, though I'm interested to see if the Tide play any better than they did last week against Tulane.
North Texas at LSU: After some uncertainty due to the aforementioned Ike, this game will be played in Tiger Stadium. It's gotta be tough on the Tigers, especially since if they don't play this one (they probably will) it will be a two week bye before they go to Auburn. I just gotta wonder what being an LSU student is like amidst multiple hurricanes...
Auburn at Mississippi State (7:00, ESPN2): Ah yes, more SEC football. I'm still not sold on Auburn's offense, they looked better against Southern Miss, but definitely still sluggish. We'll have to see how they handle a road game against a team that beat them last year with defense.[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="214" caption="Yes, Chris Todd, I know it is just Starkville, but your first SEC road game is your first SEC road game..."][/caption]
Auburn should win because I don't think Mississippi State can score on the Auburn defense, but State could easily catch War Eagle looking ahead to home games against LSU and the Vols coming up. Can Sly Croom make it four-in-a-row against the state of Alabama?
FIVE MORE TO WATCH
Ohio State at USC (ABC 8:00): First, I'm glad these two teams are playing this game. Second, anything I could say in terms of analysis about this game would just be more of what you all have already heard/will hear. ESPN's Pat Forde wrote a good piece about this game here. I'll take the easy route and borrow a video from Thomas the Terrible over at YMSWWC...that you can watch by clicking HERE!!
Kansas at USF (Friday ESPN2, 8:00): Kansas is playing someone with a pulse! Kansas is playing someone with a pulse! USF could the JV League's best (oh, I'm referring to the Big East as a JV league from here on), though they almost blew a lead to Kevin Smith-less UCF last week before winning in OT. I like the Bulls because KU is a joke. Yeah, I said it. A joke.
UCLA at BYU (ABC, 3:30): Both of these teams had their last games given to them: UCLA by Tennessee's coaches and BYU by moronic Pac-10 refs. It's BYU's second and last Pac-10 opponent in their BCS-busting quest. They need this to get out of East Carolina's shadow.
I just hope UCLA doesn't get blown out, though it would absolutely confirm the last 0.5% of doubt I have that their win over Tennessee was a complete and total fluke (it was, there's no denying it).
Oregon at Purdue (ABC, 3:30): The undercard to the epic Big Ten-Pac-showdown later in L.A. Purdue has consistently been beaten by every team they play that has a pulse recently, and Oregon is under-the-radar out West after losing the Dixon/Stewart combo.[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="330" caption="Oh the color clash when the Vols and Oregon play a home-and-home..."][/caption]
If I had to pick a favorite Pac-10 team, it would be Oregon. Honestly, it's the jerseys. Give them credit for being fashionably bold. In all seriousness, the Pac-10 needs somebody to at least come close to USC, and Oregon may be the only hope. So I hope they cream Purdue. Plus I just don't like the Big Ten.
Wisconsin at Fresno State (ESPN2, 10:30): A big "respect" weekend for the Big Ten, though I see them losing all three of these games. Fresno, like the aforementioned Pirates, has a chance for a second "name" win early in the year, though this would be bigger than either of the Pirates' wins - not to take anything away from them.
HONORABLE MENTION: ESPN has a high school game tonight between lawvol's Tar Heels and Rutgers. Cal is off to a fast start, having beaten Michigan State and Washington State on the road 66-3 last week. They now go cross-country to Maryland (ESPN, 12:00). Much in the same realm as Oregon, I hope Cal wins, because the Pac-10 needs some challengers to USC and the Bears and Ducks are the best bets.
And finally, if you want to watch an overhyped game featuring two offensively offensive teams (one of whom lost to Utah and the other who was all but beat by San Diego State), you can watch Michigan at Notre Dame. Neither of these teams win 8 games this year, why the overhyping this meaningless game?
Oh, to be in Section D Saturday afternoon...
Images Courtesy of: Todd Vanemst / AP (Daylife) • Kevin Briody / seattleduck.com
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