This weekend college football mainly stops the weeks full of intersectional out-of-conference games and turns to conference battles. BCS elimination games are already occurring in most leagues between some high name and highly ranked teams in major conferences like the SEC, ACC, and Big Ten. This week has a few gems just like last week, so with no further ado, let's get into it.
From the frying pan to the fire: Tennessee has 6 days to recover from a tough defensive loss at The Swamp to get ready for a surprisingly resilient LSU team. LSU has already pulled one miracle this year, so the test will be to see how they respond if Tennessee jumps out to an early lead this week. Tennessee is playing for their BCS lives, but the loss to Florida is very damaging already. While LSU is playing inspired football, Tennessee has not been impressive at all on offense. I'll take LSU by 14 to knock Tennessee out of the top 10 and the BCS chase.
Miami, Clemson, Florida State, and Boston College played a couple great games to shake out the early ACC race, and this week the other two elite teams in the conference duke it out in one of the games of the week. Georgia Tech goes into Blacksburg to take on the Hokies, who looked strong in dispatching a tough Ohio team last week. Georgia Tech has won three games in textbook fashion, but the offense has not put up big numbers against any of their first three opponents. After a close escape from NC State, Virginia Tech has put up 90 unanswered on their last two opponents. Despite Georgia Tech's good defense, I still think Virginia Tech is too talented to lose at home this early in the season, so I'll take Virginia Tech by 9.
The final big game of the week comes from Columbus Ohio, where two teams will be looking to establish themselves in a national title elimination game. Iowa rebounded from their loss in Ames two weeks ago by putting up huge numbers against lowly Northern Iowa last week. Ohio State played a typical dominating game in a 27-6 defeat of San Diego State. With the exceptions of a couple of drives against the amazing Vince Young, the Buckeyes have what appears to be a national championship caliber defense and special teams. Kirk Ferentz has trouble beating only two teams, Iowa State and Ohio State, and despite all their new talent, the Hawkeyes will probably be outclassed this year on the road. The Buckeyes have not forgotten last year when the Hawkeyes took out 15 years of losses and frustration to the Buckeyes in a 33-7 rout I had the honor of watching in person. Something tells me Tressel cannot help but keep this one close, but Troy Smith will only need 20 points to beat the Hawks I suspect. Defense wins this battle and I pick OSU by 13.
As mentioned previously, Florida State and Miami staked big claims by defeating Boston College and Clemson this week. I still suspect Miami will regret that loss to Florida State, but they were a hair away from 0-2 which would be shocking considering they were the last dynasty before USC took the crown. Of course 0-2 in your toughest two games of the year is not that disappointing, but 0-2 in a division with Virginia Tech is game over essentially. Boston College and Clemson must recover from their first losses as Miami did when they play each other this week. One team will be eliminated from the race with Florida State. Everyone else has it pretty easy, and great games can be found in rivalries such as UNC-NC State. I suspect Florida State and Virginia Tech will stand alone atop their respective divisions after this week.
The North is 14-1, the South is 13-3. Of course the news story of the year is national runner-up Oklahoma experiencing a rebuilding year at 1-2. I know many years people have said this is Texas's year to smash their rivals, but if not this year when things are as good as ever for Texas and as bad as ever for Bob Stoops, then when? Most league teams take a break this week as conference play does not start until next week, but Colorado gets the biggest test by taking a trip to Miami. Of course after watching Pittsburgh find a way to make Nebraska 3-0 and seeing Iowa get smashed by Iowa State two weeks ago, I have no doubt Colorado can surprise the nation this week. Just don't count on it.
As the rest of the league waddles in mediocrity, West Virginia and Louisville appear headed for a big clash in a few weeks as they both looked good in dispatching quality opponents on the road this week. East Carolina and South Florida should be cakewalks for these strong teams as they move toward their showdown in a few weeks. The other game this week is Pittsburgh against D-IAA Youngstown State. Can they win one finally?
Well Northwestern and Illinois fell to ranked opponents and join the big three at 2-1. The other six teams stayed undefeated this week with the highlight being Michigan State knocking off Notre Dame on the road for the fifth straight time. Indiana gets to keep their pristine record for one more week while everyone else starts conference play. Iowa-OSU is certainly the highlight, but Wisconsin's high powered offense could ruin Michigan's chances if their weak defense doesn't improve (Eastern Michigan shutouts do not count, sorry Wolverine fans). Purdue at Minnesota is a battle of undefeated teams and is Purdue's only real road test in conference this year, so the rest of the conference will probably be cheering on the Golden Gophers this weekend.
Only mentioning this conference on a quiet week because of one more out-of-conference showdown this week between Bowling Green and Boise State. Boise plays very well on the blue turf, but Bowling Green will be a true test as a favorite in the MAC. Here's guessing Boise rebounds from early season struggles to win this one.
Who has the best record by themselves in the SEC right now? That's right, new media darlings Vanderbilt has a 2-0 SEC record and a 3-0 start for the first time in ages. A real winning season and a bowl berth appear likely now, even with Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida on the schedule as in every other year. Basketball powerhouse Richmond is coming to town this weekend, and the Commodores have Middle Tennessee State next. I'm guessing 5-0 when LSU comes to town, but the Commodores must take care of business now. Georgia, Florida, and Alabama have relatively easy conference tests this week, so most eyes will be on the Tennessee-LSU showdown.
I had a rebound in the top 3 games of the week department, and I hope to see .500 before the end of the year! We'll see you all next week!
Top 3 Game Picks to Date: 3-6 (2-1 last week)
Fitzy's Top 10 - Week 4
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