There were some serious statements made by big-time brands in college football last week. Florida, Notre Dame, and Texas all planted their flags to prove that they are legitimate contenders for the playoff with their big wins. Also, is the Heisman race already over? Alabama’s QB Tua Tagovailoa is on a record-breaking pace (Tagovailoa’s QB Rating is currently 59.5 points higher than the all-time record set by Baker Mayfield last year), has 18 passing TDs to zero INTs and is completing his passes at a 75% clip. Scary good.
Friday October 12th
Another week of really bad match-ups on Friday. The one game I would suggest tuning in to starts at 10:00PM Eastern. I’m usually in my pajamas by then! Arizona at Utah (ESPN) is the only match-up of teams at .500 or better for the Friday slate. Arizona, which struggled through its non-conference schedule, is 2-1 in the Pac-12 and still alive in the Pac-12 South race. Utah is the serial underachiever-overachiever in the Pac-12 – they are always projected to be “sneaky good” but not great, and they are never terrible, yet they are the only team in the Pac-12 South who hasn’t made it to the Pac-12 title game.
Saturday October 13th
12:00PM Nebraska at Northwestern (ABC) – Seriously, just look at the line-up of games for noon on Saturday: Minnesota at Ohio State, Florida at Vanderbilt, Tennessee at Auburn? All lack the drama and excitement needed to make me want to tune in. Nebraska, however, has drama. Huskers Coach Scott Frost called out his team for dancing on the sidelines as the Huskers were down to Purdue in their last home game. Call me crazy, but Nebraska is probably the best 0-5 team in college football today. The Huskers have an offense with QB Adrian Martinez and they’ve shown flashes of what they could be in their games against Colorado and Purdue. If Martinez can stay healthy, the Huskers have a shot at winning this game. Defense is where Nebraska desperately needs to wake up. The Huskers D is giving up 39.2 points per game this season and is definitely a sad reminder that the storied “black shirts” once brought fear to all opponents of Nebraska are long gone. Northwestern has to be one of the most frustrating teams to be a fan of. They started the year with an impressive win at Purdue, and followed up that up with home losses to Duke and – surprisingly – to Akron. At that point, I’m sure fans were thinking they were on their way to a 2-10 season. They battled Michigan in a surprisingly close game, but still lost, and then beat #20 Michigan State on the road. So what exactly is Northwestern – a good team or a bad team? This is an odd game to put in the lineup, but intriguing in my opinion. Should be a good game to start off the day.
3:30PM #2 Georgia at #13 LSU (CBS) – “Must Watch.” LSU really did us all a disservice by losing to Florida last week – instead of a potential top-5 match-up this week, we’re stuck with a top-15 match-up (boo). Georgia hasn’t been tested all year. The Bulldogs have been able to sleep-walk through much of their schedule, which has included four of the six teams they play in the SEC East. This game will be a real test for Georgia in a hostile environment. LSU was rolling, and you could feel the momentum as their wins vs Miami and Auburn had propelled them to a 5-0 start. That momentum took a major hit in their loss at Florida last week. Tigers QB Joe Burrow threw his first and then his second interceptions on the last two drives of the game vs Florida last week. The Tigers are still alive in the SEC East race and in the playoff hunt, but that loss definitely hurt the Bayou Bengals. I’m really interested to see these two high-level programs match up in this one.
#7 Washington at #17 Oregon (ABC/ESPN2) – “Must Watch.” Ah, the dreaded double “must watch!” Solutions: A. Swap between the two games. B. Have one on the TV and the other on another device. C. Pick one and stick to it. Now these aren’t the greatest of solutions to this problem, but Oregon and Washington is going to be a great game. This rivalry is fierce and both teams are good! Both teams haven’t been ranked since 2013, and 2000 before that. Oregon remembers the 70 points that the Huskies put on the Ducks at home two years ago. Oregon seems to have their mojo back to near-Chip Kelly levels (back when Oregon was putting 50 points on people and upset they didn’t score 60). QB Justin Herbert is a true talent and great to watch if you like seeing good QBs work. The Ducks followed up their heartbreaking loss to Stanford two weeks ago with an emphatic 42-24 victory at Cal to improve their record to 4-1 and 1-1 in conference. Washington, on the other hand, is 5-1 on the year, but their wins haven’t been by the margins we’d all expect. The Huskies have labored to wins at Utah (21-7), vs Arizona State (27-20) and at UCLA (31-24). That UCLA game was last week and now the Huskies have to travel again, this time to Eugene. Expect a lively crowd and an emotional game!
7:30PM #15 Wisconsin vs #12 Michigan (ABC) – “Must Watch.” This game is really a ‘show-me’ and elimination game for the playoff race and a huge game for perception for both programs. Michigan and HC Jim Harbaugh have lost their last four games vs ranked opponents going back to last year and including this year’s opening loss at Notre Dame. The perception by a lot of people with microphones across the country is that Michigan and Harbaugh are overrated and they can’t win the big games they need to against their top rivals, and those people have a point. However, I’d say that Michigan is exactly who I thought they were – they’ll pound teams they should pound and struggle against teams they should struggle against (like Ohio State, Michigan State, Notre Dame and Penn State). Harbaugh is 33-12 at Michigan, but is 3-7 vs Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan State and Notre Dame. Harbaugh and Michigan are constantly compared to Urban Meyer and Ohio State, the rivalry between the two schools demand so. However, Ohio State is truly on another level at the moment. Meyer and Ohio State had a three year head start (arrived in Columbus in 2012, Harbaugh to Michigan in 2015) and Meyer is arguably the second best coach in college football today (he has three national titles). Also, it’s not like Meyer arrived to a train wreck program – Ohio State won the BigTen from 2005-2009. The fact that Harbaugh has even been in close games vs Ohio State in 2016 and ’17 with inferior teams indicates that Harbaugh is making progress. Let’s also not forget where Michigan was before Harbaugh arrived; during the Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke eras Michigan went a combined 46-42. Harbaugh may not be Fielding Yost or Bo Schembechler, but he’s getting Michigan back to where they should be – a respectable, winning program. A win Saturday would be a big step in proving the doubters wrong.
Michigan has beaten down most of their opponents this year and this game really is between two programs that I view as equals. Wisconsin beats who they should beat and loses to who they should lose to (again, Ohio State and Penn State). Lots of prestige on the line here but both teams can take a loss in this game and still have a shot at winning their respective divisions in the BigTen. I’m expecting a classic BigTen brawl is this one.
10:30PM #19 Colorado at USC (FS1) The Buffs are 5-0 and are 2-0 in the Pac-12. A win over USC will put them, essentially, three games up on the Trojans (due to head-to-head tiebreakers). Colorado has never beaten the Trojans and since joining the Pac-12, the Buffs are 0-7 and 0-12 all-time against USC. Buffs WR Laviska Shenault scored all four of Colorado’s TDs in their win last week vs Arizona State and is garnering All-American talk. The Buffs will need Shenault to come up big again to have a shot at beating USC in the Coliseum where Trojan HC Clay Helton is 18-0. Pac-12 South title lead is up for grabs in this one, a good game to keep an eye on.