Wednesday is college football purgatory at least until the MAC takes over on Wednesday night later in the season. Until then we have the Southern Football Report Weekly Primer:
1. There can be only one – There is only one game between ranked opponents for the second time in three weeks and this week it falls on a Thursday night. The 11th ranked UCLA Bruins travel to Tempe, Arizona, to play the 15th ranked Arizona State Sun Devils. Arizona State will definitely be without starting quarterback Taylor Kelly and UCLA could possibly be without Brett Hundley, depending on how his elbow has healed. This most likely will be most of America’s first time seeing Sun Devil junior runningback D.J. Foster who is averaging over 9 yards per carry.
2. Winston back at QB – The Florida State Seminoles will have their Heisman winning, obscenity yelling quarterback on the field this Saturday when the Seminoles travel to another team’s home stadium for the first time of the season this Saturday when they play NC State in Raleigh. Both teams are undefeated on the season and Florida State has lost their last two trips to Carter-Finley Stadium so I’m sure the Noles are looking to break that trend. There are plenty of story lines for this game, a lot more than there probably should be but a lot regardless. Winston and the Seminoles have yet to make a true ‘statement’ win together in 2014 and this Saturday in Raleigh is as good of an opportunity as any.
3. Wild Wild West – Two of the biggest surprise teams in the country are in the SEC West: Texas A&M and Arkansas. Texas A&M is still riding the wave of compliments generated from that big win over South Carolina and Arkansas’ only loss is to the reigning SEC Champion in week 1. Texas A&M has been padding their stats against Lamar, Rice & SMU while Arkansas did go out to Lubbock two weeks ago to get a decent win over Texas Tech. Needless to say this one would have the nation’s attention regardless of where it was played but this one is being played in ‘The House That Jerry Built’. The match up of fast-paced passing against a ball-control running attack makes for an intriguing SEC West game in the nation’s greatest stadium. For more on the SEC Conference slate; see below.
4. Can an Indiana boy bring down mighty Ohio State? – The smaller schools in Ohio have always attempted and failed at being the best team in the state because no one in the state can beat Ohio State. There are six other FBS schools in the state of Ohio and this Saturday the Cincinnati Bearcats travel to the Horseshoe to play the big, bad Buckeyes. The Bearcats have a coach in Tommy Tuberville who knows how to win big games and a quarterback in Gunner Kiel who has the talent to put up some points in Columbus. I’m not saying that Cincinnati can win but the Bearcats have the best chance that anyone has had in a while given the Buckeye’s quarterback situation.
5. Little Brown Jug or bust for Brady Hoke – One cool thing about the Big Ten is that just about every game has some kind of traveling trophy. This week the Michigan Wolverines and the Minnesota Golden Gophers will play in Ann Arbor for the fabled Little Brown Jug. Michigan isn’t out to the best start and Brady Hoke’s job in definitely on the line, if not already decided. Minnesota is 3-1 on the season but loss their only game against a ‘Power 5’ opponent 30-7 on the road. Michigan has won the jug 22 times since 1986 with only one loss to Minnesota. If the Little Brown Jug goes back to the Twin Cities with the Gophers, Hoke may ask for a ride just to get out of Ann Arbor.
6. Army traveling to Yale – There are very few football games that hearken back to before the 1920’s and Army v. Yale is definitely one of them. At one time in college football’s history Yale was one of the top programs in the country and Army had back-to-back Heisman winners in 1945 & 1946 with Doc ‘Mr Inside’ Blanchard and Glenn ‘Mr Outside’ Davis. Army hasn’t played at Yale since 1988 and there is a little piece of me that wishes that I could be in attendance Saturday when the Black Knights play the Bulldogs. Army has a new head coach and the Black Knights haven’t lost to Army since 1955. I guess I’m just more nostalgic than I should be about really old college football rivalries.
7. Key SEC Division games – This weekend may not have the big headlines that next weekend will have but the conference games this weekend definitely have a lot of implications on the SEC Championship race. Tennessee is playing their first conference game in Athens against a Georgia Bulldog team who needs a conference win and needs it badly. Kentucky had a week to recuperate after that triple overtime thriller in The Swamp and face Vanderbilt this Saturday. A win will put the Wildcats in the thick of the SEC East race for the first time that I can remember. Missouri was upset at home last week by Indiana and travel to the other Columbia to play South Carolina who had a scare last week against Vanderbilt. Then the lone SEC West conference game is Texas A&M and Arkansas; see above.
8. Early season warriors – Believe it or not there are some teams in college football who have yet to reach their bye week and are also undefeated. I’m surprised at some of them to be completely honest. Washington, NC State, Penn State, Nebraska & Texas A&M are all trying to reach 5-0 with a win this weekend and all but one are looking to do so at home. Two are playing ranked opponents (Washington v. #16 Stanford & NC State v. #1 Florida State) and Texas A&M plays Arkansas at the spaceship known as AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Penn State and Nebraska each have the best chances of reaching 5-0 as they will play Northwestern and Illinois respectively.
9. Quarterback change at Florida? – There were already questions about how long Jeff Driskel would remain the Gators’ quarterback. There might as well have been a timer counting down until his demise. Well the clock struck midnight and Alabama crushed the pumpkin chariot on their way to a 42-21 win in Tuscaloosa and Driskel’s performance most likely didn’t buy him an extra week. Sophomore wide receiver Demarcus Robinson tweeted on Monday that he’s like to see a different face at quarterback and attached a picture of the two freshman quarterbacks, Will Grier and Treon Harris. The Gators are open this week but it wouldn’t surprise me if there is a new quarterback under, or behind, center next Saturday in Knoxville.
10. Surprise leaders in conferences/divisions – Today if you were to pull up the conference standings around the country, there would be a few surprises when it comes to conference and division leaders. USF and Tulsa are atop the American Athletic Conference, Georgia Tech is undefeated and leading the Coastal division in the ACC, Penn State leads the East division in the Big Ten, Arizona is leading the Pac-12 South and Texas A&M is atop the SEC West. Georgia Tech, Penn State and Arizona are the three biggest surprises and all three have a legitimate shot in winning their division based on how wide open their conferences are. This is going to be a fun year in those three conferences.
Tune in to the Southern Football Report this and every Saturday morning from 10 am to Noon on Live 101.9, Rockin 106.3 & Q 92.3 to hear high school scores from Friday night as well as college football discussion, debate and previews of the games to come!