Wednesday is college football purgatory at least until the MAC takes over on Wednesday night later in the season. There is another playoff baseball game tonight but the one last night put me to sleep. Until later in the season we have the Southern Football Report Weekly Primer:
1. All eyes on the Magnolia State – There has never been a Saturday of college football in the state of Mississippi like the one coming this weekend. Ole Miss is ranked 11th in the country and playing host to College Gameday as well as the 3rd ranked Alabama Crimson Tide, who they haven’t beaten since 2003. Mississippi State is nationally ranked at number 12 and are welcoming the 6th ranked Aggies of Texas A&M to Starkville. Two games featuring four ranked teams all on one day may be too much for the livers of Mississippians to handle.
2. Unbeatens meet on Thursday night – A game being overlooked because of the wonderful slate of games on Saturday is the Thursday night game in Eugene between the undefeated Oregon Ducks and the undefeated Arizona Wildcats. Last season Oregon’s national championship dreams were dashed in Tuscon at the hands of the Wildcats when Arizona beat the Ducks down 42-16. Oregon is ranked 2nd in the country and picking up more and more first place votes every week and I’m sure the Ducks have revenge on their mind and the Wildcats are looking to start a winning streak against Oregon.
3. Final three teams to hit the road – This Saturday, when Alabama kicks off at 3:30 pm Eastern Standard Time, every team in college football will have finally played a football game in someone else’s stadium. Texas A&M, Ohio State & Alabama will finally leave the confines of their home stadium and travel to ‘enemy territory’ this Saturday when they travel to Mississippi State, Maryland and Ole Miss respectively. All three have played games at neutral sites this season but we all know how different things can be when the entire stadium, PA announcer, hot dog vendors, et cetera are against you.
4. Georgia Tech eyeing 5-0 – The Yellow Jackets haven’t started the season 5-0 since 2011 when they began the season 6-0 before finishing the season 2-5. The opponent this week are the Miami Hurricanes fresh off their 22-10 victory over last season’s Coastal Division champion Duke Blue Devils. No one is saying that Georgia Tech is a powerhouse nor do they deserve Top 25 consideration but starting the season 5-0 is an excellent start considering many people (me included) had Paul Johnson on the hot seat prior to the season. If the Jackets can get to 2-0 in conference play on Saturday, they will be in great position to win the division with home games against Duke and Clemson this season.
5. Michigan State/Nebraska on the wrong weekend – The poor Big Ten, they finally get their act together with a few good weeks and then their marquee early season game falls on the Saturday with five other games between ranked opponents in other conferences. The Cornhuskers come into the game undefeated and the Spartans’ only loss was back in Week 2 in Eugene. This has the pedigree to be a really good game as Michigan State’s offense has gotten better over the last few weeks while Nebraska’s offense boasts one of the few legitimate stars of the sport in runningback Ameer Abdullah who already has over 800 yards rushing on the season.
6. Wolverines go on the road…which is probably for the best – Students are protesting on campus and at the university president’s house wanting administrators in the athletic department out of a job, the football team isn’t very good and the coaching staff is under fire for their poor handling of an injured player last Saturday in a dreadful 30-14 loss to the hands of Minnesota who rode back to the Twin Cities with the Little Brown Jug in tow. Things are bad in Ann Arbor and the best thing the football team can do is to get out of town as fast as possible. The Wolverines are traveling as far east as the conference will allow this Saturday to play Big Ten newcomer Rutgers.
7. Key Pac-12 games – A lot of eyes will be on the Southeastern Conference this Saturday but don’t sleep on the conference out west. The Thursday night game should be a good one (see above), Arizona State travels to Los Angeles to play USC, Utah also travels to Los Angeles but to play UCLA, Stanford travels out of conference to play Notre Dame and the biggest under-the-radar game that is sure to be entertaining is when the pleasantly surprising Bears of California travel to Pullman to face a Washington State team coached by Mike Leach, who is always interesting. If Arizona can pull the upset on Thursday night, put on your seat belts because it is going to be a wild weekend in the Pac-12.
8. The Afterthought Bowl: Florida at Tennessee – Remember the days back in the 90’s and early 2000’s when the Volunteers v. the Gators brought legitimate national attention? There are a lot of people who can’t remember that because it’s been a while since these two programs were both nationally relevant at the same time. In 2014, this rivalry has been relegated to the Noon timeslot on the SEC Network while the rest of the SEC will enjoy national attention in prime time match ups. I mean, even the South Carolina v. Kentucky game got the prime time game on the same channel instead of the Gators and the Vols. Ouch.
9. LSU names a new starting quarterback – The Tigers have showed some progress on offense but not at the rate that head coach Les Miles would prefer. Miles announced on Tuesday that freshman Brandon Harris will be the starter this Saturday when the Tigers travel to Auburn to play the other Tigers in the SEC West. Harris came in and moved the ball well against Mississippi State in mop up duty tossing a pair of touchdowns and almost leading the Tigers to a come-from-behind victory. But road games in the SEC aren’t necessarily where freshman go to thrive and Auburn has created one of the toughest home field advantages in the country in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
10. Top two teams in the Big 12 hit the road – Everyone outside of Manhattan, Kansas, and Stillwater, Oklahoma, feel that the Big 12 is a two horse race between the Oklahoma Sooners and Baylor Bears. We still have to wait a month before we see them take the field against one another but this Saturday Oklahoma travels to newly nationally ranked TCU and Baylor travels to Austin to play the Texas Longhorns. Oklahoma had some trouble with West Virginia in Morgantown and Baylor had full control of Iowa State until the second half so these two road games for the top teams in the Big 12 look to be trickier in real life than they look on paper.
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!