Here are five storylines to watch for this weekend in college football:
- Make or Break weekend in the SEC – Here we are at the first Saturday in October and there are five teams with their conference title hopes already on the line. Alabama is 0-1 in conference play and is looking to avoid thie first 0-2 start to the SEC schedule since 1990 and will have to do so against one of the best teams in the league in Georgia, in Samford Stadium. Just up the road in Knoxville, the Volunteers & Razorbacks will both be in desperate need of a win period but will definitely be playing to stay out of the dreaded 0-2 conference record hole as well. Neither head coach in that contest can afford another loss to anyone, much less another conference loss. Then continue West to Columbia, Missouri, where the Gamecocks & Tigers of Missouri will both be looking for their first conference victory. Missouri will be doing so with a new quarterback now that Maty Mauk is suspended for the foreseeable future and South Carolina will be looking to avoid their first 0-3 start to conference play since Steve Spurrier’s first season with the Gamecocks.
- Irish first visit to Clemson, South Carolina – It seems like every season, Clemson has a game where the nation’s eyes will be tuned in for a primetime, Top 10 matchup and this year it will be when the Notre Dame Fighting Irish make their first ever trip to Death Valley. The last time we saw the Tigers they were hanging on to a three point road win over Louisville where sophomore quarterback Deshaun Watson was running for his life for much of the game. On the other side, Notre Dame has been rolling along with their redshirt freshman quarterback DeShone Kizer who has proven that he can rise to the occasion when needed. Well the Irish will need him this Saturday night in one of the most hostile environments in all of college football as he makes his first road start for Notre Dame.
- Battle of unbeatens in Bloomington, Indiana – Don’t look now but the Indiana Hoosiers are 4-0 for the first time since 1990 and are hosting the undefeated and reigning National Champion Ohio State Buckeyes who so far this season have left a lot to be desired according to the pollsters. I personally think that Indiana will be in over their head on Saturday afternoon but stranger things have happened when the number one team hits the road. The Buckeyes did get better play from quarterback Cardale Jones on Saturday but will need that progress to continue this Saturday and the porous Indiana defense is a good one to keep that success going as they are allowing a shade under 500 yards of offense and 32 points per game. Don’t be surprised if Heisman hopeful running back from Ohio State Ezekiel Elliott turns in a big time, Heisman-level performance in order to keep pace with LSU’s Leonard Fournette.
- UCF Knights looking for first win of season – While the football team will be hoping for a win to stay in the conference title hunt, crazy I know, but the local establishment ‘The Basement’ will be hoping for a win for a completely different reason. The local watering hole has offered patrons free beer during games until the Knights win a ball game. If UCF finds a way to lose on Saturday, it could be a long time before they find their first win of the season and even longer until ‘The Basement’ makes any profit during football games in Orlando. The problem is that UCF is dead last in the nation in total offense and average less than 250 yards per game but will possibly have a chance to bring that average up against a similarly bad Tulane team in New Orleans.
- Surprise key AAC West Game Tulsa, Oklahoma – Two first year head coaches have gotten their teams into position to make a run at the inaugural American Athletic Conference Championship Game in December. Tom Herman, who was hired away from Ohio State, has led the Cougars to a 3-0 record that includes a road win at Louisville in Week 2 and Philip Montgomery, who was hired away from Baylor, has his Golden Hurricane squad 2-1 with their only loss being a shootout loss to instate foe Oklahoma. This Saturday the two teams will lock up at H.A. Chapman Stadium for what has turned out to be a pivotal AAC game in reference to the West Division. Both offenses are clicking on all cylinders and both defenses have had trouble stopping opponents so this one has the pedigree between the two offensive minded coaches to be one of the best shootout games of the season.