Here are five storylines to watch out for this weekend in college football:
- College Football Playoff Committee’s First Top Four – The College Football Playoff Selection Committee will be releasing their first Top Four of the season on Tuesday which makes this weekend’s slate of games very important to make one more good impression before the committee rules on the sport’s collective fate. Interestingly enough Ohio State, Michigan State, Baylor, LSU & Alabama are all off this week so only half of the top ten is in action this week and don’t think for one second that wasn’t planned ahead of time. Also three of those top ten teams that are brave enough to play this weekend are doing so on the road (see below). In total there will be seven teams playing away from home this weekend where anything can happen. The reward of not playing anyone this weekend outweighs the risk of losing or looking bad in the final week before the committee closes the door to deliberate.
- Halloween themed uniforms – Twitter has exploded the last couple of days with athletic programs across the country unveiling ‘new’ uniforms for this weekend’s games. Since Halloween has fallen on a Saturday plenty of teams are busting out black or grey uniforms so they can be in the spirit. Many teams did this last week to poor reviews from the fashion police. There are also a lot of games this weekend where one team will be wearing orange and the other wearing black to stay with the Halloween theme. Unfortunately, too many college football teams will all look exactly alike this Saturday. You can also expect to see a lot of random college kids in random uniforms that have nothing to do with what is happening on the field. There will probably be a Duke student dressed up as Al Golden on Saturday but that’s just my prediction.
- Tricky Road Games – Three games stand out as very interesting road games for a ranked team who is in the College Football Playoff discussion: Clemson at NC State, Oklahoma State at Texas Tech & Stanford at Washington State. The Tigers are fresh off of an absolute beat down of Miami in South Beach but go on the road to season-spoiler NC State who under Dave Doerun, are still looking for that signature win. NC State hasn’t beaten Clemson since 2011 and on that day, the unranked Wolfpack upset the 7th ranked Tigers in Raleigh. Oklahoma State is undefeated but has had a rocky road to get there with less than stellar performances in wins over some teams they should have blown out. They’ll be in Lubbock on Saturday afternoon taking on a Red Raiders team who the Cowboys haven’t lost to since 2008. Lastly, the Cardinal has been a juggernaut on everyone they have played after Noon pacific time. This week they travel to Pullman, Washington, to take on the all-of-a-sudden decent Washington State Cougars who they haven’t lost to since 2007.
- Defenses in Jacksonville – The 15th & 18th ranked defenses in the country will be on display in Jacksonville this Saturday & both teams will be coming off of bye week. The Bulldogs haven’t scored a touchdown since October 10th in Knoxville and there have been hints out of Athens that there may be a change at the quarterback position as well. The last time we saw the Bulldogs they were looking completely lost without running back Nick Chubb and managed just three field goals in a 9-6 victory over lowly Missouri. The Gators will look to get their first win since quarterback Will Grier was suspended and will do so with Treon Harris at quarterback who I thought played very well against LSU but this Georgia defense will be a completely different animal. The one statistic that jumped out at me from the loss at LSU was the 55 yards rushing that the Gators managed in the ballgame. I would imagine UGA defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt has been examining what LSU did defensively to hold Florida to their season low on the ground. I don’t expect either offense to look very good on Saturday as the two defenses will rule the day.
- Notre Dame at Temple – A month ago, I looked at the schedule and thought about how incredible it would be if both Notre Dame & Temple arrived at this game undefeated. Well the Fighting Irish didn’t complete their part of the deal with their 2-point road loss at Clemson but the Owls achieved a 7-0 start for the first time in school history. The Irish have obviously played a much tougher schedule at this point, right? Not so fast because at this point the only quality team that the Irish have played has been Clemson and it was a loss. Texas, Virginia & Georgia Tech have all turned out to not be that good and they caught USC four days after they fired their head coach. The Owls have a 17-point average margin of victory so far this season and an 11-point margin of victory of the likes of Penn State, Cincinnati & East Carolina. Plus, the Temple Owls have the 14th best defense in the country. Put all that together with College Gameday being in town for the matchup in primetime just for good measure and things just might get interesting in Philly this Saturday night.