Reporting Matt Ryan
It will be another busy October weekend in the sports world with the start of the league championship series in baseball and anticipated matchups on the gridirons across the country. The eyes of the college football world last weekend were on anticipated matchups in the Big Ten and Pac-12, but this Saturday the focus will once again be on the Southeastern Conference.
10. Georgia Tech at Brigham Young (-7) (7pm, ESPNU): The Yellow Jackets are coming off consecutive divisional losses to Virginia Tech and Miami. This matchup in Provo will feature two of the best rushing teams in the country. Both schools are averaging more than 275 yards on the ground.
9. Pittsburgh at #24 Virginia Tech (-9) (12pm, ESPNU): Both teams have rebounded from losses on opening weekend and have clean slates in ACC play heading in to this matchup in Blacksburg. The Panthers are the toughest opponet left on the Hokies before their November 9th showdown with Miami, that could determine the winner of the ACC’s Coastal Division.
8. Oregon State at Washington State (-1) (10:30pm, ESPNU): Expect a shootout in this late night matchup with two of college football’s best passing offenses. The Cougars are ranked eighth in passing yards per game and the Beavers trail only Baylor in that category. Oregon State has won four straight, after dropping their opening night game against Eastern Washington.
7. #12 Oklahoma (-14) vs. Texas at the Cotton Bowl (12pm, ABC): All the talk in Austin this season has been about the future of Mack Brown, after a disappointing start the season. The Longhorns lost back-to-back games against BYU and Ole Miss, fired their defensive coordinator two games in to the season, and won after a controversial finish last week against Iowa State. Despite all the setbacks, Texas is unbeaten in conference play going in to the Red River Rivalry. Bob Stoops teams at Oklahoma have usually been known for their high scoring offenses, but this year’s squad has made a name for itself as one of the top defenses in the nation. Oklahoma’s first two conference wins were low-scoring affairs, 16-7 over West Virginia and 20-17 over TCU.
6. #19 Northwestern at Wisconsin (-10) (3:30pm, ABC): Northwestern came close to pulling off the biggest upset of the season last week against Ohio State, a hard fought game that included seven lead changes. The Wildcats conservative play on their final full drive to the end zone, trailing 30-34, may have cost them a chance to end the Buckeyes 17 game winning streak. They will now follow up that disappointing loss with a trip to Madison as underdogs. Wisconsin has had an extra to prepare for the Wildcats and is also coming off a close loss to the Buckeyes (31-24).
5. #18 Michigan (-2.5) at Penn State (5pm, ESPN): The Wolverines have been among the most inconsistent teams in the nation so far this season. Michigan followed up their dominant win over Notre Dame, with a close calls against Akron (28-24) and UConn (24-21), then had little trouble beating Minnesota (42-13) last Saturday. Penn State’s play has been just as lackluster at times which has already resulted in losses to Central Florida and Indiana. The Nittany Lions are now in the toughest part of their schedule with back-to-back games against Michigan and Ohio State.
4. #9 Texas A&M (-6) at Ole Miss (8:30pm, ESPN): Ole Miss was one of the more hyped teams heading in to 2013, with the most returning starters in the SEC and a highly touted recruiting class. While the season started out well with comeback wins over Vanderbilt and Texas, the Rebels have fallen back to the middle of the pack in the SEC West, after consecutive losses to Alabama and Auburn. The schedule isn’t getting easier with back-to-back home dates against Texas A&M and LSU. There’s been no Heisman hangover for Johnny Manziel who has over 1800 offensive yards and 17 totals touchdowns in his first five games.
3. #25 Missouri at #7 Georgia (-8) (12pm, ESPN): Georgia’s schedule was suppose to get much easier after a gauntlet start to the season that included three top ten opponents. Their shootout win in Knoxville proved that to be far from the truth. While the Bulldogs have continued to pile up points on the scoreboard, despite several key injuries, their defense has been ineffective from stopping the other team from doing so as well. It could be another highly-contested game for the cardiac dawgs against the nation’s eighth highest scoring team.
2. #2 Oregon (-14) at #16 Washington (4pm, Fox Sports 1): The high-scoring Ducks are now entering the stretch of their schedule that will decide their Pac-12 and national title aspirations. Oregon’s offense was nearly unstoppable in their first five games and should have more difficult task keeping up the pace against the upper-echelon of their conference. The Huskies are coming off a 31-28 loss in Palo Alto against the Cardinal and will now host the Pac-12′s other established national title contender. Washington has been the biggest surprise in college football so far, but their BCS hopes will fade away with a second straight loss.
1. #17 Florida at #10 LSU (-7) (3:30pm, CBS): Both schools are still alive and well in their pursuit for an SEC title, despite losing a game in September. Tyler Murphy has led the Gators to a 3-0 start in conference play, in place of Jeff Driskel, and the defense is giving up the fourth fewest points in the nation (12.2 per game). LSU rebounded from their road loss against Georgia with a 59-26 rout over Mississippi State, in which they scored the final 31 points. The Bayou Bengals have scored at least 35 points in their first six games.