This weekend college football is handing out an impressive slate of games, and while we can gaze in awe at all things SEC and pretend that the conference is the unquestioned epicenter of all glory in college football, there are a number of games that may not be marquee matchups but deserve a bit of notice. So, as I like to take things a bit off the beaten path, let’s take a look at some games that may not make the top of SportsCenter but could be huge for these teams’ shots at winning their conference, bragging rights, bowl eligibility, and weeding out the early season pretenders. Each of these games has their own storyline, own reason to watch, and are far from the usual suspects for conventional must-watch on a Saturday afternoon… but all of them are intriguing.
(7) Nebraska at Kansas State: Kansas State has feasted on one of the lightest schedules in the country, though their win over UCLA looks better every week. They have crept slowly into the “also receiving votes” section of the polls, and a win over Nebraska would put them right at the top of the Big 12 North. Unfortunately, that isn’t happening this weekend. One more inflated non-conference record popped, though one has to give credit to un-retired Kansas State fixture Bill Snyder in stepping in to turn that program around.
Baylor at Texas Tech: Any other year, this game doesn’t even register into the public consciousness, but Baylor is struggling to do something that they haven’t done in decades- become relevant. At 4-1, Baylor hasn’t beaten anyone of note and was absolutely thrashed by TCU, but their team is slowly changing its culture behind quarterback Robert Griffin. Texas Tech, for its part, is having the same identity crisis on offense that plagued Tommy Tuberville at the end of his tenure in Auburn. Anytime someone says a coach should create an offense to fit his personnel, point them to Tommy Tuberville. He should have taken his growing pains and switched to the pro-style offense rather than try to work in a hybrid spread that is completely ineffective.
(2) Ohio State vs. Indiana: Trap game anyone? Ohio State’s offense was sluggish at best against Illinois last weekend, and while Terrelle Pryor has put up decent numbers this season, he has been erratic at best when not facing the Eastern Michigan’s of the world. Moreover, Indiana might have the best pure passer in the Big Ten in Ben Chappell, who carved up the moribund Michigan secondary to the tune of 480 yards last week. If the Indiana defense can do anything to stop Boom Herron- a big if, Indiana could pull the upset.
Pitt at Notre Dame: Two teams desperate to show fans- and voters- that they are as good as prognosticators thought they were earlier this year. Notre Dame has had some bad luck, losing heartbreakers to Michigan and Michigan State while having the misfortune to face a Stanford team on a roll. I don’t think the 2-3 record shows the talent of this team, though Dayne Crist has not been as good as advertised. Pitt on the other hand, has just been awful. I expect the Panthers to own both sides of the line of scrimmage, and they have done neither. I want to see which team gets back on track.
And one last thing… Go Blue, beat Sparty. After what MSU did to Maryland last year, do the right thing. Root for Denard.