Thursday, August 27

College Football Previews: Top Ten Games To Watch

There is an old saying about teams circling certain match-ups on their calender in anticipation of the game ahead. Fans do the same thing but usually in their head, if you are using the red sharpie on your refrigerator magnet, you are going a tad too far. Every year when the schedule comes out for football, there are certain games that you look forward to and want to do everything in your power to make sure you watch the action. They will ultimately not be the best games you saw at season's end, but sometimes anticipation can be the greatest form of pleasure. Read on for our top ten please know that there were many honorable mentions.

Preseason Coaches' Poll rankings are in parentheses.

10. Alabama(5) at Ole Miss(10)- October 10th

The Grove will be a rocking and raucous place this year (more so than usual) due to the increased expectations and top ten rankings the Rebels have received. In October, the reigning SEC west champions come into town. Many are wondering if the burden of these high hopes will ultimately come crashing down on the Rebs but a few things they have in their favor is getting this game at home and the veteran leadership at quarterback of Jevan Snead. Snead probably would have gathered some preseason SEC votes if it was not mandated under papal law that Tebow receive all of them. Also having the lightning bolt that is Dexter McCluster in the backfield helps as well. Alabama will certainly face a challenge of replacing John Parker Wilson behind center, and 5.9 YPR back Glen Coffee. Mark Ingram was great as a freshman last year, but is he ready to take on the full load with a slightly weaker O-line? This could also be an interesting game psychologically for the Tide considering they have the huge opening weekend match-up against Virginia Tech and then play FIU and North Texas before facing lighterweight SEC foes Arkansas and Kentucky. If they barrel through those first 5 they could be overconfident going into this game or if they drop the first one to the Hokies they could be facing a let down like the one they had in last year's Sugar Bowl after their title hopes slipped away last year.

9. Utah(18) vs. BYU(24)- November 28th

This game will not have any sway on who plays for the national title, but a BCS bowl berth may well be on the line. I made it a point to catch this game last year and the "Holy War" as it is dubbed did not disappoint. So far from the sports fan consciousness was this contest that it was not even on national television and the Utes were undefeated and the Cougars ranked. It was only on the Mountain West network so we had to forage out to find a bar that would carry it. The great thing about rivalry games, even the ones that are not as nationally known is that the teams generally do not like each other and give maximum effort to destroy the other team. This also gave a good glimpse at what the Utes could do on the field. I had seen them squeak by TCU but their 48-24 win over BYU showcased their all-around talent. It was that talent along with the guidance of Kyle Willingham at head coach that propelled them to a 31-17 Sugar Bowl win over Alabama. The Utes were snubbed on a national championship and the Mountain West Conference did its best to propose that all teams would have a fair shot at playing for the title but even Congress can do nothing against the behemoth that is the BCS system. Both Utah and BYU are challenging themselves out of conference but it is unlikely that either will go undefeated but if they somehow do then this game will again be for a shot at the big boys for bragging rights but no title.

8. Florida(1) at LSU(9)- October 10th

This game between the past 3 national champions will take place at night in Tiger Stadium. The past time the Gators came to Tiger Stadium at night LSU came away with the victory on their way to the title. There will be much hype surrounding this game with an emphasis on the at night aspect of it. Something mystical must happen when the sun goes down in Baton Rouge because people certainly seem to think playing at home at night gives the Tigers an extreme advantage. Others postulate that it simply allows the fans to do even more disgusting and degrading actions that might otherwise be more conspicuous in the light of day.

7. USC(4) at Notre Dame(23)- October 17th

I have this as one of my top games to watch this season for one reason and one reason only; I want to witness the Trojans obliterate the Irish and snap their backs once again in front of their home fans. Year after year the Irish are given preferential treatment by the media, their own network NBC, and even the pollsters. If there is any excuse to get them in the top 25 they will be. Lou Holtz is the embodiment of such ridiculous notions. He has picked the Irish to face Florida in the national championship game. While the Notre Dame schedule is on the easy side, they would have to beat USC for that situation to even enter the realm of possibility. If Notre Dame somehow makes it to the USC match-up undefeated 5-0 then there will be a lot of chirping coming out of South Bend. I hope it happens, because it will make the crushing of their dreams much more sweeter. The Trojans have won the last 7 games in the rivalry with the only close one being the Reggie Bush pushing Leinart game 34-31 in 2005. Other than that game the average score in the match-up over the USC winning streak has been 41-14. The hot air Irish fans will be blowing prior to this game will be amusing and one can only sit back with hands placed in Montgomery Burns position and bellow out an "excellent" when SC destroys them yet again.

6. Tennessee at Florida(1)- September 19th

Congrats to the Vols for being the only unranked team on my list. They received 2 votes in the coaches' poll and 15 in the AP. New coach Lane Kiffin has been running his mouth and speaking boldly and if there is one thing we know in the SEC, it is that Urban Meyer is a thin-skinned dude. Not only that, he is more than willing to embarrass any team that he feels has offended his delicate sensibilities. Last year instead of kneeling after having the game well in hand he attempted a TD pass against Miami in the closing moments and even brought out the field goal unit just to cover the spread. After Mark Richt and Georgia sent their entire team out onto the field in a Bulldog win Urban punished the Bulldogs 49-10 last year in a game where he did nottake his foot off the brakes. The list goes on and on and even in the national title game last year Meyer was straining to score on the final drive with the game won. So you can only imagine what Meyer and the Gators will have in store for Kiffin and the Vols when they come into Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in September. Pete Carroll at least puts on the breaks sometimes, no such luck with Urban. This is going to get ugly and get ugly quick and the car wreck analogy is most definitely fitting here. I will not be able to look away.

5. Georgia(13) at Oklahoma State(11)- September 5th

I have to give a lot of credit to UGA, they are willing to pack up an head out of their region to go play tough opponents from out of their conference. While other SEC powers fear what may lurk beyond the eastern half of the country unless they are called to play in a BCS title game, Georgia makes another foray into the latter time zones. Last year Georgia went to Arizona State and came away with the victory but this year will be a sterner test. The Bulldogs head to Stillwater to take on the T. Boone PickensOklahoma State Cowboys the first weekend of the season. Adding to the difficulty for Georgia will be dealing with the loss of Matt Stafford and Knowshon Moreno but Joe Cox seems to be up to the task. Let's just say Cox is not afraid to put himself out there. The Cowboys are going to be favored to win this one and look to improve on a 9-4 season from a year ago. Lead by Zac Robinson at quarterback and Kendall Hunter the offense should continue to thrive but the Cowboys gave up an average of 47 points in their losses. Mike Gundy added Bill Young as defensive coordinator and is hoping that will be the difference in a season where OK State could contend for a Big XII title.

4. Alabama(5) vs. Virginia Tech(7)- September 5th
This game was headliner for our ACC vs. SEC preview so allow me to quote myself:

The 2009 season is another chance for the ACC to take a step in the right direction and it all begins where it began last year, the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Once again Alabama comes forth from the SEC, but this time Virginia Tech comes calling from the ACC. The Hokies won the first BCS game by an ACC team other than Florida State last year and are ranked in the top ten. They have been the most consistent ACC team since the league expanded, winning 3 in the past 5 years. A lot is riding on this game for Virginia Tech and their outside chances at a title shot, but perhaps just as much is on the line for the conference. Alabama is not as strong as last year, they will be starting a new quarterback and their line is not as formidable as last year but they are still a dangerous team.

3. Ohio State(6) at Penn State(8)- November 7th

Just like last year this game is expected to determine who wins the Big Ten. And like last year both teams could be vying for a spot in the BCS title game. Also Ohio States title chances hinge on a game with USC in September but this time the game is in Columbus. It must be deja vu because people are talking about the softness of Penn State's out of conference schedule again. And just like last year I expect this game to be a hard-fought affair that is close to the very end in Happy Valley.

2. USC(4) at Ohio State(6)- September 12th

Last year this was supposed to be the game of games, but it ended up being USC trouncing all over the Buckeyes' title hopes. The hype coming out of Columbus about Terrelle Pryor and his speed and his advancement as a quarterback has been non-stop. With USC having a first timer under center, the Horseshoe can be a daunting place to play and may give the Buckeyes the edge. The Trojan's defense may not be as strong as last year but it will still be stout and Pryor will have to put points on the board in order to keep this one close. Ohio State fans are looking for any reason to beat their chest nationally after the losses last year to USC and Texas and the two losses in the BCS title games.

1. Texas(2) vs. Oklahoma(3)- October 17th

Last year's Red River Rivalry game was a classic with Texas winning 45-35 yet somehow it was the Sooners playing in Miami for the title. Colt McCoy and Sam Bradford return once again and there is no reason to think this year's game will not contain the same fireworks as last year's record high scoring game. Both teams have many pitfalls in their schedule but it could very well come down to who wins this game. Come to think of it, last year it did not come down to who won this game. So throw all those title implications out the window, it is still a great game between two heated rivals in a terrific setting at the Cotton Bowl.

1 comment:

Xtra Medium said...

Urban never takes his foot off the accelerator. Class personified.