Saturday, September 27, 2008

Fan’s Weekend Guide

The Conference Title is on the Line When…

Auburn Hosts Tennessee (September 27, 3:30, CBS): Each team is coming off a loss, but as we learned last season, one, even two losses in SEC play does not rule one out from making the championship game. LSU repress-ented the West last year with two losses, as did Tennessee out of the East, and one of the Vols’ two losses was a 59-20 drubbing at the hands of the Florida Gators. Win or lose, if UT signal caller Jonathan Crompton does not play better, Tennessee could find themselves missing a bowl game for the second time in four years.

Conference Pride is on the Line When…

UCLA Hosts Fresno St. (September 27, 3:30, ABC):
Two weeks ago, the Pac-10 conference went 0-4 when they took the “Mountain West Challenge”. TCU drubbed Stanford, New Mexico upended Arizona, UNLV upset Arizona St. and BYU absolutely undressed the Bruins 59-0. Last week, Oregon fell to Boise St., the Broncos first ever road win over a BCS conference foe. So, before the Pac-10 can talk about playing with the likes of the SEC and Big 12, (USC excluded) they need to show they can hang with the mid-majors west of the Mississippi. To some, Fresno St. is the ultimate BCS buster—anytime, anyplace. If they are to live up to that standard, a season-opening win over Rutgers won’t be enough. A loss to the Bruins would not only knock the Bulldogs out of the polls, but place the WAC clearly behind the MWC on the mid-major totem pole.

The Team That Can’t Afford to Look Ahead is…

Wisconsin Visiting Michigan (September 27, 3:30, ABC):
Whoever thought the Badgers could look past a trip to the Big House? With the Wolverines reeling at 1-2 and a visit from the Buckeyes coming the following week, Wisconsin needs to be careful that they don’t put the cart before the horse. Michigan is a prideful bunch (really, they are) and would love nothing more than to get Rich Rodriguez his first marquee win with everyone counting them out. If Wisconsin is going to be in the running for a Big Ten title, they must put away the Maize and Blue.

Don’t Call it an Upset When…

Illinois Visits Penn St. (September 27, 8:00, ABC):
Penn St. has dominated their opponents by an average margin of 53-10. Of course those opponents—Coastal Carolina, Oregon St., Syracuse ad Temple—have a combined record of 5-10, with three of those wins coming against FCS foes. So, we may not know as much about the Nittany Lions as we think. While the Illini have been lackluster in the early going, this is a major step up in competition. With quarterback Juice Williams and wide out Rejus Benn on offense and a defense that features star cornerback Vernon Davis and man-child Martez Wilson at linebacker, Illinois is not wanting for talent.

The Team on the Cusp is…

Colorado Visiting Florida St. (September 27, 3:30, ABC):
The Buffs are undefeated and coming off a victory over a ranked foe (WVU). They could find themselves cracking the polls if Cody Hawkins (below) can lead them to another upset.

A Football Fan’s Four-Pack…

Purdue @ Notre Dame (September 27, 3:30, NBC):
This will be the 80th all-time meeting between the two schools. Will Notre Dame bounce back from a loss last week? How will Purdue fare in their first contest away from home -- especially in the unfriendly confines of South Bend? In Joe Tiller’s final meeting with the Irish, one thing should be a certainty—the Boilermakers will play hard.

Super Senior: Kory Sheets, RB, Purdue

Star of Tomorrow: Golden Tate, WR, ND

Mississippi St. @ LSU (September 27, 7:30, ESPN2):
Will the Bulldogs be able to contend with the Bayou Bengals at home? LSU has held their opponents to a mere 55.3 yards per-game average on the ground so fat this season. But Mississippi State’s quarterback Wesley Carroll has thrown six interceptions this year and only three touchdowns. It’s a pick your poison type of theme for Sylvester Croom’s boys.

Super Senior: Derek Pegues, FS, Mississippi State

Star of Tomorrow: Kelvin Sheppard, LB, LSU

Arkansas @ Texas (September 27, 3:30, ABC):
In a game postponed from Sept. 13, due to Hurricane Ike, the No. 7 Longhorns will look to have their stout run-defense ready and waiting for the Razorbacks. Through three games, Texas has held their opponents to a total of 199 rushing yards. Look for Arkansas to attack through the air, early and often.

Super Senior: Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas

Star of Tomorrow: Jerry Franklin, MLB, Ark.

Virginia Tech @ Nebraska (September 27, 8:00, ABC):
Will Virginia Tech be able to contain the Nebraska offense? Under first-year head coach Bo Pelini, the Huskers are averaging 189 yards-per-game on the ground and 261.3 through the air. Look for the Hokies to have a busy day on the defensive side of the ball. Linebacker Brett Warren, who had 15 tackles last week against Georgia Tech, better get a good night of sleep before this one.

Super Senior: Orion Martin, DE, Virginia Tech

Star of Tomorrow: Eric Hagg, CB, Nebraska

Photo Credit: SEC Sports Media, University of Texas Athletics