Friday, October 24, 2008

Fans Weekend Guide - Week Nine

The Conference Title is on the Line When…
Oklahoma St. Visits Texas (October 25, 3:30, ABC):

Yes, the Longhorns have positioned themselves well for a run at the National Title. After all, they sit atop the BCS standings and it’s late October. However, before they get ahead of themselves, they are one of three Big 12 South schools that remain undefeated and in the top 10. One of those challengers is this weekend’s opponent, Oklahoma State. With Zac Robinson (19 total touchdowns) leading the huddle, Kendall Hunter (955 yards) knifing through opposing defenses and Dez Bryant (45 receptions, 809 yards, 11 touchdowns) snatching balls out of the air in a single bound—the Cowboys’ offense is difficult to slow down. Senior tight end Brandon Pettigrew is as healthy as he’s been for a couple of weeks and could be the x-factor, as he works his way back into the offense. The key factor will be the play of their offensive line, which has allowed just five sacks this season. The Longhorns’ defense has recorded 24 sacks to date, led by stellar senior Brian Orakpo (eight sacks, 12 tackles for a loss), who is coming on strong. Labeled a freak by some, Orakpo possesses raw power as well as electric speed off the edge—a rare combination. If the Cowboys pay too much attention to Orakpo, another athletic standout, Sergio Kindle (4.5 sacks), can and will burn them. On the flipside, the Cowboys’ defense knocked Chase Daniels’ Heisman train off the tracks in Missouri two weeks ago and they will try to do the same to Colt McCoy (19 touchdowns, 1,894 yards) on Saturday in Austin. That is a task that is easier said than done, as McCoy has been close to perfect this season having completed an eye-popping 81.2 percent of his passes.

Division Pride is on the Line When…
Kansas Hosts Texas Tech (October 25, 12:00, ESPN):
After a valiant effort in Norman last week, the Jayhawks get another chance to take on one of the big boys from the Big 12 South and this time, it’s at home. Quarterback Todd Reesing needs to keep doing what he does, but with the Jayhawks’ struggling defense, will it be enough?

Don’t Call it an Upset When…
Alabama Visits Tennessee (October 25, 7:45, ESPN):
The No. 2 Tide are undefeated, while the Vols are 3-4, hoping to claw back to .500. But this is an intense rivalry, and this year it takes place in Knoxville, where UT has won five of six from the Tide and Phillip Fulmer is 11-4 against ‘Bama. Tennessee is coming off their best performance of the season, while Alabama continues to have second half letdowns, allowing unranked foes Mississippi and Kentucky to hang around. Quarterback John Parker Wilson needs to be keenly aware of where safety Eric Berry is at all times. The super sophomore has recorded an interception in three straight games and last week set the SEC all-time interception return record.

The Team That Can’t Afford to Look Ahead is…
Georgia Tech Hosting Virginia (October 25, 3:30, ESPNU):
Tech looks like the team to beat in the ACC with FSU on tap next week, but Virginia comes in hot, riding a three-game winning streak.

The Team on the Cusp is…
Minnesota Visiting Purdue (October 25, 12:00, ESPN Classic):
The Gophers are ranked 25th in both polls, but still do not have the public’s respect. A road win could build credibility.

A Football Fan’s Four-Pack…

Georgia @ LSU (October 25, 3:30, CBS):
This one will be an SEC battle between two of the conference’s perennial powerhouses—the teams have combined to win five of the last seven SEC titles. This meeting marks the fifth consecutive time in which both teams come into the game ranked No. 13 or higher in the national polls. No. 9 Georgia looks to get senior linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and senior tight end Tripp Chandler back on the field for the contest against No. 11 LSU. The duo has missed the last two games due to injury.

Superior Senior: Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU

Star of Tomorrow: AJ Green, WR, Georgia

Virginia Tech at Florida St. (October 25, 3:30, ABC):
The No. 24 Seminoles have won five straight against the Hokies in Doak Campbell Stadium, and had won the previous 12 meetings until last year’s 40-21 loss in Blacksburg – Frank Beamer’s first win against Bobby Bowden. Look for FSU to run early-and-often, with Antone Smith (10 touchdowns this season). Tech should look to attack through the air, considering the Seminoles have held opponents to 79.5 rushing-yards per game.

Superior Senior: Orion Martin, DE, Va. Tech

Star of Tomorrow: Rodney Hudson, OG, FSU

Wake Forest at Miami (October 25, 12:00, ESPNU):
The Hurricanes own a 5-3 lead in a series that dates back to 1928, and have won the last four. The Demon Deacons should have something to prove after losing to Maryland 26-0 last week. It was the first time the Deacs had been shutout since 1998. Look for quarterback Riley Skinner to spread the ball around—he’s thrown a touchdown to six different Wake receivers this season. A key match-up is Miami quarterback Jacory Harris, coming off a five-touchdown performance (four passing, one rushing), against cornerback Alphonso Smith (3 interceptions) and safety Kevin Patterson (3 interceptions).

Superior Senior: Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest

Star of Tomorrow: Jacory Harris, QB, Miami

Michigan St. at Michigan (October 25, 3:30, ABC): In the 101st meeting between the two schools, the only thing for certain is that one team will be bringing home the Paul Bunyan trophy. Both teams have something to prove coming off of losses in which they both gave up 45 points or more. A key match-up will be Michigan’s run defense (120.9 yards-per-game) against Javon Ringer (147.4 yards-per-game, 14 TD’s).

Superior Senior: Tim Jamison, DE, Michigan

Star of Tomorrow: Charlie Gantt, TE, MSU

Photo Credit: SEC Sports Media