Saturday, October 4, 2008

Fans Weekend Guide - Week Six

Conference Pride is on the Line When…
North Carolina Hosts Connecticut (October 4, 7:00, ESPN2):
Which conference has more to prove—the Big East or the ACC? The Tar Heels enter this game 3-1, including an impressive 44-12 win over Rutgers in their lone trip up north. Meanwhile, the undefeated Huskies took care of their previous ACC foe when they handled Virginia 45-10. Connecticut now must cross the Mason-Dixon Line for an inter-conference battle. UConn will be without their leader, Tyler Lorenzen went down last week and could be out for up to two months. Sophomore Zach Frazer will attempt to replace the talismanic Lorenzen. The Huskies still boast the nation’s leading rusher in Donald Brown (906 yards, 11 touchdowns). They won’t receive any sympathy from North Carolina, who lost their starting signal caller Tyler Yates a week earlier. Third stringer Cameron Sexton stepped in last week and threw for 242 yards and two touchdowns in UNC’s comeback win over Miami.

The Conference Title is on the Line When…
USC Hosts Oregon (October 4, 8:00, ABC):
Entering the week, the Ducks sit atop the Pac-10 standings with a 2-0 record in conference play, while the Trojans are still smarting over their loss on Thursday night to Oregon St. USC is happy not to have to make the trip back to the great northwest, and Oregon should not expect a gracious host this Saturday. A week after USC lost the “Quizz Show”, you can be sure the Ducks will look to feed tailbacks Jeremiah Johnson and LeGarrett Blount. The onus will be on the Trojans’ talented front seven, led by stellar senior linebackers Rey Maualuga in the middle and Brian Cushing (below) at the strongside position.

Don’t Call it an Upset When…
Alabama Visits Kentucky (October 4, 3:30, CBS):
OK…you can call it an upset. The Tide have ripped through two top teams in September, but everyone is susceptible to the upset bug. UK has an underrated front seven. Linebacker Braxton Kelley (above) leads the team with 21 tackles and three sacks and if Micah Johnson can return healthy, they may have enough bulk to handle Alabama’s physical rushing attack.

The Team That Can’t Afford to Look Ahead is…
Texas Visiting Colorado (October 4, 7:00, FoxSports):
The ‘Horns take on the Sooners next week in Dallas in what figures to be a match-up of top five foes. However, before they get there, UT must conquer the Rockies. The Buffs are coming off a loss to FSU, but are dangerous at home— they knocked off No. 21 West Virginia this year and No. 3 Oklahoma last season.

The Team on the Cusp is…
Michigan St. Hosting Iowa (October 4, 12:00, ESPN2):
Javon Ringer (897 yards, 12 touch-downs) is trying to single-handedly carry the Spartans into the top 25, but if they are to earn a ranking, the MSU defense will have to perform better than they did last week at Indiana.

A Football Fan’s Four-Pack…

Illinois @ Michigan – (October 4, 3:30, ABC):
This match-up will mark the 90th meeting between the two Big-Ten programs, with Michigan holding a 9-1 advantage in the last 10 contests. Look for Illinois junior quarterback Juice Williams (above) to try and attack the Wolverines via the pass. Michigan’s defense has held opponents to 88.5 rushing yards per game, while allowing 220.8 through the air this season. The Illini’s porous run defense (182.5 yards per game) should allow freshman Sam McGuffie to have quite a day in “The Big House.”

Super Senior: Brit Miller, LB, Illinois

Star of Tomorrow: Sam McGuffie, RB, UM

FSU @ Miami – (October 4, 3:30, ABC):
The Hurricanes and the Seminoles both enter the contest with very stingy run defenses. Miami ranks seventh nationally in rushing defense (65.0 yards per game), while FSU is eighth nationally in rushing defense (67.2). Just a hunch, but some pass plays may factor into the both game plans. Also look for Miami to have an extra-large chip on its shoulder coming off a heartbreaking loss to North Carolina. The Canes will be looking to take out their frustration on someone after falling victim to a scoring pass with 46 seconds left in their ACC opener last Saturday.

Super Senior: Derek Nicholson, LB, FSU

Star of Tomorrow: Sean Spence, LB, Miami

Arizona St. @ Cal – (October 4, 3:30, ABC):
The Bears have won four of the last five meetings with the Sun Devils, but will be looking to avenge last year's 31-20 loss in Tempe. A match-up to keep an eye on is Arizona State’s senior signal caller Rudy Carpenter against the play-making corners of Cal, led by Syd’Quan Thompson and Brett Johnson.

Super Senior: Keegan Herring, RB, Arizona State

Star of Tomorrow: Shane Vereen, RB, Cal

Auburn @ Vanderbilt – (October 4, 6:00, ESPN):
No. 13 Auburn has won its last 13 games against No. 19 Vanderbilt. But the Commodores, who are 2-0 in the SEC for just the third time since 1956, lead the nation in turnover margin (+2.25) and are tied for the national lead in fewest penalties (11). This should be a good test for a Vanderbilt squad that is nationally ranked for the first time since 1984. Look for a rugged SEC battle in this one.

Super Senior: Reshard Langford, S, Vanderbilt

Star of Tomorrow: Zac Ethridge, SS, Auburn

Photo Credit: SEC Sports Media, John Pyle