This week is mostly devoid of big games. There’s only one pairing of ranked teams. For now, it’s mostly about giving highly rated teams a chance to prove they don’t belong after all. Ole Miss gave a clinic in this Thursday night.
Full conference play will come soon; these guys can’t duck big games forever. For now, though, all we’ve got is a trio of 3:30 kickoffs:
#9 Miami at #11 Virginia Tech. First of all, we should thank these teams. Unlike possibly every other good team in the nation, each of them is playing their third serious game in four weeks tomorrow. Miami outgunned Florida State and crushed a one-dimensional Georgia Tech. VT lost to Alabama—no shame there—and survived Nebraska on a miracle last drive. The Hokies have been inconsistent on offense, but their D is the best Miami’s seen yet, and Blacksburg is always a tough place to pick up a road win. The winner here will have the inside track to the ACC’s BCS berth.
#6 California at Oregon. Cal is one of those teams that’s difficult to judge early on. Are their blowout wins because they haven’t played anybody, or are they actually that good? They have 15 starters back from a nine win team last year, and Jahvid Best is in his second year of putting up huge numbers, so maybe they are. If they are, they get their shot at USC next week.
On the other hand, Oregon is a team we know about. They were comprehensively outplayed by Boise State, but came back to beat Purdue and Utah, two solid teams. The Boise game was on the road, though. They’re at home tomorrow, where they're more dangerous.
#15 TCU at Clemson. I picked this one because after BYU’s own brush with the ACC, the Horned Frogs are one of the leading non-BCS teams left, and the MWC really needs some redemption. TCU hasn’t proven anything this year, with one win against a I-AA team and another against Virginia, which is even worse. Clemson is coming off a tough loss at Georgia Tech and a big win over Boston College, in which they held BC to four first downs. A win would push the Tigers back towards the Top 25 and co-favorite status, along with Florida State, in their half of the ACC (opposite the Miami-VT winner). A TCU win would establish them as the Mountain West favorite, and next in line for the BCS bid if Boise State falters.
Miami (55/45). Yes, they’re on the road, but the Hurricanes are the better team. Miami tore up Georgia Tech, and the FSU win looks even better now that the Seminoles dismantled Brigham Young. For their part, the case against Virginia Tech only gets stronger every time I’ve made it: they were outclassed against Alabama and Nebraska’s Roy Helu, Jr. ran all over them. Also, Tyrod Taylor’s still not completing half of his passes, and he’s taken 11 sacks.
California (66/34). Cal beat Oregon last year and has more returning players, and in their opener the Ducks were just no match for Boise State. This would be a huge upset.
Clemson (54/46). This is another of those games, like Nebraska/VT last week, that I’d rather not pick. I can see both sides, and I’ve been going back and forth between them. But for the record here’s Clemson’s: their D has been deadly the last six quarters, against decent teams. TCU wasn’t that convincing against Virginia and allowed 21 non-garbage points against Texas State. TCU has one member of their front seven back from last year, and Clemson’s got a veteran O-line and CJ Spiller. Clemson has better recruits, more returning starters, is starting to get it together, and is at home. TCU’s case…well, hopefully for me you won’t see it for yourself tomorrow.
Last Week: 38-108
Year to Date: 171-202, .458