Conference play for Ohio State just keeps chugging along. Ohio State could really use a bye week right now, though there is no rest for the weary. The Buckeyes’ bye week is still three weeks away, getting the bye in time to heal up before the visit to Madison, Wisconsin and the season finale against the Wolverines. As it is now, Ohio State hopes to continue its quest for revenge and the trollbombing the B1G TEN by hosting the Purdue Boilermakers.
Conference play is in full swing. Now past the midway point of the regular season, what remains are games to sort the BCS standing and determine who is eligible for BCS bids. The marquee games of the week include a visit from Louisiana State to Texas A&M in a game that makes too much sense for it not to be an annual affair. Elsewhere, West Virginia looks to rebound from a shellacking in Lubbock, Texas by hosting the undefeated, #4 ranked Kansas State Wildcats. Other top 25 matchups are available in the SEC and the Big XII, accordingly. What follows is your primer for the week of college football.
So, here’s what’s on.
- Louisiana-Lafayette @ North Texas (ESPN2, 9:00pm ET). Tuesday night football is back, yo. I only watched part of this while getting hammered and having to explain how football works to a Brazilian immigrant who lives in my apartment complex. He was receptive and curious after we had just watched the USA-Guatemala soccer match. I was drunk. North Texas won, 30-23.
- Houston @ Southern Methodist (Regional, 8:00pm ET). Like points and spread offenses? You’re going to have your pick of the litter on Thursday night. Houston visits Southern Methodist in a matchup of two former Southwest Conference schools and current Conference-USA schools that are Big East bound in 2013. Houston should win this big, though. Southern Methodist is just 2-4 this season, with an offense that’s ranked 90th in college football. Houston is #11 overall. The Ponies are on a short week too, losing this most recent Saturday at Tulane. Tulane.
- Oregon @ Arizona State (ESPN, 9:00pm ET). Can anyone slow down the Oregon Ducks? Chip Kelly has an excellent system in place in Eugene, but it seems like it’s almost too easy for an Oregon Ducks program that struggles with higher quality non-conference competition (Wisconsin’s idiotic defense notwithstanding). The Ducks visit Tempe, Arizona to play the resurgent Arizona State Sun Devils, who are 5-1 on the season and are a top 25 team, if not for awful competition. While attention will be drawn to the respective offenses (Oregon: 8th total offense; Arizona State: 24th), do pay attention to some of the defensive series for the Sun Devils. Though they’ve played garbage for the most part, the Sun Devils have the 8th total defense in college football and lead the country in TFLs a game (second in sacks per game). Oregon’s offense, by design, struggles with conceding negative plays.
- Connecticut @ Syracuse (ESPN, 8:00pm ET). It’s Friday night football, and you will like it. Connecticut is 3-4. Syracuse is 2-4. Fans of both programs are already counting the days to basketball season, assuming there were fans of both programs paying attention to football in the first place.
- Louisiana State @ Texas A&M (ESPN, 12:00pm ET). This, I think, is the crown jewel of SEC expansion. I’m not sure A&M will ever be understood as “SEC” and its departure from the Big XII was infinitely more political than it was a means toward forging a new identity. Still, this game needs to happen every year, and now it will. Both schools are separated by a manageable six hours of driving, making it a nice fit for both programs. Further, LSU draws very heavily from the Houston area for some recruits. When it does grab a recruit from Houston, it’s usually to Texas A&M’s detriment (and not Texas). Louisiana State’s win in the 2011 Cotton Bowl was the first for the Tigers against A&M since 1990. Both schools played each other every year from 1960 to 1975, and from 1986 to 1995. This should be great, but you won’t be watching it.
- Virginia Tech @ Clemson (ABC/ESPN2, 12:00pm ET). Remember when Virginia Tech was a thing in the top 25? The 41-20 win over then-undefeated Duke was evidence underscoring that preseason top 25 ranking, but the current 4-3 record belies it. Clemson, meanwhile, was set on fire by Florida State and its defense still hasn’t recovered. The 100th ranked Tiger defense conceded 31 points each to Boston College (#80 total offense) and Georgia Tech in the weeks since that loss. You won’t be watching this, though.
- Purdue @ Ohio State (ABC/ESPN2, 12:00pm ET). This is what you’re watching. More on this later.
- Minnesota @ Wisconsin (ESPNU, 12:00pm ET). You’re not watching this, but we can talk a little bit about it. The Gophers are reeling a bit, losers of two straight in league play after going 4-o through the non-conference schedule. They need two wins to become bowl eligible, which will almost assuredly get them a B1G TEN bowl tie-in (due to Ohio State’s and Penn State’s respective ineligibility). However, they’re running out of time to pick it up. The Gophers could have really used a win at Iowa or at home to Nerdwestern. Next up is the game at Wisconsin, who seems to be peaking at just the right time. Next up is a home game versus Purdue, but the Gophers will host the Wolverines the week after that. Nebrasky and Michigan State are still on the schedule.
- Auburn @ Vanderbilt (“SEC Network”, 12:21pm ET). I guess I was nominally rooting for Vanderbilt to stick it to Auburn, just to see what the reaction would be on the plains. With that in mind, Auburn wouldn’t be ‘scurred of playing Nerdwestern or Ohio State…
- South Carolina @ Florida (CBS, 3:30pm ET). It’s been a tough three week stretch for South Carolina. It started with a flattening of the Georgia Bulldogs, which was followed by a tough road loss at Louisiana State. The Gamecocks are on the road again against the Florida Gators, who have risen from the hinterlands of the top 25 to be the BCS #2 in the first week of the poll. Who would have seen this result after the Gators LOLed so much at home to Bowling Green in Week 1? This is the Gameday destination for the week.
- Brigham Young @ Notre Dame (NBC, 3:30pm ET). Brigham Young divorced from the Mountain West Conference (not sure that’s legit in the Mormon Bible) to go independent and play Notre Dame in a six game series. All for religious jokes on Twitter. This, of course, assumes Notre Dame is a Catholic school…
- South Florida @ Louisville (ABC/ESPN3.com, 3:30pm ET). Don’t bother. I won’t.
- Texas Tech @ Texas Christian (ABC/ESPN2, 3:30pm ET). Good for Texas Christian to get into the Big XII. They may not have been a good candidate of the Texas contingent to leave the smoldering remains of the Southwest Conference for the Big Eight (Big XII), but I’m not sure Tech was a good candidate at the time either. Yet, they got in. The Battletoads will host the Red Raiders, who are fresh off that pasting of #5 West Virginia last week.
- Nebrasky @ Nerdwestern (ABC/ESPN2, 3:30pm ET). Oooooh. I’m not sure how Cornhusker fans are really adjusting to the move to the B1G TEN. They can no longer drive to most games like they could against Iowa State and the two Kansas schools, but Chicago is accessible for everyone. It’s the hub of Midwestern football. The Wildcats won this game in Lincoln last year, only their second win in the series (1931). Bo Pelini will be looking for revenge, but will he get it? Burkhead is still iffy and that defense could yield some points to the Wildcats.
- Michigan State @ That School Up North (BTN, 3:30pm ET). This game should decide the B1G TEN Legends (Leaders?) Division, and it’s on BTN. Ouch.
- Colorado @ USC (Pac-12 Network, 6:00pm ET). Good thing this snuff film will be on the Pac-12 Network, where no one will watch it.
- Alabama @ Tennessee (ESPN, 7:00pm ET). It’s the Third Saturday in October. No, that’s not necessarily a statement of fact. That’s just what the series is called. It’s the protected inter-division game for both programs. Tennessee has not defeated Alabama since Nick Saban took over the reigns in Tuscaloosa. Only the 12-10 game in 2009 was close. The rest have been total beatdowns. This one should be another beatdown, all told. Really, the intrigue might be those juicy Nick Saban to the Cleveland Browns rumors. No, it’s just a coincidence those rumors are afloat this week while the Crimson Tide prepares to play Tennessee, for whom one of the biggest boosters is the new owner of the Browns. It’s total coincidence, I tell you…
- Kansas State @ West Virginia (FOX, 7:00pm ET). Every game West Virginia plays this season will be of total regional curiosity. I’m not sure this interests me, though it will feature two of the three midseason Heisman finalists (Collin Klein v. Geno Smith). Can West Virginia stop anyone? Will the home crowd make an atmosphere of a game where Kansas State players were debating, amongst themselves, if West Virginia is even a real state? This game will be on FOX, which means Gus Johnson is on the call… in Morgantown, West Virginia. Should be fun on the bun.
- Florida State @ Miami (ABC, 8:00pm ET). Did you know this game was being played this week? Not a word has been said of it. Oh, how the mighty have fallen…