Sweet, precious bye week. Ohio State finally has its regular season bye, one of, if not the, last squad to get a reprieve during the regular season.1 The Buckeyes had a practice midweek, but dispersed after that to heal over the course of the week. The coaches are on the recruiting trail this week, in stretches as far and wide as That State Up North and Florida. Urban Meyer will even get to watch his daughter’s (Nicki Meyer’s) senior day at Georgia Tech, where she is a women’s volleyball player. As for the players, they need time to heal. If the weekend is them simply sitting on the couch, watching TV and enjoying fellowship, it will have served its purpose. Already, Braxton Miller has expressed gratitude for the time spent healing wounds, and this will allow Etienne Sabino to return to action against Wisconsin.
So, there’s no Ohio State game over which to get wound. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the bye week. Here’s what’s on.
- Ball State @ Toledo (ESPN2, 8:00pm ET). Election night #MACtion, which, for the second consecutive time featured a predominantly blue and red MAC team clash on the night of the Presidential election. In 2008, I believe that was Ball State and Buffalo. In 2012, it was Ball State traveling to #25 ranked Toledo and playing the Rockets in the Glass Bowl. The Rockets’ only other loss was at Arizona in Week 1, a 24-17 overtime defeat. Ball State gave Toledo loss #2, winning on the road, 34-27.
- Bowling Green @ Ohio (ESPN2, 8:00pm ET). The second consecutive night of #MACtion featured another upset. The Ohio Bobcats, which were undefeated and possible BCS spoilers (long shots at that, though) until a loss at Miami of Ohio two weeks ago, hosted resurgent Bowling Green on the 100th game coached by Frank Solich at Ohio University. The Bobcats fell, 26-14, at home. Curiously, the Bobcats had a wail of a time trying to punt a football. Bowling Green has won six straight now.
- Florida State @ Virginia Tech (ESPN, 7:30pm ET). UL-Monroe will play at ArKansas State on ESPNU at 7:00pm if you’re interested, but let’s focus on this game for the moment. Perhaps it’s fitting that these two are playing each other at this moment in the season. Florida State, whose loss to NC State a month ago looks all the more curious as the season progresses, won’t have many opportunities to lose in November. That is, they won’t have many opportunities to lose a game that could be justified as a loss. A conference road game in hostile Blacksburg, Virginia will be followed with one more road trip to Maryland. The Seminoles will conclude the regular season by hosting Florida, a solid, but vulnerable, team. Meanwhile, what’s happened to Virginia Tech? A top 20 pick with a preseason first round draft pick at quarterback, the Hokies are 4-5 on the season. A loss here to Florida State, which is likely, gives them no margin for error in the remaining games against Boston College, and at home to Virginia. Indeed, it’s fitting the Hokies are playing the Seminoles now because the Hokies, of late, resemble the tail end of the Bobby Bowden years. Nepotism is keeping key players in place (Bryan Stinespring), established defensive coordinators are losing their touch (Bud Foster), and the head coach seems none the wiser about what’s plaguing the program.
- Pittsburgh @ Connecticut (ESPN2, 8:00pm ET). Pitt is 4-5 on the season and Connecticut is 3-6. This game matters jack to the Big East race. Umm, so, yeah. You’re watching it anyways. You know you are.
- ArKansas @ South Carolina (CBS, 12:00pm ET). CBS is bringing the SEC football early on Saturday. A game I might otherwise expect to see on “The SEC Network” at this time slot, it’s nevertheless on the actual SEC network. This is a protected, inter-divisional game in the SEC, an artifact of the original expansion in 1992 that brought in the Gamecocks and the Razorbacks into the SEC in the first place. The Hogs found a second wind after playing Auburn. Beginning the season 1-4, ArKansas has won three of its last four. However, that does put them at 4-5 on the season with aims of reaching a bowl game, even a decent one. However, the schedule concludes with road trips to South Carolina and Mississippi State, and hosting Louisiana State in Fayetteville. Not good.
- Louisville @ Syracuse (ABC, 12:00pm ET). You’re not watching this. Don’t kid yourselves. Still, Louisville is a nice story this season, and Teddy Bridgewater should be getting more national exposure than he is currently getting. Everything in the Big East seems to be building toward the season finale between Louisville and Rutgers. Both are currently undefeated in the conference, with Louisville undefeated overall.
- Army @ Rutgers (ESPNU, 12:00pm ET). Speaking of Rutgers, they’re wearing special helmets for this game. Moving on.
- Nerdwestern @ That Team Up North (ESPN, 12:00pm ET). This is basically a must-win situation for both teams, and a glorified knock-out game in the B1G TEN Legends (or are they Leaders?) Division. Both the Wildcats and Wolverines’ lone conference loss is to Nebrasky, who is in cruise control for a trip to Indianapolis. Both need to win to keep pace, and hope that the Cornhuskers falter in November somewhere. Both need it, but the Nerds may need it a bit more. If Fitzgerald’s bunch falls in Ann Arbor, they’ll look to that choke job earlier in the season against the Cornhuskers and ask “what if?” If they had not lost that game, and beat the Wolverines in Ann Arbor, the Legends (Leaders?) Division is basically theirs with just two games at Michigan State and home to Illinois to go.
- Wisconsin @ Indiana (ESPN2, 12:00pm ET). Remember my earlier statement that the Wisconsin-Purdue game in Week 7 was the Leaders (Legends?) Division championship game? Forget about it. It’s this game. And yes, Indiana oddly controls its own destiny in the B1G TEN Leaders Division, or the Legends. One of those. The 4-5 Hoosiers, 2-3 in the B1G TEN after winning its first league game in two years against Illinois at the end of October, can win a trip up the road to Indianapolis if it wins this game and wins out in November. There’s also no better time to take on the Badgers either. After losing Joel Stave to a season-ending injury, the Badgers will trot out both Curt Phillips and Danny O’Brien on the road in Bloomington. If the Badgers can nonetheless overwhelm the Hoosiers, and its running game should still be able to put up yards against an anemic Hoosiers defense, the Badgers win the trip to Indianapolis. If it can’t, then the Hoosiers thing is definitely happening.
- Purdue @ Iowa (Big Ten Network, 12:00pm ET). It’s here. It’s finally here. The rivalry to end all rivalries. The most rivalrous rivalry ever rivaled among rivals: Iowa-Purdue. Throw out all the record books in this fierce rivalry, built on mutual animosity and a historical legacy of mutal contempt for each other’s existence. It’s pure hate and power of will that determine the outcomes of these games. As for what will determine the outcome of this game? Hell if I know. Both teams suck out loud.
- UL-Lafayette @ Florida (“SEC Network”, 12:21pm ET). Oh man, SEC schedules in November.
- Missouri @ Tennessee (“SEC Network”, 12:21pm ET). Oh man, SEC schedules in November.
- Oregon State @ Stanford (FOX, 3:00pm ET). Stanford is making a quarterback change this week, starting the redshirt freshman Kevin Hogan over Josh Nunes. The hope for David Shaw is that Hogan’s running ability should be an improvement from Josh Nunes’ overall meh-ness. As for Oregon State, their players have the carrot that a win means Coach Dad buys them In n’ Out to celebrate. Fortunately for the Beavers players, there’s an In n’ Out in nearby Mountain View.
- Texas A&M @ Alabama (CBS, 3:30pm ET). A week after Louisiana State conceded a victory to Alabama in a manner that everyone saw coming, the Crimson Tide return home for three more games. A&M has outperformed everyone’s expectations upon entering the SEC, losing only twice (at home) to Louisiana State and Florida. Can the Aggies actually beat the Crimson Tide? They may be able to throw a bit on them, but I doubt that lasts long. Further, I’m not sure A&M can stop anything Alabama does on offense. Oh, if you’re watching this game and having a drinking game for every mention of “Bear Bryant” and “Dennis Franchione”? Don’t. You won’t make it to halftime.
- Penn State @ Nebrasky (ABC/ESPN2, 3:30pm ET). It’s crunch time for the Cornhuskers. Despite being a squad that conceded 600 yards of offense to UCLA, split roughly equally between rushing and passing, and despite being a team that conceded 63 points to Ohio State, the Huskers are atop the division. Beating Penn State won’t clinch the division, but it might as well. The remaining games for Nebrasky include hosting Minnesota and traveling to Iowa. The Nitts are really the only challenge left on the schedule, and it’s a good one.
- West Virginia @ Oklahoma State (ABC/ESPN2, 3:30pm ET). It’s a matchup of the defending Fiesta Bowl and Orange Bowl champions. These two last met in the 1987 Sun Bowl, which was a 35-33 victory for the Cowboys. Mike Gundy, current head coach of Oklahoma State, was quarterbacking the Cowboys in that game. Also, defense is sooooo 1990s.
- Kansas State @ Texas Christian (FOX, 7:00pm ET). Do we know what the status is for Collin Klein? Despite suffering an arm injury that sidelined him for the conclusion of last week’s game against Oklahoma State, Kansas State has been very mum on what actually is the deal for Klein this game. The Wildcats will probably need him. College football’s Jeep masquerading as a quarterback is a necessary condition, it would seem, for the Wildcats to continue winning games, certainly on the road at night against a team like Texas Christian. The Battletoads haven’t had the season they’re used to having, but should be riding high after last week’s double overtime victory in Morgantown.
- Georgia @ Auburn (ESPN2, 7:00pm ET). Oh man, SEC schedules in November. If Georgia wins this game, it secures a spot in Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game, its second consecutive trip. If Auburn wins this game, Florida gets the bid. If Georgia wins, Gene Chizik is essentially fired. If Auburn wins, Gene Chizik is still essentially fired. Gene Chizik is essentially fired.
- Mississippi State @ Louisiana State (ESPN, 7:00pm ET). How does Louisiana State respond after making a conscious decision to not beat Alabama? Fortunately, they’ll get the SEC’s ultimate paper tiger — or paper bulldog — as a rebound game after last week’s deflating loss.
- Oregon @ California (ESPN, 10:30pm ET). I’m sure there are comments to be made about California players feigning injury and what-not. I’m not sure it will matter when California is down four touchdowns beginning the second quarter.
- UCLA @ Washington State (ESPN2, 10:30pm ET). UCLA is on top of the Pac-12 South division. UCLA controls its own destiny in the Pac-12. Meaning: there is a distinct, however remote, possibility of a Indiana-UCLA Rose Bowl in January. Again: there is a distinct, however remote, possibility of a Indiana-UCLA Rose Bowl in January. Worth repeating: there is a distinct, however remote, possibility of a Indiana-UCLA Rose Bowl in January.
- Michigan State is getting its first bye of the season, along with Ohio State. [↩]