Game to Watch: Florida State vs. Virginia Tech (Thursday, 7:30pm ET, ESPN)
Virginia Tech has been sloppy and inconsistent all season long under the guidance of junior quarterback Logan Thomas, who has thrown 12 interceptions in just nine games. This has been a very unusual year for Frank Beamer and his Hokies, no doubt, but the fact remains that they can still play spoiler to a team like Florida State on Thursday night. For this to happen, the Hokies underachieving defense must slow down a Seminoles offense which ranks 3rd in the country in scoring at over 44 points per game. It will be a tall task indeed.
Honorable Mention: Notre Dame vs. Boston College (Saturday, 8pm ET, ABC)
One Word: Golson
Game to Watch: Penn State vs. Nebraska (Saturday, 3:30pm ET, ABC/ESPN2)
The Nebraska Cornhuskers can be one step closer to their first ever Big Ten division title with a win Saturday against Penn State, a team that no one expected would be playing this well in 2012 after the constant saga surrounding the program this offseason. This game features the two top passers in the Big Ten (almost unfathomable to think about in the preseason) and whomever of those quarterbacks plays best should be a substantial factor in determining the outcome of this game. Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez has thrown seven interceptions over his last four games, while Penn State’s Matt McGloin has thrown just three all year, so that could be a factor.
Honorable Mention: Northwestern vs. Michigan (Saturday, 12pm ET, ESPN)
One Word: Tough
Game to Watch: West Virginia vs. Oklahoma State (Saturday, 3:30pm ET, ABC)
After beginning their inaugural Big 12 campaign with a 5-0 start, West Virginia has since gone spiraling downward, losing three straight games (two straight at home). The root of the Mountaineers collapse has been their defense, which is allowing nearly 40 points per game this year. During their last three losses, this stat has ballooned to nearly 47 points allowed per game. This is not good news for the Mountaineers, who on Saturday will face an Oklahoma State offense that scores over 42 points per game on average. The key to the Cowboys offensive success has been balance, averaging over 350 yards per game through the air and another 220 per game on the ground. It looks like we’re in for another Big 12 shootout, my friends.
Honorable Mention: Iowa State vs. Texas (Saturday, 12pm ET, Longhorn Network)
One Word: Diaz
Game to Watch: Louisville vs. Syracuse (Saturday, 12pm ET, ABC)
Louisville looks to keep their BCS dreams alive on Saturday as they take on a scrappy Syracuse team that should be very hungry after losing a close contest to Cincinnati last weekend. Cardinals quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has been the real deal this season, throwing 18 touchdowns to go along with just four interceptions so far on the year. Bridgewater will attempt to beat Syracuse with his poise and accuracy (70.4% completions on the year), but don’t be surprised if Syracuse’s gritty secondary makes him earn it.
The Orange, somewhat surprisingly rank 40th in the country in passing defense, allowing just 209 yards through the air per game this season.
Honorable Mention: Army vs. Rutgers (Saturday, 12pm ET, ESPNU)
Two Words: Ground Attack
Game to Watch: Oregon State vs. Stanford (Saturday, 3pm ET, FOX)
This may just be the game of the week in the world of college football. Two teams that are possibly dueling it out for an at-large BCS berth: that's what’s at stake here.
With a combined 14-3 record, the Stanford Cardinal and Beavers of Oregon State have been two pleasant surprises this season. Both teams rely on tough-nosed defenses and rushing the passer to do most of their damage, so this should be a slugfest in the trenches. Also, neither team allows more than 18 points per game on average and the two have combined for 59 sacks on the season (Stanford has 39 of those).
The interesting aspect of this game will be seeing who plays better on offense. Stanford does most of their damage on the ground with Stepfan Taylor while the Beavers get it done through the air with the awesome receiving duo of Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks.
Is it also interesting that both of these teams lost to Washington on the road?
Honorable Mention: UCLA vs. Washington State (Saturday, 10:30pm ET, ESPN2)
One Word: Response?
Game to Watch: Texas A&M vs. Alabama (Saturday, 3:30pm ET, CBS)
The one question that every college football fan is asking themselves this weekend: is it really possible that Johnny “Football” Manziel may be able to single-handedly take the Alabama Crimson Tide out of the championship race? The answer: no.
Mr. Manziel has been more explosive and has had more of a breakout freshman campaign than anyone could have ever imagined thus far, but if you saw him play against LSU a few weeks back you will know that there is just no way that he will be able to outrun the Crimson Tide defenders for 60 minutes. Manziel has been able to rush for 922 yards this season, but in A&M’s two losses – both to SEC powers (Florida and LSU) and both in College Station, Manziel managed just 87 yards combined with a single touchdown. Put “Johnny Football” in Tuscaloosa against the top-ranked defense in all of college football (allowing just 9 points per game against) and there is just no way that A&M can pull off this particular miracle.
Honorable Mention: Mississippi State vs. LSU (Saturday, 7pm ET, ESPN)
One Word: Defense
Photo Credit: Icon