Final Thoughts: A different Red River Rivalry
Posted Oct 12, 2012

Week 7 Final Friday Thoughts - Terry Johnson: This year's Red River Rivalry is a little bit different.

By Terry Johnson
Follow me @TPJCollFootball

- I'd like to extend my condolences to the family of Beano Cook. College football could not have asked for a better commentator, historian, and ambassador. He will be missed.

- This year's Red River Rivalry is a little bit different. Instead of both teams fighting to seize control of the conference race, they'll play for the right to remain within striking distance of West Virginia and Kansas State.

- Don't let the "mediocre" records fool you: Texas - Oklahoma will be an excellent game. Whoever wins the duel between the Longhorn offense and the Sooner defense will have bragging rights for the next year.

- Is it possible that the SEC East is better than the SEC West? We'll find out Saturday, when South Carolina travels to Baton Rouge to play LSU. Should the Gamecocks win convincingly, the East would certainly have a strong argument.

- If there's going to be a BCS Buster this year, it will be Louisiana Tech. A victory over Texas A&M would give the Bulldogs wins against the ACC, the Big Ten, and the SEC.

- However, don't expect to see a Louisiana Tech upset on Saturday. The Bulldogs have struggled defensively, allowing 531 yards per game. There's no way that this unit can stop an A&M squad that leads the SEC in total offense.

- It's surprising that Johnny Manziel isn't getting more attention than he is. Heading into this week's action, Manziel leads the SEC in total offense, and ranks third in rushing. That's an excellent performance for a redshirt freshman in the nation's toughest conference.

- Notre Dame will know whether it's a contender for the national championship after this week's game with Stanford. Yes, Brian Kelly's team has one of the best defenses in the country, but the verdict is still out on the offense. Since the Cardinal has the sixth-best run defense in the country, its imperative that the Irish get something out of the passing game against a suspect Stanford secondary.

- The most intriguing game of the weekend pits West Virginia against Texas Tech. Sure, the Red Raiders can throw the ball, but Tommy Tuberville's team also leads the nation in passing defense, yielding only 117.4 yards per contest. Let's see how they fare against Geno Smith and the nation's most explosive offense.

- Speaking of Smith, the Heisman Trophy is clearly his to lose. No player in the country can match his stellar TD to interception ratio, which is 24-0.

- Here's this week's upset special: BYU defeats No. 10 Oregon State. Let's be honest, the Beavers weren't scoring very many points even when Mannion was under center. Now that he's injured, OSU will need to run the ball more, which won't be an easy task against the Cougars' top-ranked run defense. On the other side of the ball, BYU's Riley Nelson returns from injury, which should give the offense a much-needed spark -- just like it did in last year's Cougar triumph.

- The Wisconsin - Purdue tilt will decide who represents the Leaders Division in the Big Ten Championship game, since Ohio State and Penn State cannot play in the postseason. While the Boilermakers have the home field advantage, look for Bret Bielema to find a way to put his team in position for a third consecutive Rose Bowl.

- In other B1G action, the conference will showcase two of the top running backs in the country with Le'Veon Bell and Mark Weisman going head-to-head this weekend. It will be interesting to see how each back fares against a Top 25 run defense.

- First place in the ACC Coastal Division is up for grabs with undefeated Miami and Duke facing North Carolina and Virginia Tech, respectively. Despite their unblemished records, the Hurricanes and Blue Devils actually enter the game as underdogs.

- Are the Big East's days as a power conference actually over? Surprisingly, they're not. The top three teams (Louisville, Cincinnati, and Rutgers) are a combined 14-0. Since none of these squads play each other until the end of this month, expect to see each of these teams - especially Louisville - continue to move up in the standings.