John Roberts Week Six Storylines
It was an intense weekend of college football. It all started on Thursday night when Auburn slipped by South Carolina. It wasn't done until Washington had won at Arizona. In between, USC survived Washington State, Florida escaped against Alabama, Ohio State pounded Iowa, and Georgia Tech upset Virginia Tech.
As close as some of the top teams came to getting beaten at times, a couple of games got lost in the shuffle. TCU's winning streak ended to BYU, Houston got nipped by Miami and Boise State pounded Utah. Boise State is the lone remaining unbeaten non-BCS team, making them the favorite to sneak into the fifth BCS bowl game if any of these teams does it.
But enough looking back. Let's get to next weekend!
1. The SEC race kicks in…seriously. This race is going to get very interesting this weekend in the SEC. There are three marquee match-ups in the SEC, and one more that is at least interesting. Auburn can all but wrap up the SEC West this weekend if they beat Arkansas and LSU gets beaten at Florida. Every team in the division would have at least two losses other than Arkansas and Auburn if that happened, and Auburn would own the tiebreaker over Arkansas, plus the Razorbacks still have South Carolina, Tennessee, and LSU ahead on the schedule. LSU, though, can keep the SEC race interesting if they can beat Florida this weekend, regardless of the outcome of the Auburn-Arkansas game. The Gators will be looking to pad their cushion in the East as well. This game is a critical one in The Swamp. Tennessee and Georgia play in Athens with the winner becoming the primary challenger to the Gators, even though the Vols have already lost to Florida this season. Finally, South Carolina visits Kentucky in a match-up of 3-2 teams. The Gamecocks are 1-2 in the SEC while the Wildcats are 1-1. A win helps either side work toward a bowl bid, while it also keeps their slim hopes of winning the East alive. A loss pretty much knocks either team out of contention in the SEC race. It's an interesting weekend in the SEC.
2. Figuring out the Big Twelve. All twelve conference teams are in action this weekend, and all twelve are still sorting out just where they stand in conference pecking order. Oklahoma State hasn't played a conference game yet, but is 3-1. They head to Kansas State, who lost their conference opener. Texas A&M is 0-1 in the conference, and they head to Kansas to take on the 0-1 Jayhawks. Baylor is 1-0 after beating Kansas State last week, and they take on the reigning (and reeling) North Division champs in Colorado. This is a chance for the Bears to prove they have a shot to contend for a bowl game. Missouri is 1-0 in the conference and 5-0 overall. They go to Texas Tech to take on the 1-0 Red Raiders. These two teams think they could be the surprise teams in their individual divisions and possibly meet in the Big Twelve Championship Game. A win here would really establish both teams. Nebraska goes to Iowa State in a key North Division showdown. Nebraska is 1-0 in conference play while the Cyclones are 0-1. Texas battles Oklahoma in Dallas. The Longhorns are 1-0 in conference play, while the Sooners haven't played yet. This game regularly determines who is the favorite to win the conference championship. This weekend will really help all of us sort out the crazy Big Twelve race.
3. Are you for real? Then this is the weekend to prove it. As mentioned above, Missouri goes to Texas Tech in a game that will prove which of these two teams is really a contender. Clemson goes to Wake Forest. The Tigers have already established themselves, but the Demon Deacons are 5-0 and a win would show that wasn't a fluke. It would also force people to at least mention them as a team that could win the ACC title. Tennessee heads to Georgia, and both teams have question marks surrounding them. One of them will have proven that they are among the nation's elite. Washington goes to USC. No one questions the Trojans, but there are plenty of questions surrounding the Huskies. A good showing against USC would show that Isaiah Stanback and the Huskies are back to being a player in the college football world. It's a chance for a lot of teams to prove themselves this weekend, and that ought to be very entertaining.
GAMES TO WATCH
Debates rage on each season about who belongs in the BCS or in the BCS title games. The goal of this section is to help you be an informed fan by actually watching the teams play that are in contention for these spots. These are the three games that if you want to be an informed fan and be able to argue about what you actually saw on the field, you need to watch. Of course, there are always a ton of games to choose from, but this will also help you when it comes time to pick who you think will win the BCS Championship Game on January 8. So hop on board! All times are Eastern. The number in parentheses represents the number of times the team has appeared in this section this season.
LSU (2) at Florida (1) (3:30 CBS)- The Gators can take a huge step towards winning the SEC East with a win in this game. With a trip to Auburn looming next week, the Gators see this one as a near must win for them. Chris Leak has been spectacular this year, the defense has been very good, and if DeShawn Wynn is out with an ankle injury, Kestahn Moore is very capable of running the ball effectively. However, they have not seen a defense as good as LSU's, more than likely. Sure Alabama has a good defense, but LSU's might be better. Also, JaMarcus Russell has been making plays all over the field for this offense. The Tigers are looking better and better with each passing week. This game ought to be a great one in The Swamp, and could make or break both teams seasons. This one ought to be a load of fun.
Tennessee (2) at Georgia (1) (7:45 ESPN)- The Georgia offense has sputtered for much of the year. Matt Stafford and Joe Cox aren't getting the job done at quarterback particularly well, and Kregg Lumpkin can only do so much running the ball without a solid passing attack. However, the defense has kept the Bulldogs unbeaten so far, and they will need another solid performance against a Tennessee team that seems to be hitting their stride. The Vols running game was shut down by Florida just three weeks ago. They will be tested again in this one. How will LaMarcus Coker respond in a hostile environment against a great defense? Erik Ainge is having a remarkable year at quarterback and Jayson Swain and Robert Meachem have developed into true threats at the wide receiver position. The defense has played very well if you don't look at the Air Force game or the fourth quarter against Florida. This one ought to be very entertaining. Georgia has won four out of five in the series, but lost the last time the game was in Athens in 2004 to a freshman Ainge.
Oregon (2) at California (2) (8:00 ABC)- If you haven't watched these two teams yet this year, you really should treat yourselves to this one. Dennis Dixon, Jonathan Stewart and the Ducks offense has been tremendous and helped them get off to an unbeaten start. The Cal Bears, on the other hand, got a beat down in Knoxville against Tennessee, but since have roared through their competition, proving they are a force to be reckoned with in the Pac Ten. Marshawn Lynch and Nate Longshore have turned into possibly the most dangerous backfield in the country at running back and quarterback. This game should determine which team is the primary challenger to USC in the Pac Ten race. There ought to be a ton of points, and a lot of fun in this one. It will be a treat to watch.
--Don't forget other fun games, like Oklahoma-Texas, Clemson-Wake Forest, and Auburn-Arkansas are this weekend. Those ought to be great games too.
--Ohio State's defense is getting turnovers at a phenomenal rate. To beat them, a team will have to play mistake free football, and put the ball into the endzone. Few teams are really going to slow down that offense too much.
--OK. Is it time to assume that Georgia Tech and Reggie Ball are going to play more consistently? I've been waiting for that moment for three years. In other words, I'm still not ready, but what a performance against Virginia Tech.
--So how does that 40-14 win over Washington State for Auburn look now? Suddenly, USC's near loss at Wazzou has Auburn fans feeling good about their relatively easy win over the Cougars. Still, there is nothing to be worried about if you are a USC fan. The Trojans have a game or two like this every year. As they long as they come out on top, who cares?
Here are this week's rankings. The number in parentheses represents their ranking last week.
1. Ohio State 5-0 (2)
2. Michigan 5-0 (4)
3. Auburn 5-0 (1)
4. USC 4-0 (3)
5. Louisville 4-0 (5)
6. Florida 5-0 (7)
7. LSU 4-1 (8)
8. West Virginia 4-0 (6)
9. Clemson 4-1 (10)
10. Tennessee 4-1 (12)
11. Texas 4-1 (11)
12. Oregon 4-0 (14)
13. California 4-1 (17)
14. Georgia 5-0 (13)
15. Notre Dame 4-1 (16)
16. Oklahoma 3-1 (19)
17. Georgia Tech 4-1 (--)
18. Florida State 3-1 (20)
19. Virginia Tech 4-1 (9)
20. Boise State 5-0 (--)
21. Missouri 5-0 (--)
22. Nebraska 4-1 (18)
23. Rutgers 5-0 (22)
24. Washington 4-1 (25)
25. Iowa 4-1 (15)
--Ohio State is now the number one team until further notice. They have finally convinced me. They are a very good team.
--Missouri moved ahead of Nebraska because I think the Tigers should win the North Division based on what we've seen so far.
--Georgia needs to show me something move back up the rankings. They'll get their chance against the Vols to shoot up the rankings.
--West Virginia's wins get less and less impressive with each passing week. It's not exactly their fault, but they haven't looked great given their competition either.
If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please e-mail me at JohnRoberts_CFN@yahoo.com.