It's amazing how many games lose their luster after one of the teams involved gets its teeth kicked out the week before. After last week's "If we were ranked, we probably lost" nationwide debacle, there's not a lot on the tube this week that truly excites me. I was tempted to include Southern Miss at UAB just to spite some teams because the lineup for Week 5 has become incredibly "blah" with the passing of Week 4, but cooler heads prevailed and that Thursday night classic didn't make the list. For what it's worth, I'm not sure what it'll take for a Big 10 conference game to get on this list the for the rest of the season other than every other conference taking the weekend off. I still can't believe Alabama got relegated to 11:20 a.m. when you look at this turdship of a lineup. As always, all times listed are central and rankings are from the AP (until the first BCS rankings come out):
LSU (4) at GEORGIA (18)
Saturday, October 3rd - 2:30 p.m. - CBS
Have you ever been more puzzled about a game between two Top 25 SEC teams? As has been reported ad nauseum, pollsters are claiming their most recent ballots to be one of the toughest they've ever had to fill out. Washington Post voter Barker Davis said, "This was one of the toughest weeks I can remember in my 10 years of being a pollster, because after the top 3 there simply weren’t any other squads that merited a top-10 ranking, much less a No. 4-5-6." I'm typically loathe to agree with a sports jounalist, but Mr. Davis has a point on this one methinks.
People had doubts early about LSU after they struggled with Washington. Those doubts were erased when Washington beat USC and then the doubts were put firmly back in place after Washington got shellaced by Stanford (who presently sits atop the PAC10, but lost to Wake Forest) and LSU scraped by Mississippi State. You know times are weird when LSU is undefeated (4-0) and sits and #4 in the polls yet people are wondering Where Does Les Miles Stand? Most schools would kill to be in LSU's shoes right now, yet questions are swirling about The Hat.
Regarding Georgia, well, this is their fourth week to appear in this feature, and they likely could've featured in all five if it weren't for some tough decisions last week. If there's one thing you have to give the Bulldogs this year, it's the fact that they aren't dull. They've had a shootout with Arkansas, crazy games with Arizona State and South Carolina and a highly touted opening weekend game with Oklahoma State. It's odd to think that through four weeks, we have no idea what to make out of the Dawgs. In any other year, a 3-1 Georgia having played the type of schedule they've played would feature higher than #18, but who knows this year, it's shaping up to be a weird one.
I'm not sure what we'll know about either team when this ones over, but I'm sure it'll be a weird game based on everything we've seen out of these two so far.
ARKANSAS VS. TEXAS A&M
Saturday, October 3rd - 6:30 p.m. - ESPN2
It shows you what a bizarro season it's been when a game between two unranked teams, one of which is 1-2 and the other 3-0 after dining on cupcakes, is featured here. After surrendering a combined 87 points to Georgia and Alabama, Arkansas is looking like they're really in trouble against any offense better than that of Missouri State, their opening weekend foe. Texas A&M has beaten up on New Mexico, Utah State and UAB. This game appears on the list for three primary reasons: 1) the renewal of an old rivalry 2) it's in the awesome new stadium in Dallas and 3) it'll be fun to watch a Joe Kines defense go after the team we just beat. Let's just hope Coach Kines is ready to stop the 'ol Inside Trout.
AUBURN at TENNESSEE
Saturday, October 3rd - 6:45 p.m. - ESPN
A few weeks ago, I said something to the effect of not featuring many games between unranked teams, but that's before we knew the rankings would be decimated on a weekly basis. The Barn currently sits at 4-0 and is poised to crack the Top 25 if they can knock off the Vols (they sit a mere 14 points behind #25 Georgia Tech.) Gus Malzahn has their offense up and running to the tune of averaging 45.25 points per game. Sure, it's been against the likes of LA Tech, Ball State, West Virginia and Mississippi State (who have a combined record of 5-9 so far), but it's certainly worlds better than the anemic group they fielded last year. While Tennessee is a mere 2-2, one thing is certain, Auburn has not faced a defense like theirs yet. This is the ulimate meteor game for Alabama fans. As much as I loathe Tennessee, I typically pull for them in this game since we share a division with Auburn. While one of our rivals will be one win closer to a bowl game after Saturday, we can find joy in the knowledge that one of them will lose for sure this weekend.
OKLAHOMA (8) at MIAMI (17)
Saturday, October 3rd - 7:00 p.m. - ABC/ESPN Gameplan
On paper, this is a dream match up. Two traditional powerhouses both ranked in the Top 25, what's not to love? Well, Miami got slapped around in Blacksburg 31-7 and no one knows what Oklahoma is like against decent competition since the loss of Sam Bradford. As of the writing of this post, it's still unclear whether or not Bradford will play against the 'Canes. Sooners backup Landry Jones has put up some ridiculous numbers of his own, leading the Sooners to wins over Idaho State and Tulsa. Oklahoma has worked it's way back into the Top 10 and given the amount movement in the polls lately, could potentially find their way back into the national title picture if they ran the table from here on out and have a few other things go their way as far as other teams are concerned. For all of the hooplah about Miami being back last week, it's amazing how you aren't hearing much of that chatter this week. As Alabama fans, we know firsthand about premature pronouncements from the media about "being back." It takes more than a few wins to be back and Miami found that out the hard way. Whoever comes out on top of this game will still be taken seriously in the big picture this season, the loser is done as far as '09 is concerned and will have to wait 'til next year.
USC (7) at California (24)
Saturday, October 3rd - 7:00 p.m. - ABC/ESPN Gameplan
It's amazing what a win over Washington State and four Top 10 teams crapping the bed in the same week will do for your ranking. USC dropped to #12 after their loss to Washington, but climbed five spots to #7 with a win over hapless 1-3 Washington State a week later. A lot of people had this one circled on their calendar early in the year as it looked to be an epic showdown and a game likely to decide the Pac 10 (USC and Cal were #4 and #12 respectively at the beginning of the season) with national implications to boot. A month later, it's a bit of a yawner after USC lost to Washington and California got completely dismantled by Oregon. Cal's not out of the conference race yet, but they will be if they lose this one. I imagine USC will go on to win this one and the rest of their games on the way to their 487th consecutive Pac 10 title.