My apologies for this column showing up so much later than its normal Thursday morning time slot, but this has been one of those "real life is taking precedent" kind of weeks. As always, all times central and the rankings are from the USA Today poll until the BCS poll comes out.
MISSISSIPPI STATE at UAB - 11:00 a.m. - FSN
Sure, it's going to be a terrible game, but this is my equivalent of Todd putting UAB at #25 in his first Blogpoll ballot every year. This weekend doesn't excite me much beyond Alabama's game and Florida vs. LSU...so sorry to all of you Big Ten and Big East fans out there...an SEC bottom dweller vs. a C-USA bottom dweller gets the nod this week because I said so and because I'm probably going to at least half of this game in person before heading to T-Town.
OKLAHOMA (3) vs. TEXAS (11) - 11:00a.m. - ABC
This game always makes me a little bit jealous. Not of the on the field product, but because of its neutral site status. I kind of miss that about the Iron Bowl and think it's cool that a few rivalry games have managed to hang on to that.
I could be wrong, but I still think Oklahoma is a bit overrated. Don't get me wrong, they're really good, but I just somehow get the hunch that they don't live up to the preseason hype and I think the coaches have been wise to drop them a few slots after the way Alabama and LSU have been handling their opponents. Oklahoma's win over Florida State is losing its luster a bit now that the Seminoles are 2-2 (even with the caveat that they were playing with a severely depleted roster.) Texas has worked their way up to #11 despite struggling against BYU at home and their marquee victory being a big win over Iowa State. This is without a doubt the first real test for Texas.
FLORIDA (18) at LSU (3) - 2:30 p.m. - CBS
This will be an interesting one to watch given what we did to Florida last week and considering how we're all eagerly awaiting the LSU game. LSU will certainly have the home field advantage and Florida has quite a hill to climb given the injury to John Brantley last weekend in Gainesville. Jeff Driskel's first real action as Florida's QB was against a monster defense and it's not going to get much better for him this weekend facing the vicious Tiger defense. He'll have a lot of growing up to do (and quickly) in order to lead Florida to a victory in Death Valley. On the LSU side of things, it'll be interesting to see how much playing time Jordan Jefferson gets.
AUBURN (23) at ARKANSAS (12) - 6:00 p.m. - ESPN
The 2011 Defense is Optional Bowl comes on at the same time as our game, but we know you'll be flipping over to this one during commercials because 1) we hate Auburn 2) we hope they lose 3) we want to see how they do against Arkansas who we completely destroyed and 4) we want to how they do when not protected by the Jordan-Hare hoodoo. This game last year resulted in a total of 108 points and a marathon or two worth of offense. I doubt we'll get such eye popping numbers this year, but it wouldn't be a complete surprise if we did.
GEORGIA at TENNESSEE
Thanks to John Brantley's ankle and Stephen Garcia's quarterbacking, this game became semi-relevant after last weekend. The East was thought to be a two horse race between Florida and South Carolina, but there's a lot of uncertainty surrounding both right now and Georgia's statistically back in the mix with only one confrerence loss. Florida's likely to lose this weekend and South Carolina isn't exactly on cruise control the rest of the way having to face both Florida and Arkansas later in the season. I imagine the winner of the East this year will have 2-3 losses, but if Richt gets a win here, it'll provide a glimmer of hope in Athens for his career (and for the fans.)