Week Nine?! How are we already on Week Nine? It's almost November and then it's just a few more weeks then a bunch of bowl games and then back to the desert of the offseason. Thankfully the rest of the season is chock full of good matchups. All times are eastern and all rankings are BCS.
Thursday, October 25th:
#18 Clemson at Wake Forest, 7:30pm, ESPN: Clemson still has a shot at the ACC title, but they need Florida State to drop a game between now and the end of conference play. That shot evaporates to nothing if they lose one more game, and this might be a tricky test at Wake Forest, a team that's not great but is 4-3 on the season and has a couple of ACC wins. This is also an opportunity to scout Notre Dame's senior day opponent.
Friday, October 26th:
Cincinnati at #16 Louisville: Despite the fact Cincinnati lost to Toledo last weekend, their BCS hopes are unaffected: win the Big East, go to the Orange Bowl. (The Big East champ could technically end up being selected by a different bowl, but since the Orange has last pick, I think we all know who is going last.) Louisville still has a chance at perfection, with this game and a trip to Rutgers the main barriers between their own BCS trip. After a couple mediocre Friday night offerings, this week has some stakes and some decent football teams.
Saturday, October 27th:
Iowa at Northwestern, 12:00pm ESPN2: Northwestern let one slip away against Nebraska last week and severely hurt their Big Ten title game/Rose Bowl chances. Iowa has to have this, or risks falling too far behind Michigan in whatever the hell the name of their division is. I wouldn't recommend watching this game, I'm just letting you know the result could matter.
#23 Texas at Kansas, 12:00pm: Mack Brown called Charlie Weis a great coach this week, which is a nice thing to say but also inaccurate and a sign the Longhorns CEO may be grappling with senility in addition to an atrocious defense. Any game that involves the Texas defense has the potential to be close and interesting, so maybe this is where the Jayhawks offense finally finds its groove.
Tennessee at #13 South Carolina, 12:00pm, ESPN: South Carolina's quest for the SEC East is over after their back-to-back losses at LSU and Florida. Derek Dooley's quest to stay coach in Knoxville may be over as well unless he can show something, anything, to the Powers That Be. He's yet to beat a ranked team with the Vols, and time is quickly running out.
Colorado at #4 Oregon, 3:00pm, PAC12 Network: A modest bet on the Colorado moneyline would earn you enough to buy a new house. That being said, you would be insane to bet the Buffalo moneyline. This will be a bloodbath.
#9 USC at Arizona, 3:30pm, ABC: The Trojans have righted the ship against some sub-par competition following their loss to Stanford, but now they must travel to face RichRod's spread n' shred the week before facing Oregon at home. Will the Trojans be able to focus? Will Arizona be able to score on the Trojans like they did on Stanford? Is this where Matt Barkley's Heisman campaign catches its second wind, or will Matt Scott outplay him? Lot of fun storylines here.
Duke at #12 Florida State, 3:30pm, ESPNU: A potential preview of the ACC Championship game and no, I am not joking.
#2 Florida vs. #10 Georgia, 3:30pm, CBS: Florida's last big test before their end of the season dates with Florida State and potentially the SEC West champion. Georgia got embarrassed by South Carolina, barely survived Kentucky and generally does not fare well in this game. Georgia wins this and it's a pretty clear path to their second consecutive SEC title game. They lose it and it's another disappointing season for Mark Richt in Athens.
Michigan State @ #25 Wisconsin, 3:30pm, ABC: How is Wisconsin ranked?! They're going to the Big Ten title game because the two best teams in their division (Ohio State and Penn State) aren't eligible, so this game might actually mean more to the Spartans, who are 1-3 in the Big Ten and doing a great job of sabotaging Notre Dame's strength of schedule.
#14 Texas Tech at #3 Kansas State, 3:30pm, Fox: Oh baby baby. The Red Raiders are perhaps the stiffest test remaining between Kansas State and a perfect season. Tommy Tuberville's crew has been playing well all season save for their hiccup against the Sooners, and they're still in the hunt for the Fiesta Bowl and a conference title with an upset here.
Ohio State at Penn State, 5:30pm, ESPN: A) Love the random start time B) I know I'm in the minority among those without Penn State degrees, but I still don't understand how punishing the next four Penn State teams is fair. Congrats, no one will ever commit an act of pedophilia or show too much reverence for a school's most beloved athletic team. We did it, you guys.
#20 Texas A&M at Auburn, 7:00pm, ESPNU: Watch Johnny Football do his thing while the Gene Chizik Era comes to a winless-in-the-SEC end on the plains? Sign me up.
#22 Michigan at Nebraska, 8:00pm, ESPN2: Unless Iowa goes on an impressive win streak that would conflict with what we know about their offense, Michigan can come close to cementing their spot in the Big Ten title game with a win against the Huskers. The Wolverine defense has been far, far superior to the Nebraska sieve so far this season, and it'll be interesting to see which team recovers better from their close games last weekend.
#5 Notre Dame at #8 Oklahoma, 8:00pm, ABC: Please please please win because that would be awesome please please please.
#11 Mississippi State at #1 Alabama, 8:30pm, ESPN: The Bulldogs are undefeated but have waltzed through a very comfy SEC schedule. Things get real for them now, starting with the defending champ and favorite for both the SEC and national titles. Dan Mullen's teams haven't been able to come close to taking down the Tide the last few years, and with this game in Alabama, it's hard to see their fortune turning around.
#7 Oregon State at Washington, 10:15pm, PAC12 Network: Oregon State just keeps on rolling through their schedule and go up against a Husky team that might be a little desperate. Outside of the Thursday night victory against Stanford, Washington is yet to win a conference game (1-3 in the league overall). Steve Sarkisian will probably get another season based on A) His recruiting last year, of both good players and Tosh Lupoi and B) The fact he isn't Ty Willingham, but knocking off an undefeated team in late October always helps your case as a coach.