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Week 2 National Preview- 3:30

With week one in the books we can now start trying to sort out who will be left standing to face Boise State in the BCS Championship Game! Just writing that feels wrong, but unfortunately I think that is most likely how this is ultimately going to shake out.

While Boise would likely be bumped by an undefeated BCS Conference Champion I still think the likelihood that such a team will emerge this year is slim.

As of today one could argue that Alabama, Ohio State, Texas or maybe even Oregon might pull it off but every one of those teams has a few tough games remaining on the slate that could be problematic. For Bama, tOSU and Oregon it starts this weekend. Unfortunately the ABC/WWL contingent figured out a way to play the majority of this weekend’s biggest games at 3:30. Genius.

Now let’s take a look at the games that I am most interested in this weekend. If you want the full TV Schedule for the week it is available here.

*All times listed are EST.

Thursday 9 September

Auburn at Mississippi State 7:30 ESPN

Both of these teams put up PlayStation numbers in their week one buy games and will now face off a short five days later in Starkville. I am bullish on Auburn but Dan Mullen is a very good football coach that will have his Bulldogs ready to defend their home turf on National TV. I think Auburn wins this one but my main motivation for watching this game is Auburn QB Cam Newton. Newton ended up at Auburn this year by way of Florida and Blinn JC. Last Saturday Newton apparently put on a show that rivaled Denard Robinson’s against UCONN. I have to get eyes on that kid.

Friday 10 September

West Virginia at Marshall 7:00 ESPN

Hey no fair Doc Holliday knows all of our plays! It won’t matter. After providing Ohio State with live bodies to practice against in week one the Thundering Herd will host their considerably more athletic in state rival this Friday night in the "Coal Bowl." That just sounds like a downer.

UTEP at Houston 10:15 ESPN

Need some late night excitement? Don’t turn this one on if you want to see anything resembling defense but if you find yourself in the mood for a 100 point CUSA shootout this showdown in H Town might be a good time.

Saturday 11 September

Georgia at South Carolina 12:00 ESPN2

This will be an interesting game to watch. Despite Florida’s sloppy week one performance I still don’t think that either of these teams will be able to dethrone them in the SEC East. Both teams cruised in week one buy games leaving us with limited information from which to draw any real conclusions about how they might match up with one another. I have to think that South Carolina playing at home with a veteran QB will be able to edge an UGA team with a freshman QB and new defense. Then again Williams-Brice Stadium is cursed.

Georgia Tech at Kansas 12:00 FOX

I originally dummied up this list of games before Kansas lost a 6-3 soul crusher to a school I have never heard of. Nevermind…

USF at Florida 12:00 SEC Network/ Gameplan

If the Gators are anywhere near as sloppy as they were in their opener last week the Skip Holtz’s could give them a scare. I expect the Gators will bounce back in short order but I will definitely tune into this one to try and get a better feel for how long that might take. If they don’t get back on track quickly the rumbling about Urban’s health, and life after Touchdown Timmy will reach a fever pitch. It will remind me to be thankful that we are no longer on Charlie watch.

Michigan at Notre Dame 3:30 NBC

As a general rule I try and avoid writing full blown Notre Dame game previews as it is very easy to get side tracked in the minutiae. Despite this I had a very difficult time talking myself out of throwing caution to the wind and banging out a standalone 5,000 word post previewing this game. This is a big one for both programs for completely different reasons. These are the type of games that Brian Kelly was hired to win. For Rich Rodriguez every game could make the difference between building a dynasty and Franchione town.

No matter how much I have thought about this game in the last three days I keep coming back to one obvious conclusion. This one is pretty simple. Stop their best player and you win the game.

Michigan QB Denard Robinson looked a little bit like the second coming of Pat White against UCONN on Saturday and the buzz about him in the media started before the game was even over. I had the Michigan game on TV2 last Saturday but by my own admission my ability to watch multiple games simultaneously pretty much disappears when the Irish are playing. I did however, go back and watch this nifty cutup of every Michigan offensive play against UCONN thanks to a tweet from Chris at Smart Football.

After watching that a handful of times I came away with several observations about the Michigan offense. The first is that it still looks very strange to watch Michigan run that offense. It almost feels like you are watching some other team wearing Michigan uniforms. No matter how effective it may be it just doesn’t look right. Second I felt like I was watching my old PlayStation NCAA Football strategy. Master 5 plays to the point that they are unstoppable and just run those. If the majority of those plays have an option element that is even better. In the case of Michigan it is heavy on the zone read, QB Iso and a screen game that keeps you honest.

That’s where we are. Michigan appears to finally be running the Rodriguez offense pretty well and Robinson appears to have a good handle on it. The QB is the X factor that can make that offense lethal and Robinson is dynamic enough to be very dangerous in that system. The Notre Dame defense is going to have to play very disciplined assignment football in order to keep Robinson in check this Saturday. If they make a mistake he has the ability to exploit it. This won’t be about exotic blitz packages, stunts or fancy schemes. It will come down to basic gap control, reading, reacting, getting off of the cut blocks and making tackles.

When you flip the script I think it rests squarely on the shoulders of Dayne Crist. After watching Allen and Wood carry the load against Purdue I have to think that Greg Robinson will stack the box and make Crist beat them. It is a dicey proposition for a depleted Wolverine secondary but the alternative could be more dangerous. If Dayne can successfully throw the football early it will force Michigan to spread back out and open up the running lanes. If that happens the Irish offense should be able to put some real points on the board. Floyd, Rudolph, Jones and Riddick should be more than capable of holding up their end of the deal, Dayne just has to make good decisions and get them the football. I also think the staff will throw in some additional wrinkles in an effort to help Dayne spread the Michigan defense back out early in the game.

That was the short version. I will stop myself there and move on. I can’t wait to watch this game.

Florida State at Oklahoma 3:30 ABC/ESPN2 (Regional)

Stoops on Stoops. Advantage Mark? Both of these teams played buy games in week one. Florida State rolled Samford 59-6 and the Sooners pulled one out of the fire with a 31-24 W over Utah State. So what does it all mean? Who knows but it will most likely be very entertaining. Unfortunately I probably won’t see much of it as I do a really bad job of keeping an eye on TV 2 and TV 3 once the Irish kick off. I’ll take the Noles in an early season "upset."

Miami at Ohio State 3:40 ESPN

This is the game that should be in the 7:00PM slot. What the hell? I would really like to watch this one as I am very curious to see both of these teams play a quality opponent. I was flipping through assorted sports talk radio shows this morning and on just about every one of them some chooch was predicting tOSU vs. Boise in the BCS Championship game. That is a bold prediction. Miami does remain a wildcard as long as Jacory Harris is at the controls. As far as I am concerned he is totally in the Ebby Calvin LaLoosh category. The kid has talent but he’s also prone to having some very bad games. The 5 cent head is implied. This game is a total toss up. The only guarantee is that the WWL will be all over the jock of the winning QB by sundown.

Penn State at Alabama 7:00PM ESPN

I’m not real jazzed about this game. Granted I will tune in but I can’t fathom a scenario where Joe Pa rolls into Bryant Denney with a true freshman QB under center and escapes with a victory. Roll Tide indeed.

With three of their Marquee programs mixing it up with ND, Miami and Bama on the same day the Big Ten could pick up a boatload of street cred with the pollsters if they fare well. The flip side scares Jim Delaney.

Oregon at Tennessee 7:00 ESPN2

Did Webfoot U really hang 72 on New Mexico last Saturday? Boy that hurts. On paper Tennessee doesn’t have much of a chance in this one but there is one very interesting side note. New Vol DC Justin Wilcox completely stymied the Ducks a year ago when he was still the DC at Boise State.

This would be a huge W for new Vol Coach Derek Dooley if he can pull the upset in front of the home crowd at Neyland Stadium. Crazier things have happened.

Stanford at UCLA 10:30 ESPN

I will take a look at this nightcap just to see what the Cardinal look like on both sides of the ball. Like Washington I don’t think UCLA is quite as far along as I thought they might be after they took one on the chin from Bill Snyder and his merry band of JUCO players in the Little Apple. Despite the progress of Slick Rick and company this is mandatory viewing with the Trees headed to South Bend on Sept 25th.

This is a big week for a lot of teams at the top of the polls and several that are trying to get themselves into the conversation. Is Michigan "back?" Is Notre Dame? Is the SEC still the strongest in the land? There will be a lot of water cooler conversation on Monday no matter how this weekend shakes out. College football is back in full swing.