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Week 9 National Preview- The Stretch Run

Okay here comes the stretch run. The Fighting Irish are parked at a disappointing 4-4 after an ugly loss to Navy but as our own Eric Murtaugh reminded me this week, where you have been is always considerably less important than where you are going.

Many unexpected things can and will happen in every college football season. Just ask Florida and Texas. Both programs could find themselves with quite unexpected .500 records come Saturday night. Who saw that coming?

Below are the games that I am most interested in this week. I am switching it up this week and using the BCS Rankings as they are the only ones that really matter at this point anyway. If you want the full TV Schedule for the week it is available here.

*All times listed are EST.

Tuesday 26 October

Louisiana Tech (3-4) at #3 Boise State (6-0) 8:00 ESPN2

What the hell is this? A BCS Championship contender played a game tonight? I actually knew this was on but I had to work late. Oh well. Boise rolled 49-20.

Thursday 28 October

# 16 Florida State (6-1) at NC State (5-2) 7:30 ESPN

I am sitting here staring at this matchup and trying to talk myself into being interested. The ACC is killing me this year. I suppose that I am most likely just happy to have survived my one year stint living in ACC country last year. I’m still not quite sold on the Noles. I’ll take NC State in an upset at home.

Friday 29 October

West Virginia (5-2) at UCONN (3-4) 8:00 ESPN2

These Friday Night Big East games are pseudo passable for college football. But with no other competition I continue to find myself tuning in. West Virginia was looking like the conference favorite until they got upended by Syracuse last weekend. There is no telling what might happen in this bottom feeder BCS Conference on a weekly basis. The Big East should really give back that automatic BCS bid on general principle.

Saturday 30 October

#17 Oklahoma State (6-1) at Kansas State (5-2) 12:00 FOX

This is a little more interesting than the remaining hodgepodge of early games between Big Ten, ACC and non-BCS Conference bottom feeders. If nothing else there should be some points scored in the Little Apple. I think Boone’s boys bounce back and knock off the Cats.

Tulsa (4-3) at Notre Dame (4-4) 2:30 NBC

I really need to rally but I almost can’t even bring myself to think about the Irish in any meaningful capacity quite yet. I am wrestling with the lethal combination of an ugly loss to Navy and a 3rdrate opponent. It is a nasty cocktail that has left even me, a true glass half full Irish fan, with an extreme case of the screwits.

I am in the process of climbing back on the horse and I can assure you that by no later than Saturday morning I will have done just that but at the moment I am struggling to talk about this game in any way that might be considered insightful or productive.

Here’s what I’ve got. Tulsa is #8 in total offense and #108 in total defense. So Bob Diaco needs to unscrew this defense ricky tick because if the Golden Hurricane light up the scoreboard in ND Stadium the uproar is going to get kicked up another few notches. Conversely the Notre Dame offense needs to go completely berserk in this one and might have to carry the day just to pick up the W.

In all seriousness I am looking for one thing on Saturday. I would like to see that some semblance of pride exists on this football team. If the Irish come out and play hard, play well and pick up the W I will feel a lot better about the future. It isn’t going to be easy but this game is actually huge in terms of bowl eligibility. As sad as it might be one could argue that this is one of the bigger games of Brian Kelly’s career. If there is a year one must win for BK this might be it. Stand by to stand by….

Florida (4-3) at Georgia (4-4) (Jacksonville) 3:30 CBS

I can’t even remember the last time that this game was so meaningless. Oh wait, it isn’t meaningless because both of these teams are still alive in a struggling SEC East. The winner could still earn a shot at getting blasted by the Iron Bowl winner. I’m still annoyed they stopped calling it the cocktail party. I’ll take the Gators in a comfortable win.

#5 Michigan State (8-0) at #18 Iowa (5-2) 3:30 ABC/ESPN (Regional)

It all comes down to this for Michigan State. After this game only Minnesota, Purdue and Penn State remain on the schedule. The chances of running the table are high if Sparty can do what Wiscy did last weekend and knock off the Hawkeyes at home. Will Ferentz let it go down like that? This one is a toss up.

#6 Missouri (7-0) at #14 Nebraska (6-1) 3:30 ABC/ESPN (Regional)

Hmmmmm, the de facto Big 12 North title game. The winner should win the North and get a shot at Oklahoma for a Fiesta Bowl berth. Can Mizzu stay undefeated or will Nebraska continue to bounce back from that disappointing loss to Texas two weeks ago? Deal me in. This is another toss up.

#1 Auburn (8-0) at Ole Miss (3-4) 6:00 ESPN2

Auburn should run rule the Houston Nutts. The 3:30 games should run long enough that I can skip this one entirely. With the Rebs, Chattanooga and Georgia in the chute War Eagle should be 11-0 heading into the Iron Bowl.

#25 Baylor (6-2) at Texas (4-3) 7:00 FOX

This is interesting for one reason and one reason only. Baylor could potentially win this game. I tend to think that Texas is going to regroup and keep RGIII pseudo in check en-route to a win. If they don’t Barking Carnival might blow up like the Death Star.

#2 Oregon (7-0) at USC (5-2) 8:00 ABC

The high flying Ducks are rolling into the Coliseum to take on USC Saturday night. I’m torn between my desire for BCS Chaos and my utter loathing for all things USC. Tough call. I think I’ll have to pull for Webfoot U and then hope that they get knocked off by the Beavers in the Civil War.

What do you think?