What a week of action we have on our hands, folks. Make no mistake, this is going to be amazing. The two best teams in the American and ACC are set for battle. Out west, Stanford and UCLA square off, among other very intriguing Pac-12 match-ups.
Some fans will be shedding tears of joy on Saturday, while others will be drowning their sorrows in a cocktail of anger, shame and alcohol. If you are a Georgia fan, you can hate your coach on the rocks.
Sit back and make that divot in your sofa even bigger, because this is a can’t miss week of action.
Note: All times eastern.
Must See: UCF at Louisville – These are clearly the two best teams in the league. The winner’s BCS hopes are all but sealed with a win. Louisville, of course, has aspirations of hoisting some crystal at the end of the year. Due to their league’s weakness, the Cardinals need to go undefeated and string together some blowout wins to impress the voters. Crushing a good UCF club would certainly help. On the other side of the field, after dropping the South Carolina game, you know O’Leary and the boys are psyched to get another crack at a top-10 foe. Friday, 8:00 pm, ESPN / WatchESPN app
Sleeper: BYU at Houston – I am jazzed up for this one. You have an undefeated (Houston) Cougars club facing another bunch of Cougars who are really dangerous. BYU has some impressive wins on the season and look to pick up another. Houston boasts the 20th best scoring offense in the land, as well as the 22nd best defense, but it is easy to poke some holes in their schedule. BYU, on the other hand, has managed a top 15 defense while playing the likes of Texas and Georgia Tech. This should be a great under-the-radar game. Keep it as your jump-button game (you know, the one you flip to when your team is on commercial!). 3:30 pm, ESPNews / WatchESPN app
Avoid: UConn at Cincinnati – The Bearcats are still one of the stronger teams in the league, even with some hiccups as of late, but Connecticut is truly unwatchable at 0-5.
Must See: Old Dominion at Pittsburgh – Oops, I meant to write Florida State at Clemson, damn autocorrect. In case you just awoke from a coma and decided to read this, welcome back. This game features No. 5 FSU and No. 5 Clemson. Both teams also have pretty good quarterbacks, as well as running backs and wide receivers. And for the “oh by the way” moment of the week, they both have top-ten defenses. Buckle up. 8:00 pm, ABC
Sleeper: Syracuse at Georgia Tech / Maryland at Wake Forest – Two huge games for bowl hopefuls.
In the first matchup, both the Jackets and Orange enter with 3-3 marks. Syracuse has been trending up and Tech, well, not so much.
Maryland has five wins, so a win will seal the deal. In a mouse-like whisper, Wake has crept to 3-3. A win here would be huge for Grobe (I have him on a very hot seat) and this team (which I have at 11th in the power rankings). SU/GT is 12:30pm, Gameplan / ESPN 3 and Terps-Wake hit the grass at 3:30pm, ESPNU / WatchESPN app
Avoid: Old Dominion at Pittsburgh – There it is! ODU is in the processes of joining the FBS, so they have a very strange schedule. Despite being listed as FBS Independent, they in fact play a staggering seven FCS clubs (and Idaho, so 7.5). In their two games against FBS clubs they have been outscored 99-48. Their lone match-up with an ACC club this year ended 47-10. I don’t expect this one to be too entertaining.
Must See: TCU at Oklahoma State – Admittedly, while the rest of the nation takes center stage, the Big 12 withers into the background. Both teams seem to be on edge, so I still like this game. TCU has played a little better, but is teetering at 3-3. OSU is 4-1, but hasn’t looked as strong as they did earlier in the year. This could be a turning point for both clubs. 12:00 pm, FOX
Sleeper: Iowa State at Baylor – Is there a better 1-4 team? ISU’s losses are by a combined 24 points. After seeing KSU slow Baylor down a bit, I’m curious to see if there is a bit of a script now for hope against that Bears’ offensive juggernaut. Baylor, of course, still averages 63 points a game, even after last week’s pathetic 35 points – I mean, what were they thinking. 7:00 pm, ESPNU / WatchESPN app
Avoid: Oklahoma at Kansas – You have an angry bunch of Sooners about to take on one of the worst teams in the nation. This won’t end well.
Must See: Wisconsin at Illinois – How can Illinois bounce back after a rough start to league play? Can Wisconsin get over the hump in road games? How improved is Illinois? Can Wisconsin shutdown another mobile QB? All of these questions should be answered in a very exciting game in the Land of Lincoln. 8:00 pm, BTN
Sleeper: Minnesota at Northwestern – Both teams are 0-2 in league play, but have four wins overall. Fans of each squad assume they’ll make a bowl. Of course, Minnesota has been predicted by some (me) to go oh-for in the league, while Northwestern was expected to finish with a solid record, even if the Wildcats didn’t make Indianapolis. This should be a desperation match for both clubs meaning, in theory, they’ll bring their A-games. 12:00 pm, ESPN 2 / WatchESPN app
Avoid: Purdue at Michigan State – These teams are a combined 6-6, 2-2. Sadly it isn’t an even 3-3, 1-1 split that could lead to some drama as they push for bowls. No, it is the opposite.
Must See: UCLA at Stanford – Thanks to the banged up Pac 12 South, UCLA still has a path to the league championship without a win. Stanford does not have that luxury. This game also has national title implications. The undefeated Bruins are No. 9 in the nation and Stanford is No. 13. Even with the blemish, if Stanford were to win out – that would include Oregon, Oregon State, Notre Dame, UCLA and the Pac-12 title – they’d have an argument for the national title game. There is a lot on the line by the Bay. 3:30 pm, ABC / ESPN 2
Sleeper: Charleston Southern at Colorado – Huh? Hear me out. CSU is 7-0 (though not ranked) in the FCS ranks. Colorado is, well, Colorado. Like a strange country fair in a backwater part of a backwater state, I can’t help but be intrigued by this one.
Sadly, there is no national TV for this match-up, so I’ll offer up the following: Washington at Arizona State. Both are 4-2, but it doesn’t feel that way with ASU’s ups and downs after big games. Washington meanwhile has played pretty well in their two losses to Pac-12 North beasts Stanford and Oregon. Adding to my interest level is State’s tough home environment in Tempe. 6:00 pm, Pac 12 Network
Here’s a freebie: USC at Notre Dame. We all know it is a big rivalry and despite all of USC’s noise off the field, they enter matching Notre Dame’s 4-2 record. Lots of talent will be on the turf in this one. 7:30 pm, NBC
Avoid: Oregon State at Cal – The No. 1 passing attack in the nation and No. 12 scoring offense will be donning black, orange and white. Meanwhile, the blue, white and yellow team will be offering up the No. 125-ranked scoring defense. Oh boy. Call me when it is 42-0 at half.
Independent and Non AQ
Army at Temple – The Black Knights have a great shot to get to 4-4 as they face winless Temple. Hitting that mark would be huge as they push for a bowl in the second half of the season. Terry Baggert went full-blown beast mode last game for Army, to the tune of 304 yards on 18 carries. With Temple’s awful defense, there could be a great encore up his sleeve. 1:00 pm, ESPN3
Rice at New Mexico State – Last week I featured Tulane’s feel good story in C-USA as a game to watch and it went into OT! This week I offer up Rice. The Owls are tied with the Green Wave at 3-0 in C-USA and sit at 4-2. Getting the independent (and winless) Aggies should help keep the pace as they march towards a rare bowl in their football history. 8:00 pm, GamePlan / ESPN 3
Northern Illinois at Central Michigan – Can last year’s Orange Bowl surprise keep it going?! Hey, when you have Jordan Lynch on your team, anything is possible. They look to hit 7-0 and keep trending up.
UMass at Buffalo – The Minutemen finally got off that horrible skid since joining FCS ,but this one is all about the Bulls. The surprising Buffalo squad is 4-2 overall, but undefeated in the MAC and just a game behind Bowling Green in the East. What a feel-good story Buffalo is providing fans this season. 3:30 pm, GamePlan / ESPN 3