Sit back, relax and hunker down...
Every weekend across the college football landscape, elite teams take on patsies, conference rivals and fellow members of the best of the best.
As the season rounds the midway point, early season storylines have unfolded before our eyes. Some teams expected to do so have lived up to expectations, others have fallen by the wayside (we're looking at you, the entire Big Ten), while still others have surprised and delighted us.
Throughout it all, we as fans have been out in full force, either tailgating the games themselves, or barbequing from the comfort of our backyards as we enjoy the games on TV.
This weekend, like each and every one before it, boasts a slate of great matchups, either pitting two great teams against one another, bringing to the present a century of history in a huge rivalry game or providing intrigue in some other fashion. Thus, because we here at Gamedayr are too excited for Saturday to finally arrive, we took a look around the country and provided a list of the ten games that we are most excited to watch this weekend.
This is not a list of strictly the highest-ranked matchups. Rather, we are looking for great atmospheres, great stadiums, and games that carry postseason weight. Like we said, sit back, relax, maybe crack open a beer and enjoy the beauty that is a college football Saturday.
10. Louisville at Pitt
Figured we might as well open up this watchlist by throwing the dog of a conference that is the Big East a bone by slipping this matchup into the Top 10. What makes this matchup intriguing, especially for a fan of the SEC, is watching former Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong lead his up-and-coming Louisville squad into hostile territory against a wildly inconsistent Pitt crew.
Pittsburgh, under first-year head coach and former Wisconisn offensive mastermind Paul Chryst, has lost to FCS-school Youngstown State, but has also upset Virginia Tech. That said, the Panthers have beaten Louisville four straight times. Could there be an upset here, just before Strong and Louisville are able to make a move from No. 18 and jump into the Top 15?
9. Oregon State at BYU
Before the season began, this looked like a blowout for an only halfway-decent BYU program. Since opening kickoff, however, all the Beavers of Oregon State have done is beat Wisconsin, UCLA, Arizona and Washington State en route to the program’s first Top 10 ranking since the Eisenhower administration (that may or may not be a true fact, but what the heck, it's Friday aka time to live on the wild side).
OSU has played second fiddle to in-state powerhouse Oregon for quite some time now. If they can continue to ride the wave, minus starting quarterback Sean Mannion, the gap in the national rankings between the little brother Beavers and the big, bad Ducks will close just a tad further.
8. West Virginia at Texas Tech
Pass the hot sauce for this one, ladies and gentlemen. Heisman frontrunner Geno Smith takes his 202.4 passer rating (a number that would be a single-season record should 2012 end today) on the road to face a Texas Tech defense that gave up 41 points in a home debacle of a loss to Oklahoma. On the flip side, the Red Raiders average 39 points per contest this season. The Big 12 conference as a whole has simply decided to stop playing defense altogether, or so it seems at least, and this game will be yet another example of new-school offense at its finest. The game’s announcers might be enthusiastic about all the points scored, but don’t expect a football purist to enjoy this one.
7. Florida at Vanderbilt
The Florida Gators mosey on into Nashville with their highest national ranking since The Chosen One graced the gridiron. Florida is coming off a huge home win over then-No. 4 LSU, 14-6. Vandy is coming off a solid program win over Mizzou, with both teams last week having proven there is still a place for a rugged defense in this pass-happy college football universe.
Want intrigue? This bad boy could be the mother of all trap games for sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel and Co.; the team can’t get caught looking ahead to their home showdown with South Carolina and the Ol’ Ball Coach. If they do get caught snoozing, next weekend’s matchup won’t carry nearly the significance both fanbases are hoping for.
6. Alabama at Mizzou
Turning the channel to the nation’s No. 1-team is always a good idea for any football fan no matter the opponent. This weekend, while the game itself may get out of hand relatively early, with Missouri currently nursing an 0-3 SEC record in their first year in the conference, it will be interesting to see the dynamic between coaches Nick Saban and Gary Pinkel play out on the sidelines. The two were teammates on the 1972 Kent State football team that took home the MAC Championship and were graduate assistants together under the legendary Don James. Saban even recommended that Toledo hire Pinkel, who held the head coaching post there for ten years after Saban left one year into coaching the program. This will be the first time the two with a deep history face each other as SEC rivals.
5. Kansas State at Iowa State
After watching Big 12 teams such as West Virginia and Baylor pile up over 1,000 yards of offense in one game, this matchup promises to be the type of knock-em-out, drag-em-out slugfest that get the pulses racing of the old dudes.
K-State quarterback Collin Klein is a sight to behold, piling up passing yards while churning out bruising rushing touchdowns in barreling his way into the 2012 Heisman conversation. Iowa State looks like it may have been underrated to start the season, already taking down in-state bullies Iowa and upsetting TCU on the road. They are ranked at No. 19-nationally in giving up a stout 15.8 points per game. Strong running game meets stiff defense? Something’s gotta give, and if it’s Klein, the Cyclones could have a third giant slain by the end of the day.
4. Texas A&M at Louisiana Tech
This contest was originally supposed to be played as both program’s season openers, but ended up postponed due to Hurricane Isaac. At that point in time, the game was expected to be a tune-up for the Aggies before their SEC opener against Florida.
My oh my how only six weeks changes so many things. Texas A&M is ranked and powered by the young gunnin’ Johnny Manziel, who boasts not only the program’s single-game passing yards record after he tossed for 453 yards against Arkansas, but quite possibly the single coolest nickname in all of college football with his ‘Johnny Football’ moniker (sorry LSU fans, ‘Honey Badger’ has got to be suited up to earn his nickname cred). Even more surprising than the play of Manziel has been that of Louisiana Tech on the whole. The Bulldogs currently sit at No. 3-nationally, scoring a video game-stupid 53.2 points per game. Remember all that talk about SEC defensive contests? Yeah, throw that one out the window for this one.
3. Texas at Oklahoma
The Red River Rivalry is a college football game that provides an atmosphere unlike very few across the country. Not only are both teams perennially in contention for at least the Big 12 title, if not the national championship, but each program boasts members of two of the most rabid fan bases nationally.
This game needs no further introduction. Enjoy!
2. Stanford at Notre Dame
Notre Dame’s schedule, as the season began, looked like one of the toughest in the nation. That was before, of course, the entire Big Ten conference decided to fall flat on its face. The 2012 Big Ten season has been more putrid than a dumpster fire, and it has thus not given us a good idea as to whether the Fighting Irish can actually, well, fight.
Stanford, on the other hand, has already topped the mighty Trojans of Southern Cal. The Cardinal brings a stingy defense and two all-world tight ends into South Bend.
Not only will this home game be a good barometer as to where Notre Dame is headed this season, but it will just be plain old good television. Any time you get the chance to see Irish middle linebacker and Hawaiian native Manti Te’o patrolling the field, you crack open a beer, you sit yourself down, and you enjoy the fact that those are not your bones being crunched out there.
1. South Carolina at LSU
So many storylines, so little time. South Carolina is coming off what was quite possibly its biggest win in program history, open-palm slapping Georgia right in the face, while LSU is coming off a deflating loss to Florida. The game is in Baton Rouge (or Red Stick for those international men of mystery who speak a touch of French) so one assumes the Tigers will be fired up to prove to both themselves and the nation that last week’s drubbing was an aberration. Steve Spurrier has taken his Gamecocks to heights never experienced in Columbia. How will his players react to the emotional blowout of Georgia a week ago?
Only one way to find out. Hopefully your living room has High Def.
Information and statistics sourced from ESPN.com.
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