Five Intriguing Games This Weekend – From the Bird’s Nest
Now it gets interesting.
For the most part, non-conference games have been completed. And, that logjam at the top of the standings (including rankings) won’t stay a logjam as the wheat in each league is separated from the chaff.
Two of the games I’ve selected intrigue me because of games played last week. One is a contender or pretender game. One is a very interesting non conference game. And one is in the Sun Belt. Here we go…..
SOUTH ALABAMA at TROY – (Saturday, 12 noon, SBC Network/CST) –This has a chance to become the Sun Belt’s most bitter rivalry despite the fact the teams have already met once. We’re still trying to figure out who these teams are. Is South Alabama the team that lost to Southern Utah, or the one that beat Western Kentucky and Tulane? Is Troy the team that, barring turnovers, would have won in Jonesboro or are they the team that got lit up for 62 against Mississippi State. South Alabama already has a conference win. Troy already has a conference loss. The Trojans need this one badly, not only to keep their Sun Belt hopes alive, but also to keep the heat on their legendary coach from getting turned up considerably.
GEORGIA at TENNESSEE – (Saturday, 2:30, CBS)–Hmmmmm. UGA is coming off a huge, emotional conference win over LSU. Now they have to go on the road to face the Volunteers, who have lost twice to very good opponents on the road. UT will have a week off after this game so they’ll be able to give full attention to the ‘Dogs. No question who the better team is, but don’t be surprised if this game is a lot closer than you think.
EAST CAROLINA at MIDDLE TENNESSEE (Saturday, 2:30, FOX Sports Net) –Ok, the Pirates are officially on upset alert. ECU got the biggest win they’ve had in many years last week, winning in Chapel Hill against the Tar Heels. Now they travel to face the Blue Raiders, who are playing their first ever home CUSA game. The two teams have never met, so there’s no rivalry here. We’re going to see just how good a motivator Ruffin McNeil is. If his team isn’t ready, they’ll lose.
ARIZONA STATE at NOTRE DAME (Saturday, 6:30pm NBC) – The Sun Devils drove the final nail in Lane Kiffin’s coffin Saturday, scoring 62 points on USC. In the Pac-12, wins over USC taste sweeter than just about any other. Now they have to travel to South Bend for a non-conference game. Granted it’s against Notre Dame, and I can’t imagine a team not focusing when it comes to playing the Irish. Notre Dame has fallen from the rankings, but a win here gets them back in the Top 25.
WASHINGTON at STANFORD (Saturday, 9:30, ESPN)–Steve Sarkasian’s crew is undefeated and the pollsters have noticed, vaulting the Huskies into the top 20. Convincing wins over Boise State and Arizona have gotten them that ranking. But take note. After this game, Washington plays Oregon and Arizona State. We’re about to find out just how good this team is…or isn’t.