Five Intriguing Games This Weekend – From the Bird’s Nest
For the second straight Saturday I get to do something I don't get to do very often, and that's watch as many college football games as I want. Unfortunately, a lot of them are all being played at the same time. But I've already reserved the remote and I'm sure I'll do a lot of switching back and forth.
But as I look at the schedules this week, there are actually more than five games that intrigue me. But since I talked about the Sun Belt in yesterday's blog, here are five that, for me, will tell a story or answer a question or two.
BAYLOR AT ULM= I did touch on this yesterday but had to include it here as well. Over the years we've all noted the attendance, or lack thereof, at Malone Stadium, especially as the season goes along. There are two reasons for the steady decline. First, ULM by that time doesn't have a very good record and second, it's hunting season and the folks in northeast Louisiana would rather be in the woods than the Grove. Well, here comes Baylor and the 1-1 Warhawks have their Malone Stadium opener. With a win over Arkansas and a coulda been against Auburn, Warhawk faithful are hoping that Malone will be packed for the ESPN game tonight. The moons are lining up just right to have a great crowd. And, that, frankly, intrigues me more than the game itself. ULM will have a tough time with Baylor's speed. But if Kolton Browning has another great night and if ULM values possession of the football, this could be a very special night in Ouachita Parish, indeed.
CLEMSON AT FLORIDA STATE-- The Seminoles have been a bit overvalued the last couple of seasons, but many believe FSU might be the biggest roadblock to an LSU-Alabama rematch in the championship game this year. Of course, it's pretty premature to be speculating, since we're in September and the first Harris Poll doesn't come out until the 30th. But, this does look like Jimbo Fisher's best team and they get what could be the biggest test they'll get in ACC play when they entertain Clemson. It's the only game this week featuring two teams ranked in the top ten. And, yet, FSU is favored by more than two touchdowns. Hmmmmm. FSU's defense is for real, but Clemson has great team speed. This one is a reason why I've got remote in hand.
LSU AT AUBURN--All right, let me make this clear. I don't think there's any chance LSU loses this game. Then why am I intrigued? Well, the Tigers are going on the road for the first time. They're also playing their SEC opener. And, there doing it with a quarterback who has experience neither situation as the starting quarterback. This is the first time Zach Mettenburger will be scrutinized and it would be good for LSU down the road if he makes a big play early while the game is still in doubt. If it's the second half and LSU is comfortably ahead before something really, really good happens to the quarterback, it will solve none of the questions. Mettenburger so far has been solid. And, he's shown a great arm. But, sooner or later, LSU will need him to be better than a combination of Jarret Lee and Jordan Jefferson. It wouldn't be a bad idea to start this weekend.
MICHIGAN AT NOTRE DAME--Have the echos been awakened? Is Notre Dame back? Are the Irish a top ten team? Notre Dame fans think so. The rest of the nation scoffs at the thought. After beating Michigan State on the road last week, the Irish get Denard Robinson in South Bend with a chance to take another step. There are many steps in front if the Irish this year, and they're going to play teams much tougher than Michigan. But this is a big rivalry game and Big 1o country is watching closely. ND is playing one of the nation's toughest schedules, with Stanford, Oklahoma and USC still to come. But if the Irish win this one, they'll be ranked in the top ten, and will have earned it, at least for now.
LOUISIANA TECH AT ILLINOIS-- Louisiana-Monroe is getting all kinds of love from national, state and local media after their two performances. Have you noticed how quiet it is just 30 miles to the west? Louisiana Tech, after having their opener against Texas A&M postponed because of Hurricane Isaac, have put up 56 points in each of their two games this year. Now they travel to Illinios, and that got me thinking....who else do they play non-conference. Well, the disintegrating WAC means Tech has only six league games. Their remaining OOC games are at Virginia, UNLV and the makeup with Texas A&M. You know the Bulldogs will steamroll their way through TWFCIA (the worst football conference in America). So, maybe we should start paying attention to what's going on in Champagne-Urbana this weekend. Because, with that schedule, the 'Dogs won't be outmanned in any game. And, if they keep winning, North Louisiana and the rest of the country will have to take notice.
Saturday-7pm/Big Ten Network
That's five I'm keeping track of this weekend.