Three Intriguing Games this Weekend….From the Bird’s Nest
Normally, the Friday column is entitled FIVE games instead of three......
Which should tell you this weekend is somewhat of a dud in college football.
Many of your power teams are playing in conference, but they're playing bottom feeders. For example, South Carollina is playing Kentucky, Alabama has Ole Miss, and let's face it, Arkansas at Texas A&M has lost some of its preseason lustre.
FSU and South Florida could be a trap game, except FSU is looking for revenge after last year. Oregon State and Arizona would be more intriguing of Arizona hadn't been shut out by Oregon last week. Speaking of Oregon, they're playing Wazzou this week. Eccchhh.
Nope, I'm only really interested in three games. Here they are
TEXAS AT OKLAHOMA STATE--The question that is continually being asked by many in college football is, is this the year Texas gets back to being Texas? And, that question gets answered in Stillwater tomorrow. The Cowboys really played terribly on the road at Arizona three weeks ago. Was that an aberration or a harbinger? OSU has had two weeks to prepare and it's been a while since they lost at Boone Pickens Stadium. Although the Longhorns are a slight favorite, they'll take a big step in my mind if they can win in a tough place to play. It's the league opener for both teams.
BAYLOR AT WEST VIRGINIA-- A historic game as Morgantown hosts its first ever Big XII game. This league has already been rocked by Oklahoma's home loss to Kansas State. This league is deep but I don't know if any is, at least on paper, worthy of making it to the title game in January. But this league is going to be an awful lot of fun to watch this year. Baylor might have one of the best offenses in the league. But Morgantown is a really rough place to play.....and the Baptists may get a rude awakening when the discover how, er, pregame festivities are handled in West By God Virginia.
WESTERN KENTUCKY AT ARKANSAS STATE--Last year, WKU had this game won. They had a lead and the football. On third down, Bobby Rainey ran for a first down and the Hilltoppers started to celebrate. But they respotted the ball and had to try again on fourth and a foot. Rainey got stuffed and three plays later the Red Wolves were in the end zone. ASU finished 8-0 in the league. WKU was 7-1 and did not get a bowl bid. Since then WKU has lost two games....to teams ranked #1 in the country (LSU in 2011, Alabama in 2012). This year they're in Jonesboro, a tough place for visitors, to be sure. And, now, there's even more gasoline thrown on the pre-game fire.
Last Saturday, WKU Safety Jonathan Dowling was ejected after a vicious hit in the end zone against Southern Miss. Under Sun Belt rules, Dowling is automatically suspended for this week's game. WKU appealed and lost.
Arkansas State's Qushaun Lee was flagged but not suspended for a helmet-to-helmet hit on a sliding Alcorn State quarterback. SBC Supervisor of officials Don Lucas, in an email, stated he felt his officials were correct and no ejection was warranted. But SBC Commissioner Karl Benson didn't agree and suspended Lee for the game this Saturday.
Well, the howls from Red Wolves Nation are still echoing around the league. ASU fans have suggested...no...they've accused Benson of trying to sabotage ASU in the game. They also have questioned why a commissioner would overturn the officials because "officials got it right." A little surprised to hear that, given what everyone else is saying about officials these days. I saw the video of the hit. Benson got it right. But you'll never convince ASU officials of that as they question Benson's motives and integrity.
Well, that's added even more to this game. WKU is a slight favorite. The winner of this game joins the winner of Louisiana/FIU as the co-favorites to win the Sun Belt.