Last week, we saw that the landscape of college football can change just as quickly as the seasons, as several perennial powerhouses fell flat on their faces with the onset of conference play. Now, with the lil’ boys from Troy still trying to figure how they got torched by a preschool-sized back and the SEC teams just beginning to beat the shit out of each other, many are looking at the beginning of October as a time for more big-time players to inflict some pain on one another—and once again shuffle the deck.
For a month, both the pretenders and contenders in the Big 12 have by and large coasted through an airy non-conference schedule that featured scout-team-like competition and schools that carry irrelevant and non-pc mascots. However, the time has come for the nation’s second-best conference to assert itself as the elite teams prove they belong in the national championship picture.
Texas 28, Colorado 20
Colt McCoy is rapidly garnering Heisman talk after effectively falling off the radar a season ago. The Longhorns put up a half a hundred a game, which, in the Big 12, is considered run-of-the-mill somehow. The ‘Horns won’t have much trouble moving the ball on the Buffs D, but the previously porous Texas pass defense that is improving will get its first stern test against a Dan Hawkins scheme that thrives on misdirection.
Texas Tech 49, Kansas State 38
As adept as the Tech offense is at lighting up the scoreboard, the defense isn’t exactly excelling at preventing other teams from joining in on the fun. While the stats may imply otherwise, Tech’s D, which was being hailed as vastly improved coming into the season, has been anything but so far. First it was FCS Eastern Washington burning the Tech secondary for 341 yards. The following week, Nevada, whose Pistol Offense isn’t exactly shy about running the ball, managed to gash the Red Raiders for two dollars and some change on the ground.
Missouri 45, Nebraska 16
Sure, the Tigers haven’t gone into the Corn Field and escaped with a win since the Carter Administration. But do you really think these 19, 20-year-old kids really give two shits about the two-bit history? Whether they say they are playing to reverse the curse or not, Mizzou players see this conference game as nothing more than another road block in what may shape up to be a national title run.
Oklahoma State 38, Texas A&M 17
Much like a handful of other Big 12 teams, the Cowboys feature a pinball-game offense that’s capable of scoring quick and often. And much like a host of fellow conference offensive juggernauts, Oklahoma State has questions surrounding a suspect defense. However, it won’t matter much this week, even if the 12th Man is in full force at Kyle Field, where the A&M faithful haven’t had much at all to cheer about in Mike Sherman’s first season as head coach.
Friday, October 3
BYU 63, Utah State 13
I knew I should have gone to Provo for my undergrad—I’d still be in school. Yeah, those crazy Mormons embark on missions one or two years at a time. But how cool would it be to tell the chicks at the non-alcoholic mixer that you’re a 28-year-old reserve tackle on a team with BCS bowl game aspirations?
Saturday, October 4
Penn State 42, Purdue 26
With a convincing win against ranked Illinois a week ago, the Nittany Lions served notice to Ohio State and the rest of the Big Ten: our coach may wear puzzling whale ties, but the dude can still get it done. In Penn State’s 38-24 win, senior wideout Derrick Williams became the first player in Joe Paterno’s 43-year tenure in Happy Valley to score a TD three different ways (rushing, receiving, special teams return). Williams and his teammates should have ample opportunity to reach paydirt once again this week against a Purdue defense that can be described as rather unspectacular.
Wisconsin 23, Ohio State 20
The Buckeyes plan to see plenty of Badger RB P.J. Hill during a rare night game at Camp Randall. Though QB Allen Evridge has been largely impressive thus far, his ability to distribute the ball to phenomenal tight end/receiver hybrid Travis Beckum can’t be ignored. Terrelle Pryor will make his eye-popping plays—and the return of Beanie Wells will help immensely—but Hill’s running will keep OSU’s offense off the field during a game in which the home crowd rattles the young Buckeyes quarterback.
Auburn 17, Vanderbilt 6
I realize that Vanderbilt is a private institution that takes pride in the academic accomplishments of its students. But don’t tell me the star of that Commodores defense, cornerback D.J. Moore, is taking an 18-hour semester littered with classes like Theory of Neurological Disorders, Practices of Geospatial Expansion and Survey of Religious Evolution. With Vandy accruing more national attention with its hot start, we all saw the real 411 on Mr. Moore and his major—leisure studies. Thanks, ESPN.
USC 33, Oregon 17
The only thing that keeps this game from being closer is the fact that it’s in Los Angeles. Or is it the fact the once-mighty Trojans have something to prove after that loss last week? It should come as no surprise, though, that USC lost to Oregon State. As is the case nearly every season with Pete Carroll, his team loses to a JV competitor and proceeds to smoke every team left on the schedule in a fit of rage. Sixteen points may not seem like a face-melting, but a two-score win over a surprisingly stout Oregon team would certainly go a long way in USC clawing its way back into the picture.