Well, here we are on Thursday, and we already have a college game in the books. Wednesday night match-ups are just foreign to me. I’m not really in CFB mode that early in the week, and Mrs. Mad Handles gave me the stink eye pretty quickly when I tuned into the kansas State, Louisville game last night. I fought the good fight and made a strong case as to why it was better to watch people who actually have talent than to watch America’s Got Talent, but was trumped with, “but we have an unwatched Saturday Night Live on the DVR.” Damn. She was right. We did fall asleep pretty quickly, albeit in very good humor, after watching Tina Fey’s spot-on impression of Sarah Palin this past Saturday. Turns out this week’s versions of SNL and the kansas State offense had a lot in common – both fired on all cylinders to start, but neither offered many bright spots thereafter. The good news for k-State fans is that they’re one loss closer to the end of the Ron Prince era. Oh well, on with the show. This week’s Honors Courses features two top 25 match-ups, and four conference tilts. Let’s begin!
(4) Florida at Tennessee – 2:30 p.m. (Central)
There are several reasons to watch this game, all of them having to do with Florida and its offense. First, let’s allow this quote to sink in: “Coach just came to me and said he’s ready to cut me loose.” That’s bad news for Tennessee, because those words came from the mouth of Percy Harvin. Word is he’s feeling better now than he ever has at Florida. He’s the guy to watch this week. Second, Tim Tebow. Are the numbers as eye-popping as last season? Maybe not, but they’re still solid, and he’s still one of the most exciting QBs in the game. Plus, there will be times when Florida is on defense that you might be able to catch glimpses of him solving some of society’s most pressing needs. At the very least, you’ll hear the announcers talk about it. Third, Florida’s run defense, especially vs. Tennessee. The run is supposed to be a strength for the Vols, but under Urban Meyer, the Gators have had uncanny success in neutralizing the Tennessee run game. This one is stacked pretty heavily against the Vols, but the joy of watching Florida’s weapons makes it a game to watch.
VaTech at North Carolina – 2:30 p.m.
Don’t get caught sleeping on North Carolina. Rutgers did in week 2 and got donkey punched by the Tarheels. Football is on its way to being relevant again in Chapel Hill, and while VaTech might lack the punch it’s had the past few seasons, this is a conference match up that will allow North Carolina to make a name for itself in the early going. Brandon Tate is off to an excellent start to his senior campaign, averaging 25 yards per rush and 28.9 yards per catch. Oh yeah, and he returns kicks. He’s a threat VaTech will have to neutralize. The Hokies have had a rough go of it so far this season. The week 1 loss to ECU was stunning, and forced a moment of… clarity(?) for Frank Beamer, as he decided to forgo his plan to redshirt Tyrod Taylor and return to the two QB system that propelled the Hokies to No. 3 in the nation before laying an egg in the Orange bowl last season. Here’s your chance to see an upstart team with solid coaching in North Carolina knock around a more traditional power that happens to be suffering from a momentary lack of identity.
(18) Wake at (24) FSU – 6:00 p.m.
Here’s what you need to know for this game. Florida State had a 14-game win streak over Wake before being surpassed by the Demon Deacons two years ago. This does not sit well in Tallahassee. Oh, and Bobby Bowden isn’t really calling the shots down there anymore. That honor belongs to Jimbo Fisher, and FSU fans should rejoice! If the ‘Noles have a chance at making it back to elite status, Fisher’s the guy who will take them there. Need proof? Fisher, not Bowden, made the call to bench senior and incumbent quarterback Drew Weatherford in favor of redshirt sophomore Christian Ponder. That takes sack – something Bowden hasn’t had in years. Wake, on the other hand, is looking to make a statement of its own. With a victory over a ranked FSU squad, they will have chalked up a tough win on the road. They would also be just the second ACC team to have taken FSU out three years straight. As a Missouri fan, stats like that just don’t compute with me. That’s remarkable. As down as FSU has been the past few seasons, they’ve only been beaten three years in a row by one conference opponent. As fans of the college game, we’re always searching for contests in which both teams are looking to prove something, and much rides on the outcome. Well here you go.
(6) LSU at (10) Auburn – 6:45 p.m.
This one features two top 10 teams, on paper. I say on paper, because frankly Auburn has no business holding that No. 10 ranking. Look, when you let a team like Mississippi State hold you to just 3 points, you have to feel damn lucky to win. It’s ok to feel damn lucky to beat Mississippi State, but not if you’re being paraded out as the No. 10 team in the land. It just doesn’t wash. I know that games in this series have been historically tight. I know that LSU hasn’t won at Auburn since Bill Clinton was experimenting with non-traditional humidors in the Oval Office. I know this, and yet I think this is LSU’s game to lose. Les Miles’ offense has looked consistently good putting up 41 points in its first two games. Auburn has given up just 15 points through three games, but the (Auburn) Tigers haven’t exactly been facing Texas Tech- or Missouri-type attacks. I recommend starting off with the Wake/FSU game, then tuning into this one to see where it’s going. Historically, these have been very, very good games. I just think this one will go LSU’s way pretty quickly.
(3) Georgia at Arizona St – 7:00 p.m.
Here’s a chance to see a Top 3 team go down. I’m not guaranteeing this will happen, but when you look at the facts, you really start thinking that ASU can pull it off. Here are two remarkably similar teams, who have played remarkably similar opponents. Through three games, UGA is averaging 446 yards of total offense while giving up 296 yards of total defense. They’re averaging 38 ppg, and giving up 15 ppg. Arizona State is averaging 442 yards of total offense and 295 yards of total defense. They’re averaging 30 ppg, while giving up 17. Both have played two cupcakes, and one stiff opponent (UGA took on South Carolina last week, ASU took on Stanford in week 2). Matt Stafford really struggled against the South Carolina defense in last week’s game and hasn’t thrown a TD pass since week 2. Lucky for the Dawgs that the defense came up with a huge pick in the closing moments of the game to seal last week’s victory. ASU likes to air it out. If the Bulldogs want to avoid the upset in Tempe, Matt Stafford is going to have to find some sort of touch on the ball, and the UGA secondary is going to have to come up big again. Either way, this is a game to watch as it should be exciting throughout.