But there will be no peace.
No, not on the weekend of college football’s Armageddon. The game every college football junkie has been waiting for is finally here, and big hits are sure to be in order for the SEC West’s shining moment. When No. 1 LSU makes the trip to Tuscaloosa to tango with No. 2 Alabama, it will be the first regular season matchup of top ranked teams since No. 1 Ohio State defeated No. 2 Michigan in 2006. It will also be the first time SEC teams have met in conference play as top ranked teams. This has the makings of as national title elimination game and, since both teams had byes last week, the hype machine has been pushing it for two weeks now.
But seriously, no pressure.
While those two were off last week, two BCS conference unbeatens fell by the wayside. Kansas State was fully exposed by Oklahoma, while Clemson was blasted by Georgia Tech. That leaves four undefeated teams from BCS conferences, with one guaranteed to lose the LSU-Bama game. Alongside the nation’s two top teams, Stanford and Oklahoma State have yet to fall. The Cardinal escaped the Colosseum last week in triple overtime against USC while the Cowboys’ offense has looked unstoppable all year. Boise State also remains unbeaten, but with Stanford jumping them in this week’s BCS poll, consider it the beginning of the end for their title hopes.
Here are this week’s rankings.
1. LSU: 8-0
I guess we will know how to rank them after Saturday night.
2. Alabama: 8-0
3. Stanford: 8-0
Andrew Luck threw a pick-six that gave USC the lead with just over three minutes left. He didn’t blink the rest of the game, leading a touchdown drive for the tie and three scoring drives in overtime for the win.
4. Oklahoma State: 8-0
That offense is just phenomenal, but the defense did a nice job of keeping Baylor’s spread attack in check.
5. Boise State: 7-0
The Broncos were the “other” undefeated top-5 team on a bye last week. UNLV should offer Boise little resistance this week as they prep for TCU.
6. Oregon: 7-1
The Ducks have scored at least 40 points in their seven consecutive victories. They continue to trend upward towards their November 12th game at Stanford.
7. Oklahoma: 7-1
Wow, that was easy! The Sooners were absolutely dominant against previously undefeated K-State. It’s a shame they lay one egg every year.
8. Nebraska: 7-1
The Huskers flexed their muscles against a scorching-hot Michigan State team last week. Nebraska kept it simple and loaded the box against the Spartan rushing attack, while keeping it on the ground offensively. That will be their recipe for success this year, until they run into another team that can beat them throwing it down the field. Good thing that won’t happen, if it ever does, until they get to a bowl game.
9. Arkansas: 7-1
Another slow start for the Razorbacks, this time against Vanderbilt. That’s two conference bottom dwellers in a row that they have had to come back on. I am officially worried about my proclamation that Arkansas is, in fact, really good.
10. Virginia Tech: 8-1
These guys are just going to move up slowly as other teams lose. As I said, they play nobody of note and are just going to keep winning until the ACC championship. That is, unless newly revitalized Georgia Tech can knock them off this week..
11. Houston: 8-0
Case Keenum threw for nine touchdowns last week! To show you how crazy that is, if he had thrown one more, it would be proper AP style to begin using numerals for his single-game touchdown statistic rather than spelling it out. Insane!
12. Michigan: 7-1
The Wolverines turned the ball over early, but dominated both sides of the ball against a Purdue team that had been playing well in the trenches of late. A good sign for Michigan, because physical defenses from Iowa, Nebraska and Ohio State loom in the next four weeks.
13. Penn State: 8-1
This is the most boring and least explosive 8-1 team in the BCS era. The Nittany Lions have zero quarterback play(from two quarterbacks), a mediocre ground game, but an immovable defensive front. Joe Pa’s staff is finding ways to put it together, but you can’t win 10-7 every week, even in the Big Ten.
14. Clemson: 8-1
Oh Clemson, I had such high hopes for you! This was gonna be the year!! This was it! All those top recruiting classes that turned into Meineke Car Care Bowl losses, this was supposed to be the end of that! But no, you let a reeling Georgia Tech run all over you on their way to a 31-17 victory. Oh well, you’re still just two wins away from locking up a spot in the ACC title game.
15. South Carolina: 7-1
Man, I still have to rank this team high even though they no longer have their starting quarterback or running back? Well, they’re still the favorites in the SEC East, so I guess so.
16. Kansas State: 7-1
Oklahoma showed that if you slow down Kansas State on the ground and get a lead, the Wildcats can do zilch through the air. Dully noted. I look for them to get blasted again this week against Oklahoma State and drop to 25th in my poll.
17. Georgia: 6-2
The Dawgs scored a huge victory in “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” against the Gators Saturday. They still have yet to beat a ranked team, or even a team that currently has a winning record(Coastal Carolina sitting on 4-4.. Dammit!!). But, by 2011 SEC East standards, THEY.. ARE.. ROLLING!!
18. Michigan State: 6-2
The Spartans were physically man-handled last week, and senior quarterback Kirk Cousins was unable to cash in against a three-man secondary all day.
19. Wisconsin: 6-2
Another week, another last-minute Hail Mary loss for the Badgers.
20. Arizona State:6-2
Their blowout win over USC looks a whole lot better this week, but their loss to Illinois keeps looking worse.
21. USC: 6-2
Speaking of the Trojans, Lane Kiffin officially coached the most impressive game of his career. The only is problem is it came in a loss at home to Stanford. Kidding aside, the way USC played against a superior, more experienced Cardinal team legitimized them in my book.
22. Georgia Tech: 7-2
The Yellow Jackets bounced back by whooping Clemson last week. Their game against Virginia Tech could fully redeem their mid-season breakdown and land them a spot in the ACC title game.
23. Auburn: 6-3
The Tigers are sitting on fourth in the loaded SEC West. It’s a shame, because the reigning national champs would have a legitimate shot of winning any other league in the country.
24. Cincinnati: 6-1
Hey, somebody from the Big East has to be ranked, right?
25. Ohio State: 5-3
Much like Penn State, they have no quarterback, and their ground game has only been pretty good. But, they can stop people and have the athletes on offense to break a big one every once in a while.
Game I will definitely be watching
Endicott at MIT
Yes, of course I will be watching LSU-Bama that night, but don’t sleep on this New England Football Conference matchup. The Engineers are coming off their first NEFC victory, a 23-0 thrashing of Nichols, and hope they can ride work-horse back Justin Wallace to a shocking upset. Last week, in an October snow storm, MIT let Wallace carry the load, rushing 41 times for 190 yards and three touchdowns. As it stands, Wallace needs 108 yards to become the first MIT freshman ever to rush for 1,000 yards in a season.
But the real problem for the Engineers will be on the other side of the ball. Endicott’s offense leads the conference at just over 42 points a game, and is equally adept throwing it as it is running it…
Ok, this is a shameless plug. I’m doing play-by-play for this game. But seriously, it’s gonna be fun.
Game where the two schools’ athletic directors may need to be physically separated
Louisville at West Virginia
Now this could be awkward… Both of these schools were actively selling themselves to the Big 12, but West Virginia ultimately got the invite. In mid-October, it seemed WVU to the Big 12 was a done deal, but then Louisville AD Tom Jurich reached out to the conference and made a sales pitch for Louisville. It must have made an impression, as the Big 12 delayed inviting WVU and reports surfaced that the conference was now considering Louisville. This led to much angst and many cries of foul play in Mountaineer country.
Then reports came out that the conference may add both. Then they were all like, sike Louisville! Have fun playing basketball in that sinking conference! Needless to say, Jurich was not pleased, and now Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino has been crying about his program and how it is not being considered in these decisions to every writer that will listen(not particularly relevant to this situation, but annoying nonetheless). Perhaps cameras will catch a nice shot of Jurich and WVU AD Oliver Luck(yep, Andrew’s daddy) exchanging pleasantries during Saturday’s game in Morgantown.
Most interesting betting line
Vanderbilt at Florida(-11)
This is a tricky line, and I know I would not want to be the guy handicapping this one. On one hand, Florida is clearly the more talented team across the board. But, the Gators have had trouble in the second half of games lately, and quarterback John Brantley’s return from injury last week did not exactly inspire confidence. The inconsistent signal caller threw no picks, but only completed 35% of his passes and failed to convert any significant third downs in the second half against Georgia.
Also, running back Chris Rainey, Florida’s leading rusher, is expected to miss the game against the Commodores, who are playing surprisingly well this year. Jordan Rodgers may not have his brother Aaron’s Super Bowl arm, but the nifty quarterback has Vanderbilt moving the chains on the ground. They nearly knocked off Arkansas last week and played Georgia, the team that just beat Florida, to only a five point loss two games before that.
All that being said, if the Gators take care of the ball and just contain Rodgers, they should win this thing going away. But, the Gators have been a very inconsistent team this year, and have been prone to letting big plays against them linger. The game is in the Swamp, so I don’t think there is any way Florida loses this game straight up. But, with SEC East leader South Carolina looming next week, this does seem like enough of a trap game against a deceptively good opponent that it could end up being a seven to 10 point game.
Or Florida could be pissed that they haven’t won a game in over a month, during the longest Gator losing streak since the pre-Spurrier era, and win 50. Who knows?