Back by popular demand, sportschump.net has once again decided to preview the weekend’s most important match-ups. For those of you who don’t eat, drink and sleep SportsCenter, here’s what you should be watching this weekend.
The Boise State Broncos leave the friendly confines of their blue turf and travel to Fresno to face their division rival Friday in prime time. Fresno State, who is coming off a heartbreaking-loss at Wisconsin, hosts a stingy Boise State team that has only allowed 8 points in two games. While this will be one of the more difficult, road tests for Boise State, many expect them to roll through their schedule unblemished on their way to a BCS berth. That means style points could be important. The Broncos have won their last three against Fresno State and six of their last eight. The Bulldogs have lost their last nine games against ranked opponents. All this does not bode well for Fresno State but then again, that’s why they play the games.
Remember growing up when you mouthed off to your father and he’d turn around and wallop you right in the kisser, reminding you who was boss. That’s exactly what could happen in the Swamp on Saturday. Upon being hired this off-season, Lane Kiffin added fuel to an already heated rivalry when he accused Urban Meyer of cheating and proclaimed Tennessee would sing ‘Rocky Top’ all night long when they beat the Gators. Well, he’s finally going to get his chance. This date has been circled on both team’s calendars since those comments. Since losing to Ole Miss last year, Florida has covered every point spread but one. They’re favored by more than four touchdowns. Vol fans, who are more nervous than Buckeye fans before the USC game, hope that trend does not continue. Florida will be going for a school record 13 consecutive victories while Kiffin and company try to make their bold prediction come true. Expect a raucous Swamp filled with Gator fans who can smell blood.
This game, the weekend’s only matchup between ranked teams, features two storied football programs with contrasting styles. Over the past few years, Nebraska has been one big win away from proving the program is back where it needs to be. A victory in Blacksburg, where Frank Beamer and Virginia Tech have beaten 31 straight non-conference opponents, would be another important step in that direction.
Even though Navy gave Ohio State a scare two weeks ago, it’s tough to determine how good Navy is, simply because we don’t know how good, or bad, Ohio State is. Or do we? This week, Navy faces a balanced rushing and passing attack that has already put up some gaudy numbers: 92 points in two games. In only five years at Pitt, Dave Wannstedt has made the program relevant again. Navy may be battle tested but Pitt may have too much firepower for the Midshipmen.
Bearcat senior Tony Pike is the best quarterback you’ve never heard of. Don’t be surprised to see him playing on Sundays in the near future. Thanks to Pike and his favorite target, Mardy Gilyard, the Bearcats are fifth in the nation in total offense. In Pike’s first two games, he has completed 77% of his passes and thrown for six touchdowns. He and head coach Brian Kelly have made Cincinnati more than just a basketball school. They’re likely the best team in the Big East. This week they face a difficult road test, however, having to travel 2500 miles to Corvallis, Oregon to face the Beavers. Oregon State, also undefeated, has won 26 consecutive non-conference home games, meaning something has to give.
A victory against struggling Florida State would go a long way toward legitimizing BYU’s national title aspirations. It would also continue the rumblings in Tallahassee that Bobby Bowden should finally step aside. BYU has already bested one national champion this season (Oklahoma) and will look to tackle another in Florida State, but the Seminoles are a far cry from their ‘90s dominance. They lost to Miami and struggled to beat Jacksonville State at home last week. BYU has won 18 straight at home, but nothing would please the Bowden faithful more than a victory in Provo to prove the Seminoles can rebound from what already seems to be another difficult season.
The Philadelphia Eagles have gone from having two Pro Bowl quarterbacks on their preseason roster to having none that can start in Week Two. Donovan McNabb suffered a broken rib against the Lions and Michael Vick is not eligible to play until next week. Even though the Eagles signed another Pro Bowler, Jeff Garcia, Kevin Kolb has been named the starter. The Eagles defense, consistently one of the best in the league, will try to halt a dangerous Saints offense, led by Drew Brees who threw for six touchdowns last week. The NFC South went 0-2 against the NFC East last week with Philly beating Carolina and Dallas beating Tampa Bay. The Saints will look to buck that trend. New Orleans’ ability or inability to score against Philadelphia will be a good measuring stick to see exactly how good the Saints really are.
In another matchup of contrasting styles, high-powered offense versus stifling defense, the Ravens travel to San Diego to face Philip Rivers, LaDanian Tomlinson and the high-flying Chargers. Last year with rookie Joe Flacco leading the way, the Ravens proved they’re not only about defense, but could put some points on the scoreboard as well. San Diego’s window of opportunity may be closing soon. The distinct favorites to win the AFC West need this home win in the hopes of establishing themselves as one of the best teams in the conference.
Both Super Bowl contenders are coming off impressive Week One victories. Both teams look to keep that momentum alive. This Sunday night game will be the first played in the new Cowboys stadium. The league is still waiting to see how the low-hanging scoreboard will come into play. Everybody get ready for the NFL’s first do-over in history. The winner will have a leg up in the race for supremacy in the toughest division in football.