The curtain is closing on college football’s regular season. The top three teams in the nation are all double-digit road favorites (Florida at South Carolina, Alabama at Mississippi State, Texas at Baylor), but they are slowly running out of opportunities to stumble. Nobody expects them to lose but stranger things have happened. The NFL is starting to provide fans with a little separation between the playoff-bound and the also-rans. This Sunday, we’ll witness a key clash between the top two teams in the NFL’s best division as well as two legendary quarterbacks squaring off once again.
Cincinnati just might do it. With three games left, they might make it through a perfect season. Pittsburgh might have something to say about that on December 5, but so will Noel Devine and West Virginia this Friday. Devine is second in the Big East in rushing, averaging over 112 yards a game. Zach Collaros has filled in admirably for the injured Tony Pike. Collaros will start but Pike is expected to see some playing time after being out a month. Cincinnati hasn’t lost at home in two years. The last team to beat them there? The Mountaineers.
This game would have meant a lot more to Hawkeye fans had Iowa not lost last week, but trust me, it still means a lot to those in Columbus. The victor brings home the Big Ten title. Iowa had been skating on thin ice all season long, beating both Michigan and Michigan State by only two points. Now they’re about to run into an Ohio State team that looked sharp against Penn State. Terrelle Pryor finally emerged as the player we all expected him to be, throwing for two touchdowns and rushing for another. Since the winner of Saturday’s contest is Rose Bowl bound, expect 103,000 scarlet clad Buckeyes fans to be carrying roses into the stadium.
This just might be the biggest game in TCU’s history. They’re on the cusp of possibly playing for a national championship but they still must wow voters, as well as have two of the top three lose, to have a chance. A home victory over ranked Utah would be one more step in the right direction. Quarterback Andy Dalton is lighting it up. He’s thrown for ten touchdowns and no interceptions in his last four games. This game is for the Mountain West championship but for the Horned Frogs, the stakes are a little bit higher.
It’s put up or shut up time for the Bengals. As expected, the Steelers are atop the AFC North, but no one expected them to be tied with Cincinnati. The Steelers are coming off an impressive home win over the Denver Broncos. The Bengals are coming off a season sweep of Baltimore and have already beaten Pittsburgh in Week Three. The Steelers will be looking to avenge that loss and remind the Bengals who’s boss in that division. Coming off his 155 yard rushing performance on Monday night, Rashard Mendenhall has become the Steelers number one tailback. He’ll have his hands full against the Bengals, the NFL’s second best rushing defense.
The Chargers are coming off an emotional, last-possession victory over the New York Giants. This Sunday, they look to remain perfect against the NFC East with a victory over the schizophrenic Philadelphia Eagles. With every Denver loss, San Diego climbs closer to the top of the AFC West Standings where most thought they’d be resting comfortably all season. Phillip Rivers has been lights out lately, throwing for 11 touchdowns and 3 interceptions in his last five games. Meanwhile, the Eagles need a win to keep up in their division.
It wasn’t long ago that these two teams were among the NFC’s elite. They combined to win four of five Super Bowls between 1993 and 1997. Unfortunately for fans of both teams, Brett Favre and Troy Aikman are no longer behind center as neither has won a Bowl since. After a shaky 2-2 start, the Cowboys have won four straight. On the other hand, the Packers have lost their last two. At 4-5, this could be an elimination game for Green Bay as another Lambeau loss will make the post-season very tough to reach.
When is a Pats-Colts game not worth watching? Answer…. never. They have accounted for four of the last eight Super Bowls and five of that last seven times these two have played in the regular season, one of them has been undefeated. This time around, it’s Indianapolis. These two are led by the league’s best two quarterbacks, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady who are once again second and third in the league in passing yards. Their two favorite targets, Reggie Wayne and Randy Moss are also top five in receiving yards. This game could eventually decide a home game tiebreak if they meet again in the playoffs, another game that would be worth watching.