This weekend is college football’s calm before the storm, so if you need to get some yard work done, this is the weekend to do it. Unless of course, you’re a Michigan or Ohio State fan. The three kings, Florida, Alabama and Texas, all have two regular season games, then a conference championship to determine who will play for the BCS title. This week, those three are such huge favorites against Florida International, Kansas and UT-Chattanooga that Las Vegas doesn’t even have a point spread in the ‘Bama-UTC game. Perhaps the Mocs are hoping Terrell Owens will once again suit up for his alma mater. The Buffalo Bills might secretly be hoping the same thing. In the NFL, Super Bowl contenders are starting to separate themselves from the early draftees, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a few choice matchups to watch. One includes an undefeated team as a road underdog and two other conference games that could determine who gets into the playoffs and who stays out.
Let’s face it. A Rose Bowl berth doesn’t mean anything to Ohio State if they don’t beat their arch rival. Losses in this series get coaches fired. Just ask John Cooper. (I probably just lost three Buckeyes readers for merely mentioning Cooper’s name.) Speaking from personal experience, the only thing more enjoyable than watching college football’s most storied rivalry with a drunken Buckeye fan is hearing him or her explain in excruciating detail how this is college football’s most storied rivalry. So they have that going for them… which is nice. Whoops, just lost three more Buckeye readers. Michigan is 1-6 in the Big Ten this year and Jimmy T has never lost to Michigan, so the Buckeyes have nothing to worry about this year, right?
Imagine a Rose Bowl without USC. Well, we’re about to see it. All Oregon has to do is win on the road this weekend and they’ll make it to their first Rose Bowl in fourteen years. Simple enough, right? They’re opponent this week also has Rose Bowl aspirations, albeit much slimmer. The Arizona Wildcats can still get to Pasadena by winning their final three games, but they must first find a way to stop the nation’s sixth best rushing offense. Freshman running back LaMichael James, the best running back you’ve never heard of, continues to prove Oregon’s ground game is safe for years to come. He’s amassed 1200 yards on 7 yards a carry this season and is averaging over 150 rushing yards per game in his last five.
The undefeated Colts are probably still scratching their heads over Bill Belichick’s controversial, fourth-and-two decision that gave them the ball back with two minutes to play and twenty-nine yards to pay dirt. This week, they’re a small road favorite against Baltimore, who had been struggling until beating the Cleveland Browns, who you can always count to get any team out of a slump. Amazingly enough, the Ravens opened up as two point favorites in this game. Odds makers must have moved the line to Indy minus one when they realized Bill Belichick doesn’t coach Baltimore. With Cincinnati starting to pull away in the AFC North, the Ravens are likely looking at a wild card spot, meaning every win counts. This week they’ll have to do it against Robocop. Peyton Manning has been unconscious lately. He now leads the league in passing yardage, completion percentage and touchdown passes. Kind of explains why Indianapolis is still undefeated.
One of these teams is in big trouble. In fact, they both might be. With both Atlanta and New York resting uncomfortably at 5-4, the winner of this game will hold a crucial tie break in the NFC Wild Card race. Although the Giants aren’t out of contention in the NFC East, their four game losing streak is disturbing. They’re allowing a very un-Giant-like 33 points per game over that stretch. The Falcons haven’t fared much better lately losing three of their last four. This game comes at a good time for both teams, or at least for one of them. Losing might not mean elimination but it’s a big step in that direction.
What a difference a month makes. Four weeks ago, Denver was the surprise team of the league at 6-0 and the Chargers were labeled as underachievers at 2-3. After a reversal of fortune, the two teams square off on Sunday with the same record and the AFC West at stake. San Diego lost earlier this year to Denver despite Philip Rivers throwing for 274 yards in the game. But this appears to be a different Mr. Rivers who has thrown for 9 touchdowns and 3 interceptions since that loss. Meanwhile, Kyle Orton’s status for this game is still uncertain.