Last week, college football fans saw four top ten teams (Ole Miss, Penn State, Cal and Miami) lose in disheartening fashion. While the upsets this weekend will likely not be as poll-shattering, Saturday’s slate features three crucial contests between ranked teams that will continue to add pieces to the puzzle that is college football. Likewise, the NFL features several intriguing matchups, including a grizzled veteran facing his former team for the first time and the league’s best offense squaring off against one of the best defenses. If you only get regional coverage, this is definitely a Sunday where you’ll want to visit your local sports pub to catch the action.
Freshman quarterback Tate Forcier is quickly becoming the most popular kid in Michigan. The only thing that could make him more popular would be bailing out the state’s failing automobile industry. Forcier added to his growing Wolverine legend by staging another last minute comeback, this time against Indiana, but he injured his shoulder in the process. According to coach Rich Rodriguez, Forcier should be ready to go by game time. This will be Michigan’s first road game of the season and the first time Rodriguez will visit East Lansing as Wolverine head coach. Michigan State (1-3) has struggled so far this season but has only lost its three games by a combined thirteen points. Michigan best not be caught looking past the Spartans to next weekend’s difficult road test at Iowa.
Les Miles’ Louisiana State Tigers have once again climbed back into the Top 5. They are undefeated despite a scare in Starkville last week where they were one unsuccessful goal line stand away from becoming the fifth top ten team to tumble. This week, Georgia awaits between the hedges with the hopes of remaining undefeated in conference play. This game will be a tune up for both teams who have huge rivalry games in seven days, LSU hosting Florida and Georgia traveling to Tennessee. LSU is the highest ranked team to visit Athens in 14 years. Georgia beat LSU in Baton Rouge 52-38 last year but both Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno have left for the NFL and Georgia’s 2009 defense ranks near the bottom of the SEC.
This game was circled on everyone’s calendar as soon as Sam Bradford went down with a shoulder injury one month ago. Coach Bob Stoops has named Landry Jones as the Sooners’ starter, claiming Bradford will not even dress. Jones is no Heisman trophy winner but he’s no slouch either. Either way, Oklahoma’s defense, which has only allowed 14 points all season, might be enough to get them a win. Miami, who is coming off a staggering defeat to Virginia Tech, is hoping not to make it two in a row in this huge, mid-season, non-conference game for both teams. Oklahoma has hardly been tested in its last two games beating both Idaho State and Tulsa by a combined 109-0. Miami should pose a little more of a challenge. It will be interesting to see how Miami’s Jacory Harris responds after the defeat in Blacksburg. With Oklahoma already having lost a game and still having to play Texas later this season, a Miami victory in this game could conceivably affect the national championship picture, keeping Oklahoma out of it.
After getting crushed by Oregon last week, Cal free fell from 6th in the nation to 24th. Their reward? They welcome in the seventh-ranked Trojans to Memorial Stadium. Both teams already have a conference loss. Another will knock the loser out of national championship contention. After rushing for five touchdowns and 131 yards against Minnesota, Jahvid Best was held to only 55 yards and no points in the 42-3 loss to Oregon. To make matters worse, USC held Best to only 30 yards rushing in their last meeting. Cal cannot win this game unless they get their ground game going. USC will have heavy hearts as their senior running back, Stafon Johnson, was critically injured in the weight room this week when a bar fell on his throat, crushing his neck and larynx. After seven hours of reconstructive surgery, Johnson is eventually expected to make a full recovery, but a motivated and inspired USC team is a scary thought.
Who would have ever thought we’d see the day that the Baltimore Ravens are only 1 ½ point underdogs in Foxboro Stadium. Teams generally get a standard three points just for home field advantage, which tells us that Las Vegas thinks the Ravens are the better team. Let that sink in for a bit. I know the Ravens are undefeated, have a hot young quarterback in Joe Flacco and the Pats are in a bit of disarray but still, are we supposed to believe the Ravens are better? Their record indicates they are. The Patriots likely cannot afford to go 2-2 in an AFC where no team has looked like world beaters.
Mark Sanchez. Drew Brees. Rex Ryan. Sean Payton. The league’s most prolific offense against the league’s second best defense. The Saints offense has looked like a video game to date. Furthermore, Jonathan Vilma faces his former team. Don’t think he won’t want to make his presence felt in the Superdome. Most already believe the Saints are Super Bowl contenders but if the Jets pull off the upset, is it too early to think they’re not legitimate contenders as well?
Let’s be honest. It’s Monday Night Football and you’d be watching anyway but Brett Favre going against the Packers for the first time? Can you say butterflies? This might be one of the most watched games in MNF history. After Favre’s last second, miracle touchdown pass to Greg Lewis, the Minnesota Vikings are flying sky-high and more importantly, are undefeated. Players are downplaying this game as “just another football game.” I’m not buying it. Only Favre knows for sure how badly he wants to prove that Green Bay made a mistake by not re-signing him two years ago, but most of us can safely assume it’s off the charts. With a victory, Brett Favre will become the only quarterback in NFL history to have beaten all 32 NFL teams. As if his resume weren’t already impressive.