The greatest single season collapse in college football history, a potential pair of upsets with the top three teams, and USC looking to get some revenge on the team that kept them out of Miami last year. This may be one of the more interesting weekends in college football this year, so grab the remote, start neglecting your children, and get ready for five must-watch games this Saturday.
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South Florida at (20) Pittsburgh
The Big East, which contrary to popular belief is, in fact, a BCS Conference – has been filled with a surprising amount of quality football and national intrigue this season. With Cincinnati holding the college football world hostage as a potential national title contender (because everyone wants to see Florida roll over the Bearcats 49-0 while a one-loss USC team embarrasses Iowa in the Rose Bowl), the Big “Least” is starting to become a relevant conference and less like the fat kid that the BCS was forced to invite to its birthday party because their parents are friends. In this particular matchup, the Panthers’ freshman running back Dion Lewis, who may make his way onto the Heisman ballot, will battle a South Florida team that still has dreams of a conference title. If Pittsburgh can win this game, it sets up a showdown for the Big East crown against Cincinnati in the final week of the season, making this game a particularly important one in the national landscape. And as always, Dave Wannstedt’s moustache is worth the price of admission.
Prediction: Pittsburgh gets it done with yet another explosive performance by Dion Lewis and wins 27-17
(3) Texas at Missouri
After successfully injuring the opposing quarterback and letting Bob Stoops lose the game thanks to his patented brand of “choking,” the Texas Longhorns were able to stay undefeated last week by defeating their rival Oklahoma Sooners in a Cotton Bowl showdown. Great game, huge celebration, but not an exceptional demonstration by the Longhorns’ offense. They were unable to move the ball consistently all game, and may struggle to do so again while playing in front of a raucous Mizzou crowd and underrated Tigers’ defense. Heisman Hopeful Colt McCoy (who still leads all Big 12 quarterbacks in midgame girlfriend camera shots), has been a tad on the disappointing side this season and may get rattled. This is the first of a difficult back-to-back stretch against the Missouri and Oklahoma State, and so far Mack Brown and company don’t look ready to dominate either opponent.
Prediction: Texas goes down early, but ends up pulling one out with a 34-24 win.
Tennessee at (2) Alabama
Lane Kiffin is either going to win this game, or get humiliated by Nick Saban in a shutout loss. Either way, the real winners here are the fans. And for those thinking that latter is a tad more likely, clearly you haven’t seen the Jekyll-Hyde performances that Alabama has been phoning in lately. They have effectively eliminated their passing game, are unable to utilize Julio Jones, and are relying so heavily on Heisman frontrunner Mark Ingram that the Volunteers may end up putting 10 men in the box. Kiffin said he was going to make some noise this year (not just in the press room) and he clearly knows how to slow down top teams as evidence by his close battle with the defending champion Florida Gators.
Prediction: Alabama wins a very close game 20-17 and gets a serious scare at home.
Oklahoma at (25) Kansas
Let’s put something into perspective here. Oklahoma entered this season as the number three team in the country, with the reigning Heisman Trophy winner starting at quarterback and a national title appearance nine months in their rearview mirror. Fast-forward a few weeks and Sam Bradford has become a cautionary tale of why staying in school is a horrible idea, their starting tight end (Jermaine Gresham – who also opted out of becoming a first round NFL draft pick in order to return to school) is out for the season, they just lost yet another game to their rivals, and are in jeopardy of going 3-4. This may be the single greatest meltdown in college football history, and the fact that Bob Stoops is driving the trainwreck makes things that much better. If the Sooners fall against a very talented Jayhawks team, this could lead to a series of “Don’t Stay in School” promotional ads around the Norman area and serious consideration as to whether or not Stoops' reign in Norman starts picking up Bobby Bowden-type momentum.
Prediction: Kansas pulls off the upset and wins this one with a 31-28 win.
Oregon State at (7) USC
It’s about that time of the year again when Pete Carroll starts complaining about how his one-loss Trojans are going to get shut out of the championship game simply because they were defeated by a team that couldn’t defeat Arizona State. (And trust me, as an ASU alum and inventor of the Danny Sullivan turnover drinking game – Washington proved their mediocrity when they couldn’t shut down a guy who gets intercepted on his walk to class.) But this week, with a few upsets brewing with the teams in front of them, USC will need to make a statement after narrowly beating Notre Dame last Saturday on Irish Football Television – or as most people know it, NBC. Only problem is, Oregon State is a very good football team that beat the Trojans last year. They’re fast, disciplined, and well-coached – pretty much like USC.
Prediction: USC decides to finally hit their potential and win big 41-21.