John Roberts College Football

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Week Five: Thursday

Viewer's Guide

Which games should you watch this weekend? What games should you be keeping your eyes on during each time period? We've got it all worked out for you.The day is divided into five parts. Some are more unequal than others due to the start time of the games.All times are Eastern. The time periods are early games (start time before 2:00), afternoon (start time from 2:15-5:00), late afternoon (start time from 5:15-7:15), evening (start time from 7:30-9:45), and late night (start time after 10:00). The games are ranked by time period and give you a couple of reasons to watch each game, whether it is questions that need to be answered or something else altogether. The games are the games listed on as the television games for this weekend. Only Saturday games are included.

Let's get it started!

Early Games

1. Texas at Missouri (12:00 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) Vince Young vs. Brad Smith. I know it is easy to say, but these are two of the more athletic quarterbacks in the country. 2) Texas needs to avoid looking ahead to the Oklahoma game if they want next week's game to carry as much weight. 3) This would be a huge boost to the Big Twelve North if Missouri can come up with the upset and prove that the North can compete with the South.

2. Michigan at Michigan State (12:00 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) Last year's triple overtime classic in Ann Arbor was great. Can they possibly top that? 2) Drew Stanton has gone from unknown to a Heisman contender in the matter of two weeks. He will look to keep the early momentum going his way. 3) Can Michigan possibly fall to 2-3? That seemed unthinkable last month at this time, but here it is. It's time to put up or shut up for the Wolverines.

3. Virginia Tech at West Virginia (12:00 ESPN)- 1) After hearing their praises sung from the mountaintop for a week, can the Hokies get back up for a road trip to Morgantown? 2) These are two of the better defenses in the country. Of course, that's what I said last week when Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech played, and look how that turned out. But, West Virginia's defense is vastly underrated and could spark an upset. 3) The Mountaineers have had success in recent years against highly ranked Virginia Tech teams. Can they do it again?

4. Ole Miss at Tennessee (12:30 JP/Gameplan)- 1) The Vols are coming off a dramatic, overtime win on Monday night and trying to play an early game on Saturday. Can they possibly have any energy or focus to put into this game? 2) The Vols offense is in the hands of Rick Clausen now. Will Fulmer have a quick hook again if Clausen struggles this week? 3) Gerald Riggs hasn't gotten his Heisman campaign really going yet. Can he do it against a defense that bottled up DeAngelo Williams?

5. Virginia at Maryland (12:00 JP/Gameplan)- 1) Marques Hagans is one of the more athletic quarterbacks on the East Coast. He's can be a lot of fun to watch. 2) Every week I say it, but I'll say it again. D'Qwell Jackson is a playmaker. 3) This is a key game for Maryland's bowl hopes as they are 2-2 right now. The Cavs are the only unbeaten in the Coastal Division other than Virginia Tech. That makes this an important game in the conference standings.

6. Indiana at Wisconsin (12:00 ESPN2)- 1) Suddenly people are talking about Wisconsin going undefeated. The bandwagon is filling up quick. Time to figure out if you want to be on it or not. 2) The Hoosiers are undefeated as well, but their competition hasn't been that tough. This is a chance to prove that they can compete in the Big Ten this year. The Hoosiers beat the Badgers in a shocker the last time they met. 3) Brian Calhoun is running his way right into the Heisman Trophy discussion. He needs to keep it going to stay there, as one bad game could really hurt his chances.

7. Baylor at Texas A&M (12:30 FSN)- 1) Reggie McNeal is Mr. Do-It-All at quarterback for the Aggies. He is truly a special player. 2) Anybody else remember the Bears stunning win in Waco last year against Texas A&M? The Aggies probably do too. 3) Baylor is off to a 3-0, which is always a positive. They think they might be able to contend for a bowl game this year. A win here would prove that they are serious about getting to one.

8. Illinois at Iowa (12:00 Gameplan)- 1) Where, oh where, could Iowa's offense be? Could it finally show up against an average Illinois defense? 2) Drew Tate needs more protection so he can be more accurate. Illinois doesn't get great pressure on the quarterback. Can Tate finally show us why he was so highly regarded coming into the season? 3) Ron Zook had the Illini playing better until last week's blowout to Michigan State. Can Illinois get up and pull off the improbable upset?

9. Connecticut at Army (12:00 ESPNU)- 1) The Huskies have been competitive so far this year, posting an early 2-1 start. Their defense has only given up 28 points, but all of them came in their last outing against Georgia Tech. 2) Army has a solid quarterback in Zac Dahman that could give the Connecticut defense some trouble. 3) Terry Caulley and Cornell Brockington are the top 1-2 combination of running backs in the country.


1. Florida at Alabama (3:30 CBS)- 1) Chris Leak and the Gators offense need to show what they can do against Alabama's solid defense. 2) Brodie Croyle is one of the more underrated quarterbacks in the country. 3) This could be a preview of the SEC Championship Game.

2. USC at Arizona State (3:30 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) How many yards will Matt Leinart and Sam Keller combine to throw for? How many points will they combine to put up? 2) USC's defense stiffened after early struggles against Oregon. Can they continue that against this explosive Sun Devils offense? 3) The Gameday crew will be there. How fired up will the Arizona State crowd be and will that have any effect at all on USC?

3. Minnesota at Penn State (3:30 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) Laurence Maroney should be on just about everyone's Heisman short list at this point. He'll be going against the best defense he has faced yet this year. 2) Michael Robinson has struggled at times this year, but he really looked like he came into his own last week against Northwestern late in the game. Was that what he needed to finally get over the hump? 3) This is the biggest game in Happy Valley in a couple of years. How jacked up will the crowd be? Will that bother a Minnesota team whose only road game was against Tulsa?

4. Iowa State at Nebraska (3:30 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) Yes, Nebraska is unbeaten, but is anyone impressed by them? Let's go ahead and say the same thing about Iowa State. Other than that win over Iowa, neither team has really beaten anyone of note. 2) Both defenses have stepped it up this year. Which defense will lead to the most points off of turnovers? Whichever team that is wins the game. 3) When will the Corn Coast Offense begin to click for this Nebraska offense? Zac Taylor needs to prove he can run it starting now if the Cornhuskers hope to contend in the Big Twelve.

5. Clemson at Wake Forest (3:30 ESPNU)- 1) The Tigers have played four games that have been decided by a total of 13 points, including two overtime games the last two weeks. So we know this game will be close... 2) Chris Barclay and Micah Andrews have combined to rush for 861 yards already. 3) How good is Charlie Whitehurst? It seems that he is more comfortable this year than he has been at any other time as the Tigers quarterback.

6. LSU at Mississippi State (2:30 Gameplan)- 1) LSU's crushing loss to Tennessee on Monday night in overtime could provide a hangover for LSU in this road test. 2) The Bulldogs didn't look too bad when they hung with Georgia last week. 3) Jerious Norwood is one of the better backs in the SEC. Running the ball hasn't been easy for teams against LSU so far this year. How will Norwood fare?

7. Syracuse at Florida State (3:30 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) If you love defense, you'll love this game. Neither team has shown anything resembling consistency on the offensive side of the ball so far this year, while both have been solid on defense. 2) Drew Weatherford looked like the light went off in the second half against Boston College. He needs to keep the momentum this week against Syracuse. 3) Last year's game in the Carrier Dome was very exciting, with Florida State winning on a late defensive stand. If this game is half that exciting, it'll be worth watching.

8. UNLV at Wyoming (3:00 Gameplan)- 1) The Cowboys are fresh off another win against Ole Miss. They are now 3-1, but must stay focused before next week's big conference battle with TCU. 2) UNLV has played some close games this year. They are the non-BCS conference version of Clemson right now. Can they keep it close against this good bunch of Cowboys? 3) You all know that you want to watch the game in Laramie, just to see what the city looks like.

Late Afternoon

1. Arizona at California (7:00 TBS)- 1) Mike Stoops is looking for a signature win to really get the program rolling. That win over Arizona State last year was nice, but a win over Cal this year would do wonders. 2) Joe Ayoob has been looking more and more comfortable at the quarterback spot for the Bears. 3) Cal could get caught looking ahead to UCLA. They better not, because Arizona has played two very close games in both of their losses.

2. New Mexicto at TCU (7:00 Gameplan)- 1) The Horned Frogs have two very high profile wins so far over Oklahoma and Utah. Even with that, their win over BYU last weekend may have been ever more exciting. 2) New Mexico finally lost last weekend at UTEP, but DonTrell Moore and the Lobos are one of the best team's that no one is talking about. 3) Could these be the two best teams in the Mountain West? Wyoming and Utah (at the very least) could have something to say about that, but these teams are close to the top if nothing else.

3. South Carolina at Auburn (7:00 ESPN2)- 1) Steve Spurrier really wants to prove that the performance against Alabama was a fluke, and that the real Gamecocks are the ones who showed up against Georgia and nearly shocked the world. 2) Brandon Cox and Auburn's offense has been rolling lately. The tune-ups are over. It's time to play. 3) Auburn is hoping to make a splash in the West, whereas a loss by South Carolina will really put them behind the eight ball in terms of getting to fourth in the East. Tennessee is 1-1 right now, Florida 2-0, Georgia 2-0, and Vanderbilt 2-0. With South Carolina already 0-2, fourth could be looking like a distant dream with another loss.

4. Middle Tennessee at Vanderbilt (7:00 Gameplan)- 1) Yes, folks. Vanderbilt is gunning for a 5-0 start. How many people have seen them play? This is a great opportunity to see them before the huge LSU game next weekend. 2) Jay Cutler really might be the best quarterback in the SEC. 3) So far, the Blue Raiders defense has been solid. They hung tough against Alabama. They've beaten Vanderbilt the last two times they played them. Should this game be an upset alert?

5. Kansas State at Oklahoma (7:00 FSN)- 1) Is Adrian Peterson frustrated? Of course he is. Is he about to walk off the team? Probably not, but the reports that he was better not have gotten in the way of his preparation. 2) Thomas Clayton was arrested this past week. The star running back for Kansas State will be playing in spite of the charges (which he denies vehemently). How focused will he be? Should he even be playing? 3) This rematch of the 2003 Big Twelve Championship Game is a key game to both teams. The Wildcats are 3-0, but have not built any believers based on their performance so far. Oklahoma is 1-2 and have looked awful. The Sooners need to start looking better to be ready for Texas next week, while the Wildcats could really prove just how good they are with a win.

6. Nevada at San Jose State (7:00 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) Nevada quarterback Jeff Rowe is an underrated talent. 2) The quarterback controversy is getting kind of heated at SJSU. Adam Tafralis and Chad Bozzo both performed poorly against San Diego State. P.J. Greco came in and did well, but is not expected to be a major player in this game. 3) Hard to believe this match-up of 1-2 teams from the WAC is the reason that some people will not get to see Missouri-Texas or Michigan-Michigan State. What to know why? Then I guess we'll all have to find out together when we watch.


1. Notre Dame at Purdue (7:45 ESPN)- 1) Talk about potential for an offensive shootout! Brady Quinn and the Irish go up against Brandon Kirsch and the Boilermakers. This ought to be fun. 2) The Boilermakers absolutely embarrassed the Irish a year ago. The Irish would really like to get revenge. 3) Notre Dame is undefeated at 3-0 on the road this year. Can they run that mark to 4-0?

2. South Florida at Miami (8:00 ESPNU)- 1) Is Miami going to possibly become known as the fourth best team in Florida? They already lost to Florida State and trail Florida in the polls. A loss to USF would doom them to fourth in the state. 2) South Florida's stunning win against Louisville established them as contenders in the Big East. Andre Hall is a very talented back and Ben Moffitt is quickly gaining recognition for his work at linebacker. This team is solid. 3) Kyle Wright doesn't look quite right yet. He needs to start putting it together before the meat of ACC play begins.

3. UTEP at Memphis (8:00 CSTV)- 1) Yep, that's the Miners...still undefeated. The offense is sound, the defense is sound. This team is a good all around team. 2) Memphis is off to a very disappointing 1-2 start and could really use a win to stay alive in the C-USA title chase (0-1 at the moment). 3) Jordan Palmer may be overrated, but DeAngelo Williams is not. These are two of the better known players from non-BCS teams. It ought to be quite a show.

Late Night

1. Washington at UCLA (10:15 FSN Regional)- 1) Could UCLA be looking ahead to their huge showdown with Cal next week? They better not. Washington has shown the ability to stay in games for a half so far this year. If they can put two halves together, they may be able to stun the Bruins. 2) Washington is 1-3, but they are getting a little bit better every week. That needs to continue, because their future schedule looks like a bunch of games they shouldn't win. 3) Maurice Drew is trying to prove that Reggie Bush isn't the only all purpose player in town.

2. Boise State at Hawaii (12:05 Midnight Gameplan)- 1) Hawaii's offense hasn't looked great so far, but you can count on it to start rolling soon. 2) Boise State rolled up huge numbers last week at home. This week, they go back on the road, where they have struggled this year so far. Hawaii always does well at home. Oh, that wacky WAC! 3) All of Hawaii's toughest conference games are at home this year, with both Boise and Fresno coming to Honolulu. Can the Warriors win the conference title? Knock off the co-favorites and people would start talking!

3. BYU at San Diego State (10:00 ESPN Classic/Gameplan)- 1) The good ole days of BYU football were alive and well last week as the Cougars lost to TCU 51-50. If this game is half as exciting as that one, you should stay up until 2:00 AM (Eastern...or heck, if it's on replay on the West Coast later) watching it. 2) At 1-3, San Diego State appears to be down. But they have played well the last two weeks, hanging tough with Ohio State and beating San Jose State. Kevin O'Connell has been playing well at quarterback. Has the whole team turned a corner? 3) Todd Watkins might just be the best wide receiver in the country. He is a real treat to watch make big play after big play.

One Liners
Incredibly fast preview of tonight's games.

Air Force at Colorado State- Very interesting game for these two rivals. Both have explosive offenses and questionable defenses. For a full preview, click here.

Quick Recap of Wednesday's Games
Very quick recap of last night's games.

Miami, OH 44, Cincinnati 16- The RedHawks were dominant in every facet of the game. The Bearcats look like they have a lot of work to do before they can contend in the Big East. At 2-2, next week's game at Pittsburgh will tell us all a lot more about the Bearcats. For Miami, next week's game at Northern Illinois will say whether this was a huge step forward, or just a momentary escape from a nosedive season.


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