Week Seven: Thursday
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 CollegeFootballNews.com as the television games for this weekend. Only Saturday games are included.
Let's get it started!
1. Michigan State at Ohio State (12:00 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) Drew Stanton and the explosive Spartans offense will be battling a very talented A.J. Hawk and Ohio State's dominant defense. This should be an entertaining battle. 2) This looks like the type of defense that Ted Ginn Jr. and Troy Smith could have a big game against. 3) The Spartans are looking to show that they are for real. Ohio State is looking to stay alive in the Big Ten title race. This is a huge game to the Big Ten.
2. Kansas State at Texas Tech (12:00 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) Cody Hodges and a great Texas Tech offense will be looking to prove themselves in front of a live television audience that is desperately trying to figure out just how good the Red Raiders are. 2) The Wildcats are 4-1, but are popularly considered a major pretender. A win against the Red Raiders would go a long way to prove that they are for real. 3) Kansas State's defense stepped up last week against Kansas. They better do it again, because the Red Raiders will hang 70 on the Wildcats if they can.
3. Wisconsin at Minnesota (12:00 ESPN)- 1) The Badgers were upset last week by Northwestern because they couldn't slow down Tyrell Sutton and the Wildcats running game. Hello, Laurence Maroney. 2) Brian Calhoun is still a very good running back. John Stocco is making more plays offensively than he has made in his career at Wisconsin. This offense has finally gelled. 3) Both teams have a conference loss. That alone is not enough to knock them out of the title chase. A win in this game puts the winner right back in the race for the BCS bowl bid.
4. Alabama at Mississippi (12:00 CBS)- 1) Ed Orgeron would love for his team to get that defining home win to kick start his time in Oxford. Alabama could be ripe for the picking. 2) Brodie Croyle begins his life after Tyrone Prothro. Croyle is a great quarterback and has a chance to sneak into the Heisman Trophy discussion with some big games down the stretch, but will he suffer without his biggest playmaker? 3) Alabama is back on national TV. Next weeks game against Tennessee has to be in the back of their minds. A poor performance, even in a win, against Ole Miss could be damaging if they want to get to the Rose Bowl.
5. Wake Forest and Boston College (12:00 JP/Gameplan)- 1) Talk about a strange game. Wake Forest has looked much better lately. Boston College has looked OK all year. This game is big for both teams. Wake needs it to keep up bowl hopes and BC needs it to keep up ACC Championship hopes (which grow dimmer with each Florida State win). 2) Cory Randolph is an exciting quarterback, and he did a good job against Florida State's defense. Can he do the same against Boston College's solid defense? 3) The BC passing game should match up well with Wake Forest. Quinton Porter should have a very nice day for the Eagles.
6. Northwestern at Purdue (12:00 ESPN2)- 1) That Wildcats offense is explosive. Brett Basanez? Tyrell Sutton? Both should have incredible games against a very shaky Purdue defense. 2) Brandon Kirsch can also be expected to explode against a very questionable Northwestern defense. 3) Northwestern can hold out dreams for a Big Ten championship season, but they probably need to win out to have any chance of it happening. That's a tall order. Purdue's hopes for a good bowl game mean that they must win now as well.
7. Colorado State at BYU (2:00 Gameplan)- 1) The Rams win against Utah last week announced to anyone who was paying attention that Colorado State plans on being in the hunt for the Mountain West title. With Wyoming followed by trips to New Mexico and TCU coming up the next three weeks after this one, this game becomes a huge trap game for the Rams. 2) Justin Holland is a talented quarterback that is finally getting some support from the running game of the Rame. 3) BYU's stirring come from behind win against New Mexico has them hoping for the Mountain West title as well. John Beck has won the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week two of the last three weeks.
8. Indiana at Iowa (12:00 Gameplan)- 1) Do the Hawkeyes ever lose at home? Do they ever lose after their beginning of the year struggles? 2) The Hoosiers really need to pull off an upset to keep their early season momentum going in the right direction. (By the way, who would have guessed before the season that the Hoosiers (4-1) would have a better record than the Hawkeyes (3-2) heading into this game?) 3) Blake Powers has come as the Hoosiers quarterback and really played well so far this year. He may just be this year's Drew Tate of the Big Ten (a sophomore quarterback that soars onto the scene).
9. Rutgers at Syracuse (12:00 Gameplan)- 1) That solid Syracuse defense goes against a pretty good Rutgers offense. Ryan Hart, Tres Moses and Brian Lonard still are explosive, but the Orange defense has been tough. 2) At 1-1 in conference play, Rutgers needs a win to keep alive their hopes for a Big East title. 3) Damien Rhodes has been slowed down this year for the Orange, but he still is an explosive running back.
10. Miami, FL at Temple (1:00 FSN)- 1) Will the Owls start playing better now that Bobby Wallace will be gone at the end of the year? Will they try to win some games for their outgoing coach? 2) Just how many points can the 'Canes put up on Temple? It seems like every week someone else is hanging 60 on them. Kyle Wright has to be licking his chops to get a run at this defense. 3) Temple seems to come up with one game every year that they hang around in far longer than they should. Will this be that game this year?
11. UNLV at Air Force (2:00 Gameplan)- 1) Shaun Carney is a very good quarterback for the Falcons and he makes the whole team fun to watch. 2) Can UNLV keep the momentum of last week's win going? 3) If Air Force really thinks they can get to a bowl game, they had better win this game. Plus, UNLV has played a lot of close games this year, which ought to make this one entertaining.
12. Kent State at Navy (1:30 CSTV)- 1) Navy needs a win to stay on track for another bowl bid. 2) Navy won a great game against Air Force last week. Can they keep the momentum going? 3) The Flashes are lead by a passing game that has been very explosive at times this year. They've come up just short on a couple of second half comebacks the last two weeks and would love to win and start setting things right.
1. USC at Notre Dame (3:30 NBC)- 1) You know you want to see if there is some magic left on that magical Notre Dame field. Notre Dame tends to win home games like this when they are "back." This could be the determining factor. 2) Notre Dame's defense has been suspect, which is not good when you have to slow down Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, and LenDale White. 3) The Irish have had two weeks to prepare. With how good Brady Quinn has been this year, how will he perform against a somewhat questionable USC defense?
2. Florida at LSU (3:30 CBS)- 1) This is virtually an elimination game in the SEC title race. The loser will have two conference losses, which will likely put them two games behind the leader in their division. 2) Chris Leak going against the highly suspect LSU pass defense could make for a very interesting game. 3) How will Florida do on the road? That loss at Alabama was their first real road test. How will LSU handle playing their first home game since the debacle against Tennessee a couple of weeks ago?
3. Colorado at Texas (3:30 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) Joel Klatt is highly underrated around the country as the Buffaloes quarterback. 2) The Longhorns have been on upset alert for weeks now. At some point, do they become numb to that and actually let a team like Colorado hang around with them? 3) Vince Young is one of the Heisman Trophy favorites right now. He needs to keep it up against a pretty good Buffaloes defense.
4. Penn State at Michigan (3:30 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) So, wait a minute. Penn State is unbeaten and in the Top Ten. Michigan has three losses and is out of the Top 25. Yet, the Wolverines are the favorite? Weird. 2) Mike Hart and the Wolverines offense will be going against the ultra-talented Penn State defense. 3) Michael Robinson has slowly developed into a quarterback that opponents in the Big Ten do not want to face.
5. Louisville at West Virginia (3:30 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) While South Florida and Connecticut may have something to say about it, this game appears to be the Big East Championship Game. 2) How will the Cardinals perform on the road? They barely got past a bad Kentucky team in their first road game and then got plastered by South Florida in their second road game. 3) Brian Brohm and Michael Bush against a very very good West Virginia defense. That ought to be fun.
6. New Mexico at Wyoming (3:00 Gameplan)- 1) Suddenly, the Lobos are 3-3 with two conference losses. They still are one of the more dangerous non-BCS teams out there. 2) The Cowboys got beat by Florida and were handled surprisingly easily by TCU at home. To keep their conference title hopes alive, they really need to win this game. 3) DonTrell Moore is one of the more underrated running backs in the country.
7. Oregon State at California (3:30 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) The Beavers have looked awful in their one road game so far this year. At some point, they are going to need to win a road game or two if they are going to get to a bowl game. 2) Cal is coming off a very disheartening loss to UCLA. Still Joe Ayoob and Marshawn Lynch showed how explosive this offense can be. Against an average Oregon State defense, that ought to make for a lot of yards and a lot of points. 3) Both teams still hold dreams of a Pac Ten championship. With no USC on Oregon State's schedule, they can harbor dreams of 7-1 in the Pac Ten. With only one really tough road game remaining (against Oregon), California can hope for 7-1 in the Pac Ten...and the tiebreaker over USC with a head-to-head win. Neither team is out of it yet.
8. Memphis at Houston (5:00 CSTV)- 1) The Cougars and Tigers are both right in the thick of their Conference USA division races. Houston is 3-2 and 2-1 in conference play. All they need is a little bit of help from someone else knocking off UTEP and they are in control of their own destiny. 2) Kevin Kolb and the Houston offense is explosive. If you haven't watched Houston's offense, you're missing out. 3) DeAngelo Williams is Memphis' offense and is explosive all by himself. If you haven't watched Williams play, you're missing out.
9. Georgia Tech at Duke (3:30 ESPNU)- 1) Oh! So this is when Duke almost always seems to jump up and bite somebody! The Yellow Jackets are still reeling from a tough loss against North Carolina State. Duke loves to catch teams that aren't focused. Are the Yellow Jackets focused? 2) P.J. Daniels is one of the better running backs in the ACC. 3) Now, Reggie Ball had an awful game against NC State. That means that this week he is going to explode. Thus is life with Reggie Ball.
10. UAB at Marshall (5:00 i/PAX)- 1) UAB needs a win to get back on track in their race for the Conference USA East Division title. Marshall isn't out of the race yet either, with only one confernce loss. This could be an elimination game in the race. 2) Darrell Hackney is one of the better quarterbacks in the country. He doesn't get a lot of respect nationally, but he deserves more. 3) Marshall played well against Kansas State and hung with Virginia Tech for a half. Maybe the Thundering Herd are better than we all think.
11. Troy at Lousiana-Monroe (3:30 Gameplan)- 1) Sun Belt! Sun Belt! Sun Belt! Oh that crazy Sun Belt is so much fun! This is a match-up of the two remaining teams in the conference that haven't lost a conference game yet. New Orleans Bowl to the winner? 2) Troy's offense, particularly passing the ball, has struggled mightily. What happens if ULM jumps out to an early lead? 3) As strange as it seems, Steven Jyles is a better player than he gets credit for. Jyles is a pretty good quarterback and may find some success against the stout Troy defense.
1. UCLA at Washington State (6:00 FSN)- 1) It's a trap! It's a trap! The Bruins are coming off a very emotional win over California to announce their presence on a national scale. The Cougars are coming off back-to-back disappointing losses. This game is ripe for an upset. 2) If Maurice Drew has another huge game, does he get himself into Heisman consideration? 3) That Washington State offense is explosive. Jerome Harrison and Jason Hill are both great weapons. They should be able to score some points on UCLA's very questionable defense.
2. Georgia at Vanderbilt (7:15 ESPN2)- 1) As strange as this sounds, by the time this game starts (if LSU beats Florida), the winner of this game will have the lead in the SEC East. 2) D.J. Shockley and the Georgia offense has been wildly inconsistent this year. They looked pretty good against Tennessee last week. Do they take this weekend off? 3) Surely Jay Cutler can't have back-to-back games that are THAT bad.
3.Oklahoma at Kansas (7:00 TBS)- 1) The Sooners offense looks like it is coming around little by little. Rhett Bomar looks like a pretty good quarterback. He'll need to against a stout Kansas defense. 2) If the Jayhawks have any intention of getting to a bowl game or winning the North Division, they have to start winning now. This is about as close to a must win game as you get in a situation this early in the year for a team like Kansas. 3) The Sooners are not used to losing. At 2-3, the pressure cooker is getting going in Norman. Can they turn things around?
4. San Diego State at Utah (7:00 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) The Utes suddenly have lost three out of their last four games. The MWC title chance seems to be long gone. But getting back to a bowl game and building for next year are still a possibility for this team. They need a win to get back on track. 2) The Aztecs took a major step back in their race for an bowl game in last week's loss to UNLV. At 2-4, a loss to Utah could all but eliminate them from that race. 3) Kevin O'Connell has been wildly inconsistent as the Aztecs quarterback. Can he be "on" this week against the Utes?
1. Florida State at Virginia (7:45 ESPN)- 1) The Cavaliers really need to come up with some sort of "signature win" to really announce that they have arrived under Al Groh. They struggled against Miami, Florida State, and Virginia Tech last year. They didn't look particularly good against Boston College last week. Can they finally come up with a good performance on a big stage against Florida State? 2) The 'Noles offense has been getting better and better behind Drew Weatherford the last several weeks. Can he keep it up against a pretty good Virginia defense? 3) The Cavs Marques Hagans is a playmaker. Can he make enough plays against the best defense he has faced this year?
2. San Jose State at Boise State (8:05 Gameplan)- 1) This is a great offense for Boise State, particularly when they get to play at home on the blue turf. Sure, they struggled with Portland State. That could only motivate them more. 2) The Spartans offense is iffy at best. They need to gear it up against Boise State or else they will get run off the field. 3) We all really want to watch Boise State to try to figure out how they will fare against Fresno State on November 12 in the WAC Game of the Year.
1. New Mexico State at Hawaii (12:00 Gameplan)- 1) Hal Mumme vs. June Jones. Now this game should feature some offense! 2) Hawaii is off to a bad start, but they always play well on the island, as evidenced by their 44-41 nailbiter against Boise State a couple of weeks ago. 3) New Mexico State could use some momentum to get their season rolling. Playing teams like Fresno State, California, and Colorado to start off the year would make any season get off to a slow start.
Very quick previews of tonight's games.
Clemson at North Carolina State (7:30 ESPN)- Clemson started off hot, but has run into problems lately. The Wolfpack saved their season against Georgia Tech last Thursday night. The Pack try to keep their ACC title hopes alive against the Tigers.
Louisiana-Lafayette at Arkansas State (7:30 ESPNU)- Michael Desormeaux is the Ragin' Cajuns quarterback. He struggled last week against Florida Atlantic, and things might not get any better against this darkhorse in the Sun Belt race.
For the full Thursday Night Throwdown, click here.