John Roberts College Football

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Week Six: 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. Oklahoma vs. Texas (Dallas, TX) (1:00 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) Vince Young has a chance in a showcase game to show everyone why he deserves the Heisman Trophy. Oklahoma's defense has stuffed him in the past. 2) Adrian Peterson has a chance to jump right back into the Heisman race with a big game against the stingy Longhorns defense. 3) Oklahoma always beats Texas. But Texas is clearly the better team right now. Is this the year the streak finally ends?

2. Virginia at Boston College (1:00 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) This is a key game for both teams to prove where they stand. Both already have one conference loss and cannot afford another one if they hope to stick around in the conference title race. 2) Marques Hagans is an exciting quarterback, but what will he do against the best defense he has seen yet this year. 3) The Eagles need to find some consistency on offense. Virginia's defense has made opposing offenses look a lot better than they should so far this year.

3. Minnesota at Michigan (1:00 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) Laurence Maroney's Heisman chances are on life support after last week's horrific performance at Penn State. He must have a big game against Michigan to have any shot at the hardware. 2) How important is Mike Hart to Chad Henne? Maybe more important than we realized. Will they be able to continue the offensive resurgence that began last week against a team that got shredded by Penn State a week ago? 3) This is Texas-Oklahoma lite. Minnesota never beats Michigan, and they've lost in pretty remarkable fashion sometimes. This year, both teams are roughly equal right now. Can the Gophers finally find a way in Ann Arbor?

4. Marshall at Virginia Tech (12:00 ESPN2)- 1) How bad is Marshall? Maybe not as bad as people seem to think they are. Remember, they were one play away from being 3-1 when they played Kansas State. Can they come up with another highlight reel performance against the Hokies? 2) Marcus Vick ticked off some West Virginia fans last weekend with his antics last weekend (inappropriate gesture, throwing the ball at a defender, elbowing a coach on the sideline). Yet, his play has inserted him into the Heisman discussion. How will he play this week now that people are really paying attention to his every move? 3) Virginia Tech will be playing at roughly the same time as Texas for the second straight week. Yet again, this is an opportunity to prove that they deserve the #2 rank over the Longhorns.

5. Wisconsin at Northwestern (12:00 ESPN)- 1) Here come the Badgers again. Last year, they tempted us early in the year, starting 9-0 before collapsing down the stretch. With Northwestern, Minnesota, Purdue, and Illinois ahead on the schedule to get to 9-0, they could do it yet again. Are they capable of staying focused in a road game against a good offense? 2) The Wildcats offense is lead by Brett Basanez. They should be able to score some points and keep this one interesting. 3) Wisconsin is lead by Brian Calhoun. He runs the ball very well, and John Stocco has been no slouch passing the ball. They lit up Temple like a Christmas tree, and Northwestern's defense has not looked all that impressive so far this year.

6. Wake Forest at Florida State (12:00 JP/Gameplan)- 1) And here come the Demon Deacons. Wake Forest is making their annual midseason push towards making all of us believers in them again after their upset of Clemson last week. Can they make it two Bowdens in two weeks? 2) Florida State is still searching for some consistency on offense. Will Drew Weatherford, along with what was supposed to be a superb running attack, get it together this week? 3) Florida State is looking for a statement game. It's hard to find one on their schedule. The trip to Virginia next week is their toughest road game until Clemson and Florida wrap up the season. Could the 'Noles be looking past Wake Forest?

7. Kansas at Kansas State (12:00 FSN)- 1) This is an in-state rivalry that doesn't get a lot of pub, but is a pretty good game. Kansas beat Kansas State for the first time in 11 years last year. Can they make it two in a row? 2) After both teams lost for the first time all year last week, they both have their backs against the wall this week. A loss will put either team at a severe disadvantage in the Big Twelve North Division. 3) Charles Gordon and Nick Reid lead one of the best defenses in the Big Twelve. Will they slow down what has been an average Kansas State offense so far?

8. Mississippi State at Florida (12:30 JP/Gameplan)- 1) The Gators have been roundly busted on this week by many members of the media after last week's 31-3 debacle at Alabama. They will be looking to show what kind of team they really are this week. 2) Last year, Mississippi State stunned Florida in a game that gave some momentum to Sylvester Croom. They'll be looking to make it two in a row against the mighty Gators. 3) When will Chris Leak start to look comfortable in this offense?

9. Air Force at Navy (1:30 CSTV)- 1) Few things can top a game between two of the service academies. These games are always hard fought. 2) Shaun Carney has been great at quarterback for the Falcons. The question is, can Navy's undersized defense slow them down? 3) Can Air Force's defense, which has been pushed around the last couple of weeks, hope to slow down Navy's strong attack?

10. Central Michigan at Army (1:00 ESPN Classic)- 1) 0-4 is 0-4, but Army and Bobby Ross are clearly making steps forward this year. A win over Central Michigan would be another step forward. 2) Jerry Seymour is a good back for the Chippewas. How will he fare against a hard hitting Army defense? 3) Zac Dahman is still an underrated quarterback for the Black Knights.


1. Georgia at Tennessee (3:30 CBS)- 1) In the world of SEC East football, this game is huge. If Tennessee loses, they are all but eliminated from the SEC East title chase, while it would mean that the Georgia-Florida game would probably be for all the beans. If Georgia loses, it throws the division into a three team free for all that will take at least the rest of October to sort out. 2) D.J. Shockley now needs to do it against the best defense he has faced all year. He led Georgia on a scoring drive last year against Tennessee. He would love to lead the Dawgs to the win this time around. 3) Gerald Riggs will be relied on heavily in this game. How will he do against the solid (but untested) Georgia defense?

2. Texas Tech at Nebraska (4:00 TBS)- 1) Wow. That Texas Tech offense has been on a roll and they will be going up against a Nebraska defense that has been almost like a brick wall so far this year. When those two sides are on the field, look out! 2) Nebraska's Zac Taylor really looked like he finally caught onto the offense last week against Iowa State. Can he keep it going against an average Red Raider defense? 3) 70-10. That was the final score of last year's game. The game should be far more competitive this time around. Nebraska will be looking for revenge for last year's embarrassment.

3. Arizona at USC (3:30 FSN)- 1) The Trojans need to get their swagger back on defense. Arizona should be a good team to do that against. 2) Win one for the Stoops family! Twice last year, the Trojans humiliated the Stoops family. Can they make it three in a row? 3) Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, LenDale White. Yep, still all on the field. Still worth watching every time they play.

4. Iowa at Purdue (4:30 ESPN)- 1) Where is the team that was supposed to contend for the Rose Bowl? These two teams may rank up there with the most disappointing teams in the country so far. One will start to get their swagger back this week. 2) Brandon Kirsch and Drew Tate both are good quarterbacks that have not played great so far. Will this be their breakout game? 3) So far, Iowa's defense has been a little more respectable than Purdue's. But Purdue's offense has been more respectable than Iowa's. Now that the pressure of winning the national title is off both these team's shoulders, will they play looser?

5. North Carolina at Louisville (4:30 Gameplan)- 1) First, Georgia Tech, then Wisconsin, North Carolina State, and Utah. Now Louisville! Does the murderer's row that is the Tar Heels schedule ever end? (Answer: No.) 2) Brian Brohm got his groove back last week against Florida Atlantic. The competition is a wee bit tougher this week. 3) It's the Big East against the ACC! Every time these conferences play each other, the rivalry runs deeper. The Big East desperately needs to prove that some team from their conference can beat an ACC team.

6. Duke at Miami, FL (3:30 ESPNU)- 1) The Hurricanes are square in the middle of the cushy part of their schedule. Last week's game against South Florida and next week's game with Temple both look like gimmes. Can the Hurricanes remain focused on the task at hand? 2) Duke needs to get something going on offense just to prove that they can. So far, things have been slow moving for the Blue Devils offense. How will they perform against the Hurricanes stout defense? 3) Kyle Wright has a chance to really get into a rythmn on the offensive side of the ball against this slightly below average Duke defense.

7. San Diego State at UNLV (3:00 Gameplan)- 1) Finally, UNLV did not play in a close game last week. Of course, they get beat badly by Wyoming, but they have played some very close games so far this year. This week's game should be no exception. 2) The Aztecs look to have turned a corner. They were 0-2 heading up to Ohio State, but played the Buckeyes within 27-6 (not bad), and since have beaten San Jose State and BYU. At 1-1 in the Mountain West, they are not out of the conference race just yet, particularly if they can beat UNLV. 3) Both teams are preparing for tough road games next week. San Diego State will be going to Utah and UNLV will be heading up to Air Force. They both need wins to get momentum going as they gear up for next week.

Late Afternoon

1. Texas A&M at Colorado (7:00 FSN)- 1) Reggue McNeal had an off week last week against Baylor. Surely he won't have back to bad games, right? 2) The Buffaloes are slowly asserting themselves as a team to be reckoned with out of the North. With a road trip to Texas coming next week, a win over a good A&M team would do wonders for their confidence. 3) The Aggies have been one of the bigger disappointments a one loss team can be at this time of year. They better snap out of it if they hope to win the South.

2. LSU at Vanderbilt (7:00 ESPN2)- 1) Jay Cutler will make his pitch for the Heisman Trophy against a team that has really struggled defending the pass this year. 2) There is a distinct possibility that Vanderbilt was just looking past Middle Tennessee because of the hype surrounding the LSU game. They can earn back all the respect they lost with a solid performance against a very good Tiger team. 3) JaMarcus Russell has done very well this year when given the chance to throw the ball around the field. Other than one half against Tennessee, he has looked like the next great SEC quarterback.

3. Utah at Colorado State (6:30 Gameplan)- 1) This is a game of great importance in the Mountain West title chase. Then again, every game between this evenly matched conference is of great importance to the Mountain West title chase. 2) Utah is currently 3-0 at home and 0-2 on the road. This team is less experienced than last year's team. When will they learn how to win on the road? 3) Kyle Bell has provided the Rams with the running game they have so desperately needed to aid Justin Holland and the passing game. This year's balanced offense has proven very difficult to slow down.

4. Houston at Tulane (6:00 i/PAX)- 1) This game will be played in Lafeyette, Lousiana, which is not exactly Tulane's home field, but it is as close as it comes these days. 2) Lester Ricard is a quarterback that has looked good at times, but never seems to quite be able to get over the hump. The same can be said of his counterpart on the Houston sideline, Kevin Kolb. 3) This really could be a battle for second in the C-USA West Division. With UTEP looking very beatable so far, there is no reason that the winner of this game couldn't be playing for the Conference USA title.


1. Ohio State at Penn State (7:45 ESPN)- 1) How long have they been waiting for a game that was this big in Happy Valley? It seems like forever. With the Gameday crew there, the crowd will be fired up. It just feels right to have a big game being played at Penn State at this time of year. 2) Freshmen Derrick Williams and Justin King are as explosive as any players in the country. Ted Ginn Jr. stands on other sideline. He too is explosive. Could there be some big plays in this one? 3) These defenses are two of the better defenses in the Big Ten, if not in the country. Points could be hard to come by.

2. California at UCLA (7:30 TBS)- 1) Now this should be fun. The winner becomes the main contender to USC for Pac Ten supremacy. 2) UCLA has been playing well, particularly on offense with Maurice Drew and Drew Olson. California has really been stepping it up on the defensive side of the ball, which ought to make this an interesting chess match. 3) Neither team has really proven themselves so far. A win here for either team would send them up the rankings.

3. BYU at New Mexico (8:00 Gameplan)- 1) Suddenly, the good feelings about New Mexico are gone after back-to-back losses to UTEP and TCU. Still, this bunch of Lobos is a dangerous crew. 2) Last week, the Cougars looked lifeless against San Diego State, the week after a heartbreaking loss to TCU. Can the Cougars find it in them to rise to the occassion this week? 3) DonTrell Moore is a great back for the Lobos. He should find plenty of running room against the Cougars defense.

4. Tulsa at Southern Miss (8:00 CSTV)- 1) Southern Miss' season has been broken up by two hurricanes. It will be nice to see some normalcy return for the Eagles with back to back home games the next two weeks. 2) Paul Smith has been throwing the ball very effectively for Tulsa so far this season. Tulsa has been a pleasant surprise so far this year, playing tough against Oklahoma and Houston and beating North Texas and Memphis. 3) Dustin Almond had one of the best games of his career last weekend. Can he continue the momentum this weekend against Tulsa?

5. Hawaii at Louisiana Tech (7:30 Gameplan)- 1) The Warriors could have, maybe even should have, beaten Boise State at home last weekend. How will they respond to that heartbreaker this weekend in Louisiana? 2) Matt Kubik struggled early in the season against Florida and Kansas, but he lit New Mexico State up last week. Can the Bulldogs quarterback continue his successs from a week ago? 3) A Bulldogs win would earn them plenty of respect as they build towards the season's final two games when they will face off with conference favorites, Boise State and Fresno State.

6. Portland State at Boise State (8:05 Gameplan)- 1) Portland State only lost to Fresno State 27-17 last year. So maybe they can keep it close against the Broncos. 2) The Broncos have been very underwhelming so far this year, with their best performance coming in the beat down of Bowling Green at home. Last week's nailbiter against Hawaii was a little too close for comfort. 3) Jared Zabransky has been looking more and more like his old self lately. This shouls be a nice game to get his confidence back to 100%.

Late Night

1. Oregon at Arizona State (10:15 FSN)- 1) This is one of the more intriguing games of the day. Both teams lead USC at halftime, only to see the Trojans dominate the second half. One of these teams will have an early lead (along with the Cal-UCLA winner) for second in the Pac Ten. 2) Kellen Clemens still gets no respect around the country for how solid of a quarterback he has been. Sam Keller has been getting a lot of respect, but still is relatively unknown nationwide. This may be one of the better quarterback match-ups of the weekend. 3) That USC loss last week for Arizona State took a lot out of the Sun Devils. Will they be able to come back and focus for the Ducks this week?

2. Fresno State at New Mexico State (10:00 ESPNU)- 1) You know you are at least a little bit interested to keep up with Fresno State. If they can jump out to a 17-0 lead at Oregon, and USC can fall behind 13-0 at Oregon, could the Bulldogs jump out to a big early lead when they go to USC on November 19? 2) Paul Pinegar is a very good quarterback going against a very average defense. 3) The offense has been slowly improving for New Mexico State. Justine Buries is a good running back. However, we all know that Hal Mumme wants his quarterbacks to be firing the ball all over the field.

One Liners
Quick preview of tonight's games.

North Carolina State at Georgia Tech (7:30 ESPN)- This game is huge to the ACC. The Wolfpack are off to an 0-2 conference start, with two close losses. Georgia Tech is 1-1 in conference play after the blowout to Virginia Tech. These are two hard hitting defenses that will provide plenty of big plays. This game ought to be fun to watch.

Florida Atlantic at Louisiana-Lafayette (8:00)- The Owls are still looking for their first Division 1-A win and they have a shot against the Ragin' Cajuns. After watching the Owls this year, it is clear that they have plenty of speed, but they are just too small to compete right now. Now that they are picking on someone their own size, things might be different. Both teams still have hopes of at least putting together a nice Sun Belt season.

For a more in-depth preview (by me) of these two games, click on Thursday Night Throwdown.

Wednesday in Review
Very quick recap of last night's games.

Northern Illinois 38, Miami (OH) 27- The Huskies jumped out to a huge 28-7 and 35-17 lead, but watched the RedHawks trim the lead to 35-27 in the fourth quarter. Sam Hurd and Garrett Wolfe have established themselves as two big playmakers. NIU has just thrown their hat into the race in the MAC.


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