John Roberts College Football

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Week Eleven: 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 CollegeFootballNews.com as the television games for this weekend. Only Saturday games are included.

Let's get it started!

Early Games

1. Florida at South Carolina (12:30 JP/Gameplan)- 1) Florida wins the East with a win and a Georgia loss to either Auburn or Kentucky. South Carolina finishes second in the East with a win. 2) Chris Leak and the Gators offense has not been great this year, and the Gamecocks defense has been pretty good. Can Leak put enough points on the board to beat the Gamecocks? 3) Isn't there some small storyline in this game? Something about some coach coaching against his former team? Something about the hot up and coming coach coaching against a legend that he is in the shadow of? There might be. More research is necessary on this...

2. Northwestern at Ohio State (12:00 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) Interestingly, there is still a sliver of a chance that Northwestern can claim the Big Ten title. Ohio State needs to win out and have Penn State lose to Michigan State for them to win it. Their chances are much more realistic. 2) Brett Basanez and that Wildcat offense is explosive. It will be A.J. Hawk and the Ohio State defenses job to hold them down. 3) Ted Ginn Jr. has shown why he was considered a Heisman Trophy contender at the start of the year in the last couple of games. He is as exciting as any player in the country.

3. Florida State at Clemson (12:00 ESPN)- 1) It's the Bowden Bowl! Papa Bowden goes up against Sonny Bowden in a game that Sonny needs to have to make sure he holds onto his job. 2) Clemson needs just one more win to become bowl eligible. Tiger fans definitely would like to see it happen against Florida State. 3) Drew Weatherford took a giant leap backwards last week against North Carolina State. Can he put it behind him this week against the Tigers?

4. Michigan State at Minnesota (12:00 Gameplan)- 1) You know you want to see Drew Stanton go up against Laurence Maroney. Two trendy picks for the Heisman at different points in the year go up against each other in this battle. 2) The Spartans rarely play defense. The Gophers play defense only slightly more often. This game should be quite the high scoring affair. 3) The Spartans still need one more win to become bowl eligible. The Gophers are already bowl eligible, but another win certainly wouldn't hurt their cause any for a decent bowl.

5. Texas A&M at Oklahoma (12:00 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) Both teams need one more win to become bowl eligible. For the Aggies, with Texas their only game after this one, they would certainly like to get it out of the way now. For Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State remain, so one win against one of these three teams seems probable. However, it's always better to go ahead and take care of business when you have the chance. 2) Reggie McNeal, despite the team's recent struggles, has still been playing pretty well. Oklahoma's defense has been coming on as of late, so this could be a stiff challenge for McNeal. 3) Adrian Peterson, now that he is back and reasonably healthy, has been eating up yards. Against the sieve that is the Aggies defense, he should run for huge yards.

6. Maryland at North Carolina (JP/Gameplan)- 1) Both teams are 4-4. The loser is really going to have trouble getting to a bowl game. 2) Sam Hollenbach will be back at quarterback for the Terps. They need him to rescue their bowl hopes. 3) Other than the bruising they took from Louisville, North Carolina has played pretty well this year. Last week's win over Boston College showed that this team, playing perhaps the most difficult schedule in the country, is still a pretty darn good team.

7. Memphis at Tennessee (2:00 Gameplan)- 1) Do you want to go to a bowl game? For the Vols, they have to win their final three games to get to a bowl. For the Tigers, they have to win two of their last three to get there. 2) DeAngelo Williams is the nation's leading rusher. Going up against a tough Vols defense should give the country a good feel for just how good he is. 3) The Vols offense clicked off 21 points last week, which is their third highest output of the season. They need to keep the ball rolling against a pretty good Memphis defense.

8. Navy at Notre Dame (1:00 NBC)- 1) Notre Dame has beaten Navy 41 straight times, an all time record for most consecutive wins over one opponent. One of these years, Navy is going to jump up and bite the Irish. 2) The Irish need to hold on to their #11 spot in the BCS rankings if they want to get to a BCS bowl game this year. Navy needs one more win to become bowl eligible. 3) Brady Quinn is having a great year and is receiving darkhorse consideration for the Heisman Trophy. He needs to put up huge numbers from here on out to have a chance.

9. Indiana at Michigan (12:00 ESPN2)- 1) Michigan is still alive for the Big Ten title. Wins these next two weeks, a Wisconsin loss, and a Penn State loss would give it to them. The Hoosiers must win their last two games to get to a bowl game. 2) Michigan's defense has been playing better. Blake Powers hasn't been playing quite as well for the Hoosiers. Still, it should be interesting to see how Powers does against this defense. 3) Chad Henne has been playing much better for the Wolverines, and should put up big numbers against a lousy Indiana defense.

10. Massachusetts at Army (12:00 ESPNU)- 1) Army has won two straight, and is looking at possibly having won four in a row heading into the Navy game if they can win this one and the Arkansas State game next week. Maybe Bobby Ross' team really has turned the corner. 2) UMass is one of the better teams in Division 1-AA, so the Black Knights better not overlook them. 3) Zac Dahman is an excellent quarterback that has excelled the last two years.

Afternoon

1. LSU at Alabama (3:30 CBS)- 1) It's this week's version of Virginia Tech-Miami. A highly regarded one loss team goes on the road to battle the third ranked team in the BCS. This one ought to be more entertaining than last week's game. Not to mention that the winner of this game will be in the lead in the SEC West. 2) Alabama has only scored one offensive touchdown in their last three SEC games. LSU's defense has been steadily improving this season. Can the Tide, behind Brodie Croyle and Ken Darby, put some points on the board? 3) Even though they've only scored one offensive touchdown in their last three SEC games, the Tide is still winning because of the strength of their defense. JaMarcus Russell and the rest of the LSU offense will have to be very sharp to put points on the board against these guys.

2. USC at California (3:30 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) The Trojans last loss was to Cal back in 2003. That game was at Cal. This has been the closest thing to a rivalry game that the Trojans have had in recent years with Notre Dame being down and all. This has been the team that has come the closest to ending their dreams consistently. One more time? 2) Joe Ayoob has been downright bad at times for the Cal offense. The USC defense has struggled at times to stop the pass. This match-up will determine if the Bears have a chance or not. 3) There may not be a game this year with more talent on display at running back. Everyone knows about Reggie Bush and LenDale White, but some people (they have to be out there) may not know about Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett. These two duos in the backfield squaring off...that alone makes this game worth watching.

3. Kansas at Texas (3:30 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) That's the number one rushing defense in the country looking to try to contain Texas. The Jayhawks defense is very good. They have Charles Gordon in the secondary and the best run defense in the country. They've got the talent on defense to make this one interesting. 2) Kansas lead Texas by double digits late in their game last year before losing. 3) Vince Young continues to make his push at the Heisman Trophy. If he has a big game against this defense, he should really help his cause.

4. Iowa at Wisconsin (3:30 ESPN)- 1) In the preseason, it was supposed to be Iowa trying to stay in the Big Ten title race and the Badgers trying to get to a bowl game. Things are reversed. The Hawkeyes are trying to get to a bowl game, while the Badgers still have a shot at tying for the Big Ten title. 2) Drew Tate and the Iowa offense could light up the Badgers defense, which has struggled badly at times this year. 3) Brian Calhoun had a bad week last week against Penn State, but he is one of the better running backs in the country. He'll need to have a big game against a pretty good Hawkeyes defense.

5. Miami at Wake Forest (3:30 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) It's Wake Forest's last game of the season. So this is my last chance to get the names Chris Barclay and Micah Andrews into the nation's consciousness. Trust me. This Wake Forest rushing attack is very very good. 2) Miami is battling it out for the third spot in the BCS, or first in line just in case Texas or USC lose. They need to keep on winning, and winning impressively, to get there. 3) Wake is a very dangerous team, but Kyle Wright and the Hurricanes showed what they are capable of last week against Virginia Tech. The defense shut the Hokies down, and the Hurricanes offense did just enough.

6. Georgia Tech at Virginia (3:30 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) On a technicality, both teams are still alive for the ACC Coastal Division title. Virginia still has games with Miami and Virginia Tech after this one, while Georgia Tech has a key showdown with Miami coming up. Virginia must win to become bowl eligible. 2) Reggie Ball is about as inconsistent as they come at quarterback. Going up against a pretty good Virginia defense could make him look pretty bad. 3) Marques Hagans isn't exactly the most consistent quarterback. Going up against the Yellow Jackets tough defense could make him look pretty bad. In other words, look for a defensive battle with very few points being scored.

7. UCF at UAB (4:00 CSTV)- 1) UAB needs two more wins to become bowl eligible. UCF needs to keep on winning if they are going to win the CUSA East. They need a Southern Miss loss somewhere along the way as well. 2) Darrell Hackney is one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the country. Watch him play. He's an exciting football player. 3) Steven Moffett has played with confidence and poise this year. He continues to look very good for the Golden Knights.

8. San Diego State at Colorado State (3:00 Gameplan)- 1) The Rams need one more win to become bowl eligible. The Aztecs upset Utah a couple of weeks ago, and look to do it again. 2) Justin Holland is a very underrappreciated quarterback. His top target, David Anderson, is largely an unknown around the country, but he is one of the top receivers in the conference. 3) Kevin O'Connell has been playing a little bit better lately at quarterback. Two weeks ago, when the Aztecs lost by three to TCU, O'Connell had a good game, both throwing and running the ball.

9. Louisiana Tech at Idaho (5:00 Gameplan)- 1) The Bulldogs need one win in their final three games to become bowl eligible. They've still got a shot at winning the WAC with Boise State and Fresno State ahead on the schedule. 2) Matt Kubik may not be exploding, but he is still a pretty good quarterback for the Bulldogs. 3) The last time Idaho played (and that one was on Gameplan as well), the Vandals were pulling out a 38-37 thriller in overtime against New Mexico State. That pile in the back of the endzone after the two point conversion is one of the more memorable moments of the season to date of any game I've watched. Can they carry that confidence over into this game?

Late Afternoon

1. Colorado at Iowa State (7:00 FSN)- 1) Colorado wraps up the Big Twelve North with a win. Iowa State keeps their title hopes alive with a win. The Cyclones must win out and hope that Colorado loses to Nebraska on the Friday after Thanksgiving. 2) Joel Klatt has been playing well as the Buffaloes quarterback. Now, the Cyclones defense have been eating people up lately, so Klatt may find it tough going this weekend. 3) Stevie Hicks is finally healthy again. Todd Blythe is making plays. Bret Meyer is settling in at quarterback. The Buffaloes defense has been solid, but this is a tough task to try to slow down this hot Iowa State offense.

2. Arizona State at UCLA (7:00 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) Bruins take on Arizona...take two! This was supposed to be the game that gave the Bruins trouble. If Arizona can beat the Bruins 52-14, and this was supposed to be the tougher of the two games, what does that mean will happen this week? 2) The Sun Devils need just one win to become bowl eligible. It doesn't matter if it comes this weekend against UCLA or in two weeks against Arizona. 3) The Bruins have Drew Olson, Maurice Drew, and one of the best offenses in the Pac Ten. They got slowed down last week by Arizona. Can they come back this week against ASU?

3. North Carolina State at Boston College (7:15 ESPN2)- 1) The Wolfpack need two wins to become bowl eligible. After last weekend's upset of Florida State, they feel that they should surely be able to win at Boston College. 2) Mathias Kiwanuka will be looking to keep his team from losing three straight. A loss here suddenly would send the Eagles way down on the bowl pecking order. 3) Andre Brown and Toney Baker are both very good backs for the Wolfpack offense. They will be challenged by a good Boston College defense.

4. New Mexico at Utah (6:30 Gameplan)- 1) The winner of this game is bowl eligible. While that wasn't either teams goal heading into the season, it is how things are for the Utes and Lobos. 2) DonTrell Moore is one of the more underrated backs in the country. He could have a big day against the Utes defense. 3) Brian Johnson has been playing better as of late for the Utes as the quarterback. Quinton Ganther may be the star of the offense, but the development of Johnson is the key to this team's continued success.

5. BYU at Wyoming (6:00 Gameplan)- 1) The Cougars need one win to become bowl eligible, while the Cowboys need two. Again, not what these teams had in mind to start the season, but it will have to do. 2) Corey Bramlett needs to get going to snap this Cowboys team out of their four game losing streak. 3) John Beck is really getting on a roll as the Cougars quarterback. The Cougars offense has scored 117 points the last two weeks combined, a stunning 58.5 average.

6. Troy at Arkansas State (7:00 ESPNU)- 1) Both teams are 3-2 in Sun Belt play and sit just one half game behind Louisiana-Monroe in the conference race. Both have already lost to Monroe, so another conference loss would absolutely kill any chances of winning the conference. 2) Antonio Warren and Shermar Bracey both average over 7.0 yards per carry for the Indians. 3) Carl Meadows has been very average at quarterback for the Trojans. They would love to see him play a more consistent game against an inconsistent Arkansas State defense.

7. Florida International at Louisiana-Lafayette (7:00 Gameplan)- 1) FIU upset Louisiana-Monroe last week to throw the conference race up for grabs. ULL beat North Texas to put themselves in control of their own destiny in the Sun Belt. 2) Josh Padrick is a pretty good quarterback for the Panthers. 3) Jerry Babb has been getting the job done for the Ragin' Cajuns. With two weeks off after this before a potential Sun Belt Championship Game against Louisiana-Monroe, ULL needs a solid performance and a win.
Evening

1. Auburn at Georgia (7:45 ESPN)- 1) It is the South's oldest rivalry. That alone makes this one of the must see games of the weekend. 2) Georgia can clinch the East with a Florida loss and a win in this one. With Kentucky next week, all the Dawgs really need is just to win this one, apparently. Auburn can win the West by winning out and seeing LSU lose once somewhere along the way. 3) D.J. Shockley will be back from injury. How effective will he be? Brandon Cox hasn't been very good in either of the Tigers big games so far this year. How effective will he be? The quarterback position will play a large role in this one, which may be surprising given how good the running backs and defenses are on these teams.

Late Night

1. Oregon at Washington State (10:15 FSN)- 1) Welcome to a classic trap game for the Oregon Ducks. Beating Cal last week was a huge win, and their rivalry game with Oregon State is coming up, and a better than their record would indicate Washington State team sits in between. 2) Who will it be this week for the Ducks? Brady Leaf or Dennis Dixon? Leaf saved them last week against Cal. Someone needs to step up in Kellen Clemens absence. With a possible BCS bowl bid on the line, this one is huge. 3) The Cougars have the Pac Ten's leading rusher in Jerome Harrison. Jason Hill may be the most underrated wide receiver in the Pac Ten. They've got the offensive playmakers to keep this one close.

2. Utah State at Hawaii (11:05 Gameplan)- 1) Hawaii has three home games left, which means that winning out is a distinct possibility, which means they could get to 6-6 and a possible bowl game. 2) Colt Brennan has been a pretty good fit for the Warriors at the quarterback position. 3) Leon Jackson III has lead the Aggies in both rushing and passing so far this year. He is the only thing that resembles offense for this team. He will have to put up big numbers if they are going to hang with the Warriors strong offense.

ONE LINERS
Quick preview of tonight's game.

Boise State at Fresno State (8:00 ESPN)- This may be the most anticipated Thursday night game of the year. This is for the WAC title, and an impressive show by Fresno State may put them in a position of really believing that they can hang with USC. Boise State has a 31 game conference winning streak. Fresno State hasn't beaten them the last four years. This will be a whole lot of fun.

WEDNESDAY IN REVIEW
Very quick recap of last night's game.

West Virginia 45, Cincinatti 0- The Mountaineers continue to roll along. They are the class of the Big East at this point. Now, they have two weeks to get ready for Pittsburgh and then (win or lose against the Panthers) will be playing at South Florida with the Big East title on the line. If they beat Pitt, and USF comes up with one more loss, then the Mountaineers will already have the title clinched, but they will be playing to make the Big East look better. Steve Slatton and the rest of this WVU team is much better than they are generally given credit for.

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