Middle Tennessee and Troy were voted 1-2 in the preseason coaches poll in the Sun Belt (ESPN2, 8pm). Middle Tennessee went 2-2 without star QB Dwight Dasher and he'll be back for this game. Troy is the closest thing the Belt has to a powerhouse, winning or sharing in the last four conference championships and have won their last thirteen conference games, dating back to a loss at Louisiana-Monroe in 2008.
Nebraska at Kansas St. is a rematch of the game that decided the Big 12 North last year (ESPN, 7:30pm). There isn't a lot of belief yet in Kansas St., but they did beat a UCLA team opening weekend and the Bruins have looked much better the past three weeks. Nebraska cannot afford to look ahead to what has been built up as a bitter matchup between two schools on different sides of the realignment discussions of this summer. The Huskers haven't been readily tested, even in their visit to Washington where they pressured Jake Locker into the 3rd worst completion percentage in a game with at least 20 attempts since '04. On offense, if the Huskers continue to rush as well as they have so far (309.3 yards/game), they'll have no trouble.
Not much to look at here in the early afternoon. This week begins conference play in the Big East and Syracuse at USF (Big East/Game Plan, 12pm) is one of the two games this week. Both teams were toasted by their top OOC opponents (Syracuse by Washington, USF by Florida) and the conference as a whole has looked bad so far this year. USF likely has the talent edge as long as BJ Daniels keeps the turnovers in check. Baylor will host Texas Tech at the Cotton Bowl (FSN, 12pm) and if Baylor wins, they'll have five wins for the 1st time since finishing 5-6 in 2005. Last time Baylor had five wins in their 1st six games? 1994 when they were SWC Co-Champs and earned an Alamo Bowl berth. That was the last time they made any bowl.
CBS gets another monster SEC matchup at 3;30pm with Alabama visiting South Carolina. Alabama is far and away the class of college football and everyone is gunning for them. South Carolina needs the perfect game to pull this one off. The Gamecocks need this one to keep pace with Florida in the SEC East. If they can run the ball (168 yards/game), they'll slow the Tide down.
San Diego St. at BYU is here for the curiousity factor (The mtn., 6pm). How bad is BYU? The defensive coordinator was fired this weekend and it's Jake Heaps job as QB for the rest of the year. The Aztecs haven't started 3-1 since 2003 (with two FCS victories that season) and have the MWC on notice that there is improvement in store and they may be finally ready to wake their program up.
Colorado at Missouri leads off the evening schedule (FSN, 7pm). Tough to tell where CU is at when they get blasted at California, but hand tough at home and win vs. Georgia. CU has won, it seems, with smoke and mirrors with a less than stellar offense and average defense, so the Tigers will test them with their spread attack. At this early stage in the season Blaine Gabbert's completion percentage is up nearly ten from last season (58.9 to 68.2) and his efficiency will be the key for the Tigers in this one.
Oregon St. at Arizona gets the Pac-10 on the board here (Versus, 7pm). The Wildcats's 4-0 start is their 1st four in-season winning streak since 2000. Problem is, that season they didn't win another game, finished 5-6 and earned Dick Tomey his walking papers. The last time they started 4-0 though? 1998 when they finished 12-1. Nothing statistically about the Beavers suggest that this should be a close game with the way Arizona has played, but the Beavers have traditionally started slow and have tested themselves with two top five teams (TCU, Boise St.). They might be able to settle in with Pac-10 play.
LSU at Florida continues the primetime schedule (ESPN, 7:30pm). Both teams come in to the game from different circumstances with LSU needing a bad penalty on Tennessee to get an extra play to beat the Vols after poor clock management. Florida, on the other hand, got stomped by Alabama, which to be frank isn't something the Gators are alone in. John Brantley is still the answer, but I could see Trey Burton get more time as the Gators will have three straight winnable games after this one before hosting South Carolina. Not to look ahead, but the Tigers are ripe for a bad beating and Urban Meyer's pride is no doubt hurt after the beating at Tuscaloosa.
ABC has a pair of decent 8pm games to finish of the evening, depending on where you live. Florida St. hosts the Hurricanes in the east coast matchup. The 'Noles have forced six total turnovers in the last three wins and 'Canes QB Jacory Harris has been rather undisciplined this season, even in their wins. This is the matchup the ACC has dreamed of in an ACC championship game, but both sides need a well played game to make a 2nd matchup meaningful in the eyes of pollsters.
Stanford at USC is the west coast matchup and this game looked a lot better one week ago, before Oregon toasted Stanford and Washington beat USC for the 2nd straight season. Pollsters didn't exactly believe in the Trojans before the Washington game, based on the quality of the opponents and how they weren't blowing the doors off those teams, save for Washington St. As for the Cardinal, it looked like they ran out of gas vs. the Ducks in the 2nd half and they'll need sixty minutes like they had vs. Notre Dame.