Friday, October 1, 2010

What to Watch, Week Five

Sorry I'm late with the article. Let's just assume that I wouldn't have chosen either of the weeknight games and let's move right to Saturday.

Miami (FL) at Clemson is the start of an average set of early afternoon kickoffs (12pm, ESPN & 3D). The 'Canes whipped a undisciplined Pitt team last Thursday while Clemson awaits coming off a bye and two weeks to dwell on the overtime loss at Auburn. Jacory Harris hasn't been able to eliminate the turnover bug that plagues him and if Clemson can take advantage of those, they'll be in the game.

Navy at Air Force begins the 1st leg of the round-robin for the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy (2:30pm, Versus). Both teams roll up yards on the ground and use the pass as a change of pace and are very efficient. Its arguable that this matchup determines ownership of the trophy as Army has been subpar, but is gaining ground.

ABC has a pair of great games at 3:30pm with Wisconsin at Michigan St. (on ESPN in markets where not on ABC) and Texas vs. Oklahoma (on ESPN in markets showing Wisc-MSU on ABC). The Red River Rivalry has lost a little of its glitz with UCLA blitzing Texas at home and Oklahoma playing close games with three of four opponents this season. The Sooners defense, long a hallmark of the team, has bent more this year than in prior years (23.5 PPG). The ground game for the Sooners will be the difference now that UCLA was able to expose the Longhorns to the tune of 264 rushing yards.

Wisconsin at Michigan St. will be a bludgeoning ground game with bruisers like John Clay (with James White as a change-of-pace) for the Badgers and the Spartans going with the 1-2 punch of Le'Veon Bell and Edwin Baker. Mark Dantonio will coach this game from the press box as the Spartans look for 5-0 for the 1st time since 1999, Nick Saban's final season as head coach.

Florida at Alabama was the preseason crown jewel of the night (CBS, 8pm) with the rematch of the last two SEC championship games being played in the regular season for the 1st time since 2006, a 28-13 win for the Gators in Gainesville. John Brantley has struggled at times for the Gators and needs to get it together for them to have any shot against the team that, in my opinion, is the most complete team in the country.

Stanford at Oregon might be out west, but it holds its own (ABC, with ESPN2 coverage in markets receiving Notre Dame-Boston College on ABC, 8pm). This is the 1st time that both team have been ranked when playing each other and its a matchup of contrasting styles, the spread of the Ducks vs. the power game of the Cardinal. The defense of the Cardinal is what should be getting more attention, allowing only 13.8 points per game (even less when throwing out 17 points scored by FCS school Sacramento St.) and 256 yards of offense per game. Andrew Luck did get picked twice by the Notre Dame secondary, something the Ducks have forced nine times, coupled with nine more turnovers from fumbles.

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