There’s no question that the Florida-LSU game this Saturday is on every Gator fan’s mind, myself included, but there are a plethora of games this weekend that have very big implications. October is a month filled with gritty week after week conference games, and we get to find out who’s for real and who’s not. Florida faces a tough October, opening with fourth ranked LSU Saturday, then heading to Vanderbilt before getting the Ol’ Ball Coach at home, and finally playing Georgia in Jacksonville. Let’s take a look at the glorious slate of games coming up this weekend that’ll be sure to get an exhilarating October in College Football started off right.
(4) LSU @ (10) Florida- 3:30P.M. CBS:
Should the Tigers be on upset alert this week on the road against Florida? My heart says yes, and I may be the first to admit it, but my head even is starting to tell me yes. Granted, I am a Gator through and through and this no doubt influences my thoughts on this game. But given what Florida has shown me so far this season has without question impressed me. Jeff Driskel has shown real maturity and poise in hostile environments on the road in back to back weeks. Mike Gillislee has emerged as an explosive and powerful back fully capable of carrying the ball 20-30 times a game. Not to mention our defense, which is holding opponents to just 16 points in the second half, has been playing dominant, even with injuries to Jelani Jenkins and Buck defensive end Dominique Easley not returning. The offense has overcome halftime deficits against both Texas A&M and Tennessee, and the Gators are outscoring their opponents 64-13 in the second half. LSU saw its first real test against Auburn in Week 4, where they escaped 12-10. While LSU is (5-0) so far, they have shown vulnerabilities on offense. Tigers quarterback Zach Mettenberger has committed five turnovers in five games, and the Tigers as a whole have 11 fumbles on the season. The one consistent thing on offense for LSU is their run game- they come in averaging a worrisome 230 rush yards per game. On defense, LSU has stifled the rushing attack, while their secondary has given up 134.8 passing yards per game. Last week against FCS Towson, the LSU gave up 22 points. Read my article from Brent Pease’s press conference on how his offense will square off against LSU here. If the Gators can find a way to grind out a win Saturday, and that is in no way an easy task, this would shock the College Football world, who has LSU the favorite to not only win the SEC West but a National Championship. It would certainly be a signature win for second year coach Will Muschamp, and would make a statement proving that Florida Football is back. Writing that sentence just gave me chills, so I hope it got you just a little excited. Look for a great game in The Swamp this Saturday against LSU, which could potentially shake-up the SEC and National Championship race as well.
(5) Georgia @ (6) South Carolina- 7P.M. ESPN:
This is a huge game with huge SEC East implications. Georgia and South Carolina are the current front-runners to win the East, and this game will edge one over the other. Georgia is coming off of a thrilling 51-44 win over Tennessee, a game in which quarterback Aaron Murray, who has been on fire all season, had 278 yards and two touchdowns. Not to mention running backs Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley, now earning the nickname “Gurshel”, went crazy and combined for 294 yards. South Carolina overcame a 17-7 Kentucky halftime lead and won 38-17, and running back Marcus Lattimore rushed for 120 yards. Quarterback Connor Shaw rushed for 76 more. For the Gamecocks, the key to this game is no other than Marcus Lattimore. Lattimore has absolutely dominated Georgia each time he’s gone up against them as a Gamecock. He has rushed for run for 358 yards and three touchdowns in two games against Georgia in his career. Also noteworthy, South Carolina is (10-0) when Lattimore rushes for at least 100 yards in a game. Georgia’s defense shows no sign of stopping the run in all of their five games, they’ve given up an average of 148 rush yards per game. Georgia’s explosive offense should surely keep the ball game close. The Bulldogs currently have 43 plays that have gained 20+ yards, a figure that leads the FBS. Big plays and a lit up scoreboard should be the name of this game, and the winner gets an edge in the SEC East race.
(8) West Virginia @ (11) Texas- 7:00P.M. FOX:
The numbers put up by West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith in a 70-63 win against Baylor last week were simply ridiculous. In case you missed it, Geno threw for 656 yards, that’s right 656, and had eight TDs. Now if I were Baylor, I’d start looking to hire a new defensive coordinator, but can anyone really stop Geno Smith? The Texas defense is currently allowing 235 passing yards per game. This is a cringe-worthy stat when you’re going up against a guy as lethal as Smith. But what is the real key for Texas going up against an offense like West Virginia’s? The answer: time of possession. As ESPN Anlayst Mark Matich pointed out on last night’s College Football Live, if Texas wants a shot to take down WVU, they must keep them off the field. Texas currently ranks fifth in the FBS with holding the ball 33:44 per game. The longer Texas keeps Geno Smith off the field, the better a chance they have at winning. Added pressure gets placed on the Texas offense, who has been relatively high-scoring so far this season, averaging 47.3 points per game, and an impressive 228 rush yards per game. If Texas keeps the ball longer while running down the clock with their run game, they could have a better chance at containing the West Virginia offense. That could lead to knocking off the Big 12 title favorite Mountaineers, and making their own destiny to get ahead in the Big 12 race.
Miami (FL) @ (9) Notre Dame- 7:30P.M. NBC:
Are the Glory Days of Catholics vs Convicts back? Miami goes on the road this week to face off with longtime rival Notre Dame. Notre Dame has looked very impressive this season, especially with their dominance on defense. Their defense is led by Irish Senior linebacker Manti Te’o, who is now even gaining an early Heisman campaign with his two interceptions and forced fumble in a win vs Michigan. Miami, despite getting shellacked on the road against Kansas State in Week 2, had an impressive last minute win vs NC State last week. The Canes have a lethal running back in Duke Johnson, who has 359 yards and five touchdowns so far. Not to mention their quarterback Stephen Morris threw for a school and ACC record 566 yards and five touchdowns last week against NC State. We’ll see what the Irish defense brings to this heavy offense, and it could feel like the old days again of the rivalry between these two historic programs. A big road win for Miami could spoil any chances of Notre Dame reaching a BCS Bowl, and could give the old Canes-Irish rivalry new life.
Other Notable Games:
(21) Nebraska @ (12) Ohio State 8:00P.M.- ABC: Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes look solid with Braxton Miller doing it all, he currently is the passing and rushing leader for Ohio State. They’re coming off an impressive road win against Michigan State, and despite not being bowl eligible; Urban’s new team is turning some heads. Nebraska has Taylor Martinez 2.0, the Huskers quarterback has made an extremely impressive turnaround from a year ago. He as 1056 passing yards with 11 TDs and 298 rush yards so far on the season. Can the defenses contain these two dual-threat quarterbacks?
Arkansas @ Auburn 12:00P.M.- ESPN2: Both programs are under harsh criticism, Arkansas having a completely disastrous season so far under John L. Smith, and Auburn’s Gene Chizik’s seat is heating up despite winning a National Championship with the Tigers just two seasons earlier. Which team will get there first SEC win they both desperately need?
(3) Florida State @ North Carolina State 8:00PM- ESPN2: The Seminoles seem to be rolling now, after getting past a huge Clemson game and beating USF by 13 last week. But can NC State give the Noles some trouble on the road? There’s no doubt that the 28-24 upset two years in Raleigh still comes back to haunt Jimbo Fisher.