Now, Things Get InterestingPublished 11:18am Wednesday, September 19, 2012
The past week presented some excitement finally. The hype machine of USC lost to Stanford 21-14, and it was a pretty exciting game.
Now, we’re moving past the part of the season where the Western Kentucky and Louisiana-Monroe teams of the world come in for their paycheck and lose by a wide margin. Or upset a nationally-ranked team in overtime.
At any rate, we’re in the mid-section of the college football season. It’s the part of the season that isn’t quite as exciting as rivalry games, conference championships and bowl games, but tends to present more exciting matchups than the smaller schools taking on the powerhouse schools, unless, of course, the smaller school happens to be a member of the Sun Belt Conference.
At this point in the season, fans get to see more in-conference matchups. The Pac-12, the Big 12 and the ACC all have games this coming weekend involving top 25 teams playing against each other. Four total games this coming weekend involve top 25 teams facing off, up from last week’s total of three.
Let’s be honest: most of the past week’s games were a letdown. Florida’s domination of Tennessee wasn’t accurately told by the 37-20 final score. Quarterback Jeff Driskel almost scored another touchdown and the score could have been much worse in more ways than one.
I wanted Missouri and Arizona State to be a good game, but Mizzou dominated from the get-go. They let off the gas pedal and James Franklin didn’t appear to be himself and that’s the only reason the final score was close.
Notre Dame and Michigan State wasn’t much of a game either and the final score actually did indicate that accurately. Michigan State just doesn’t have the same spirit they had under Kirk Cousins. Also, Manti Te’o had a career game. Even though Michigan State is a good team, I don’t think they’re as good as Michigan this year. Being able to watch a remarkable athlete like Denard Robinson face off against one of the nation’s best defensive players in Te’o makes it a more enticing matchup off the bat.
And that matchup is probably the least of the four top 25 games.
The game of the week has two top 10 teams pairing off with Clemson traveling to Tallahassee to take on Florida State. The Tigers won on their home turf by a score of 35-30, but Florida State stumbled out of the gate last year by starting off to a 2-3 record.
This year, they’ve been nothing short of dominant. They’ve outscored their opponents by an average of 57.67 points per game. That missed a chance to throttle Savannah State as Oklahoma State had the week before when the game was called prematurely due to thunder. This past week they embarrassed previously unbeaten Wake Forest 52-0.
Clemson hasn’t been nearly as impressive, although they did beat Auburn in week one. They’ve also missed one of their best players, Sammy Watkins, for the first two weeks of the season. He will be a big x-factor in how Saturday’s game turns out. Clemson is likely the best offense Florida State will face this season. The big question: will Clemson’s potent offense be enough against Florida State’s stout defense? My guess is no.
The other marquee matchup for Saturday is the Oklahoma Sooners playing host to the Kansas State Wildcats. The Sooners didn’t have a game this past Saturday and if they wanted preparation, all they had to do was turn on the K-State-North Texas game. The Mean Green were unable to beat the Wildcats but they gave a pretty good blueprint for how to do so. They ran the ball effectively to control the clock and held the Wildcats running game in check. A team like Oklahoma should have no problem doing likewise, but Kansas State has played the Cinderella-spoiler role before to great effect. So, Oklahoma had better be ready.
The final top 25 matchup is between Arizona and Oregon. With maybe the exception of West Virginia, not many teams are as fun to watch as Oregon. From the unpredictable uniforms to the exciting trick plays to the hurry-up, toss-this and say-a-prayer-someone-catches-it offense that scores in a mere matter of seconds, the Ducks are a very entertaining team. Then again, Rich Rodriguez has a great offensive mind and has been known to field some exciting teams, too. You may have heard: he first became known nationally while at West Virginia. Now, he’s helping turn around Arizona with great results so far. Fans will get a look at just how much of a turnaround he’ll be able to muster against their first heavyweight opponent.
Erich Hilkert is Sports Editor of The Atmore Advance. He may be reached at 251-368-2123 or by email at email@example.com