October 18th (Thursday)
Oregon at Arizona State
Thursday games on the World Wide Leader have produced some sizable Pac 12 upsets in recent years. Unless the entire Ducks’ offense suddenly loses use of their legs, I don’t see the Sun Devils adding to that script.
Houston at SMU
Tony Levine’s offense probably won’t be as wide-open as Kevin Sumlin’s at Houston. Still, there are worse things to do late in the week than settle in for another round of the soap opera that is Garrett Gilbert’s collegiate career.
October 20th (Saturday)
Alabama at Tennessee
The Third Saturday in October may test Alabama’s defense depending on how many Volunteers desire suspension over playing for Derek Dooley. I’m guessing Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart watches possible future Knoxville resident Kirby Smart very closely.
LSU at Texas A&M
Regional would-be rivals with a chance to make this battle of boudin and bad bull a must-see game. Perhaps next year it’s a bit more manageable, I don’t know that Johnny Manziel avoids the LSU defensive line in the same way he danced around at Kerrville Tivy.
Florida State at Miami
It’s not a Seminoles-Hurricanes fiasco without an idiot kicker or two. Al Golden simply hopes to field a respectable roster. Jimbo Fisher’s program has their eyes on something bigger.
Michigan State at Michigan
Four straight years, the “little brother” Spartans popped the Wolverines. Mark Dantonio is attempting to field an SEC-caliber defense in East Lansing and Denard Robinson’s accuracy probably decides whether Sparty earns a win for the thumb.
South Carolina at Florida
Whenever the ‘Ole Ball Coach saunters back to the Swamp, it’s appointment viewing. Spurrier hasn’t really zinged Will Muschamp yet but in the aftermath of Jacoby Brissett’s funeral and Jadeveon Clowney’s eulogy, he just might.
Kansas State at West Virginia
While Texas and Oklahoma draw the majority of Big 12 headlines, this matchup features the other two squads with dreams of preseason conference titles. I, for one would love to hear the casual conversation between Bill Snyder and Dana Holgorsen.
Virginia Tech at Clemson
A rematch of the 2011 ACC Championship and possible preview of this year’s version. Is Tajh Boyd Heisman-ish or will he Clemson himself toward average a la the Orange Bowl? This writer thinks the days of ‘Hokies stranglehold on the conference are nearing an end.
Baylor at Texas
The Bears have tripped up the Longhorns two consecutive seasons. A decade ago, that might earn you a ticket to Arkham Asylum for even thinking it. Can Nick Florence continue berating Texas defenses? His back won’t feel the wrath of Bane but he’s less likely than his predecessor to torch Manny Diaz’s unit.
South Florida at Louisville
A pseudo-Big East championship that Skip Holtz could stand to deliver. He’s respected and for more than his last name though I’m trying to figure out why. No reason the Bulls shouldn’t contend or run that league on an annual basis.
North Carolina at Duke
“PTP’ers baaaaaaby. It’s Tobacco Road. It’s Duke-North Carolina. What else is there?” While I admire Dick Vitale’s college football fervor, this is a clash I’d rather watch in February.
BYU at Notre Dame
Everett Golson earned the job at quarterback for the Irish and while he’ll get top billing, his Cougars counterpart isn’t any slouch. Riley Nelson claimed the spot for BYU down the stretch in 2011 and forced a transfer from former uber-recruit Jake Heaps.
October 23rd (Tuesday)
Arkansas State at Louisiana-Lafayette
Tuesdays with Malzahn? Sounds like my kind of book.