This week’s college football schedule offers a 7-course meal of deliciousness that is sure to please even the pickiest of palates. For the appetizer we get #16 USF playing Pittsburgh in the Ketchup Bottle tonight; USF should win, although Pitt is better than its record shows and could quite easily be undefeated right now. The early games on Saturday include #1 LSU hosting Kentucky (soup), #19 Michigan hosting probably the worst BCS-Conference team in America, the Minnesota Golden Gophers (salad), and an old-fashioned SWC matchup between #14 Texas A&M and #18 Arkansas (nice sorbet to cleanse the palate). The Aggies and Hogs both got a rude awakening last week when they opened their conference season with losses; the loser of this game will be in bad shape. No real games of national note take place in the afternoon, but the Triple Delight (not to be confused with the popular Chinese-food dish) of games in primetime should more than make up for that. First we get #13 Clemson taking their show on the road to Blacksburg to face #11 Va. Tech (pan-fried chicken), then #3 Alabama travels to Hicksville Gainesville to face the #12 Gators (Mahi-Mahi). Both are awesome matchups and could easily be given a full preview of their own here, but I’ll keep it simple. Clemson is hot like Hansel right now, but Lane Stadium is no joke and the Hokies are a more proven program lately. Expect an entertaining game but Va. Tech will prevail. Will Muschamp has Florida playing well and full of confidence, but Alabama is unbelievable defensively and should stifle the offense of Chuck Weis… Alabama wins fairly comfortably.
Now that we’re all nice and stuffed from dinner, let’s excuse ourselves from the table and head into the den for the real treat of the weekend – #8 Nebraska playing their first Big Ten game in school history vs. the #7 ranked Wisconsin Badgers. Weather forecast calls for clear skies and slightly chilly temps (perfect football weather) and a nightcap in Madison is sure to get the locals sauced and rowdy for the Huskers’ first visit to Camp Randall since 1974 (UW upset the 4th ranked Huskers 21-20 that year). Let’s have a look-see at the key stats for this battle between 2 Midwestern schools that will surely grow to despise one another.
Wisconsin: averaging an absurd 532 yds\game of total offense and equally absurd 49 points\game…best of luck to the “Blackshirts” with that. Russell Wilson has fit in at Wisconsin like Mike Tyson at Charlie Sheen’s Roast (which is to say perfectly)… the transfer QB has lit up the scoreboard, only turned the rock over once, and by all accounts has been exactly what the Badgers have needed behind center. Throw in Montee Ball, James White, and Nick Toon and Wisco’s offense is multi-dimensional and downright ruthless.
Nebraska: come in ranked eighth nationally rushing the ball (273 yds\game) and have 2 rushers averaging over 100 yds\game in QB Taylor Martinez and RB Rex (Kwon Do) Burkhead. The Huskers seem to be getting back to their glory days roots and are running with great success so far. Taylor Martinez has been up-and-down so far throwing the ball (50.6% completion rate, 647 yds, 4 td’s & 2 int’s) but you can bet the Huskers will at least attempt to get him untracked against the powerful but somewhat slower Badgers defense.
Prediction – I think this is going to be a terrific game and will be a “last team to get the ball wins” affair. Although neither team has played anyone of note (sorry Washington) the Badgers have destroyed each of their opponents so far, while the Huskers have struggled at times with their below average schedule. In the end Wisconsin is going to be able to pound NU into submission, and the Huskers will head back to Lincoln with a 34 – 28 loss as their Big Ten debut.