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Coping with the Bye Week Blues: A Look at the Top 25

Here we are approaching the deepest depths of this the most dreaded of weeks in the college football season the bye week. Saturday will mark the furthest away from a Michigan football game we will be until December rolls around, but lets not think about that just yet.

There is hope for those of us without significant others looking to spend the day together. This week offers a solid lineup of games, both in the Big Ten and around the rest of the FBS. Dave has already previewed the Big Ten slate this week, but let's take a look around the rest of the Top 25 to see what games you should check out when you aren't rooting against Ohio State/Michigan State/Wisconsin/Penn State/etc.

Noon Games

Grab a beer and settle in to that soft spot on the couch. Here are your options for the first round of games:

  • #19 Texas vs. Iowa St. - What Texas team shows up? Is it the team that barely needed to break a sweat vs. Nebraska last weekend, or the team that couldn't overcome a whopping 27 passing yards by UCLA because of five turnovers and an exposed run defense. It probably doesn't matter as Iowa State is who they always are: a bad football team. Texas in a rout.
  • #25 Virginia Tech vs. Duke - ACC football, feel the excitement. Duke's loan win of the year came against a school named Elon. No, I didn't make that up. Virginia Tech on the other hand has rallied nicely after doing their best "Michigan football 2006 impression" in the first two weeks. Virginia Tech in a rout as Duke fans everywhere collectively yawn and ask when basketball season starts.
  • #20 West Virginia vs. Syracuse - Do Big East fans even take their conference seriously anymore? The only question left isn't who will win the conference, but will anyone get within two touchdowns of West Virginia as they waltz back to the automatic BCS bowl bid that has every Mountain West fan grinding their teeth in frustration. Imagine this scenario: if next year the Big East and MWC square off in matchups top to bottom with the better record at the end getting the auto-bid, how many games does the Big East win? Two? Three? Zero? By all means John Marinatto, go pick up Villanova and Memphis. That will keep your conference nationally relevant. By the way, this one is a rout as well. Noticing a trend in the noon games? Glad you grabbed that beer now, aren't you?
  • #23 Arkansas vs. Ole Miss - Mississippi is 96th in the nation in pass defense. Arkansas is second in the nation in pass offense. Sure, Ryan Mallet might be injured, but does that even matter when his backup is capable of putting up 300 yards and four touchdowns like he did in a little more than half the game against Auburn. The quesiton is, can Ole Miss keep pace with Arkansas? This blogger says no. Arkansas wins easily and Razorback fans everywhere cackle manically at Houston Nutt's continuing misfortune.

Ugh. The college football gods must hate noon viewers. This is a pretty ugly slate of games. Keep your viewing inside the Big Ten for the first batch of games. Definitely make MSU at NW your first priority in what could be a competitive game, and only flip around if it begins to get out of hand. If you are in the "pain and suffering" crowd, tune in to Purdue walking into three and a half of the worst hours of their season, as OSU looks to avenge last years loss while also getting out all the built up frustration from last weeks epic collapse in Madison. My prediction for the Boilermakers day in Columbus? Pain. Since most of these games are out of hand, I would do your grilling/cooking/takeout-ordering before the next batch of games.

Three-Thirty Games and Beyond after the Jump...

I knew there were some competative games somewhere. Get the remote ready as there are a few great options here that will keep you busy:

  • #6 LSU vs. #4 Auburn - You have a gun to your head and you have to pick one game to watch this weekend. What is it? If you answered anything other that LSU vs. Auburn you might be crazier than Les Miles. I take that back, nobody is crazier than Les Miles. This game offers something for everyone. Do you like high powered offenses? Well we have a top 10 offense led by the prohibitive favorite to win the Heisman, and his mad scientist of a head coach Gene Chizik. Do you like old school smash mouth defenses? Well do I have a doozy for you, how about the top BCS conference defense (Boise St. and TCU are ahead of LSU at 1 and 2 respectively), led by the best corner back in the nation, Patrick Peterson, who just happens to be a dynamic returner with two punt return touchdowns already this year. To top it all off, with Les Miles on the sideline you have absolutely no idea how this game is going to end. Peterson pick-six in the final minute to win the game? Possible. Les Miles using his timeouts after automatic clock stoppages in the final two minutes because he saw Steve Spurrier do it last week, and if it's good enough for Spurrier, it's damn well good enough for him? Probable. A fake field goal that everyone knows is coming, but works anyway after the ball bounces off of three defenders who over pursue the kicker? Don't rule it out. If LSU's offense can find some way to keep pace with Auburn until the final two minutes, anything short of a plague of locusts carrying Gene Chizik and Cam Newton off the field is possible. And frankly, with the way LSU's season has unfolded so far, I'm not willing to rule out divine intervention.
  • #16 Nebraska vs. #14 Oklahoma St. - Nebraska looks to rebound from one of the most crushing regular season losses of the past decade, while Oklahoma St. puts its perfect record on the line against a team that doesn't suck (sorry A&M fans). In what is a common theme of the weekend, this game pits another team sporting a strong defense and questionable offense against a team....with a questionable defense and a strong offense. Oklahoma St is allowing over 400 yards/game so look for Taylor Martinez to once again have a productive day, but will it be enough against Mike Gundy's high powered attack? This high scoring affair will be entertaining, but the number two game of the afternoon is in the Big Ten: Iowa vs. Wisconsin.
  • #22 Kansas St. vs. Baylor - Did you go to Kansas St.? No. How about Baylor? No. Then catch the highlights at halftime of the other games and thank me later.

You should focus your attention on either LSU vs. Auburn or Wisconsin vs. Iowa. Flip to Okla St. vs. Nebraska on those odd occasions that both your first choices have gone to commercial. Keep that remote handy, or you might miss some of the best college football action of the day.

Late afternoon games

The requisite mercy killings. Rest assured, by the time you get to either of these games (after what is sure to be an epic LSU comeback/collapse) they won't be the least bit interesting.

  • #12 Stanford vs. Washington St. - Don't look for the Cougars to end their 13 game Pac 10 losing streak Saturday. Andrew Luck and the Cardinal roll in this one.
  • #9 Utah vs. Colorado St. - Unbeaten Utah might say they aren't looking ahead to next week, but it would be a lie. The more important question is if Utah gets past Air Force next week and then upsets TCU in two weeks, how pissed does Orrin Hatch get when no one takes the Utes seriously once BCS discussions ramp up in late November? Oh well, might as well get one last BCS snub in before Utah bolts to greener pastures in the Pac 10, you know, for old times sake.

There are better things to do than subject yourself to these games. Go get some dinner and run to the store to pick up more beer for the night games. Trust me, you aren't missing anything here. The only people watching these games are NFL scouts (for Andrew Luck), gambling addicts (what, you don't like Colorado St.? They're +30!), and Utah fans (because there's nothing better to do in Utah).

Night Games

The bar can wait. We have at least two very good games and the possibility of another surprising upset of a ranked SEC team.

  • #24 Mississippi St. vs. UAB - After a stunning upset of Florida, Miss St. looks to hold on to the newly acquired spot in the polls by facing UAB. This is the kind of game ESPN3 was made for. Pull it up on your laptop and quickly forget about it as you watch one of the other late games. That is unless UAB can make this one a game not out of the question.
  • #21 South Carolina vs. Vanderbilt - What a season it has been for Spurrier. After toiling away for five years in Columbia this was finally supposed to be his breakout year. He beat Georgia then lost a heart-breaker to Auburn. After a bye week he knocked off #1 Alabama only to follow it up with a last second loss to Kentucky last week with a bit of late game clock management that can only be described as Miles-esque. The Gamecocks can still win the SEC East, but they can't afford to drop any more games, and a letdown against Vandy would just about end any hope of a trip to the Georgia Dome in December.
  • #8 Alabama vs. Tennessee - You've got to feel for Derek Dooley. A year ago he was free to wallow away in the WAC, away from the prying eyes of the national media and the weight of ridiculous expectations. Now, he gets to clean up Lane Kiffin's mess. Will he be able to rebuild Tennessee into an SEC power? Will he even be given enough time to try this is the same school that fired its MNC winning coach Phil Fulmer. Either way, Saban and the boys desecrate the corpse of a once great program in front of 102,000 horrified spectators. Enjoy for the pure shadenfreude of it all.
  • #5 TCU vs. Air Force - So far this year TCU has cruised to victory without much drama, but they have yet to see a rushing offense as effective as the one that Air Force brings to Fort Worth. This could get interesting as the Horned Frogs gave up 190 rushing yards in the biggest scare to date against SMU. If Air Force can move the ball and keep it within one score, this one could solve one half of the BCS's "mid-major problem".
  • #1 Oklahoma vs. #11 - Missouri - Is Missouri for real? Is Oklahoma? We might not know from this game, but it should be entertaining. Both teams feature pass happy offenses, but Missouri is a better defensive team so far this year, coming in as the 29th best total defense as well as the second best scoring defense behind TCU. Oklahoma will be the first real test this defense has seen Missouri has yet to play a ranked team as the Sooners are currently putting up over 450 yards of offense a game. With both teams currently sitting atop their respective divisions in the Big 12, this could end up only being round one. Does the number one team fall for a third consecutive week? You can bet Boise State fans will be watching this score closely.

Do yourself a favor and tune in to the big one on ABC to listen to Herbie and Brent serenade you over the sweet sight of two prototypical Big 12 spread passing offenses. During commercials flip to TCU vs. Air Force (whats wrong? You don't love Amuuurica?) or Alabama vs. Tennessee.

Once the evening games are finished, if you still haven't gotten your fill of football, tune in to #18 Arizona vs. Washington to listen to the announcers drool over Jake Locker's pro potential without mentioning that he is 11-23 as a starter. I'm glad the Lions already have a quarterback, because you KNOW they would blow the pick on someone like Locker.

Don't worry, the bye week will be done before you know it. Then you can get back to worrying about freshmen quarterbacks shredding an equally inexperienced Wolverine secondary for the next three weeks.