College Football Weekend Looks Intriguing – Week 5 of 2008 NCAA Season

College Football Weekend Looks Intriguing
By David A. Lane

Wasn’t long ago, most were talking about how great the football game between the USC Trojans and Ohio State Buckeyes was going to be. Unfortunately, once again the competition on the field didn’t live up to its grand billing as the Trojans won easily 35-3. As good as that contest looked on paper earlier this season, this weekend’s schedule looks comparatively stacked.

Friday’s Big East game between home team Louisville (2-1) and Connecticut (4-0) kicks off the first of what should be some decent games to both watch and wager on. This one should be a high flying game as both teams are prolific on offense- the Cardinals doing it with a more balanced attack and the Huskies with a more ground based one. Last team to score should win this one- an all important one to begin these two’s conference schedule.

On Saturday, we have a rematch of an old Southwest Conference rivalry between the seventh ranked Texas Longhorns (3-0) and the Arkansas Razorbacks (2-1) in Austin, Texas- one that should also be quite entertaining. The Longhorns are terrific on offense and suspect on defense- meaning this game between Big Twelve and South Eastern Conference foes should also go down to the wire. The Razorbacks can pass (16th ranked) but don’t run so well (94th) and the Horns defense is terrible against the pass (104th) and great against the rush (13th). On offense, Texas stud QB Colt McCoy leads the ninth ranked team in total yards in the country against a defense that is better against the pass (11th) than they are the rush (95), meaning to me we have another shootout here with the last team to score being victorious.

The next game that could just meet or exceed expectations is the No. 23 TCU Hornfrogs (4-0) facing the No. 2 Oklahoma Sooners (3-0). This game pits the number one ranked defense in the country in rushing yards allowed and total yards allowed (TCU) against the number one ranked team in points scored (54.7 per game avg.) -offense versus defense. The Sooners look to avenge last meetings loss to the Hornfrogs- one they lost at home only two years ago- 10-17. If TCU’s defense can limit OU enough, their offense can also score (43 per game avg.) making this game a serious sleeper on this weekend’s tilt.

An early season Big Ten showdown in Happy Valley, PA between No.23 Illinois (2-1) and No.15 Penn State (4-0) looks to be the next interesting game. Fighting Illini QB Juice Williams leads one of the better offenses in the country (17th total yards and 15th in rushing yards) against one of the better defenses in the Nittany Lions (7th total yards allowed), not an easy task, even for a team that gave the No. 5 ranked Missouri Tigers (4-0) all they could handle in losing 42-52 in their first game. Where the Illini have to step up is on defense where they really struggle (95th points allowed) if they hope to stop Coach Joe Paterno’s rebuilt high flying offense (6th total yards and 3rd points scored). Though this game seems it might possibly be a blowout, the Illini have held opponents close generally in their last four losses- losing by an average of just more than a touchdown in those.

Finally- and this one’s well worth waiting for- we have the No. 13 Alabama Crimson Tide (4-0) against the No. 3 Georgia (4-0) in a heavyweight SEC battle taking
place at Sanford Stadium in Athens, GA on Saturday night in front of close to 93,000 strong. This contest really appears to be a good one- at least on paper! As we’ve seen, that can at times be misleading, however, I don’t see it happening in this one- not between these two teams.

On offense, the Bulldogs have been well balanced (29th passing and 37th rushing) led by Heisman trophy candidate Running Back Knowshon Moreno’s 445 yards rushing and nine touchdowns. Much improved QB Matthew Stafford (919 passing yards, 5 TD, 0 INT, 60.8 completion percentage) leads the offense which is scoring 35.5 points a game, though they’ll have a hard time scoring that many here. The ‘Dogs defense has been stingy on the ground (4th rushing yards) doing a good job of holding opponents but haven’t been quite as successful defending through the air (86th) thus far.

The Crimson Tide on offense are great rushing the ball (14th) but no so much at throwing it (106th)- though passing the ball is going to be key to their chances of winning this one- something they should be able to improve on here. Another key is stopping the ‘Dogs offense, which they look capable of doing, with a very good defensive team (8th points allowed and 14th yards allowed). If the defense can step up and hold this one close keeping the score low- and by all accounts they should be able too- this will be a defensive struggle all the way. Both teams are healthy here so this one should be decided by a dramatic last second field goal.

Though on paper these games look to be close ones while also being fun to watch, well-hyped games often do not live up to their billing for some reason or the other. However, at least two of these should be decided late if not more. After all, there is always new hope that a game will live up to its expectations and, by the way, anything has to more enjoyable than watching a game like the Trojan beat down of the Buckeyes!