12:00 Noon, ACC Network (Raycom)
So this Mike London thing at UVA seems to be working out irritatingly well so far. The French have cruised past both of their I-AA opponents and held Captain Douchebag and the Trojans to 17 points in Los Angeles. I'm not sold on the resurrection of the Cavaliers just yet, but I'm also not taking them for granted.
Meanwhile, as Yahoo! Sports college football blogger Matt Hinton points out, the Florida State fanbase hasn't exactly been showering "new" head coach Jimbo (that never stops being funny) Fisher with adoration - or attendance.
Still, Florida State is Florida State and Virginia is Virginia. Or so we think.
PREDICTION: FSU 27, UVA 20
Miami vs. Clemson
12:00 Noon, ESPN2/ESPN3D
This could damn well be a preview of the 2010 ACC championship game. Yes, Miami got schooled by the Sweater Vest at the whore's shoe, but nobody's claiming Da U is back this year. It's just very possible that they might wind up being the least sucktastic team in shittacular division. Judging by Miami's performance at Pittsburgh there are zero questions on the defensive side of the ball in Miami. If Jacory Harris can just start completing more passes to his own players than to defenders then Miami can win the Coastal in a walk this season. Then again, Jacory has never come close to living up to the hype surrounding him, and we don't expect him to start anytime soon.
Clemson, meanwhile, managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory against Auburn two weeks ago, damn near crippling their own starting quarterback in the process. Head coach Dabo Swinney (I swear to God) claims Kyle Parker's ribs are fully healed after the steel cage death match he endured against Auburn's defense. The sophomore QB will apparently be good to go against Miami. The Tigers damn near pulled the upset against Auburn, which makes the loss that much more devastating. (See Boise State) The rest of the Tigers' season will be determined by how the team responds to the emotionally draining loss. It's quite possible the team might simply fold. If, however, the near miss against Auburn lights a fire under the team's collective asses then Clemson fans will have a short drive to Charlotte this December.
PREDICTION: Clemson 24, Miami 21
Virginia Tech vs NC State
3:30 PM, ABC Regional
Look, I hope I'm wrong about this.
I mean, I really, really hope I'm wrong about this.
But I think the good guys lose this one.
It's hard to pick against my team when they're coming off a shutout of a conference opponent on the road. In fact, that's the one thing that makes me think I might be wrong about this one, the hope that Coach Foster's defense will be able to do against NC State what it did against a vastly inferior BC team. Except, of course, for the fact that David Shinskie is the second coming of Grant Noel, while Russel Wilson looks like a dark horse Heisman candidate. Wilson is on pace to throw for over 3,300 yards and over 30 touchdowns in the regular season and sports an 11:1 TD to INT ratio. The glimmer of hope is that he's also been sacked 11 times through 4 games against defenses vastly inferior to VT's.
The Wolfpack defense, meanwhile, looks almost shockingly similar to the Hokies'. The Wolfpack is allowing 311.25 ypg. The Hokies are allowing 307.25. The Wolfpack rank 46th against the rush and 49th against the pass. The Hokies rank 38th and 53rd, respectively. The Wolfpack is averaging 3.5 sacks per game. The Hokies are averaging 3.0. I'm not saying the Wolfpack D is worthy of carrying the lunchpail. The level of play of their opponents has been a bit below the level of play of VT's opponents. But it's close enough for me to say that in terms of defense, with this game being at Carter Finley Stadium, there might be no clear advantage on either team. That means this game might come down to which offensive coordinator can find a wrinkle in the opposing defense and exploit it.
And if that's the case, we're screwed.
PREDICTION: NC State 14, Virginia Tech 9
Texas vs Oklahoma
3:30 PM, ABC (regional)
First and foremost: I don't think this game has any bearing on the eventual BCS champion this season. Texas is seeking an identity after the graduation of the anti-Vince, and Oklahoma, while vastly improved over last season's debacle, still has Landry Jones under center.
But the Red River Rivalry is my second favorite annual marquee conference matchup at a neutral site, right behind
I'm going with my heart here instead of my head. Texas won't lose back to back heartbreakers. Coach Mack Brown still has too much spit and vinegar left in him. He took the asskicking UCLA dropped on the Longhorns personally. Defensive coordinator and HCiW Will Muschamp will have the Longhorn D frothing at the mouth after giving up 34 points to the Bruins, and offensive coordinator Greg Davis will spend all week figuring out how to overcome a stagnant running game to win against a major opponent. (Stiney, are you listening?)
PREDICTION: Texas 31, Oklahoma 24
Florida vs Alabama
8:00 PM, CBS (national)
As far as I'm concerned, this is the money game this weekend. Both Oregon and Stanford have the look of a champion, and yet the two teams couldn't look more different.
At one point this season Oregon's offense was scoring a point a minute. The Ducks have come back down to earth a bit after starting conference play. They are now averaging a point every 62.3 seconds. Add to that an average of 560 yards per game, including over 320 on the ground, and you realize that those Big XII offenses a couple of years ago weren't shit. But unlike the Texas Techs and Oklahoma States of yesteryear, this Oregon squad has a D. And that D is currently ranked 23rd in the nation in total defense and 3rd in scoring defense. Those numbers are slightly skewed by the fact that three of Oregon's four opponents have been New Mexico, Tennessee, and Portland State. But any time you're outscoring your opponent by more than 46 points on average you're entire team is doing something right.
Chip Kelly might be the best coach in 1A football. Then again, Jim Harbaugh of Standford might also be the best coach in 1A football. He'd have to be to do what he's done at Stanford, a school that has a tree as a mascot. I mean...a tree. And not a cool tree like Treebeard from Lord of the Rings. They have a thing walking the sidelines that looks like Jim Henson dropped the brown acid at Woodstock. They also have the nerve to insist that they be referred to in the singular. The Standford Cardinal. Not Cardinals. Just one. A single bird. And what a cardinal has to do with a tree I have no clue. But I guess if Alabama can represent the Crimson Tide as an elephant, Stanford can represent a cardinal as a tree. At least both of Stanford's mascots are real things.
Anyway, Harbaugh is a badass. An old school, smashmouth badass. After going for two against Notre Lame while already up by three scores he instantaneously became my favorite head coach in all of football, at any level. He is absolutely relentless. He will always give opposing teams his best shot for a full 60 minutes, and he thinks mercy is how you say thank you in French.
This game is damn near impossible to predict, because neither of these teams have been tested so far this season. It's anybody's guess how either team would react to adversity. But if this game is close, and I think it will be, I'd give Harbaugh the edge over Kelly when it comes to rallying the troops. Offensively, I give the edge to Oregon. Defensively, I think Stanford gets the nod. Even though the Cardinal is giving up 13.75 points per game vs Oregon's 11.00, the quality of offenses Standford has faces thus far have been several degrees above those the Ducks have faced. And Oregon just gave up 31 points against the first quality opponent of the season.
I'm going with my gut on this one, but my confidence level in my prediction is approaching absolute zero.
PREDICTION: Stanford 31, Oregon 30