Considering that it was the beginning of a two-week lead-in to Michigan’s visit to Ohio State, last weekend was pretty good. The best game of the day was probably LSU at Tennessee, two teams that had little to play for but pride and an unlikely BCS berth. JaMarcus Russell was super-clutch in the final drive of the game. The senior delivered a bullet to Early Doucet (who was right on time, nyuk nyuk nyuk) for the winning touchdown with nine seconds remaining.
Ohio State and Michigan both survived scares against much lesser opponents. Who would have thought that Illinois and Ball State could give the top two teams in the country a run for their money? The Buckeyes and Wolverines will probably pummel Northwestern and Indiana to make up for last weekend’s embarrassment. In other Big Ten (Eleven?) news, Joe Paterno is still alive and well after being knocked over by a Nittany Lion receiver Saturday. If any complications do arise, Penn State won’t need him to coach their weekend romp of Temple.
The Pac-10 is looking much more interesting than it has the last three years. If USC loses its first home game in a while to Oregon, then Cal can coast to the conference championship, win at USC or not. (I doubt 4-5 Arizona or 0-9 Stanford will pose any serious problems for the Bears.) The Big East is unsettled, too. Louisville beat West Virginia 44-34 in a battle of running and passing offenses. Hopefully, the Cardinals will lose to Rutgers this Saturday. If they don’t, I’m praying for a Ohio State/Michigan rematch in January.
In the ACC, Maryland and Wake Forest pulled off rather exciting upsets against Clemson and Boston College, respectively. Although both are in the driver’s seat of the ACC Atlantic Division, neither is guaranteed a trip to face Georgia Tech in December. The Terrapins and Demon Deacons have some work to do before their November 25 showdown. Maryland hosts Miami, then travels to Boston College. Wake Forest travels to Florida State before hosting Virginia Tech.
The ACC isn’t the only conference with a weird divison race. Florida clenched the East with a win over Vanderbilt, since Tennessee lost twice and Georgia underwent self-destruction. This year’s incarnation of the Oldest Rivalry in the South, the Auburn/Georgia game, is actually set to kick off at 11:30 AM Central. It’s not even on CBS; it’s on Lincoln Financial Sports. If that’s not an indication of how bad Georgia is, I don’t know what is. I’m hoping Auburn doesn’t completely embarrass themselves by losing to the Bulldogs.
Elsewhere in the SEC, LSU is preparing to destroy Alabama in Baton Rouge. Last year, the Tigers went to Tuscaloosa and exposed the #3 Crimson Tide squad as overrated. This year, there’s nothing to expose. (Losing to 3-7 Mississippi State makes your strength pretty obvious.) Tennessee goes to Arkansas to find out if the Razorbacks are really a new conference power. The Vols need to win to keep Auburn’s SEC (and probably national) championship hopes alive. I bet Kenton $5 that Arkansas would lose the two games required for Auburn to win the West, so you know I’ll be watching this game when I get out of Jordan-Hare.
Arkansas could have lost last weekend, but South Carolina threw away their chance. On the last play of the first half, two Gamecock defenders bounced a pass into the hands of Marcus Monk for a Razorback touchdown. Later, the Gamecock defense seemed unable to defend Monk, who might as well have had a target on his jersey whenever Casey Dick was in the pocket. Down 20-26 late in the fourth, Blake Mitchell began what looked to be a comeback drive, but a quick switch to zone by the Razorback secondary tricked him into throwing an interception.
Just one more week until the three week stretch of rivalries and conference championships begins. I’m excited to see how this season ends, and I think the finale will be worth the wait.