By Todd Wills
Corsicana Daily Sun
College Football Games to Watch
Game 1: No. 16 Texas A&M (6-2, 3-2 in SEC) at No. 15 Mississippi State (7-1, 3-1, 11 a.m. (ESPN)
Todd’s take: The Aggies have a big chance to make a statement in the SEC with a victory on the road Saturday in Starkville. This should be a tougher test than A&M’s game at Ole Miss (tight win) and Auburn (blowout win) but the Bulldogs remain the biggest unknown in the conference. Mississippi State jumped out to a 7-0 start against a weak schedule. Then the Bulldogs ran into the NFL’s 33rd team, top-ranked Alabama, and got destroyed 38-7. The Aggies looked great in a 63-21 pounding of Auburn. A&M does have to turn around one bad trend — the Aggies haven’t forced a turnover in three weeks while in the three games before hapless Auburn they turned it over 13 times. The Bulldogs have seven turnovers in eight games. You can’t lose the turnover battle on the road and win.
Game 2: Pittsburgh (4-4) at No. 3 Notre Dame (8-0), 2:30 p.m. (Ch. 5)
Todd’s take: Look who’s back in the national title hunt — the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. If you read this column last week or studied “Pick the Winners” on Thursday your’s truly called the Irish’s stunning upset of Oklahoma. Stunning in how Notre Dame physically dominated a very confident OU team. Definitely one of the season’s most exciting games and also one that lived up to the pre-game billing. It’s also always fun to see Big Game Bob — Bob Stoops — whining up a storm on the OU sideline. Here’s what we found out about the Golden Domers — QB Everett Golson can wing it, LB Manti Te’O is the best player in college football and should be the Heisman Trophy favorite (sorry Collin Klein) and Brian Kelly can flat out coach. Pitt is awful. Really I can’t believe the Panthers have won four games. The Irish have a clear path to 11-0 with a weak schedule the rest of the way before their final game against Southern Cal.
Game 3: No. 23 Texas (6-2, 3-2 in Big 12) at No. 18 Texas Tech (6-2, 3-2), 2:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
Todd’s take: Let’s be real, Mack Brown is indebted to the McCoy family for the rest of his life. Whatever his buyout is when he’s done at Texas — and there’s no way Mack will make it through the length of his contract — Colt and Case McCoy should get 1 percent each. Brown’s job was basically on the line in the final three minutes last week before Case salvaged the season at least for one week with a game-winning drive. Word is Brown has been helping defensive coordinator Manny Diaz tinker with his reeling unit this week. That’s better than watching Brown pat the helmet of another player on the sideline after he just got torched for a touchdown. And who knows with the Red Raiders. They look like they’re better but they disappointed last week against No. 2 Kansas State. It started out as a barnburner and ended with Tech getting spanked 55-24. How about this? The winner could be lined to play Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl. Wouldn’t that be something.
Game 4: No. 4 Oregon (8-0, 5-0 in Pac 12) at No. 17 Southern Cal (6-2, 4-2), 6 p.m. (Ch. 4)
Todd’s take: Get warmed up for Alabama-LSU by watching the first half of this titanic Pac 12 bout. Here’s one for you — why in the world is Oregon not ranked No. 2 behind Alabama in the national polls and the BCS rankings? The Ducks look like the most dangerous team out there. Sorry Kansas State and Notre Dame. I’m still not convinced the Ducks aren’t the best team in the country, though I do lean heavily to Bama. One thing is certain the Ducks have some serious firepower with QB Marcus Mariota and RBs Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas. The Trojans are the biggest disappointment in college football. Some of us picked USC to win the national title and Matt Barkley to win the Heisman. Boy were we wrong. Still, this is USC’s Super Bowl and if they show up and play that way the Trojans can shock the Ducks. USC won at Oregon last year 38-35. Oregon has scored 40 or more in every game since then.
Game 5: No. 1 Alabama (8-0, 5-0 in SEC) at No. 5 LSU (7-1, 3-1), 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
Todd’s take: LSU is working its way back up the polls and a win Saturday at night in Baton Rouge could set up a third game for the national title. Come on, the BCS will find a way to put these two one-loss teams at the top of the rankings even if Kansas State, Notre Dame, etc. remain unbeaten after Oklahoma State got robbed last season after a title shot. In all seriousness, the Tigers’ national title hopes are on the line. And that’s where they’ll stay. I know it’s tough to beat LSU at night at home, but Alabama and its professional offensive line will find a way. LSU defense matches up with anyone and DT Bennie Logan and DE Barkevious Mingo will impact the game. But there’s no way you can go against Nick Saban and his staff. They’ve been game-planning for this one since January, the last time they played with Alabama getting sweet revenge and a national title. I’d say Alabama 21, LSU 7.
Other games of note:
TCU (5-3, 2-3 in Big 12) at No. 21 West Virginia (5-2, 2-2), 2 p.m. (Ch. 4) — The Mountaineers come off a bye week, which was a good thing after blowout losses to Texas Tech and Kansas State. TCU is looking for QB Trevone Boykin to step up and be the team’s leader. A win here wouldn’t get the West Mesquite product pointed in the right direction.
Kansas (1-7, 0-5) at Baylor (3-4, 0-4), 3:30 p.m., (Fox Sports Southwest) — Kansas nearly upset Texas as RB James Sims had a great game against the Longhorns. He’s licking his chops to go up against Baylor’s defense. A long time ago RG3 was playing QB for Baylor and the Bears were 10-3 and winning a bowl game. It’s time to get back in the win column.
No. 24 Oklahoma State (5-1, 3-1 in Big 12) at No. 2 Kansas State (8-0, 5-0), 7 p.m. (Ch. 8) — Kansas State appears to have its destiny in its hands as far as getting to the national title game. Just win baby. The Cowboys present a big test. Oklahoma State’s offense is dangerous and the Cowboys beat the Wildcats last season 52-45, albeit with a far better team.
NFL Games to Watch
Buffalo (3-4) at Houston (6-1), Noon, Ch. 11 — It’s not too early for the Texans to start thinking about home-field advantage throughou the AFC playoffs, especially with three-loss teams New England and Denver appearing to be their best challengers for the Super Bowl. The Titans come in off a bye week and have fantasy football favorite Arian Foster running against the worst rush defense in the NFL. Foster is averaging only 3.9 yards per carry, so he can get better. The Bills are a typical NFL team — average with an OK guy at QB, Ryan Fitzpatrick. Don’t see this being very close.
Pittsburgh (4-3) at NY Giants (6-2), 3:25, Ch. 4 — The Steelers seem to be getting better and Mike Tomlin is a great coach, but for some reason I’m not all that inthralled with Pittsburgh. It just feels like there’s something missing there though the Steel Curtain did dominate Washington and RG3 last week. The Giants seem to be the hottest team in the NFL aside from the fact that they were a fingernail away from getting swept for the season by the Cowboys. You would think this is a Giants win, but they better play well and get after Big Ben.
Dallas (3-4) at Atlanta (7-0), 7:20, Ch. 5 — Of all the stuff that’s suppose to be fun, it’s safe to say that watching the Cowboys these days is the most annoying thing of all. It’s right up there with that Spinnaker ride at Six Flags. Even expecting mediocrity from a team that is run by Jerry Jones doesn’t make you feel any better. It just makes you feel worse. Last week was the post-Jimmy Johnson Cowboys to the letter. Play awful. Look hopeless. Rally valiantly. Six turnovers. Still Dez Bryant scores a touchdown in the end zone to win it and instant replay wipes it out, even though there’s some evidence his palm came down in the end zone before his fingers touched out of bounds. Oh, and I’m sure the Cowboys will knock Atlanta from the unbeaten ranks Sunday night. Why not?