Three conference biggies:
1. No. 1 Ohio State at Wisconsin, Saturday (7 p.m. ET): This one has trap written on it. A newly-crowned number one team, Ohio State will face a tough Wisconsin Badger team that could upset the Buckeyes. Ohio State's last three games in Madison have been decided by an average of five points, so expect a close one. Personally, I think if Terrelle Pryor has a good day, the Bucks will come up on top. That being said, don't be shocked if the Badgers come away with a big win and throws the entire BCS into a tizzy!
2. Arkansas at Auburn, Saturday (4:30 p.m. ET): A top-tier match up on the Plains is looming as Razorbacks QB Ryan Mallett try to keep the Hogs in the race. Mallett needs to overcome his interception situation to be an outstanding quarterback. If he gets his head straight, he has all the tools to be playing on Sundays next year. The Tigers are tough to beat at home, and is ranked seventh in the AP poll, the Razorbacks are ranked 12th. Because it is a home game for Auburn, my gut feeling is that they win a very close one.
3. Texas at Nebraska, Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET): The last time these two met, Texas won the Big 12 Championship game as time was expiring (and after a questionable call to allow time to remain on the clock)...the Huskers have had this date circled ever since. Their quarterback, Taylor "T-Magic" Martinez will be facing a tough defense, but he goes against Nebraska's Black Shirts every day in practice. Last Thursday against Kansas State, he rushed for 242 yards and four TD's on just 15 attempts...but that won't do it against Texas...he will have to pass the ball. For Texas QB Garrett Gilbert, he has not seen a defense like he will on Saturday. The Huskers have already shut down one Heisman hopeful, Jake Locker...and Gilbert is not in his class. Nebraska has the better team this year and will win.
Seven more games I think you will want to pay attention to:
4. Maryland at Clemson (12:00 noon): Why? Maryland could shock the Tigers as they have done before in Death Valley and stay close to Florida State (3-0 in the ACC) in the ACC Coastal division...but Clemson absolutely NEEDS to win this game to have any chance at a successful season. Maryland is not a great (1-0 in the ACC and overall 4-1) team but Clemson is exactly what their record says: 0-2 in the ACC; 2-3 overall. Many people criticized Clemson's early season cupcake schedule (opening with North Texas and Presbyterian College) and they have been beaten by each of the successive three teams they have played (Auburn, Miami and UNC). If the Terrapins' head coach Ralph Friedgen wants to keep his job, a victory in Clemson would go a long way towards that goal. Looking ahead for Clemson, after the Terps, only Boston College and Wake Forest remains on their schedule as a definite "W"...with games against Georgia Tech, NC State, Florida State and South Carolina looking like definite losses. A 4-8 or 5-7 season is not why quarterback Kyle Parker came back to school...but it is definitely a possibility. To avoid that, Clemson - a desperate team - needs to win Saturday. And they will.
5. Missouri at Texas A&M (12:00 noon): An undefeated Tiger team coming off an emotional shutout of Colorado now travels to Aggieland. The Tigers don't usually go this deep into a season without a loss, and the more this team wins, the more their confidence grows. The Aggies lost by a touchdown last week to Arkansas, and have to face another good quarterback this week in Mizzou's Blaine Gabbert. I have a feeling Mizzou comes up short in their quest to stay even with Nebraska in the Big 12 North, and A&M grabs a close one.
6. Oklahoma State at Texas Tech (3:30 p.m.): This looks like a mismatch on paper...but it isn't. An undefeated OSU team vs. a 3-2 Red Raider squad would seem to favor the Pokes...but that's why they play games on the field. The Cowboys prolific offense (4th in the nation overall...2nd in scoring) had better be on Saturday because going to Lubbock is never a fun trip. I would be worried about their 88th ranked defense if they weren't playing the 89th ranked defense...and that's why Brandon Weeden will lead the Pokes to a win to stay undefeated and start moving up the polls. I just hope they are not looking ahead to next week's game against Nebraska...if they are, they surely will lose. OSU wins.
7. California at USC (3:30 p.m.): The Bears feature the 8th ranked defense in the country and a deceiving 3-2 record. They beat up on UC Davis and Colorado, but lost at Nevada and at Arizona, then beat UCLA easily. I don't know what to make of this team, but the Arizona loss was by a single point and Nevada is pretty good (we'll find out on Nov. 26 when they host Boise State). USC on the other hand is in the midst of, for them, a terrible season. Their offense is ranked 13th in the country, but their defense is terrible...100th in the nation. Matt Barkley has been doing a good job at the helm, with a 162.0 QB rating, passing for 1517 yards and 15 touchdowns. The defense is not helping, however. They lost to Washington by a point as time expired and to Stanford by two points as time expired...otherwise we would be looking at an undefeated USC team and would not be talking defense. I think they get fired up and come out of Memorial Coliseum with a big win on Saturday. Just don't look ahead two weeks when the Oregon Ducks come to LA!
8. South Carolina at Kentucky (6:00 p.m.): This is our second trap game of the week. The East Coast USC (yes, that's actually what locals in the Carolinas call the school...) is good. Kentucky is not as bad as you may think. However, I look for the Gamecocks to take care of business against Kentucky and not look back to their big victory over then No. 1 Alabama and not look ahead to Vanderbilt or Tennessee...or to Arkansas (Nov. 6). This team has a different look to it from past Gamecock squads and they will show it winning in Lexington.
9. Ole Miss at Alabama (9:10 p.m.): Now ranked 8th, Alabama will come into this game with a chip on their shoulder. This SEC clash with a late starting time should ensure both teams are rested and ready to strap 'em on. QB Greg McElroy (1298 yards passing, 169.1 rating, 9 TD passes) and running backs Mark Ingram (5 rushing TD's) and Trent Richardson (442 yards) will be just fine against the 65th ranked defense of Ole Miss. But the Crimson Tide defense needs to watch out for transfer (from Oregon) quarterback Jeremiah Masoli (823 yards, 144.6 rating and 6 TD passes) who has been known to make defenses look bad. No matter...Alabama Rolls to another win and starts a new streak.
10. Oregon State at Washington (10:15 p.m.): This will be an interesting game since the Beavers won last weekend at Arizona, proving they are certainly in the thick of things in the Pac 10. The Huskies have a signature win (at USC) but were crushed at home by No. 4 Nebraska. Quarterback Jake Locker needs to be on his game if the Huskies are to pull this one off. OSU has a nice running game, but will it be enough? They lost receiver James Rodgers for the season during last week's game, so they will definitely be out to win it for him. And they do...in a very close one.
Also - for fun - Iowa travels to Michigan...and comes away with a big win that they really need. The Wolverines were exposed a little last week and you can be sure the Hawkeye staff has broken down a lot of film this week and will be prepared.
One final game that will be fun to watch - Nevada at Hawaii...lots of offense from both teams, but Nevada is by far the superior team. Nevada outscores the Rainbow Warriors and wins in the Aloha State. This is just a tease for the November 26 showdown against Boise State.
I'll be back on Monday with my review of the weekend...until then - enjoy the games!