College Football- Week 10 Recap and Week 11 Preview

The big story of last week was the Thursday night game, as Louisville used the home field to its advantage and pretty much mauled West Virginia. This was honestly a shock to me. I really thought West Virginia could contain the versatile Louisville offensive attack, but the Cardinals proved to have too many weapons and capitalized on some Mountaineer turnovers. Sophomore tailback Steve Slaton pretty much cost himself a trip to the Heisman ceremony, fumbling twice in critical situations with a national title berth on the line. But you have to give Louisville all the credit in the world. They’ve overcome losing their Heisman candidate tailback for the season and losing QB Brian Brohm for six games and are now clicking and are quite simply a beast offensively. It still appears to me that if the Cards can win out, they deserve a chance at the national title, and will likely get one, as they leapfrogged some teams into 3rd place in the BCS standings. Presumably, the loser of the epic forthcoming battle between undefeated Michigan and Ohio State will fall, leaving Louisville in 2nd if they can get past tomorrow night’s game at Rutgers. More on that in a bit. Here are some other highlights from the weekend:

  • LSU and Tennessee showed why SEC football is still the best as they fought back and forth relentlessly for four quarters, with the Tigers prevailing 28-24 in the final seconds. Embattled quarterback JaMarcus Russell showed his stuff and hit Early Doucet with a four-yard touchdown pass in the game’s final seconds. For Tennessee, the loss cost them a distant national title shot, but they’ve overachieved this season in my opinion and even in their losses have shown that they can play with the nation’s best. LSU is still easily the best 2-loss team in the country.
  • Oklahoma continued to overcome the seemingly insurmountable odds this season has presented them with and got a huge win on the road against a hot Texas A&M team, winning 17-16. The Sooners are finding ways to win, and I am pretty impressed.
  • Miami had a pretty tough week. After a home loss to Virginia Tech virtually ended any hope Larry Coker had of keeping his job, they had a player killed by a gunshot. This whole season has played out like a horror film for Miami but this tragedy trumps it all. In more uplifting ACC news, Maryland and Wake Forest defied the odds and got huge conference wins over leaders Clemson and Boston College respectively. Now those two figure to face off over Thanksgiving weekend with a trip to the ACC title game on the line! Does anyone else think that sounds more like a basketball game?
  • Undefeated Michigan and Ohio State struggled with bottom-dwelling Northwestern and Illinois respectively, but it doesn’t look like either will be threatened this week, likely setting up the first undefeated meeting between the rivals since 1973. Slightly big game. Ohio State gets its turn with Northwestern while the Wolverines travel to Indiana. What happened to my Hoosiers? Giving up 63 points to a hapless Minnesota team with a bowl game on the line isn’t the best way to make a statement. I’m still not sure how that happened.  

TOP 25 OF THE MATTY

  1. Ohio State (10-0)
  2. Michigan (10-0)
  3. Louisville (8-0)
  4. Texas (9-1)
  5. Notre Dame (8-1)
  6. USC (7-1)
  7. Arkansas (8-1)
  8. Auburn (9-1)
  9. Florida (8-1)
  10. West Virginia (7-1)
  11. LSU (7-2)
  12. Tennessee (7-2)
  13. California (8-1)
  14. Boise State (9-0)
  15. Rutgers (8-0)
  16. Oklahoma (7-2)
  17. Wisconsin (9-1)
  18. Georgia Tech (7-2)
  19. Wake Forest (8-1)
  20. Boston College (7-2)
  21. Virginia Tech (7-2)
  22. Nebraska (7-3)
  23. Oregon (7-2)
  24. Maryland (7-2)
  25. Texas A&M (8-2)

HEISMAN WATCH

  1. Troy Smith, Ohio State
  2. Brady Quinn, Notre Dame
  3. Ray Rice, Rutgers
  4. Mike Hart, Michigan
  5. Darren McFadden, Arkansas

GAMES TO WATCH

 #3 Louisville at #15 Rutgers, Thursday, 6:30 PM CST, ESPN

Big East Thursday night showdown part deux sends Louisville on the road this time to face another undefeated, the surprising Rutgers Scarlet Knights. It appears that Rutgers has a stingier defense than West Virginia, and having the home field for what is surely the school’s biggest game in half a century can’t be taken lightly. Rutgers has a strong running game behind Ray Rice, and if the defense can produce some turnovers and the offense can capitalize, they actually have a chance in this one, likely setting up a BCS catastrophe. There are a lot of “ifs” though, and the way that Louisville is clicking offensively, it is tough to bet against them here.  I’ll be rooting for Rutgers though just for the sake of chaos. Louisville 38, Rutgers 27

#12 Tennessee at #7 Arkansas, 6:00 CST, ESPN 2

In yet another SEC showdown, the cinderella Razorbacks get a big test against a Tennessee team that will be hungry after a heartbreaking loss to LSU last weekend. For Arkansas, winning this one would virtually guarantee a trip to the SEC championship game, as only LSU remains as a major obstacle on the schedule. Even with a loss there, Arkansas wins the tie-breaker by virtue of their win over Auburn. I’ve liked Arkansas all season and can’t turn on them here. Darren McFadden is the SEC’s best running back and should produce here, while Tennessee’s quarterback situation continues to worry me. At home, at night, on national TV, I’ve got to go with the Razorbacks in a close one. Arkansas 21, Tennessee 20

#6 USC at #23 Oregon, 9:15 CST, FSN

USC gets a big test on the road after suffering its first regular season defeat in three years at Oregon State two weeks back. This opponent should present more of a challenge than the Beavers did, but my guess is that the loss to OSU served as a reality check for the Trojans, who are absolutely in a must win situation with formidable foes California and Notre Dame still coming to town. USC has the more talented team but will be tested in a hostile enviroment. I still think the Trojans will get it done this time, but if they don’t, they’re going to be in a lot of trouble.  USC 28, Oregon 21

#22 Nebraska at #25 Texas A&M, 2:30 CST, ABC

This is a game with major implications for the Big 12 championship, not so much for the Aggies, who slipped into 3rd place after a narrow home loss to Oklahoma, but certainly for the Huskers, who anxiously await a rematch with Texas. Nebraska lost a tough game to Oklahoma State after giving the defending champs a tough time, and need this win to get another shot at them. It should be an interesting matchup with two talented QBs and improving defenses, and both teams badly needing a win. I give Nebraska a slight edge, although it’s tough to see the Aggies losing two in a row at home. Nebraska 20, Texas A&M 17

ACC Irony: Miami at #24 Maryland, 2:30, ABC, and #19 Wake Forest at Florida State, 7:00 ABC

These two games seem to have an intersting irony about them, so I grouped them together as one. Who would have thought at the beginning of the season that perennial powerhouses Florida State and Miami would be entering these games as potential spoliers that have yet to become bowl eligible? For the two unlikely favorites, they get a chance to officially stake their claim to being worthy of a trip to the ACC championship. After the week Miami has had, I see them having a lot of trouble against a quickly improving Maryland team, especially if QB Kyle Wright can’t play. On the flip side, Wake Forest isn’t going to go into Talahassee at night and win on national TV. Look for the Seminoles to get back on track with a win.  Maryland 16, Miami 10; Florida State 24, Wake Forest 13

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