It's widely accepted that LSU-Alabama is the Game of the Cenozoic Age. Still, the schedule lists a number of other games - games that matter, dammit, to people like you and me and Jim Grobe! (EDITOR'S NOTE: The only thing that matters to Jim Grobe is his local Dollar Store's inventory, which he monitors fastidiously.) What if we look back in January at this game and say "I can't believe LSU beat Bama by 24 points and then lost to Ole Miss and Arkansas!"
We could just let the mainstream media dictate what we watch and care about. Or, we could stand up and fight.
I SAY WE FIGHT FOR THE LITTLE GAMES! GAMES LIKE TEXAS TECH-TEXAS! GAMES LIKE OREGON-WASHINGTON! GAMES LIKE DUKE-MIAMohgodlet'sjustgetintoit.Minnesota-Michigan State
Sparty is still alive in the race to the Lucas Oil Stadium B1G Championship Game/Boat Show, despite getting held to three points and less than 200 yards by Nebraska. Meanwhile, Minnesota comes in RED HOT after upsetting Iowa, and I don't have my notes handy so I'm not sure if we're still considering the Hawkeyes a good team. (Kirk Ferentz, however, is a leading candidate to replace Jack Del Rio in Jacksonville, because I just said so.)
MATCHUP TO WATCH: Michigan State wideout B.J. Cunningham is 3rd in the conference with 90.4 receiving yards a game. Meanwhile, Minnesota's defense has accumulated an exceedingly polite three interceptions and eight sacks on the year.
MATCHUP TO NOT WATCH: One of you commenters is going to make some remark about Dantonio and Kill being on the same sideline and actuarial tables and WE WILL BE WATCHING, BANHAMMERS AT THE READY.
North Carolina-North Carolina State
UNC is bowl eligible but 5th in the Coastal Division. NC State is its standard .500 but will probably get to bowl eligibility thanks to Maryland and Boston College, both of which appear to be poorly animated sprites borrowed from a 1995 PC adventure game.
What I'm saying is that this game could well determine who goes to the Independence Bowl and who goes to the Music City Bowl. If you think there's any better bulletin board material than pictures of Shreveport in winter, well, friend, you are mistaken.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: The Tar Heels and the Wolfpack each average slightly under 30 minutes of possession per game. This means we will have a delightful 47 seconds or so where the back judge intercepts a pass and runs around evading tacklers.
MATCHUP TO NOT WATCH: NC State's kicker is named Niklas Sade. He has, however, missed half of his field goal tries so far. By being shitty, Niklas, you have deprived us of hearing NC State's horn section play "Smooth Operator" on the regular.
Here's a hilarious fact! One of these teams will end the weekend with a conference victory while Tennessee will still be stuck on zero.
Earlier this season I remarked that this game would be like watching a sloth covered in molasses (Ole Miss) fight a suit of armor full of dead spiders (Kentucky). But, upon further consideration, I see no reason to denigrate sloths or dead spiders like that. Don't watch this game thinking it might be good. Instead, watch it to see what kind of bad it is. Your options include:
- One team takes a ten point lead into half, and both offenses spend the rest of the game trading possessions where they drive to the opposing 40, lose 18 yards on first and second down sacks and penalties, and then run up the middle to center the punt.
- Baby I'm Burning v. 1.7
- An Ole Miss loss at the end of the game on a missed 23 yard field goal that falls short, followed by the saddest storming of the field you've ever seen.
- Monster passing games from Maxwell Smith and Barry Brunetti, creating absurdly high false hope for the future in both fan bases.
- The most likely option: the Rebels jump out to a big lead in the first quarter, and we get to see which infallible truth wins the day - Ole Miss's utter inability to play well for an entire game, or the impossible division by zero known as a Kentucky comeback.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: Mississippi's red zone defense has actually been reasonably stout, only giving up touchdowns on 58% of opposing possessions inside the 20. Unfortunately, that rate would be an improvement for Kentucky, which has only put up 6 on 43% red zone opportunities.
MATCHUP TO NOT WATCH: Houston Nutt vs. a childproof bottle of medicine. Stop stabbing it from the bottom like a Capri Sun, coach.
Kansas State-Oklahoma State
It's almost certain that the last thing that got cut from that creepy Pinocchio story last weekend was Bill Snyder asking "Say, fella, that camera's not on, is it?" Last week was Snyder's moment of oh-god-i-sent-that-reply-all panic. The question is how he responds now - does he just lay low and hope nobody says anything, or does he act like a REAL workplace man and plant child pornography on the boss's computer?
These two teams enter this game a combined plus 28 in turnover margin (the Cowboys lead the nation at plus 19, and the Wildcats are tied for sixth at plus 9). Math suggests that this game cannot end with both teams a combined plus 33. MATH IS FOR THE BIG TEN AND THEIR SOFT CLOCK-CONTROL OFFENSES.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: Justin Blackmon vs. the 4 Down System. Blackmon has 371 receiving yards on 1st downs, 275 on 2nd downs, and only 164 on 3rd downs. THIS KID IS NOT A GAMER AND IS NOT READY FOR THE NEXT LEVEL.
MATCHUP TO NOT WATCH: Former first round NBA draft pick Bryant "Big Country" Reeves will be hosting a high-stakes blackjack game before kickoff. It inevitably ends in a fight when it turns out Reeves gathered supplies at the last minute and someone is dealt a "Reverse" card after doubling down.
Middle Tennessee State-Tennessee
MASTER, WHAT IS THY BIDDING?
LET US BRING SUFFERING UPON THESE PITIFUL MINIONS
LET THE REVERBERATIONS OF THEIR ANGUISHED SCREAMS CASCADE OVER MY GOLDEN PANELS
LET THEM THIRST FOR CHEERWINE
BUT ONLY HAVE ODDLY FERMENTED GRENADINE
Notre Dame-Wake Forest
Did I put this game here only to highlight the fact that Notre Dame has played eight games, returned ten punts, and amassed THREE punt return yards?
The world may never know.