The Top Ten Storylines of the Weekend
- by Zach Barnett 11 months ago
1. The two week season - The great thing about college football is that it's the only sport where September games matter just as much as November and December games. This year's guinea pig is Mark Richt's Georgia team. Beat South Carolina and the Bulldogs are still right were they need to be. Lose, and Richt will have to recalibrate his team's goal to getting back in the SEC East race and a third stright trip to the SEC title game.
2. A Golden opportunity - Golden gets a lot of accolades for rebuilding a fallen Miami program, and rightfully so, but he sports an 0-6 record against teams that finished the year in the top 25. In hosting No. 12 Florida for the last time for the foreseeable future, this would be the definition of a statement game.
3. Things come full-circle in Ann Arbor - The last time Notre Dame visited Michigan, the Wolverines prevailed in a 35-31 thriller that doubled as the first game under the lights in the storied history of the Big House. Painful as that loss was, that defeat represented something of a turning point for Notre Dame; after falling to 8-7 in his first 15 games at Notre Dame, Brian Kelly has won 21 of his last 25. In another milestone game for this series - the Irish's last planned visit to Ann Arbor - Kelly and Hoke have both taken their swipes at each other in the media, but in what truly matters, whoever affects the opposing quarterback more wins this game.
4. A lot on the line for Lane Kiffin - Technically, the previous statement is true every time USC steps on the field this season. We've maintained all offseason that this year's Washington State team won't be like the previous versions, but the Cougars are still a team that hasn't won so much as three Pac-12 games since 2007. While the Trojans continue to figure out which quarterback can best deliver the ball to Marqise Lee and Nelson Agholor, evidence of the Cougars' uprising can be seen in their 120 rushing yards in last week's close loss at Auburn. That total may not seem like much, but it's still more than a third of their entire rushing haul from the entire 2012 season.
5. Western Kentucky tries for first place in the SEC East - Following a win over Kentucky, Western Kentucky tries to take down its second SEC East club that just so happens to also be breaking in a new coaching staff. For Tennessee, the schedule from here goes: at Oregon, at Florida, vs. South Alabama, vs. Georgia, vs. South Carolina, at Alabama through the end of October. Needless to say, a loss to Western Kentucky is not in Butch Jones' plans.
6. The Texas A&M defensive situation - Mark Snyder has four quarters to recalibrate a defense that surrendered three touchdown drives of 75 yards or more before Alabama comes to town. How will he adjust? Sam Houston State's talent level isn't that of Rice, and neither compares to Alabama, but Bearkats running back Tim Flanders is talented enough to make the Aggies pay for a bad run fit.
7. The true debut of the Mark Helfrich era at Oregon - Technically, Mark Helfrich's first game as Oregon's head coach and Scott Frost's first game as Oregon's offensive coordinator was last week's 66-3 drubbing of Nicholls State. But in reality, we'll finally learn a bit of what that pair has in store for 2013 when the Ducks migrate across the country to meet Virginia. This is the first of 11 straight regular-season games for Oregon against BCS-level competition, so there are no gimmes from here.
8. Bill Bedenbaugh meets his old friends - An original member of Dana Holgorsen's staff at West Virginia, Bedenbaugh will be on the opposite sideline Saturday in Norman. For what it's worth, the Sooners rushed for 305 yards in Bedenbaugh's crimson and cream debut against ULM.
9. The SEC isn't the only conference with an divisional showdown on Saturday - Kent State claimed the MAC East title on November 17 of last season with a 31-24 defeat of Bowling Green, largely on the strength of Dri Archer's 241 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Archer left Kent State's opener after three carries and is listed as day-to-day heading into Saturday. If he's less than 100 percent, how does Paul Haynes' staff find the offense to stymie Bowling Green's outstanding defense?
10. A large shot at a small milestone - Wins are cherished at places like Army, Tulane, Duke and North Texas. Following season-opening wins, each staff has a shot at its first 2-0 start in a long time. Army (last 2-0 start: 1998) visits Ball State. Tulane (2002) hosts South Alabama. Duke (1998) visits Memphis. North Texas (1994) visits Ohio.