Sunday, October 5, 2008

Around the Nation Week 7

A Tale of Two Conferences?

Is the 2008 college football season turning into a tale of two conferences?

It is the best of times in the Big 12.

Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas, and Texas Tech all find themselves in the national top ten rankings, and Oklahoma State may soon join them.

It is the best of times in the SEC too.

Alabama and LSU remain undefeated and top five teams, Florida and Georgia are still considered championship contenders, and conference teams won the past two BCS national titles.

Welcome to The Campus Game, where it is never the worst of times, and where you get news and information on the SEC, the Big 12, and all of college football every week on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday (but check back anytime!).

The Big 12 continued a big roll last weekend.

Top-ranked Oklahoma blistered Baylor 49-17 behind Sam Bradford’s 372 yards passing. The Sooners go to Dallas this weekend for another installment of the Red River Shootout with Texas.

The Longhorns corralled Colorado in Boulder 38-14 and that score is as close as any team all year has come to hooking the Horns.

Missouri may be the most impressive team in America right now.

The Tigers crushed the Nebraska Cornhuskers 52-17 in Lincoln (with all the points coming in the first three quarters), have scored at least six touchdowns in every game, and have two legitimate Heisman Trophy candidates in quarterback Chase Daniel and wideout Jeremy Maclin.

Texas Tech and Oklahoma State put up 58 and 56 points respectively in big wins.

The SEC cannot match that scoring output, but rugged defenses might make the league even tougher.

Alabama pounded out a 17-14 victory over previously unbeaten Kentucky, and the Tide now has a clear path to an undefeated regular season with one major obstacle – a trip to LSU in early November.

Those LSU Tigers, defending national champs, must first navigate a difficult visit to the Swamp this weekend where they will play Florida, the SEC’s other entry into the national title quinella of the past two seasons. The Gators are perhaps America’s fastest team.

In addition to those three, Georgia remains in the picture with only one loss, and – surprise – Vanderbilt is at 5-0 after a nice win over Auburn.

The winners of these two conferences are on track to play for the national title with Penn State and USC lurking.

Stay tuned for this tale of two conferences.

Also, next week we post our popular Midterm Grade Reports, so be sure to visit again.

Enjoy the games.

Around the Nation

The winnowing of the Big 12 contenders starts at the Texas State Fair when Oklahoma and Texas provide another big game in a series full of them. Catch it at noon Eastern on ABC.

Oklahoma State and Missouri play in Columbia … let’s hope the scoreboard bulbs are fresh.

The Big Ten schedule is topped by unbeaten Penn State playing at Wisconsin. The Nittany Lions are starting a rugged three-game stretch against UW, Michigan, and Ohio State. The tough-luck Badgers have lost consecutive close games against Michigan and then Ohio State.

Out West, Arizona State and USC collide in LA. The winner is probably the favorite to win the PAC-10, and Southern Cal certainly should not be counted out of the national championship picture.

Improving Notre Dame travels to Chapel Hill for an intersectional game with rising North Carolina.

Around the South

LSU at Florida is the headline game in SEC country, and (along with UT-OK) the best game of the weekend.

Georgia tries to get back on track against struggling Tennessee as Vol coach Phillip Fulmer continues to catch heat.

Undefeated Vanderbilt will be tested with a trip to rested Mississippi State (Bullies had a week to prepare).

The ACC takes a week off from conference play, with the notable exception of Clemson at Wake Forest on Thursday night.

C-USA has an interesting matchup as Southern Miss, with terrific running back Damion Fletcher, tries to bust the BCS bowl dreams of undefeated Boise State. The game is at the Rock in Hattiesburg.

See you at kickoff!