1. An interesting storyline has started to develop in College Station following back-to-back losses to theMississippi schools with a trip to Tuscaloosa waiting Saturday. We all remember what happened the last time Kevin Sumlin and company went to Tuscaloosa, but what’s happened since then? The Aggies are 3-7 against ranked teams – the wins: a blowout of No. 15 Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl, the comeback over No. 23 Duke in the Peach Bowl, and a blowout of since unranked South Carolina – and are 0-6 against SEC teams with winning conference records. And now they’re two-touchdown underdogs on the road. What kind of running game can Jake Spavital and B.J. Anderson against the country’s third-ranked run defense?
2. What happens if Alabama loses to Texas A&M? Alabama has struggled on the road in a loss to Ole Miss and a close win over Arkansas, and blasted Florida in its last home game. But couldn’t you also say, rather than venue, the genesis of Alabama’s struggles have come from the loss of center Ryan Kelly, who left the Ole Miss game in the third quarter (Bama scored three second-half points in Oxford) and whose availability is questionable for Saturday? A loss drops Alabama well behind in the SEC West and seemingly out of College Football Playoff contention. Other than the ceremonial shooting of Lane Kiffin’s head into outer space, what happens if the Tide’s offensive struggles continue.
3. The luck of the Irish, and what else? The trends say Notre Dame can not lose to Florida State. The Irish are 9-0-1 in their last 10 in games where both teams are 6-0 or better, and 4-0-2 against the defending national champions. Meanwhile, College GameDay’s presence seemingly tilts the scales in favor of the visitors:
— Chris Fowler (@cbfowler) October 17, 2014
With that said, is there any other reason Notre Dame can win this game?
4. Does the season’s wildest trend continue? Following Utah’s win Thursday night in Corvallis, road teams are 15-4 this season in Pac-12 games. 15-4. And you know what? I think the trend continues this week, as Stanford visits Arizona State, UCLA visits Cal, while USC hosts Colorado and Oregon hosts Washington.
5. Speaking of that Oregon-Washington game… The Ducks will don throwbacks harkening back to 1994, when a monumental interception turned the tide of that year’s UO-UW game, the Pac-10 championship race, and the rivalry. Oregon has won 15 of the last 19, and 10 in a row – everyone one of them by 17 points or more. Oregon has had a tremendous coaching advantage for much of that time, but not this year. Washington has been playing much better football since starting slow, and has turned the ball over only once this season. If Arizona can walk into Autzen and push the Ducks around, what’s stopping the Huskies?
6. The ACC Coastal title may be decided this weekend. Unless you believe in Georgia Tech or Pittsburgh, there’s a good chance Duke or Virginia are playing opposite Florida State in the ACC title game this season. Virginia is 2-0 in conference, and 4-2 overall. Duke is 1-1 in ACC play, and 5-1 overall.
7. Let’s party like it’s 2012. Baylor travels to West Virginia, marking the de facto two-year anniversary of one of the the most memorable games of the decade. Each offense has shown the ability to hold up its end of the bargain in a shootout, and each defense has shown enough flaws to let it happen. So, please, let’s get weird at high noon in Milan Puskar Stadium.
8. A sneaky intriguing game in Dallas. Scott touched on this earlier in today’s Best Bets, but Tommy Tuberville wants to win and win impressively at SMU more than most realize. The Bearcats are two-touchdown favorites, and with good reason. SMU is winless, and hasn’t come particularly close to a victory yet this season. But is it possible that SMU has been, uh, misrepresented so far? Their schedule, including Baylor, Texas A&M, TCU, plus trips to East Carolina and a North Texas programs that loathes SMU, has been probably the most difficult in the country so far. And the Mustangs looked much better their last time out, playing East Carolina to a 45-24 final. Meanwhile, Cincinnati’s defense is certifiably rancid. This is a game to keep an eye on as it rolls through the ticker.