Around the Nation
The conferences match up at four sites today – Chapel Hill, N.C.; Durham, N.C.; Iowa City, Iowa, and Lafayette, Ind. Even split on the sites with the first two being in ACC country and the latter two on Big Ten fields. Ironically, I’m envisioning splits all around, between the conferences overall and between the conference winners at the conference-specific sites.
In other words, each conference wins two games and each has one road team win. The home winner, for me, seems easy. It’s Iowa beating Pittsburgh. The Hawkeyes just might be the cream of the B1G West Division crop when all is said and done. I see Virginia Tech pounding host Purdue. The other two, tough one. Both Illinois and No. 23 Northwestern are great stories, and one of them is an alma mater … but I think the other is the more likely to win on the road with the Wildcats topping Duke and the Illini falling at North Carolina. Of course, I’d be happy if that vibe were proven wrong.
Much has been made of the SEC’s collective hiccup last week with three of its team falling, and then dropping out of the national polls, and another limping out of the top 10 following an embarrassing win. Now everyone seems to be pointing to this week as an opportunity for the circuit to prove itself with No. 15 Ole Miss at No. 2 Alabama, No. 18 Auburn at No. 13 LSU, and South Carolina at No. 7 Georgia.
Umm, how does the SEC prove itself in games that have its members facing each other?
CONTENDER 2 PRETENDER?
Don’t see No. 19 Brigham Young having any future in the playoff race after tonight. The Cougars visit No. 10 UCLA, and I highly doubt any Hail Marys will be able to save them this week. The Bruins are quietly building a powerful program under Jim Mora – which seems impossible considering their prime-time location in Los Angeles, but, it is what it is. Plus, UCLA freshman QB Josh Rosen is the real deal.
Gotta say this for Bill Cubit, he has some serious taste in attire. Just three games into his reign as Illinois head coach, and the Illini have looked consistently sharper with what they wear than they ever seemed to under Tim Beckman. Today’s getup is orange-white-orange, and looks even better than UNC’s white-blue-white – which ain’t easy to do.
As Temple looks to go 3-0 for the first time in 35 years, keep an eye on junior RB Jahad Thomas. Ranked third in FBS in rushing with 328 yards, he has been a revelation to a ground attack that, frankly, had been a hold-up in the Owls’ development under Matt Rhule. He’s also a dangerous special teamer, as evidenced by last week’s 100-yard kickoff return TD.
Temple’s What 2 Watch vs. Massachusetts