As a general rule in nature, organisms are safe at home and in danger when not at home. When at home, it is generally safe and can fend for itself, but since ventures away from home are required for things such as gathering food and exercise, no organism can be safe all the time. The same holds true for College Football. When a team is at home, it tends to be safe unless the intruder is so much larger than it that it really does not matter. Take BYU’s trip to Tulane for example. Tulane was at home and safer (the -er being key), but BYU was so much more powerful that it really did not matter. However, when you take teams that are closer in power, the home team has an undeniable advantage that is especially pronounced in college. Tennessee was not as powerful as Georgia, but at home, it had more than enough moxie to beat the Bulldogs into submission. This all leads us nicely to this week’s key matchups.
(4) Virginia Tech v. (19) Georgia Tech
This is the big test for Virginia Tech. I know they got beat up pretty bad by Alabama despite a close score, but if they can go to Georgia Tech, a team that is clicking right now, and get a win, they have to be the odds-on favorite to win the ACC even more so than they are now. Last we saw Georgia Tech; they were getting embarrassed by a rising Miami team with their rising star and Heisman candidate Jacory Harris. Since that game, Georgia Tech has really cleaned it up by cleaning out Florida State, North Carolina and Mississippi State, two of which have been ranked this year. They averaged 38 points a game over that span running all over everyone. If they aren’t ready now, they never will be.
I have a very good feeling about Virginia Tech this year. They are clicking on defense, as Frank Beamer’s teams always do, and the offense has been doing its job too. Virginia Tech does not get enough credit for being one of the premier teams in the nation, I mean, when was the last time they were really rebuilding? Last year looked like it was going to be a down year and they ended up in the Orange Bowl. Some people give credit where it is due, and it is due to Virginia Tech for being an underappreciated powerhouse. HOWEVER, this is about this one game, not Hokies history. Will the Ramblin’ Wreck from Georgia Tech roll out the hopeful Hokies? I say no. The Hokies defense will deal with the option better than most, in large part because they have the kinds of athletes Miami had when they shut it down. If Virginia Tech falls, they are just another team, but if they go into “The Hive” and pull out a victory, you have to consider them a contender for the BCS Championship (I do not know if this is an official name, but it should be. You can use it. You are welcome). VT 23, GT 17.
(20) Oklahoma v (3) Texas @ The Cotton Bowl
Unfortunately, our little analogy does not apply so much to neutral site games, but this game is always interesting and always deserves mention. Last year it lived up to the hype and more and assured Texas a spot in the title game should they win out (which we now know they didn’t). Bradford is back and Texas looked fairly bad for a half against the Buffs, but you can throw out the records when it comes to rivalry games like this. Sam Bradford for a chance to get back in rhythm last week and looked pretty good so injury concerns are pretty much put to rest. Let’s break this one down a little more. At QB, it is a wash; a Heisman winner and Heisman contender and both are seniors. You have to give Oklahoma the edge on the ground since Colt McCoy remains the best ground option for the Longhorns and Oklahoma has been running all over people. Texas has better wide outs, but it is really about the guys getting them the ball. Oklahoma also has a slight edge on defense. Normally, given how Texas has yet to show up 100% ready to play so far this year, this would be an easy Oklahoma pick, but there is no chance that either of these teams is not excited about this game. They should both get each other’s best shot, and if they don’t the game will get ugly fast. I am picking Oklahoma but not as high scoring as people think. Oklahoma 27, Texas 24.
There are a few other top 25 matchups, but I think Alabama is pretty safe against #22 South Carolina at home and Cincinnati will deal with conference rival and #21 ranked USF on the road. USF always shows up for the big game, but I think Cincinnati has something big this year. I would not be shocked to see USF win, but I have faith in Cincinnati this year.
On to the Sunday league.
Wednesday is a little too early to pick NFL games, but let’s look at the games worth watching and the games that are best for mowing the lawn.
New York Giants @ New Orleans Saints
This is by far the marquee matchup of the week. The Saints are coming off a bye week and the giants are coming off a relative bye week against the Raiders. After being held down for the most part by the Jets, expect Drew Brees and the new Greatest Show on (Field) Turf to come out firing against the top ranked defense. The Giants have not really played anyone impressive yet with close wins over creampuff Washington and overhyped Dallas and blowout wins against the Oakland, Tampa Bay and Kansas City. For those of you keeping score at home that is a combined record of 6-19 and 3 of those wins came in games amongst themselves. This kind of futility is funny to a fan of a fortunate team (the Colts in my case) but I cannot imagine how much that must suck. So we have a case of 2 undefeated teams playing each other and no one really sure what to think about either. We think the Giants are good, but they have played no one. We think the Saints are pretty good, but we doubt their defense. I don’t know, but it should be a fantastic watch. I am leaning toward New Orleans in this game because of their rest and Eli’s heel. I know he get it rested and looked good against Oakland, but we will see how he feels when a defensive player actually gets to him (unlike the Raiders).
Baltimore Ravens v Minnesota Vikings
This comes in a close second on marquee matchup, but is definitely second. Baltimore is coming off consecutive losses and really struggled to put up points against the surprising Bengals. I am leaning toward the Vikings in this game because if Cedric Benson can rush for 100 yards, Adrian Peterson can too, and if Baltimore commits to the run too much, then the Minnesota Favres have enough weapons to take care of a suspect Ravens secondary. Ed Reed remains outstanding, but as a unit, they are weak. The Vikings should win, but Baltimore is not bad at all so I would not be at all surprised.
Kansas City Chiefs v Washington Redskins
Oh my. A snoozer if I have ever seen one. The Chiefs looked ok last week against a very mediocre Cowboys team who did not have a few key players and the Skins looked fairly dead against a winless Carolina team. I could not care less about this game. Seriously, I cannot remember the last time I cared less about a game, last week’s Buffalo-Cleveland game included. I do not care who wins this game, in fact if the game ends 55-54 with 70 total points scored in the 4th quarter I would not care. I am leaning toward the Chiefs because I know it just does not matter. Find anything else to do during this time. Find any other game to watch, and if it is your local game, I am so, so sorry.