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TF Saturday Preview: Pole, er.. Bowl Position

Posted: Oct 26, 2007

If you aren't a Florida or Georgia fan, this weekend might be a good one to spend with the kids.  This is a pretty thin weekend for good games in the Footprint.  That's why Athlon's college football preview spends most of its time previewing games outside our area. 

(Give it a watch anyway because it is hosted by Swampland's Patrick Snow.)

Still, this doesn't mean that important things won't be happening.  Teams are really fighting for positioning at this point.  Many teams need wins this week to keep bowl hopes alive.  The big matchups will wait for another week.


#11 Florida at #18 Georgia
#16 South Carolina at Tennessee
Mississippi State at #14 Kentucky
Miami (OH) at Vanderbilt
Florida International at Arkansas
Mississippi at #22 Auburn

The annual Florida-Georgia game is the most critical of the weekend.  The Dogs and Mark Richt need this win badly, but history says they will walk away disappointed.  Georgia is realistically a year away having such a young roster, but it is still a concern to Bulldog fans that their opponent is also young, yet still in the chase.  Richt can make a big statement by winning.

South Carolina dropped a huge one to Vandy last week.  Vandy was due, but that kind of loss is very uncharacteristic of a Spurrier team since he had never lost to Vandy as a coach.  Meanwhile, Phil Fulmer is feeling a growing heat in Knoxville.  Losing to Bama in Tuscaloosa is not a crime, but the Vols were blown out.  Both teams' seasons are in the balance.  Spurrier wants his Gamecocks in a New Year's Day game.  Fulmer wants to keep his job.  This should be a hard fought contest.

Kentucky has another home game, but this one should be easier than the last two.  After two barn burners and a 1-1 record against the SEC's best teams, Kentucky needs to show that they can stay focused and take care of an overmatched Miss St squad.

Vandy and Arkansas need wins this weekend against lightly regarded non-conference opponents.  With wins, both are within a game of making it to a bowl.  For Vandy, that would be an amazing feat.  For Arkansas, it might be essential to Houston Nutt's future.

Auburn should be licking its wounds after a tough loss to LSU.  They've still got Bama ahead.  Is the Ed Orgeron era almost over in Oxford?


North Carolina at Wake Forest
Clemson at Maryland
#15 Virginia at North Carolina State
Duke at Florida State

This has been a nightmare year for this conference.  BC winning in Blacksburg continues to highlight  the ACC's credibility issues.  BC is a nice team, but they are a traditional middle of the pack program in a lackluster college football market.  BC likely would have no chance against college football's better teams.  Despite their undefeated record, this team is a pretender.  If they were back in the Big East, they would have already dropped two games.

That is where the ACC sits right now.  An upstart, cobbled-together conference, like the Big East, that features former Conference USA teams mixed with two teams that essentially have built programs from the ground up (UConn and Rutgers) in the last two years, is better than a long standing traditional conference like the ACC.  Folks in ACC country should be embarrassed that BC stepped down by moving to the ACC from the Big East.

Clemson has been a huge disappointment this year.  How much longer are they going to put up with Tommy Bowden's mediocrity?  Maryland should probably beat them, but the Terps have been snakebit all season.

Virginia might have a good record, but they are still walking a fine line.  This team also can't shake the fact that they were humiliated by a Wyoming squad that is in the middle of the pack in their conference out west.  The Cavs don't need a win here.  They need a blowout against the hapless Wolfpack.

FSU is so down right now, TF wouldn't be surprised if Duke won.  That says a lot about the Seminoles slide.  Mike Bianchi is calling for Bobby Bowden to step down.  It might be time.

Big East

#10 South Florida at #23 Connecticut
#7 West Virginia at Rutgers
Pittsburgh at Louisville

The Big East has lapped the ACC, but that isn't saying much  USF needs to put UConn back in their place by winning this weekend.  The Bulls lost on a bogus call in the same way that UConn won on a bogus call against Louisville.  USF can still be a factor in the National Championship race, but they must regain their chippy and aggressive style.

For all their weeks in the top ten, WVa has been a bit of a mystery all season.  Rutgers is a well-coached squad.  The Mountaineers can make a statement by winning handily, but the Scarlet Knights likely won't go down easy.

Louisville has had a horribly difficult season, but they are still a fine team.  They must win against Pitt and their loser coach Dave Wannstedt.  A bowl game birth is on the line for them.

Big 12

#9 Kansas at Texas A&M
Colorado at Texas Tech
Iowa State at #13 Missouri
Nebraska at #19 Texas
Baylor at Kansas State

With the exception of Iowa State, the entire Big 12 is either bowl eligible (Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Missouri, and Kansas) or potentially bowl eligible (Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Colorado, Nebraska, and Baylor).  This conference has improved across the board this year and should be proud.

The critical matchup is between Kansas and Texas A&M.  Of late, the South has dominated the North so despite Kansas's undefeated record, no one would be surprised if the Aggies took them down.  Dennis Franchione is coaching each week for his future employment.  This one should be interesting.

Colorado has turned around in year two of the Dan Hawkins era.  They need just two wins to put themselves into bowl contention.  Texas Tech needs this game to stay in the conference hunt.  This could be better than expected.

Texas and Mizzou need to take care of business.  Nebraska may be officially still bowl eligible, but that program will be fumigated by season's end.  There isn't a lot to play for in corn country right now.

Baylor is actually showing signs of life.  K State should at least be on alert.

Conference USA

Southern Methodist at Tulsa
Memphis at Tulane
UAB at East Carolina
Rice at Marshall
Houston at UTEP
UCF at Southern Miss (Sunday night)

Conference USA is still a jumble.  No team from this conference is going to finish high in the polls, but many still have a shot to play in the conference championship.  This is a deeper conference than it gets credit for, but that is hurting its reputation because no team has distanced themselves from the pack.

The Houston-UTEP and the UCF-So Miss games will go a long way to deciding which schools will be playing in the C-USA title game.  Meanwhile, East Carolina and Tulsa needs wins to keep pace, but the Priates needs to shake off their loss to NC State last week.

Rice, Marshall, Tulane, and SMU are this year's doormats.  Has anyone let SMU know that their NCAA death penalty was over more than a decade ago?

Sun Belt

Troy at Arkansas State
Louisiana-Monroe at Florida Atlantic
Middle Tennessee at North Texas
Florida International at Arkansas

Similar to C-USA, the Sun Belt is still sorting things out.  The class of the conference still appears to be FAU and Troy, both of which are undefeated in conference play.  It would be nice for this conference if both of these schools remained that way until their end of the season game.  However, this week might catch one of them napping.  Neither of their opponents is a pushover.

Middle Tennessee is showing signs of life.  This program has a chance to be pretty good in the next year or two.  They played tight games against both Louisville and UVa and are 2-1 in Sun Belt play.

FIU will be scraped off Arkansas's windshield after Sunday.  This program is the bottom of the barrel.

related tags

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South Carolina,
North Carolina,
New Orleans,
Tribal Fever,

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