Weekend Viewer's Guide - Week Eight

This weekend shows just how much things have shifted in this crazy college football season. During a weekend featuring traditional "must see" rivalry games like Miami/FSU, USC/Notre Dame and Tennessee/Alabama, ESPN's College Gameday program is in Lexington for Florida's battle with Kentucky.

CSTV's SEC focused pregame show will also broadcast from outside Commonwealth Stadium beginning at noon. The game itself kicks off on CBS at 3:30.

Another sign of how wild things are now came Thursday as fans across the country considered USF at Rutgers to be essential viewing. With USF being knocked from the ranks of the undefeated teams, we're down to five unbeatens left - Ohio State, Arizona State, Boston College, Kansas and Hawaii. In honor of Rutgers alum and avid Scarlet Knights fan James Gandolfini, this week's categories are named for characters from the Sopranos. As always, all games are on Saturday unless otherwise noted and all times are Eastern.

TONY SOPRANO

Auburn @ LSU (9, ESPN) - The home team has won the last seven in this series but it's generally a very tight game - none of the last three have been decided by more than four points. The loser will need the other team to lose twice in their last three conference games to have any chance of reaching Atlanta for the SEC title game, so the stakes are enormous in this one.

SILVIO DANTE

California @ UCLA (3:30, ABC) - The always wildly inconsistent Bruins are 3-0 in conference play but scored six points in both of their losses to Utah and Notre Dame. Both teams have injury issues at the quarterback spot that could have major impact on how this game turns out.

Texas Tech @ Missouri (3:30, ABC) - This game will tell us a lot about the Red Raiders. Texas Tech defense appears vastly improved since making a switch at the coordinator spot three weeks ago, but none of those opponents have had an offense as good as Missouri's. Tech has not been competitive in losses on their two previous trips to Columbia. For Missouri, top running back Tony Temple is out due to an ankle injury.

Michigan State @ Ohio State (3:30, ABC/ESPN2) - MSU first year head coach Mark Dantonio was Jim Tressel's defensive coordinator for three years. He was also part of Nick Saban's staff when MSU shocked the number one ranked Buckeyes as 26 point underdogs in 1998, so he understands how to spring the upset here. Ohio State's faced no teams ranked in the current top 25 so it's difficult to know just what to think of them, particularly on offense.

Kansas @ Colorado (5:45, ESPN) - Unbeaten Jayhawks can take a major step toward winning the Big 12 North by knocking off Colorado. It's the first time the Jayhawks have left their home state so far this season, which could prove to be a significant issue for them. Colorado's woeful 2006 squad only lost by five to the Jayhawks in Lawrence. Kansas coach Mark Mangino continues to build towards challenging CU's live buffalo mascot Ralphie for the title of biggest mammal in the conference.

Michigan @ Illinois (8, ABC) - How will Ron Zook's squad respond to last week's upset loss on the road in Iowa and a possible quarterback controversy? Can Michigan deal with a mobile quarterback after failing to do so miserably in their two season opening losses? If Zook wins this one on national television, he may get another contract extension on the spot.

PAULIE WALNUTS

Tennessee @ Alabama (12:30, Lincoln Financial) - Gator fans who also pull for the Dolphins are in the strange position of pulling for Nick Saban here since UF needs a Vol loss to regain control of their destiny in the SEC East. Neither team has scored more than 17 points in the last three games of this series.

Miami @ FSU (3:30, ABC) - Once upon a time, coming into this matchup with a higher rated offense than Miami might have seemed like a big deal for FSU. When you're 93rd to their 95th, it loses a little of the impact. Neither team has broken the 13 point barrier before overtime the last three years of this series, and it doesn't look like that trend's likely to change.

USC @ Notre Dame (3:30, NBC) - Charlie Weis's shining moment of his Notre Dame tenure continues to be losing this game close two years ago. He's trying his third starting quarterback to lead the nation's worst rated offense in Evan Sharpley. Pete Carroll's team has been ravaged by injuries but still holds hope of getting back into the BCS title picture.

PHIL LEOTARDO

Louisville @ UConn (Friday 8, ESPN) - The Cardinals have been a disappointment this year, but USF's loss means the Big East race is wide open. UConn is the only team without a conference loss, and only Syracuse has two.

Penn State @ Indiana (Noon, ESPN) - One more win makes the Hoosiers bowl eligible, which could help pay Kelvin Sampson's phone bill. Penn State continues to have off field issues, with the latest the disclosure of rape charges against previously suspended senior RB Austin Scott this week.

Wake Forest @ Navy (1, CSTV) - If you like option football and creative run attacks, this is the game for you. Wake has won four straight after 0-2 start.

Oregon @ Washington (7:30, FSN Regional) - After actually getting into the top 25 early in the year, Washington has struggled for the last month and has lost all three of its Pac-10 games. Oregon is getting a lot of attention as a possible BCS participant but can't afford to look past the Huskies.

Virginia @ Maryland (8, ESPN2) - Virginia is 6-1 and undefeated in three ACC games, with four of their wins coming by a combined ten point margin of victory. Maryland has questions at the quarterback spot due to an injury to starter Jordan Steffy and the season long suspension of Josh Portis.

Southern Miss @ Marshall (Sunday 8, ESPN) - Not a great matchup, but gets one spot higher rating for being the only college game on Sunday night. See if you can figure out while watching how winless Marshall has fallen so far, so fast.

AJ SOPRANO

Northwestern @ Eastern Michigan (7 Friday, ESPNU) - This game has a storyline - Jeff Genyk was an assistant at Northwestern before becoming EMU head coach in 2004. I didn't say it was an interesting storyline.

Iowa @ Purdue (Noon, ESPN2) - Iowa has a losing record, which is good news for Purdue since that's the only kind of team they beat. The Hawkeyes might be the least enjoyable team to watch in a BCS conference. Perhaps the school athletic department buying the rights to firekirkferentz.com earlier this year should have told us something.

Central Michigan @ Clemson (Noon, ESPNU) - Every year there's one non-ACC game in the middle of Clemson's regularly scheduled collapse against a team they can beat by thirty and claim afterward to have figured things out. The Chippewas get to play that role this year.

Army @ Georgia Tech (Noon, Lincoln Financial) - Unlike when Sherman brought Army to Atlanta, the south is a heavy favorite here.

Oklahoma @ Iowa State (12:30, FSN) - Oklahoma leads this series 66-5, which is close to the score Texas put on Iowa State last week. The Sooners last lost in Ames when Eisenhower was still in the White House. Given the kind of year it's been, that should make the Cyclones a lock to win here.

Texas @ Baylor (12:30, Versus) - Baylor football's week revolved around the now-dismissed offensive line coach relieving himself on the bar at a student hangout after last week's beating. Lots of strange things have happened during Versus games this year, but Texas losing to Baylor High won't be one of them.

Buffalo @ Syracuse (4, ESPNU) - Greg Robinson's already on extremely thin ice in Syracuse. A loss here and it officially cracks. For Buffalo head coach Turner Gill, an upset could help his case for the inevitable job opening at Nebraska.

N.C. State @ East Carolina (4:30, CSTV) - Because I know you were wondering, East Carolina's offense is the one rated 94th - not quite as good as FSU, but slightly better than Miami. Tom O'Brien has taken over a bad NC State team from Chuck Amato and transformed it into a bad, boring N.C. State team.

Stanford @ Arizona (7, FSN Regional) - With a 2-5 squad and no bowl berths in his four years trying to turn the Wildcats around, Arizona coach Mike Stoops is already in extremely hot water in Tucson. A home loss to first year Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh might seal his fate.

Tulane @ SMU (8, FSN Regional) - Remember the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where Indiana Jones has to avoid looking at the images coming out of the Ark once it's opened because doing so will destroy any mortal? Little known fact - the images are actually highlights of this game.

New Mexico @ San Diego State (8:30, CSTV) - A faculty committee is pushing for San Diego State to drop football because of its drain on the school's budget and the consistently poor performance in recent years. They're not likely to succeed before this game is played, but we can always hope.


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