Meanwhile, No. 10 ranked USF has already lost as a two touchdown favorite at home on Thursday night and ESPN's College Gameday program will broadcast from a Vanderbilt home game - these are seriously strange times to be a college football fan.
With Arkansas as the opponent this week, our categories this week are named for various pork products. As always, all times are Eastern and all games on Saturday.
BABY BACK RIBS
Ohio State at Wisconsin (8, ABC) - Like the evil creature in a bad horror movie, Ohio State's national title ambitions just will not stay dead. Buckeye partisans are already claiming the only reason the Buckeyes lost by 32 to USC is that Beanie Wells missed the game due to injury and Terrelle Pryor hadn't been made starting QB yet. Those moves do give them a new look, one featuring much more use of the option. Wisconsin could be able to finally finish off OSU's 2008 BCS chances. The Badgers are the one Big Ten team with a winning record against Jim Tressel since he arrived in Columbus. Wisconsin is still reeling from last week's meltdown against Michigan though.
Oregon at USC (8, ABC) - The Trojans have had nine days to regroup after losing to Oregon State last week and now face the team which appears to be their most viable remaining challenger in the Pac-10. Oregon has had a nightmare run of quarterback injuries but might get former starter Justin Roper back this week. Not having Rey Maualuga available at linebacker because of injury takes a key figure out of USC's defense. Oregon knocked off USC last season by running the ball a bunch against them, something you have to assume they'll try again after what Oregon State was able to do.
HONEY BAKED HAM
Kentucky at Alabama (3:30, CBS) - Coming off their thrashing of Georgia, Alabama gets a chance to show they learned from their first experience with a big victory. After their opening win against Clemson, the Crimson Tide struggled at home against 30-point underdog Tulane. Kentucky appears to be a more imposing foe, so a similar letdown could pose problems. The Wildcats have not played an SEC game yet, but have impressed by allowing just 22 points in their four non conference games. Whether they have enough of a passing threat to move the ball on Alabama is in question.
Auburn at Vanderbilt (6, ESPN) - Please do not adjust your set - that is a 19 ranking next to Vanderbilt's name. The Commodores get a chance to show their stuff on national television as they try to move closer to their first bowl bid since 1982. Vandy's thrown for 323 yards on offense - that's not per game, that's their season total! Their formula is incredibly basic - run the ball, get an occasional big play from Sean Walker, and get lots of turnovers. Auburn might be able to accommodate on the turnover part, as their offense has been putrid. Tommy Tuberville may have seen enough of the spread, as indications are he will switch back toward a more conventional Auburn run oriented look on offense.
Missouri at Nebraska (9, ESPN) - The Cornhuskers haven't lost at home to Missouri since 1978. No Tiger team since then has come in averaging 54 points per game either, as Chase Daniel has been brilliant this season. New head coach Bo Pelini has improved Nebraska's defense, but they still allowed 35 last week to a Virginia Tech team that normally takes two games to score that much. Unless they can do better than that this week, this game could turn ugly.
HICKORY SMOKED BACON
Penn State at Purdue (noon, ESPN) - Joe Paterno's guys suddenly look well positioned for a shot at a BCS game appearance if they can just avoid tripping up in Big Ten play. Purdue's not all that good but they can throw the ball somewhat. This is the Nittany Lions first road trip in conference play this year, and as USC found out last week that can be a challenge sometimes.
Duke at Georgia Tech (noon, ESPNU) - The Blue Devils are 3-1. Tennessee is 1-3. Last year's Vol offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe is working in Durham now. Think those three things are related? Both Cutcliffe and Paul Johnson are having more early success than anticipated, making this an important Coastal division game. Not that any ACC game is realistically that important this year.
Illinois at Michigan (3:30, ABC) - Ron Zook's team has lost competitively to a pair of top ten teams and beaten a pair of overmatched opponents. This should give us some more realistic idea of just how good the Illini are this year. Rich Rodriguez's team saved its season by rallying against Wisconsin after getting booed off the field by their fans in the first half. If the Wolverines aren't imploding with turnovers on offense, their defense is good enough to win against most of the Big Ten.
Florida State at Miami (3:30, ABC) - Once this would have been the national game of the week without question. Now it's a battle of two unranked teams, each of whom lost their first conference game at home. Gator fans can sit back and enjoy every missed block and turnover - don't worry, there'll be plenty.
Weekend Viewer's Guide - Part I
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