I'm headed to Auburn this weekend to cover South Carolina's game with them. Should be one of the better matchups of the weekend, and especially given the sad circumstances of Kenny McKinley's suicide earlier this week it's a hard one to get a handle on. Will his former teammates be distracted or inspired? One thing that really stood out to me in watching Auburn's win over Clemson was how effective stuff on the perimeter was for Clemson. A lot of the Gamecocks running has been up the middle with Marcus Lattimore, but this week they may need to mix in more wide receiver screens and some Wildcat stuff to help open it up for him.
Florida gets Kentucky in Gainesville, a game that's got potential to be dangerous but is another one they should be able to handle. At some point the Gators have got to show an ability to put points on the board early in the action, and they clearly have better athletes on offense than Kentucky does on defense. If they let Kentucky get confidence after being roadkill against UF the past two seasons, that's a significant breakthrough for the Wildcats and then there's the chance a guy like Randall Cobb or Derrick Locke does does something special.
A few other games that have my attention:
Alabama should be able to take care of business against Arkansas. Ryan Mallett is more effective at home and has a stable of quality WRs against an inexperienced Bama secondary, but to be effective against the Crimson Tide you have to be able to run the ball as well. There's nothing to indicate the Razorbacks are capable of that. Alabama's actually not favored by much, but I think they win by double digits.
Boise State is going to kill Oregon State. Their victory over a team with a 1-2 record that only beat a bad Louisville team 35-28 will then be proclaimed as further evidence of them "doing everything you can ask them to do" and being worthy of playing for the national title. Alabama's win will be proclaimed a "good division win" and the start of a tough SEC stretch by the same people, who will be oblivious to how ridiculous the combination of the two sounds.
Stanford has punted less than any other team in college football this season. They head to South Bend to take on Notre Dame. My buddy Chris Fallica, ESPN's college research guru, believes there may be a trap here for them and I respect him too much to completely dismiss that possibility. If ND gets worked over, the possibility of a really rough start for Brian Kelly looms large. Harbaugh's going to be an NFL coach soon unless Michigan calls with a boatload of money.
In a normal week it would be hard to have a worse coaching matchup than Les Miles against Bill Stewart, but thanks to last night's Miami/Pittsburgh slopfest there actually was one. Some people are starting to raise the question about what could happen if WVU wins this game, because they would head into Big East play undefeated and as the clear favorite because the conference's performance has been horrid overall. My worst nightmare: Boise versus a mediocre WVU for the national title, with the win "proof" of their greatness. It's not often I'd say this, but let's go Les Miles.
Did Alabama's Nick Saban pressure non-productive players to accept a medical scholarship, thus ending their college careers and freeing up extra scholarships for the Crimson Tide to use in recruiting? Of course he did, and everyone who's been paying attention knows he has. The Wall Street Journal actually got some guys to acknowledge it on the record though, which is somewhat newsworthy. Coaches used to just tell these guys their scholarship wasn't renewed and to go away, but thanks to the APR that could have negative consequences now. As a result, more schools will go to a kid and inform him he has a "health problem" and suggest he quit football. If it's a choice between completing your education and being a former "fill in the blank" who caught a tough break or transferring down to a school like North Alabama and still playing, a lot of guys will take the deal. Saban's just been more obvious in his use of the loophole than most coaches are.
I'll be busy this weekend between covering the South Carolina at Auburn game and then the final round of the Tour Championship in Atlanta Sunday. I'm not sure how much time there will be for me to put stuff out on Twitter along the way, but I will when I can. Follow along at heathradio if you're so inclined. Have a great weekend and i'll see you back here Monday.