2016 Top Games of the Week (Week 3)

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Week 3 is lit. We have two of the best non-conference games all year and the first nationally important conference games.

Top Ten Games of the Week

10. #11 Texas 2-0 (0-0) at California 1-1 (0-0)

Series Ledger: 5-1 Texas
Last Meeting: 45-44 California 9-19-2015

This spot could have been occupied by a few games but I find this matchup pretty interesting. Texas is suddenly one of the last undefeated Big 12 teams and it’s only Week 3. Yeah didn’t think I’d be typing those words two weeks ago. They have a trap-ish game with Cal, who can be score big but also give up big points. Pretty Texas Tech-ish in that regard. If the Longhorns are truly BACK

then they’d better show up in this one or else there’s a huge risk for disaster. There’s probably risk for disaster even if they’re as good as we think.

9. Mississippi State 1-1 (0-0) at #20 LSU 1-1 (0-0)

Series Ledger: 72-34-3 LSU
Last Meeting: 21-19 LSU 9-12-2015

It’s the least of the interesting SEC West games but it’s still interesting. Mississippi State has made a habit of playing well against teams more talented than they are in the past few years. The Bulldogs will be attempting to best one of their usual tormentors in LSU, who’ve won 22 of the last 24 meetings between the schools. The Tigers apparently need just another gentle push until they’re into full on panic mode and consider firing Les Miles again. They need a big win here to keep things running smoothly.

8. #22 Oregon 2-0 (0-0) at Nebraska 2-0 (0-0)

Series Ledger: 5-1 Nebraska
Last Meeting: 48-14 Nebraska 9-27-1986

It’s weird how this game is so low on this list. Both of these teams have totally fallen out of the national consciousness in the last year and a half so this is a pretty low key affair compared to what it could have been if it was only played in 2012 or something like that. Any way, Oregon’s defense hasn’t performed well against mediocre at best competition but the offense is as good as usual. Nebraska has a bunch of question marks and they also have home field advantage, which matters when it’s this home field. Hopefully we’ll have some questions answered at the end of the game. Also Mike Riley vs Oregon is fun.

7. #6 Houston 2-0 (0-0) at Cincinnati 2-0 (0-0)

Series Ledger: 14-10 Houston
Last Meeting: 33-30 Houston 11-7-2015

A very big early season game for the American. Houston faces their first and perhaps biggest conference test. Cincinnati is consistently very solid and if the Cougars aren’t careful they’ll be walking into a trap. This is the first time where a Group of 5 school has had very early momentum to push them into the Playoff and a win here for UH would keep the train rolling towards that esteemed goal.

6. #17 Texas A&M 2-0 (0-0) at Auburn 1-1 (0-0)

Series Ledger: 4-2 Texas A&M
Last Meeting: 26-10 Auburn 11-7-2015

In a doomsday scenario it was assumed that the losing coach of this game was going to be fired at the end of the season, or even after the game. But A&M beat UCLA and Auburn played well in a loss to Clemson so it’s not that dire of a situation. Not that either Gus Malzahn or Kevin Sumlin is out of the woods yet. Both coaches are still dealing with dissatisfaction among fans and boosters. A loss would only make the situation worse. A win might return them back to business-as-usual jockeying for position in the SEC West until Alabama comes around. 

5. USC 1-1 (0-0) at Stanford 1-0 (0-0)

Series Ledger: 59-31-3 USC
Last Meeting: 41-22 Stanford 12-5-2015 (PAC-12 Championship Game)

It’s been one of the most important PAC-12 games on the year for pretty much the last decade. Stanford and USC’s rivalry has gotten hot lately, and that’s mostly due to the Cardinal’s recent string of successes against the Trojans. Still, SC’s last two wins really hurt Stanford in 2013 and 2014 and a win here would almost certainly derail the Cardinal’s Playoff hopes and likely could ruin their PAC-12 Championship aspirations given their tough road ahead. It’s a high stakes game for both teams as Southern California could potentially start 1-2 in completely frustrating fashion and have to worry about staving off a collapse. Weird that we’re saying that about one of the most talented teams in the country but it’s on the table. Like I said, high stakes.

4. #12 Michigan State 1-0 (0-0) at #18 Notre Dame 1-1

Series Ledger: 48-28-1 Notre Dame
Last Meeting: 17-13 Notre Dame 9-21-2013

It’s back on! The Michigan State-Notre Dame rivalry took a break in 2013-15, the first since the annual series was begun in 1948. It’s a real shame too, because both schools were top 15 programs in the past three years and it’s been a very long time since both schools were this good for a long time. Michigan State didn’t look good in their only game so far, failing to put away Furman for a while. Meanwhile, Notre Dame lost their only game of consequence against Texas, but they still looked like a very good team. Certainly one capable of winning out and making noise for the Playoff. It’s also the 50th anniversary of the 1966 Game of the Century where #1 Notre Dame tied #2 Michigan State 10-10 in East Lansing and both school claim national championships for the season. I’m sure we’ll hear about it in the pregame hype reel.

3. #3 Ohio State 2-0 (0-0) at #14 Oklahoma 1-1 (0-0)

Series Ledger: 1-1 TIED
Last Meeting: 24-14 Ohio State 9-17-1983

At the beginning of the season this was looking like the best non-conference game all season, as it paired up two bona-fide Playoff contenders. The situation is a bit different now that Oklahoma is on the ropes in terms of being seriously considered for the Playoff. Of course they could win out and go 11-1, but they’d have to go 9-0 through the Big 12 which so far nobody has ever done. The danger now is that both of these teams could be hamstrung in the Playoff race should the Sooners keep it together and upset Ohio State. It’ll be interesting, that’s for sure. For the record, these teams have only met twice ever, which is surprising considering the considerable history of both programs. They played a home and home series in 1977 and 1983 where the road team won both times.

2. #2 Florida State 2-0 (0-0) at #10 Louisville 2-0 (1-0)

Series Ledger: 14-2 Florida State
Last Meeting: 41-21 Florida State 10-17-2015

This is technically a top ten matchup even though I’m a bit skeptical that Louisville is a top ten team. Not to say that they don’t look good. They look great!  They’ve had one of the better starts any team has had so far in this young season. Florida State is one of the other contenders for “best start in 2016″, as the Seminoles came alive to beat a good Ole Miss team. It’s a matchup between two of the best teams in the conference and the winner might be favored over Clemson if the Tigers keep under performing.

1. #1 Alabama 2-0 (0-0) at #19 Ole Miss 1-1 (0-0)

Series Ledger: 47-11-2 Alabama
Last Meeting: 43-37 Ole Miss 9-19-2015

Ah yes, Bama-Ole Miss. This one hasn’t disappointed in two years. The two years the Rebels beat the Tide. Mississippi never beat Alabama two years in a row and now they’re going for three. They won’t be favored in this game, but they weren’t favored in the other two victories either. The division, conference, and Playoff implications are clear. The only thing we’re missing is a top ten ranking for both teams. Ole Miss’ loss to FSU was strange and they got knocked down pretty far in the polls for it, but they’re probably still a top ten caliber team and this game should carry that same kind of atmosphere for sure.

5 Group of 5 Games of the Week

Houston-Cincinnati is the real #1 game but it’s in the Top Ten Games of the Week so we get an extra game! This week it’s basically a Power 5 upset potential spectacular.

5. Louisiana Tech 1-1 (0-0) at Texas Tech 1-1 (0-0)

Series Ledger: 1-0 Texas Tech
Last Meeting: 40-10 Texas Tech 10-20-1933

Yeah you read that right, these teams played only once and it was in 1933. They should really play more often than that considering they’re the polytechnic schools for neighboring states. This year it’s definitely fun. Both the Bulldogs and Red Raiders are dangerous teams with strengths and glaring weaknesses. We might have ourselves another track meet on our hands. 

4. Western Michigan 2-0 (0-0) at Illinois 1-1 (0-0)

Series Ledger: 4-1 Illinois
Last Meeting: 24-7 Illinois 9-1-2012

Illinois still has a ways to go in their slow rebuild and Western Michigan keeps climbing higher. The Broncos have a chance to steal a win and, since a MAC team doesn’t seem likely to make a New Year’s Bowl, try to weasel their way into the conversation somehow. 

3. East Carolina 2-0 (0-0) at South Carolina 1-1 (1-1)

Series Ledger: 13-5 South Carolina
Last Meeting: 33-23 South Carolina 9-6-2014

ECU is taking the 3-spot in the G5 rankings two weeks in a row, an impressive feat. They’ll face a tougher test than NC State with a trip to Columbia on the docket. South Carolina are talented but they have yet to realize that talent so far in 2016. East Carolina are currently one of the most successful teams in the Group of 5 at staking P5 pelts to their wall and the Gamecocks would be a very nice addition to their collection.

2. South Florida 2-0 (0-0) at Syracuse 1-1 (0-1)

Series Ledger: 7-2 South Florida
Last Meeting: 45-24 South Florida 10-10-2015

See this is fun because they used to play in the Big East together but they’re still scheduling games against each other. What a novel idea. Also USF should definitely be favored to win even though the game is at Syracuse. The Orange did show some spunk in their loss to Louisville but the Bulls are looking like one of the stronger G5 teams in 2016. 

1. #25 Miami (FL) 2-0 (0-0) at Appalachian State 1-1 (0-0)

Series Ledger: N/A

This has danger written all over it for Miami. The Hurricanes are walking into a trap as Appalachian State nearly toppled Tennessee in Week 1 and are out looking for their next chance to upset a “big deal” team. The Canes decided for some reason they’d play at Boone for the first ever meeting between these two programs. It’s just has all the markings of a sleeper upset. Still, this is supposed to be a new day for Miami with Mark Richt at the helm, so let’s see how this one plays out.

FCS Game of the Week

#1 North Dakota State 2-0 (0-0) at #13 Iowa 2-0 (0-0)

Series Ledger: 2-0 Iowa
Last Meeting: 59-0 Iowa 9-20-1947

GO BIG OR GO HOME NORTH DAKOTA STATE!!! Yeah this is the third week I’ve had the Bison as my #1 FCS game. They’re the five time champion, sue me. Plus they play a real deal Big Ten team who I still think NDSU has the potential to beat. Look, Iowa is a good team, but they aren’t the 13th best team in the country. If you know much about computer rankings you know that North Dakota State would be one of the better Group of 5 teams in the FBS if they played in the top tier, they’re that good. The upset potential is real.

Not a bad week.

 



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