As part of BCS Know How’s 2010 college football season preview, we will be breaking down each week’s most important games that could have BCS and postseason implications in the “Road to Glendale 2011.″
Let’s move on to Week Five, where the Red River Shootout is among the many fantastic conference match ups during the first week of October.
Florida at Alabama: Oct. 2, TBA
A rematch of last season’s SEC Championship Game and a game which will feature Nick Saban, Alabama’s defending Heisman trophy winner running back, Mark Ingram, and the defending national champion Crimson Tide, so it doesn’t need much hyping.
However, added storylines include Urban Meyer’s near-retirement, Florida’s new quarterback in John Brantley, and the chance for a preview of the 2010 SEC Championship Game, which only adds to the appeal of this matchup.
It’s not a stretch to expect both teams to be undefeated when the Gators travel to Tuscaloosa, although tough matchups do exist for both teams, in trips to Arkansas for Alabama, and Tennessee for Florida.
Regardless, the strength on both sides of the ball for both squads could make this another classic SEC tussle—which have been the most exciting in college football these past few years—and there’s no reason to expect any less.
Texas vs. Oklahoma: Oct. 2, TBA
Alright, lets be truthful; 2009′s edition of the Red River Shootout was a sloppy game.
The 16-13 victory by Texas was marred by injuries, tons of turnovers, and Oklahoma rushing for minus-16 yards. Even Colt McCoy, who played the whole game, passed for a measly 127 yards and just one touchdown.
Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford, in his second game back from a shoulder injury, suffered in the Sooners’ season opener, was injured in the first quarter and replaced by then-freshman Landry Jones, who struggled.
This year’s edition will hopefully be a better-controlled game, especially since this one game—as has been the case many times in the past decade—will likely decide who has the upper hand in the volatile Big 12 South Division.
Despite the injury that ruined Sam Bradford’s final collegiate year and likely cost Oklahoma a shot at a national title bid, the Sooners were able to help groom Jones for the 2010 season. The sophomore now comes into this season looking ready to lead the Sooners back to the top of the college football landscape.
McCoy’s replacement and Jones’s counterpart at the helm of the Longhorn offense, sophomore Garrett Gilbert, also benefited from playing time filling in for McCoy, however, his playing time came in the BCS National Championship Game, pressure Jones did not experience.
So both programs are led by quarterbacks that have unexpected experience, and by the time this year’s edition of the Red River Rivalry arrives, both will have played a full slate of non-conference games. The unplanned extra grooming, along with the annually reloaded roster of both the Sooners and Longhorns could make this a can’t-miss Big 12 battle.
Washington at USC: Oct. 2, 8:00 p.m. ET
Despite not being able to participate in postseason play for 2010 and 2011, USC is still considered among the favorites in the very unpredictable Pac-10 in 2010.
Washington, too, is considered a strong choice to make their way back to the top of the conference, in large part because of the hype surrounding senior quarterback, and Heisman hopeful, Jake Locker.
In Week Five, the two teams will meet for the first time since a tussle in Washington last season, where the Huskies knocked off a then-No. 3 Trojan group, who seemed to be angling for a Pac-10 championship once again. The loss put a large hole in that hope, and the Trojans would end up missing a BCS bowl bid for the first time in eight years.
Washington, on the other hand, took the victory and ran with it, improving upon a winless 2008 and finishing ’09 with a respectable 5-7 record. Following the season it, was expected that Locker would leave for the NFL, but the returning senior gives the Huskies a true hope at a conference crown.
USC will counter at the Coliseum with sophomore Matt Barkley, who won the starting job at ‘SC as a true freshman, and now returns to the field with an extra year of experience. However, Barkley and the Trojans will have to deal with the loss of players transferring out because of the NCAA sanctions.
A victory here would give either team an upper hand in the Pac-10 race, which is sure to be undecided until the end of the season.
Penn State at Iowa: Oct. 2, 8:05 p.m. ET
Although both teams are expected to be chasing Ohio State for the Big Ten crown this season, the conference is shaping up to be a possible two-bid BCS bowl league this season, so a victory here could be very beneficial to that goal for either team.
And who knows? Ohio State might slip up somewhere down the line, leaving the winner of this game in prime position to take over the conference crown if the Buckeyes falter down the stretch.
Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi is back to lead the Hawkeye offense against Penn State’s defense, while Penn State’s offense is in a period of transition at the QB spot, looking at Kevin Newsome and Matt McGloin to plug the hole left by Daryll Clark.
Whoever does step up to take the reigns of the Nittany Lion offense will be helped by running back, and Big Ten Player of the Year candidate, Evan Royster.
By the time this game rolls around, Penn State will have gone through a tough non-conference schedule, where they will be tested against Alabama and Temple. Iowa, on the other hand, seems to have a pretty simple road to 4-0, when they welcome Joe Paterno and the Nittany Lions to Iowa City.
Other Games of Note
Navy at Air Force, Stanford at Oregon