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October 24, 2008
Keep an eye on: Top storylines for Week 9
Each Friday, Rivals.com's college football experts give fans six things to keep an eye out for over the course of the weekend.
HOW WILL OKLAHOMA STATE'S NO. 5 RUSH OFFENSE FARE AGAINST TEXAS' NO. 2 RUSH DEFENSE? When I was a kid, I got in a lot of trouble if I didn't do my homework. I must have learned my lesson because I did my homework on the seven teams Oklahoma State has played this season. Almost all of them have been horrendous on defense, with only one team ranking in the top 50 in rush defense and none in total or scoring defense. The Cowboys are No. 5 in rush offense (283.1 ypg), No. 7 in total offense (501.4 ypg) and No. 4 in scoring offense (46.4 ppg). I'm just not convinced they've been tested. Texas has the No. 2 rush defense in the country (48.1 ypg), and the Longhorns also are holding their opponents to 17.6 points per game. Although Oklahoma State will have the best rushing offense the Longhorns have faced this season, look for the Cowboys to rush for less than 150 yards in Austin and for Texas to get its eighth victory.
TEXAS TECH AT KANSAS. Texas Tech is off to a 7-0 start and is in the top 10, but questions remain about the Red Raiders. They can answer many of them with a strong showing against Kansas. Whether the Red Raiders' defense can contain Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing will be of keen interest, especially with Texas' Colt McCoy, Oklahoma's Sam Bradford and Oklahoma State's Zac Robinson looming in coming weeks. In addition, Texas Tech has struggled in road games in recent years. The Red Raiders are 0-9 on the road against ranked opponents in the past five seasons.
WILL PENN STATE CONTINUE ITS MAGICAL UNBEATEN RIDE? This is it, ladies and gentlemen, the last big hurdle for Penn State to clear. Win at Ohio State, and the Nittany Lions are poised to finish unbeaten and claim a spot in the BCS championship game. History says Penn State won't do it: The Nittany Lions are 0-7 in Columbus since joining the Big Ten in 1993. But in this case, history doesn't mean squat. Penn State clearly is the better team, possessing one of the most lethal offense/defense combinations in the nation. This is setting up to be a possible storybook ending for Joe Paterno: go unbeaten, play for (and possibly win) the national championship, then retire. JoePa would retire if he got to the BCS title game, right?
A TRIO OF ACC GAMES. Good luck trying to figure out the ACC these days. All three of the league's ranked teams lost last week, and no team appears to be a lock for the conference championship game. This week, hopefully, will provide a little more clarity. Should we take Boston College seriously? The Eagles go to Chapel Hill to face North Carolina, which is without playmaking wide receiver Brandon Tate for the rest of the season. A game in Tallahassee will answer two questions: Can Virginia Tech recover from a loss to BC, and is Florida State ready to contend again? Even Virginia is making a push, but the Cavaliers must defeat Georgia Tech in Atlanta to be a factor in the race. This week could provide some answers … or more questions.
THE PAC-10. I'll admit it – I "picked" last this week, and all the good topics were taken. Still, there is a bit of intrigue out West this week. First, how will USC perform at Arizona ? The Trojans know that if they want to play in the national title game, they have to win the rest of their games. Because the pressure is on, I think the Trojans cruise past the Wildcats. Arizona State needs to beat Oregon in an attempt to salvage its season. The Sun Devils are in real danger of not going to a bowl. Finally, after last week's loss to Arizona, California needs to bounce back against a weak UCLA team. Golden Bears coach Jeff Tedford – who's a quarterback guru of sorts – needs to find a way to get consistent quarterback play from either Nate Longshore or Kevin Riley.