College Football Viewing Primer: Weeks Eight Through Fifteen
By Tony Gerdeman
Continuing our look at the best games of the 2012 season, we now move to the final eight weeks of the season after already looking at the first seven.
With more and more teams choosing to avoid playing any legitimate out of conference competition, we have to wait until the second half of the season for business to really pick up.
Each week features huge "Game of the Year" candidates, and several other matchups that would do just fine in primetime.
The great thing about college football, however, is that there are always games that are overlooked which turn out to be classics. I, of course, haven't overlooked them. It's what I do.
The great thing about this rivalry is that it's all hate. Mark Dantonio has no respect for Michigan and Michigan has no respect for the Spartans. Hate, it's what makes America great!
National Game of the Week – Michigan State at Michigan
Underrated Game of the Week – Virginia Tech at Clemson
This game is only underrated by me because I didn't name it the National Game of the Week. This is only the second time these two teams have met in the last five seasons. Shockingly, it is a Saturday game.
Overrated Game of the Week – Florida State at Miami (FL)
"Blah blah blah." That's what I hear when you talk about this game.
Big Ten Game of the Week – Nebraska at Northwestern
Northwestern went to #9 Nebraska last season as a 17-point underdog and came away with a 28-25 win. The Huskers will be out for revenge, but vengeance is a dish best served by somebody who can cook.
Other Games of Note – Oregon at Arizona State (ESPN), BYU at Notre Dame (NBC), Penn State at Iowa (BTN), LSU at Texas A&M, Baylor at Texas, Kansas State at West Virginia, USF at Louisville, Stanford at California, South Carolina at Florida, Alabama at Tennessee
Whomever gets the start at quarterback for Texas A&M will at least have had the benefit of a half a season of starts before facing LSU's defense. Because I'm totally sure that will make a difference. Stanford at California is always fun to watch if you enjoy watching games that are absolutely zero fun to watch. South Carolina at Florida could determine the SEC East, provided Urban Meyer hasn't botched the Gators into four losses before this game even gets here.
These two teams played two of the best games of the season last year, so why not expect more of the same this year. The last time this game wasn't decided in the final minutes was 2004.
National Game of the Week – Michigan State at Wisconsin (ABC)
Underrated Game of the Week – Notre Dame at Oklahoma
You can't tell me you're not looking forward to Oklahoma putting 50 points on the board and Brian Kelly looking like a human mosquito bite that's about to burst.
Overrated Game of the Week – Florida vs. Georgia (CBS)
One of the world's seven largest cocktail parties will see Florida roll into this game with an 18-4 record over the Bulldogs in the last 22 meetings. Exciting.
Big Ten Game of the Week – Michigan at Nebraska
The Wolverines destroyed Nebraska last season 45-17, so they might go into this game a little bit overconfident. Wait a second, they go into EVERY game a little bit overconfident.
Other Games of Note – Clemson at Wake Forest (ESPN), Cincinnati at Louisville (ESPN), Iowa at Northwestern, Ohio State at Penn State, TCU at Oklahoma State, USC at Arizona, Texas A&M at Auburn, Tennessee at South Carolina
Cincinnati at Louisville could decide the Big East, or not...I don't really pay attention to them. Ohio State travels to Happy Valley for the inevitably-titled "Ineligi-Bowl". Tennessee gets a chance to show South Carolina that they are not an also-ran in the SEC East. Let's see how that goes.
For either of these teams to possibly guarantee themselves a spot in the national championship game, they will have to win this game, and then win it again when they meet in the Pac 12 Championship Game. It will be difficult for either team to sweep the other.
National Game of the Week – Oregon at USC
Underrated Game of the Week – TCU at West Virginia
Let's all pretend that the Big East isn't dead and instead the TCU transfer to the Big East went through and West Virginia never left. The winner of this game should get the Big East's BCS bid.
Overrated Game of the Week – Alabama at LSU (CBS)
Don't get me wrong, this is one of the two biggest games of the week, and possibly the year. However, you will begin hearing the hype for this game shortly after the first kickoff this season, and it won't stop until about two weeks after this game has been played if it even stops then. But as we've seen, last year's regular season matchup between these two teams didn't mean a darn thing, so why should this one?
Big Ten Game of the Week – Nebraska at Michigan State
I see this being one of Nebraska's three or four conference losses, but if they were to somehow pull it off, they would be in the driver's seat for the Legends Division crown.
Other Games of Note – Virginia Tech at Miami (FL) (ESPN), Pittsburgh at Notre Dame (NBC), Oklahoma State at Kansas State, Texas at Texas Tech, Illinois at Ohio State, Missouri at Florida
Virginia Tech at Miami (FL) is the Thursday night game, so there is at least some interest for that reason alone. Also, the Hokies can't get caught napping here. Illinois at Ohio State is Tim Beckman's chance to show Gene Smith that they made the wrong decision in hiring Urban Meyer.
National Game of the Week – Florida State at Virginia Tech (ESPN) The Hokies are playing the Thursday night game for the second week in a row. That will give them an advantage, or at least it would have had Florida State not had a bye before this game, and Duke before that.
Underrated Game of the Week – West Virginia at Oklahoma State
With the Buckeyes off this week, I'd travel to see this game if there were such a thing as hotels in the state of Oklahoma. Still, I'll be seated front and center a few feet from a television with beers within arm's reach for this one. I can't wait for this game. I'm so excited for it, I'm already standing in line outside of my living room.
Overrated Game of the Week – Penn State at Nebraska
Do you care about this game? Me neither. Will it be ignored? Not bloody likely.
Big Ten Game of the Week – Northwestern at Michigan
I'm interested to see how the Wolverine defense handles Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter. I am NOT interested in seeing how the Wildcat defense handles Denard Robinson.
Other Games of Note – Ball State at Toledo (ESPN2), Boise State at Hawaii (NBCSN), Notre Dame at Boston College, Georgia Tech at North Carolina, Kansas State at TCU, Texas A&M at Alabama, Georgia at Auburn, Arkansas at South Carolina
Why is Toledo on this list? Because it's a Tuesday night game, and we all know that the Rockets are Must See TV on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Georgia Tech has won three straight from the Tar Heels, and now they face a defensive staff who is unfamiliar with them. Georgia at Auburn interests me because I love how Alabama fans claim that Auburn is in "west Georgia", as if it's some great insult to deny the fact that a group of people are from Alabama. Sounds to me like Bama fans are doing Auburn fans a favor.
The scoring in this game won't end for weeks. Residual touchdowns will be scored long after both teams have gone home. Defensive coordinators will be hired and fired throughout the course of the game.
National Game of the Week – Oklahoma at West Virginia
Underrated Game of the Week – Toledo at Northern Illinois (ESPN2)
Northern Illinois won this game 63-60 last year, It was MACtion at its absolute best. It won't be that good this year, but should still provide plenty of highlights – even if most of them are from last year.
Overrated Game of the Week – USC at UCLA
It's a rivalry game, but UCLA has won just once in the last 13 meetings. Prior to those 13 games, UCLA won eight in a row. But UCLA comes into this game with a new coach and a new attitude. Well, a new coach at least.
Big Ten Game of the Week – Ohio State at Wisconsin
The Buckeyes get this game coming off of a bye week and it will be their chance to let everybody know exactly who the best team in the Leaders Division is. Wisconsin, meanwhile, will be looking to get some measure of revenge for last year's loss to Ohio State.
Other Games of Note – North Carolina at Virginia (ESPN), USF at Miami (FL), Iowa at Michigan, Northwestern at Michigan State, Stanford at Oregon, Arizona at Utah
USF at Miami (FL) will let us know who the third and fifth-best teams in the state are. Iowa at Michigan will give the Hawkeyes a chance to secure a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game. Michigan has lost three straight and five of eight to Iowa. Stanford at Oregon might be entertaining, but probably not.
Brady Hoke got a free pass against the Buckeyes last year and still almost blew it. Despite all of the positive buzz surrounding Urban Meyer, a loss in this game will deflate an entire fanbase. This is Ohio State's bowl game.
National Game of the Week – Michigan at Ohio State (ABC)
Underrated Game of the Week – South Carolina at Clemson
It's always fun watching SEC teams go on the road out of conference, even though it's almost never out of state. South Carolina has blown out Clemson in their last three meetings, and never once were they favored by more than three points.
Overrated Game of the Week – Notre Dame at USC
It may be overrated, but that doesn't mean it won't be fun watching Matt Barkley throw for 400 yards and six touchdowns against a Notre Dame defense that thinks pass defense is too dangerous to actually attempt.
Big Ten Game of the Week – Nebraska at Iowa (ABC)
Wouldn't it be something if the focus all season was on Michigan State and Michigan for the Legends Division crown, yet it actually came down to "Farmageddon"? I don't know how this would actually be possible, but I know that having too much faith in Michigan State and Michigan is an invitation to be made a fool of.
Other Games of Note – USF at Cincinnati (ESPN), LSU at Arkansas (CBS), Arizona State at Arizona (ESPN), TCU at Texas, Florida at Florida State, Virginia at Virginia Tech, Oklahoma State at Oklahoma, Illinois at Northwestern, Auburn at Alabama, Georgia Tech at Georgia
Arizona State at Arizona will be worth watching because this will be Rich Rodriguez's first rivalry game, and we all know how masterful he was in those. TCU at Texas could be fun because the Frogs will get a chance to show America who has the best football program in the state. LSU at Arkansas could be interesting if the Razorbacks haven't collapsed at this point from overwhelming lack of Petrino.
It's just too bad that this game will be ruined by having an SEC East team in it.
National Game of the Week – SEC Championship Game (CBS)
Underrated Game of the Week – Pac 12 Championship Game
This is the actual game of the week, assuming it's USC and Oregon, but by the Rules of College Football Media, I was not able to place anything above the SEC Championship Game.
Overrated Game of the Week – ACC Championship Game
This is actually the Underrated Game of the Week, which means that the SEC Championship Game is in fact the Overrated Game of the Week. Don't tell anybody that I told you this because I could be kicked out of media.
Big Ten Game of the Week – Big Ten Championship Game
This game is dependent upon having an eligible team in each division. Please check back in November. Late November.
Other Games of Note – MAC Championship Game (ESPN2), Boise State at Nevada, CUSA Championship Game, Pittsburgh at USF, Texas at Kansas State, Oklahoma at TCU
The MAC Championship Game will be entertaining because MAC teams can't afford to bring their defenses along to this game. Pittsburgh at USF could decide the Big East, or it could be a matchup of the two last-place teams. Of course, there could also be a simultaneous eight-way tie for first and last place.
This is the only game this week. There is probably also an NBA game on. I'll have this game on because Twitter will make me. Twitter is so bossy.
National Game of the Week – Army vs Navy (CBS)
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