Last weekend, College Gameday had to go to an unranked vs. ranked game, where the unranked team was coming off a loss to Indiana (last Rose Bowl in the 1960s) and the ranked team had opened the season by giving up about 700 yards to Texas A&M. Not a good look, and a bad overall weekend — Arkansas vs. Texas A&M ended up being a good game, but otherwise, it was slim pickings.
This weekend there’s six ranked-vs-ranked games, and if you count Arizona vs. Oregon tonight — Arizona should theoretically be hovering around 22-25 — you could make a case there’s seven:
- Arizona vs. Oregon (not really)
- Texas A&M vs. Mississippi State
- Alabama vs. Ole Miss
- Oklahoma State vs. TCU
- Stanford vs. Notre Dame
- LSU vs. Auburn
- Nebraska vs. Michigan State
One of the story-lines, of course, is that Gameday has never been to The Grove — even when Eli Manning was the Ole Miss QB — and now you have the “perfect marriage” of pre-game show and pre-game environment:
Since 1988, Ole Miss has beaten Alabama three times. (They play basically every year.) 2003 was the last one, but that game wasn’t really close — the 2001 one (27-24 Ole Miss) is probably the best game in the last 15 years of that rivalry, give or take:
Some are calling that game “the biggest game in Oxford since the 1960s.” I’m not sure that’s true — you could make an argument that they had some big games when Eli was there — but it feels that way, and that’s what is important. Alabama is a great team with a great coach, but they haven’t looked straight-up amazing or amazingly dominant this entire year — it feels like they should have dispatched with WVU easier, doesn’t it? — so you get the sense they could be in a tight one on the road. I feel like Alabama will win, but it might be another 27-24 type game.
Obviously the other big theme here is that Oxford and Starkville, Mississippi are hosting big, ranked games. In sum, MS is becoming “the epicenter of college football.” Some are saying “The Egg Bowl starts now.” (Kinda.)
The two cities are about 1 hour and 50 minutes apart, so it’s theoretically possible you could get from the end of a dramatic Mississippi State game to the third quarter or so of the Oxford game:
I don’t care drastically about a lot of the other games, if we’re being honest — I live in Fort Worth, so TCU winning and thus beating the No. 4 team in the country might make things a bit of a scene, but that’s a personal angle. Stanford-Notre Dame is OK, but Stanford already has that one loss, probably should have lost at Washington, and with Notre Dame, let’s be honest: their whole season is that game vs. FSU in a few weeks. LSU-Auburn is interesting if Auburn wins — we keep marching towards another insane Iron Bowl — and banal if LSU wins (the SEC West becomes cluttered, which means Alabama probably ends up winning it). I did put money on LSU this August in Vegas. I now regret that.
Nebraska-Michigan State is a semi-big thing if Nebraska wins — 6-0 seems big for Pelini — and it might further the semi-longshot Heisman hopes of Ameer Abdullah, but otherwise I think people expect Pelini to rage, MSU to win, and semi-order to be restored in the Big 10:
Depending on how the different rankings shake out, this could be the best weekend of the year in CFB — although Saturday, Nov. 8 does have Alabama-LSU, Oklahoma-Baylor, and Texas A&M-Auburn. At the time, that could be six of the top 10 playing each other.