The eyes of the college football world shift to Nashville, Tennessee this weekend where the mighty Vanderbilt Commodores will be hosting Auburn. This is a huge game for Vandy. The last time they beat Auburn was 1955, the same year that Rosa Parks instituted her bus boycott in Montgomery. Yep, black people couldn't ride in the front of buses the last time Vanderbilt won in this "rivalry." But the theme of this weekend is undefeated Big 12 teams go on the road to face tests against decent conference foes that they should beat but could slip up against. Texas Tech is traveling to Kansas State, Texas is headed to Colorado, and Missouri will be at Nebraska. All three of these games will be broken down below as soon as I recover from my hangover brought about by playing Sarah Palin cliches during last night's vice presidential debate. (I'd like to take this opportunity to give a shoutout to Ravenwood High School in Brentwood, Tennessee. You get extra credit for reading this.) By the way, another top ten team already gone via Thursday night football? Congrats to Pitt fans (Wannstedt is safe for another few weeks!) and wave goodbye once more to South Florida. On to the breakdowns of the 10 most interesting games. Ohio State (-2) at Wisconsin- When Wisconsin blew a 19-0 second half lead, this game went from a potential coronation of Bret Bielema to Nick Saban-level rockstar status, to a must-win for Wisconsin to remain alive in the Rose Bowl chase. Sure, you could bet on Ohio State losing three games in the Big Ten, but you could also bet on Stuart Scott winning an Olympic gold medal in archery. Thanks to the loss at Michigan, Ohio State can open up a 2.5 game lead over Wisconsin with a win. Better get those quarters loaded up in the marshmallows. Missouri (-10) at Nebraska- Remember back in 1997 when it took a miracle for Nebraska to win at Missouri?
(Apologies to Missouri fans for dredging up that memory.) Now Missouri is going on the road and the home team has won the last six in this series. Missouri hasn't won at Nebraska since 1978. Let me repeat that, 1978. That's 15 consecutive losses. Yet Missouri is ten point favorites in this game. Put this one on your radar and if Nebraska is within a touchdown in the second half, switch over and watch, it could get really interesting. Especially since Chase Daniel just went on television and asked Nebraska fans to bring him 14 virgins as his pregame meal. Oregon at Southern Cal (-16)- True or false, this is the smallest margin USC will be favored by in the Pac-10 all season? I'm thinking true. Nine days after their beatdown at Oregon State, USC gets a chance to take out their frustrations on the other state school. Am I the only person who pictures Mark Sanchez making a round at the sorority houses to personally apologize for the loss at Oregon State. By the way, how amazing was that Utah-Oregon State finish last night? You can breathe easier, the pathway to a match-up of undefeated BYU and undefeated Utah remains clear. Question, if BYU wins this game in November can Mormons strip off their Mormon underpants and swing them around their head? Or is that verboten? UConn at North Carolina (-7)- I will now quietly pocket the $20 fee that UConn's athletic department continues to float in my direction for always finding their games interesting. Particularly the lines. Move along now kids, nothing to see hear. Texas Tech (-6.5) at Kansas State- Honestly, I know nothing about Kansas State's football team. But the over/under in this game is 66. Seriously, 66. Tech is averaging 45.8 points a game and Kansas State is averaging 47. That's insane. And Texas Tech is only a 6.5 point favorite. Based on the statistics the match-up between Graham Harrel and Josh Freeman (they've combined for 23 touchdown passes already) is going to be the best this weekend. Plus, there's always the possibility that Mike Leach will let his team loot and pillage in Manhattan, Kansas if they win. Florida State at Miami (-3)- Admit it, you had no idea this game was happening this weekend either, did you? Remember when this game would dominate the weekend and you couldn't escape how huge it was? Now, you've just realized this game was going on, sort of idly thought, "Eh, whatever, I'll check the final score if I have time after watching an undefeated Vandy play in ESPN primetime." Wait, what?
(A refresher on what Florida State has meant to college football over the years.) Auburn (-3.5) at Vandy- Vandy fans are going to hate to hear this, but get past Auburn and all of a sudden you have to say to hell with only qualifying for a bowl game and start thinking about whether you could contend for the SEC East title. I know, I know, blasphemy. But, say Vandy beats Auburn to go to 5-0 (3-0 in the SEC). Next week they play at Miss. State. Another game they can win. Later in the season the Dores go to Kentucky. Win both those and you get to 5 SEC wins. Then, beat just one of Georgia, Tennessee (which given the way things are going they might be favored in), and Florida and you're at 6 wins. Probably good enough to win the SEC East this year. Or at least to tie for the crown. Meanwhile, for Auburn, the question becomes do you go with a talented but dumb and likely to make a mistake Kody Burns or a weak-armed but smart Chris Todd? Second, does it even matter? Yes, unless he's deflowered Tommy Tuberville's prized cow on the plains, Kody Burns has to start. He's the only Auburn offensive player that makes any defense the least bit nervous. Of course Tommy Tuberville is so distrustful of his offense that he's already planning on winning this game 2-0. Point being, the winner of this game will put up less than 20 points. Book it. Texas (-14) at Colorado- I don't really have much to say about this game. Just quite a few friends who went to Colorado or live in Boulder and have been talking about how awesome it's going to be to valet their bikes for this game. How pumped are Colorado fans about this game. They've all taken off their hemp anklets. Be afraid Longhorn fans, very afraid. Penn State (-14) at Purdue- Penn State is the only team in American with a stadium that seats 100,000 people, a coach dueling to be the winningest coach of all-time, and an undefeated record in the Big Ten. Yet no one is paying any attention to them. At least not for any reasons that have to do with actually playing football games. It's all about the arrests and a program spiraling out of control. Thanks ESPN. Which is interesting because this has been a pretty disciplined football team that has put up 66, 45, 55, 45, and 38 points in the first five weeks of the season. Damn. This game at Purdue begins the four-game stretch run in the Big Ten that will define Penn State's season. Following Purdue, Penn State goes to Wisconsin, hosts Michigan, and finishes up at Ohio State. Kentucky at Alabama (-16)- Would Kentucky plans please stop talking about your number one scoring defense in the country? Please? You've beaten two non D-1 teams (Norfolk State and Western Kentucky), dodged a hail-mary loss against MTSU, and beat Louisville on the road. Only the last game is that impressive. And that was over a month ago. Now you're going on the road at Alabama for the CBS game and you'd think Alabama was having to play the 1970's Steel Curtain defense. Meanwhile, in Tuscaloosa, Nick Saban has decreed that he will no longer walk on any surface but papyrus scrolls that have been illustrated to feature prominent moments in his life. (Beating Georgia last week, leaving Michigan State, signing Daunte Culpepper to a huge contract.) Already Alabama has a sign-up list to illustrate Saban's papyrus scrolls that is 14 years long. Yep, Saban is Gilgamesh.