By now, you’ve read all the recaps and are looking forward to another weekend of meaningful football games or, perhaps, a few that just don’t quite make the grade. I’m here to once again select a few games that might best be measured not by attendance figures or television ratings, fan interest or Hotel Receipts…but by meteorological instrumentation. The premise is simple: Is a particular game best measured with a barometer: an indication of the state of a particular program at the present time? Or is a game best analyzed with a thermometer because My coaches’ butt on fire, yo!
This guy is just keeping the seat warm anyway. Applicants should apply inside. Which brings me to…
Louisiana-Monroe @ Auburn (12:21 PM, ECNet)
First of all, I do not believe Louisiana-Monroe will beat Auburn. Let’s analyze the setting: Another late-morning (C.S.T.) kickoff in front of a sober-yet-hostile crowd. I just think it’s too early for proper drinkin’. Problem is it’s increasingly hostile for Gene Chizik. Auburn doesn’t have to lose this game for things to get ugly. If the Tigers struggle, and I do believe this game will be competitive, at least for a while, Newtonian physics might take over and many objects will be hurled, only to inevitably fall earthward. Things are getting a bit tense down on The Loveliest Village. And I'm not even referring to the NCAA's interest in the recruitment of dismissed Tiger Javon Robinson. All of this has to be distracting to a team that seems to be far from "on the same page."
Conversely, Louisiana-Monroe’s head coach Todd Berry is perhaps one more SEC West opponent victory away from getting the attention from a few schools that may be looking for a new coach in the near future. The call on this one is simple; In fact, let’s just assume that every game Auburn plays for the rest of the season is best measured with a thermometer. Assume the position.
Wake Forest @ FSU (12:00, ESPN)
Wake Forest rolls into hot and humid Tallahassee for another early afternoon kickoff, having dispatched North Carolina 28-27 at home after barely squeaking by Liberty the week before. Florida State crushed Murray State in week 1 and hapless Savannah State last Saturday by a combined score of 124-3. I almost hesitated to add this game for my meteorological analysis, but decided to anyway. The line, as of this writing, is FSU and lots of points (-27.5), but something tells me that all those cupcakes they’ve been munching on the last few weeks might just cause some indigestion. Jimbo Fisher is expected to win, and win big this year in Tallahassee because he is supposed to be winning like its 1999. This game will give us a little more insight as to the true state of things down in the Panhandle, or as I like to call it, L.A. (Lower Alabama). Wake has a history of giving the 'Noles some trouble.
Virginia @ Georgia Tech (3:30 ESPNU)
Tech opens as a 10-point favorite in this game, but Virginia can play a little bit of defense. Paul Johnson should win at home, and I think he covers the spread. But I wouldn’t touch this game with a 10-foot nerd. Georgia Tech seems to always lose a game they shouldn't at least once per year.
Virginia’s head coach Mike London is trying to build something here and will be allowed to do so. Paul Johnson, on the other hand, is a genius. Tech will win, and then someone will point out on Stingtalk how this game is a sure-fire indicator as to how they will beat the Dawgs in November.
Alabama @ Arkansas (3:30 CBS)
This is a thermometer game – for the decision makers at CBS Sports. The suits over at Black Rock decided the UF-UT matchup wouldn’t be of any significance, and I suppose they can’t be entirely blamed for this assumption as the power people perused the pre-season schedule and saw this juicy SEC West matchup just sitting there for the picking. Well, now they had better hope for a close game. The nightmare scenario is that Alabama has the Hogs blown-out by halftime and the later Florida-Tennessee tilt will be a close one. If I were a bettin’ man (and I am), I’d say this is exactly what is going to happen. Expect Verne and Gary to begin talking about the Georgia-South Carolina matchup with 3:59 left in the 2nd quarter.
Verdict: A Bama Barometer
Florida @ Tennessee (6:00 ESPN)
Florida’s Jeff Driskel, in spite of getting sacked 8 times against Texas A&M last Saturday, seemed to figure some things out in the second-half of a highly competitive game. However, the Gators lost some defensive talent due to injuries. Let me just go on the record and say that I hope no player gets hurt, ever. Even opposing players.
Except for Nick Fairley. I hope he dislocates his coccyx.
Florida, at times, looked good and they are going to bring a modicum of momentum (sounds like a great name for a rock ‘n roll band) to Rocky Top where Tennessee is showing signs of life. The Vols rolled a very mediocre N.C. State team in week 1 and crushed Bill Curry’s
DeVry Institute Georgia State Panthers in week 2. Think we know how good (or bad) the Vols are after two games against this kind of competition? I doubt it. Tennessee certainly looks improved, but they have yet to face any adversity. Florida, on the other hand, has. This will be a good game and I have a feeling that Tennessee returns to earth. If the Gators prevail, that flicker of hope in Knoxville begins to fade a bit. If the Vols win, the heat's on Muschamp. This is my favorite kind of weather instrument game.
Verdict: Dueling Thermometers!
Arizona State @ Mizzou (7:00 ESPN2)
As I was filing out of a mostly depressed Farout Field on Saturday night, I heard more than a few Missouri fans lamenting the ill-fated fake punt that Richard Samuel snuffed that really seemed to turn the momentum of the game around. Going forward, Gary Pinkel’s squad is probably realizing that they have a tough road ahead in the SEC, and they really need to focus on whipping the out-of-conference Sun Devils of Arizona State.
I don’t know much about Arizona State, except their co-eds are damn hot. They have crushed their first two opponents (Northern Arizona and Illinois) by a combined score of 107-20, so are certainly capable of scoring and, it would appear, defending. Their Head Coach, Todd Graham, is new enough to not have too much pressure on him, no matter the outcome. I just hope he doesn't pack up in the night for another job somewhere else. Nah, he wouldn't do that...
Missouri plays a good, solid brand of defense and their offense can be effective. Plus, their fans are just the sweetest bunch of folks in the land. But will a loss at home begin to put some pressure on Pinkel and turn their supporters into a sullen lot? I don’t think it’ll happen, but this game is really pretty darn big. Please win, Mizzou. Save the fans! Gary Pinkel needs to win this home game. He's got to hit the road against South Carolina the following week. I'm gonna say:
Texas @ Ole Miss (8:00 ESPN)
I’m actually looking forward to watching this game. Mississippi has won their first two of the season, and Texas handled Wyoming 37-17 and New Mexico 45-0. But something tells me the Rebel Akbars will give the Longhorns a good game. Ole Miss Coach Hugh "The Big" Freeze has all the time he needs (read: 3 or 4 seasons) to turn things around down in Oxford. Mack Brown, on the other hand, needs to win this game and build some momentum. I imagine The Grove will be rocking and Ole Miss will be more than a little fired-up. Texas has talent across the board, but if they get behind I can see a crisis of confidence creeping in. After all, it’s a night game on the road in the SEC. Texas should win. I wouldn't be shocked if they didn't. What can Brown do for you?
Notre Dame @ Michigan State: (8:00 ABC)
Notre Dame still plays football? I thought they were still in Ireland.
Verdict: Sling Psychrometer. Because I love the smell of dewpoint in the morning.
There you have it. For the most part we're still struggling through the cupcakes with a few gems interspersed for Week 3. Things begin to get really, really interesting next week. Until then...