A week from Saturday is set up to be the biggest of the season, with Alabama-Tennessee, Penn State-Michigan, Southern California-Utah and Oklahoma State-TCU giving us an embarrassment of college football riches.
This Saturday is… significantly less exciting, at least on paper. Consider it the appetizer before the main course.
The past three Tennessee-LSU games at Tiger Stadium have been decided on the game’s final play: Stevan Ridley’s one-yard touchdown run with no time left gave LSU a 16-14 win in 2010; Gerald Riggs scored from one yard out to give the Volunteers a 30-27 overtime win in 2005; and Rohan Davey’s 25-yard touchdown pass to Robert Royal and ensuing defensive stop in overtime propelled the Tigers to a 38-31 win in 2000, a game in which Tennessee blocked LSU’s game-winning field goal attempt at the end of regulation. The Vols enter with the nation’s top offense in terms of yards per game (559.3) and second-ranked scoring offense (48.5 points per game), but Tennessee’s four wins have come against teams that rank 105th (Ball State), 76th (Pittsburgh). , 123rd (Akron) and 71st (Florida) in defensive SP+, a measure of efficiency. LSU’s defense ranks 13th in that department and has allowed more than 17 points just once this season, against Florida State in the opener. … Before the start of the season, if you had told me that ESPN’s “College GameDay” would be in Lawrence, Kan., for TCU-Kansas and not in Dallas for Texas-Oklahoma, I would have laughed in your face. But here we are, with the game between the Horned Frogs and the shockingly competent Jayhawks trumping the Red River Rivalry, in which neither the Longhorns nor Sooners are ranked for the first time since 1998. TCU and Kansas feature strong offenses, but the Jayhawks’ defense might struggle to keep up with the Horned Frogs, who dropped 55 points on Oklahoma last weekend.