Welcome to TV Party, a weekly segment where we preview ten of the week’s most exciting match-ups in college football so you know when to grab some beer and ignore the outside world.
This week: CONFERENCE PLAY BARRELS INTO THE LIVING ROOM AT 240 MILES PER HOUR DRIVING A 1986 TRANS AM WHILE BLARING ‘UNCHAINED’ BY VAN HALEN. “HEY, GUESS WHAT THIS TRANS AM RUNS ON,” CONFERENCE PLAY ASKS AS THE SMELL OF UNLEADED GASOLINE EMITS THROUGHOUT YOUR LIVING ROOM. “UPSET POTENTIAL WOOOOOOOOOO”
GAME 1: SUBPLOT 1 OF 4 WITHOUT OUR HERO, CONFERENCE PLAY
Auburn visits Kansas State for a Thursday night marquee match-up unforeseen since the hype and excitement of Texas A&M at South Carolina. The Wildcats are humming once again on JUCO talent and quietly stirring within a Big 12 that has been centralized on the narratives of Baylor, Oklahoma and, of course, Texas. This is Kansas State’s first game receiving national attention mostly because of their swift kicking opponent. The Auburn Tigers are on a very long wait list to get into the exclusive country club known as College Football Playoff Locks and their arduous journey into the stratosphere of the Elite Four technically begins with the Wildcats. This game has the potential to be interesting until the second quarter when Gus Malzahn draws up a series of scorching read options and pop passes to open up the lead on the legs of Nick Marshall. Bill Snyder will then go to the field house and fall asleep for two days mumbling “Frabbin’ Frus Balzahn”.
No. 5 Auburn at No. 20 Kansas State is slated for Thursday at 7:30 on ESPN.
GAME 2: CONFERENCE PLAY DISCOVERS THAT COACH BOOM HAS MORE CONFIDENCE THAN HE HAS ANY RIGHT TO
Will Muschamp is dangerously close to the razor’s edge. This much was evident when a weird call in the third overtime allowed for a Gator win against Kentucky last week. With a schedule that places Muschamp back within the graces of the SEC’s Emperor Palpatine, his days as head coach may be numbered going forward. The trip to Tuscaloosa is just one of a series of conference games that pits Florida against teams that are frighteningly better. It’s a terrible year to press a reset button on an offense that struggled to function last year. So, the Lion’s Den eagerly awaits for Coach Boom’s slow descent into coordinatordom and it’s a guarantee that he’ll be cursing his way back to the bottom.
Florida and Alabama kickoff on 3:30 Saturday for another SEC on CBS production.
GAME 3: SUBPLOT 2 OF 4 WITHOUT OUR HERO, CONFERENCE PLAY
Mike London’s firing at the end of 2014 seemed like a foregone conclusion. The Cavaliers looked all season long at a schedule that included UCLA, Louisville, Duke, Florida State, Miami and Virginia Tech as automatic losses. Then, quarterback Matt Johns emerged from the mistakes of Greyson Lambert in their season opener against UCLA that has sparked optimism around Charlottesville. After their 28-20 moral victory against the seventh best team in the country, Virginia would go on to upset Louisville to end their 11 game losing streak within the ACC. There could be an opportunity in Provo to place the Hoos within the AP Top 25 for the first time since 2011. It won’t be an easy task to contain Taysom Hill but Mike London is much more successful at doing so than the likes of Texas.
The game starts at 3:30 on ESPN.
GAME 4: SUBPLOT 3 OF 4 WITHOUT OUR HERO, CONFERENCE PLAY
North Carolina visits East Carolina for one of the only interesting match-ups between two unranked teams. The Pirates have become the champion of the mid-majors by wielding a swash buckling offense under the leadership of Kenny Hill-lite, Shane Carden. They will be facing a Tar Heel team that is 86th in the nation in points allowed while East Carolina boasts a defense that is 42nd. Those statistics include road games against South Carolina as well as Virginia Tech. North Carolina has to contain Carden if they want to avoid being the second ACC team to get got by the Pirates.
The game kicks off at ECU at 3:30 on ESPNU.
GAME 5: CONFERENCE PLAY RIDES A HOVER CRAFT AROUND A BAYOU WHILST SHOOTING A SHOTGUN INTO THE WATER
Mississippi State heads to Death Valley to take on the Bayou Bengals for the distinction of being the second SEC West match-up of the season. The great unknown in the division was how far the gulf was between teams named Alabama, Auburn, LSU and everybody else. Arkansas – Auburn proved that there is a gap but not as wide as the Mississippi River as previously imagined. This game will shine a light on just what kind of team LSU possesses and how it can fare going forward. If the Bulldogs put up a fight or win, it suggests that the Tigers may be in grave danger in a conference full of sharks. If LSU wins mightily, it might be time to adjust our expectations about what the Tigers can do in 2014.
The broadcast from Baton Rouge starts at 7 on ESPN.
GAME 6: CONFERENCE PLAY PONDERS A SIGNIFICANT WAGER ON CLEMSON WHILE DABO SWINNEY YELLS IN HIS EAR
The Clemson-Florida State game has always re-routed each year’s loser away from the lofty expectation of a national title and into the lesser company of the Orange Bowl. This year is no different. Clemson, albeit a one-loss Clemson, is seeking one of the largest feathers in its cap to repaint their appearance to the Selection Committee. The Seminoles are trying to remain dry in a conference that is pouring with upsets. Florida State, however, has the benefit of being in Tallahassee as well as retaining much of last year’s squad who happened to do this to Clemson at home.
Coverage from Tallahassee begins on ABC at 8.
The Oklahoma Sooners have a graceful path to Dallas that is without both Florida State and Notre Dame. The college football pundits have pointed to their vaunted defense and given them the benefit of the doubt. They are one of the four surest bets to make it to Playoff. This means that everything could entirely go to hell in Big 12 play. Their first test is against the blinding speed and mostly airborne West Virginia. It’s defense is going to have to shut down some of the fastest wide receivers that the Mountaineers have seen since Tevin Reese in Kevin White and Mario Alford. With Clint Trickett completing 75% of his passes, the Sooners’ pass rush also needs to find a way to shut Trickett down. It’s likely that Bob Stoops will have all of this figured out and keep skipping along towards another national title. It’s also entirely likely that Oklahoma could fall from grace as it has done so many times before.
The broadcast opens from Morgantown at 7:30 on FOX.
GAME 8: SUBPLOT 4 OF 4 WITHOUT OUR HERO, CONFERENCE PLAY
The last time this game was played was it was in the Rose Bowl with Larry Coker and Frank Solich at the helm of Miami and Nebraska, respectively. This game has meant much more in the Tom Osborne and Dennis Erickson eras when the two were constantly clashing with each other for supremacy. Now, it’s a showcase for two programs whose prominence has dwindled and a fleeting reminder for older alums that these teams used to be something. The only team with anything to lose is Nebraska which is holding on to a spot at number 22 in the AP Poll for dear life. Miami would probably look like a saint for just putting the Big Ten out of it’s misery and knocking another team from the conference out of the poll.
The game starts at 8 on ESPN.
GAME 9: CONFERENCE PLAY STEALS THE MOTORCYCLE AND FLEES PULLMAN
Oregon rumbles into Pullman running on the fuel of crushed souls that once belonged to Michigan State. The Ducks’ first conference game is against a team that bares little more than the exciting letdown of Connor Halliday In A Losing Effort. Washington State can hang with teams of it’s lowered tier stature but in the Ducks, they have little else except hope to run on. Oregon is engineered to fly past a team like the Cougars and shut down their air raid offense.
This game rounds out the night at 10:30 on ESPN.
GAME 10: CONFERENCE PLAY THINKS NOTHING ELSE IS WORTHY OF HIS TIME OR HIS TRANS AM’S GAS