The College Football Preview, Week Six: The Red River Showdown, the Tears of Touchdown Jesus, the Glory of the Rice Owls

Before I get on with this weekend’s college games, it’s got to be noted that, for the first time in my lifetime, Rice has a better record in football than Notre Dame. Yep, that’s right. Rice is better than Notre Dame.

While I was watching the D-Backs beat up on the Cubs Wednesday night, the Owls were taking on the Golden Eagles of Southern Mississippi. The Golden Eagles were the choice of many to win Conference USA this season. But after losing to Rice, the Golden Eagles are going to have to fight to get back to the .500 mark before they can worry about winning the conference. The Owls won 31-29, holding off a furious fourth quarter from Southern Mississippi in which the Golden Eagles scored 22 points.

So, let’s hear it for the 1-4 Owls, everyone. They’ve got a better record than Notre Dame. And I wonder if Touchdown Jesus is weeping.

Now, on to this weekend’s games.

The 2-2 Coogs are off to Alabama to go up against an Alabama squad that not only was upset last week, but which dropped out of the Top 25 Rankings. The Coogs really should have won last week’s game, but then again, so should’ve Alabama. The Coogs like to play tough out-of-conference games, and they usually keep such games close, but keeping the game close isn’t the same as winning. Who knows, maybe if the Tide win and return to the rankings, Texas A&M will try and steal Nick Saban to replace that other Alabama coach they stole several years ago.

Speaking of A&M, the Coach Fran tip sheet is a major story in this week’s Sports Illustrated. (The story, which is not yet online, is not very flattering to Coach Fran, or to the Aggies.) The word is that the players are standing behind Coach Fran. But it’s not the players whose support Coach Fran needs; it’s the boosters. And the boosters haven’t been happy, and I doubt that little tip sheet thing has made them happier. The only way Coach Fran keeps the boosters happy this season is to keep beating up on UT come Black Friday. But until they can get to the Horns, the Aggies have to play the rest of the Big 12. This week, they’re going up against Coach Gundy, the Girls of the Big 12, and the Oklahoma State Cowboys. You Aggie fans can watch this game Saturday night on Fox Sports Southwest at 6:30.

But the big game in Texas, yep, even bigger than my Cougars, will be the Red River Showdown up in Dallas. Tenth ranked Oklahoma versus 19th ranked Texas. Both teams were beat last week, both in major upsets. But unlike Texas, who was embarrassed by a runaway Kansas State victory, Oklahoma lost on a field goal with no time on the clock. Of course, Oklahoma did blow a 17-point lead to get to that spot where Colorado could make that kick.

This is one of ABC’s national games Saturday afternoon, with kick-off set for 2:30.

Texas Tech at 4-1 will be hosting Iowa State on Saturday night. For some teams, the arrest of a player might affect the team, but since linebacker Kellen Tillman had also been suspended for last week’s game, then this shouldn’t have much of an affect.

TCU is journeying up to Wyoming for a Saturday afternoon game, and 3-2 Colorado (the giant killer) is venturing down to Waco to take on the 3-2 Baylor Bears. And SMU and TSU are off this week.

As for national games, Thursday night found the surprisingly eighth ranked Kentucky Wildcats taking on the 11th ranked South Carolina Gamecocks. But they won’t be surprising much longer as South Carolina beat Kentucky 38-28.

And the college football fan with no rooting interests will have several interesting games to follow on Saturday. Number 12 George will be visiting Tennessee. Number 15 Virginia Tech will be visiting number 22 Clemson. And for you who like to watch train wrecks, Notre Dame will be out in Los Angeles taking on UCLA.

(I’ve just got to say it again. The Rice Owls have a better record than Notre Dame. You just know Ty Willingham is laughing.)

Then comes the big Saturday night games. For the first time in decades, USC is not ABC’s prime time game. That’s right, the Trojans have been relegated to Versus (otherwise known as the home of bull riding, hockey, and the Tour de France) where they’ll be hosting Stanford. The Trojans dropped to number two in the rankings despite a win last week.

ESPN 2 will be airing what should be a fun offensive contest as the high-octane offenses of number 20 Cincinnati and number 21 Rutgers meet up at 7:00. ESPN will be airing number 25 Nebraska visiting number 17 Missouri at 8:15. CBS will be getting into the prime time Saturday night college football biz as it broadcasts what should be the best game of the week as number 9 Florida (which lost on a last second field goal last week) goes to Baton Rouge to battle number 1 ranked LSU. That game goes on the air at 7:00. And also airing at 7:00 will be the ABC match-up of number 4 Ohio State going up against number 23 Purdue.

I’ll be at Toyota Center covering the Aeros, but if I was going to watch one of these games, I’d watch Florida/LSU and TiVo Cincinnati/Rutgers.

Enjoy the weekend, everyone. May it be as good a weekend for college football as last weekend. – John Royal

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