We’re not in the businesses of alliterative Saturday mantras, but if we were,we might call this “Sorting Hat Saturday” as BCS conferences begin establishing a pecking order or “Thumb Hurts Saturday” as three of the four best games this weekend will overlap.
Master vs. Padawan: Nick Saban battles the most recent member of his coaching tree to land a primo job, but the pivotal coaching clash will be with Charlie Weis not Muschamp. Can the decided schematic advantage open up Alabama’s defense? Florida has relied heavily on the run and short passes. Brantley has solid numbers, but 20 of his 55 completions have gone to Rainey and Demps out of the backfield. His leading wideout has seven catches through four games. None of his receivers has caught a touchdown pass. Alabama has play-in, play-out the nation’s best defense. If the Crimson Tide can swallow the run (1.76 yards per carry allowed) and Florida can’t expand the field, this could get ugly. The numbers for these two teams are similar. The quality of opponents has not been.
Future Conference Foes: Both the Aggies and Razorbacks are rebounding from confidence sapping losses last week. A&M blew a 20-3 halftime lead to the Pickens boys at home, inspiring this display. Alabama comprehensively dismantled Arkansas, beating them soundly in just about every aspect of playing football. Texas A&M will try to replicate Alabama’s game plan, by exploiting Arkansas on both lines of scrimmage. The Aggies have the schemes to infiltrate the backfield and to establish their running game, but they don’t have Alabama’s stable of first-round draft picks.
Does the Big Ten Have a BCS Contender? Michigan and Illinois will be found out. The two real Big Ten contenders are who we thought they were, Wisconsin and Nebraska. Steel will clash when Wisconsin is on offense. Wisky has its traditional power game with Montee Ball, James White and size on the O-line most NFL teams would envy. This year’s added wrinkles have been explosion, playmaking, athleticism and every other euphemism you wish at quarterback with N.C. State transfer Russell Wilson. The Badgers have impressed, though performed as they should have given the opposition. Nebraska’s defense was expected to be Top-15 caliber and carry them through the conference. They have not been that so far, as the 67 points allowed to Fresno State and Washington at home will attest. The Cornhuskers will hope finally having Crick, David and Dennard on the same field will stiffen their defensive resolve.
Does the ACC Have a BCS Contender? Both teams are 4-0. Both are difficult to get a read on. Clemson has marquee wins against Auburn and Florida State, but has yet to leave Death Valley. The Hokies have left Blacksburg’s friendly confines twice, but have avoided anything resembling competition. They have also looked distinctly unimpressive against the groundlings they have faced. Clemson’s offense has been fearsome, posting 1100 yards in their last two big games. Freshman wideout Sammy Watkins has vaulted himself into the national discussion. The question will be whether the Tigers can absorb the pressure from Bud Foster’s defense and use their speed to capitalize on the space in the wake. If it comes down to quarterback play, Tajh Boyd has been a hit. Logan Thomas has progressed from Gigli awful to every other Jennifer Lopez movie not very good. The letdown after two huge games, the radical environment change and the national pressure place Clemson’s risk of “pulling a Clemson” at a 10/10.
[Photo via Getty]