The last Saturday in September is a little less than 48 hours away. Doesn't it seem as though Ohio State and Navy were shaking hands just yesterday? And those of the opinion that there shouldn't be any sort of college football polls until the 4th week have finally reached the time where what we thought we knew runs dab smack into what we think we know about things we realistically have no idea about.
We - the royal we, as in the entire college football establishment (yes, I have the authority to speak for them) - think Miami is a top 10 ball club. Though should the spokes fall off Miami's momentum wagon on the road in always hostile Blacksburg, and Sam Bradford look anything remotely like his 2008 self a week later, we're all of the sudden looking at a team ranked somewhere in the low-to-mid 20's.
Case in point: take what you think you know, contrast it what you think you will know, then humbled, sit back, reach for another Yuengling, and get ready to have your world view blown to smithereens a fourth time in as as many weeks.
#8 Mississippi at South Carolina 7:30PM Thursday - ESPN
Arguably the most hot button issue around the 11W water cooler (besides of course whether or not to bankroll The Rapping Bum's screenplay for a Hip-hopera) is the legitimacy of the Ole Miss Rebels. After laying an egg for three and a half quarters against Memphis, Houston Nutt's bunch seemed to find some semblance of stability against stalwart Southern Louisiana. Facing Steve Spurrier and zen-master Stephen Garcia on the ever trap-tastic Thursday night in-conference road game, we should be able to finally get a solid grasp on whether Ole Miss is more paper tiger or sleeping giant.
Arkansas at #2 Alabama 3:30PM - CBS
Put down the pitchforks; this isn't your slightly older brother's ESSSS-EEEEE-CCEEEEE snoozer. For Hurricane Rod evacuee Ryan Mallet - he of 717 yards, six touchdowns, and zero interceptions in his first two games - and Razorbacks coach Bobby Petrino, this game could serve as a huge stepping stone in the rebirth of the Arkansas football program. Nick Saban and co., on the other hand, seek another chance in front of a national audience to remind everyone why they're early front runners for one of the BCS' top spots.
#4 California at Oregon 3:30PM - ABC (Regional)
Chip Kelly's extreme realness aside (brought to you by Orson Swindle aka Spencer Hall, proprietor of everydayshouldbesaturday.com; WAS THAT REALLY SO HARD NATIONAL MEDIA?!), the rebounding Ducks host Jeff Tedford and Jahvid's Best best coast assault. Cal survived a plucky Golden Gopher Crew (TRY! POWER! FOOTBALL! WIN) at the gorgeous new TCF Bank Stadium last weekend in Minneapolis. While likely restricted in viewership to the fortunate few with ESPN GamePlan and a small, likely brain chemistry enhanced west coast viewership, the second straight stacked 3:30 slate of games makes a trip to your local sports bar well worthwhile.
#7 Miami at #12 Virginia Tech 3:30PM - ABC/ESPN (Regional)
America's buzz team and surprise early Heisman candidate Jacory Harris travel to the not-so-cozy confines of Lane Stadium to do it up with sadly unsurprising Reggie Ball Memorial Trophy candidate Tyrod Taylor. This one should have serious ACC Championship implications, and could either further establish the re-emergence of the Miami football program (and just in time for their first trip to Columbus since a fairly unforgettable night in early 2003) or help elevate the Hokies back into the top 10 debate.
Texas Tech at #16 Houston 9:15PM - ESPN2
The twelve hundred yards of total offense barrier seems very much in jeopardy as national passing leader Taylor Potts and Cap'n Leach's Red Raiders venture southeast to Houston to square off with Kevin Sumlin and Case Keenem's Cougars (no seriously, honey, Courtney Cox is in this one!). Houston's already entered into the national discussion after taking down Oklahoma State. Should they manage to hand Texas Tech their second straight victory, they could find themselves readily in line for a possible BCS spot. The college football blogosphere's resident professor Chris Brown has the X's and O's preview over at the TEDSBSWL.
Big Ten Games
Michigan State at Wisconsin 12:00PM - ESPN
The suddenly losers of two straight Spartans travel to Madison to open Big Ten conference play with Bucky Badger. Call this a classic "show me something" game, as neither of these teams have particularly compelling contests under their belts up to this point. While Sparty is just 5 points from an unscathed record, Wisconsin could be in line for Top 25 consideration with a fourth straight win on Saturday. However, should the Badgers' game plan comes up just short, Coach Bielema can always blame a little birdie on his shoulder.
Minnesota at Northwestern 12:00PM - Big Ten Network
In another game that could serve as a chance to elbow for future bowl positioning, Minnesota looks to bounce back from a frustrating home loss to Cal by traveling to Evanston to take on the fightin' Fitzgeralds. Northwestern is looking for redemption of their own after dropping one on the road to Syracuse, but could gut their season back on track by taking down Brewster's bunch. On the plus: we don't have to risk blindness while viewing this week.
Iowa at #5 Penn State 8:00PM - ABC
The early intra-conference game of the season, Penn State hosts Iowa with revenge on their mind. After spoiling Penn State's national title hopes last season in Iowa City, Ferentz' group look to carry their momentum from last week's victory over Arizona into this one. Daryl Clark and Evan Royster look to make a potential statement to the rest of the country that this team has the kind of personnel necessary to make a deep run at the shiny crystal football.
Notre Dame at Purdue 8:00PM - ESPN
Notre Dame continues their unofficial conference slate, while you continue your all too official stretch of rooting like hell for the Irish to drop one to Big Ten opponent after Big Ten opponent. Jimmy Claussen's yet to toss an INT all season, though with Michael Floyd missing the remainder of the season with a broken collarbone, it feels as though the Irish may be playing the 2009 season on borrowed time. Danny Hope seeks a program defining victory and looks to atone for last week's meltdown against Northern Illinois.