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The College Football Notebook


November 13, 2009 2:00 PM

Saturday Showdowns

There’s two games directly affecting BCS bids on Saturday. The first one goes at 3:30 ET on ABC in the Big Ten, as Iowa visits Ohio State. Then the biggest game of the entire day will be TCU hosting Utah, as the Horned Frogs look to clear the last major hurdle in their pursuit of an undefeated season, major bowl bid and even a possible national title if they got a break to fall their way. This game will be televised…nowhere. In the age of every high school game being on TV, somehow no one picked up this one, even though both teams were expected to be good at the start of the year and Utah was everyone’s Cinderella just a year ago. If the networks and the BCS conference were looking to prove they have a monopoly, this is a more eloquent statement than any snub in bowl selection could possibly be.

It’s a compelling matchup that we’ll be missing. I don’t have any doubt TCU is the better team and pretty substantially. Their defense is renowned for its aggressiveness, and Andy Dalton and the offense have really started to click. The Horned Frogs hammered BYU on the road in their first big test of the Mountain West title push. But Utah is the more traditional power in this league and TCU has never played a game of this magnitude. More than any other sport, college football has a way of crushing the dreams of rising teams when the big moment arrives. But I believe Gary Patterson’s program is ready to make the most of their opportunity. The way they played at BYU said a lot, and they’ll have the home crowd behind them Saturday night. Utah’s only way to win is if they can make some big plays against the blitzing Horned Frog defense early, get them behind and get them thinking. I’ll call this one for TCU, 34-17. If you're one of the few in Fort Worth or Salt Lake who can get the game on local TV, write in and share your thoughts with those of us in darkness.

The Showdown in the Shoe, with Ohio State-Iowa has lost a lot of its luster since Ricky Stanzi got hurt. Iowa’s a team built around its defense, but the dropoff to a redshirt frosh when playing in Columbus is just way too steep to manage. I look for the Hawkeye defense to play tough and to play well, but the Buckeyes have the athletes to make just enough big plays to keep the Hawks at arm’s length and the visitors now lack the passing game to come from behind with. Ohio State beat overachieving teams like Navy and Wisconsin in this venue already and they add Iowa to the list on Saturday. Ohio State, 20-3 and with it clinches the Rose Bowl.

We’ve covered most of the key games over the last three days here. A few others too watch are in the SEC & Pac-10. Florida and Alabama go on the road The Gators’ trip to South Carolina no longer seems like a danger spot, given the collapse of the Gamecocks’ defense in recent weeks. Alabama will likely be flat at Mississippi State, but the Bulldogs don’t have the horses to make them pay for it. And out west, USC plays Stanford. Last week I liked the Cardinal to catch Oregon in a letdown and they did. Now the roles are reversed, and I expect USC to win big. A more important game is Arizona-Cal in Berkeley. The Wildcats control their destiny for the Rose Bowl and the Pac-10 world is eyeing up their game at home with Oregon next week. But the pick here is that the Golden Bears redeem their season at home and knock off the Wildcats, who are looking ahead and not good enough to get away with it.

Usual reminder that I'll be back on Sunday evening to sort through all through the results. And Jeff Fogle over at Stat Intelligence updates his site throughout the day as games wrap up.

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