Bye Week: What to Watch

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alabama_olemiss_los (1)A bye week is a time to enjoy college football without the anxieties of a looming Longhorn game; one can eyeball future opponents and see how the last year of the BCS will shake out.

Though there’s not a whole lot of Big 12 action this week (half the teams, like Texas, have a bye week), there are still some intriguing matchups that should keep your eyes glued to the TV.

Here’s what to watch:

(11) Oklahoma State vs. West Virginia                   11: 00 AM on ESPN

The only game this week that pits Big 12 against Bi 12, the Mountaineers look the upset the Cowboys in Charleston. Though Oklahoma State is the highest ranked team in the conference, the Big 12 is still wide open. The Mountaineers are coming off an embarrassing 37-0 loss at Maryland as the Cowboys just finished their cupcake non-conference schedule. It’s highly unlikely, given West Virginia’s recent struggles, but if the Mountaineers can pull off an upset, the Big 12 landscape will change dramatically.

SMU vs. TCU                                                                      11:00 AM on FOX Sports

Despite conference realignment (SMU enjoys their new home with the newly-christened American Athletic Conference), this Dallas/Fort Worth rivalry chugs on. TCU had high hopes of competing for a conference title, but the loss of their starting quarterback and a 1-2 start has the Horned Frogs reeling. A loss to SMU, a team that is, likewise, struggling, will officially make this season a disaster for TCU.

(6) LSU vs. (9) Georgia                                                   2:30 PM on CBS

The game of the week, this matchup has major SEC implications. Georgia bounced back from their early loss to Clemson with a big win over South Carolina. This victory put the Bulldogs in the driver’s seat to represent the SEC East division in the conference championship. This game also serves as LSU’s biggest test to date as the Tigers try to remain undefeated.

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(14) Oklahoma vs. (22) Notre Dame                        2:30 PM on NBC

A game of retribution, the Sooners travel to South Bend to redeem themselves from last year’s embarrassing defeat. Though this year is far from the fairy tale season Notre Dame had in 2012, the Irish are still playing for a potential BCS berth, and they have not lost in South Bend since October, 2011. This is also a big game for the Big 12, as the Sooners (serving as the de facto Big 12 flag bearers) hope to showcase the enigmatic conference’s strength.

(21) Ole Miss vs. (1) Alabama                                     5:30 PM on ESPN

We can see how bad that defeat at the hands of the Rebels two weeks ago really was. There’s no doubt Alabama will be favored at home in Tuscaloosa, but the up-and-coming Rebels would love to play spoiler, as well as put their names in the national title hunt. Though a matchup against LSU looms for both teams, the winner of this game will effectively have the inside track to represent the SEC West in the conference championship.

(23) Wisconsin vs. (4) Ohio State                              7:00 PM on ABC

Wisconsin quickly put that bizarre ending to their game against Arizona State behind them and trounced conference foe Purdue the following week. Ohio State, everyone’s favorite to capture the Big 10 title, is coming off a 76-0 win over Florida A&M. The Big 10 is not very deep, but if Ohio State struggles, it could be a long road to the Rose Bowl.

(5) Stanford vs. Washington State                           9:00 PM on ESPN

Washington State is the surprise team of the season, thus far. A big win over USC in week two catapulted the Cougars to PAC 12 championship conversation. Coming off a win against Arizona State, this could be a trap game for the Stanford Cardinal, who might already be looking forward to Nov. 7, when they face the No. 2 team in the nation, the Oregon Ducks.

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Brian Kendall

Part-time journalist turned full-time blogger, Brian is an online staff writer at Horns Illustrated and serves as senior staff writer for digital marketing agency Speak Social. Brian currently resides in Austin and you can read his blog at the following address: briankendall.wordpress.com