Pssst. Hey. C’mere.
Sorry to rip you away from baseball playoffs, but this weekend might of a little interest in college football.
Nothing much, really. Just one of the biggest Saturdays of the season.
Just Florida State-Miami. And Michigan-Purdue. And Ohio State-Wisconsin. And Oklahoma-Texas. And LSU-Florida. Oregon State-Washington. And Auburn-Mississippi State. And Tennessee-Georgia.
Of those, all but Purdue and LSU are ranked in the top 25, and maybe they should be.
But the sad thing is, it all takes a backseat to baseball’s divisional playoffs. Especially here, where Mariners fans are going to rush Safeco Field in the same way Slobodan Milosevic protesters stormed the Yugoslav Parliament building.
In the great foot of sportsdom, college football is a mere corn pad.
Just look around. Local TV news leads with baseball. Not the sportscasts – the newscasts. Then they make a passing, oh-by-the-way mention of the Gore-Bush debate.
In sports bars, talking heads with microphones interview Joe Sixpack about Jay Buhner’s attempted bunt. Guys who are a supermodel heavier than Jose Mesa are suddenly experts in the hit-and-run.
I’m sorry, but baseball shouldn’t be played under the threat of sleet.
It’s all very disturbing.
But it’s OK. At least those who follow the above games this weekend are going to be true fans of college football.
We’ll see the rest of you after the World Series.
Which should end around when? Thanksgiving?
Here’s a look at Saturday’s games.
Kickoff: 7 p.m. Saturday.
TV, radio: Fox Sports Net (cable), KOMO radio (1000 AM).
Stars to watch: Washington – Quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo is having a disappointing (for him) season with seven interceptions in four games. There’s a lot of blame to go around – a mediocre running game, an offensive line that hasn’t played its best game yet, no receivers capable of big plays – but the Huskies need a breakout game. Coach Rick Neuheisel, looking for a more physical back, will give freshman Rich Alexis more carries, which will give the Huskies a more varied look when Paul Arnold comes out. The defense has been solid, with nose tackle Larry Tripplett and free safety Hakim Akbar having All-America-type seasons.
Oregon State – Tailback Ken Simonton ran for 234 yards against USC and must be slowed down for the Huskies to have a decent shot. Quarterback Jonathan Smith is having an off year (43-percent passing), which puts even greater emphasis on Simonton. The Beavers’ defense is fourth in the nation in rushing defense and sixth in total defense. Linebacker Darnell Robinson is small (6 feet, 207 pounds) but is all over the place and strong safety Terrence Carroll will play on Sundays.
Breaking down the game: The Huskies need to get the offense on track, and that may be difficult against an OSU defense that coach Dennis Erickson says is as fast as any he had at Miami. Washington’s offensive line has to play more aggressively than it did against Oregon to get the running game going. If not, watch out. Maurice Morris gave Washington’s front seven trouble. Simonton will give it even more.
Bottom line: OSU’s speed is going to give Washington problems. The question is whether Tuiasosopo can jump-start an offense nearly devoid of proven big-play skill guys. If not, look for the Beavers to pack the line of scrimmage and gamble that Washington’s receivers can’t beat man coverage.
Pick: Oregon State, 28-27.
Kickoff: 2 p.m. Saturday.
Radio: KJR (950 AM)
Stars to watch: Washington State – Quarterback Jason Gesser is coming around as both a runner and a passer. Much of the latter is because of wideout Milton Wynn, who averages 111 receiving yards a game. Marcus Williams, at 6-5, also is emerging as a solid second receiver.
Boise State – Tailback Brock Forsey is a threat as a runner, receiver and return man. Quarterback Bart Hendricks, who brought the Broncos back from a 24-0 deficit to a near win at Arkansas, has been compared favorably with Idaho’s John Welsh.
Breaking down the game: The matchup of BSU’s defensive line vs. Gesser is intriguing. If Gesser escapes, it may be a long day for the Broncos. The Cougars have had to juggle personnel on their defensive front because of injuries, but seem to be fine there now.
Bottom line: BSU made a great run at Arkansas before losing, 38-31. Pullman doesn’t figure to strike fear into the Broncos at all.
Pick: Boise State, 38-17.
Stanford at Notre Dame: Figure out Stanford. The Cardinal beat Texas, then lost to San Jose State and big to Arizona. This may come down to which team has the better third-string quarterback. Stanford is missing Joe Borchard (baseball) and Randy Fasani (knee injury), leaving Chris Lewis. For the Irish, Arnaz Battle is injured and Gary Godsey has been horrible, which likely puts freshman Matt LoVecchio in at some point. Pick: Notre Dame, 24-7.
Arizona at USC: Pivotal game for USC coach Paul Hackett, whose job likely won’t survive an 0-2 Pac-10 start. The Wildcats have been doing it with a defense that’s been the school’s best since its Desert Swarm. The question is whether its young secondary matches up with Trojan receivers Kareen Kelly and Marcell Allmond. Pick: USC, 20-14.
Cal at Arizona State: The Sun Devils had UCLA down 21-0 before collapsing. If ASU generates anything on offense, it figures to beat the Bears, whose biggest weapon is punter Nick Harris. Pick: ASU, 17-12.
Florida State at Miami: A foot sprain to FSU quarterback Chris Weinke may be a huge pain to the Seminoles, who are playing their first of just three loseable games on the schedule (the others are Clemson and Florida, both at home). Florida State’s saving grace: It rushes the quarterback like crazy (Jamal Reynolds has 10 sacks), and Miami QB Ken Dorsey simply isn’t up to that kind of pressure. Pick: Florida State, 35-21.
Michigan at Purdue: The Wolverines got to Boilermakers quarterback Drew Brees last year and forced him into a 20-for-49 day. Look for a huge day from Michigan tailback Anthony Thomas. If Penn State can roll up 221 rushing yards on Purdue, Thomas should at least match that. Pick: Michigan, 38-27.
Ohio State at Wisconsin: Could the Badgers go 0-3 in the conference? You bet. The Badgers have little balance (the passing game is 110th in the nation) and that won’t make it against the Buckeyes. Pick: Ohio State, 27-23.
Oklahoma at Texas: Sounds strange, but these two combine for 646 yards passing and 254 running. We’re a big believer in Texas quarterback Major Applewhite, especially in Austin. Pick: Texas, 37-34.
Auburn at Mississippi State: Great matchup between Tigers tailback Rudi Johnson and MSU’s defense, which borders on maniacal. This is Auburn’s first road game in a month. Time for it to come back to Earth. Pick: MSU, 27-20.
Sleeper pick of the day: Penn State 28, Minnesota 27.