Looking at the college football schedule for this weekend, I was disappointed. There are no large marquee match-ups and only one or two worthy of a top billing, but when looking further, there are several games that are crucial in conference play. Below are the top 5 must watch games this weekend. All odds are courtesy of bodog.com.
#25 West Virginia Mountaineers at #5 Cincinnati Bearcats (-10)
Friday, 8pm EST
This is a pivotal game in the Big East tonight. It will be one of the toughest tests this season for the Bearcats, especially coming off of their poor defensive output last week, giving up 45 points to decent UConn offense. The defense is going to need to contain the speedy Noel Devine and the rest of the quick offensive squad for West Virginia in order to keep this game close. Ultimately, the home field advantage for the Bearcats will prevail in this marquee match-up.
Prediction: Cincinnati by 4
Notre Dame Fighting Irish at #12 Pittsburgh Panthers (-7)
Saturday, 8pm EST
Another prime-time match-up in the Big East with BCS Bowl implications. Pitt is 7-1 in the conference, one game behind Cincinnati, and is hungry for a BCS Bowl bid. Pitt\’s QB, Bill Stull, has had an impressive year throwing for almost 1900 yards and 17 touchdowns in 9 games and is balanced by his athletic RB Dion Lewis, who averages over 5.5 yards per carry. Notre Dame on the other hand, is struggling once again under their hot seat coach Charlie Weis. Jimmy Clausen has had an even more impressive year than Stull throwing for over 2700 yards and 20 touchdowns, but the ND rushing offense has been poor averaging under 5.0 yards per carry. This is a must win for Weis or his days in ND are extremely numbered.
Prediction: Pitt by 14
Stanford Cardinals at #9 USC Trojans (-10.5)
Saturday, 3:30pm EST
With two uncharacteristic losses for Pete Carroll\’s USC Trojans, their dominance is certainly in question. The Pac-10 is having a strong year with 4 teams in the BCS Top 25, which is creating some difficulty for Matt Barkley, the freshman QB who has thrown for 10 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. In order to beat the Cardinals, Joe McKnight, the USC RB is going to have to have a strong performance. This is a huge game for Stanford. They are 5-2 in the Pac-10 and 6-3 overall. With a win, they place themselves 1 game behind Oregon and Arizona for the Pac-10 lead. Stanford is hungry and oozing with confidence coming off their big upset of #8 Oregon last week.
Prediction: Stanford by 3
#10 Iowa Hawkeyes at #11 Ohio State Buckeyes (-17)
Saturday, 3:30pm EST
A few weeks ago, this would have been a gigantic game for the Iowa Hawkeyes and their dream season. After their devastating loss to Northwestern, the dream ended. The bigger loss, however, was when Ricky Stanzi left the field and didn\’t return. Without their Junior QB, Iowa is a weak offensive team and can not compete with schools like Ohio State. On the other side of the field, the Ohio State Buckeyes are primed and ready to feast on the ailing Hawkeyes and take over the sole lead in the Big-10 as the only one-loss team. To add insult to injury for Iowa fans, this game is in Ohio Stadium.
Prediction: Ohio State by 28
#16 Utah Utes at #4 TCU Horned Frogs (-19.5)
Saturday, 7:30pm EST
TCU has had an excellent year and are poised to finish the season undefeated. They will not be in the national championship game, unless there is a miracle, but they are still a top tier team and have dominated their opponents (even though they have only played 1 ranked team). This match-up with the Utes is the most difficult test this season for TCU and Utah is the only other undefeated team in the Mountain West. This will be a closer game than the odds show, because the Mountain West title and a potential BCS Bowl bid are on the line.