Games are already starting as I write this so it's time to take a look at the big games of the day. It's week five, which means big conference games are starting this week. There are several important games this week across every conference, including possible Big 10, SEC and MAC championship previews. So, let's take a look.
Toledo at Temple - At the start of the year, Toledo was thought to be one of the premier teams of the MAC and certainly a threat to win the MAC west. However, thanks to a pretty brutal non-conference schedule, including games against Boise State and Ohio State, they have only gotten off to a 1-3 start. But, when you play in the MAC, the season doesn't really start until you get into the conference schedule, and this will be the first chance we get to see them against equal talent. And remember, Toledo played Boise pretty well, and took Ohio State to the wire, and should have beaten Syracuse if not for inept officiating, so we know they can be a tough team. Temple, likewise, had high hopes for a MAC East title, and an easy path to the MAC Championship. Temple has had an easier first month of the season, and have a conference win in the back, having handled Akron easily, and taking care of Maryland, which is a big win. Both of these teams are going to rely on their running game, and the battle today will be in the trenches. I think Toledo is going to take this one in a close game, but Temple is going to have another shot later in the year in Detroit at the championship.
Minnesota at #19 Michigan - Yeah, this is an easy one. Michigan is already up 14 as I write this. Minnesota is still a really bad team, and Michigan is going to roll to another 5-0 start. The real season starts next week. Michigan by a ton. This is an easy pick for the STONE COLD LOCK OF THE CENTURY...OF THE WEEK!
Northern Illinois at Central Michigan - It's been a tough month for the Chips, and things don't get easier today. NIU is another tough team in the MAC and they are going to run all over us today. Nothing about CMU has told me that they have it in them to stop good teams, and I don't think today is going to change my opinion. The Chips have looked, let's be brutally honest, awful. Ryan Radcliff is not a good quarterback, and the defense couldn't stop an....easily stoppable thing. I'm not expecting much. As a Central fan, I'm pretty much back into the hope for a win but expect a loss mode. Such is life. NIU by a ton and I have to accept the harassment of NIU friends.
Michigan State at Ohio State - It's gut check time for State (the Michigan flavor, Ohio State is never to be referred to as "State"). State has looked good against their weaker opponents (see the Central game last week) but got embarrassed against Notre Dame, and no one is thinking of them as a Big 10 championship contender, let alone a National Championship caliber team. A win today can get them back in at least the Big 10 conversation. Ohio State is still missing several of their starters due to last years shenanigans, so if State wants to beat them, now is the time. I'm not sure how this will go. Ohio State has proven that they are a very beatable team, but that Notre Dame game just puts too many doubts about State in my mind. If State can focus on their running game and not try to get too fancy, they shouldn't have any problems. I'm going to go with my heart and pick Michigan State to win. I hope I'm not wrong because I HATE when Ohio State wins.
#3 Alabama at #12 Florida - This is the big SEC game of the day. LSU was able to jump over Alabama in the rankings last week, mostly because the Rolling Tide hasn't played as many tough teams this year, but this is their first real test and it comes against an improved Florida team that is getting it's swagger back and is looking for a big win themselves. This is what we call a statement game. Both teams feature strong running games and stifling defenses, so it could make for a low scoring affair. These teams are very similar, with nearly identical stats and play style. I think Alabama has the edge in talent and in coaching and that's going to make the difference and get the win for the Tide. Remember though, regardless of who wins, both teams will remain in the hunt for their respective divisional titles, and we could see them play again later in the year.
#8 Nebraska at #7 Wisconsin - And now we come to the other night game, and again, a possible preview of the first Big 10 Championship game. Nebraska plays it's very first Big 10 conference game and they draw the best team in the conference. Nebraska has come out and won their first four games, but haven't looked that great doing it. Quarterback Taylor Martinez can be electrifying at times and frightening for Husker fans. Meanwhile Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson has lived up to all the hype of the off-season. We knew that Wisconsin was going to have a nearly unstoppable running attack, and Wilson has given them the necessary air attack that they needed. Wisconsin is scoring an average of 48.5 points per game. Nebraska isn't that far behind with 42.8 points. However, Wisconsin has gotten the edge so far in terms of defense