Is there anything better than conference play? The rivalries, the games in front of raucous student sections, the fact that we’re getting to the point of the year where if you lose, you’re not able to rally back and still make a convincing case that you deserve to be in a top-tier bowl or the Playoff. Plus it means fall is here, and fall is wonderful. Fall means we get apple cider, and apple cider is the nectar of the gods.
As for this week’s slate of games, we have some in-conference matchups with massive national ramifications. The two best teams in the Pac-12 play on Friday night. Maybe the two best teams in the ACC play on Saturday night. We may get a preview of this year’s Big Ten title game, and we might get a definitive answer on which team is the best team in the SEC East. Also: Ed Orgeron is back, baby. If he is able to work his magic at LSU, then I swear to god someone better give him a head coaching job next year.
Wanna talk football? Let’s talk football.
9:00 p.m.: Stanford at Washington, ESPN
Louisville vs. Clemson is the game of the weekend. I don’t think there’s a single person who disagrees with that.
Having said that, hoo boy, Stanford vs. Washington is going to be amazing. The team that wins this game is going to win the Pac-12. Sure, it’s a bit of a stretch to make that proclamation for a game that will take place on September 30, but consider:
- These are easily the two best teams in the conference, per S&P+. The Cardinal are ninth, the Huskies are ranked 11th. The third, fourth, and fifth best teams are Oregon (20th), UCLA (27th), and Utah (32nd).
- Of teams 3-5, Stanford has already played and beaten one of them (UCLA) and only has to travel to Oregon. Washington has road trips to Oregon and Utah on its schedule.
- Every other team in the Pac-12 North has two losses, so basically, the team that wins this game is going to be undefeated with a win over easily the best team it’ll play this regular season.
- The Pac-12 South is a bit down this year, and I am willing to bet at least $5 that the winner of the conference comes out of the North.
So put all of those super flimsy arguments together and yeah, this game is going to be huge. Both squads came into 2016 with a ton of hype – Washington was the darling of every college football blogger on the web, while Stanford has Christian McCaffrey and he is wonderful.
Stanford hasn’t looked outstanding this year, but their schedule has been really tough, as the Cardinal hosted Kansas State and USC before traveling to UCLA. Washington, on the other hand, has mostly whooped up on lesser teams. Chris Petersen’s side boasts three home blowouts over Rutgers, Idaho, and Portland State, and last week, the Huskies went to Tucson and beat a tricky Arizona team.
Both squads are going to play tough defense and efficient offense, so look for this game to potentially turn on special teams. By S&P+, Stanford is the second-best special teams squad in the nation, while Washington is ranked 70th. Who would have thought that having really good specialists in the kicking game and McCaffrey returning kicks/punts may be a good thing?