Football Games To Watch This Weekend [Opinion]
The weekend is here…and that means FOOTBALL! Here are the games that I think will be the ones to watch:
#3 SOUTH CAROLINA (6-0) AT #9 LOUISIANA STATE (5-1) 6 p.m. ESPN
Both teams come into the game with dominant defenses. LSU ranks second nationally in pass defense, third in total defense and eighth in scoring defense. The Gamecocks, however, aren’t far behind, ranking 11th in total defense and fourth in scoring defense. Last week, they held Georgia, which entered the game as the SEC’s top offense, to just 224 total yards. However, LSU has struggled offensively, managing just six points in last week’s loss to Florida and putting up just 50 total the previous two weeks against a terrible Auburn team and FCS Towson. In that three-game stretch, quarterback Zach Mettenberger has completed less than 53 percent of his passes and thrown just one touchdown. The matchup to watch here is the LSU defense against USC running back Marcus Lattimore. Last week, Florida running back Mike Gillislee rushed for 146 yards and two touchdowns against the Tigers and the Gamecocks hope to find similar success with Lattimore, the SEC’s second-leading rusher, this week.
#17 STANFORD (4-1) AT #7 NOTRE DAME (5-0) 1:30 p.m. NBC
This could be a real throwback, smash-mouth football game as both teams feature strong running games and stout defenses. In last week’s win over Miami, Notre Dame running backs Cierre Wood and George Atkinson III combined for 241 rushing yards and three touchdowns, the first time Notre Dame had two 100+ yard rushers in the same game in 10 years. This week, however, they’ll go against the nation’s #6 rush defense. Stanford running back Stepfan Taylor is third in the Pac-12 in rushing yards per game and will look to recapture his 118-yard effort against the Fighting Irish last year. The wild card here could be Stanford quarterback Josh Nunes who, after a slow start to the season, threw for a career-high 360 yards and two touchdowns last week against Arizona. If he can have enough passing success to keep the defense honest and open some running lanes for Taylor, Stanford could have a shot at the road upset in South Bend. Stanford has won three straight in this series after losing the previous seven.
#15 TEXAS (4-1) VS. #13 OKLAHOMA (3-1) 10 a.m. ABC
This year’s Red River Rivalry features two teams who each come in with a loss, but who both still have high hopes and dreams of a conference title in their sights. Texas lost a 48-45 shootout with West Virginia, but has finally found the consistency at quarterback they’ve been lacking since the departure of Colt McCoy. David Ash ranks third in the nation in pass efficiency and has thrown 11 touchdowns to just one interception this year. He’ll have an interesting matchup against an Oklahoma defense that ranks ninth in pass defense and did a nice job against Texas Tech last week, holding the nation’s seventh-best passing team to 271 passing yards, nearly 90 yards less than the Red Raiders’ average coming in to the game. Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones struggled with poor decision making and two turnovers in a Week Four loss to Kansas State, but rebounded with a good game last week. The Sooners will need another solid effort from him against Texas’ #6-rated scoring defense. Oklahoma has won the last two in this series and eight total during Bob Stoops’ 13-year tenure.
DALLAS COWBOYS (2-2) AT BALTIMORE RAVENS (4-1) 11 A.M. FOX
Dallas may have needed the bye week so that quarterback Tony Romo, the league’s 23rd-rated passer, could regroup with his receivers. The Ravens’ defense is solid, with safety Ed Reed a threat to intercept on nearly any passing down. Baltimore ranks eighth in the league in offense at 398.8 yards per game. Ravens’ quarterback Joe Flacco could be challenged by the Cowboys’ top-ranked passing defense.
N.Y. GIANTS (3-2) AT SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (4-1) 2:25 P.M. FOX
This is the game of the week. New York is fueled by an explosive offensive attack that averages an NFC-best 429.2 yards per game. Giants’ quarterback Eli Manning has thrown for 1,579 yards, second-best in the NFL. The 49ers’ defense allows an NFL-best 13.6 points per game and ranks second against the pass with just 181.2 yards per contest. San Francisco is led by quarterback Alex Smith, the NFL’s top passer with a 108.7 rating. Despite having a reputation as one of the league’s best pass rushes, the Giants have recorded just eight sacks, tied for 24th.
GREEN BAY PACKERS (2-3) AT HOUSTON TEXANS (5-0) 6:20 P.M.
The Packer nation is starting to panic as Green Bay has not closed out games as it did the past two years. Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been sacked 21 times already this season, second-most in the NFL. He could be in for more pressure against the Texans’ third-ranked defense, led by J.J. Watt, who has 8.5 sacks to lead the NFL. Houston is led by running back Arian Foster, the league’s second-leading runner with 532 yards.
Enjoy the games!