The Sooners and the Longhorns. The Bradford and the McCoy.
No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 5 Texas, both 5-0 and led by two free-slinging quarterbacks, will go down to the Red River to settle business Saturday (11 a.m. EDT, ABC).
OK, the game has been played at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas since 1929, and as usual, the stakes are very high (underscored by the presence of ESPN's College Football GameDay desk).
Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford
Oklahoma, led by quarterback Sam Bradford, and Texas and its QB Colt McCoy meet in the 103rd installment of the Red River Rivalry (named for the water that separates the two states.) This tilt will have major implications for the future BCS rankings, not to mention the Big 12 Conference.
Texas quarterback Colt McCoy
Texas has somewhat flown under the radar this season, but when you're Texas and you're undefeated, it doesn't take long to get back in the spotlight. McCoy, the nation's fourth-rated passer, has completed 103 of 130 passes for 1,280 yards and 16 TDs. He's also rushed for 317 yards on only 45 carries, with four TDs.
Bradford, second in passing efficiency in the NCAA, has completed 106 of 146 passes for 1,665 yards and 18 touchdowns for a team that is averaging 49.6 points a game. Texas isn't far behind in scoring, averaging 47.2 points.
Texas Coach Mack Brown, looking ahead after Saturday's victory over Colorado, said: "This
game is really big to us. It's really big to Oklahoma. I have been fortunate to be on both sides of this like Coach (Darrell) Royal and see what it means to both teams, and it's even bigger when both teams are really, really good like they are this year."
Oklahoma Coach Bob Stoops, speaking at his weekly press conference in Norman, had similar sentiments: "It's more than just bragging rights now. It's an inside track, or one up on the other guy, on your way to a championship, hopefully. I think being in the same division has really escalated it."
Now let's look at some other games of note this week.
Clemson at No. 21 Wake Forest, Thursday, 7:30 p.m. EDT (ESPN)
: In a matchup of ACC Atlantic Division disappointments, the Clemson Tigers travel to Winston-Salem, N.C., to face the Demon Deacons. Both teams went into their bye weeks likely thinking about their last home loss: Wake Forest fell apart as quarterback Riley Skinner turned the ball over five times -- four of those were interceptions -- in a surprising loss to Navy. Clemson blew a second-half lead against Maryland. Clemson will look to run with James Davis and C.J. Spiller against a Wake Forest defense that does better against the pass. Also of note, Wake's prolific placekicker/punter Sam Swank is questionable with a thigh sprain. Clemson blew out Wake in Death Valley, 44-10, last year, and Wake's chances of a victory could be jinxed: Four ranked teams have lost on Thursday night this season.
-- by EdisonSanon
No. 3 LSU (4-0) at No. 12 Florida (4-1), 8 p.m. EDT (CBS)
: This SEC showdown features the last two national champions. Florida rebounded from a stunning one-point (conference) loss to Ole Miss two weeks ago with a 38-7 thrashing of Arkansas last week. LSU had a week off, and its previous two victories were close contests, Mississippi State (34-24) on Sept. 27, and Auburn (26-21) on Sept. 20.
LSU Coach Les Miles said his Tigers are hungry to devour some Gators in Gainesville. "Psychologically, we'll look forward to competing there," Miles said in his weekly media conference. "Last time they were there, they lost. I don't know if that has anything to do with anything. The only thing I can tell you is that our team will have a real want to compete in that game. If we play like we're capable, I like our matchup."
LSU players and Coach Les Miles
LSU defensive tackle Ricky Jean-Francois told the
that the Tigers will try to "take out" Florida's Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback if they get a chance. Jean-Francis later said his remarks were misinterpreted, and that LSU had great respect for Tebow.
"What makes this such a big game is the quality of personnel on both sides," Florida Coach Urban Meyer said earlier this week. "They have a first-time starter (redshirt frosh Jarrett Lee) coming in at quarterback," one reason Meyer said he wants the 90,000-plus fans at Florida Field to make some noise. One injury of note: Gators star receiver Percy Harvin has a sprained right ankle and has missed a couple of practices. But he is expected to play.
No. 17 Oklahoma State at No. 2 Missouri, 8 p.m. EDT (ESPN2)
: This Big 12 contest features two of the NCAA's (Division 1 Bowl Subdivision) three highest-scoring teams. Missouri is second in the nation (behind Tulsa) with 53.4 points a game, while Oklahoma State is notching 52.6 points a contest.
The explosive offenses each have a trio of highly touted players. For Missouri, it's 2007 Heisman Trophy finalist and quarterback Chase Daniel, receiver/return man Jeremy Maclin and running back Derrick Washington. The Cowboys answer with QB Zac Robinson, receiver/return specialist Dez Bryant and running back Kendall Hunter. The last year both of these teams were ranked when they played? 1976.
No. 6 Penn State (6-0) at No. 24 Wisconsin (3-2), 8 p.m. EDT (ESPN)
: What a difference a couple of games make. Two weeks ago, Badgers Coach Bret Bielema had a 24-5 lifetime record, was undefeated at home, and was in good position to bring the school to its first BCS-level bowl in nine seasons. Now, after a couple of stumbles vs. Michigan and Ohio State, the Badgers find themselves 0-2 in league play, and in the Big 10 basement with struggling Iowa and Indiana. After putting up 52 points against Marshall in its second game, the Badgers offense has been too inconsistent.
The running attack, as usual, has been strong, but senior quarterback Allen Everidge was only 13 of 25 for 147 yards with a pick in last week's 20-17 defeat to the Buckeyes. Offense has been no problem for the Nittany Lions, who come to Madison with one of the country's most high-powered attacks, averaging nearly 45 points a game. Sophomore Evan Royster and redshirt freshman Stephfon Green have already combined for more than 1,000 rushing yards in six games. With the Big 12 powers set to start cannibalizing each other, a win by Penn State would give it a huge edge to do no worse than finish with a BCS bowl at-large bid.
Michigan State (5-1) at No. 22 Northwestern (5-0), 3:30 p.m. EDT (ESPN2)
: Here we are approaching mid-October, and one of the Big 10 Conference's biggest games is in ... Evanston, Ill.? The Wildcats have ridden a huge improvement on defense under new coordinator Mike Hankwitz, as well as a little luck (three wins by eight points or less), to the school's best start in 46 years. Having a healthy Tyrell Sutton back at running back hasn't hurt, either. The senior has racked up 464 yards in the first five games, and he should finish as the school's No. 2 all-time rusher. Quarterback C.J. Bacher has already thrown six interceptions, but the defense has bailed him out with 11 takeaways so far. The Spartans lost their opener at Cal, but they've looked good since, and gutted out a 16-13 win vs. Iowa last Saturday. The team has been uneven defensively, but they stuffed the Hawkeyes on a crucial 4th-and-1 to move to 2-0 in the conference. A win here would likely get Michigan State into the coaches' poll, setting up an even bigger game on Oct. 18 vs. No. 11 Ohio State in East Lansing, Mich.