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Saturday Bye Week TV Watching (Open Thread)

The Bears get the weekend off right now, so you may be taking the weekend off from watching college football too.  That's OK, I guess.  I mean, it IS Fleet Week and all, and the Blue Angels are performing this afternoon.  Might be nice to have a relaxing, stress-free weekend, what with the Bears guaranteed not to lose and all.  Y'know, recharge for the Pac-10 stretch run and all.  You wouldn't want to get all burnt out early, would you?

Still, if you're a college football addict like me, there's plenty of reasons to plant yourself on the couch for almost 14 straight hours today, and they get started early.  Immediately following College Gameday is the Red River Rivalry (née Shootout) in Dallas at 9am West Coast time, following all the way through UCLA @ Oregon, which should end close to 11pm tonight.  Here's a full schedule of games on TV, and others of interest:

Broadcast TV:
#5 Texas @ #1 Oklahoma - 9:00AM, ABC
Arizona St @ #8 USC - 12:30PM, ABC
Tennessee @ #10 Georgia, 12:30PM, CBS
#4 LSU @ #11 Florida, 5:00PM, CBS

Some juicy matchups here, although I'd be somewhat surprised if either 12:30 game was within 2 touchdowns at halftime.

Basic Cable:
Minnesota @ Illinois - 9:00AM, ESPN
Colorado @ #16 Kansas - 9:30AM, ESPN2
Nebraska @ #7 Texas Tech - 12:00PM, Comcast Sports Net Bay Area
Purdue @ #12 Ohio St OR Notre Dame @ #22 North Carolina, 12:30PM, ESPN
#23 Michigan St @ Northwestern, 12:30PM, ESPN2
#6 Penn St @ Wisconsin, 5:00PM, ESPN
#17 Oklahoma St @ #3 Missouri, 5:00PM, ESPN2

Once USC has finished putting away the Sun Devils, I'll probably spend the afternoon seeing if Javon Ringer and the Spartans can keep making Cal look good, or if they'll let 5-0-but-untested Northwestern ruin their first national ranking in quite some time.  Penn State at Wisconsin also intrigues me, if for some reason LSU @ Florida isn't entertaining enough (i.e., the score is 7-3 in the 3rd quarter).

Premium Cable:
#14 Utah @ Wyoming - 11:00AM, The Mtn.
TCU @ Colorado St - 12:30PM, CSTV
New Mexico @ #9 BYU, 3:00PM, The Mtn.
Washington St @ Oregon St, 3:30PM, Fox College Sports Pacific (Comcast 415)
UCLA @ Oregon, 7:15PM, Fox College Sports Pacific (Comcast 116, 169, 410)

Checking my cable package, it appears as though I could get just about any game I wanted if I was willing to pay for its, I've only listed games of some interest.  A couple Pac-10 games are on, although it appears that the only one I can watch is UCLA @ Oregon, which will be shown on 3 channels, all of them currently airing Jewelry TV.  TCU should handle Colorado State without too many problems, but if they can't, Cal looks good yet again.  Finally, although my cable package won't get me this week's BYU game, I can watch a rerun of last week's game vs. Utah State on BYUTV @ 5am this morning.  I get BYUTV??  Weird.

Not on TV:
Arizona @ Stanford, 2:00PM

I'm actually really disappointed that this won't be on TV; not that I expect great football or anything, but I really wanted to take a look at Arizona, next week's opponent.  See, while doing some research for an unrelated post, I uncovered some interesting stuff:

When I was coming up with my Top 25 for this week, I decided to start with a little unbiased reference, so I compiled the top 40 teams ranked by Jeff Sagarin's 'Predictor' rating, which he considers to be the single best number to predict the future winners.  It mostly contained the usual suspects, and the top of the list looked a lot like the top of the AP poll, but one team in particular stuck out at me:  Arizona at #13.  Really?  13??  The Arizona Wildcats as the 13th best football team?

Granted, Arizona hasn't played a tough schedule, but other than the debacle at New Mexico, they've been running up the score on everybody:  70-0 over Idaho, 41-16 over Toledo, 31-10 over UCLA, and 48-14 over Washington.  That's some serious offense, despite the mediocre competition.

However, it's pretty striking just how mediocre the competition has been.  Sagarin ranks their schedule just 133rd in the country (includes I-AA teams; there are only 119 Division I-A teams), and the individual ranks of their opponents are not inspiring:  UCLA (86), New Mexico (90), Washington (103), Toledo (121), and Idaho (192, the worst in Division I-A by a fair margin).

Yes, the Wildcats rank 2nd in the country in total defense, but look at the NCAA ranks of the offenses they've faced:  84 (Toledo), 93 (Idaho), 96 (New Mexico), 105 (Washington), and 111 (UCLA).  And sure, ranking 8th in the country in scoring offense is also impressive, but they've faced equally flaccid defenses:  63 (New Mexico), 70 (UCLA), 76 (Toledo), 118 (Washington) and 119 (Idaho), with the last two teams being the absolute worst in the country.

Basically, I can't tell if Arizona is actually good, or their schedule is simply that bad.  The fact that they lost at New Mexico certainly isn't a good sign, as the Lobos are hardly world-beaters.  Sagarin's rating is impressed by the scoring margin, but I am not.  Honestly, in what I saw of the UCLA and UW games, they looked pretty good, but more telling, the Bruins and the Huskies looked awful.  I just can't tell.

Really, this is why I'm disappointed the 'Zona-'Furd game isn't on TV.  I need another chance to look at them.  Stanford, a bellwhether opponent?  Sure, why not.  These are not Walt Harris' bumblestums, or even Buddy Tevens' mediocrity.  The Cardinal are a decent team, and if their stats don't quite show it (76th in scoring offense, 81st in scoring defense), it should be noted that Sagarin considers their schedule the 7th-toughest in the nation, and also considers them, by far, the best team Arizona will have faced all year.  If Arizona blows out Stanford on the Farm, then I'll be a believer, and I'll head down to Tucson very, very wary.  However, I have a feeling that the Cardinal will give Arizona all it can handle, and might come away with the win.  In any case, this game *should* tell us a lot more about what Cal can expect in the desert next Saturday.

And Stanford?  Currently, they sit at 3-3, with an outside shot at a bowl.  However, to get there, I think they need to sweep their next 3 games, vs. Arizona, @ UCLA, and vs. Washington State.  All of those are winnable games.  However, if they come out of that stretch with any fewer than 6 wins, it's going to take a big upset to get that final win for bowl eligibility; they finish the season @ Oregon, vs. USC, and @ Cal.  You hate to say a game on October 11th is a must-win for Stanford, but I think that's the case.