OK, West Virginia. Time to show us what you're made of.
This time last week, the Mountaineers had the look (and the momentum) of a potential national title contender. With Geno Smith running the show on offense, the 'Eers were playing some of the most entertaining (if somewhat defensively inept) football in the country.
Then, on Saturday, they traveled out to Lubbock. And the lack of defense (I mean, this team really can't play any defense) caught up with them. They got crushed 49-14 by a very-good-but-hardly-great Red Raiders team, and now, a week later, they face perhaps the toughest test they'll face all season, as Bill Snyder's Kansas State Wildcats come rolling into Morgantown.
It's one of the biggest games in a very big weekend of college football. And it's one we'll look at here, in this week's Edition of Games Worth Watching.
No. 6 LSU at No. 18 Texas A&M (Noon, ESPN): Such is life in the SEC. One week after the LSU Tigers saved their season with a smashmouth win over Steve Spurrier's South Carolina Gamecocks, they must take to the road to take on the better-than-you-think Texas A&M Aggies, led by "Johnny Football" himself, quarterback Johnny Manziel. This is a massive test for the Tigers, who despite the win last week remain quite obviously offensively challenged. The same could not be true of the Aggies, who are putting up 47 points per game--fifth-best in the nation. Look for the Aggies to take advantage of the home crowd--and a tricky 11 a.m. start--and secure a huge SEC win. Texas A&M 27, LSU 20
Nebraska at Northwestern (3:30, ESPN2): Nebraska can put up the points but can't stop anybody. And, well, Northwestern can up the points but can't stop anybody. Which is to say, this one has the chance to be pretty darn entertaining. Pat Fitzgerald gets more out of his talent than perhaps any coach in the country, and his team's offensive attack has frustrated Big Ten defenses for years. It seems safe to assume that they'll do precisely that against a Nebraska defense that is still reeling from its disgraceful performance two weeks back at Ohio State. The Huskers gave up 63 in that one. They'll give up at least 30 here. Northwestern 35, Nebraska 31
No. 1 Alabama at Tennessee (7 p.m., ESPN): I put this here for just one reason: It used to be one of the great rivalries in the South, if not the entire country. Alas, those days are deep in the past now, as Alabama soars to ever-greater heights and Tennessee remains stuck in mediocrity under Derek Dooley. Not even a raucous Tennessee home crowd can make this one interesting. 'Bama wins easy. Alabama 38, Tennessee 17
No. 4 Kansas State at No. 13 West Virginia (7 p.m., FOX): Yes, the West Virginia offense is fantastic. Yes, Geno Smith is a tremendous talent and potential future NFL star. And yes, the 'Eers are likely to put up some points, at home, against this Kansas State team. But you know what? The simple fact of the matter is that West Virginia currently ranks 112th--yes, 112th--in the nation in points-against average. In their past three games, they've given up 63, 45 and 49 points. They simply aren't capable of stopping anybody. And when you can't stop anybody, you certainly can't beat a team as good as K-State. The dream is over, 'Eers fans. Kansas State 42, West Virginia 38
Penn State at Iowa (8 p.m., Big Ten Network): Somehow and someway, this Penn State team has turned out to be one of the feel-good stories of the year. Behind the leadership of the very impressive Bill O'Brien and the play of the scrappy Matt McGloin, the Nittany Lions have rallied back from an 0-2 start (and, um, the most crushing sanctions in NCAA history) to win four straight. But now they travel to Iowa City, where they'll run into an improving Iowa team that has given Penn State fits for years. The Nits will enjoy more good times this year, but this week, they'll suffer a setback, as their lack of depth (and lack of a kicker) comes back to haunt them. Iowa 24, Penn State 14