Here are the games that can and will have an effect on Boise State if they are able to make it to the BCS title game. There are some realistic chances for teams to be knocked out this week.
No. 23 Mississippi State at No. 3 LSU 8 p.m. ET (ESPN/ESPN3)
For starters, LSU is still starting Jarrett Lee at quarterback and while he gets some unjust hate, but he is either to have a great game or could have a key miscue. Dan Mullen's MIssissippi State spread offense is different then what Oregon ran against LSU in the opener and in my opinion Mullen will out scheme Les Miles and make adjustments, however LSU still has the better talent and athletes lining up.
What they are saying:
Most SEC fans know Dan Mullen as the former coordinator of Urban Meyer's two national championship offenses at Florida, but he got his start as a member of the "New Hampshire Mafia" with Chip Kelly and Gary Crowton (who must have skipped a few meetings), where the spread-option was partially incubated. Mullen of course integrated those principles with a handful of NFL elements (zone-blocking from Alex Gibbs, passing concepts from Scott Linehan) during his time with Meyer at Utah and Florida into an attack that really seems to have gone from exotic to commonplace in the last five seasons or so. For some refreshers on defensive principles regarding Oregon's version of the spread, check out my four-part preview of the Ducks here, here, here and here. It's also worth noting that Mullen spent a chunk of the offseason in Eugene learning about the Ducks' offensive pace, so don't be surprised if the Bulldogs use a lot of hurry-up on Thursday. -- And the Valley Shook.
Rooting interest: Mississippi State, but beating LSU at home is going to be tough.
Navy at No. 12 South Carolina 6 p.m. ET (ESPN2/ESPN3)
South Carolina will most likely win this game, however the triple-option is a tricky offense to defend with only a week to prepare. It is proven with Navy defeating Notre Dame and Air Force nearly pulling off an upset against Oklahoma in 2010 that triple-option offenses can hang with highly regarded teams. Plus, South Carolina just won an emotional game against Georgia last week which was a huge early SEC East showdown.
What they are saying:
Navy's rushing defense has not been particularly formidable against its first two opponents. Coming into the season, the defensive front was a major concern for the Midshipmen, who lost eight total defensive starters, including most of the depth on defensive line and in the linebacking corps. The Midshipmen haven't done anything so far to dispel the idea that rushing defense is their Achilles' Heel, and there should be ample opportunity for our offensive line--which has a major size and athleticism advantage in this game--to open huge holes for Lattimore. I expect another 150+-yard game for Lattimore, as well as plenty of rushing yards for Garcia and Bruce Ellington. I'd also like to see us get Kenny Miles in there and see if he can make some plays. -- Garnet And Black Attack.
Rooting interest: Navy, but it most likely will not be able to pull of the upset.
No. 1 Oklahoma at No. 5 Florida State 8 p.m. ET (ABC)
This is the huge showdown of the week and could have implications on Boise State's BCS title run. For Florida State to be in the national title game they must win this game, because the ACC is not quite there in terms of overall depth to help a one-loss ACC team reach the title game. A loss for Oklahoma will be damning but with games against Texas A&M and Oklahoma State who are currently both in the top-10 and possibility face a few more ranked teams in Texas and Missouri. Those additional games will allow Oklahoma to move back into the BCS title picture.
What they are saying:
FSU's receivers also have to prove that they can handle the moment. This has less to do with the Sooners than it does the receivers themselves. Mental errors, be they not running a route to the correct distance, or not seeing a check at the line, spells doom against a defense the caliber of OU's.
If FSU had its top three receivers healthy, I'd be a lot more inclined to believe that the 'Noles will make OU pay for disrespecting FSU and its receiving corps.
But that isn't the case. Receiver Willie Haulstead is all but out with concussion issues. FSU is rightfully handling this situation with caution, as a football game is not more important than the rest of a young man's life. Bert Reed is still battling a sprained ankle, and while expected to play, he's not exactly 100%.
Florida State will undoubtedly need junior Rodney Smith to step his game up to a higher level. There's some reason to think he'll be able to do so. At 6'6" and 220 pounds, he's an impressive physical specimen. But he also has a great relationship with EJ Manuel thanks to the time spent together on the scout team. For FSU to win this game, Rodney Smith must play well enough to make Oklahoma respect him. -- Tomahawk Nation.
What they are saying:
There is every reason to believe that with the wealth of talent Jimbo Fisher and his staff have been able to collect, on both sides of the ball really but the purposes of our discussion here specifically the defensive side of the ball, the Sooners will struggle at times to move the ball Saturday night. Now make no mistake, this likely won't be a defensive slugfest. Points will be scored. But OU will not move the ball with the same kind of ease they displayed in Norman last year. We, as OU fans, all know this team is just a different animal in the friendly confines of Owen Field. Add that to the fact that the Noles won't be in just their second game in a brand new defensive system and both factors weigh in the favor of a much better defensive performance from FSU Saturday night.
And they'll need to be better. Much better. Because while everyone is quick to point out, and deservedly so mind you, that this is a better FSU squad than 2010, this is also a better Sooners offense than the one that was a field goal shy of hanging half a hundred last year. Landry Jones has accumulated a significant amount of experience since that game and looked very sharp in the lone game OU has played thus far. The super-human Ryan Broyles is back as his main target. Kenny Stills isn't a true freshman playing in just his second college game ever. Dejuan Miller is still 6'4" 220 lbs. James Hanna has emerged as a legit threat at TE and compliment to Trent Ratteree. The offensive line looks to be improved, and will need to be against this d-line. A three (possibly four) headed monster at RB running behind a human battering ram in Trey Millard. That's not being a homer friends, them's just the facts as they say. -- Crimson and Cream Machine.
Rooting interest: Oklahoma, because it will knock out Florida State of the picture completely.
No. 6 Stanford at Arizona 10:45 p.m. ET (ESPN/ESPN3)
Arizona quarterback Nick Foles is the reason to give them a chance against Stanford. However, the weakness for Arizona is their secondary as they were torched in the passing game against Oklahoma State and Stanford has a much better passing game in Andrew Luck. Arizona should be able to hang around and if they are close in the fourth quarter then anything could happen.
What they are saying:
But just how much will Luck pick the Arizona defense apart? Should the Wildcats go with a nickel or dime defense, they'll have the speed to contend with a receiving core that is solid but nothing outright scary outside of wideout Chris Owusu. And unlike the OSU defense that threw bubble screens out of a spread formation (before receivers easily bounced to the outside for big gains), the Stanford pro-style offense will be easier to contain to the middle of the field.
The key will be the defensive line and linebacking crew holding the run. Sure, Luck will make his impressive throws to his receiving crew, but the Wildcats should theoretically be able to contain the Cardinal should their defensive backs execute; whether they did or not last Thursday, well, who know what was up with that?
So it all comes down to the defensive line and linebacking crew hitting the Stanford offensive line at the point of attack. Making the offense fall on Luck, though he's good, is still better than having all the options open for Stanford. And not giving him time and set feet will still go a little ways, even if he's capable of hitting his throws while on the run.
Can the defense show some push? The Wildcats better make it happen for their sake, otherwise Luck is going to have more than easy throws -- he'll have the time to make big-time plays deep or off play-action.
If he can do that, well, Grossart and Weeden's numbers might look, dare I say, not that impressive. -- Arizona Desert Swarm.
Rooting interest: Arizona, but Stanford is the probable winner.
There you have it, the games that can have an impact if Boise State is able to make it to the BCS title game, so root accordingly.