Week 4 is here in the college football season and there are a few matchups that can help Boise State get into a BCS bowl game.
No. 2 LSU at No. 16 West Virginia 8 p.m. ET (ABC)
This is a rare SEC non-conference game outside of the region which makes this a trick game for LSU. What Boise State fans should hope for is LSU to lose (duh!) even though a LSU win does not hurt Boise State's chances from moving up. LSU still plays Alabama, Arkansas and Florida, however a LSU loss would drop them down behind Boise State (assuming Boise State defeats Tulsa) but if LSU goes on to defeat say Alabama that would give to top SEC teams with a loss. Being in the same division there is a good chance that the loser of LSU and Alabama could be placed behind Boise State.
Now onto some analysis from the experts.
What they are saying:
If there's a second mantra I've tried to impart, aside from the genius of simplicity, it's that players make schemes. If you have better players than the other guy, the chances of your plan working will go up exponentially. While the 3-3-5 stack defense has been largely developed specifically to counteract the spread-to-run offense, its proliferation isn't because it's a "gimmick defense."
It gives a team the freedom to keep eight players near the line of scrimmage, with enough players in two-point stances to bring any number of odd-angled blitzes (which is what attracts so many coaches to the 3-4 these days). In Jeff Casteel's near 10-years as defensive coordinator in Morgantown, he's had a lot of success with the scheme, including last year's outfit, which finished No. 2 nationally in rushing defense.
Where it becomes a problem is in the personnel department. The average size of the WVU defensive line is 259 pounds. Yes, this team wants to overwhelm an offense with numbers and speed, but if your line can't get some push against the opposing offense, it won't work. Big, space-eating nose tackles are so important on three-man lines, and Jorge Wright is just 281 pounds. Look for LSU to play this game very similar to the last two, with a heavy dose of straight-ahead inside running and a passing game that works off of that. The Mountaineers will move around and flash a lot of different looks pre-snap, in an effort to try and make Jarrett Lee second-guess the playcall. He can't fall for it.
Last season, LSU threw the ball 23 times against WVU despite a running game that was dramatically more effective. I highly doubt that will repeat this year. -- And the Valley Shook.
What they are saying:
This feels like an audition. Not just for WVU and the SEC, but for the entire state of West Virginia to be finally recognized as a legitimate college football contender. The Sugar Bowl felt like that, too. So did the Fiesta Bowl. Sure, a win against LSU isn't going to result in a 50 yard line invitation as the clock strikes zeros, but it sure seems that way.
It's ridiculous to consider one game as an audition for decades of conference affiliation (well, based on recent experience, maybe not quite decades). Would a one point win finally convince an entire region and conference that we're "SEC material?" Likely not. But that's where we stand -- using one national TV appearance against a top-ranked opponent to seal our seat at the table once and for all. Rightly where we belong.
As fans -- if you're anything like me -- you're almost beside yourself with excitement for Saturday. This is our chance to cement the fact that WVU football is a real and truly awesome thing. As fans, we're willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen. -- The Smoking Musket.
Rooting interest: Gotta go with West Virgina since the more loses to top teams helps Boise State's chances even more.
No. 3 Alabama at No. 14 Arkansas 3:30 p.m. ET (CBS)
This is a similar situation to the LSU vs. West Virginia game. An Alabama loss would drop down the Tide, but they have games to bring them back into the title discussion especially if they win the SEC East with a single loss. Arkansas still shows to have a passing game and will challenge the Alabama secondary and should be able to keep this game close.
What they are saying:
As will probably always be the case with Bobby Petrino Arkansas, the spread passing attack once again leads this team. The loss of Ryan Mallett has largely been an afterthought, and if Tyler Wilson can protect the football better in critical situations he'll constitute a significant upgrade over the mistake-prone Mallett. In any event, Petrino has always put productive passers on the field, and the trio of Jarius Wright, Joe Adams and Greg Childs perhaps forms the most effective wide receiver corps in the conference (of which there is plenty of depth to boot behind those three). Given the talent involved and the quality of the scheme it will clearly be the most dangerous passing attack Alabama will face in the regular season.
The running game, of course, is somewhat murkier given the loss of Knile Davis. 'Bama actually largely avoided Davis a year ago because Petrino was wasting carries on Broderick Green, but both players will miss this game with season-ending injuries, and as a result the load will fall to Ronnie Wingo. Knile Davis he is not, but even so Wingo is an impressive athlete in his own right and was in fact recruited heavily by Alabama out of Missouri. Dennis Johnson should provide quality depth as he returns from a hamstring issue. On the whole, it's not quite what Alabama puts on the field with Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy, but the running game is secondary under Petrino and to that end Wingo and Johnson are probably more than capable of getting the job done. -- Roll Bama Roll.
Rooting interest: Arkansas, again more losses for higher teams helps out Boise State.
No. 7 Oklahoma State at No. 9 Texas A&M 3:30 p.m. ET (ABC/ESPN2/ESPN3)
This is the game where ESPN's College Game Day should be at. Two top-10 teams in a conference show down. Regardless expect at least 70 points to be scored in this game and we will see if either defense can make a stop or come up with a big play. The Oklahoma State offense seems to be more explosive at this point in the season, but the Texas A&M defense trumps Oklahoma State. Defense may not really matter because this will be a shoot out, whoever has the ball last will win.
Rooting interest: Does not really matter, both teams still have to play Oklahoma.