What To Watch For: Week 7
Each week, our bloggers will take a closer look at the storylines you should be watching. What's on tap for Week 7?
Track meet in Atlanta. Saturday's game between Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech (ESPN2, ESPN360.com, 6 p.m. ET) will feature the ACC's top three rushing leaders in Ryan Williams, Jonathan Dwyer and Josh Nesbitt, respectively. Georgia Tech (1st) and Virginia Tech (2nd) are the ACC's top two rushing teams. The Yellow Jackets (277.0 ypg) and the Hokies (208.5) are the only teams in the league averaging more than 140 yards per game.
Colt McCoy vs. Sam Bradford. The two runner-ups in the Heisman Trophy balloting get to re-stage their storied rivalry one more time at the Cotton Bowl. Both players have won one previous game with Saturday's winner (ABC, 12 noon ET) claiming the rubber match. Bradford will be throwing to a gaggle of young receivers while McCoy will be aiming mainly for Jordan Shipley and Dan Buckner. Whoever gets the best protection likely will win this battle.
Rutgers' pass defense. The Scarlet Knights got ripped apart for nearly 400 passing yards in the opening loss to Cincinnati. They haven't played a capable passing team since. Pittsburgh certainly fits that description, as Bill Stull is playing better than any quarterback not named Tony Pike in the Big East. Stull has lots of big-time receiving targets, too, including Jonathan Baldwin, Dorin Dickerson and Oderick Turner. Is Rutgers better equipped to handle a top-flight passing offense on Friday night (ESPN, ESPN360.com, 8 p.m. ET) than it was on Labor Day?
Heartland hype. The Big Ten's showcase matchup takes place in Madison, as longtime rivals Iowa and Wisconsin square off on homecoming for the Badgers. The Heartland Trophy is at stake, and so is Iowa's undefeated record. The Hawkeyes are off to their best start since 1985. Wisconsin owns a 34-3 record at home since the start of the 2004 season, but one of those losses came against Iowa in 2005. The Hawkeyes have won two of their last three meetings at Camp Randall Stadium and own the nation's second-longest win streak at 10 games.
Stanford back on track. Stanford suffered a dispiriting loss at Oregon State, falling behind 31-7 before rallying to make things respectable in the second half. The Cardinal seemed overwhelmed with the Beavers team speed, particularly the Rodgers brothers. Arizona is a fast team, but it doesn't have any offensive playmakers comparable to the Rodgers brothers, particularly with running back Nic Grigsby nursing a shoulder injury. Will the Cardinal, once on the cusp of a national ranking, recover their mojo?
How about everybody else? We know Alabama and Florida can play. What about everybody else? The rest of the league has been referred to as a bunch of nobodies by some. Part of that has been fostered by Ole Miss' disappointing start and the fact that LSU hasn't been able to find itself offensively. Still, it's a pretty big group of teams that has bunched up together behind Alabama and Florida. They've all had their moments, good and bad. Now let's see if they can put together a stretch of football worthy of Top 25 consideration. If Alabama beats South Carolina this Saturday (ESPN, ESPN360.com, 7:45 p.m. ET), there's a chance the SEC will only have three ranked teams next week -- Florida, Alabama and LSU.
Bowl eligibility. Idaho is one win away from its sixth win and its first potential bowl since 1999. But the task won't be easy against a Hawaii team (ESPN360.com, Saturday, 5 p.m. ET) that has owned the Vandals for years. If the Vandals do notch that sixth win, they'll be the first from the WAC to do so.
Jimmy Clausen vs. Taylor Mays: Earlier this season, we had the treat of watching Tim Tebow collide with Eric Berry. Here's another matchup of top-flight quarterback against an All-American, future NFL safety. Don't expect many high-impact, Tebow-meets-Berry like crashes between the two since Clausen doesn't run nearly as much as the Florida star. Still, the Irish quarterback and his receivers have to be aware at all times of where Mays is on the field. Clausen's Heisman Trophy hopes -- and Notre Dame's chances at victory -- depend on a productive passing day.