Saturday Morning Blitz: Tracking the nation’s top college football games

September 13, 2013 

Manziel Guilty Plea Football

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) was able to dethrone the Tide in Tuscaloosa last season, putting him on a fast track to the Heisman. But in the end, it didn’t hamper Alabama’s title run.

2012 AP FILE PHOTO

Hot reads

1. The Game: No. 1 Alabama faces Johnny Manziel and No. 6 Texas A&M in College Station, Texas. Maybe you’ve heard. The last time there was this much hype and anticipation for a regular-season SEC game, it was No. 1 vs. No. 2 in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Even with overtime, there were no touchdowns in top-ranked LSU’s victory against the No. 2 Tide.

That game featured 23 defensive players now on NFL rosters (12 from LSU, 11 from Alabama). It also featured a first-year starting quarterback for Alabama, sophomore A.J. McCarron, and a pair of LSU quarterbacks, Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson, who were, well, let’s just say they were not Heisman Trophy winners.

This time around, McCarron is one of the best quarterbacks in the country and Texas A&M has Johnny Football.

Tide coach Nick Saban on Wednesday called A&M “one of the great offensive teams, maybe in the history of college football.”

The teams combined for 849 yards in A&M’s 29-24 upset in Tuscaloosa last November, and it seems as if we have been talking about the rematch ever since.

Game of the Year? Game of the Century? How about just game of the week? That we know for sure.

2. Where have you gone, Texas and USC?: After the 2005 season, these two met for the national title. There was no argument that year about whether the BCS got the right teams in the game. USC was going for its third straight ring (one shared). Texas was also unbeaten. And it remained that way, in one of the great finishes ever, when Vince Young scored a late touchdown to give the Longhorns their first crown since the glory days of Darrell Royal.

Lane Kiffin, who went 5-15 with the Oakland Raiders and 7-6 at Tennessee, took over at USC and has gone 8-5, 10-2 and 7-6. He’s had to deal with NCAA issues that weren’t his fault, which hasn’t helped. But he just lost at home to Washington State, 10-7. Neither does that. Yet he has the support of athletic director Pat Haden. For the time being, at least. The Trojans get Boston College next, then Utah State. But there are trips to Arizona State and Notre Dame, and home dates with Stanford and UCLA.

Texas just lost at Brigham Young, by 19, and gave up 550 yards rushing. It cost defensive coordinator Manny Diaz his gig. This week, they host Mississippi. They won’t have injured running back Daje Johnson and might also be without injured quarterback David Ash. What they do have is four games left with teams that are currently ranked.

The sport tends to be cyclical. Just don’t try selling that to the folks in L.A. or Austin. They don’t want to be good. They want to be Alabama.

3. If only this were basketball ...: Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has thrown nine touchdown passes in two games, and the total could climb against Kentucky’s shaky pass defense. The Wildcats must match Louisville’s offense, and last week’s 675-yard outburst against Miami (Ohio) was a good sign.

Tracking the Top 25

Saturday’s games ... Comments when deserving.

No. 1 Alabama (1-0) at No. 6 Texas A&M (2-0), 3:30 p.m.

Bear Bryant Bowl same week Bear would have turned 100. Remember, he suspended Broadway Joe. Wonder how he would have handled Johnny Football.

No. 2 Oregon (2-0) vs. Tennessee (2-0), 3:30 p.m.

Vols begin nasty run of five top-20 teams in six games.

No. 4 Ohio St. (2-0) at California (1-1), 7 p.m.

Jeff Sagarin’s computer doesn’t like the Buckeyes. Ranks strength of schedule 157 (out of 252 FBS, FCS teams).

No. 5 Stanford (1-0) at Army (1-1), noon.

Cardinal can’t complain about lack of sleep, not against this opponent.

No. 7 Louisville (2-0) at Kentucky (1-1), noon.

Louisville Courier-Journal has a “Teddy Bridgewater” drop-down option on its website.

No. 8 LSU (2-0) vs. Kent State (1-1), 7 p.m.

No. 10 Florida State (1-0) vs. Nevada (1-1), 3:30 p.m.

Jameis Winston has had 12 days to think about those two incompletions he threw in the opener.

No. 11 Michigan (2-0) Akron (1-1), noon.

Zip-zip, hooray.

No. 12 Oklahoma St. (2-0) vs. Lamar (1-1), 7:30 p.m.

No. 13 South Carolina (1-1) vs. Vanderbilt (1-1), 7 p.m.

Ball Coach speak: “If we can coach worth a flip, we'll get better and better as we go.”

No. 14 Oklahoma (2-0) vs. Tulsa (1-1), noon.

No. 16 UCLA (1-0) at No. 23 Nebraska (2-0), noon.

No. 17 Northwestern (2-0) vs. Western Michigan (0-2), 9 p.m.

No. 19 Washington (1-0) vs. Illinois (2-0) at Chicago, 6 p.m.

No. 20 Wisconsin (2-0) at Arizona State (1-0), 10:30 p.m.

No. 21 Notre Dame (1-1) at Purdue (1-1), 8 p.m.

It’s the 85th meeting but no one is sure how many more there will be.

No. 23 Nebraska (2-0) vs. No. 16 UCLA (1-0), noon.

Huskers looking for revenge after last year’s loss at Rose Bowl

No. 25 Mississippi (2-0) at Texas (1-1), 8 p.m.

Remember when Texas was the ranked team in this matchup? Important game for Mack Brown.

Did you know?

Tre Madden is the first USC rusher to open with back-to-back 100-yard games since Marcus Allen in 1981. Boston College will try to stop the streak.

Fast and furious

Fifteen of Oregon’s 17 touchdown drives have taken two minutes or fewer.

Final word

“Don't take your eye off your man, or coach Saban’s going to kill you.”

Alabama safety Vinnie Sunseri on defending Johnny Manziel

– Compiled from Associated Press, Seattle Times, Kansas City Star

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