College Football 2011: Conference Play Arrives as Schools Continue to Depart Ways
By Cabrone D. Brewer
College Football is no stranger to basking in the media spotlight once fall rolls around, but the light hasn’t been quite this blinding in recent memory.
With a number of schools scheduled to begin conference play Saturday, the focus of the young season once again shifted from the field to the administration office earlier this week after Syracuse and Pittsburgh both announced that they would be ditching the Big East for the ACC.
The move by two of the Big East’s more prominent tenants was a surprise to say the least, as most of the week’s realignment talks centered on Oklahoma and Texas’ Pac-12 membership inquiry — a request that was ultimately silenced when Pac-12 officials decided not to expand the conference any further at this time.
But as the conference shuffles continue to gain momentum week after week off the field, the matchups continue to grow larger on it.
After handing the Big 12 a letter of resignation at the beginning of the season, No. 8 Texas A&M opens their final conference championship run before joining the SEC with an epic showdown against No. 7 Oklahoma State in College Station. The OSU offense has been outstanding so far this year, with quarterback Brandon Weeden leading the Cowboys’ charge by engineering three straight games of 350 yards or more passing. Texas A&M’s offensive line has been stellar as well, allowing zero sacks in the first two games of the season.
Entering their third matchup against a Top 25 opponent this season, No. 2 LSU travels to Morgantown to face a talented No. 16 West Virginia squad in a classic battle pinning West Virginia’s potent offense against the Tigers’ powerful defense. LSU has won 35 straight non-conference games in the regular season, with their last defeat coming at the hands of Virginia Tech in 2002.
Looking to rebound from last week’s heartbreaking home loss to top-ranked Oklahoma, No. 11 Florida State visits No. 21 Clemson in Death Valley on a mission to regain national respect. It will be a tough ACC battle for the Seminoles, with Clemson coming off a huge win over defending BCS Champion Auburn and the status of Florida State’s starting quarterback E.J. Manuel uncertain.
Tough, poised and confident after a clutch victory at then No. 5 Florida State last week in Tallahassee, the No. 1 Oklahoma Sooners are thirsty for revenge against a Missouri team that knocked the Sooners out of BCS Championship hunt last year with a 36-27 homecoming victory in Columbia. The Sooners are 78-2 at Memorial Stadium in Norman under head coach Bob Stoops and have won 37 straight games at home — the current longest streak in the nation.
And finally, No. 14 Arkansas opens SEC conference play on the road, as the Razorbacks seek to settle the score with No. 3 Alabama after the Crimson Tide narrowly escaped Fayetteville last year with a 24-20 victory.
Check back with us next week for a review of all the college football madness both on and off the field.
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