#23 USF @ Cincinnati 7:30PM EST on ESPN
Two games on the schedule for tonight, with both being conference affairs that the road team could definitely use to stay in their respective divisional races. Houston, despite a slow start to the season, may be the only thing standing between Tulsa and a cakewalk to the Conference USA title game. And in the wide-open MAC East, Buffalo could cement themselves as one of the favorites while dealing Ohio a devastating blow with a win in Athens. At the least, it'll give people a commercial break diversion from opening night in the NBA.
With the final Saturday in October essentially over (Hawaii leads Nevada 14-10 at the half), you would think that conference races would offer something in the way of clarity. That's true for the Big Ten and Pac-10, and the SEC has come down to next week's showdown in Jacksonville for the right to take on Alabama (they're in really good shape with a two-game lead in the West). But the ACC and Big East?
The third Saturday in October used to mean one thing: Alabama and Tennessee do battle on the football field. But due to the struggles of the Volunteers (and the fact that there are many teams better than Tennessee this season), it's been relegated to a "can he (in this case Phil Fulmer) save his job?" type of game. Also in that category would be Washington hosting Notre Dame, the school that freed up space on Tyrone Willingham's calendar to take the job in Seattle a few years ago. Could a blowout loss here mean the end for Coach Willingham?
You think ESPN wishes they had a flex schedule plan similar to the one that NBC enjoys for their Sunday Night Football package? Before the season started the game between Auburn and West Virginia looked to be a showdown between two teams looking to be the class of their respective conferences. Now, it's a game between two teams that have failed to live up to national (and in the case of the Tigers conference) expectations. Tommy Tuberville's Tigers do have a solid defense, something that's kept the 4-3 (2-3 SEC) season from getting any worse.
According to ESPN's Dick Vitale, Arizona head basketball coach Lute Olson will be stepping down, ending his 24-year run at the school. The reason cited by Vitale in an interview on ESPN News about fifteen minutes ago was Coach Olson's health. "You know Michelle [LaFountain], I know it will be denied but it's a lot of physical problems," said Vitale in the TV spot this morning. According to the Hall of Fame announcer, associate head coach Mike Dunlap will take over on an interim basis with Arizona conducting a national search for a successor.
Ohio @ Temple 8PM EST on ESPN2
Mid-October in college football means one thing: the first week of the standings that will determine which two teams play for the national championship in January. Of course, the destination is Miami on January 8th, and traditional powers Texas and Alabama are at the top of the poll this week. What does that all mean? Could mean alot, or it could mean absolutely nothing at all. The top five in the first BCS standings last season were Ohio State, South Florida, Boston College, LSU and Oklahoma.
This Saturday didn't have the level of drama that fans were treated to last weekend, but it did give some insight into a couple of conference races. Texas is clearly the class of the Big 12 right now, proven in their blowout home win over #11 Missouri. If the Longhorns aren't on top of the first BCS rankings tomorrow then something's terribly wrong with the system. And the Big Ten is essentially a two-team race at this point, with Penn State visiting Ohio State next week in a game that most likely will decide which team is the league's automatic BCS entry.