SEC Game of the Night: South Carolina at NC State
7:00 PM, ESPN
This game wins by default as it's the only SEC contest, but it's still intriguing nonetheless. It will be a telling game for both teams, as South Carolina hopes to break out of its 6-6/7-5 cycle while NC State is a trendy pick to make some noise in the ACC. You've got Stephen Garcia vs. Russell Wilson, not to mention offensive guru Steve Spurrier vs. crusty curmudgeon Tom O'Brien. There's enough subplots to make this game easily the third most interesting of the weekend behind the two marquee tilts involving Alabama and Georgia.
Besides, it's SEC football at last. Are you going to tell me you're passing it up? That's what I thought.
National Game of the Night: Oregon at Boise State
It's the only contest between ranked teams, so there's that. More importantly, it's either the spring board or the Waterloo for Boise State's BCS hopes as the Ducks are the only Big Six conference opponent the Broncos play all year. BSU is nearly unbeatable at home on the blue turf, and Pac-10 teams go down there on a regular basis. Also of note is that this is the head coaching debut of Chip Kelly. He has worked wonders with the offense in Eugene, but now he's running the whole show. This non-conference game can't dash Oregon's hopes of displacing USC in the Pac-10, but it may tell us something of how realistic they are.
Upset Watch: North Dakota State at Iowa State
Iowa State traded one former Auburn defensive coordinator (Gene Chizik) for another (Paul Rhoads), but they're still going to be in the Big 12 basement for at least another year. NDSU, meanwhile, has emerged as an annual spoiler candidate from the ranks below I-A. The Bison lost to Tennessee-slaying Wyoming on a last second field goal in 2008. In 2007, they beat Central Michigan 44-14 and Minnesota 27-21. In 2006, they beat Ball State 29-24 and lost to Minnesota by just one. Laugh if you must at a team with four initials, but this is a program that's won on a Big Ten field and won't be intimidated in Ames.