Things to watch: Eventful week culminates with SEC showdowns
Before a game has been played it has been one eventful week in college football.
Since late Saturday night, three coaches were fired, another future Hall of Famer resigned and the quarterback of a top-10 team was suspended for the season.
Now back to the games. By Sunday, the Southeastern Conference will have at least one less undefeated team and maybe and the state of Michigan could have a new best team – same as the old best team.
Week seven of the college football season has already been monumental. Here’s what else to watch:
The first game of life without quarterback Will Grier for No. 8 Florida (6-0, 4-0) comes against No. 6 LSU (5-0, 3-0) in Death Valley at night. Not ideal, but four times during Les Miles’ tenure as the Tigers coach Florida and LSU have met with both ranked in the top 10. The Gators have won three. The lone victory for LSU came in 2007 at Tigers Stadium.
Treon Harris, who has made seven career starts, takes over for Grier at quarterback for Florida. Brandon Harris (no relation) is the quarterback for LSU, but more importantly the Tigers have Heisman Trophy contender Leonard Fournette, who leads the nation in rushing but has not faced a defense yet as good of Florida’s.
The other big SEC game is in College Station, where No. 8 Alabama (5-1, 2-1) faces No. 9 Texas A&M (5-0, 2-0). Matchup to watch: Aggies defensive end Myles Garrett against Alabama offensive tackle Cam Robinson. A couple of sophomores and future first-round NFL draft picks.
BATTLE OF MICHIGAN
Michigan State has not just owned its rivalry with Michigan lately, winning six of seven. Spartans coach Mark Dantonio has built his program on a foundation of victories against the Wolverines.
Six games into his tenure Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has a chance to shift the power back to Ann Arbor.
The seventh-ranked Spartans (6-0, 2-0 Big Ten) visit the Big House, coming off two close wins against sub-.500 teams and with banged up offensive lines and secondaries. No. 12 Michigan (5-1, 2-0) storms into the game having not allowed a point in its last three games.
WILL THE TROJANS FIGHT ON?
The first game for Southern California (3-2) since coach Steve Sarkisian was fired comes against rival Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. Again, not ideal. The No. 14 Fighting Irish (5-1) have playoff hopes and no time to feel sorry for their troubled rivals.
Hard to guess what to expect from USC and interim coach Clay Helton. Maybe having the Sarkisian situation resolved brings the team together and unburdens the players. USC still has loads of talent, like receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, defensive back Adoree Jackson, who also plays offense and returns kicks, and defensive back Su’a Craven. Beating Notre Dame won’t make everything better at USC, but it is a step in the right direction.
Washington has lost 11 straight games to Oregon and rarely have the Huskies even put up a fight.
With the Ducks (3-3, 1-2 Pac-12) down and the Huskies (3-2, 1-1) coming off a victory at USC, this might be the perfect opportunity for coach Chris Petersen’s team to reassert itself on the North Division.
Oregon is hoping to get quarterback Vernon Adams back in the lineup.
UNRANKED AND UNDEFEATED
Memphis (5-0) gets a chance to score the biggest victory of the season for a non-Power Five team against a Power Five team when the Tigers host No. 13 Mississippi (5-1).
The Rebels have won six straight against their regional rivals and they have one of the toughest defenses in the nation, led by defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche. Memphis, though, has the best quarterback on the field in Paxton Lynch.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP