SMQ was unexpectedly confined (that description is only very slight hyperbole) all day Thursday and is driving to engage in important professional matters this morning, so the weekend preview is boiled down to dreaded, not-very-useful bullet points. But just so y'all know that SMQ is alive:
● He is such an obsessed person these days that even in a dream about other things he doesn't remember, SMQ recalls dreaming Thursday that an unknown wide receiver from Rutgers caught 12 passes for 625 yards and nine touchdowns in a game, and the Scarlet Knights scored well over 100 points. This came against Syracuse, which makes it not quite so surreal. Even SMQ's dreams have scrolling ticker updates!
● NC State and Florida State displayed stunning offensive competence Thursday night, especially NCSU's Andre Brown - who should not be splitting time - and the Wolfpack receivers, who made heave-and-hoper Daniel Evans look like the second coming of Philip Rivers for the second straight week by outhopping the FSU corners for a slew of jump balls. Jeff Bowden even called a masterful, confident 99-yard march in the third quarter that put the `Noles up, briefly, by ten, thus setting the stage for the first ever Florida State coaches meeting in which Jeff Bower can look at Mickey Andrews and say something like, "A little help, man?" before being devoured whole, and having burgeoning absurdity Brandon Warren subsequently converted to defensive end.
I said knock out both kwattabacks!
● LSU don't play around on defense - the Tigers lost Wroten, Williams, Vaughn et al, and still rank firstin total defense and pass efficiency defense, second in scoring defense, third in total pass defense and fifth in sacks (the "weakness," run defense ranks eleventh). But Florida's front seven is a killer, too, a ruthless machine of animal vengeance that ensures a low-flow, 10-7 kind of affair. With neither running game really a factor here, SMQ says take the more impressive veteran quarterback to date, Chris Leak, at home.
● Georgia, similarly, is going to grind everything in its game with Tennessee to a halt. Everything in SMQ's mind points to the Vols in this game - UGA is a little better on defense, but no way could it do to Cal what UT did, and no way does Tennessee allow Ole Miss or even lame-ass Colorado within a touchdown - but Not so fast my friend, self-flagellation style! Tennessee stunned Georgia with a true freshman quarterback in Athens two years ago; now's Georgia's time for payback. Or something. But basically, the Dawgs are an overrated team that hasn't done anything impressive yet, and therefore will play the 2002 OSU "they ain't that good, they just win" card, at least Saturday. UGA runs, UGA murders the clock in the grisliest fashion imaginable, UGA wins in the area of 13-10.
● The most intriguing game of the day, honestly, is Cal-Oregon, because the winner looks like it may actually have a chance to do something about USC's 337-game conference winning streak. Cal's got the Tennessee thing, Oregon's got the Oklahoma/onside kick thing, but otherwise these have been two impressive, balanced teams that could beat the living hell out of each other; SMQ says take Cal at home, but has no confidence in that pick because Oregon is very good on offense. Given that WSU gave SC all it could handle last week, and Washington is coming into L.A. on amphetamines after surpassing its combined 04-05 win total last week, there is something behind the notion that the PAC Ten is the toughest, or at least the deepest, conference in the country. But only if one discounts Stanford.
● SMQ is tentatively taking Texas against Oklahoma, because the Sooners are more vulnerable through the air and, Colt McCoy notwithstanding, have more passing game talent. That is, they are far less a one-trick pony than OU figures to be, even if that pony is the best damn player in the nation. Ohio State had to throw to beat Texas, and Oklahoma's not equipped to do that. Peterson is going to have to break five tackles on every one of 50-plus runs and, though he's capable of that, Texas is too balanced and armed athletically.
● To Wake Forest and Missouri: Prove it, dawgs.