It’s midterm election time and football teams are campaigning in their own ways.
Florida State — unbeaten thanks to a late whistle against Notre Dame — is still holding its own in its re-election bid for another shot at a national title. While several incumbent power brokers like Oklahoma, Southern California and Clemson have been sinking in the polls, upstarts such as Mississippi State and Mississippi are riding a groundswell of support.
However, the voters in college football don’t decide the outcome. The teams do.
The campaign is now halfway over with the stretch run ahead. In an October filled with surprises, this week might just decide a few coin-flip races.
Here are some things to watch:
BAYOU NIGHTMARE: LSU is used to spoiling great seasons for other teams. The Tigers (5-2) won their last national championship after losing twice in the 2007 season. Since then, they’ve knocked off at least one top-10 team every year in the second half of the season.
On Saturday, No. 24 LSU hosts No. 3 Mississippi. There is no tougher place to play in the land than under the lights at Tiger Stadium, with 100,000 people chanting, “Tiger Bait!” It’s also homecoming and LSU is an underdog.
If Ole Miss survives that cauldron of fire, it’ll be a win to remember.
LITTLE BROTHERS GROW UP: It was back in 2007 when Michigan running back Mike Hart, after his fourth win in as many tries against rival Michigan State, referred to the Spartans as the Wolverines’ “little brothers.”
Since that belittling remark, the Spartans have won five of six meetings. On Saturday, they are heavily favored to make it six of seven. Michigan has fallen on hard times, with crowds at The Big House dwindling and coach Brady Hoke taking fire from all directions.
Meanwhile, No. 8 Michigan State, the defending Big Ten champ, is riding high as it rolls out the green carpet for its estranged older sibling.
ALL FOR NAUGHT: The ranks of the winless might just get smaller this week.
Some teams that have yet to taste victory are playing teams which are also struggling.
Rhode Island (0-7) hosts Maine (2-5); SMU (0-6) entertains Memphis (3-3); Nicholls State (0-8) is at Houston Baptist (1-6); and Weber State (0-7) plays at home against Portland State (2-5).
Other games involving teams looking for that first elusive W include Cornell (0-5) at Brown (2-3); Columbia (0-5) hosting Dartmouth (4-1); and Savannah State (0-7) at North Carolina Central (3-4).
SIMILAR TRAVEL PLANS: Couldn’t somebody from Arizona and Arizona State have contacted the auto club? Maybe they could have gotten a package deal.
No. 14 Arizona travels to play at Washington on Saturday, the same day No. 15 Arizona is at Washington State.
OVERLOOKED: The unbeaten team that almost no one knows is Marshall. The Thundering Herd are 7-0 and have scored at least 42 points in every game while winning by a minimum of 15 points.
The school in Huntington, West Virginia, has a stellar quarterback in Rakeem Cato. All he has done is throw at least one touchdown pass in 39 consecutive games, snapping the NCAA record of 38 set from 2009-11 by some guy you might have heard of — Seattle Seahawks’ Super Bowl-winning signal-caller Russell Wilson.
But it’s highly unlikely the Thundering Herd or their star quarterback will grab many eyeballs in the final weeks of the season. After Saturday’s game at home against Florida Atlantic, they play Southern Miss, Rice, UAB and Western Kentucky.
Rusty Miller can be reached at http://twitter.com/RustyMillerAP
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