College Football Preview:

Adam Settle

While everyone is sitting at home with nothing to do this Saturday, take a look at some of most important college football matchups of the first weekend in October.

No. 5 Georgia (5-0, 3-0) @ No. 6 South Carolina (5-0, 3-0):

The SEC West has had all the glory over the past few seasons, with LSU, Alabama and Arkansas residing in the top 10. But this week is all about the SEC East with Georgia’s Mark Richt leading his bunch to Columbia to face Steve Spurrier’s South Carolina Gamecocks. The Bulldogs are coming in with a high-pow-ered offense that has averaged 48.2 points per game and is led by junior quarterback Aaron Murray and the freshman running back duo of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. Geor-gia escaped a home scare from Tennessee last week. Hitting the road this week brings a new challenge for a defense that has yet to prove itself against prospective Heisman finalist Marcus Lattimore.

South Carolina’s defense is one of the SEC’s finest and Georgia may find itself in a tight battle. If the Gamecocks want to keep them-selves lined up for a possible championship berth, they will likely need to take advantage of home field with road games coming up at No. 4 LSU and No. 10 Florida.

No. 8 West Virginia (4-0, 1-0) @ No. 11 Texas (4-0, 1-0):

The premier Big 12 matchup of the week will set the stage for the rest of the season by helping us answer several questions. How good is Geno Smith? If Smith can follow up his first four performances including last week’s 658 yard, eight touchdown bludgeon-ing of Baylor’s secondary in primetime in a hostile environment, then the race for the Heisman trophy may well be over before Columbus Day.

Is Texas back? Sleeper Heisman candidate David Ash, has put the proud, but struggling program back in contention for the Big 12 South after leading Texas to a last second come-from-behind win in Stillwater last week against Oklahoma State. He sported a quarterback rating second only to Smith. With Vegas placing the over/under at 74.5 points, it may come down to which offense has the ball last.

No. 3 Florida State (5-0, 2-0) @ North Carolina State (3-2, 0-1):

Alabama and Oregon have clearly estab-lished themselves as the two best teams in the country, but Jimbo Fisher’s suffocating de-fense and a well-balanced offense have Florida State fans looking for a trip to the national championship for the first time since 1999. The Seminoles have looked solid against state rival South Florida and No. 15 Clemson and, depending on how the ACC shapes up, this matchup against the upset-minded Wolf-pack may be Florida State’s last test until Thanksgiving weekend against Florida.

NC State fell behind early against Miami last week and will have to improve on the de-fensive side of the ball and make fewer mistakes to turn it around against the Seminoles. Flori-da State needs to start running off quality wins to overtake the BCS favorites above them in an inferior conference.

No. 21 Nebraska (4-1, 1-0) @ No. 12 Ohio State (5-0, 1-0):

The first month of the season has not been kind to the Big Ten, as this matchup shows between the conferences underwhelming leaders. Taylor Martinez and the Nebraska Cornhuskers earned their first quality win of the season by the skin of their teeth, coming back from a 20-point deficit against preseason favorite Wisconsin.

The run-pass dual threat, Martinez, will see another dual-threat quarterback on the opposite sideline in Braxton Miller, whose Ohio State Buckeyes welcome Nebraska to the Horseshoe, after holding on in East Lansing last week. It is rarely a positive development when your leading rusher is your quarterback, but Urban Meyer’s inaugural season in Co-lumbus can push Ohio State in the driver’s seat in the Leaders division. Will the Black Shirt defense of Nebraska make it back for this primetime matchup? Will anybody in the Big Ten step up this week? Northwestern, anyone?

Contact Adam Settle at [email protected]