Top Five States of Matter (Sept 18 - Sept 22)

September 18, 2014 by SbS Football Staff | with 0 comments
Filed under: Football, States

The weekly “Top Five States of Matter” is a preview of the upcoming football weekend that highlights the key games for teams from five states (e.g. big national games, local rivalries, in-state matchups, etc.).

1. Alabama
Alabama is our top ranked State of Matter for the week as both of its elite FBS football programs play in high-profile games. Alabama and Auburn are ranked in the top five of the country and are once again national title contenders. The two teams combined to have four consecutive BCS national championships between 2009 and 2012, and this year’s Iron Bowl could very well decide which team from the state gets a spot in the first College Football Playoff. On the heels of the most memorable Iron Bowl in history, football among these two schools is at an all-time high.
On Thursday night, Auburn heads to Manhattan, Kansas to face 20th ranked Kansas State. After outscoring their first two opponents by a combined 70 points, this should prove to be the first major test for the Tigers. It’s Auburn's first road game of the year, and the atmosphere in Manhattan should be electric. It will be an interesting chess match between Gus Malzahn and Bill Snyder, two of the best coaches in all of college football.
The Crimson Tide will play host to Florida on Saturday afternoon in a big early season cross-divisional SEC game. Although the Gators barely escaped with an overtime win over Kentucky at home last weekend, it will be Alabama’s first SEC game of the year and a good indicator of where the Tide belong in the national picture. After struggling with West Virginia the opening weekend, the Tide have had back to back easy victories over weaker opponents. It will be interesting to see whether or not Alabama can once again win conference games in dominate fashion.
Key Games
FBS: No. 5 Auburn at No. 20 Kansas State (Thursday, 7:30 PM ET, Line: Auburn by 9)
FBS: Florida at No. 3 Alabama (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, Line: Alabama by 15)
2. Florida
Teams from the state of Florida will be on televisions all around the country this weekend. One of its three NFL teams (Tampa Bay) plays on Thursday Night Football, and its three main FBS teams (Florida, Florida State and Miami) all play in major nationally televised games on Saturday.
The Buccaneers start of the NFL weekend with a road game against NFC South rival Atlanta on Thursday night. Tampa Bay is 0-2 after blowing a late lead last week against the Rams and are desperate for a win. Meanwhile, the Falcons are 1-1 and are always a tough team to beat at the Georgia Dome.
As mentioned above, the Florida Gators head to Tuscaloosa to play Alabama on Saturday afternoon. The Gators are two touchdown underdogs and will need to play significantly better than last week if they want to pull off the upset. Soon after the Florida / Alabama game wraps up, both Miami (FL) and number one ranked Florida State will be kicking off in two big night games. The Hurricanes travel to Lincoln, Nebraska to face the 24th ranked Huskers, while the Seminoles are at home to take on 22nd ranked Clemson.
Additionally in the state this weekend, the other two NFL teams (Dolphins and Jaguars) both play home games, and the state’s best FCS school (No. 12 Bethune-Cookman) travels to Orlando to take on UCF in an FBS/FCS in-state matchup.

Key Games
NFL: Tampa Bay at Atlanta (Thursday, 8:25 PM ET, Line: Falcons by 6.5)
FBS: Florida at No. 3 Alabama (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, Line: Alabama by 15)
FBS: No. 22 Clemson at No. 1 Florida State (Saturday, 8:00 PM ET, Line: FSU by 16)
FBS: Miami (FL) at No. 24 Nebraska (Saturday, 8:00 PM ET, Line: Nebraska by 8)
3. Washington
The biggest NFL game of the weekend is in Seattle on Sunday as Denver faces the Seahawks in what is only the sixth time ever a Super Bowl rematch has occurred the following year after the big game. The Broncos should be very motivated to prove they are better than the team that was humiliated by Seattle last February. Denver is 2-0 and once again showing it has one of the most potent offenses in the NFL. Meanwhile, the Seahawks are 1-1 and should have just as much motivation after falling to the Chargers last week.
There are two other games of note for teams from the Evergreen State. Washington State will host No. 2 Oregon in Pullman on Saturday night in a Pac-12 North contest. The Cougars are a disappointing 1-2 and come in as 25 point underdogs against the Ducks. Also, the state’s premier FCS team, No. 2 Eastern Washington, will be on the road against No. 16 Montana State (more details on this game below).

Key Games
FBS: No. 2 Oregon at Washington State (Saturday, 10:30 PM ET, Line: Oregon by 25)
NFL: Denver at Seattle (Sunday, 4:25 PM ET, Line: Seahawks by 5)
4. Colorado
Although two of its three FBS teams are on bye this week, and there are no other major games for the state, the Super Bowl rematch in Seattle is significant enough to warrant Colorado the fourth spot in this week’s States of Matter. Fans from the Rocky Mountain State are anxious to see if the Broncos can put up a more competitive fight after being outmatched against the Seahawks this past February. There is no tougher test than playing in Seattle these days, and the game is an early season barometer of who can claim to be the best team in the NFL.  
Key Games
NFL: Denver at Seattle (Sunday, 4:25 PM ET, Line: Seahawks by 5)
5. Montana
The state of Montana’s only two teams, Montana and Montana State, play the top two ranked FCS teams on Saturday. In the best FCS game of the year to date, No. 3 Montana heads to Fargo to try and defeat three-time defending  FCS Champion and number one ranked North Dakota State. It will be a tall order for the Grizzlies, as the Bison have won 27 straight games and have outscored their opponents 116 to 21 in three games this year. Montana is a top ten team on an annual basis, but hasn’t won a Championship since 2001.
The other major FCS game of the week will be in Bozeman, Montana on Saturday as 2-1 Montana State welcomes second ranked Eastern Washington to town. The Bobcats are coming off a big win over Central Arkansas last week, while Eastern Washington is also 2-1 and almost upset Washington (FBS) two weeks ago. It should be a high scoring game as both teams have averaged just under 50 points a game in their last two outings.
Key Games
FCS: No. 2 Eastern Washington at No. 16 Montana State (Saturday, 3:10 PM ET, Line: N/A)
FCS: No. 3 Montana at No. 1 North Dakota State (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, Line: N/A)