Top Five States of Matter (Sept 25 - Sept 29)

September 25, 2014 by SbS Football Staff | with 0 comments

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.).

In a relatively quiet weekend for football, with few high profiled games, our five states of matter are: California, Illinois, Maryland, Tennessee and New Hampshire.
1. California
The state of California is our number one “State of Matter” this week as all seven of its FBS teams play conference games, and its three NFL teams all have big games.
Things get started on Thursday night with the best college football matchup of the weekend as number eleven UCLA travels to Tempe, Arizona to play number fifteen Arizona State in a key Pac-12 South game. The Bruins will have a banged up Brett Hundley at QB, while the Sun Devils will be without their starting QB, Taylor Kelly. Both teams are undefeated, and it’s the only game of the weekend between two ranked teams. It should be a very competitive game with UCLA being a slight favorite, but Arizona State is always a tough team to beat at Sun Devil Stadium.
On Saturday, the state of California’s other two big FBS teams, Stanford and USC, both play conference games against mid-tier Pac-12 teams. The number sixteen ranked Cardinal travel up to Seattle to play Washington in a rematch of one of the best games from 2013. The Huskies outplayed Stanford last year, but lost by three points and were hurt by some questionable calls by the referees. Meanwhile, late on Saturday night, number eighteen ranked USC plays host to Oregon State. The Trojans have had two weeks to recover from their disappointing loss to Boston College and should be ready for the Beavers, who are 3-0 but have yet to play a Power 5 opponent.
In addition to the three FBS games noted above, the state’s other four FBS teams all play conference games. Cal is home to Colorado in a Pac-12 contest, while all three Mountain West teams play their first conference game of the season. Fresno State plays at New Mexico on Friday night, and on Saturday, San Diego State hosts UNLV and San Jose State hosts Nevada.
On Sunday, each of California’s NFL teams technically has a home game (with the Raiders playing in London). The best of the three games is in San Francisco as the Eagles play the 49ers. Although the Eagles are 3-0, its the 1-2 49ers who are favored to win the game and desperately need a win after blowing leads the last two weeks. The state’s best NFL team through the first three weeks, the San Diego Charges, will try to win their third straight when they play host to Jacksonville. And finally, the Oakland Raiders have a shot of getting their first win of the season as they play a Miami Dolphins team who has been struggling recently both on and off the field. The games is the first of three games this year being played in London.

Key Games
FBS: No. 11 UCLA at No. 15 Arizona State (Thursday, 10:00 PM ET, Line: UCLA by 5)
FBS: No. 16 Stanford at Washington (Saturday, 4:15 PM ET, Line: Stanford by 8)
FBS: Oregon State at No. 18 USC (Saturday, 10:30 PM ET, Line: USC by 10)
NFL: Eagles at 49ers (Sunday, 4:25 PM ET, Line: 49ers by 5)
2. Illinois
The most played rivalry in NFL history highlights the weekend of football for teams from the state of Illinois. The Packers and Bears have played 188 times dating back to 1921, and the rivalry is one of the best traditions in the history of the NFL. As is usually the case when these two teams meet, the game on Sunday will go a long way in deciding which team may win the NFC North. While Chicago is coming off of two big nationally televised victories, Green Bay is coming off a bad loss to Detroit. The Bears lead the overall series 93-89-6.
The two Big Ten teams from Illinois both open up conference play on the road against 4-0 teams this weekend. Northwestern travels to Happy Valley to take on a Penn State team that has been finding a way to win each week, while the Wildcats have struggled this year, including a loss to in-state opponent Northern Illinois a few weeks ago. In the Big Ten’s Saturday night game, Illinois travels to take on number 21 Nebraska. The Fighting Illini should have their hands full as the Cornhuskers are 4-0 and are three touchdown favorites.

Key Games
FBS: Northwestern at Penn State (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, Line: PSU by 10)
FBS: Illinois at No. 21 Nebraska (Saturday, 9:00 PM ET, Line: Nebraska by 20)
NFL: Packers at Bears (Sunday, 1:00 PM ET, Line: Packers by 1.5)

3. Maryland
There are two big games for Maryland based teams this weekend. The University of Maryland plays in its first ever Big Ten football game, while the Baltimore Ravens play in one of the best NFL games on Sunday.
The Maryland Terrapins travel to Bloomington, Indiana on Saturday to play a Hoosiers team that is coming off a big upset win over Missouri last weekend. Although neither team is expected to contend for the Big Ten East title, the winner of this game may prove to be the most serious contender outside of Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State. Maryland is 3-1 and could very easily be 4-0 had it not blown a big lead against West Virginia a couple of weeks ago. After several years of mediocrity in the ACC, can the Terrapins find success in the Big Ten?
On Sunday afternoon, the Ravens take on the Carolina Panthers in a battle of 2-1 teams. The big story line of the game is veteran wide receiver Steve Smith taking on his old team. Smith had played for the Panthers his entire career until this year and should be very motivated to make a splash in the game. After losing in week one and dealing with the Ray Rice issues, the Ravens have won two in a row and look like they will once again contend for a playoff spot. Meanwhile, the Panthers are looking to rebound after suffering their first loss of the season last week.

Key Games
FBS: Maryland at Indiana (Saturday, 1:30 PM ET, Line: Indiana by 5)
NFL: Panthers at Ravens (Sunday, 1:00 PM ET, Line: Ravens by 3.5)
4.  Tennessee
The Volunteer state comes in as our number four “State of Matter” this week. In one of the better FBS games of the weekend, Tennessee travels to face number twelve Georgia on Saturday afternoon. Although the Volunteers struggled a couple weeks ago at Oklahoma, many believe they are a sleeper in the wide open SEC East. Georgia is a seventeen point favorite and are tough to beat at home, but Tennessee has the talent to keep this one close.
The other two relevant games for the state of Tennessee include a lower tier FBS game on Friday night and an AFC South contest on Sunday afternoon. Middle Tennessee gets to play in a rare nationally televised spot as it travels to play Old Dominion in a Conference USA matchup. And the Titans, who have lost their last two games, travel to Indianapolis to take on the Colts. Both teams are 1-2 and cannot afford to start 1-3 if they want to be serious playoff contenders this year.
Key Games
FBS: Middle Tennessee at Old Dominion (Friday, 8:00 PM ET, Line: ODU by 4)
FBS: Tennessee at No. 12 Georgia (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, Line: UGA by 17)
NFL: Titans at Colts (Sunday, 1:00 PM ET, Line: Colts by 7.5)
5. New Hampshire
The state of New Hampshire is home to one of the best in-state contests this weekend as Dartmouth will play number four ranked New Hampshire in an FCS showdown on Saturday. New Hampshire has dominated the series of late having won twelve straight games in the series. The Wildcats are 2-1 and one of the favorites to make a deep run in the FCS playoffs this year. Meanwhile, Dartmouth is 1-0 and looking to improve on their third place finish in the Ivy League last year.
Key Games
FCS: Dartmouth at No. 4 New Hampshire (Saturday, 6:00 PM ET, Line: N/A)