Top Five States of Matter (Sept 4 - Sept 8)

September 4, 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.).
1. Michigan
It’s a huge weekend of football for the state of Michigan, with all three of its biggest teams in the national spotlight. Michigan State travels to Eugene, Oregon to take on the Ducks in a matchup of top ten teams. The game is a classic difference in styles contest featuring the Spartans tough defense versus Oregon’s fast tempo offense. If Michigan State can pull the upset, it should propel them into the top five in the country and will make them a leading playoff contender.
The other big FBS team from the state, Michigan, will play Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana in what will be the last game in its storied rivalry for at least the next few years. Due to Notre Dame’s new affiliation with the ACC Conference, it will no longer play its traditional game with the Wolverines. Michigan and Notre Dame are two of the most historic programs in all of college football and seem to always produce memorable games.
Lastly, the Detroit Lions will help wrap up the opening weekend of the NFL season when it hosts the New York Giants on Monday Night Football. The Lions are coming off a disappointing 7-9 season, and led by the most explosive wide receiver in the league, Calvin Johnson, they are always an entertaining team to watch.
Key Games:
FBS: No. 7 Michigan State at No. 3 Oregon (Saturday, 6:30 PM ET, Line: OU by 11.5)
FBS: Michigan at No. 16 Notre Dame (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET, Line: ND by 3.5)
NFL: N.Y. Giants at Detroit (Monday, 7:10 PM ET, Line: Lions by 5.5)
2. California
The Golden State will be the site of this week’s best in-state rivalry game when USC travels to Stanford for a Pac-12 showdown between top twenty teams. Over the last four years, the game between these two schools has been tied heading into the fourth quarter three times, and the one time it wasn’t tied, it went into overtime. The matchup is ranked #3 in our best in-state rivalries since 2000 (In-State Rivalries: Best FBS Rivalries Since 2000).
The state’s two NFL playoff teams from last year, 49ers and Chargers, are both on the road for big week one games. San Francisco travels to Dallas, and the Cowboys potent offense should serve as a good measuring stick for a 49ers defense that is usually one of the league’s best, but has been dealing with multiple on and off the field issues. Meanwhile, San Diego heads to Arizona for a Monday night contest. The Chargers were one of the surprise playoff teams from last year and is looking to carry its momentum over to this year.

Also of note, all three of the Mountain West teams from California (Fresno State, San Diego State, and San Jose State) travel to face teams from one of the power five conferences, including San Jose State who is on the road against #5 ranked Auburn.

Key Games:
FBS: No. 14 USC at No. 13 Stanford (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, Line: Stanford by 2.5)
NFL: San Francisco at Dallas (Sunday, 4:25 PM ET, Line: 49ers by 4.5)
NFL: San Diego at Arizona (Monday, 10:20 PM ET, Line: Cardinals by 3)
3. Washington
There are two significant games taken place in the state of Washington this week. On Thursday night, the defending Super Bowl Champion Seahawks will face Green Bay in the NFL season opener. Seattle has been dominant at home the past few years, but the Packers are always a tough team to beat. The game should have plenty of fireworks as it features two teams that are once again serious Super Bowl contenders.
The other big game in the state is an in-state matchup between FBS and FCS teams. The Washington Huskies will play host to the #2 ranked FCS team, Eastern Washington. The Huskies failed to impress in new coach Chris Peterson’s debut against Hawaii last week and fell out of the top 25. Meanwhile, Eastern Washington proved it can compete with FBS teams when it beat Oregon State last year, and it would not be a suprise to see them pull off the upset again.
Key Games:
NFL: Green Bay at Seattle (Thursday, 8:30 PM ET, Line: Seahawks by 6)       
FBS/FCS: Eastern Washington at Washington (Saturday, 5:30 PM ET, Line: N/A)

4. Indiana
As mentioned above under our “Michigan” summary, one of the best college football games of the weekend is Michigan at Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish are the premier team in the state of Indiana, and South Bend should be rocking for the night game showdown with the Wolverines. Both teams looked impressive in week one blowouts, and the rivalry game has all the makings of being another classic.
The best NFL game of the weekend is a Sunday Night contest between Indianapolis and Denver. The Colts have won the AFC South the past two years and are the favorite to win it again, while the Broncos are once again the early Super Bowl favorite. Last year, the Andrew Luck led Colts handed the Broncos a rare lost in “Peyton Manning Bowl I”, and the rematch should be just as exciting.
Key Games:
FBS: Michigan at No. 16 Notre Dame (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET, Line: ND by 3.5)
NFL: Indianapolis at Denver (Sunday, 8:30 PM ET, Line: Broncos by 7.5)
5. Utah
Three teams from the state of Utah are playing in high profile games this Saturday. BYU heads to Austin, Texas to face the Longhorns in a rematch of one the best early season games from 2013. Last year, the Cougars upset Texas 40-21 behind 259 rushing yards from Taysom Hill. It will take another strong effort from the junior quarterback for BYU to win again, as Texas should be a very motivated team.
Both of the FCS teams from Utah face teams ranked in the top three in the nation. Weber State plays host to three time defending FCS Champion and #1 ranked North Dakota State. The Bison are coming off their fifth consecutive win over an FBS team and will be a very tough opponent for the Wildcats. Meanwhile, Southern Utah travels to Hammond, Louisiana to face #3 ranked Southeastern Louisiana. Southern Utah made the FCS playoffs in 2013 for the first time in school history, and a win over the Lions would go a long way in making the playoffs for a second consecutive year.
Key Games:
FBS: BYU at Texas (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET, Line: Texas by 3.5)
FCS: North Dakota State at Weber State (Saturday, 8:00 PM ET, Line: N/A)
FCS: Southern Utah at SE Louisiana (Saturday, 8:00 PM ET, Line: N/A)