Friday November 4th, 2011

Central Michigan @ Kent State, 8:00 p.m., ESPN2: If morbid curiosity drives your consumption of college football, this Friday's undercard is for you! The 3-6 Central Michigan Chippewas will take on the 2-6 Kent State Golden Flashes in a game seemingly designed to make you appreciate the USC-Colorado tilt even if it ends up an unseemly bloodbath in Boulder. Whatever happens, it's what you'd rather be watching.

The Chippewas and Golden Flashes rotate back onto a collision course for the first time since 2007, with both programs in some disarray. Between them, CMU and KSU have wins against two FCS teams, Bowling Green, Akron and one weird shootout victory for the Chips against division leader NIU. Key matchup: Central Michigan's passing game, which actually isn't bad, versus Kent State's pass defense of middling regard. The Flashes rank dead last nationally in total offense and will need to keep the Chippewas in close offensive check to have a prayer of staying competitive tonight. And while Anthony Garland's had a nice little breakout at tailback for the Chips, how can he hope to compete for the hearts of fans against All-Name all-stars Zurlon Tipton and Paris Cotton?

No. 21 USC @ Colorado, 9:00 p.m., ESPN: We knew Colorado was in for a rebuilding year under first-year head coach Jon Embree, but who predicted it would be as bad as all this? The one-win Buffs have had all the rotten breaks hurtle their way this season, with a roster rendered unrecognizable in spots by injuries and a gruesome mid-season schedule that thrust them into consecutive games against Stanford, Washington, Oregon and Arizona State. They won't find a reprieve tonight, and probably won't next game either, when Arizona comes to town. But get everybody off the field with their limbs still attached to their bodies and it's a gentle downhill denouement with UCLA and Utah rounding out the dance card.

Colorado's primary weakness has been the ground game, and with No. 1 tailback Rodney Stewart back in the two-deep after a couple weeks on the bench with a knee injury, it's hard to know what to expect. Tyler Hansen is slated to return to his spot under center for his first start since sustaining a concussion against Oregon, and probably provides the Buffs with their best chance for positive yardage tonight. Their other primary weakness, however, is defense, particularly against the pass, so look for a blistering airshow from Matt Barkley and Robert Woods. Colorado's been outscored 193-47 in the past month, and I fear it's going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

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