Oregon State Beavers vs. TCU Horned Frogs - September 4 - 4:45 PT, ESPN HD
We are now just six days away from what figures to be one of the best games college football has to offer on the first Saturday of the season.
Both TCU and Oregon State have their sights set on Cowboys Stadium, the site that will house the game that is being dubbed the "Cowboys Classic."
TCU is trying to return to a BCS Bowl for the second year in a row, while Mike Riley and Oregon State are thirsty for a Rose Bowl berth after coming up short in recent years.
Last season, TCU went 12-0 in the regular season but fell short in the Fiesta Bowl against Boise State. Oregon State went 8-4 before losing to BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl.
The game will also play a large role in the Heisman campaigns of several players. Oregon State running back Jacquizz Rodgers has been given an outside chance to win the Heisman by several sources this offseason, but needs a big performance on national television to keep the voters interested. On the other hand, four-year starting TCU quarterback Andy Dalton feels like he deserves more attention, and would love to show the country that TCU is known for more than their defense.
Meanwhile, the Beavers are breaking in sophomore quarterback Ryan Katz against Gary Patterson's 4-2-5 defense that ranked #1 in total defense last season.
"Every year we're trying to prove we belong and keep climbing the mountain," TCU head coach Gary Patterson told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram last week. "If [the Frogs] don't play well, it won't matter which quarterback they bring in. We're going to get beat."
Losing against Oregon State would put a damper on TCU's entire season, as they have their sights set on another undefeated run through the regular season. In order to do that, though, they'll have to get by a pesky Baylor team in late September, as well as Utah and BYU in conference play.
The other prominent potential BCS buster this season is Boise State, who Oregon State faces on September 25. Boise State is also looking to get into a BCS game for a second straight year, but they'll have to get by No. 6 Virginia Tech in week one on the road-- in Washington D.C.
"It is a huge weekend because for the BCS busters, as everybody knows, there is no margin for error," ESPN commentator Brent Musburger told reporters on Tuesday. "They've got to win and they've got to be impressive. They both [TCU and BSU] could star in that national championship game."
After setbacks at Penn State, LSU, and Cincinnati in recent memory, this game feels like a must-win for the Beavers as they look to prove they can compete with top-tier opponents on the road.
Both teams have a lot to prove. Who will get their point across?
--Jake | (firstname.lastname@example.org)