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The Week Ahead: Cutting college football’s empty calories

Extra frosting for the Buckeyes, please. (Photo courtesy: USA Today Sports)

The five biggest stories that Crystal Ball Run will be monitoring this week:

1. Blowout city, baby!

70-7. 76-0. 72-0.

Last weekend took the cake for cupcakes in college football. We even saw running clocks.

People have all kinds of suggestions for how to rid the sport of these body bag games, and I’m sure we’ll hear plenty of them this week. They tend to revolve around punishing teams in the polls for scheduling them.

Good luck with that. So long as athletic directors and coaches keep getting paid for winning games and fans keep showing up, these guaranteed wins will stay with us.

2. Will Ole Miss wake Alabama up?

Coming off of their big win over Texas A&M, the Crimson Tide sleepwalked through last weekend’s matchup with Colorado State. The Rebels, meanwhile, had the week off after dismantling Texas to get ready for their trip to Tuscaloosa.

This ‘Bama team may be the best in the country, but it’s not without its flaws. Ole Miss has enough firepower to test the Tide’s (somewhat) up-and-down defense.

How Nick Saban handles the media this week may give an indication as to his level of concern about this team.

3. It’s Tyler Murphy’s show now at Florida.

Murphy took over for Jeff Driskel early in the Gators’ 31-17 win last weekend versus Tennessee and didn’t suck. That represents an improvement from what we’ve witnessed from Florida’s offense so far this year.

Speaking of improvement, the Gators head to Lexington this weekend for a date with SEC bottom feeder Kentucky, which has looked better after its opening loss to Western Kentucky. This being Murphy’s first road start and all, it will be interesting hear if Will Muschamp and his coaching staff plan on doing anything differently versus UK.

4. Are the Trojans turning things around?

Playing before a home crowd that was more spartan than Trojan, USC held off Chuckie Keeton and the Utah State Aggies on Saturday for a win that at least deflected some of the attention from Lane Kiffin’s job status.

Lost amid the talk of Kiffin’s hot seat has been the play of Southern Cal’s D. A year after the unit collapsed, the Trojans are allowing the third-fewest yards per play in the country (3.70).

Kiffin will undoubtedly field some questions about his beleaguered offense, though, as the Trojans prepare for a showdown with Arizona State in a game that will go a long way towards determining supremacy in the Pac-12 South.

5. Oklahoma looks to buck a trend.

Two of college football’s most storied programs square off this weekend in South Bend. Historically, however, the Oklahoma-Notre Dame series has been no contest: ND is 9-1 all time against the Sooners. Most recently, the Fighting Irish scored an emphatic 31-13 win last year in Norman.

Despite showing some growing pains on offense this season, OU enters the game as a slight favorite in Vegas’ eyes. All eyes in Sooner country will be on Blake Bell, who has reclaimed the starting quarterback job. Expect to hear plenty of speculation this week about how Bell will handle his first road start – in one of college football’s most storied venues, no less.

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