What to watch: Week 6
October, 8, 2010
By Andrea Adelson

Lots of big conference games on tap this weekend, giving you lots to watch in Week 6. Special thanks to ESPN Stats & Information for some of the items incorporated into these Top 10 national story lines:

1. Can Mark Dantonio stop Denard Robinson from the press box? So many big story lines in the game involving arch rivals. Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio is expected to make his return to the Spartans following a heart attack, but will be seated up in the press box. He gets the view of the entire field to see whether his team can stop Robinson, a one-man force who has single-handedly guided the Wolverines to a 5-0 start. Robinson needs just 95 yards rushing to have at least 1,000 yards passing and rushing this season. Linebacker Greg Jones is going to need another monster game. Michigan State is going for its third straight win over the Wolverines for the first time since 1965-67.

2. Can South Carolina trust Stephen Garcia to lead it to an upset over No. 1 Alabama? The last time we saw Garcia, he fumbled twice in the second half against Auburn and got benched in favor of freshman Connor Shaw. He has been inconsistent his entire career with the Gamecocks, but he is going to have to be perfect against the Tide for them to have any shot at the upset. Alabama showed some weaknesses in the secondary against Arkansas, and South Carolina does have potential in the passing game with Alshon Jeffery . But Garcia is going to have to prove it on the biggest stage of his career. The Gamecocks have never beaten a top-5 team when they were also ranked.

3. Will we see another instant classic from Miami and Florida State? The in-state rivals are facing each other as ranked teams for the first time since 2006, and there are those who wonder whether this game will ever reach the national level it had back in the 1980s and early 1990s. Being ranked is a start, but both teams have plenty of work to do. The big story is whether Jacory Harris can stay away from the interceptions. He already has eight this season, and they cost him dearly in the loss to Ohio State. One thing you might be able to bet on – a close game. Each of the last nine games in this series has been decided by eight points or less.

4. Who gets to make up for a terrible Week 5, Derek Dooley or Mark Richt? Both coaches had heartbreaking losses last weekend. Dooley’s Vols blew a win when they had too many men on the field on the final play of the game, allowing LSU a do-over. That do-over led to the game-winning score. Meanwhile, Richt saw his team drop to 1-4 and his job security has become a hot topic of discussion. For the first time since 1906, the two teams will play each other with losing records.

5. Can Stanford get back in the win column over USC? You know emotions are going to be high in this game with Stanford winning two of the last three meetings – and the contention that it ran up the score in the win last year. The last time Stanford won two straight in the series was 1999-2001. Both teams are coming off losses – the Cardinal to Oregon and USC to Washington. USC coach Lane Kiffin even said earlier this week, “This is not your old SC.” No it’s not, when your defense is ranked No. 99 in the country.

6. Can Pittsburgh find the same rhythm it had running the ball against Notre Dame? Well, the Irish are not FIU, that is for sure. Dion Lewis is expected to play in the game after watching his backup get 277 yards last week against the Panthers. Coach Dave Wannstedt says he will go with whoever is playing better. If their seasons are any indication, that could be Graham. Lewis has struggled all year, averaging 3 yards a carry. Teams have been able to run on the Irish, but you know they are going to try to make Tino Sunseri beat them.

7. Can Jerrod Johnson cut down on the interceptions? The Texas A&M quarterback has eight in back-to-back games. Another four against Arkansas is not going to cut it, not when Ryan Mallett is on the other sideline and ready to redeem himself for his interceptions at the end of the game against Alabama. Is the Johnson we have seen the last two games the real Johnson or just an imposter?

8. Ten: over/under on number of points Florida and LSU will score. You know Murphy’s Law always suggests games you think will be a defensive struggled will end up being shootouts. But it is hard to imagine that happening in Gainesville. LSU has six interceptions and no passing touchdowns in its last four games, and will keep playing Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee. Florida is 84th nationally in total offense and LSU 91st. The Gators are going to have a hobbled quarterback in John Brantley (ribs) and running back Jeff Demps (foot). First team to 10 wins? Perhaps.

9. Oregon State against the Top 10. The Beavers have already lost to Top 5 teams Boise State and TCU, now they go on the road to play No. 9 Arizona. This is the first time that Oregon State has faced three teams ranked in the AP Top 10 in the same season since 1967 when it played No. 2 Purdue, No. 2 UCLA, and No. 1 USC. But the Beavers have a shot in this one if they can harass Arizona quarterback Nick Foles. He had two critical errors in a 10-9 win over against California, but was able to lead the comeback with a late TD.

10. Can Utah win No. 21 over AQ conferences? The Utes have more wins against schools from automatic qualifying conference than any other non-AQ team. Since the BCS began in 1998, Utah is 20-11 against teams from AQ conferences. Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham is 11-4 against BCS schools, including a win earlier this year over Pittsburgh. Utah plays Iowa State on Saturday.