For coaches, they are known as “Quality of Life” games. Those are games that, if you lose, you’re not going to get fired. But a win would certainly improve your quality of life over the next few weeks. Here are just five quality of life games, and whose quality of life they could improve, coming up this week:
1. Ole Miss at South Carolina, Thursday: Steve Spurrier could be 3-0 right now if Stephen Garcia completes just one more pass at Georgia. But the Head Ball Coach needs a quality victory over somebody he’s not supposed to beat in order to prove that he still has the touch. Ole Miss (2-0), ranked No. 4 in the AP Poll, is set up perfectly for this game. The Rebels really haven’t been tested, with wins over Memphis and Southeastern Louisiana. They also have to get on a plane today and fly to Columbia after playing last Saturday. Also, Ole Miss is just getting over a serious bout with the flu that kept 31 guys out of practice two weeks ago. Everybody in Oxford, Miss., is already talking about No. 3 Alabama’s trip to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Oct. 10. It is hard to focus on the Gamecocks. Come to think of it, this would be a quality of life win for Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt as well. His team needs to prove that it can handle being in the spotlight.
2. North Carolina at Georgia Tech: Georgia Tech Coach Paul Johnson is frustrated and I don’t blame him. While Clemson and Miami deserve credit for their defensive game plans the past two weeks, Johnson would be the first to tell you that the Yellow Jackets are not executing the offense the way it is being drawn up. And the defense, quite frankly, could stand to be a little tougher than they’ve shown. After two less-than-scintillating efforts on offense, Georgia Tech needs to show some kind of spark when the Tar Heels come to Bobby Dodd Stadium on Saturday. A 1-2 start in the ACC is not what Johnson—or Georgia Tech fans—expected in the 2009 season. And both losses would be to divisional foes (Miami, North Carolina) which means things would get messy should Tech find itself in a tie-breaking situation at the end of the season.
3. Florida at Kentucky: Here is why this is a quality of life game for the Gators and coach Urban Meyer. They are ranked No. 1, but there is an element of doubt about the defending national champions after a tough 23-13 win over Tennessee, a 29-point underdog, last Saturday at The Swamp. The Meyer-Lane Kiffin feud was still in the headlines on Tuesday when the Florida head coach should have closed the books and turned his public attention to Kentucky (2-0), which may be a little better than people think. Florida needs to go out and get a convincing SEC win so that some of those questions about the Gators will go away. To be perfectly blunt, Gator fans, Florida looked like a mere mortal football team against Tennessee. The Gators looked talented, but beatable on a given day.
4. Arizona State at Georgia: Now we expect Georgia to win the game because Arizona State really hasn’t best tested in wins over Idaho State (50-3) and Louisiana-Monroe (38-14). But what the Bulldogs, and specifically defensive coordinator Willie Martinez, need out of this game is the sense that the Bulldogs have a clue when it comes to defending the pass. For two straight weeks Georgia has not been able to put any pressure on the passer and receivers have just been roaming free in the Bulldog secondary with only token resistance. With LSU coming to Athens a week from Saturday, it would be helpful for the Georgia defense to show some signs of life.
5. Rutgers at Maryland: Ralph Friedgen hired a new defensive coordinator (Don Brown) in the offseason with hopes of getting things turned around. But this season the Terps have given up 52 points to California, 35 to I-AA James Madison, and 32 to Middle Tennessee. The only game Maryland won of the three was James Madison and that came (38-35) in overtime. Friedgen needs something good to happen to happen in College Park, Md., on Saturday. Rutgers’ coach Greg Schiano needs this one as well. The Scarlet Knights got off to a rough start against Big East foe Cincinnati, losing 47-15 and since have two pedestrian wins against Howard and Florida International. Two years ago Schiano was the hottest young coach out there. Now the Rutgers program is starting to slip a little bit.
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