Nothing like the weight of a college football schedule to apply pressure to coaches, even those whose seats were "cool" to start the season. There is no other sport that puts winning at such a premium as football. Some of it is the lack of opportunities to exhibit their team's growth, some is the money involved and some is just inpatient 'fan'atics who set unrealistic expectations.
Read Mark Carter's column this week. He outlines the importance of a Razorback win on Saturday. He is on point and -- best to my knowledge -- hasn't been drinking any Kool-Aid. It just goes to show the urgency that every fan base goes is experiencing when the season gets off to less-than-expected start.
Here are 10 games -- some with more urgent teams than others -- to watch this weekend.
1) No. 15 Ole Miss at No. 2 Alabama (-6.5), 8:15 p.m., ESPN
There is immense pressure at every angle of this game. The winner takes the driver seat for the SEC West crown and moves into a position to be knocked out of the Final Four for the College Football Playoff. The Rebels have been building towards this year when they stockpiled on of the top recruiting classes two years ago. Winning in T-town won't be easy. Nick Saban is 9-1 when playing a team he lost to in the previous year.
2) No. 19 BYU (+16.5) at No. 10 UCLA, 9:30 p.m., Fox Sports 1
BYU has been on the good side of luck in their first two victories, winning on final drives each week. Are the Cougars that good or that lucky? UCLA trots out true freshman quarterback Josh Rosen for his third start. UCLA. The Bruins will inch closer to a playoff berth with a win, but have to avoid the luck of the Mormans before entering a tough month-long stretch in Pac-12 play.
3) No. 14 Georgia Tech (-2) at No. 8 Notre Dame, 2:30 p.m., NBC
Pressure lives in South Bend. Year in and year out the Irish find their names in the mix for a national title, especially this early. DeShone Kizer will get his first start of the year after Malik Zaier suffered a broken ankle last weekend. The Yellow Jackets have yet to play a competitive game this season, and their quarterback Justin Thomas can do no wrong in his second season as the starter. The Irish have struggled with run-option teams in the past (Navy) and Georgia Tech has far superior athletes so expect a tight one, as the betting line suggests.
4) No. 18 Auburn (+7) at No. 13 LSU, 2:30 p.m., CBS
Auburn quarterback Jeremy Johnson needs to prove himself. After not being able to discern his receivers from opposing defensive backs the past two weeks, he will be tested against an always talented Bayou Bengal backfield. LSU has to prove that it can throw the ball before they overwork their Clydesdale-like running back Leonard Fournette. Not to mention that Auburn and defensive coordinator Bill Muschamp have the front to stop him.
5) Texas Tech at Arkansas (-11.5) 6 p.m., ESPN2
This is pretty simple, Dan Enos. The Red Raiders can't defend the run. You have the biggest offensive line in football and a deep enough running back corps to rotate players. As for you Rob Smith, do whatever you did in the second half last year. Bielema, boast about your schedule and all other matters to your Yorkies for a week or two. If any party needs further explanation, I'm free on Saturday and will be happy to help.
6) South Carolina (+17) at No. 7 Georgia, 5 p.m., ESPN
No 10-win coach knows pressure like Mark Richt. Drive through the Peach State during the summer and you're guaranteed to hear a "keep or fire Richt" segment. But doesn't this seem like the sort of game that the Bulldogs lose? After years of being taunted by Steve Spurrier during his days on the Florida sidelines, he's brought that success to Columbia. South Carolina has beaten the Bulldogs four of the last five years.
7) No. 9 Florida State (-8) at Boston College, Friday at 7 p.m., ESPN
The Seminoles were tested more than expected last week against South Florida. There is talent all over the field in every position for FSU, but the question mark stands at quarterback. Everett Golson transferred to the Tallahassee over the summer after some spotty seasons and a title game run at Notre Dame. He replaces the most talented quarterback in school history.
8) No. 23 Northwestern at Duke (-3) 11:30 a.m. ESPN3
Pat Fitzgerald may have saved his job with a win over then No. 21 ranked Stanford in Week 1. Now he finds himself in a very similar situation, leading the No. 23-ranked Wildcats on an eastern bound road trip to a fellow nerd school. And much like its Cardinal counterpart, look for Northwestern's Top 25 life to be short-lived.
9) Stanford at No. 6 Southern Cal (-9.5), 7 p.m. ABC
Speaking of the Cardinal... Kevin Hogan has spent his 19 years as the quarterback trending downward. The Trojans leader under center, Cody Kesler, is stock to buy has all of the potential, Heisman-hype, playmakers and now a full compliment of scholarship players on his team. His coach, Steve Sarkisian had his own off-the-field issues and a conference win can't come soon enough.
10) California (-5.5) at Texas, 6:30 p.m., FOX
It's been a weird week in Austin. The Athletic Director "stepped" down awkwardly, the same guy who in two years fired two championship-level coaches. And in what has become the norm, plenty of heat continues to be aimed at Charlie Strong. The Longhorns have the superior athletes yet are home underdogs. Cal coach Sonny Dykes is quietly turning a dumpster fire program around without a defense.