By: David Folz
Week 3 What to Watch For
We start week three of the college football season with many great games this weekend. We officially start the conference season in many aspects as teams vie for the top spot in conferences and divisions after one game. For those not having a conference game, there are many intriguing games on the slate this weekend. With that here is what to watch for this weekend.
National title contenders face stiff tests: This could be looked at as a precursor to November 3, which will be Showdown Saturday. Alabama cannot let up against an Arkansas team who is angry from losing against Louisiana-Monroe and will vie for an upset. Michigan State faces their toughest test to date, as the tenth-ranked Spartans face Notre Dame, who is twentieth in the nation. Second-ranked USC will visit Palo Alto to face twenty-first ranked Stanford, and the Cardinal is looking to beat the Trojans for the fifth time in the last six years.
Upset Hangover: Arizona, UCLA, Oregon State and Louisiana-Monroe all upset top 25 opponents a week ago. Oregon State has a bye week so they do not need to worry about getting beat. Arizona faces FCS opponent South Carolina State, so it would a colossal letdown to lose. UCLA faces a downtrodden Houston team who is not the same Cougars team who beat the Bruins a year ago. Louisiana-Monroe will play at Auburn this weekend, but will not be intimidated by the Tigers crowd coming off the win last week at Arkansas.
Bounce back Games?: The top 25 teams that fell last week were Arkansas, Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Oklahoma State, and all are looking at getting back on top. Arkansas will have a tough test against #1 Alabama this weekend, but the game is at home so that may help the Razorbacks. Nebraska faces a tough test against the Sun Belt by playing high-powered Arkansas State. Wisconsin faces a scrappy Utah State team Saturday night as the Aggies upset Utah last week and will give the Badgers a run as well. Oklahoma State should be able to right their ship as they take on Louisiana-Lafayette.
Upset Watch: Look at this weekend to possibly be filled of upsets following last week’s games. Wake Forest is a sleeper in the ACC and will go on the road against #5 Florida State. California will not be intimidated heading into the Horseshoe to face #12 Ohio State, and the Buckeyes got a tough test a week ago against UCF. North Carolina may not have anything to play for other than pride this year thanks to NCAA sanctions, but that does not mean they won’t be a threat to upset #19 Louisville. Utah may have lost to rival Utah State last weekend but that means they will be mad going up against their main rival #25 BYU on Saturday night. There may be other games to look out for: #1 Alabama/Arkansas, #2 USC/#21 Stanford, and #14 Texas/Ole Miss.
With that here are the top 5 games to watch this weekend.
5. Virginia at Georgia Tech: This will be a good game because Georgia Tech is playing their second ACC game (lost on Labor Day against Virginia Tech) and Virginia is in their opening game. The Cavaliers are 2-0 on the year following wins against Richmond and Penn State but no team has an offense like the Yellow Jackets do. Georgia Tech was a bad quarterback decision from starting the season 2-0, and it is absolutely critical that Georgia Tech wins this game to stay alive in the Coastal division mix.
4. Alabama at Arkansas: This would have been the #1 game had Arkansas not lost to Louisiana-Monroe and subsequently dropped all the way out of the Top 25 following. This has all the makings of a game that will be a blowout for Alabama. The key for Arkansas is to get Tyler Wilson healthy and if he is for this game, then it will be closer than what people are thinking. If Wilson cannot go in the game, then it will become really difficult for the Razorbacks to avoid a crushing blowout. Remember this, last year the Razorbacks with Wilson lost by 24, and if he cannot go, the margin may be even larger than that.
3. USC at Stanford: There are many intriguing storylines to this game. Stanford has won four of the last five matchups, USC’s offensive line has struggled, and the Stanford offense is still trying to figure itself out with its offense after so many graduations. The other factor is that Stanford will not be favored, even with the game being at home. This will be the best test for the Trojans before their matchup on November 3 against Oregon, and this will be the stage that the Cardinal need to say that they are just as good without Luck as they were with him and everyone else.
2. Notre Dame at Michigan State: This is a big rivalry to both teams and has produced from thrilling finishes in the past, from the fake field goal two years ago, to Notre Dame’s comeback in a driving rainstorm six years ago with Brady Quinn at quarterback. This will be another tough test for both teams because Notre Dame is out to prove to pollsters and the nation that they are for real this year, while Michigan State’s Le’Veon Bell wants to enhance his Heisman hopes in this game on the national stage against a prestigious program. This will be a big game in many ways this weekend as these two teams battle for the Megaphone Trophy.
1.Florida at Tennessee: College GameDay is here and so is the #1 game of the week to watch this weekend. Tennessee has played really well offensively with Tyler Bray leading the team to a top 15 offense this year up to this point. Mike Gillislee has been very important to the success of the Gators offense thus far, but he is battling a groin injury and if he does not play, then things could get really difficult for the Gators in this matchup. The winner will be not from a skill set player however. The key will be the offensive lines keeping Tyler Bray and Jeff Driskel on their feet. The team that can do that will have the success necessary to beat their rival and for Tennessee, it would be the first win since 2004 for them over Florida.