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Week 3 game breakdowns
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Tennessee at Florida
KICKOFF: Saturday, 3:30 ET
SERIES: Tied at 19 (last meeting, 2008, 30-6 Florida)
2009 RANKINGS: Gators: offense 1st (1st SEC), pass 13th (2nd), run 3rd (2nd), defense 22nd (7th), pass 9th (3rd), run 38th (6th) Volunteers: offense 35th (6th SEC), pass 80th (7th), run 15th (5th), defense 3rd (1st), pass 13th (4th), run 20th (2nd)
POLLS: Florida (1 AP, Coaches)
PREDICTION: Florida 37, Tennessee 15
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Gators downplayed the game all week, but there's no doubting the motivation feeding the team came from inflammatory remarks made by coach Lane Kiffin since his arrival at UT. He's said UT would kick Florida's butt, and harshly insinuated the Gators were winning by going outside the lines. The Gators want to hang a huge number on UT and make it a third Saturday in September to remember for Gators fans and Kiffin. The personnel breakdown indicates this should be a laugher. Florida's defense could manhandle UT's inexperienced offense and the Gators' offense can be unstoppable when it clicks behind Tim Tebow. Meyer figures to show little mercy toward the Vols, using this game to prove a point to Kiffin and to launch another Heisman Trophy run for quarterback Tim Tebow. UT isn't coming into this one on a high note, having dropped a 19-15 decision to UCLA on Saturday in which Jonathan Crompton tossed three interceptions and lost a fumble to negate a good performance by a defense that allowed just 186 total yards. Crompton must recognize that a three-and-out is better than an interception or fumble that gives Florida a short field. UT's offense has to run the ball effectively to control some clock and keep Tebow off the field. And the defense must force some turnovers, which is easier said than done against an offense that not only scores but values the ball.
FAST FACTS: Gators: Tebow, 3-0 lifetime against the Vols, was named SEC Player of the Week following his five-touchdown (four rushing, one receiving) performance against Troy. ... Florida ranks first in the nation in scoring (59.0 ppg) and first in total offense (643.5 ypg) The Gators also rank third in rushing (330 yards per game). New offensive coordinator Steve Addazio will get his first big test of the season, calling plays against an improved Tennessee defense. ... Florida is 9-5 against UT in Gainesville. Volunteers: Tennessee is 2-6 all-time vs. teams ranked atop the Associated Press Poll. This is the third time the Vols have taken on the No. 1-ranked Gators (0-2). ... A win would be Tennessee's first over the Gators since 2004. ... The Vols last won their first road conference game in 2004. ... Tennessee returns just five full-time starters from the 2008 squad. ... Tennessee played 11 true freshmen in its season opener vs. Western Kentucky and eight in the UCLA game.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Gators
INJURY WATCH: Gators
Temple at Penn State
KICKOFF: Saturday, 7:30 ET
SERIES: Penn State leads 34-3-1 (last meeting, 2008, Penn State won 45-3.
2009 RANKINGS: Nittany Lions: offense 39th (5th Big Ten), pass 14th (1st), run 94th (11th), defense 12th (1st), pass 52nd (3rd), run 10th (1st) Owls: offense 28th (2nd MAC), pass 12th (2nd), run 67th-T (3rd), defense 74th (7th), pass 104th (12th), run 23rd (1st)
POLLS: Penn State (5 AP, Coaches)
PREDICTION: Penn State 46, Temple 6
KEYS TO THE GAME: Penn State is getting accustomed to seeing eight- and nine-man fronts. As long as that strategy, the one employed by Syracuse and Akron, QB Daryll Clark will keep chucking the ball downfield. Penn State's numbers through the first two games 309.5 yards passing and 107.0 yards rushing per game suggest a Big 12 offense, not a Big Ten offense. But this isn't an indication of a shift in philosophy from JoePa, more of a "make you beat us through the air" mindset from the opposition. If Temple tempts Clark, he won't think twice about airing it out. The Owls are looking to rebound from a sloppy loss to FCS Villanova. Their hopes ride on the throwing arm of Vaughn Charlton, who'll need to make big plays and avoid giveaways to keep the game respectable.
FAST FACTS: Nittany Lions: Penn State has won its last 26 games against Temple dating back to 1952. Four of those wins have been shutouts. ... The Nittany Lions, ranked No. 5 in both polls, have won 20 of their last 25 games as a top-5 team. ... Temple head coach Al Golden and offensive and defensive coordinators Matt Rhule and Mark D'Onofrio all played for Joe Paterno at Penn State. Owls: QB Vaughn Charlton had thrown three interceptions in 222 career passes before matching that total in the opening game against was Villanova, including a crucial pick in the final minute that led to the winning field goal.... The Owls gained 456 yards in the opener, but coughed the ball up five times, three of the turnovers Vaughn Charlton interceptions. ... Temple has lost each of the last three years to Penn State, by a combined count of 123-3.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Nittany Lions:
INJURY WATCH: Nittany Lions:
California at Minnesota
KICKOFF: Saturday, noon ET
SERIES: California leads 3-2 (last meeting 2006, 42-17 California).
2009 RANKINGS: Bears: offense 10th (1st Pac-10), pass 52nd (6th), run 6th (2nd), defense 36th (5th), pass 63rd (5th), run 28th (4th) Golden Golphers: offense 81st (10th Big Ten), pass 50th (7th), run 91st (10th), defense 52nd (4th), pass 65th (5th), run 92nd (11th)
POLLS: Cal (8 AP, 7 Coaches)
PREDICTION: California 35, Minnesota 14
KEYS TO THE GAME: Both teams are 2-0, but the Gophers had to rally from behind in the second half to beat both Syracuse and Air Force, while California had two blowouts. The Gophers have a good enough defense to give Cal's offense some problems and an offense that has one big-time playmaker and not much else, but what gives Minnesota a chance is that it will play the Bears in their brand new stadium at an unusual hour. The Cal game will be just the second game at the Gophers' new on-campus home, TCF Bank Stadium, and, as they did in last week's 20-13 victory over Air Force, the Gophers should have a vocal packed house of nearly 51,000 in support. Cal can hope that the crowd arrives late and is still a little groggy because the game starts at 11 a.m. Minnesota (CDT) time. The problem for Cal is that it is 9 a.m. West Coast (PDT) time, and Bears fans recall the trouble Cal had with the same starting time last season at Maryland. The Bears played their worst game of the season against the Terps, although coaches and players alike said the early starting time had nothing to do with Cal's sluggish start. Nonetheless, Cal will travel to Minnesota Thursday night instead of Friday as it did against Maryland. Playing on the road at any time has been a problem for the Bears in recent years, and this is Cal's first road game after blowout wins over Maryland and Eastern Washington at home. Cal's only road win last season came against Washington State, and that hardly constitutes a significant victory. It will be imperative for Cal quarterback Kevin Riley to handle the surroundings with poise. He made very few mistakes in the first two games, but it will be tougher to main his cool in a hostile environment, especially if the Gophers jump on top. His numbers were considerably better at home than on the road last season.
FAST FACTS: Bears: The game against Minnesota is California's final nonconference game before playing Pac-10 opponent Oregon on Sept. 26 in Eugene, Ore. ... California was just 1-4 on the road last season and has lost eight of its past nine games on the opponent's home field. The only road win in that span came against Washington State. ... Cal is trying to go to 3-0 for the fifth time in Jeff Tedford's eight years as head coach. The Bears were not 3-0 in any of the five seasons prior to Tedford's arrival. ... Cal has yet to commit a turnover, making the Bears one of just three teams who have played two games without turning the ball over. ... Cal has punted just five times in two games. Golden Gophers: The last time Minnesota faced a Top 10-ranked non-conference opponent was Sept. 22 at No. 8 Nebraska. ... Minnesota has now won six consecutive regular-season games vs. non-conference opponents. ... Minnesota has come from behind in both of its victories to open the 2009 season. The Gophers trailed Syracuse 20-14 at halftime and Air Force 10-3 in the fourth quarter. ... The Gophers went undefeated (4-0) in non-conference play in 2008. It was the first time Minnesota won all its regular-season non-conference games since 2005, when the Gophers went 3-0. ... The Gophers sold out their first game in the new TCF Bank Stadium against Air Force, there were still complaints about the team's new home. Community members who live near the stadium said the on-campus venue's speakers are too loud, while fans who attended the game complained about traffic snarls and long lines for concessions. ... Gophers LB Nate Triplett, who finished Saturday's game with 17 tackles, a fumble recovery and a touchdown, won conference and national honors for his performance. The Maple Plains, Minn., native earned the Big Ten's co-defensive player of the week award and the Walter Camp Foundation National Defensive Player of the Week. As of the first part of the week, he was a candidate for the AT&T All-America Player of the Week.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Bears
INJURY WATCH: Bears
Ohio State at Toledo
KICKOFF: Saturday, noon ET
SERIES: leads (last meeting, 2008).
2009 RANKINGS: Buckeyes: offense 92nd (11th Big Ten), pass 74th (10th), run 81st (9th), defense 56th (5th), pass 72nd (6th), run 79th (10th) Rockets: offense 7th (1st MAC), pass 7th (1st), run 43rd (1st), defense 110th (13th), pass 53rd (4th), run 107th (11th)
POLLS: Ohio State (11 AP, Coaches)
PREDICTION: Ohio State 34, Toledo 17
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Buckeyes biggest battle isn't just a road trip albeit to the neutral field in Cleveland at Browns Stadium to a team riding high after beating Colorado last week. It's not trying to make up for the disappointment of letting a win get away last week against Southern Cal. Along with the Buckeyes' recent trend in losing big games is their ability to bounce back the following week. After they were smashed at USC last year, Ohio State fought back with an impressive win against Troy. The Rockets have scored 85 points in two games this year, including 54 in an impressive victory against Colorado. Toledo also beat a weary Michigan team last year in Michigan Stadium. "They've done very well when they've gone out of the conference and played the Big Ten," OSU coach Jim Tressel said. Tressel should know what to expect out of Toledo based on his long relationship with Rockets coach Tim Beckman. The friendship between the Beckmans and Tressels dates back 45 years, when Tim's father, Dave, was an assistant on Tressel's father's staff at Baldwin-Wallace. Dave Beckman even served as a babysitter when Jim was growing up. The loss to USC exposed the Buckeyes as having a lack of big playmakers on offense. Terrelle Pryor isn't as polished on offense as the team would have hoped true freshman Matt Barkley looked much more composed in guiding USC down the field than Pryor did in the game's final minutes. Ohio State may soon revert back to last year's run-heavy offense to take advantage of Pryor's incredible quickness. That will also demand more production from tailbacks Dan Herron and Brandon Saine, who combined for just 46 yards against the Trojans. Senior QB Aaron Opelt leads the nation in total offense with 437 yards per game. He has completed 56-of-90 passes for 742 yards and seven touchdowns, good for a 152.70 pass efficiency rating. Two of his receivers, Eric Page and Stephen Williams, are both tied for eighth nationally with 15 catches through two games. Running back DaJuane Collins leads Toledo and is second in the MAC with 93.5 yards per game on the ground.
FAST FACTS: Buckeyes: The Buckeyes are making their first appearance in Cleveland since 1991 when they played Northwestern at Cleveland Municipal Stadium. ... Ohio State has won at least 10 games in each of the last four years, played in the national championship game twice and two other BCS bowls ... Coach Jim Tressel is 84-20 in nine seasons at Ohio State; 219-77-2 in his 24th season overall ... Toledo coach Tim Beckman was an Ohio State assistant in 2005-06 ... Ohio State is the Big Ten preseason favorite, followed by Penn State and Michigan State ... Ohio State is 8-6-1 over the years in games played in Cleveland ... The Buckeyes are 176-48-15 all-time against Ohio schools and 25-1 all-time against members of the Mid-American Conference Rockets: Toledo's potent offensive attack leads the MAC in scoring offense (42.5 ppg), passing (371 ypg), rushing (187.5 ypg), total offense (558.5 ypg) and first downs (47). ... Toledo is 5-13 all-time against teams from the Big Ten, but all five of those Rocket victories have come in the last 11 games. The Rockets own wins over Purdue (twice, 1992 and 1997), Penn State (2000), Minnesota (2001) and Michigan (2008). ... The Rockets are the home team in this unique arrangement, which calls for this meeting at Cleveland Browns Stadium, and then a Toledo trip to Ohio Stadium in Columbus in 2011.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Buckeyes
INJURY WATCH: Buckeyes
Duke at Kansas
KICKOFF: Saturday, noon ET
SERIES: First meeting
2009 RANKINGS: Blue Devils: offense 96th (11th ACC), pass 30th (3rd), run 115th (12th), defense 64th (4th), pass 23rd (5th), run 99th (9th) Jayhawks: offense 6th (2nd Big 12), pass 24th (6th), run 7th (1st), defense 20th (2nd), pass 55th (8th), run 8th (3rd)
POLLS: Kansas (22 AP, 23 Coaches)
PREDICTION: Kansas 42, Duke 17
KEYS TO THE GAME: Short of a Todd Reesing meltdown of some sort, the Jayhawks should walk to 3-0 and continue edge into the top 20. Duke coach David Cutcliffe called Kansas one of the top 15 teams in the country. He said the formula for winning, while simple, isn't easily accomplished. "It's probably the most basic formula in football: take care of the ball, play great in the kicking game and find a way to make some big plays while the game progresses." Duke needed a rally to win with 21 fourth-quarter points against Army last week. The Blue Devils play two quarterbacks senior Thaddeus Lewis starts this week but Sean Renfree was the best of the two last week. Duke could stand to apply a steady pass rush, or else the Jayhawks are likely to be poised to pick them apart downfield. The Blue Devils gained plenty of confidence in the secondary against Army, but they'll be dealing with a different level of passing efficiency this week. So it will be important for Duke to maintain a certain confidence in this game, which on the surface appears to be the most difficult assignment in the month of September for the Blue Devils.
FAST FACTS: Jayhawks: KU is 3-16 against the current members of the ACC. ... Kansas is playing four of its first five games of the season at home and only has one road game (last week at UTEP) before playing at Colorado on Oct. 17. ... KU is looking to start a season 3-0 for just the third time in the last 12 seasons (2005 and '07). ... KU is 24-4 at home since the beginning of the 2005 season. ... KU has won 18 consecutive non-conference home games since losing the 2003 season opener to Northwestern. ... KU has won 18 of its last 20 games against non-Big 12 Conference foes, including three bowl victories. ... KU is 25-7 in its last 32 games overall dating back to late in 2006. ... KU is 22-7 in the month of September in the Mark Mangino era. ... All four of KU's nonconference games are being televised for the first time in school history. ... All four of KU's nonconference games are first-time meetings with the opponents. ... Head coach Mark Mangino is looking for sole possession of second-place on the KU career victory list as he enters this week tied with Glen Mason with 47 victories (A.R. Kennedy is the leader with 52 wins). Blue Devils: Coach David Cutcliffe is 32-8 when his team scores at least 30 points. ... Duke's win at Army last week was its fifth in 10 seasons. ... Duke is 3-0 under Cutcliffe when scoring a defensive touchdown. ... Duke is 2-3 all-time against Big 12 schools. ... The Devils are one of 21 teams in the nation without an interception thrown. ... Senior CB Leon Wright had two interception returns for TDs last week. .... Duke is tied for the ACC lead for fewest penalties per game.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Jayhawks
INJURY WATCH: Jayhawks
East Carolina at North Carolina
KICKOFF: Saturday, noon ET
SERIES: North Carolina leads 8-2-1 (last meeting, 2007, ECU 34-21). 2009 RANKINGS Pirates: offense 102nd (9th C-USA), pass 101st (11th), run 77th (4th), defense 82nd (5th), pass 103rd (9th), run 70th (5th) Tar Heels: offense 89th (9th ACC), pass 89th (9th), run 63rd (6th), defense 7th (3rd), pass 6th (1st), run 14th (1st)
POLLS: North Carolina (24 AP, 19 Coaches)
PREDICTION: North Carolina 23, East Carolina 13
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Tar Heels will be looking to get their running game going again to take the pressure of QB T.J. Yates and the young receivers. The Tar Heels had their ground game working in the season-opening win over the The Citadel but struggled to run the ball against Connecticut without FB Bobby Rome and two starters in the offensive line. TB Shaun Draughn (14 carries, 21 yards) never did get his mojo working, and his backup, Ryan Houston, was the primary ball carrier in the fourth-quarter scoring drive. Yates has completed 61.5 percent of passes and may have found a new target in freshman WR Erik Highsmith. The defense needs to keep the heat on East Carolina QB Pat Pinkney, who was sacked four times in a loss to West Virginia.
FAST FACTS: Tar Heels: North Carolina has dominated the series, but interestingly enough, coach Butch Davis has never had one of his teams beat the Pirates as a head coach. Davis was 0-2 against East Carolina when he was at Miami, and his Tar Heels lost to the Pirates in 2007. He was 4-0 against ECU as an assistant under Jimmy Johnson at Miami. ... QB T.J. Yates, who moved past the 4,000-yard mark by throwing for 233 against UConn, is fifth in career passing yards (4,170), fifth in touchdown passes (28), fourth in completions (331), fifth in attempts (552) and second in completion percentage (60.0 percent) at the school. ... Pirates: The Pirates have won 12 of their last 13 games when holding opponents to 24 points or less. ... QB Patrick Pinkney moved into fourth place in school history with 373 career completions, passing Jeff Blake with a 6-yard pass to Dwayne Harris in the second quarter last week against West Virginia. ... Senior Matt Dodge was named the College Football Performance Awards national Punter of the Week after averaging 47.6 yards on five attempts at WVU, with three sailing 50-plus yards.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Tar Heels
INJURY WATCH: Tar Heels
Eastern Michigan at Michigan
KICKOFF: Saturday, noon ET
SERIES: Michigan leads 8-0 (last meeting, 2007, 33-22 at Michigan).
2009 RANKINGS: Wolverines: offense 34th (3rd Big Ten), pass 61st 88th), run 26th (3rd), defense 90th (9th), pass 87th (8th), run 43rd (5th) Eagles: offense 104th (9th MAC), pass 93rd (9th), run 95th (6th), defense 55th (3rd), pass 25th (1st), run 113th (13th)
POLLS: Michigan (25 AP, NR Coaches)
PREDICTION: Michigan 39, Eastern Michigan 12
KEYS TO THE GAME: This is an opportunity for the Wolverines to catch their breath and work on perfecting a few things before they head into the Big Ten schedule. They can not allow Eastern Michigan to have any early success and get excited about pulling off an upset. The Big House will be an awfully intimidating place for the Eagles to visit, especially with the charge the 2-0 start has put back in the Michigan program. The Wolverines' defense demonstrated they've made a quantum leap towards solid play by stuffing Western Michigan, and then preventing Notre Dame's talented QB Jimmy Clausen from beating them. With its new-found confidence and continued progress, this unit should dominate Eastern Michigan with the aggressive linebacker play from Obi Ezeh and Stevie Brown. Michigan won't want to embarrass EMU head coach Ron English, a former Wolverines assistant, so coach Rich Rodriguez will call off the dogs before it gets out of hand.
FAST FACTS: Wolverines: Michigan and Eastern Michigan meet for the ninth time in what has been a totally one-sided arrangement. The Wolverines have won all eight games with the Eagles, and outscored Eastern 251-42, shutting out the Eagles six times. ... Michigan's beloved home, The Big House, is undergoing extensive renovations that are scheduled to be completed prior to the start of the 2010 season. This is the Wolverines' 83rd season playing in Michigan Stadium, where they hold a 377-114-15 record. ... Eastern Michigan head coach Ron English was an assistant at neighboring Michigan under Lloyd Carr. English has two former Wolverines on his staff, Tyrone Wheatley and Kurt Anderson, and two additional former UM assistants Steve Szabo and Tom Burpee as part of the EMU contingent. Eagles: The Eagles have not enjoyed success historically against Big Ten opponents. Eastern is 0-8 against Michigan, and has lost all 26 games it has played against Big Ten schools. ... In eight meetings with the Wolverines, Eastern Michigan has been shut out six times, and outscored 251-42. ... With a distance of just seven miles between the two schools, this is the second-closest matchup in Division IA this season. Only Rice and Houston are closer, at 6.1 miles apart.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Wolverines:
INJURY WATCH: Wolverines:
North Texas at Alabama
KICKOFF: Saturday, 12:20 ET
SERIES: Alabama leads 2-0
2009 RANKINGS: North Texas: offense 47th (3rd Sun Belt), pass 71st (6th), run 29th (3rd), defense 38th (1st), pass 19th (1st), run 57th (3rd) Alabama: offense 14th (4th SEC), pass 48th (4th), run 10th (4th), defense 10th (2nd), pass 21st (7th), run 5th (1st)
POLLS: Alabama (4 AP, Coaches)
PREDICTION: Alabama 38, North Texas 10
KEYS TO THE GAME: Alabama has a chance to play a lot of players again and continue to build depth. The Tide needs to work particularly on special teams, having allowed kickoff returns for touchdowns in consecutive games this season. UNT is trying to rebound from a heartbreaking 31-30 double-overtime loss to Ohio, and they travel to Alabama without their starting quarterback. North Texas head coach Todd Dodge and Alabama starting quarterback Greg McElroy are eager to finally get this game off their minds. Dodge was McElroy's high school coach at Dallas' Southlake Carroll in 2005. The Dragons went 16-0 and won not only the Texas Class 5A state title but a mythical high school national championship as well. McElroy threw for nearly 4,700 yards and a state-record 56 touchdowns as a senior, following a quarterback named Chase Daniel, who went on to a pretty good career at Missouri. McElroy was followed by Dodge's son, Riley, who threw for 57 touchdown passes and led the school to its fourth-consecutive state title. When Todd Dodge got the North Texas head coaching position, he brought Riley with him as his starting quarterback. However, Riley will miss this game with a separated shoulder he suffered last week in a 31-30 loss to Ohio University. A redshirt junior, McElroy is a first-year starter at Alabama. He has the Tide ranked No. 4 with a perfect 2-0 record, passing for 230 yards in the first game and 241 and a touchdown last week against Florida International. "He's very accurate," Dodge said. "Very tough, physically and mentally. He can make all the throws. High character. Very mature." McElroy said he has been talking with folks back home, who want to know if he's going to be reading North Texas' signals for the Alabama defense. "Well, he won't see me signaling anymore," Dodge said. "I used to do all the signaling, but we've change it up quite a bit here. ... Not that they need it, but he may be asked to sit in with Coach (Nick) Saban and his defensive guys." Saban made light of that suggestion. "We are not going to ask Greg to help us coach defense this week," he said. "We'll just go ahead and let him be the quarterback. I'm sure he'd be helpful, as smart as he is."
FAST FACTS: Crimson Tide: The Crimson Tide has piled up 1,014 yards of total offense this season in wins over Virginia Tech and Florida International. The 1,014 yards are the most by Alabama in back-to-back games since compiling 1,104 yards in consecutive games against South Carolina (516) and UTEP (588) during the 2001 season. Alabama is coming off its best offensive output of the season and third-best in the Saban era with 516 total yards in its 40-14 win over Florida International last week in Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide had 275 rushing yards and 241 passing yards in the win over the Golden Panthers. In the season opener, Alabama racked up 498 yards of total offense, the fifth best offensive day under Saban, in the 34-24 win over No. 7 Virginia Tech. ... Alabama took the opening kickoff and marched to a 3-0 lead on a 23-yard field goal by Leigh Tiffin with 9:02 left in the first quarter against FIU. Alabama has now scored a field goal on its opening possession in both games of the 2009 season, having marched to a Tiffin field goal to start the scoring the win over Virginia Tech. In the Nick Saban era, Alabama has scored on its opening possession in 17 of 29 games. ... freshman running back Trent Richardson enjoyed an impressive debut in his first action with the Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium, rushing for 118 yards and 2 touchdowns on 15 carries against FIU. Richardson scored on runs of nine and 35 yards in the second half to extend the Alabama lead from a 20-14 edge to 33-14 early in the fourth quarter. ... Alabama racked up 516 yards of offense against FIU and is averaging 271.5 yards of rushing per game. Mean Green: The North Texas defense only allowed 232 yards of total offense in the 31-30 loss to Ohio last week and 23 of those yards came in overtime. After the regulation four quarters, the Mean Green defense had only allowed 209 yards of total offense. The last time a North Texas defense allowed less than 232 yards of offense and still lost the game was against TCU in 2002 when the Mean Green allowed just 178 yards of total offense in a 16-10 loss. ... Mean Green defense recorded 10 tackles for a loss against Ohio, which was the most by a North Texas defense since it had 12 vs. Florida International in the 2007 season finale. Six different North Texas defenders had at least one tackle for a loss in the game, led by sophomore defensive end Brandon Akpunku with 2.5. ... North Texas has 411 yards rushing and 402 yards passing which is a 51 to 49 percent balance. Last season, rushing accounted for 35 percent of the total offense while passing accounted for 65 percent. ... North Texas' win at Ball State was just the second win in a season opener in the last 13 years.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Crimson Tide
INJURY WATCH: Crimson Tide
Southern Cal at Washington
KICKOFF: Saturday, 3:30 ET
SERIES: USC leads 49-26-4 including the last seven in a row.
2009 RANKINGS: Trojans: offense 26th (3rd Pac-10), pass 46th (4th), run 23rd (3rd), defense 12th (2nd), pass 15th (3rd), run 13th (2nd) Huskies: offense 36th (5th Pac-10), pass 20th (1st), run 67th-T (7th), defense 76th (7th), pass 101st (9th), run 48th (7th)
POLLS: Southern Cal (3 AP, Coaches)
PREDICTION: Southern Cal 40, Washington 16
KEYS TO THE GAME: Coach Steve Sarkisian went out of his way to stress the importance of the game to the Huskies. Specifically, that it's the Pac-10 opener and a chance to get back on the college football map. UW is a 21-point underdog, however, expected by most to lose the game in one-sided fashion. They'll need early momentum to still be around late in the game when it matters. For that to happen, another big game is needed from QB Jake Locker, whom USC coach Pete Carroll called a better runner and passer than Terrelle Pryor of Ohio State. The familiarity of the coaching staffs Sarkisian and defensive coordinator Nick Holt ran the offense and defense at Southern Cal in recent seasons but the UW staff has said that won't be a big factor. Coaches didn't seem too concerned when Idaho rang up 412 yards last week but there was plenty of angst in the stands when the Huskies gave up 412 yards to Idaho Saturday. Sarkisian attributed it largely to some miscommunication in the secondary, the most inexperienced area of UW's defense. But he also said the team needed to get a better pass rush. And UW's front seven figures to be tested more greatly against USC than in the first two games as the Trojans have one of the most powerful offensive lines in the country and may just try to run through the Huskies, who are allowing 4.1 yards per carry. Southern Cal quarterback Matt Barkley held it together just fine in Columbus last week. He's nursing a sore shoulder, and it'd be no surprise to see USC run the ball until UW proved with some consistency that it could stop the Trojans' cadre of ballcarriers. Joe McKnight and Stafon Johnson have come to the forefront of the tailback rotation, as the Trojans average 230 rushing yards per game. Washington allowed 196.5 yards per game on the ground last season, but appear improved through two games this season, which include holding a strong LSU team to a reasonable 149 rushing yards.
FAST FACTS: Huskies: UW hasn't beaten USC anywhere since 2001, in Carroll's first year at USC when Sarkisian was a graduate assistant. ,,, Sarkisian is the third coach of the last four for UW to face the team he worked with the year before in his first season at UW. Rick Neuheisel and the Huskies beat his former Colorado team 31-24 in 1999 and Tyrone Willingham lost to Notre Dame 36-17 in 2005. ... After opening with three in a row at home, UW will play five of its next seven on the road. Trojans: USC has won seven in a row against the Huskies ... RB Joe McKnight gained a total of 53 yards on USC's 86-yard game-winning drive, also adding a two-point conversion catch. ... USC's defense is ranked in the Top 15 nationally this week in every defensive stat category. ... Pete Carroll is college football's winningest active coach (85.7%).
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Huskies:
INJURY WATCH: Huskies:
Tulsa at Oklahoma
KICKOFF: Saturday, 3:30 ET
SERIES: Oklahoma leads 15-7-1 (last meeting, 2007, 62-21 Oklahoma).
2009 RANKINGS: Golden Hurricane: offense 29th (4th C-USA), pass 22nd (3rd), run 47th (3rd), defense 34th (2nd), pass 48th (4th), run 11th (2nd) Sooners: offense 41st (6th Big 12), pass 63rd (8th), run 35th (4th), defense 14th (1st), pass 49th (7th), run 2nd (1st)
POLLS: Oklahoma (12 AP, Coaches)
PREDICTION: Oklahoma 43, Tulsa 21
KEYS TO THE GAME: Who knew this contest might mean more to Oklahoma than Tulsa? But that's where things stand with the Sooners hoping to claw their way back to the top, an assignment that demands no more losses. Win or lose, however, Tulsa remains a force to be reckoned with in Conference USA. Beyond getting a victory, the Sooners want to come to terms with their offensive line and receiving corps. Also, the Sooners really need to establish some red zone dominance after failing on two goal-line situations in two games.
FAST FACTS: Sooners: Oklahoma has won the last four meetings in this series. ... The Sooners are 9-3-1 against Tulsa all-time in Norman. ... Bob Stoops (Iowa Â¿83) is 110-25 in his 11th season. He is 72-14 vs. the Big 12, 39-10 vs. the Big 12 South, 33-4 vs. the Big 12 North, 6-1 in the Big 12 title game, 38-11 vs. non-conference opponents, 61-2 at home, 32-11 on the road, 17-12 on neutral fields, 33-13 vs. ranked opponents, 4-6 in bowls. He is 3-0 vs. Tulsa. Golden Hurricane: Tulsa has won the last two West Division titles in Conference USA and also captured both of the last two GMAC Bowl titles. The only Big 12 foe for TU during that stretch was Oklahoma, which took a 62-21 decision at Tulsa in 2007. ... The Golden Hurricane led the nation in total offense in each of the last two seasons with 534.9 and 569.9 yards, respectively. ... Last year's team won a school record 11 games. ... This year's team returns seven starters on offense and eight on defense. ... TU quarterback G.J. Kinne sat out last season after transferring from Texas. He redshirted at UT in 2007 and never played against Oklahoma. ... Tulsa ranks No. 2 in the nation in tackles for losses with 23 in two games.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Sooners
INJURY WATCH: Sooners
Nebraska at Virginia Tech
KICKOFF: Saturday, 3:30 ET
SERIES: Tied at 1 (last meeting, 2008, 35-30 Virginia Tech).
2009 RANKINGS: Cornhuskers: offense 19th (5th Big 12), pass 17th (5th), run 37th (5th), defense 50th (8th), pass 24th (3rd), run 69th (10th) Hokies: offense 62nd (5th ACC), pass 115th (12th), run 13th (2nd), defense 80th (8th), pass 27th (6th), run 101st (11th)
POLLS: Nebraska (19 AP, 18 Coaches); Virginia Tech (13 AP, 14 Coaches)
PREDICTION: Virginia Tech 27, Nebraska 21
KEYS TO THE GAME: Coach Frank Beamer believes this game will come down to line play. The Huskers are big and physical on both lines. The tug of war shapes up just as much as a battle of wills between two teams who want to win by running between the tackles. Nebraska is one of the most anticipated regular-season home games at Lane Stadium in several years. The Cornhuskers are making their first visit to Blacksburg. While Nebraska views this game as a measuring stick, the Hokies look at this one as a chance for their offense to show they can be dynamic against a top-ranked opponent. They failed badly in that task against Alabama Sept. 5 in a 34-24 loss, gaining just 155 yards. Stopping Tyrod Taylor is the top priority for the Huskers. He threw for 171 yards and ran for 87 in Virginia Tech's 35-30 victory last season in Lincoln. The junior quarterback is very mobile, but he's also capable of beating teams with his arm. Nebraska had four sacks last week, and Virginia Tech, which has attempted only 39 passes in two games, has surrendered eight sacks.
FAST FACTS: Hokies: Virginia Tech has won 31 straight games against non-conference foes in Blacksburg. ... This will mark just the 19th matchup of two top-25 teams in Lane Stadium with the Hokies holding a 12-6 record in such contests. ... Tech is 6-7 against teams currently in the Big 12 Conference, including 4-3 under head coach Frank Beamer. Cornhuskers: Nebraska's defense has allowed 12 points through two games, which is the third-lowest total in 27 years for points allowed in the first two games. The Huskers allowed seven in 1999 and 10 in 2005. ... Nebraska hasn't defeated a Top 20 team on the road since 1997, when the Huskers won at No. 2 Washington. Since then, Nebraska is 2-14 in true road games against Top 25 teams (winning at No. 23 Notre Dame in 2000 and at No. 23 Texas A&M in 2006). ... This is Nebraska's first road game this season. ...
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Hokies
INJURY WATCH: Hokies
Utah at Oregon
KICKOFF: Saturday, 3:30 ET
SERIES: Oregon leads Utah, 17-8 (last meeting, 2003, 17-13 Utah).
2009 RANKINGS: Utes: offense 12th (1st MWC), pass 25th (2nd), run 21st (2nd), defense 48th (6th), pass 36th (1st), run 62nd (5th) Ducks: offense 107th (10th Pac-10), pass 106th (10th), run 89th (10th), defense 94th (9th), pass 75th (6th), run 85th (8th)
POLLS: Utah (18 AP, 16 Coaches)
PREDICTION: Oregon 28, Utah 27
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Utes will try for their 17th consecutive victory and, as a secondary matter, will try to show the rest of the country that the MWC is for real. The MWC already has wins over Oklahoma, Virginia and Colorado and none were home games. Even if Matt Asiata can't play, the Utes want to establish their dominance with the rushing attack. Asiata's replacements Eddie Wide and Sausan Shakerin have to be ready to pick up the slack again. The Utes also have to put pressure on Oregon QB Jeremiah Masoli and force players at other skill positions to make plays. Oregon desperately needs Masoli to assert himself on offense more than ever. He doesn't have the same kind of supporting cast as he did last season when he was one of the top playmakers in the league, but his scrambling/running skills his ability to make something out of nothing is what the Ducks can count on.
FAST FACTS: Ducks: TE Ed Dickson is moving up the school's career list for receiving yards by a tight end. He has 85 catches for 1,057 yards, and is well within reach of the school-leading total of 1,416, held by Josh Wilcox (1993-96). ... Senior Andre Crenshaw and redshirt freshmen LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner all saw action at tailback in Ducks` 38-36 win vs. Purdue. James had the most yardage with 56 on nine carries and Crenshaw and Barner each rushed for a TD. They combined for 25 carries for 113 yards and two TDs. . . . MLB Casey Matthews posted a career-high 12 tackles vs. Purdue and ranks second in the Pac-10 in tackles at 11.0 stops per game. . . . CB Walter Thurmond III had 148 return yards vs. Purdue as he returned two kickoffs for 70 yards (35.0), six punts for 60 yards (19.0) and added an interception return for 18 yards and a TD. Utes: Coach Kyle Whittingham is 3-2 all-time vs. the Pac-10, including a 31-28 victory over Oregon State last season that vaulted the Utes into elite status. The Beavers had just upset top-ranked Southern California, and Utah pulled off one of its Houdini escapes with a come-from-behind win. ... Utah is 6-2 against the Pac-10 since 2003 with wins over California (2003), No. 19 Oregon (2003), Arizona (2004, 2005), No. 11 UCLA (2007) and Oregon State (2008). Losses were to UCLA (2006) and Oregon State (2007). Kyle Whittingham is 3-2 against the Pac-10 as Utah's head coach. ... Whittingham is 7-3 against BCS teams. Wins came against No. 4 Alabama (2009/2008 season), Michigan (2008), Oregon State (2008), UCLA (2007), Louisville (2007), No. 24 Georgia Tech (2005) and Arizona (2005). Losses were to Oregon State (2007), UCLA (2006) and North Carolina (2005). ... Utah's last win in Autzen Stadium was in 1994.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Ducks
INJURY WATCH: Ducks
Cincinnati at Oregon State
KICKOFF: Saturday, 6:45 ET
SERIES: Cincinnati leads 1-0 (last meeting, 2007, 34-3).
2009 RANKINGS: Bearcats: offense 5th (1st Big East), pass 6th (1st), run 37th (3rd), defense 25th (2nd), pass 22nd (3rd), run 15th (3rd) Beavers: offense 45th (6th Pac-10), pass 41st (2nd), run 53rd (6th), defense 61st (6th), pass 78th (7th), run 32nd (6th)
POLLS: Cincinnati (17 AP, 21 Coaches)
PREDICTION: Cincinnati 34, Oregon State 31
KEYS TO THE GAME: Defending the spread of Cincinnati won't be easy, and with a younger defense, assignment-sound football is no guarantee. If the Beavers don't stay true to their play-to-play responsibilities, they'll be playing catchup all night. The 'Cats are averaging 58 points and 571 yards and the no-huddle will be a challenge since OSU likes to make situational substitutions and Cincinnati's hurry-up doesn't always allow it. One way to slow the Bearcats down is more of pass rush, with a need to reorganize if a play loses yardage. The Beavers will be looking for more production from their defensive ends, with the four players in rotation having a total of one sack through two games. None of them were expected to immediately step in for the departed sackers of last season, but the pass rush has been lacking. One of the reasons the secondary has given up some big plays is the failure to hurry quarterbacks. The Bearcats' high-powered offense should get its points, but the defense wants to pack the pocket with pressure. Beavers QB Sean Canfield was sacked three times and pressured often last week. UC will need to do the same.
FAST FACTS: Bearcats: This marks the third-straight season UC has been ranked. ... UC is playing in the State of Oregon for the first time. ... The Bearcats have scored 117 points in two games and are 2-0 for the second time in three years (2007). ... Cincinnati is second nationally behind No. 1 Florida in scoring offense (58.5 ppg), having produced one less point than the Gators through a pair of games. ... Cincinnati leads the NCAA FBS in passing efficiency, ranks second in turnover margin (3 to 1), fifth in total offense (571 yards per game) and fifth in tackles for loss (10). ... Tony Pike is fourth nationally in passing efficiency, while Mardy Gilyard is tied for second among all players in scoring. ... UC is the first nationally ranked non-conference foe to visit Corvallis since No. 13 BYU in 1977. ... Cincinnati is 10-7-1 all -time when ranked. Beavers: The Beavers have won five of their last nine games against top 25 opponents. That includes No. 1 USC last season and No. 19 Pittsburgh in the Sun Bowl. ... A close game should be good for OSU. With a 23-21 win at UNLV this season, the Beavers are 14-2 since the start of the 2006 season in games decided by seven points or fewer. ... the first top 25 team that wasn't in the Pac-10 to play in Corvallis since 1977. ... Quizz Rodgers has rushed or received the football on 56 of 125 plays this season, and has combined with his brother James to produce 67 percent of the yardage gained by the OSU offense. ... Oregon State has had success against AP top 25 teams of late, winning five of its last nine games. Wins during that streak include No. 1 USC (2008), No. 2 California (2007), No. 3 USC (2006), No. 19 Pittsburgh (2008) and No. 24 Hawai'i (2006).
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Beavers:
INJURY WATCH: Beavers:
Florida State at BYU
KICKOFF: Saturday, 7 ET
SERIES: FSU leads 2-0 (last meeting, 2000, FSU 29-3).
2009 RANKINGS: Seminoles: offense 50th (3rd ACC), pass 15th (2nd), run 99th-T (9th), defense 89th (10th), pass 97th (10th), run 41st (4th) Cougars: offense 31st (3rd MWC), pass 11th (1st), run 84th (6th), defense 17th (2nd), pass 42nd (3rd), run 31st (3rd)
POLLS: BYU (7 AP, 9 Coaches)
PREDICTION: BYU 37, Florida State 29
KEYS TO THE GAME: BYU has the multiple passing game to give Florida State fits, and the savvy Max Hall needs to keep flinging the ball around the stadium. The Seminoles gave up several passing plays of longer than 20 yards against Miami, and the Cougars won't be shy about taking their shots. The Seminoles have to figure a way to generate a pass rush. The biggest matchup is FSU's front four against the Cougars' mammoth offensive line. If FSU cannot get pressure on Hall, then this could be a rout. The Cougars have good enough receivers, and the Seminoles have not shown the ability to shut down an opposing passing attack. Even Jacksonville State receivers last week were running wide open. The Seminoles have to hope they've made quite a bit of progress in practices.
FAST FACTS: Cougars: BYU has faced only five current members of the 12-team ACC, coming away with a 4-8 record. The Cougars do not have a winning record against any ACC foe, but have tied 1-1 records against Georgia Tech and Miami. ... The last ACC vs. BYU matchup was on Sept. 16, 2006 when the Cougars were defeated, 23-20, at Boston College. ... The Cougars' first game against a current ACC opponent was also against Boston College on Aug. 29, 1985 when they handed the Eagles a 28-14 loss. ... With the win over Tulane, the Cougars are 150-44 when nationally ranked in the Top 25. A ranked BYU team has won 19 of its last 22 games, dating back to 2006. ... The Cougars' No. 7 national ranking in the AP Top 25 Rankings is their highest since finishing the 1996 season at No. 5. BYU enters the top 10 in the coaches' poll again after earning a ranking as high as No. 7 last season. Seminoles: FSU boasts an 8-2 record on the road out west and is 4-1 against ranked opponents. Four of those previous western adventures have come in bowl games, including three trips to the Fiesta Bowl. ... Though Florida State is 5-11 against Top 10 teams since losing to No. 1 Oklahoma 13-2 on Jan. 3, 2001 in the BCS Orange Bowl national championship game, the Seminoles have been no pushovers. Of those defeats, six have been decided by 8 points or fewer, including a one-point loss at No. 1 Miami (2002), a two-point loss to No. 10 Miami (2004 Orange Bowl) and a three-point loss to No. 3 Penn State, 26-23 (2006 Orange Bowl) in triple-overtime. ... With his second consecutive career-high passing performance of the season against Jacksonville State (324 yards), Ponder raised his career passing yards total to 2,729 yards and moved into 19th place on the Seminoles' all-time list for career passing yardage.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Cougars:
INJURY WATCH: Cougars:
Louisiana-Lafayette at LSU
KICKOFF: Saturday, 7 ET
SERIES: leads (last meeting, 2008).
2009 RANKINGS: Ragin Cajuns: offense 43rd (2nd Sun Belt), pass 33rd (1st), run 59th (4th), defense 83rd (5th), pass 51st (3rd), run 80th (5th) LSU: offense 88th (11th SEC), pass 97th (10th), run 57th (9th), defense 70th (10th), pass 39th (10th), run 71st (9th)
POLLS: LSU (9 AP, 7 Coaches)
PREDICTION: LSU 33, Louisiana-Lafayette 17
KEYS TO THE GAME: LSU's defense needs to keep the Cajuns' running game under control and put pressure on ULL QB Chris Masson, who has completed 63 percent of his passes. The Tigers need to keep their running game going after rushing for 178 yards against Vanderbilt.
FAST FACTS: Tigers: LSU has beaten 22 in-state opponents and 21 nonconference opponents in a row. ... LSU's streak of consecutive Saturday night wins in Tiger Stadium to 31. UL-Lafayette brings a 2-0 mark into the game as the Cajuns are coming off a 17-15 win over Kansas State in Lafayette. Saturday's game will be the first between the teams since a 45-3 LSU victory to open the 2006 season. The teams also meet in 2002, a 48-0 LSU victory. Prior to that, the last meeting between the teams came in 1938. LSU is 21-0 all-time against UL-Lafayette. ... LSU goes into the UL-Lafayette game with a 25-5 overall mark and a 12-5 SEC record under Les Miles in games played in Tiger Stadium. Of LSU's five home losses under Miles, three have come in overtime 30-27 loss to Tennessee on a Monday night in 2005; a 50-48 triple-overtime loss to Arkansas on a Friday afternoon in November of 2007; and a 27-21 overtime loss to No. 1 Alabama last year. Ragin Cajuns: Haven't started 3-0 since 1998. ... Chris Masson put together a pair of two- minute drives one at the end of each half, to help UL top Kansas State. His first drive started with 2:13 remaining in the first half, as he took UL 73 yards in 12 plays. He went 5-of-7 for 55 yards and threw a TD pass with five seconds left in the second quarter. After K-State grabbed a 15-14 lead, he took charge once again with 3:50 left in the game. Masson directed a 10-play, 37-yard drive to set-up the game-winning FG. He is 2-0 in his career as a starter and has a passing efficiency this season of 142.0. ... The Cajuns' defense has allowed less than 20 points in each of the first two games. It is the first time since the 2006 season that the Cajuns have surrendered less than 20 points in back-to-back games. UL kept opponents under 20 points five times that season, including three straight games.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Tigers
INJURY WATCH: Tigers
Texas State at TCU
KICKOFF: Saturday, 7 ET
SERIES: First meeting
2009 RANKINGS: TCU: offense 62nd (5th MWC), pass 85th (7th), run 30th (3rd), defense 8th (1st), pass 77th (6th), run 19th (2nd)
POLLS: TCU (15 AP, Coaches)
PREDICTION: TCU 40, Texas State 6
KEYS TO THE GAME: TCU should win, but to get what coach Gary Patterson wants out of this week's game against an FCS opponent, he will need to see more from his offense, especially on third down. The Frogs converted just 1-of-11 third downs last week against Virginia. TCU showed far more run than pass against Virginia. Starting QB Andy Dalton attempted just 21 passes while the Horned Frogs ran the ball 50 times. Part of that was the one-sided score, but look for the 50-50 balance the Horned Frogs showed off a year ago to return.
FAST FACTS: Horned Frogs: Since 1999, TCU is 50-6 in its last 56 home games at Amon G. Carter Stadium. ... At 31-4 (.886), the Frogs have the sixth-best home record in the nation over the last six seasons. ... TCU has held its opponent to seven points or less in 12 of its last 20 home games. ... The Frogs have recorded three shutouts in their past 14 home dates. ... Dating back to the 2005 campaign, the Frogs have held the opposition without a touchdown in seven of their last 20 home games. San Diego State's seven points last season came after a TCU fumble gave the Aztecs the ball at the Frog 1-yard line. ... In their last 15 home contests, the Frogs have outscored their opponents 548-125 (an average margin of 37-8). ... Only seven of TCU's last 19 home opponents have rushed for more than 55 yards. ... Virginia failed to reach the red zone against TCU on Saturday. The Frogs held opponents to 21 red zone appearances last season to lead the nation. Bobcats: Currently ranked 19th in the FCS and are the preseason favorite in the Southland. ... Are 1-16 in their last 17 nonconference road games. ... Texas State is quarterbacked by 27-year-old, 6-foot-6 Bradley George, who threw for 328 yards against Angelo State in a Week 1 win. ... Five former Texas State head coaches have been head coaches or members of Texas Christian staff. Wacker (1983-1991) and Dennis Franchione (1998-2000) were head coaches at TCU, while David Bailiff and Jim Bob Helduser each served as assistants. Bob DeBesse was an offensive coordinator under Wacker at TCU. ... Two former graduate assistants for Gary Patterson, Travis Bush and Kevin Brown, are coaches at Texas State. ... Texas State also features six preseason All-Southland Conference performers and return eight starters to its offensive unit that produced a 1,000-yard rusher, 1,000-yard receiver and a 2,000-yard passer for the second straight season in 2008.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Horned Frogs:
INJURY WATCH: Horned Frogs:
Rice at Oklahoma State
KICKOFF: Saturday, 7:30 ET
SERIES: Oklahoma State leads 2-0-1 (last meeting, 1923).
2009 RANKINGS: Rice: offense 87th (6th C-USA), pass 64th (9th), run 93rd (8th), defense 116th (12th), pass 118th (12th), run 89th (8th) Oklahoma State: offense 68th (10th Big 12), pass 78th (9th), run 45th (9th), defense 86th (10th), pass 86th (11th), run 61st (8th)
POLLS: Oklahoma State (16 AP, 17 Coaches)
PREDICTION: Oklahoma State 50, Rice 15
KEYS TO THE GAME: QB Zac Robinson might be over the hamstring injury that limited his participation in fall camp. But with RB Kendall Hunter nursing a sprained ankle, the Cowboys still have some issues with key performers. Still, this is an offense that can get untracked in a hurry and it should against Rice. There's not much drop-off in the run game whenever Oklahoma State inserts RB Keith Toston or RB Beau Johnson. Both are seniors who know the system. The letdown Oklahoma State suffered against Houston bordered on a collapse after the Cowboys stifled Georgia in the opener. The Cougars gained more yards (322) in the first half than Oklahoma State allowed the Bulldogs for entire game (257). After hailing new defensive coordinator Bill Young as a miracle worker, it's obvious there's much more work to do. Restoring the Cowboys' pass coverage, which is headed by CB Perrish Cox, is a start, though OSU must also generate more pressure after recording no sacks while Houston launched 48 pass attempts. The Owls will face their third game-breaking offensive player in as many weeks. In the opener, UAB quarterback ravaged the Rice defense for more than 400 yards to total offense. Last week, Texas Tech first-year starter Taylor Potts passed for seven touchdowns.
FAST FACTS: Cowboys: Last week's loss to Houston was Oklahoma State's first to an unranked opponent since 2007 (Texas A&M). ... Oklahoma State is 20-5 since 2003 when playing in September. Only once during that period (in 2007) has OSU dropped more than one game in September. The Cowboys haven't dropped two straight September games since 2000 when OSU lost consecutive games to Southern Mississippi and Texas. Under Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State is 14-4 in September. ... Under Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State is 15-5 against non-conference competition. That record includes a 1-2 mark against Conference USA opponents. ... Dez Bryant, the reigning Big 12 special teams player of the year, enters the Rice game second nationally in punt returns with an average of 37 yards per attempt. His three career returns for touchdowns trails only Javier Arenas of Alabama (six) and Brandon James of Florida (four). As a team, OSU is fourth nationally in punt returns (31.75 yard average). Owls: Lost to Texas Tech, 55-10, last week. ... Texas Tech scored twice on pass plays of more than 30 yards and returned a kick more than 50 yards. ... David Bailiff is 0-5 against BCS Conference teams and the Owls have not beaten a team from a BCS conference since 2001 when it defeated Duke 15-13.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Cowboys
INJURY WATCH: Cowboys
Southeastern Louisiana at Mississippi
KICKOFF: Saturday, 7:30 ET
SERIES: First meeting
POLLS: Ole Miss (5 AP, 6 Coaches)
PREDICTION: Ole Miss 51, SE Louisiana 18
KEYS TO THE GAME: This marks one of two games for UM this year against an opponent from the Football Championship Subdivision, a scheduling move that haunt the Rebels if they make a national title run. Against the Lions, look for Ole Miss to regain its footing after last week's illness that ran through the team. More than anything else, UM hopes to get ready for next Thursday's game at South Carolina. To avoid the upset, the Rebels need to avoid the flat start an even greater worry after last week's flu. If UM can maintain the defense to which opposing offenses have grown accustomed, it can give its offense time to work out some kinks and pile up some points.
FAST FACTS: Rebels: Averaging 45.4 points over their last five games. ... With seven straight wins dating back to last season, Ole Miss will be aiming for its longest win streak in nearly 37 years ... The Rebels are shooting for a 2-0 start for the first time since 2002 ... The last time the Rebels started the year 3-0 was 1989 with road wins at Memphis and Florida and a home victory over Arkansas State. Lions: Are 0-10 against FBS competition. ... Lucas (Liberty, 1982) is in his third season as a head coach, all at Southeastern Louisiana. He took the helm after two seasons as the Lions' defensive coordinator and boasts a record of 10-18 as head coach. His squad finished the 2008 campaign with a 5-7 record, Southeastern's best mark since a 7-4 mark in 2004. ... Southeastern Louisiana returns to Oxford for the time since last September after the team evacuated for a week from Hurricane Gustav. The Lions used the Ole Miss facilities in preparation for their game against Mississippi State.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Rebels
INJURY WATCH: Rebels
Texas Tech at Texas
KICKOFF: Saturday, 7:30 ET
SERIES: Texas leads Texas Tech 43-15 (last meeting, 2008, 39-33 TT).
POLLS: Texas (2 AP, Coaches)
PREDICTION: Texas 38, Texas Tech 24
KEYS TO THE GAME: Payback? Coach Mack Brown says that's no motivation for the 2009 edition of the Longhorns who are focused on this year's mission. Coach Mike Leach insists Texas is likely looking ahead on its schedule to the teams it expects to contend. After Taylor Potts tossed seven TD passes last week, it's unlikely the Longhorns are ignoring the Red Raiders. There will be no Michael Crabtree-from-Graham Harrell game-winner like last year's epic, but Colt McCoy is still around for Texas. Texas cannot rest easy knowing Crabtree and his wing man Harrell, no longer play for Texas Tech. The Red Raiders reloaded quickly, promoting Potts. No fewer than 13 players caught balls in that game for Tech. It's that distribution that Tech coach Mike Leach said establishes balance in an offense that predominantly uses the pass. Screens, both to backs and receivers, essentially serve as run plays. The Texas linebackers must be adept at covering those plays.
FAST FACTS: Longhorns: Texas' 53-17 road record over the last 11 seasons is the best in college football over that time period. The win at Wyoming was the 10th in a row for the Longhorns in non-conference road games and their 15th consecutive non-conference victory overall, the second-longest streak in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Red Raiders: Mike Leach needs five wins to become Texas Tech's all-time winningest coach. He is 78-39 in his 10th season. ... QB Taylor Potts had nine TD passes in the first two games. ... Texas Tech opens Big 12 Conference play on the road for the fourth consecutive year and the 11th time overall. Despite having to start league play on the road nearly every season, Texas Tech has managed a 9-4 record in Big 12 openers.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Longhorns:
INJURY WATCH: Longhorns: