Week 2 game breakdowns

Syracuse at Penn State

KICKOFF: Saturday, noon ET

SERIES: Penn State leads the series 41-23-5 (last meeting, 2008, 55-13 Penn State).

2009 RANKINGS: Nittany Lions: offense 18th (2nd Big Ten), pass 5th (1st), run 67th (7th), defense 18th (2nd), pass 57th (5th), run 5th (1st)

Orange: offense 96th (6th Big East), pass 80th (5th), run 87th (6th), defense 73rd (6th), pass 39th (4th), run 60th (5th)

POLLS: Penn State (7 AP, 5 coaches)

PREDICTION: Penn State 39, Syracuse 9

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Nittany Lions will look to regain the near 50-50 run-pass split they achieved last year during a record-setting offensive season. The right side of the line, including first-year starters Lou Eliades and DeOn’tae Pannell, must be more consistent in clearing paths for Evan Royster and Stephfon Green. Penn State’s defense, which held Akron to 8 total yards and no first downs in the first half of last week’s game, will look to apply heavy pressure on Syracuse quarterback Greg Paulus and keep contain against the Orange’s “Stallion” formation. The Nittany Lions are trying to push their home winning streak to 10 games against a Syracuse team that hasn’t won in Beaver Stadium since 1988. Penn State routed Syracuse, 55-13, last season, and the margin is unlikely to be much narrower this year.

FAST FACTS: Orange: Coach Doug Marrone is in his first season at Syracuse. He was an assistant with the New Orleans Saints last season. … QB Greg Paulus made his first career college football start last week against Minnesota. Paulus played basketball at Duke for four years. … Penn State led last year’s meeting 38-6 at halftime and won, 55-13, at the Carrier Dome.

Nittany Lions: Penn State has won 13 of the past 15 meetings with Syracuse and hasn’t lost since 1988. …

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Orange:

  • QB Greg Paulus — Paulus, who finished 19-for-31 for 167 yards, one touchdown and the fateful interception in overtime, threw into heavy coverage a few times and missed Lavar Lobdell on a deep sideline route that could have gone for six. Overall, though, he was solid. His completion percentage (.613) would have been higher and Syracuse’s time of possession in the second half much better had his receivers hung on to the ball better.
  • WR Mike Williams — Williams, who made seven receptions for 94 yards and one TD in his first game back since sitting out the 2008 season in academic timeout, had a third-down pass slam off his chest at the Minnesota 30 in the third quarter, nixing a prime scoring opportunity. That alone should motivate him against Penn State.
  • RB Delone Carter — The senior back had a career-high 23 carries for 88 yards and a touchdown against Minnesota. If the Orange crank up the carries to 30-35, it will help keep the potent Penn State offense off the field.
  • DT Arthur Jones — A candidate for the Nagurski and Outland trophies, as well as the Bednarik Award, Jones continued to wreak havoc in opponents’ backfields against Minnesota, recording five tackles, including one for a loss. Jones has to play well in order for Syracuse to contain Penn State’s rushing attack.

    Nittany Lions:

  • RB Evan Royster — The Big Ten’s leading returning rusher had a mostly quiet debut (14 carries, 61 yards, one touchdown), but the Nittany Lions will look to get him going this week.
  • SS Nick Sukay — The first-year starter played solidly in his debut but was a step behind Akron receiver Deryn Bowser on a 40-yard touchdown strike that was the Zips’ lone score of the afternoon. Syracuse quarterback Greg Paulus should be a good second test.
  • DE Eric Latimore — The surprise starter made one of four Penn State sacks and looked fast and strong. Latimore’s frame (6 feet 5 with long arms) could make him a problem for offensive linemen once he gains experience.

    INJURY WATCH:

    Orange:

  • Starting TE Nick Provo will not be able to play at Penn State. Provo injured his left shoulder against Minnesota, went straight to the locker room and did not return.
  • OLB Ryan Gillum (right shoulder) is out. He’ll likely be replaced by true freshman E.J. Carter.

    Nittany Lions:

  • LB Navorro Bowman is listed as probable for Saturday’s game as he continues to nurse a groin injury. The team’s leading returning tackler did not practice Monday or Tuesday.
  • CB A.J. Wallace is likely to remain behind Knowledge Timmons on the depth chart. Penn State coach Joe Paterno said he was pleased with the performances of both players in the season opener.
  • WR Chaz Powell, who had a team-high seven catches last week, moved past Brett Brackett into one of Penn State’s three first-team wide receiver spots on the depth chart.

    North Carolina at Connecticut

    KICKOFF: Saturday, noon ET

    SERIES: North Carolina leads 2-0 (last meeting, 2008, 38-12 North Carolina).

    2009 RANKINGS: Tar Heels: offense 56th (3rd ACC), pass 103rd (8th), run 18th (2nd), defense 11th (2nd), pass 10th (1st), run 7th (1st)

    Huskies: offense 55th (4th Big East), pass 99th (6th), run 19th (1st), defense 33rd (4th), pass 73rd (6th), run 21st (3rd)

    POLLS: North Carolina (19 AP, coaches)

    PREDICTION: North Carolina 28, UConn 16

    KEYS TO THE GAME: The Huskies are still in the process of retooling the offense, which as coach Randy Edsall emphasized to the media this week, is not a spread offense. What it is, he said, is a system that is looking to balance the yards gained running and passing. However, as happened again in the season opener, the Huskies tend to go to the bread-and-butter running places in critical spots or when the passing game falters, and it is a work in progress.

    That said, the first key for Connecticut is to avoid the special-teams breakdowns that denied the Huskies a chance at winning a year ago. UNC blocked three punts against UConn and had the Huskies’ punt protection frazzled from the first quarter on. For the running game to work, UConn will also need to get traction against the big and imposing Tar Heels front line.

    This game represents one of two opportunities for the ACC, which lost two games to FCS teams the opening weekend, to get a win over a team from a BCS conference (Stanford at Wake Forest is the other). The Tar Heels don’t have Brandon Tate back to worry opponents as a return man this time around.

    Tar Heels receivers, who had six drops against The Citadel, will have to get their act together to take some of the pressure off a running game that will be up against a UConn defense that surrendered only 61 yards rushing in its win at Ohio. The front four will have to contain UConn’s Jordan Todman, who ran for 157 yards and scored a touchdown, and his backup, Andre Dixon, who ran for 100.

    FAST FACTS: Huskies: UConn is 4-9 against the ACC. … Coach Randy Edsall is in his 11th season at UConn. That’s the ninth-longest tenure among current active coaches in the FBS. … Including last season, UConn has been to three bowl games, including two consecutive. … This is the 14th time the Huskies have played a ranked team. They are 1-12 in those games, beating South Florida in 2007 when the Bulls ranked 11th.

    Tar Heels: The Tar Heels ran at will last week. Led by Shaun Draughn’s 118 yards, the Tar Heels rushed for 261 yards for the biggest ground effort under Butch Davis. Carolina last broke the 200-yard mark against Duke in 2006, and the 261 were the Tar Heels’ most since they had 285 against Duke in 2004. … In that opening win, the Tar Heels forced four turnovers (three interceptions, one fumble) for the first time since forcing five in last year’s win over Notre Dame. Carolina picked off three passes for the first time since last year’s victory over Boston College. … Eleven true freshmen played for UNC last week. … The Tar Heels have played a Big East opponent in eight straight seasons and have a 3-7 record in 10 games against the conference. … North Carolina had a four-win improvement in 2008 from the 2007 season. UNC finished with an 8-5 mark last year, compared with a 4-8 record two seasons ago. The four-win turnaround tied for the sixth-best turnaround in the nation. The Tar Heels topped three ranked teams — No. 24 Connecticut, No. 23 Boston College and No. 22 Georgia Tech — and played in the Meineke Car Care Bowl against West Virginia.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH:

    Huskies:

  • QB Zach Frazer — This is a big game for Frazer if he wants to keep his starting job, and he struggled against the Tar Heels a year ago. He’ll have to get on the same page as his receivers and offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead, because the North Carolina defense is good enough to punish any mistakes.
  • SS Jerome Junior — The first-time starter had a tough day in the secondary against Ohio. Though the coaching staff blamed the entire unit for the defensive breakdowns against Ohio, he’s the one who was most notable in his missed coverage and tackling and got beat on both Ohio touchdowns. The Tar Heels will likely attack his side of the field.
  • WR Dwayne Difton — Difton, the star of the incoming class who was expected to revitalize the receiving game, was not in sync with his quarterback and caught just two passes for seven yards. He’s the future of the unit, however, and he’ll be a much bigger target in the coming weeks.

    Tar Heels:

  • TB Shaun Draughn — The junior ran for 109 yards in last year’s win over UConn and opened 2009 with 118 yards in the win over The Citadel. He’s also a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield (two catches in the opener, 16 last season).
  • DE Robert Quinn — Quinn is one of the more overlooked defensive players in the league. Against The Citadel, he had three tackles that included a sack, two quarterback hurries and a forced fumble.
  • S Deunta Williams — A junior, Williams enters his third year as a starter in the secondary after arriving on campus as a wide receiver. He had two interceptions in the opener to give him eight for his career.

    INJURY WATCH:

    Huskies:

  • LB Sio Moore injured his hamstring against Ohio University. He is day to day, but won’t play this weekend.
  • LB Scott Lutrus got a stinger against Ohio. He’ll be limited in practice, but will probably play.
  • WR Marcus Aiken got some snaps in the season opener. However, the true freshman now appears to be a likely redshirt.

    Tar Heels:

  • WR Dwight Jones (knee) will remain out at least the next two games after having surgery before the opener.
  • OL Carl Gaskins, a sophomore, and S Matt Merletti, a junior, both are out for the season because of knee injuries.
  • LG Jonathan Cooper tweaked an ankle, and though it isn’t seen as a serious injury, he is considered day to day.

    Troy at Florida

    KICKOFF: Saturday, 12:20 p.m. ET

    SERIES: Florida leads 1-0 (last meeting, 2007, 59-31 Florida)

    2009 RANKINGS: Gators: offense 3rd (2nd SEC), pass 30th (3rd), run 5th (3rd), defense 60th (10th), pass 32nd (8th), run 46th (8th);

    Trojans: offense 85th (5th Sun Belt), pass 28th (2nd), run 98th (7th), defense 84th (5th), pass 89th (5th), run 19th (2nd)

    POLLS: Florida (1 AP, Coaches)

    PREDICTION: Florida 44, Troy 13

    KEYS TO THE GAME: The Trojans need a lot of breaks for starters. However, Troy needs to worry about its own schemes on both sides of the ball and not Florida’s. Although it will be difficult, Troy needs to try to establish its running game. Defensively, the secondary must perform at a higher level, and the defensive line needs to put more pressure on the quarterback.

    Florida will need to stop a Troy passing attack that threw for 263 yards and a touchdown in its season opener. Troy’s pass defense (339 yards) must step up to keep the game competitive. Florida must avoid complacency and looking ahead to a hyped Southeastern Conference season opener Sept. 19 at home against Tennessee.

    Troy’s defense lost three corners to academics before the season, but the Trojans will have to absorb that blow and improve in pass coverage if they’re going to be successful. Troy has an outstanding defensive line, so the run defense should remain solid. Troy needs to maximize its speed against a very fast Florida team this week.

    FAST FACTS: Trojans: Troy is the three-time defending Sun Belt champion. … Troy beat No. 17 Missouri in 2004 and also has a win over an SEC school — Mississippi State in 2001.

    Gators: UF has rushed for 1,817 yards (302.8 yards per game) in its past six games. Only Georgia Tech (1,994) has more. … Florida is attempting to become the second team to finish No. 1 in the AP poll three out of four years. The other was Notre Dame in 1946-48. … Since 2005, Florida’s 162 total touchdowns at home is the best mark in the nation, tied with Texas Tech, and its 1,190 points at home in that span rates third in the country. The Gators’ 84 rushing touchdowns and 170.0 passer rating at home during that time frame both rank second nationally. … Tim Tebow’s career rating of 174.3 currently ranks No. 1 in SEC history (min. 300 completions). Florida’s Danny Wuerffel ranks second at 163.6, and Auburn’s Jason Campbell checks in at third with 148.2. Tebow’s rating is also better that the current NCAA FBS record (min. 325 completions), which was set by Boise State’s Ryan Dinwiddie with a 168.9 mark (2000-03).

    PLAYERS TO WATCH:

    Trojans:

  • QB Levi Brown — The senior threw for 263 yards and a touchdown last week, but must avoid costly interceptions.
  • RB DuJuan Harris — The sophomore had just 8 yards rushing at Bowling Green. He gained more than 1,100 yards last season and obviously needs better numbers this week.
  • LB Boris Lee — The senior and two-time all-league pick had a team-high 10 tackles at Bowling Green in the season opener.

    Gators:

  • WR Riley Cooper — Cooper is coming off a career-best five-catch, 105-yard receiving performance against Charleston Southern. Cooper caught a 68-yard pass on Florida’s third play from scrimmage.
  • RB Jeff Demps — Demps began his personal quest for a 1,000-yard season with five carries for 89 yards and two touchdowns against Charleston Southern. Demps should get a tougher test this week running against a more physical Troy defense.
  • TE Aaron Hernandez — Hernandez was once again the safety valve for Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, catching four passes for 79 yards and a touchdown last week.
  • CB Joe Haden — Troy QB Levi Brown threw two interceptions in the season-opening loss against Bowling Green. Haden, who had three interceptions last season, could get his chance for a big play this week.

    INJURY WATCH:

    Trojans:

  • Senior LB Bear Woods will miss the Florida game as he serves the last of a two-game suspension to fulfill NCAA requirements.
  • DL Sidell Corley, who transferred from LSU, has been granted a hardship waiver and will be eligible this season.
  • Senior DT Rasha Rousell, who was seriously injured in a car wreck in August, is still out.

    Gators:

  • OT Carl Johnson (bruised knee) is probable for Troy.
  • DT Lawrence Marsh (ankle) is probable for Troy after sitting out the Charleston Southern game.
  • LB Brendan Beal (neck) is doubtful for Troy,
  • SS Will Hill has moved ahead of incumbent starter SS Ahmad Black on the depth chart. Florida coach Urban Meyer said Black reported to camp underweight and with grade issues. “Whoever has the best week of practice plays,” Meyer said. “We have three guys (Hill, Black and FS Major Wright) with the opportunity to start, three starters that are pretty interchangeable. … At any time those three have earned the right to play.”
  • CB Janoris Jenkins and LB Dustin Doe have a chance to return to action this week. Both were suspended for UF’s season opener against Charleston Southern.

    Marshall at Virginia Tech

    KICKOFF: Saturday, 1:30 p.m. ET

    SERIES: Virginia Tech leads 7-2 (last meeting, 2005, 41-14 Virginia Tech).

    2009 RANKINGS: Hokies: offense 106th (9th ACC), pass 107 (9th), run 93rd (8th), defense 98th (9th), pass 65th (8th), run 102nd (10th);

    Thundering Herd: offense 54th (6th C-USA), pass 19th (3rd), run 91st (10th), defense 58th (6th), pass 59th (5th), run 55th (6th)

    POLLS: Virginia Tech (14 AP, 15 coaches)

    PREDICTION: Virginia Tech 34, Marshall 10

    KEYS TO THE GAME: On offense, the Hokies simply need to get into a rhythm, which means running the football and reducing missed assignments. Look for tailbacks Ryan Williams, Josh Oglesby and David Wilson to get the workload this week. The defense has to cut down the number of big plays, and that can happen with better communication.

    Marshall’s last victory against a ranked opponent was a 27-20 defeat of No. 6 Kansas State on Sept. 20, 2003. Alabama had enough talent to overcome its turnovers, special-teams mistakes and silly penalties in last week’s 34-24 victory against Virginia Tech, but the Thundering Herd has no such luxury if it hopes to win in Blacksburg.

    FAST FACTS: Hokies: The last three times Tech lost its season opener, as it did last week against Alabama, the Hokies went on to win their conference and appear in a major bowl. Tech lost to Boston College to start the 1995 season and went on to win the Big East and earn a bid to the Sugar Bowl. … In 2004, Tech lost to USC and went on to win the ACC and go to the Sugar Bowl. Last year, after a loss to East Carolina, the Hokies went on the win the ACC and Orange Bowl. … Tech has a 45-7-1 record versus nonconference teams at Lane Stadium since 1991, winning 30 straight non-league home games.

    Thundering Herd: Marshall will wear its green jerseys at Virginia Tech. It is believed to be the first time in the modern era that the Thundering Herd has worn green in a regular-season road game. … Marshall has a pair of cousins at wide receiver this fall with juniors Troy Evans and Chuck Walker, first cousins who have played together at every level since they were kids in Oakland, Calif. Walker, a transfer who missed 2008 with an injury, had 10 grabs for 119 yards in his debut and Evans returned two punts (8.0-yard average) and one kickoff (23 yards).

    PLAYERS TO WATCH:

    Hokies:

  • QB Tyrod Taylor — With no one behind him, Taylor doesn’t have to worry about Saturday’s lackluster performance costing him playing time. But if the Hokies are to reach their potential, they can’t afford to have Taylor complete 45 percent of his passes and keep his running skills under wraps, as it appeared he did at times against Alabama.
  • TB Ryan Williams — One of the offense’s few bright spots against Alabama, Williams accounted for 113 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns. He has the breakaway burst that can’t be caught and rarely goes down on the first hit. Don’t be surprised if his carries go from 13 to 18 or 20 as the weeks go on, because the Tech coaches realize what he provides.
  • FS Kam Chancellor — After getting beat for big plays that led to two Crimson Tide scores, Chancellor said a lack of communication was to blame. As the defensive signal-caller, he would know. As a senior who’s playing for his NFL future, Chancellor simply has to play better and keep receivers from getting behind him.
  • WR Dyrell Roberts — He sparked the Tech offense with 195 yards on four kickoff returns, including a 98-yarder for a first-quarter touchdown. The sophomore also set up the team’s other two touchdowns with long kick returns.

    Thundering Herd:

  • RB Darius Marshall — The junior makes his season debut after sitting out the opener because of disciplinary reasons. He rushed for 1,095 yards in 2008 and ranks 16th on the school’s career chart with 1,726 yards.
  • TE Cody Slate — The dependable 6-4, 229-pound senior ranks second among all active NCAA tight ends in career receptions (158) and yards (2,126). He is ninth in Marshall history in both categories and eighth in touchdown receptions with 21.
  • LB Mario Harvey — The team’s leading tackler last season (107) was credited with three stops, a sack and a quarterback hurry in the opener against SIU. The preseason all-conference pick is on the watch list for the Rotary Lombardi Award.

    INJURY WATCH:

    Hokies:

  • TE Greg Boone (chest) is a 50-50 shot to play against Marshall. Boone suffered the injury late in the first half against Alabama and didn’t return. The preseason All-ACC pick didn’t catch a pass in the opener.
  • OT Greg Nosal played decent but was hit with a holding penalty that negated a Tech first down in the fourth quarter, when it still nursed a 17-16 lead.
  • TB Ryan Williams took himself off punt-return duty after muffing a punt in the first quarter that led to an Alabama field goal. Williams said he didn’t feel comfortable with the assignment, and the coaching staff accepted his reasoning.

    Thundering Herd:

  • Observant Marshall fans may have noticed that sophomore RB Terrell Edwards has changed his surname to Edwards-Maye. “My stepfather adopted me,” he told the Charleston Daily Mail. “We’ve been wanting to do it for a while, but it took time for the paperwork to get through.” He rushed for 28 yards and a touchdown against Southern Illinois.
  • Senior WR Courtney Edmonson is questionable for the game against Virginia Tech with an undisclosed injury.
  • Head coach Mark Snyder says he hopes to redshirt 6-3 freshman WR Aaron Dobson, who had 1,298 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2008 at South Charleston (W.Va.) High.

    Arkansas State at Nebraska

    KICKOFF: Saturday, 2 p.m. ET

    SERIES: First meeting

    2009 RANKINGS: Cornhuskers: offense 27th (4th in Big 12), pass 46th (6th), run 19th (2nd), defense 71st (10th), pass 29th (2nd), run 64th (9th);

    Red Wolves: offense 24th (3rd Sun Belt), pass 95th (7th), run 6th (1st), defense 2nd (1st), pass 6th (1st), run 7th (1st)

    POLLS: Nebraska (22 AP, 18 Coaches)

    PREDICTION: Nebraska 30, Arkansas State 17

    KEYS TO THE GAME: Nebraska doesn’t need to look back very far to know that Arkansas State is a worthy opponent. The Red Wolves last year defeated Texas A&M on the road. They pushed Texas to the fourth quarter in 2007.

    Nebraska must be prepared and focused on defense. Arkansas State features a mobile quarterback in Casey Leonard, the school’s all-time total yardage leader with 7,433. Nebraska is more talented and deeper — ASU lost two starters to season-ending injuries on Saturday — but can’t afford a lack of motivation.

    FAST FACTS: Nebraska: Nebraska is facing its second of three non-conference opponents from the Sun Belt Conference this season. The Huskers are 7-0 against the Sun Belt all time (4-0 vs. Troy, and 1-0 against North Texas, Middle Tennessee and Florida Atlantic). Nebraska hosts Louisiana-Lafayette on Sept. 26. … RB Roy Helu averaged 9.5 yards on 16 carries in Saturday night’s victory over Florida Atlantic. Dating to last season, Helu is averaging 7.7 yards per carry in his last five regular-season games. He has four 100-yard games in that stretch, including Saturday, when he rushed for 152 yards.

    Red Wolves: TB Reggie Arnold entered the 2009 season ranked third among active FBS rushers. … Arnold can become the 8th player in NCAA to history to rush for over 1,000 yards in all four seasons. … The Red Wolves are predicted to finish second in the conference, according to the league’s 2009 preseason coaches poll, announced July 20 as part of the Sun Belt Conference Media Days.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH:

    Huskers:

  • QB Zac Lee — In his first start, Lee was barely touched in the pocket. Look for him to see a little more heat from a more seasoned defense that features defensive end Alex Carrington, the Sun Belt’s Defensive Player of the Year last season. How will Lee react under pressure?
  • LB Will Compton — Coaches loved the way Compton, a redshirt freshman, took control of the defense in his first career start. Playing middle linebacker, Compton is the quarterback of the defense, which is facing a vastly different offense this week.
  • P Alex Henery — We didn’t see much of Henery last week in his first game at punter. The accomplished place-kicker had three punts, one of which was blocked. That was the only hiccup in special teams.

    Red Wolves:

  • QB Corey Leonard — He didn’t have to do much in the opening win over I-AA Mississippi Valley State but he did enough to break Cleo Lemon’s school yardage record. The test gets tougher this week.
  • RB Reggie Arnold — Looking to become only the eighth player ever to record four straight 1,000-yard season, he got off to a good start with 126 yards and four touchdowns in the opener.
  • DE Alex Carrington — He pretty much took the week off against the weaker opponent and will see some big-time blocking this week. “He needs to be productive, there’s no question about that,” coach Steve Roberts said, talking about what Carrington means to this team in general.
  • RB Don Jones — A redshirt freshman making his college debut, he ran for 84 yards and a touchdown on nine carries (one a 44-yarder) and also caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Leonard. “He trusted his speed,” said Roberts.
  • K Josh Arauco — One of the best in the country, he was All-Sun Belt and a finalist for the Lou Groza Award last season.

    INJURY WATCH:

    Huskers:

  • OG Keith Williams missed Monday’s practice with an undisclosed injury but is expected back this week. Derek Meyer started in Williams’ place Saturday night.
  • OG Andy Christensen suffered a turf toe injury Saturday and was in a walking boot Monday. He’s questionable for Saturday.
  • C Jacob Hickman has played at both guard positions and is prepared to move over a spot if he’s needed because of injuries. Former walk-on Mike Caputo would then play center in place of Hickman.

    Red Wolves:

  • K Josh Arauco has gone from a disastrous freshman walk-on to one of the best kickers in the country and was one of the three finalists for last year’s Lou Groza Award.
  • QB Phillip Butterfield, considered at or near the top of the Wolves’ incoming class, was lost for his freshman season with knee surgery, but not on his ACL.
  • CB Paul Stephens, projected as a co-starter at his position, was dismissed from the team for violation of team rules.

    Texas at Wyoming

    KICKOFF: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET

    SERIES: Texas leads 2-0 (last meeting, 1978, 17-3 Texas)

    2009 RANKINGS: Longhorns: offense 9th (2nd Big 12), pass 6th (2nd), run 38th (6th), defense 46th (7th), pass 47th (6th), run 52nd (6th)

    Cowboys: offense 41st (4th MWC), pass 69th (6th), run 21st (2nd), defense 86th (6th), pass 59th (4th), run 41st (1st)

    POLLS: Texas (2 AP, Coaches)

    PREDICTION: Texas 57, Wyoming 17

    KEYS TO THE GAME: The Cowboys plan on maintaining their two-QB rotation with junior Robert Benjamin starting and true freshman Austyn Carta-Samuels coming off the bench. Wyoming compiled 434 yards of total offense in Week 1, showing improvement from a unit that struggled a year ago. Texas, meanwhile, surrendered 20 points to Louisiana-Monroe; Longhorns defensive coordinator Will Muschamp called that unacceptable. If RBs Darius Terry and Alvester Alexander can find some running lanes early, the Cowboys might be able to have success throughout the game. The Cowboys have to have success running the ball to shorten the game and keep the Longhorns’ explosive offense off the field. Wyoming won the turnover battle against Weber State 5-1 and will need a similar margin Saturday. Texas was sloppy in its season-opening win against Louisiana-Monroe, turning the ball over three times.

    For Texas, of immediate concern was the two fumbles lost by RB Vondrell McGee. But then, this hasn’t been an issue in some time for the Longhorns, who went the 17 previous games without losing a fumble. McGee retained his starting spot based on past performances, though coach Mack Brown indicated ball security had been an issue in preseason camp. McGee must improve, because other candidates are ready to step in. Wyoming forced five turnovers to squeak out a 29-22 victory against Weber State in the season opener. S Shamiel Gary grabbed three interceptions as Wyoming capitalized on a stout pass rush led by DT John Fletcher, who recorded two sacks. The Cowboys were also strong in run game, generating 246 yards on the ground, though Texas ranked third nationally against the run last season, allowing just 83.5 yards on average.

    FAST FACTS: Cowboys: Wyoming has never hosted a team ranked as high as second in the AP poll in Laramie. Arizona State, ranked 11th, visited in 1972. … The most recent win by a Cowboys team over a Top 15 ranked opponent came on Nov. 13, 1999, when UW defeated then No. 12 ranked BYU 31-17 in Laramie. … Senior defensive tackle John Fletcher recorded two sacks this past Saturday to move into eighth place on the Wyoming career sack list. He ranks No. 4 in the nation in sacks this season. True freshman strong safety Shamiel Gary intercepted three Weber State passes to tie a Wyoming school record for interceptions in a single game. He is tied for the nation’s lead in interceptions for this season.

    Longhorns: Three players, including cornerback Deon Beasley, missed the opener while awaiting academic clearance. His status remained uncertain as preparations began for Saturday’s game at Wyoming. … In addition, two starters — linebacker Jared Norton and offensive guard Michael Huey — were injured in the season-opening win against Louisiana-Monroe and remain out.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH:

    Cowboys:

  • RB Darius Terry — He had 99 yards in his first start against Weber State last week. His athletic ability fits well with the Wyoming spread attack that gets the ball to its playmakers in space. Texas doesn’t figure to give Terry as much space as Weber State did. If Terry is productive and doesn’t cough up the football, he can give the Cowboys a spark.
  • DT John Fletcher — He had five tackles, including four for loss and two sacks, in the opener. Moreover, he forced a fumble, broke up a pass and blocked a field-goal attempt. Fletcher started off strong in trying to erase a subpar 2008. Now, he’ll go up against some horses on the Texas offensive line. If Fletcher has a similar type day, 2008 won’t even be a memory.
  • K/P Austin McCoy and kickoff specialist Jake Scott — These guys will have their hands full in establishing field position for Wyoming. They can’t have a bad kick or Longhorns returners D.J. Monroe and Earl Thomas could make them pay.

    Longhorns:

  • QB Colt McCoy — Was inaccurate by his standards in the season-opening win against Louisiana-Monroe, but still completed 21 of 29 attempts for 317 yards, with one interception. McCoy didn’t scramble much, which was by design. McCoy is 33-7 as a starter.
  • LB Roddrick Muckelroy — Will move inside because of an injury to LB Jared Norton. Needs just four tackles to reach the 200 mark for his career.
  • TE Dan Buckner — Plays as a flex tight end and produced five receptions for 62 yards against Louisiana-Monroe, a welcome performance at a position hit hard by injuries the past few seasons.

    INJURY WATCH:

    Cowboys:

  • K/P Austin McCoy earned MWC Special Teams Player of the Week honors, but coach Dave Christensen was not happy with his unit’s overall performance. The Cowboys gave up 12.3 yards per punt return and 28.2 yards per kickoff return to Weber State. McCoy missed an extra point. Christensen said changes were in store this week on the units.
  • WR Donate Morgan will play this week, having served a one-game suspension for a violation of team rules in the offseason.
  • WR Greg Bolling will serve the second of his two-game suspension that was also imposed before the season.
  • Sophomore CB Tashaun Gipson is expected to play despite a lower back injury he suffered in the season opener.

    Longhorns:

  • CB Deon Beasley, S Christian Scott and WR Brandon Collins all missed the opener because of eligibility issues. Texas expected to learn something definitive on their status before the Wyoming game.
  • OG Michael Huey will miss the Wyoming game because of an injury suffered in the opener.
  • OG David Snow will start in place of Huey on the right side. OL Tray Allen, who had been moved to defense to establish depth at tackle, will return to the offensive side while Huey is out.
  • LB Jared Norton will miss the Wyoming game because of an injury suffered in the opener. LB Roddrick Muckelroy will move to the middle to replace Norton.
  • LB Emmanuel Acho and LB Keenan Robinson also will start in the 4-3 alignment after splitting time at the strongside position before Norton went out with his injury.

    Houston at Oklahoma State

    KICKOFF: Sunday, 3:30 p.m. ET

    SERIES: Tied 9-9-1 (last meeting, 2008, 56-37 OSU).

    2009 RANKINGS: Cowboys: offense 83rd (10th Big 12), pass 97th (11th), run 49th (8th), defense 35th (5th), pass 97th (11th), run 49th (8th);

    Cougars: offense 13th (2nd C-USA), pass 1st (1st), run 86th (9th), defense 37th (3rd), pass 35th (2nd), run 79th (9th)

    POLLS: Oklahoma State (5 AP, 6 Coaches)

    PREDICTION: Oklahoma State 51, Houston 31

    KEYS TO THE GAME: The Cougars proved explosive last season when they finished second nationally in average yards offensive behind Conference USA co-member Tulsa. QB Case Keenum figures to cause trouble through the air. He threw for 359 yards as Houston opened the season with a romp over Northwestern State. His favorite target was freshman WR Charles Sims, who snagged six receptions for 128 yards. Houston converted 6 of 10 third downs and committed just one penalty.

    As 16-point underdogs, most are underwhelmed by the Cougars when stacked against a potential Bowl Championship Series opponent.

    “It’s kind of like us not winning a bowl game in so long,” Houston QB Case Keenum told the Houston Chronicle. “It’s time to do it. We feel like we’ve got a talented team, and we’re not going to be afraid of any team, but we’re going to respect our opponents at the same time.

    “They’ve got a really good football team, but we’ve got a really good football team. So we’re going to go in with confidence and expect to be successful and do what we do.”

    Keenum riddled the Cowboys for 468 yards and four touchdowns in last year’s game. That means the Cougars need a big game from sophomore RB Bryce Beall, who had just 58 yards on nine carries in the win over Northwestern State. If Houston can establish Beall as a threat, it will make it easier for Keenum to get time to throw the ball.

    The Cougars’ defense is certainly looking to make up for last year’s second half against Oklahoma State, when the Cowboys broke open a close game with scores on five straight possessions. For the first half of that contest, OSU managed just 14 points, giving Houston something to work on getting back to this year. Freshman LB Phillip Steward came up with a team-high 13 total tackles in the opener, and he’ll need to be just as active against the OSU offense.

    FAST FACTS: Cowboys: OSU has won 11 of its last 15 games with all four losses coming to top 15 opponents, including three to teams in the top three of the AP. The Cowboys will be looking to make four straight bowl appearances for the first time in school history. … Oklahoma State has won 16 straight non-conference home games (including 10-0 under Mike Gundy), dating back to a 2002 home loss to UCLA. The Cowboys were able to take revenge on the Bruins in 2004 when they opened the season with a 31-20 win over UCLA in the Rose Bowl. … Oklahoma State is looking to start a season 2-0 for the fifth time in six seasons and for the fourth time in five years under Mike Gundy. Since 1983, the final year for head coach Jimmy Johnson in Stillwater, Oklahoma State has had 13 2-0 starts with nine of those teams finishing the season in a bowl game. OSU opened the 2008 season with seven straight wins. … OSU is 57-44-9 all-time against the current membership of Conference USA. Most of those games have come against the University of Tulsa, which OSU has played 70 times.

    Cougars: The Cougars haven’t won a road opener since a victory over Rice in September 2006. Houston lost at Oregon in 2007 and at Oklahoma State in 2008. … Houston’s combined 110 points in its last two season openers (55 vs. Southern in 2008 and 55 vs. Northwestern State last week) ties for the second-most points in consecutive season openers in school history. The 1988-89 teams hold the school record with 129 points in their opening contests.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH:

    Cowboys:

  • QB Zac Robinson — He was slowed in preseason camp by an undisclosed leg injury. The ailment may have kept Robinson from performing his best in the opener, though OSU coach Mike Gundy was still impressed. “I’ve only been around two people in 20 years, probably 30 years, as a player and a coach, who could not practice and still play well,” Gundy said. He identified the pair as former OSU teammates Barry Sanders and Hart Lee Dykes. Robinson now has 53 career TD tosses. He is one behind Mike Gundy in that category and is closing in on the record 55 tossed by Josh Fields.
  • S Lucien Antoine — He missed last season after suffering an injury on the opening kickoff of the first game. He returned with a vengeance against Georgia, leading the Cowboys with seven tackles, while also forcing a key fumble.
  • CB/KR Perrish Cox — He needs just 30 yards in kickoff returns to become the all-time Big 12 leader. He logged a 74-yard return against Georgia, made four tackles and broke up four passes.
  • RB Kendall Hunter — He cracked the top 10 career rushing list at Oklahoma State with 75 yards against Georgia. The junior boosted his career total to 2,326 yards, and he joined an elite list headed by Thurman Thomas (4,595).
  • WR Dez Bryant — Surged onto the national stage against Houston in 2008. He ended the year as a consensus All-American and the Big 12 special teams player of the year. He was the Walter Camp national player of the week after his efforts against Houston, which included nine receptions for 236 yards and three touchdowns. He also had a 71-yard punt return for a score.

    Cougars:

  • QB Case Keenum — The junior had a decent game against the Cowboys a year ago, completing 35-of-61 for 387 yards and four touchdowns. He needs to be sharp with the ball again, avoiding careless turnovers that will get the home crowd even more fired up. Keenum’s best work may be in going for the easy, short passes rather than trying to force a long bomb that is double-covered.
  • DE Tyrell Graham — The fifth-year senior led the Houston defensive line with six tackles in the win over Northwestern State, but he needs to really get some pressure on OSU quarterback Zac Robinson. Graham and the rest of the defensive line also need to tighten up to stop the Cowboys from running wild like they did a year ago.
  • RB Bryce Beall — The sophomore was just a bit player in the season opener, but after going over 1,000 yards as a freshman, a lot more is expected of Beall this year. He could start living up to those expectations with a big game against OSU, which held Georgia to just 95 yards on the ground in last week’s game.
  • RB Charles Sims — He needs to be watched after he had 128 yards and a touchdown receiving in the win over Northwestern State. The true freshman is still listed as the third running back on the Houston depth chart, and the hope is he won’t make a stir that he wants the ball more after his great debut.

    INJURY WATCH:

    Cowboys:

  • S Markelle Martin missed the opener against Georgia with an undisclosed injury.
  • LB Orie Lemon is out with a season-ending knee injury he suffered in the week leading up to the Georgia game. His replacement, LB Donald Booker, responded with five tackles, a pass breakup and a quarterback hurry.
  • TE Jamal Mosley left the squad before the season opener after he was served a protective order that was filed in Payne County court. It was not known if that order led to Mosley’s departure. TE Wilson Youman replaced Mosley and caught two passes against Georgia.

    Cougars:

  • LB Matt Nicholson appears to be having no ill effects from the surgically repaired knee that cost him all of spring practice. In his first game back, Nicholson had four tackles in the win over Nortwestern State.
  • P Chase Turner continues to be outstanding at placing the ball, putting three of his four punts against Northwestern State inside the 20. Many consider the senior to be the top punting prospect for the pros a year from now.

    BYU at Tulane

    KICKOFF: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET

    SERIES: Tied at 1-1 (last meeting, 2001, 70-35 BYU)

    2009 RANKINGS: Green Wave: offense 60th (8th C-USA), pass 13th (2nd), run 101st (11th), defense 87th (9th), pass 102nd (10th), run 90th (10th)

    Cougars: offense 68th (5th C-USA), pass 11th (1st), run 106th (6th), defense 38th (3rd), pass 68th (6th), run 63rd (3rd)

    POLLS: BYU (9 AP, 12 coaches)

    PREDICTION: BYU 31, Tulane 17

    KEYS TO THE GAME: When the Cougars set out on a “Quest for Perfection” last season, they were derailed in part by the distraction of trying to be perfect. But the BCS won’t take care of BYU if it doesn’t take care of itself — and that means finishing at or near a perfect season record.

    BYU quarterback Max Hall said the Cougars’ focus won’t be affected by all the extra attention — and phone calls, text messages, etc. — since Saturday night. The win over Oklahoma thrust the Cougars into really early national championship talk.

    “Because we’re not in a BCS conference, we can’t trust it, we don’t know what’s going to happen,” Hall said. “We don’t have any control over it. Our main focus right now is winning, especially winning the conference. That’s our main goal.”

    Bronco Mendenhall said starting running back Harvey Unga is probable for Tulane. He was a last-minute scratch against the Sooners, as his hamstring’s health didn’t advance as expected from earlier in the week. BYU was pleased at how Unga prepared teammates during the practices and wound up being their biggest cheerleader during the game. It helped to produce a career day from Bryan Kariya, a former walk-on who led the team in total yards.

    With both of those players in the lineup, Tulane has zero margin for error. That’s a lot of pressure with a first-year starter trying to show he’s the right man for the job.

    WR Jeremy Williams led Conference USA after the first week of the season with 139 receiving yards on just five catches. Joe Kemp is the starting quarterback, and he showed jitters in the opening loss to Tulsa.

    The Green Wave looked better in the second half against Tulsa after Kemp calmed himself. Kemp called timeouts when they weren’t needed and had trouble staying upright in the early stages of the game. BYU has a very good defense, including senior DL Jan Jorgensen, the Mountain West Conference’s all-time sack leader, so Kemp can’t make mistakes or hang on to the ball too long.

    FAST FACTS: Cougars: With a win on Saturday, the Cougars would start the season with a 2-0 record for the second straight year. In 2008 BYU opened with wins against Northern Iowa and Washington. … The Cougars have a 38-13-1 overall record against current Conference USA opponents. BYU has faced seven of the 12 teams in the conference, including Marshall, Southern Mississippi, Rice, SMU, Tulane, Tulsa and UTEP. The Cougars have a winning record against Tulsa (6-1) and UTEP (28-7-1). … With the win against Oklahoma, the Cougars are 149-44 when nationally ranked in the Top 25. A ranked BYU team has won 18 of its last 21 games, dating back to 2006. … The Cougars’ No. 9 national ranking in the AP Top 25 Rankings is their highest since earning the same ranking on Oct. 12, 2008 after defeating New Mexico. That same week BYU was ranked No. 8 in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll. … Under Bronco Mendenhall, BYU is now 2-6 vs. ranked foes, with its wins a 31-17 victory over No. 15 TCU on Sept. 28, 2006 and a 14-13 win over No. 3 Oklahoma on Sept. 5, 2009. … Also under Mendenhall, BYU is 33-4 when leading at halftime and 32-1 when taking a lead into the fourth quarter.

    Green Wave: Tulane enters Saturday’s game 0-1, after suffering a 37-13 loss in its season opener against Tulsa on Friday, Sept. 4. … BYU’s starting five offensive linemen weigh in at an average 317.4 pounds and average 6-feet-4. The front five will be going up against a Tulane defensive front that measures an average 6-feet-3, 265 pounds. Defensively, the Cougars’ front three average 6-feet-3, 261.7 pounds, while the Tulane offensive line tips the scales at an average 6-feet-5, 297 pounds per man. …

    PLAYERS TO WATCH:

    Cougars:

  • QB Max Hall — Hall appears to have learned so much from the struggles of last year. He’s not bitter, just better. BYU had four turnovers (two Hall interceptions) last week, but the quarterback noted that this team doesn’t get frazzled like last year’s.
  • RB Harvey Unga — Head coach Bronco Mendenhall considers him probable to play, after a hamstring made him unavailable at the last minute against the Sooners. But would the Cougars consider holding him out one more week, just to have him (likely) definitely ready for the big home-field clash with Florida State on Sept. 19?
  • S Andrew Rich — Recorded five tackles, including four solo stops, one tackle for loss and two forced fumbles in BYU’s victory against Oklahoma. His hitting set the tone for the Cougars, whose inexperienced defense matured in a hurry.

    Green Wave:

  • QB Joe Kemp — It seems simple, but the play of the Green Wave’s quarterback will tell the tale of this game. If Kemp can play like a veteran and not make rookie mistakes, Tulane can move the ball. If he’s nervous like he played at the beginning of the Tulsa game, it’ll be a long afternoon for Tulane.
  • WR Jeremy Williams — The senior was a big-play threat for Tulane against Tulsa, averaging 37.8 yards per catch, something the Green Wave could use against BYU. Williams can help stretch the Cougars’ defense if he can make a big play early, helping the Tulane running game get a little room.
  • S Chinonso Echebelem — The senior should get a lot of work against Brigham Young trying to play up against the run. Against Tulsa, Echebelem had a big forced fumble that ended a potential Golden Hurricane scoring drive, as well as registering 12 tackles.

    INJURY WATCH:

    Cougars:

  • Senior LB Matt Bauman, who left last week’s game in the first half with a concussion, is probable for Saturday’s game at Tulane. “The hit looks pretty bad on film,” coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “It was a player jumping over someone else and Matt took a knee to his head. But he’s coming along fine.”
  • PK Mitch Payne will continue to handle kickoff duties. It’s clear that freshman Riley Stephenson has the stronger leg, but the coach may be inclined to let the newcomer focus simply on punting. But Payne’s kickoff with about three minutes left, after BYU had taken a one-point lead, nearly burned the team. It sailed out of bounds, giving the Sooners the ball at the 40-yard line.

    Green Wave:

  • WR D.J. Banks played five different positions in the opener against Tulsa and could see just as much variety against BYU. The Green Wave will likely try to mix things up with the Pelican offense, which is Tulane’s version of the Wildcat, with Banks at QB.
  • Starting RG Taylor Rice, who injured his right leg early in the third quarter against Tulsa, is expected to be ready to play against BYU.
  • LB Travis Burks, also injured against Tulsa with an unknown injury that took him out in the fourth, should be a starter again against BYU.

    TCU at Virginia

    KICKOFF: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET

    SERIES: Virginia leads 1-0 (only meeting, 1994, 20-10 Virginia in Independence Bowl).

    2009 RANKINGS: Cavaliers: offense 94th (8th ACC), pass 96th (7th), run 69th (6th), defense 55th (7th), pass 31st (4th), run 65th (6th)

    Horned Frogs: First game of 2009 season.

    POLLS: TCU (16 AP, coaches)

    PREDICTION: TCU 28, Virginia 3

    KEYS TO THE GAME: All about defense? Maybe not anymore. TCU set single-season records for points scored and touchdowns last season. QB Andy Dalton, who threw 11 TD passes in the final six games last season after returning from injury, is 17-6 as a starter.

    If the TCU offense protects the ball, the defense should be good enough to keep Virginia off the scoreboard for most of the game, despite having to replace seven starters. Since this is TCU’s first game of the season and Virginia’s second, TCU can’t afford mental lapses and it must try to prevent big plays early while players adjust to game speed.

    The Cavaliers are still using three quarterbacks. That’s because neither Vic Hall, Jameel Sewell nor Marc Verica played well in the first game. Hall lost three fumbles, including one on a punt return. Sewell threw three interceptions, and Verica lost a fumble. The running game didn’t fare much better. The Cavaliers’ running backs combined for 46 yards on 10 carries.

    The Cavaliers must protect whichever quarterback is in the game. That will be a tall task with TCU star DE Jerry Hughes on the field. Hughes led the nation in sacks (15) and forced fumbles (six) last season.

    Defensively, the Cavaliers’ secondary can’t afford the few missteps it had against William & Mary.

    FAST FACTS: Cavaliers: UVa previously has played host to just one team from the state of Texas — a 37-13 win over Texas in 1996. … Virginia is 2-3 against teams from the Mountain West Conference. The MWC started competition in 1999. … UVa split previous home-and-homes with Wyoming and BYU and lost at home to Colorado State in the 2002 season opener. … Virginia went 2-1 against ranked teams last year (wins vs. North Carolina, Georgia Tech; loss to USC). … Virginia is 12-17 against ranked teams under head coach Al Groh (since 2001). … The Cavaliers are 9-7 at home vs. ranked teams under Groh. … The Horned Frogs are the first of five ranked opponents currently on the UVa schedule (North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Miami, Virginia Tech). … Virginia has lost its last four season openers. … In each of the previous three instances, Virginia rebounded to win its second game.

    Horned Frogs: TCU was one of two teams (Florida International) who had a Week 1 bye. … The Frogs are facing an ACC opponent for the first time since a 31-10 loss to North Carolina in 1997. … TCU is 11-3 in games against teams from conferences with automatic BCS bids. … TCU is opening on the road for the seventh time under coach Gary Patterson, who is 6-2 in openers overall. … TCU has a four-game winning streak in road season openers.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH:

    Cavaliers:

  • RT Will Barker — The senior could raise his NFL draft stock if he can handle TCU DE Jerry Hughes. Former Virginia LT Eugene Monroe was in a similar situation when he faced ex-Georgia Tech DE Michael Johnson last season. Monroe’s solid game helped him become the No. 8 overall draft choice of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
  • RB Mikell Simpson — It’s starting to look more and more like Simpson’s standout 2007 season was a fluke. He averaged just 3.0 yards per carry last season and was ineffective against William & Mary. A strong performance against TCU could put the senior back on track.
  • S Rodney McLeod — The sophomore was aggressive stopping the run against William & Mary. He came up and made some nice tackles on running plays and short passes to the Tribe’s backs. Against TCU’s four-wide receiver sets, McLeod will be tested more in coverage.

    Horned Frogs:

  • QB Andy Dalton — The third-year starter says he wants to make the Horned Frogs offense more explosive in 2009, erasing the 10- to 13-point performances of years past when the team only relied on defense. Against Virginia, Dalton won’t be asked to do much, but a big game is still a real possibility.
  • DE Jerry Hughes — Last year’ national leader in sacks, Hughes isn’t sneaking up on anyone this year. He’ll be a focal point of many line blocking schemes and will look to launch his senior season with a bang. He will be watched closely this year by NFL teams to see if his college success will translate to defensive end at the next level.
  • LB Daryl Washington — Coach Gary Patterson has said Washington is TCU’s best all-around athlete. While opposing teams concentrate on DE Jerry Hughes, Washington will get opportunities to make plenty of plays himself. He was a preseason All-MWC selection, despite starting only two games in 2008.

    INJURY WATCH:

    Cavaliers:

  • QB Vic Hall suffered a hip injury against the Tribe that limited him in the second half. Hall should be ready to play against TCU.
  • PK Robert Randolph performed kickoff duties for the Cavaliers against William & Mary and likely will continue doing so. Chris Hinkebein was expected to handle those duties entering the season.

    Horned Frogs:

  • Senior LT Marshall Newhouse will be making the 27th start of his TCU career Saturday at Virginia.
  • Junior WR Jimmy Young’s swollen toe that kept him out of some preseason practices and scrimmages won’t keep him from starting Saturday at Virginia.
  • Junior WR/return specialist Jeremy Kerley missed some time in 2008 with an injury and also was held out of some preseason scrimmages with a hand injury, but he is expected to start Saturday at Virginia.
  • Sophomore LG Kyle Dooley is back after missing the final three games of 2008 with an injury. The former walk-on started five games in 2008 for TCU.

    Notre Dame at Michigan

    KICKOFF: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET

    SERIES: Michigan leads 20-15-1 (last meeting, 2008, 35-17 Notre Dame).

    2009 RANKINGS: Wolverines: offense 39th (5th Big Ten), pass 65th (11th), run 26th (2nd), defense 49th (6th), pass 56th (4th), run 11th (2nd)

    Irish: offense 21st (1st IND), pass 10th (1st), run 45th (3rd), defense 52nd (2nd), pass 22nd (1st), run 76th (2nd)

    POLLS: Notre Dame (18 AP, 20 coaches)

    PREDICTION: Notre Dame 35, Michigan 17

    KEYS TO THE GAME: Notre Dame and Michigan will renew their rivalry Saturday in Ann Arbor, and QB Jimmy Clausen — he played in the Big House in 2007 — is on a hot streak. Meanwhile, the Wolverines will trot out a true freshman at quarterback, a super-recruit from Southern California, Tate Forcier, although he won’t be the only Michigan quarterback who plays.

    Clausen was 15 of 18 for 315 yards and four touchdowns in the opener against Nevada. He was 22 of 26 for 401 yards and five touchdowns in the bowl game against Hawaii. Now, he has to show he can be that efficient against a non-WAC defense.

    But coach Charlie Weis likes what he sees — including Clausen’s presence in the pocket — and what we shouldn’t see is anything resembling the same quarterback who played in Michigan Stadium two years ago.

    But the running game has been the major problem for Notre Dame in its biggest games. Has the offensive line grown up enough to clear some room?

    In the systematic undoing of Western Michigan in the season opener, the Wolverines took a likely NFL draft pick in Broncos quarterback Tim Hiller and made him look frustrated and harried often enough to knock the wheels off the WMU offense. If Michigan can do more of the same to Clausen, then they could be celebrating a 2-0 start in Ann Arbor.

    The Michigan offense can do its part with sound ball management, and long, clock-devouring drives that keep Clausen a spectator.

    FAST FACTS: Wolverines: Coach Rich Rodriguez faces Notre Dame for the third time in his career. Rodriguez lost 34-24 on a visit to South Bend while he was at West Virginia, and lost 35-17 last year in his first trip there with the Wolverines. … Michigan shut out Notre Dame, 38-0, in the last visit for the Irish to Ann Arbor. … Rich Rodriguez has a 12-15 career mark against top 25 squads but has claimed victories in four of his last six games. … He collected his first victory against a top 25 team at Michigan with the thrilling 27-25 win over No. 9 Wisconsin to open the Big Ten schedule last year (Sept. 27). … Rodriguez suffered losses to No. 3 Penn State and No. 10 Ohio State last season. … Rodriguez has an 8-7 record against top 25 teams at home in his career.

    Fighting Irish: Notre Dame did not rush for more than 115 yards in any of its six losses last season. In four of the losses, the Irish rushed for 66 yards or less. … This is the sixth-most played series in UND history. … Notre Dame has played in front of sellout crowds in 71 of its last 80 road games. In fact, the Irish have now played in front of sellout crowds in 214 of its previous 246 games, including 89 of its last 98 contests dating back to the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl at the end of the 2000 season (the 2001, ’03, ’05 and ’07 games at Stanford, the 2004 game vs. Navy at the Meadowlands, the 2005 and ’08 game at Washington, the 2007 game at UCLA and the 2008 Hawai’i Bowl were not sellouts). … The 100 previous seasons Notre Dame has won its opener, the Irish went on to post winning records 92 times (92.0%), with four losing seasons and four .500 records. … The Irish are 75-34-5 (.680) in road season openers, but have dropped nine of their last 12. … Notre Dame is 2-2 in road season openers under head coach Charlie Weis. The Irish captured their road season openers in 2005 (W, 42-21, Pittsburgh) and 2006 (W, 14-10, Georgia Tech), but dropped such games in 2007 (L, 31-10, Penn State) and 2008 (L, 23-7, Michigan State). … Notre Dame owns a 4-6 (.400) record when its first road game of the season comes against Michigan.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH:

    Wolverines:

  • QB Tate Forcier — True freshman emerged as the favorite in the sweepstakes to win the job with his performance against Western Michigan. Forcier hit on 13-of-20 passes for 179 yards and three touchdowns and led four scoring drives in the first half.
  • DE Brandon Graham — A preseason All-American who is on every watch list he is eligible for, Graham was second nationally in 2008 in tackles for loss. He had 3.5 sacks in last year’s meeting with Notre Dame.
  • WR Junior Hemingway — On a team loaded with talent at this position, the sophomore from South Carolina had a career-best five catches for 103 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the season-opener.

    Fighting Irish:

  • WR Golden Tate — Fellow receiver Michael Floyd had the big game last week, so maybe it’s Floyd’s turn to take a starring role. He had four receptions for 127 yards and a touchdown against Michigan last season.
  • RB Armando Allen — Allen is the lead back, rushing 15 times for 72 yards and a touchdown against Nevada. The Irish also showed a Wildcat formation with Allen taking snaps … just something else for Michigan to think about this week.
  • LB Brian Smith — He is the emotional hub of a defense that appears to have the kind of increased athleticism to hang with the kind of skill players Michigan still has. Smith had two tackles for loss, including a sack in the opening week.

    INJURY WATCH:

    Wolverines:

  • OL Ricky Barnum is fighting for playing time at guard after sitting out 2008 as a redshirt. The Lakeland, Fla., product was rated among the top five offensive linemen in the country as a senior in high school.
  • OL Tim McAvoy missed the opener against Western Michigan due to injury. McAvoy has 19 appearances in his career, wkith six starts at guard for the Wolverines. He played in all 12 games last season.
  • RB Brandon Minor was held out of the first game while he nurses what is believed to be an ankle injury. Minor was honorable mention All-Big Ten last season, and was listed at the top of the Michigan depth chart this year.

    Fighting Irish:

  • FB James Aldridge, converting from tailback, suffered a shoulder injury against Nevada and will be out this week for the Michigan game. He might be able to return for Michigan State on Sept. 19. Robert Hughes will help fill in at fullback.
  • True freshman RB Theo Riddick, who returned the season’s opening kickoff 23 yards, saw some time on offense in the fourth quarter as coach Charlie Weis went to his bench. Riddick carried five times for 19 yards.
  • Other freshmen to play in the opener were SS Zeke Motta, K Nick Tausch, TE Tyler Eifert, WR Shaquelle Evans and LS Jordan Cowart. Tausch did not attempt a field goal, but made all five of his extra-point tries.

    Eastern Washington at California

    KICKOFF: Saturday, 5:30 p.m. ET

    SERIES: First meeting

    2009 RANKINGS: Golden Bears: offense 12th (2nd Pac-10), pass 21st (2nd), run 25th (4th), defense 50th (5th), pass 44th (5th), run 69th (7th)

    POLLS: California (10 AP, coaches)

    PREDICTION: Cal 44, Eastern Washington 17

    KEYS TO THE GAME: Cal has won 23 straight games in which the Bears have scored 30 or more points and have now scored 30 or more points 45 times in the Jeff Tedford era, posting a 41-4 record in those contests.

    Eastern Washington won’t be intimidated having faced FBS opponents Texas and Colorado on the road last season.

    The Bears had one of their best offensive performances in some time in the opener, and the play of QB Kevin Riley had a lot to do with it. He should be able to find open receivers against Eastern Washington, and TBs Jahvid Best and Shane Vereen should find holes in which to run as well. Best had 137 yards on just 10 carries in the opener, and he might keep his per-carry average above 10 yards in this game against the Eagles. The main thing is, the Bears don’t want Best to get hurt.

    FAST FACTS: Bears: Cal has played two FCS (Division I-AA) schools since Jeff Tedford arrived. The Bears beat Portland State 42-16 in 2006 and beat Sacramento State 41-3 in 2005. … Cal is tied for the NCAA lead in sacks after recording six against Maryland. Ernest Owusu led the charge with the first two of his career. Cameron Jordan, Mike Mohamed and Jarred Price each had one, while Tyson Alualu and Devin Bishop shared one. Five of the six sacks came in the second quarter alone. … Cal’s victory over Maryland last Saturday improved the Golden Bears to 71-39-4 all-time in season openers and marked the fifth time in the last six years that Cal has won its first game of the season. The 52 points scored was the second-highest total posted by a Jeff Tedford team at Cal in a season opener. The Bears improved to 6-2 in season openers with Tedford as their head coach with Tedford never having lost a season opener at home, sporting a 5-0 mark in those contests since 2002. … Cal is looking to start a season with a pair of victories for the third straight year and the sixth time in eight seasons under head coach Jeff Tedford. During his tenure, the Golden Bears have won at least their first two games in 2002, ’04, ’05, ’07 and ’08. … Jahvid Best’s 1,580 yards rushing in 2008 ranked second all-time at Cal and marked the seventh consecutive season in which a Golden Bear running back has gained over 1,000 yards on the ground. Cal is one of only three Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools to have current seven-year streaks, along with Missouri and New Mexico. … Best Running Back of the Week honors after the Heisman Trophy candidate started his season with 137 rushing yards on just 10 carries for a 13.7 yards per carry average against Maryland. Best had a pair of first-quarter touchdowns on the ground in the game with the first coming on a 73-yard run that was his ninth career jaunt of 60 or more yards. He later had a 40-yard gallop.

    Eagles: EWU is ranked 18th in the FCS. … The Eagles have played big-time opponents on the road before. The Eagles played at Texas and Colorado last year and lost only 31-24 to the Buffaloes. Over the past four seasons, the Eagles also have played at West Virginia, Oregon State and BYU. … The program will take this game very seriously considering they’re serving a one-year postseason ban in ’09 for major football violations. …

    PLAYERS TO WATCH:

    Bears:

  • QB Kevin Riley — He played well in the opener, but he also played well in the 2008 opener before slipping in the following weeks and eventually being replaced by Nate Longshore. Consistency is the goal for Riley, and if he is effective two weeks in a row, albeit against lesser competition, it will be a big plus for the Cal offense.
  • CB Darian Hagan — Hagan gets overshadowed by Cal’s other cornerback, Syd’Quan Thompson, but Hagan is talented and may get a chance to prove it against Eastern Washington skilled wide receivers and the Eagles’ formidable passing game.
  • DE Ernest Owusu — Against Maryland, he had three tackles for losses, including two sacks, and even though he is not a starter, he could be the big-play lineman the Bears are looking for. If he can make some big plays again against Eastern Washington, it may prove Owusu will be a force this season.

    Eagles:

  • FS Kevin Hatch — The Bears are still far from a sure thing at quarterback. If Riley loses a ball or comes in overconfident, the Eagles have the rangy secondary to make him pay. Hatch is a good free safety and had two interceptions last week.
  • WR Aaron Boyce — He has the size to make some noise — 6-foot-3, 210 pounds — and was named All-Big Sky Conference in the preseason and caught six passes for 126 yards in the Sept. 5 win over Western Oregon.
  • RB Taiwan Jones — He burst 87 yards on his first carry last week. The Eagles get him in matchups in the slot and on the edge to take advantage of his elusiveness. He’s a converted cornerback who had 122 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries in Week 1.

    INJURY WATCH:

    Bears:

  • Backup TE Spencer Ladner is questionable for the Eastern Michigan game with a patellar tendon problem in his knee.
  • Backup S Sean Catthouse remains questionable for the Eastern Washington game after sustaining a concussion against Maryland. Tests will be conducted Wednesday (Sept. 9) to determine whether he can play.
  • WR Verran Tucker wore a boot on his leg on Sunday to protect a calf bruise he sustained against Maryland. He is expected to play against Eastern Washington, however.

    Eagles:

    None


    Florida International at Alabama

    KICKOFF: Saturday, 7 ET

    SERIES: Alabama leads, 1-0 (Last meeting, 2008, Alabama won 38-3).

    2009 RANKINGS: Crimson Tide: offense 22nd (6th SEC), pass 47th (6th), run 17th (5th), defense 12th (4th), pass 26th (6th), run 26th (6th)

    Panthers: First game of 2009 season.

    POLLS: Alabama (4 AP, coaches)

    PREDICTION: Crimson Tide 36, Florida International 0

    KEYS TO THE GAME: The Panthers make a belated season debut with the first of two road games in one of the toughest places to play in the country. An impressive showing could give the Panthers confidence heading into what is a more competitive game at Rutgers the next week.

    FIU is overmatched physically, and the best way to combat that is to shorten the game. The key to that will be for the Panthers to get a running game going, something they were not able to do last year.

    Alabama just has to show up. The Tide, heavily favored to win this game, knows FIU is not a team to be taken lightly.

    Alabama will need continued production from the running back spot. The Tide defense should be able to hold its own.

    FAST FACTS: Crimson Tide: Crimson Tide has held 13 of its last 15 opponents under 100 yards rushing over the past 15 games, only LSU and Florida in 2008 were able to crack the 100-yard barrier as a team. The Tide has surrendered just 1,102 yards on the ground in the last 15 games, an average of 73.5 yards per game. … Alabama returned eight starters from a 2008 defense that finished third nationally in total defense, allowing just 263.5 yards per game. The 2009 unit had an excellent debut against Virginia Tech, holding the Hokies to 155 total yards (64 rushing, 91 passing) and 11 first downs. … The Crimson Tide sacked Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor five times with All-America linebacker Rolando McClain notching two sacks. … against Virginia Tech, holding the Hokies to just two conversions on 12 third down attempts (16.7 percent). The defense was even tougher in the second half, forcing Tech into a 0-of-5 performance on third downs. That continues a trend for the Crimson Tide after UA finished third nationally in third down conversion defense in 2008, holding opponents to a 28.14 percent (56 of 199) conversion rate.

    Panthers: FIU didn’t play last week and opens the season this week after a nighttime scrimmage last Friday. …

    PLAYERS TO WATCH:

    Crimson Tide:

  • RB Mark Ingram — Rushed for 150 yards in his sophomore debut, plus caught three passes for 35 yards and a touchdown.
  • QB Greg McElroy — Made his debut last week and completed 15 of 30 passes for 253 yards and one interception. However, he showed great composure at the end of the game, and will likely be called on again.
  • K Leigh Tiffin — Made four of five field goals to match his career best.
  • DB Javier Arenas — Is one of the premier kick returners in the country.

    Panthers:

  • WR T.Y. Hilton — As a freshman last year, Hilton led the Panthers in receiving (41 catches for 1,013 yards) and also gave them a threat in the return game. He averaged better than 23 yards on kickoff returns with a 90-yarder for a touchdown and nearly 15 yards on punt runbacks with a 74-yarder for a score.
  • QB Paul McCall — He started every game as a junior in 2008 after serving primarily as a holder on field goal and PAT attempts his first two years. He threw for 2,332 yards and earned Honorable Mention all-Sun Belt honors.
  • CB Anthony Gaitor — A first-team all-conference performer as a sophomore last year, Gaitor had four interceptions in conference play and five overall.

    INJURY WATCH:

    Crimson Tide:

  • DE Brandon Deaderick, who barely missed any practices last week despite the fact he was shot in the arm Monday night during an apparent robbery attempt, missed practice this week to home after the death of his grandmother Sunday.
  • RB Terry Grant was working with the wide receivers earlier this week. He was the team’s leading rusher as a freshman in 2007, but since then has seen only spot duty as a running back. However, Grant is one of the fastest players on the team.
  • RB Mark Ingram limped off the field Saturday after his 26th and final carry, but Alabama reports that the sophomore running back will not miss any playing time. “He bruised his knee a little bit,” coach Nick Saban said. “He’ll be fine.”

    Panthers:

  • RB Kendall Berry (knee) is progressing well and could see time at Alabama.
  • LB Winston Fraser, a redshirt freshman, looks to have one of the three starting linebacker spots locked up; Veteran Scott Bryant, last year’s leading tackler, will start at one spot but the third remains up for grabs.

    Vanderbilt at LSU

    KICKOFF: Saturday, 7 p.m. ET

    SERIES: LSU leads 20-7-1 (last meeting, 2005, 34-6 LSU).

    2009 RANKINGS: Tigers: offense 78th (9th SEC), pass 77th (8th), run 61st (8th), defense 93rd (11th), pass 72nd (10th), run 79th (10th)

    Commodores: offense 4th (3rd SEC), pass 70th (7th), run 2nd (1st), defense 5th (2nd), pass 9th (2nd), run 15th (2nd)

    POLLS: LSU (11 AP, 9 coaches)

    PREDICTION: LSU 34, Vanderbilt 17

    KEYS TO THE GAME: These teams enter a head-to-head meeting undefeated for the first time 1937. Only one of the teams is viewed as a legitimate BCS contender.

    Offensively, the Commodores will have to run the ball well enough to keep QB Larry Smith out of third-and-long situations, which would allow LSU to rush the passer. Scoring first is essential to their chances of pulling an upset. Vandy must also tighten up its shaky special teams play of the first week, which saw Brett Upson average just 27.5 yards per punt and Ryan Fowler miss two field goals, including a 32-yarder, in his first career start.

    LSU has won five straight and nine of the last 10 games against Vanderbilt.

    FAST FACTS: Tigers: LSU enters the game on a four-game SEC losing streak. … LSU has won 30 consecutive Saturday night games at Tiger Stadium. … LSU goes into the Vanderbilt game riding a streak of 10 consecutive victories during the month of September. … LSU’s last loss during the month of September came at Auburn by a 7-3 count on Sept. 16, 2006. … LSU has won two straight SEC openers and the Tigers are 2-2 in conference openers under coach Les Miles. … LSU has also won three straight and 13 of its last 14 home openers. … LSU goes into the game led on offense by QB Jordan Jefferson, who threw for 172 yards and 3 TDs against Washington. … Other offensive standouts for LSU include RB Charles Scott (52 yards vs. Washington), Keiland Williams (51 yards vs. Washington) and Terrance Toliver (4 rec., for 117 yards and 2 TDs vs. Washington). … CB Patrick Peterson leads the Tigers with nine tackles, while LB Harry Coleman is second on the squad with seven tackles. DE Rahim Alem and DT Drake Nevis lead in sacks with one each.

    Commodores: Vandy is 1-9 in its last 10 games against LSU. … It’s only one game and it came against a bad FCS program, but Vanderbilt is ranked second in the nation in rushing (433 yards), fourth in total offense (620) and tied for 18th in scoring (45). The 45 points was the third-highest in the Bobby Johnson era.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH:

    Tigers:

  • WR Terrance Tolliver — Tolliver had four receptions and scored two touchdowns last week, turning medium gains into long scoring plays with nifty moves to avoid the first tackler. He averaged better than 29 yards a catch on his four receptions.
  • RB Charles Scott — Scott got off to a slow start, gaining only 52 yards on 12 carries. He also lost a rare fumble. The Tigers are going to want to get him going with games against Georgia and Florida coming up in early October.
  • LB Jacob Cutrera — Cutrera didn’t start but made a big impact on his first play, intercepting a pass and returning it for a touchdown. He ended up with five tackles, including one for a loss, against Washington.

    Commodores:

  • QB Larry Smith — After a successful test run against a compliant opponent last week, Smith steps up several classes in competition and crowd noise. Can the sophomore keep his poise with 92,000 fans screaming for blood? Can he coolly direct the offense to points while staying away from mistakes?
  • MLB Chris Marve — Primed for a big sophomore season, Marve will have to enjoy a huge game against the Tigers. That will depend on the front four winning enough plays to keep him from running into big offensive linemen. Marve is developing a reputation as a player who offenses must scheme for … or pay the price.
  • P Brett Upson — With another 45-point, 620-yard explosion unlikely from the offense at LSU, Upson could become critical. He’ll have to be the good Upson who’s won SEC weekly honors before, not the bad one who averaged 27.5 yards last week and had a punt blocked. When he’s right, he can win games based on field position.

    INJURY WATCH:

    Tigers:

  • DT Akiem Hicks did not play in the opener because of an undisclosed injury and is not listed on the two-deep for the game against Vanderbilt.

    Commodores:

  • RB Jared Hawkins (foot) was termed “doubtful” by coach Bobby Johnson on Monday and is unlikely to play at LSU. Hawkins sat out last week’s win over Western Carolina.
  • DE Broderick Stewart was chosen by his teammates to wear a patch honoring Kwame Doster, the only Vandy player to ever win SEC Freshman of the Year. Doster was shot and killed in his hometown of Tampa, Fla., on Dec. 26, 2004. Stewart’s the third player to wear the patch, but the first who didn’t play with Doster to wear it.
  • WR Justin Wheeler (knee), a former starter, has concluded his career due to his injury. A fifth-year senior, Wheeler helped the Commodores get off to a 5-0 start and a No. 13 ranking nationally last year before being sidelined.

    Idaho State at Oklahoma

    KICKOFF: Saturday, 7 p.m. ET

    SERIES: First meeting

    2009 RANKINGS: Sooners: offense 95th (11th Big 12), pass 92nd (10th), run 73rd (9th), defense 68th (9th), pass 90th (11th), run 5th (2nd)

    POLLS: Oklahoma (13 AP, 14 Coaches)

    PREDICTION: Oklahoma 41, Idaho State 6

    KEYS TO THE GAME: An FCS team that won only a game last season and lost 50-3 to Arizona State on opening night, Idaho State should not challenge the Sooners. OU, though, will challenge itself to play much better and with more discipline on the offensive line, to give pressed-into-action starting quarterback Landry Jones the help he needs, and to play an intelligent game.

    Idaho State is dotted with inexperience — quarterback Kyle Blum has a tenuous hold on the No. 1 job and will be making his fourth career start — and managed on 57 net yards of offense last week.

    OU needs to see a clean game, without penalties and turnovers, particularly the type that are completely avoidable, like false starts. More than anything, they need to survive injury-free after losing QB Sam Bradford for at least two weeks and TE Jermaine Gresham for the season.

    FAST FACTS: Sooners: BYU beat Oklahoma 14-13 last week, holding the Sooners more than five touchdowns below its 2008 season scoring average. … klahoma has won 24 straight home games, the longest current streak in the nation, and a mark that is just one shy of the school record of 25. … The last time Oklahoma lost its season opener was in 2005 when TCU surprised the Sooners in Norman, 17-10. The following week, OU bounced back to defeat Tulsa on Owen Filed, 31-15. … Oklahoma has not lost back-to-back regular season games since 1999 when Notre Dame and Texas prevailed on consecutive Saturday’s during Bob Stoops’ inagural season.

    Bengals: Coach John Zamberlin is 4-20 in three seasons at Idaho State. … The Bengals were 1-11 last season. They ended a 15-game losing streak in the 2008 finale with a 36-33 overtime win over Sacramento State. … Last week at Tempe, Ariz., Idaho State limited Arizona State to one touchdown in its fi rst nine possessions and trailed just 3-0 after one quarter. ASU expanded that advantage to 23-0 by halftime. Idaho State got on the board with 2:28 remaining in the third quarter on a 55-yard Jarrett Huk field goal. … The ISU off ense struggled with (-5) yards rushing and only 42 more through the air. The team mustered just four first downs. … Idaho State employed two quarterbacks in the game at Arizona State. Russel Hill was 6-of-10 for 32 yards with one interception. Kyle Blum, the starter, was 3-of-10 for 10 yards with three interceptions. The leading rusher was Clint Knickrehm, who carried 15 times for 24 yards, while the leading receiver was Jaron Taylor with three grabs for 25 yards.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH:

    Sooners:

  • QB Landry Jones — After coming in for Sam Bradford against BYU, he completed 6 of 12 passes for 51 yards. The coaches will take rate of production, but say he needs more help.
  • WR Brandon Caleb — He had the biggest game of his career against BYU, catching four passes for 57 yards. If new QB Landry Jones needs help, Caleb might be a good place to start.
  • RBs Chris Brown and DeMarco Murray — They will become the natural focus of any defense as long as Sam Bradford is out and Landry Jones starts in his place. Last week, they combined on 117 yards rushing on 24 carries.

    Bengals:

  • WR Jaron Taylor — The 5-foot-11 senior was the lone Bengal with more than one reception last week, catching three for 25. He was third on the team in receptions last season.
  • FS Phillip Pleasant — Racked up 10 tackles this season but is still listed as the No. 2 safety on the two-deep.
  • WLB A.J. Storms — Promising sophomore had eight tackles and two tackles for loss vs. ASU.

    INJURY WATCH:

    Sooners:

  • QB Sam Bradford (shoulder) is out for at least two weeks
  • TE Jermaine Gresham (knee) is out for the season.
  • FB/TE/C Brody Eldridge, after being proclaimed the Sooners’ best center, is moving back to tight end, but not because he struggled against BYU. Instead, that’s where the Sooners need him blocking more. Eldridge was considered by the coaches for the team’s Offensive Player of the Week honors against the Cougars.
  • OL Ben Habern again appears to be the Sooners’ guy at center after Brody Eldridge has been shipped back to tight end.

    Bengals:

  • WR Roderick Rumble, a true freshman, missed the opener against Arizona State with the flu but is expected to play.

    South Carolina at Georgia

    KICKOFF: Saturday, 7 p.m. ET

    SERIES: Georgia leads South Carolina 45-14-2 (last meeting, 2008, 14-7 Georgia).

    2009 RANKINGS: Bulldogs: offense 96th (10th SEC), pass 82nd (10th), run 84th (11th), defense 52nd (9th), pass 81st (11th), run 84th (11th);

    Gamecocks: offense 98th (11th SEC), pass 17th (5th), run 20th (3rd), defense 8th (3rd), pass 17th (5th), run 20th (3rd)

    POLLS: Georgia (21 AP, Coaches)

    PREDICTION: Georgia 22, South Carolina 17

    KEYS TO THE GAME: After both teams’ offenses struggled in Week 1, special teams could play a major role in Saturday’s game in Athens. That means South Carolina cannot afford to botch two field goals like it did against North Carolina State.

    FAST FACTS: Bulldogs: South Carolina has been Georgia’s first Southeastern Conference opponent since the Gamecocks joined the league in 1992. This streak will continue on Saturday night. The Bulldogs are 12-5 in these games including 6-2 under Mark Richt. … Georgia took 12 true freshmen to its season opener at Oklahoma State, but only half the players appeared in the game. The most notable contributor was TE Orson Charles. Charles had two catches for 46 yards but was unable to catch a quick slant pass from senior quarterback Joe Cox late in the game. … Coach Mark Richt said he planned to use backup QB Logan Gray in some red zone packages last week against Oklahoma State, but it never materialized. “I’m not saying that’s the plan this week, but it was the plan last week,” Richt said. … with a 82-23 record. In that span, LSU and Georgia have met five times, each winning on their home fields once and in Atlanta for the SEC title. The Bulldogs topped the Tigers 52-38 in Baton Rouge in 2008 to give Georgia a 3-2 edge in that span.

    Gamecocks: South Carolina is 2-6 against Georgia in the Mark Richt era. Six of the last eight games have been decided by seven points or less. … This is the first time since 1996 that South Carolina has come into their game with Georgia with a better record than the Bulldogs. The Gamecocks won that meeting 23-14. … Only Vanderbilt and Kentucky allowed fewer points last weekend than the Gamecock defense. Both teams recorded shutouts in their opening game. … This is only the 7th time in 116 years of competing in intercollegiate football that the Gamecocks have played their first two games of the season on the road.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH:

    Bulldogs:

  • QB Joe Cox — Cox was average in his second career start, completing 15 of 30 passes for 162 yards and a TD. But he also accounted for two of Georgia’s three turnovers with an interception and a fumble. Cox is 1-0 lifetime in SEC play, with a win against Ole Miss as a redshirt freshman. He’ll get a chance for redemption in league play Saturday against South Carolina.
  • LB Rennie Curran — Curran was everywhere on defense in Georgia’s season opener against Oklahoma State. Georgia will be looking for Curran and the rest of the defense to shut down South Carolina’s running game and make the Gamecocks one-dimensional.
  • TE Aron White — White was under utilized in Georgia’s loss at Oklahoma State, making just one catch for 12 yards. Georgia likes to traditionally throw to its tight ends. Look for the Bulldogs to try to establish White early to take pressure off A.J. Green and the rest of its receivers.

    Gamecocks:

  • QB Stephen Garcia — The sophomore showed signs of improvement from last year in the opening win over North Carolina State. While Garcia wasn’t spectacular, he did make some key throws down the stretch.
  • CB Stephon Gilmore — The true freshman made a game-saving play against North Carolina State. Gilmore, the 2008 South Carolina high school player of the year, broke up a pass in the end zone on N.C. State’s final play to preserve the Gamecocks’ opening win.
  • WR Moe Brown — Until the running game finally gets going, Brown, the most proven receiver, must make plays down the field. He led the team in receiving yards against North Carolina State and made a key first-down grab to help the Gamecocks run out the clock. But he needs to prove to defenses that he can beat them deep.

    INJURY WATCH:

    Bulldogs:

  • OT Trinton Sturdivant is out for the second straight season with a torn ACL in his left knee. Vince Vance, who started six games last season, will take over at LT.
  • RB Caleb King is expected to return this week after sitting out the Oklahoma State game with a pulled hamstring.
  • DB Quintin Banks (knee) is expected to be back for South Carolina.
  • DB Makiri Pugh (swine flu) is expected to be back for South Carolina.

    Gamecocks:

  • DE Devin Taylor was named SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week after his performance again North Carolina State. He’ll also keep his starting job, but will split time with Clifton Geathers, who returns from his one-game suspension.
  • With LB Rodney Paulk out for the season with a knee injury, Shaq Wilson takes over as the starting middle linebacker. Wilson filled in admirably for Paulk, who went down early against North Carolina State.

    Bowling Green at Missouri

    KICKOFF: Saturday, 7 p.m. ET

    SERIES: Bowling Green leads 3-1 (last meeting, 2002, 51-28 Bowling Green).

    2009 RANKINGS: Tigers: offense 36th (6th Big 12), pass 13th (4th), run 74th (10th), defense 61st (8th), pass 43rd (4th), run 58th (7th);

    Falcons: offense 53rd (3rd MAC), pass 9th (2nd), run 9th (10th), defense 51st (2nd), pass 54th (5th), run 15th (1st)

    POLLS: Missouri (25 AP)

    PREDICTION: Missouri 34, Bowling Green 20

    KEYS TO THE GAME: Missouri can’t lose the focus it carried into and out of the victory over Illinois. Sloppy mistakes, which were at a minimum against the Illini, could keep Bowling Green in a game and instill confidence in the visitors.

    Missouri’s only sign of weakness against Illinois was a running game that had trouble crossing the line of scrimmage. Other than a late 32-yard pickup by Derrick Washington, Missouri’s top two tailbacks, Washington and De’Vion Moore, combined for just 50 yards on 21 carries. The passing game, though, was in midseason form as Blaine Gabbert completed 25 of 33 passes for 319 yards and three touchdowns, each to a different receiver. That earned Gabbert Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week honors for his first career start.

    FAST FACTS: Tigers: QB Blaine Gabbert was superb in his first career start, throwing for 319 yards and 3 TDs, while rushing for a fourth score. … Mizzou was plus-2 in turnover margin last week vs. Illinois. MU ranked only 79th in the NCAA in 2008 with a turnover margin of minus¿0.29 per game. Mizzou was stellar in that category during its 12-2 2007 season, ranking 11th nationally in turnover margin (+0.93 per game). … The Tigers have won 3 straight home openers, and 10-of-12 overall, dating back to 1997.

    Falcons: Bowling Green is 2-1 in Columbia, including a 20-13 win in 2001. … Since 2001, Bowling Green has 11 wins over BCS teams, most recently a 27-17 victory at Pittsburgh to open the 2008 season. … Bowling Green has a history with Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel, who was at the University of Toledo before taking the Missouri position. The Falcons are 7-5 against Pinkel as a head coach, including victories at Missouri in 2001 and at Bowling Green in 2002. Pinkel was a wide receivers coach at Bowling Green for the 1977 and 1978 seasons.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH:

    Tigers:

  • TB Derrick Washington — More than half of his yardage in the opener came on one fourth-quarter 32-yard gain, but with MU’s No. 2 back out with an ankle injury, the pressure will fall on Washington to power a running game that wasn’t very aggressive last week.
  • WR Wes Kemp — He scored his first career touchdown on a 49-yard catch-and-run against the Illini, but the sophomore wide-out will need to boost his production if opposing defenses focus their attention on fellow receiver Danario Alexander, who had a career day against Illinois with 10 catches for 132 yards.
  • DE/DT Aldon Smith — Missouri debuted its retooled third-down dime package that utilized three defensive ends along the front four — Jacquies Smith and Brian Coulter on the edge and Aldon Smith lined up at defensive tackle. In his college debut, Aldon Smith racked up three tackles for loss, including a sack. It will be interesting to see how the speedy package continues to develop.

    Falcons:

  • WR Freddie Barnes — The senior had a huge game with a school-record 15 receptions for 157 yards and two touchdowns against Troy. He also went into the backfield to take a direct snap two times, and both times he ran for a first down. For the Falcons to be successful against Missouri, Barnes must be ready to adjust his game, as the Tigers have to make him one of their top concerns.
  • QB Tyler Sheehan — The senior was 32-of-44 passing for 339 yards and two touchdowns and only one interception against Troy, as Bowling Green looked to throw the ball more downfield. He must approach or surpass those numbers against Missouri.
  • CB/KOR Roger Williams — Making his first start, Williams led the Falcons in tackles with 10, including seven solos, and added an interception. He also became Bowling Green’s career leader in kickoff-return yardage (1,275) and second in career returns with 58, needing eight more returns to become the career leader. He will need to continue his strong play at corner and also be productive in the return game.
  • S P.J. Mahone — When Bowling Green used a 3-4 scheme up front against Troy, Mahone, BG’s leading tackler last season, moved up to an outside linebacker spot. He is a very sure tackler and also has 10 career interceptions. He will continue to fill a dual role and must perform at a high level. Mahone will also be one of the two-deep return men on kickoffs due to an injury to WR Tyrone Pronty.

    INJURY WATCH:

    Tigers:

  • SS Jarrell Harrison has been fitted for a brace for his dislocated elbow and will likely miss Saturday’s game.
  • Missouri’s most heralded member of its 2010 recruiting class, offensive lineman Nick Demien from Wentzville, Mo., might sit out his entire senior year at Timberland High School after undergoing knee surgery to repair a damaged ligament. Demien is widely considered one of the best offensive tackle prospects in the country.

    Falcons:

  • WR Tyrone Pronty is out 4-6 weeks after suffering a broken right foot against Troy. He was second on the team with six receptions against Troy. Ray Hutson will start in Pronty’s spot.

    Southeast Missouri State at Cincinnati

    KICKOFF: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET

    SERIES: Cincinnati leads 1-0

    POLLS: Cincinnati (23 AP, coaches)

    PREDICTION: Cincinnati 61, SEMO 21

    KEYS TO THE GAME: The Bearcats return to Nippert Stadium for the first time since clinching the Big East championship and a BCS Bowl berth against Syracuse last season. In the only prior meeting, UC defeated the Redhawks 59-3 in the 2007 season opener. SEMO is coming off a record-setting performance against NAIA opponent Quincy, establishing a new modern-day record for points scored in a 72-3 victory.

    FAST FACTS:

    Bearcats: Coach Brian Kelly is 23-6 at Cincinnati. … UC returns eight offensive starters, including Tony Pike (QB), Jeff Linkenbach (OL), and all-America wideout/kick returner Mardy Gilyard. The Bearcats return only one starter on defense (Aaron Webster), but the depth chart features veteran players who have seen extensive playing time. UC has a new defensive coordinator in Bob Diaco and a new multiple-front defense. … The Bearcats will have 10 new starters on defense. The lone returning starter is safety Aaron Webster. … Fifteen players made their first career appearance for the Bearcats in the season opener at Rutgers. Nine Bearcats players made their first career starts in that game. … Twelve former UC football players made 53-man rosters for their respective NFL teams, including 2009 draft picks Connor Barwin (Texans), Kevin Huber (Bengals) and Brandon Underwood (Packers).

    Redhawks: Twenty-one Redhawks on this year’s roster played against Cincinnati in 2007, a 59-3 loss. … Southeast has lost eight straight games to NCAA FBS opponents. The Redhawks have been outscored, 174-13, in their last three contests versus FBS foes. One of those games was a 59-3 loss at Cincinnati on Aug. 30, 2007. … The Redhawks opened their 2009 season in record-setting fashion with a 72-3 win over NAIA Quincy University on Sept. 3. … Southeast set a modern day record for most points in a game. The Redhawks also scored a school record 58 first-half points, 21 of which came in the first 4:25 of the game.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH:

    Bearcats:

  • QB Tony Pike — The senior was 27 of 34 for a career-high 362 yards and three touchdowns in the win over Rutgers. Pike completed passes to nine different receivers.
  • RB Jacob Ramsey — Much-maligned the past two seasons and expected to be vaulted by sophomore Isaiah Pead on the depth chart, he averaged 9.6 yards per carry, including a 62-yard run against Rutgers. Bearcats running backs combined for 87 yards receiving and one touchdown, a 41-yard TD by Pead.
  • P/PK Jake Rogers — Earned the punting duties after an offseason competition to replace two-time All-American Kevin Huber. Rogers averaged 31 yards on two punts. He also booted a 30-yard field goal and was 6-for-6 on extra-point attempts.

    Redhawks:

  • WR Walter Peoples — Has caught a pass in 15 straight games. The senior caught five passes for 76 yards against Quincy.
  • RB Henry Harris — Ran for 88 yards and a career-high three TDs on 11 carries to key the attack. A native of Memphis, Tenn., Harris averaged eight yards per carry in just his second career start. RBs Renard Celestin and Trey Porter.
  • LB Justin Woodlief recorded a game-high 10 tackles in his Southeast debut against Quincy (Sept. 3). Woodlief, who transferred to Southeast from San Jose State, finished with three solo tackles, while assisting on seven others. He also broke up a pass. Woodlief registered four of his tackles to key a big goal line stand by the Redhawks defense at the end of the game.

    INJURY WATCH:

    Bearcats:

    None

    Redhawks:

    None


    Kansas at Texas-El Paso

    KICKOFF: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET

    SERIES: First meeting

    2009 RANKINGS: Jayhawks: offense 11th (3rd Big 12), pass 50th (7th), run 9th (1st), defense 31st (4th), pass 52nd (7th), run 32nd (4th);

    Miners: offense 57th (7th C-USA), pass 44th-T (5th), run 65th (7th), defense 55th (5th), pass 91st (9th), run 74th (7th)

    POLLS: Kansas (24 AP, 25 coaches)

    PREDICTION: Kansas 43, UTEP 21

    KEYS TO THE GAME: The early venture is valuable to KU in some respects because it offers Kansas a chance to play on the road.

    Picking this remote outpost, however, does not necessarily help with recruiting since the KU staff doesn’t work this part of Texas despite carrying 33 players from that state on the roster.

    Kansas cannot afford to go to UTEP with a big head. The Jayhawks may sense an opportunity to club an inferior opponent, especially after the Miners were victimized by penalties, errant throws, bad snaps, dropped balls and a muff on a kickoff in a 23-17 loss against Buffalo. Expect UTEP to clean up some of its mistakes while attempting to ride the arm of potent QB Trevor Vittatoe.

    His favorite target, WR Jeff Moturi, is tied with Kansas WR Dezmon Briscoe for fourth nationally in touchdown grabs (22) among active receivers.

    FAST FACTS: Jayhawks: Coach Mark Mangino is looking to tie Glen Mason for second on the KU coaches victories list (A.R. Kennedy was 52-9-4 from 1904-10). Mangino enters the game with a 46-41 record while Mason was 47-54-1 all-time. If Mangino reaches this mark this week it will come in his 88th game, while Mason’s victory came in his 99th game at KU. … KU is playing its only road game until it visits Colorado on Oct. 17 (four home games and a bye week to start the season). … KU is 6-4 in its last 10 road games, but was 1-3 last year, winning only at Iowa State. … KU is 2-4 in non-conference road games in the era with wins at Tulsa (2002) and at Wyoming (2003). Since the Wyoming win KU has lost non-Big 12 road games at Northwestern (2004), at Toledo (2006) and at South Florida (2008). … KU has won 17 of its last 19 games against non-Big 12 Conference foes, including three bowl victories. … KU is 24-7 in its last 31 games overall dating back to late in 2006. … KU has won 15 of its last 19 night games. … KU is 21-7 in the month of September under Mangino.

    Miners: The Miners are 3-44 all-time versus Associated Press top 25 opponents (2-15 at home), with a current nine-game losing streak. … UTEP’s last victory over an AP Top 25 squad was a 14-3 conquest of 25th-rated BYU on Nov. 1, 1997 in the Sun Bowl. … UTEP will play at Texas on Sept. 26 and, assuming the Longhorns are ranked at the time, will face at least two rated opponents in a season for the first time since 2000 (No. 19 Oklahoma, No. 15 TCU). … UTEP is 7-27-1 all-time versus Big 12 schools (3-9-1 in El Paso), with a 15-game losing streak. The Miners’ last victory over a Big 12 opponent was a 26-14 decision over Texas Tech on Oct. 12, 1957 in El Paso. UTEP is facing a Big 12 school for the fourth year in a row after meeting Texas Tech in 2006 and 2007 and Texas in 2008. The Miners and the Longhorns will hook up in Austin on Sept. 26, completing the home-and-home series. … UTEP will play at Kansas on Sept. 24, 2011, wrapping up the home-and-home series. … UTEP is 19-12 in the Sun Bowl since Mike Price took the helm of the program in 2004, although the Miners are9-10 in the venue since 2006. The Miners are 7-4 in home non-conference games under Price (0-3 since ’08).

    PLAYERS TO WATCH:

    Jayhawks:

  • WR Dezmon Briscoe — He will get his first opportunity to play this season after serving a one-game suspension. Briscoe gives the Jayhawks an exceptional threat to score from anywhere on the field after averaging 15.2 yards per catch in 2008.
  • RB Toben Opurum — Kansas may not be able to keep the true freshman off the field. Although he probably won’t unseat senior RB Jake Sharp as the featured back, Opurum figures to give the Jayhawks some depth they’ve lacked at that spot.
  • OT Tanner Hawkinson — He is the new lineman protecting the blind side of QB Todd Reesing. The Jayhawks didn’t throw much in the opener, but Hawkinson’s development will be worth monitoring throughout nonconference play.

    Miners:

  • QB Trevor Vittatoe — The ringmaster of the Miners’ offense, Vittatoe is due for a breakout game. The junior is tied with Texas’ Colt McCoy for the sixth most passing touchdowns among active quarterbacks since 2007, but he comes off a game when he didn’t pass for a single score.
  • DB Da’Mon Cromartie-Smith — Cromartie-Smith was all over the field in the game against Buffalo, and he’ll have his hands full in coverage against a Kansas team that has three outstanding receivers. If Cromartie-Smith has to make another 18 tackles like he did against Buffalo, the Miners could be in trouble.
  • RB Donald Buckram — Although the Miners’ passing attack gets much of the attention, the running game is also potent this year thanks to the presence of Buckram. The junior had a career-best 108 yards on 14 carries in the opener against Buffalo, and the Miners will need him to run hard to keep Kansas’ defense honest.

    INJURY WATCH:

    Jayhawks:

  • LB Justin Springer is nearing 100 percent after suffering a season-ending leg injury last season. He saw limited action in the opener against Northern Colorado but was in on a tackle for loss. Incidentally, Springer’s twin brother, Jeremy, plays for UTEP.
  • WR Raimond Pendleton remains suspended for the game at UTEP after missing the first game. Pendleton violated an undisclosed team rule.
  • WR Dezmon Briscoe and DT Jamal Greene will return for the UTEP game after serving one-game suspensions as terms for their absence from spring camp. Another player suspended from the opener, DE Jeff Wheeler, will also return against UTEP.

    Miners:

  • RB Vernon Frazier could provide a boost to the Miners’ running game against Kansas. Frazier, a sophomore who averaged 5.7 yards per carry last year, tweaked his knee in practice and missed the Buffalo game but is close to coming back.
  • LB Jeremy Springer, who converted from quarterback prior to the season, showed the switch was worth it against Buffalo, finishing second on the team in tackles with nine. Springer started at linebacker just five months after making the switch to a position he hadn’t played since seventh grade.

    Southern Cal at Ohio State

    KICKOFF: Saturday, 8 p.m. ET

    SERIES: USC leads 12-9-1 (last meeting, 2008, 35-3 USC).

    2009 RANKINGS: Trojans: offense 4th (1st Pac-10), pass 25th (4th), 7th (1st), defense 6th (2nd), pass 23rd (3rd), run 2nd (2nd)

    Buckeyes: offense 61st (8th Big Ten), pass 55th (10th), run 55th (5th), defense 62nd (7th), pass 107th (11th), run 87th (11th)

    POLLS: Southern Cal (3 AP, coaches); Ohio State (8 AP, 7 coaches)

    PREDICTION: Southern Cal 31, Ohio State 20

    KEYS TO THE GAME: Ohio State has to be hungry — starving? — for a marquee win. Since the start of the 2006 season, the Buckeyes’ only marquee out-of-conference victory came at Texas. Since then, the Buckeyes have lost to Florida, LSU, Southern Cal and Texas.

    The key to USC’s offense under Pete Carroll has been balance, able to win with equal aplomb by the run or pass. This looks like a game, given QB Matt Barkley’s inexperience, in which the Trojans should lean on the run. USC’s offensive line will be the best unit on the field, and it needs to play like it.

    FAST FACTS: Buckeyes: Ohio State and Southern Cal have played in a combined 13 BCS bowl games since 2002 under coaches Jim Tressel and Pete Carroll. … Southern Cal coach Pete Carroll was a member of the Ohio State coaching staff in 1979. … 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 84-19 after eight years at Ohio State; 219-76-2 after 23 years overall. … Ohio State is the Big Ten preseason favorite, followed by Penn State and Michigan State. … ESPN’s College GameDay will originate from an Ohio State game for the 24th time since 1996. … The Big Ten went 10-1 in opening weekend games. … Ohio State has won four Big Ten titles in a row. … Crowds of more than 100,000 have seen the last 49 games at Ohio Stadium. … Forty former Buckeyes are on 2009 NFL opening- day rosters. Trojans: USC held Ohio State to 207 yards in last season’s game, when Terrelle Pryor split time with Todd Boeckman. Pryor was 7 of 9 passing for 52 yards, also rushing 11 times for 40 yards.

    Trojans: Saturday is USC’s first visit to the Horseshoe since 1990. … The Trojans are 1-0 entering Saturday’s game after defeating San Jose State 56-3 last weekend at the Coliseum. … USC has made seven consecutive BCS bowl appearances, including four straight Rose Bowls and the 2004 national championship in the Orange Bowl. … The Trojans are led on offense by true freshman Matt Barkley, who threw for 233 yards on 15-of-19 passing with one touchdown. Junior tailback Joe McKnight ran for 145 yards on 14 carries and scored twice. On defense, the Trojans are led by senior and two-time All-American safety Taylor Mays, a leading candidate for the Thorpe Award. … Head coach Pete Carroll is 89-15 in his ninth season with a 57-10 record in Pac-10 play. His Trojans have won at least a share of seven straight Pac-10 titles. He is

    6-1 in BCS bowls with three consecutive Rose Bowl victories.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH:

    Buckeyes:

  • QB Terrelle Pryor — He was a gimmick during last year’s game, a change of pace guy. Now he is the catalyst to the offense. Pryor has made brilliant plays thus far in his young career, but he has also made critical fourth-quarter turnovers at inopportune times. He can’t afford to have one of those lapses against USC.
  • LB Brian Rolle — OSU’s linebackers couldn’t keep up with USC’s powerful and fast fleet of tailbacks. Most of those guys are gone, however. Rolle demonstrated great speed last week in returning an interception 99 yards against Navy. He’ll need that speed again this week.
  • WR Duron Carter — He’s only a true freshman, but Carter is quickly forming a chemistry with Pryor. Since DeVier Posey is questionable with an ankle injury, the son of former OSU great Cris Carter could have a huge role Saturday night.

    Trojans:

  • RB Joe McKnight — The junior asserted himself in the race for playing time at running back, getting the start last week against San Jose State and rushing for 145 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. He has good memories of playing against Ohio State, rushing 12 times for 106 yards last season.
  • FS Taylor Mays — He definitely takes care of anything deep; almost nothing gets by him in the passing game. The real thrill could come if Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor breaks free in the open field and gets one-on-one with Mays, one of the fiercest hitters in the game. Who wins that matchup?
  • TE Anthony McCoy — An excellent pass catcher, McCoy had three receptions for 64 yards in the opener. He’ll be a nice security blanket for QB Matt Barkley against Ohio State.

    INJURY WATCH:

    Buckeyes:

  • WR DeVier Posey did not practice early in the week after his ankle injury against Navy. Coach Jim Tressel was expecting to get him back toward the middle of the week and would make a determination on his status closer to kickoff.
  • WR Ray Small has battled a virus that has left him weak. He is questionable for the USC game.
  • In Small’s absence, Dane Sanzenbacher is listed as the punt returner this week, although Tressel said that situation will be revisited closer to Saturday.

    Trojans:

  • P Billy O’Malley, a new starter, will keep that job for the Ohio State game despite averaging only 34.7 yards per punt in the opener against San Jose State.
  • Backup S Drew McAllister (hip) is questionable for this week’s game at Ohio State.
  • DT Averell Spicer, who missed the opener because of a sprained ankle, returned to practice Monday.
  • CB Shareece Wright, who redshirted last season because of a neck injury, was ruled academically ineligible several days before the season opener. Josh Pinkard, a sixth-year senior who wanted to showcase his skills at safety for the NFL scouts, shifted to starting cornerback against San Jose State, with Will Harris stepping in at strong safety. Pinkard played cornerback last season as well.
  • LB Luthur Brown, a senior, was ruled academically eligible last week after a grade was changed from a summer class. He did not play in the opener, but can eventually provide depth at all the linebacker spots and help on special teams.

    Miami (Ohio) at Boise State

    KICKOFF: Saturday, 8 p.m. ET

    SERIES: First meeting

    2009 RANKINGS: Broncos: offense 62nd (3rd WAC), pass 65th (4th), run 52nd (4th), defense 10th (1st), pass 25th (2nd), run 9th (1st)

    RedHawks: offense 103rd (11th MAC), pass 100th (12th), run 94th (8th), defense 95th (10th), pass 92nd (10th), run 97th (8th)

    POLLS: Boise State (12 AP, 11 coaches)

    PREDICTION: Boise State 45, Miami (Ohio) 15

    KEYS TO THE GAME: Miami is young at most positions and doesn’t have the depth to withstand Boise State’s waves of talent.

    The Broncos want to build on the performance of the run game against Oregon with more big plays out of speedy TBs Jeremy Avery and D.J. Harper. They also need to get some of their young offensive players some confidence before they go to Fresno State — particularly WRs Mitch Burroughs and Chris Potter.

    The defense for the Broncos just needs to keep the edge it gained holding Oregon to eight points and without a first down in the first half. That’s the best offense they’ll see all year, but they can’t afford to let down. The most impressive part of the defense might be its depth. At least 22 players got into the game against Oregon. Miami will provide a different challenge. The RedHawks throw the ball more than the Ducks, which will give the secondary more of a test.

    FAST FACTS: Broncos: Seventh time the Broncos have faced a team from the Mid-American Conference. Boise State, who is 4-2 all time against MAC teams, has won four consecutive games against MAC opponents. … Boise State’s win over Oregon on Sept. 3 moved the Broncos record at home to 65-2 (.970) since the beginning of the 1999 season. … With an opening night win against Oregon, Boise State extended its’ regular season home winning streak to an impressive 50 games, which dates back to the 2001 season. The last regular season Boise State loss came against Washington State (41-20) nine seasons ago.

    RedHawks: Coach Michael Haywood’s first road game comes against highly ranked Boise State. … Four true freshmen, one redshirt freshman listed in Miami’s probable starting lineup. … Furthest road trip west since 2007 when Miami played at Colorado. … First of three consecutive road games: Boise State, Western Michigan and Kent State. … Miami has an all-time record of 51-39-3 in night games with six scheduled this season.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH:

    Broncos:

  • QB Kellen Moore — Moore had kind of a quiet night in the opener, but was efficient as always. He has completed at least 60 percent of his passes in all 14 of his college games. His numbers would have been much more impressive against Oregon but the Ducks committed pass interference on two deep balls, preventing catches.
  • RB Jeremy Avery — He had a career-high 27 carries against Oregon. The Broncos are taking a new approach this year with their tailbacks, allowing them to stay in the game for extended periods instead of rotating play by play.
  • DT Billy Winn — The athletic Winn grabbed Oregon RB LeGarrette Blount for a safety in the opener. Those kinds of plays should be the norm for Winn, who was a freshman All-American last year.

    RedHawks:

  • QB Daniel Raudabaugh — He went all the way despite the lopsided score in Game One because Haywood felt he needed the reps. Now, it gets tougher for the senior, who threw a pair of picks and no touchdowns in a 13-for-34 performance in the opener.
  • RB Andre Bratton — The senior jumped from No. 3 to No. 1 on the depth chart after amassing 37 yards on seven carries in the opener. The other running backs totaled just 25 yards on 15 carries.
  • LB Jerrell Wedge — He had a career tackling day in the opener, leading the way with 15 stops.
  • WR Dustin Woods — If healthy, he can be one of the better offensive players in the MAC, catching as many as nine passes in a game last season. He had just one, for 19 yards, in the opener.

    INJURY WATCH:

    Broncos:

  • DE Byron Hout was not suspended for his role in the LeGarrette Blount fiasco. However, Hout was disciplined internally.
  • Sophomore CB Jerrell Gavins, a junior college transfer with a redshirt year available, played in the opener on special teams. He is listed as a backup cornerback this week.
  • CB Jamar Taylor, TB Matt Kaiserman and TE Chandler Koch, all backups, were out for the opener with injuries. Their status is week-to-week.

    RedHawks:

    None


    Utah at San Jose State

    KICKOFF: Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET

    SERIES: Utah leads 4-1 (last meeting, 1998, 49-17 Utah)

    2009 RANKINGS: Utah: offense 35th (3rd MWC), pass 35th (3rd), run 51st (5th), defense 11th (2nd), pass 20th (2nd), run 11th (2nd)

    Spartans: offense 109th (9th WAC), pass 104th (9th), run 110th (9th), defense 109th (9th), pass 108th (8th), run 109th (9th)

    POLLS: Utah (17 AP, coaches)

    PREDICTION: Utah 48, San Jose State 14

    KEYS TO THE GAME: The Utes come into the game with plenty of mistakes to correct from its season opener against Utah State. Facing another WAC foe in San Jose State, Utah must reduce the three turnovers it committed in the opener as well as do a better job in goal-line offense. QB Terrance Cain will go to work against a defense that couldn’t slow USC true freshman Matt Barkley after the first quarter.

    The Utes clearly want to come out trying to establish dominance and dishearten a San Jose State team that already suffered a dismantling at the hands of Southern California. SJSU may not be too eager to take a second pounding in as many weeks. If the Spartans can get a couple of big plays early, their confidence could soar against the visiting Utes.

    San Jose still doesn’t have a starting quarterback and few answers revealead themselves in a 56-3 loss last week.

    Coach Dick Tomey hopes to identify his starting quarterback in time for the WAC opener in October.

    FAST FACTS: Utes: Utah, in the WAC until 1998, hasn’t played SJSU since that year. … Utah owns the longest current win streak (15 games) and bowl win streak (eight games) in the nation. … Utah’s 15-game win streak is the third-longest in school history. The Utes won 16 straight games from Nov. 29, 1928-Nov. 27, 1930 and a school-record 18 consecutive games from Nov. 1, 2003-Sept. 10, 2005. … Utah also puts the second-longest road/neutral win streak in school history on the line at San Jose State. The Utes have won their last eight games away from home, dating back to Dec. 20, 2007. The school record is 11 straight road/neutral wins, set from Sept. 27, 2003-Jan. 1, 2005. … David Reed’s 253 all-purpose yards against Utah State was the second-best total in the nation last week. In addition, his 10 receptions ranked fourth, and his 172 receiving yards sixth nationally. Matt Asiata’s 156 yards rushing yards was the country’s sixth-best total last week, and his and Reed’s yardage led in the conference in their respective categories.

    Spartans: San Jose State still has one more ranked team on the schedule. The Spartans play at No. 12 Boise State on Oct. 31. … The Spartans have won nine of their past 10 home openers, including all four under coach Dick Tomey. … San Jose State hasn’t beaten a ranked team since Nov. 4, 2000. The Spartans beat No. 9 TCU that day.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH:

    Utes:

  • RB Matt Asiata — His 36 carries in the season opener were the fourth most for a single game in school history. That’s the game plan moving forward, to keep giving Asiata the ball. The Utes, however, want him to average five yards a carry; in the opener, Asiata averaged 4.3 yards per carry.
  • QB Terrance Cain — What will his progress be like from week one to week two? Cain certainly isn’t comfortable enough with the offense to enjoy some of the liberties in audibles or improvisation that former QB Brian Johnson had last season. The junior, however, has to show he’s ready for the staff to add variations to the offense.
  • DE Koa Misa — The senior will see his first action of the season, and Utah will get to see how he fills the playmaking void left by current NFL player Paul Kruger. Misi’s presence on the edge should allow the Utes to shore up their defensive interior after giving up a couple of big plays last week to Utah State.

    Spartans:

  • OT Fred Koloto — Started at left tackle against USC after redshirting in 2008. He has 11 career starts.
  • RB Patrick Perry — Missed the past two seasons with a knee injury, but opened his sixth year of eligibility with 14 carries for 48 yards against USC.
  • DE Mohamed Marah — Recorded a sack against USC, but he is questionable this week with a shoulder injury.

    INJURY WATCH:

    Utes:

  • DE Koa Misi, who missed the season opener with a back injury, was back at practice early in the week and is expected to play the road opener.
  • Freshman K/P Nick Marsh was suspended indefinitely prior to the season opener for disciplinary reasons.

    Spartans:

  • DE Mohamed Marah is questionable this week with a shoulder injury. He was the only player with a significant injury against USC.