College Football Week 3 PreviewBREAKING NEWS, News Friday, September 14th, 2012
Wake Forest at Florida State: I read somewhere coach Jimbo Fisher was absolutely floored that his Seminoles opened as a three touchdown favorite over the Demon Deacons (actually it opened at 24 where I got it and quickly went to 26.5 and has hit even 28 today in some places ) After all it was Wake Forrest who has defeated the tougher competition besting North Carolina 28-27 last week. They have also done it impressively. The Deacon’s defense is currently ranked #2 against both the run and the pass in the entire country. Florida State is 2-0 but has only played around six quarters so far due to Saturday’s contest being cancelled due to lightning and thunderstorms. Fisher commented he was concerned about Wake Forrest quarterback Tanner Price. The junior signal caller torched North Carolina on a 27/38 327 yard performance Saturday. Last year Price threw for 223 yards and 3 scores when Wake Forrest beat the Seminoles. His primary target Saturday was Michael Campanaro who reeled in 13 catches for 164 yards that made him the ACC receiver of the week. It’s hard to take anything out of Florida State’s first two games so far. Manuel only played a half in the game against Wake last year. Florida State is well aware the competition will be much bigger and faster then their in first two contest.
The Matchup: Florida State’s running game against Wake Forrest defense. The Seminoles have rushed for seven yards an attempt in their first two games. Again consider the schedule but if I had a question entering this year it was could that line open up some holes and enable Manuel to pick his spots to strike. So far, so good as Manuel has a 75% completion ratio early on . But this will be a solid test for them here. I also noticed that Wake Forrest has not had the same success only averaging 2.6 yards per attempt. A stat that I said in the beginning of the year was one of the four most important things I look at when evaluating a game. Also the obvious, although North Carolina is very formidable they aren’t the Seminoles. Mr. Price, meet an angry Florida State team who has revenge on their mind. The one thing I have to consider is will they look ahead to that monumental contest against Clemson the following week? A huge factor that must be considered.
Prediction: The Clemson game as I said in August will be one of the five most important games this year in determining a national champion. But first Seminoles must get through Wake Forrest. They will 42-13.
Florida at Tennessee: Well the Gators have played two games this year and I have seen every down of both. Game one, a forgettable one which was barred by too many mental mistakes, penalties and poor execution. Game two, a gutsy performance by quarterback Jeff Driskel and a defense that in the 2nd half shut the home team Aggies down in a very difficult place to play on the road. Tennessee finds themselves creeping back into the top 25 in the rankings for the first time since 2008 after victories over North Carolina State and Georgia State. A big reason has been the play from quarterback Tyler Bray who has completed 45/61 for 643 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions after just two weeks. Bray also led Tennessee to a 2-0 start in 2011 but was upended in week three by this same Gator squad 33-23. Bray did throw for three touchdowns in that game but was picked off twice and couldn’t bring the Vols back from a 23-point deficit. In fact when I looked back Florida has got the better of Tennessee in their last seven meetings. Florida will try and improve on its 2-0 start after a very impressive comeback win over Texas A&M. The Gators trailed by 10 late in the first half and came back to score 17 unanswered and never looked back. My concern is this. The Gators have been hush hush on the health of running back Mike Gillislee. Gillislee leads the SEC in rushing with 231 yards and is averaging 6.1 yards per carry and has four touchdowns. When watching the game back he seemed to aggravate a groin injury late in the game last week. Coach Wil Muschamp down played it saying he will be ready to go Saturday but that is a huge question for me and I will explain why. During this 7 game winning streak over Tennessee Florida has dominated Tennessee on the ground 157.7 to 46.4 a game. If Gillislee is not 100% that could affect how this game plays out.
The Matchup: Tyler Bray against the Florida Secondary. Again it depends on which game tape you watch. Bray and receiver Justin Hunter have been a lethal combination so far with Hunter having 219 yards receiving after two games. Florida will also be without two defensive players who went down with injuries. Linebacker Jelani Jenkins and defensive back Cody Riggs are both expected to miss significant time including this week. Also can Florida have success running the football and keep Bray on the sidelines? This will be critical to limit his chances as he is one of the SEC and country’s best gun slingers.
Prediction: Florida 24 Tennessee 20
Notre Dame @ Michigan State: I am very intrigued by this game. Both teams come in with a ton of momentum. Only one team will come out unbeaten and off to a tremendous start as the leaves begin to turn color. Michigan State opened the season with a hard fought victory over a Boise State team that wasn’t as talented as years past; but Coach Pederson had the Broncos ready to go and they gave Michigan State a fight until the end. The Spartans had a much easier time with Central Michigan last week winning 41-7. Notre Dame did it the opposite way beating Navy soundly overseas week one and earning a tough victory in their home opener last Saturday over Purdue. Both teams are ranked in the top 25. Notre Dame starts a murderous run facing 5 ranked teams plus Miami at Soldier Field over the next six weeks. As I said before I only think Arkansas has a tougher schedule. The two teams will face off under the lights Saturday. It will be the first visit for the Irish since 2010 when they lost on a fake field goal and head coach Mark Dantonio suffered a mild heart attack post game. I think this game is not only important for Michigan State, but for the entire big 10. The entire conference has taken some serious abuse this week for its performances so far in 2012. Toss in the fact Ohio State cannot advance to a bowl game and the Big 10 has taken a back seat to every other major conference but the Big East this year. It will be interesting to see how Notre Dame handles the quarterback position. First year starter Everett Golson committed a key turnover in the final minutes last week and Tommy Rees was inserted for the game winning drive.
The Matchup: Notre Dame’s offensive line against Michigan State’s defensive line. Here is why watching the tape post game is important. Notre Dame vs Navy. 293 rushing yards and the offensive line dominated. Notre Dame vs Purdue. Complete opposite Notre Dame was held to just 52 yards rushing. Michigan State is much better then Purdue. The offensive line is going to have to play better to give the Irish a chance.
Prediction: Michigan State 27-21
USC @ Stanford: Another prime time top 25 match up Saturday evening as the Trojans take on the Cardinal in an important Pac-12 match up. USC has started out the year with wins a home against Hawaii and back east against Syracuse. I watched both games and came away with a similar feeling I did with Florida the previous week. To me it’s black or white. Did USC dial down their game plan the first two weeks intentionally not to show the competition what they are capable of? Or is USC overrated? I had similar feelings about Florida. After watching the game my immediate reaction was this was not a great football team. Then I watched it back a second time. And the dots weren’t connecting. I felt although perhaps they didn’t play well, they also didn’t open half of the playbook thinking they could beat Bowling Green regardless. Funny thing happened in that Bowling Green had other plans. Florida escaped with a less then impressive win. Stanford had a similar experience week one barely escaping with a 3 point victory over San Jose State. Last week they looked very impressive with a huge win over Duke. Stanford is led by quarterback Josh Nunes who was 16/30 for 275 yards and 3 scores a week ago. The Cardinal has been a nuisance to the USC program in recent history. Fact; Matt Barkley has never beaten Stanford including a 56-48 triple overtime thriller last year. Big Question: Will USC come out motivated to take back control of being the king of the conference?
Matchup: There are a few: The first being USC vs USC.. I know what? Well it’s simple. Can USC remain focused and play its first four consecutive quarters of the year? I’ll tell you what, with Stanford’s defense and running game they won’t win if they aren’t at their best. Nunes hasn’t been the huge drop off from Andrew Luck as people thought he would be. Another match up is Matt Barkley against the Stanford front seven. I think USC is going to have to throw the football to move the chains. If watching the film hasn’t scared USC yet into focusing I hope they read this. They better come and bring their lunchbox Stanford isn’t Hawaii.
Prediction: USC 34 Stanford 27
Alabama @ Arkansas: Boy did this game have high expectations at one point. So much so ESPN Game day was scheduled to broadcast this coming Saturday. Then along came Louisiana Monroe. Before Tyler Wilson went down Arkansas did lead the game 28-7. Backup quarterback Brandon Allen played lousy completing six of 21 passes for only 85 yards. Next thing you know, Game day Is headed to Tennessee. Alabama defeated Western Kentucky 35-0. I said defeated. Not trounced, demolished, crushed. I may have been the only one in America to come away from that 35-0 win and say hmm they looked beatable. The offensive line which is labeled the best in the country allowed 6 sacks to Western. Also the same team that ran all over Michigan the week before only rushed for 102 yards. I then went back and watched most of the game again and it just confirmed what I thought.
The Matchup: The key here is emotion. How will Arkansas bounce back after one of the worst losses in the school’s history. Also how can they compete with Alabama with either a banged up Wilson or a back up that had just an awful game against a team they were favorite to beat by 28 points. Expect Alabama to bring the house and make Arkansas beat them through the air.
Prediction: I could sit here and play it safe and say Arkansas will cover the 21 points. And I think they will. Credibility is everything here so take the safe route my common sense keeps saying. But I just think this is a very close game, and at the end we have an upset that will shake the BCS for 2013. Arkansas 24 Alabama 23
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