College GameScout Week 3, Top 25 Game Previews ============================================== Alabama at Arkansas ============================================== GAME SNAPSHOT KICKOFF: Saturday, 3:30 ET GAMEDATE: 9/15/2015 SITE: Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, Fayetteville, Ark. SURFACE: Sportexe HP 2.5 TV: CBS SERIES: Alabama leads 14-8 (last meeting, 2011, Alabama 38-14. RECORDS: Alabama 2-0, 0-0 SEC; Arkansas 1-1, 0-0 SEC POLLS: Alabama (No. 1 AP, No. 1 USA Today) PREDICTION: Alabama 33-10 KEYS TO THE GAME: -- For Alabama: Be ready for either quarterback. Arkansas' Tyler Wilson is considered day-to-day because of a head injury, which could leave redshirt freshman Brandon Allen running the show for the Razorbacks. Bama has to establish its own running game and keep the Razorbacks from being able to run effectively. -- For Arkansas: Get QB Brandon Allen comfortable. If senior Tyler Wilson can't play, it will be up to the redshirt freshman to run the offense against probably the best defense in the country. The Hogs can't have any turnovers if they expect to win. SCOUTING THE TEAMS: Alabama's emphasis this week will be cutting down on sacks after Western Kentucky picked up a six-pack against the Tide last Saturday. Not all of those could be blamed on the line, as QB AJ McCarron held the ball too long at least twice, but for a line which many say is the best in the country, it was certainly a humbling experience. See if the play-calling changes any and features quicker passes to keep the Razorbacks from pressuring McCarron. Hard to quibble with a defense that pitches a shutout in which you force four turnovers, as was the case with Alabama against Western Kentucky last week. Much will depend on whether Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson is able to play after being knocked out against Louisiana-Monroe. Regardless, Alabama's first task remains the same: Shut down the running game and make the opponent one-dimensional, no matter how good the passing dimension might be. It's a different ballgame on offense for Arkansas if senior QB Tyler Wilson isn't able to play against Alabama. The Razorbacks were up 21-7 on Louisiana-Monroe before he went out with a head injury. The Hogs didn't score again until kicking a field goal in overtime. His backup, Brandon Allen, has a promising future, but he is only a redshirt freshman. Hopes were raised that things would be different in 2012 after the Hogs had success against Kansas State in the Cotton Bowl, but first-year coordinator Paul Haynes' troops have struggled in two games. The Hogs couldn't hold onto a three-touchdown lead against Louisiana-Monroe and gave up 322 yards to Jacksonville State, an FCS team, in the opener. Overall, the Hogs have given up 872 yard and 58 points in two games. QUICK NOTES: Crimson Tide: Alabama has taken care of business in its SEC openers over the years, winning 20 in a row, dating to 1992. The streak includes four straight over Arkansas, as well as 12 over Vanderbilt. The last loss in an SEC opener was in 1991 at Florida. ... If recent history is any indication, Arkansas shouldn't count on doing a whole lot against the Alabama run defense. In the last 16 games against FBS foes, the Tide has allowed only 703 ground yards, or 43.9 per game. Only Penn State (107) and LSU (148) have climbed over 100 yards in that span. ... Last week's shutout of Western Kentucky marked the 35th time in coach Nick Saban's five-plus seasons that Alabama has limited an opponent to 10 points or fewer. It's the 18th time since the 2010 season started that it has kept the opposition to 10 or fewer points. Razorbacks: Arkansas has lost its last five meetings with Alabama. The Crimson Tide's winning streak is the longest in the series for either team, though technically it is only four games because the Tide had to vacate the 2007 victory. The last win over the Tide for Arkansas was in 2006, when the Hogs won 24-23 in two overtimes. That was the third win for the Hogs over a four-game span. ... Arkansas has had some success playing against defending national champions in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks are 3-1 in such games, having beaten Auburn in 2011 after its 2010 title, Tennessee in 1999, and TCU back in 1939. But the loss was to Alabama in 2010. The Hogs are 4-14 against teams ranked No. 1 with the last win over LSU 50-48 in 2007. ... The Razorbacks tumble from the AP poll ended their streak of appearances in the top 25 at 34 consecutive weeks. PLAYERS TO WATCH: Crimson Tide: RB T.J. Yeldon -- With Eddie Lacy playing injured and Jalston Fowler done for the season, Yeldon has had a bigger load dropped on his shoulders. He has looked more than capable so far, but this is his first SEC road game against an inspired opponent. C Barrett Jones -- The offensive line's leader has to be chomping at the bit to get back on the field after Western Kentucky picked up six sacks last week. Not all of them were the line's fault, but six sacks for a group of linemen regarded as the best in the country is nothing to be proud of and Jones has probably let his linemates know about that. LB C.J. Mosley -- He has been a big-play guy in the mold of recent stars Rolando McClain and Dont'a Hightower. Mosley has played sideline-to-sideline, sacking quarterbacks, stuffing ballcarriers and returning interceptions for touchdowns. Razorbacks: QB Brandon Allen -- Allen is only 10-of-27 passing in two games for just 118 yards. His interception late in the loss to Louisiana-Monroe stopped the Razorbacks from moving into position for a potential field goal that would have won the game in regulation. But if senior Tyler Wilson is unable to play, Allen is the likely starter. RB Knile Davis -- Though he looks sharp at times, Davis is not quite all the way back from the ankle injury that sidelined him all of the 2011 campaign. He has only a pedestrian 132 yards rushing on 34 carries (3.9 average). He must come up bigger for the Razorbacks to have a shot at the upset. LB Tenarius Wright -- Wright has adjusted to his new spot after moving from end and is second on the team in tackles with 19 stops. He also has been credited with breaking up a pass. INJURY WATCH: Crimson Tide: RB Jalston Fowler (kee, out), RB Eddie Lacey (ankle, probable), NG Jesse Williams (concussion, probable). Razorbacks: QB Tyler Wilson (head, questionable), FB Kody Walker (leg, out), CB Tevin Mitchell (head, doubtful), CB Kaelon Kelleybrew (arm, probable), FB Kiero Small (foot, out). ============================================== Southern Cal at Stanford ============================================== GAME SNAPSHOT KICKOFF: Saturday, 7:30 ET GAMEDATE: 9/15/2012 SITE: Stanford Stadium, Stanford, Calif. SURFACE: Grass TV: Fox SERIES: USC leads 59-28-3 (last meeting, 2011, Stanford 56-48) RECORDS: USC 2-0, 0-0 Pac-12; Stanford 2-0, 0-0 Pac-12 POLLS: USC No. 2 AP, No. 3 USA Today); Stanford (No. 21 AP, No. 16 USA Today) PREDICTION: USC 38-28 KEYS TO THE GAME -- For USC: Score early. USC will be well on its way if it can take Stanford out of its comfort zone and keep it from controlling the game with its power running attack. A couple of quick touchdowns will shift more pressure to new Cardinal QB Jose Nunes. -- For Stanford: Pressure USC QB Matt Barkley. Stanford must prevent USC's athletic WRs Robert Woods and Marqise Lee from getting the ball in the open field, where they can produce big plays. QB Josh Nunes must have his best game so far, both in terms of completion percentage and avoiding turnovers. SCOUTING THE TEAMS: Everyone knows how explosive USC is on offense. Stanford coach David Shaw has called Robert Woods and Marqise Lee the best receiver combination he has ever seen in college. With those two catching passes from QB Matt Barkley -- and a pair of former 1,000-yard rushers in the backfield -- the Trojans can stress any defense. USC's defensive line has been the primary concern, especially after DE Devon Kennard suffered a pec injury right before fall camp. The Trojans have still been disruptive up front, perhaps surprisingly so, with 19 tackles for loss, including seven sacks, in two games. Sophomore LBs Dion Bailey and Hayes Pullard are often in the center of the action. Bailey has a team-high 15 tackles and two interceptions. Pullard has 14 stops and one pick. Stanford's offense has not run the ball as effectively as expected, in large part because opponents are putting eight and nine defenders in the box to stop it. The Cardinal is averaging 3.7 yards per rushing attempt this season against two teams with mediocre defenses after averaging 5.3 per rush last season. Stepfan Taylor is averaging 4.6 yards per carry after averaging 5.5 last season. QB Josh Nunes is completing only 57.1 percent of his passes. Defensively, the Cardinal, with an outstanding front seven but with questions in the secondary, figured to be very good against the run and vulnerable against the pass. That proved to be accurate in the first two games. Stanford has allowed just 108 rushing yards and 2.2 yards per rushing attempt. But Stanford has yielded 580 passing yards and a 67.3-percent completion rate by opponents. Stanford's biggest weapon against passing attacks the past two seasons has been its pass rush. Although the Cardinal has five sacks in its first two games, it has not been as effective in pressuring the passer as it would like. QUICK NOTES: Trojans: USC's closer-than-expected game at Syracuse last week, combined with LSU's home rout of Washington, helped dropped the Trojans from No. 2 to No. 3 in the coaches' poll. The Tigers went from third to second. It is early in the season, but positioning does matter with the coaches' poll factoring into the BCS standings. ... USC has lost its conference road opener in three of the past four seasons, including falling in Tempe last season. ... The Trojans have lost three in a row to Stanford in what has been a heated, thrilling series in recent years, eclipsing typical USC rivals UCLA and Notre Dame. It would be hard to think that QB Matt Barkley could go his entire college career without beating the Cardinal, but that is what will happen if USC loses Saturday. Cardinal: Stanford has won three straight against USC, but the last two games have come down the last play of the game. ... Stanford FB Ryan Hewitt is expected to play against USC after missing the first two games because of an ankle injury. Although you don't hear much about Hewitt, he is an important part of the Cardinal offense. ... Freshman TB Barry Sanders has yet to play, making it look more and more as though he will redshirt this season. Stanford has quite a bit of depth at the position. ... Stanford needs to get the most out of its special teams. That means PK Jordan Williams, who is 5-for-6 on field-goal attempts, must hit every reasonable kick, and Drew Terrell needs to have a big punt return. PLAYERS TO WATCH: Trojans: RB Curtis McNeal -- He will be trying to atone for his fumble in the third overtime against Stanford last season. He ran for 145 yards and two touchdowns vs. the Cardinal. He'll have to make the most of his attempts, which have been reduced by the addition of Silas Redd. Redd has 24 carries; McNeal 16. DE Morgan Breslin -- The emergence of Breslin, a junior-college transfer, has been huge to the defensive front. He has 10 tackles, including two sacks. QB Matt Barkley -- He's 0-3 against Stanford, and this is his last chance. How has he done statistically vs. the Cardinal? Here are the numbers: 77-of-121 for 870 yards, with seven touchdowns and four interceptions. Cardinal: LB Chase Thomas -- Thomas has 3.0 tackles for losses and half a sack in the first two games, and he is capable of making a game-changing play, whether it be a sack or interception or forced fumble. TB Stepfan Taylor -- Taylor has averaged 92.5 yards and 4.6 yards per carry over the first two games, and the Cardinal needs more than that from Taylor, who is also a fine pass blocker and receiver. He has five receptions this season. QB Josh Nunes -- He is not Stanford's best player, but he is certainly its most important player. He has completed 57.1 percent of his passes, which needs to improve, but he has thrown just one interception, which is significant. INJURY WATCH: Trojans: PK Andre Heidari (knee, out), C Khaled Holmes (leg, questionable, C Abe Markowitz (arm, probable), DE Devon Kennard (chest, out). Cardinal: FB Ryan Hewitt (ankle, probable), FB Geoff Meinken (knee, questionable). ============================================== Idaho at LSU ============================================== GAME SNAPSHOT KICKOFF: Saturday, 8 ET GAMEDATE: 9/15/2012 SITE: Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, La. SURFACE: Grass TV: PPV SERIES: LSU leads 1-0 (last meeting, 1998, LSU 53-20) RECORDS: Idaho 0-2: LSU 2-0 POLLS: LSU (No. 3 AP, No. 2 USA Today) PREDICTION: LSU 52-0 KEYS TO THE GAME: -- For Idaho: Run the ball, rush the passer. The problem is that Idaho's running game has been virtually non-existent and the defense has recorded only four sacks. Both the offensive and defensive fronts must step up their games to keep the game from becoming a rout. -- For LSU: Be focused and ready to play. The coaches have reminded the Tigers about Louisiana-Monroe's upset of then-No. 8 Arkansas last week to try to get their attention. Staying away from turnovers and continuing to reduce turnovers are keys for LSU. SCOUTING THE TEAMS: Idaho's running game is practically non-existent, averaging 33.3 yards in the first two games against Eastern Washington and Bowling Green. The Vandals' offensive line has also already allowed 10 sacks, which is a significant concern going against LSU's formidable defensive line. LSU allows only 51 yards rushing, so the onus will be put on Idaho QB Dominique Blackman to move the ball. Blackman, sacked four times at Bowling Green, will feel the pressure but has the arm (352 yards passing against the Falcons) to keep a drive going. Idaho's defense is yielding nearly double the amount of yards that LSU has allowed two games into the season. The Vandals allow an average of 392.7 yards per game, including 277 through the air after games against Eastern Washington and Bowling Green. LSU allowed North Texas and Washington an average of only 201 total yards. The Vandals have only four sacks through the first two games, led by two from sophomore defensive end Maxx Forde against Bowling Green. LSU's primary focus on offense in practice has been catching the football after receivers dropped five passes against Washington. Odell Beckham Jr. dropped two, and James Wright, Russell Shepard and Jarvis Landry dropped one each. Look for the Tigers to try to stretch the field in the passing game more than they have in the first two, although a third consecutive 240-plus-yard rushing game is likely. Alfred Blue seeks his third consecutive 100-yard game and Kenny Hilliard seeks his third consecutive two-touchdown game. LSU's pass rush emerged against Washington and had four sacks after getting none in the opener. Pressure will again be important to shut down what can be an effective Vandals passing game. DE Sam Montgomery is coming off an inspired effort in which he had a sack, three quarterback hurries and four tackles. QUICK NOTES: Vandals: The Vandals venture to Louisiana twice this season with the trip to LSU this week and an Oct. 20 trek to Louisiana Tech. In their previous 10 trips to Louisiana, the Vandals are 4-6. ... LB Corey Sandberg, a redshirt freshman linebacker, is one of two FBS football players who has received a Purple Heart. Sandberg received his Purple Heart, which is given to members of the U.S. Military who were injured or killed in action, after he was shot while serving in Afghanistan. He has yet to play for the Vandals. ... QB Dominique Blackman's 352 passing yards in his first game are second to Ryan Fien's 542 in Fien's debut against Wyoming in 1996. ... WR Jahrie Level, a receiver who joined the Vandals during fall camp after previously committing to UTEP, appears to be Blackman's primary target. His 10 receptions against Bowling Green State were the most by a Vandal receiver since Max Komar had 10 at Nevada on Oct. 24, 2009. Tigers: LSU is looking for its 15th consecutive regular-season victory, the longest such streak in the country. ... LSU can set a couple of records by winning Saturday night. A victory would be the Tigers' 40th consecutive non-conference victory during the regular season, breaking a tie with Kansas State for the FBS record. ... A victory would also extends the nation's longest current home winning streak to 20 games, a school record. ... Junior WR Kadron Boone has one touchdown reception in each of the first two games, doubling his career total. ... CB Jalen Mills was selected SEC Freshman of the Week after making his first career interception against Washington. ... DE Sam Montgomery was named the SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week after making four tackles, including a sack, and having three quarterback hurries. ... LB Tahj Jones is academically ineligible and awaiting a ruling on an appeal. PLAYERS TO WATCH: Vandals: WR Najee Lovett -- The junior college transfer caught eight passes for 105 yards against Eastern Washington but he followed that up with only two catches for 23 yards at Bowling Green. LB Conrad Scheidt -- The senior has evolved into one of the top defenders for Idaho. He has 16 tackles including 2? for lost yardage. He also has broken up a pass. RB Ryan Bass -- The senior transfer from Arizona State has failed to meet expectations after his first two starts. He has gained only 76 yards on 23 attempts to lead the Vandals. His longest run from scrimmage to this point is only 10 yards. Tigers: WR Odell Beckham Jr. -- The sophomore had two of the Tigers' five dropped passes and fumbled the opening kickoff, leading to Washington's only points of the game. He has focused on ball security and could have a big game if LSU opens up the passing game. LB Lamin Barrow -- A first-year starter on the weak side, Barrow has emerged as the Tigers' second-leading tackler with 13 stops. He rarely comes off the field and is becoming a key playmaker. LT Josh Dworaczyk -- A sixth-year senior who has played primarily guard, Dworaczyk stepped in for injured Chris Faulk and played well against Washington. The Tigers have several options on their versatile offensive line, but coach Les Miles said he plans to stick with Dworaczyk. INJURY WATCH: Vandals: TE Taylor Elmo (academics, out), DE Benson Mayowa (academics, out). Tigers: OT Chris Faulk (knee, out), DE Barkevious Mingo (ankle, probable), DE Jordan Allen (knee, out). ============================================== Tennessee Tech at Oregon ============================================== GAME SNAPSHOT KICKOFF: Saturday, 9 a.m. ET GAMEDATE: 9/15/2012 SITE: Autzen Stadium, Eugene, Ore. SURFACE: FieldTurf TV: Pac-12 Network SERIES: First meeting RECORDS: Tennessee Tech 2-0; Oregon 2-0 POLLS: Oregon (No. 4 AP, No. 4 USA Today) PREDICTION: Oregon 55-14 KEYS TO THE GAME: -- For Tennessee Tech: Slow the pace. The best chance the Golden Eagles have is to keep Oregon's explosive offense off the field. They must strike for some big plays offensively. -- For Oregon: Avoid injuries. Pac-12 Conference play looms for the Ducks the next week against Arizona. The Ducks also need to get their offensive line some time playing together since a handful of linemen have been injured in the past week. SCOUTING THE TEAMS: Tennessee Tech ranks first in the Ohio Valley Conference in total offense with QB Tre Lamb ranking first in the conference in passing (306.5 ypg), total offense (317.0 ypg), and passing efficiency. He is completing passes at a 68.9 percent clip with seven touchdown tosses against one interception. His leading receivers are junior WR Da'Rick Roger and senior A-back Tremain Hudson with eight catches each. B-back Adam Urbano is averaging 140 ypg rushing, which leads the conference. Tech ranks first in the OVC in total defense as well in holding opponents to just 253 ypg. Tech boosts four of the top eight tacklers in the conference with senior LB Howard Griffin and sophomore S Austin Tallant leading the way. The Golden Eagles are still looking for their first sack and have two interceptions in their two games. Oregon has had to contend with injuries both on the line and at receiver. While OG Carson York suffered a season-ending knee injury against Fresno State, LT Kyle Long missed the game with an ankle injury. Starting RT Jake Fisher and LG Ryan Clanton both left the FSU game with injuries, leaving the Ducks depleted of depth on the line. Junior WR Josh Huff, whose 52 career receptions ranks second on the team, left Oregon's game against Fresno State with a knee injury. A matchup against Tennessee Tech, an FCS school, means that Oregon can likely give its injured players a week off to get close to full strength for the start of conference play. Oregon will have to adjust its secondary to make up for the loss of senior All-American S John Boyett, who had 108 tackles last year to lead the Ducks for the second time in three seasons. Junior Avery Patterson moves into the starting lineup for Boyett, while reserve Erick Dargan likely gets more time at both safety spots. Oregon is also without DE Jared Ebert, who is expected to miss a few weeks with a knee injury. The Ducks have been solid on defense at the start of games, giving up just 16 points in the first half this year before allowing 43 in the second half. QUICK NOTES: Golden Eagles: Coach Watson Brown is in his sixth year at Tennessee Tech and has a record of 27-30. He played baseball, football, and basketball at Cookeville High (home of the Eagles) before playing his quarterback at Vanderbilt, where he also was head coach for five seasons in the late 1980s. ... Tech owns wins over North Greenville (42-14) and Hampton 41-31. ... Tech, a member of the Ohio Valley Conference playing on the FCS level, is still looking for its first win over an FBS opponent in 27 opportunities. Ducks: Oregon coach Chip Kelly is 36-6 a at Oregon, but the Ducks are 2-0 for only the second time during his tenure. Oregon lost its opener in 2009 and 2011. The only other year Oregon started 2-0 under Kelly was 2010, when Oregon went to the BCS national championship game. ... Oregon has scored 30 or more points in 15 consecutive games, the second-longest streak in the country behind Oklahoma State's 17 straight games. The Ducks are 34-2 when scoring 30 or more points under Kelly. ... Oregon heads into its final non-conference game of the year with a 33-6 record against non-conference opponents during the regular season since 2000. Oregon is 5-0 against FCS teams like this week's opponent, Tennessee Tech. PLAYERS TO WATCH: Golden Eagles: QB Tre Lamb -- Lamb is No. 5 in passing yardage among Tech's career records with 4,045 yards. He needs 276 to catch Mike ones for fourth. Lamb is also fifth in total offense (4,385).? B-back Adam Urbano -- Urbano has rushed for over 100 yards in each of Tech's two games with a high of 158 against Hampton. He had only two 100-yard efforts all of last season. SS Austin Talent -- Talent is No. 2 in total tackles with 18 stops but leads the team in tackles-for-loss with 2.5. The sophomore started the first two games at free safety. Ducks: DB Avery Patterson -- The junior moved into the starting lineup at free safety after John Boyett was lost for the season with a knee injury. Patterson has played in all 29 of Oregon's games during the past three seasons and ranked fifth on the team with 55 tackles last year, but now his role increases without Boyett. DB Erick Dargan -- The sophomore will also be expected to help fill the void left by Boyett. Dargan is a reserve safety who ranks third on the team with 10 tackles this season. He is listed as the backup at strong safety, but may also be needed to add depth at free safety. WR Bralon Addison -- The true freshman has already made an impact on offense and special teams and could get even more playing time if starter Josh Huff has to miss any games due to a knee injury. Addison is tied for second on the team with five catches for 31 yards and has returned three kickoffs for 46 yards. INJURY WATCH: Golden Eagle: SS Marty Jones (undisclosed, out). Ducks: LT Kyle Long (ankle, probable), RT Jake Fisher (leg, questionable). ============================================== Wake Forest at Florida State ============================================== GAME SNAPSHOT KICKOFF: Saturday, noon ET GAMEDATE: 9/15/2012 SITE: Doak Campbell Stadium at Bobby Bowden Field, Tallahassee, Fla. SURFACE: Grass TV: ESPN SERIES: Florida State leads 23-6-1 (last meeting, 2011, Wake Forest 16-14) RECORDS: Wake Forest 2-0, 1-0 ACC; Florida State 2-0, 0-0 ACC POLLS: Florida State (No. 5 AP tied, No. 5 USA Today) PREDICTION: Florida State 24-14 KEYS TO THE GAME: -- For Wake Forest: Keep it close. The Demon Deacons have dealt with a couple of close games and could have a bit of an advantage over an opponent that has enjoyed two blowouts against FCS competition. The Deacons need to be sturdy along the offensive front. -- For Florida State: Start fast. The Seminoles don't want to give Wake Forest any more confidence with a sluggish start and error-filled performance. A year ago, turnovers and penalties decided this game, and both have to be avoided. SCOUTING THE TEAMS: Wake Forest started to show a little more diversity in the passing attack, despite the Tanner Price-to-Michael Campanaro combination that has worked extremely well. Kicking the rushing attack into gears is something the Demon Deacons are emphasizing after failing to reaching the 100-yard mark on the ground in their first two games. The offensive line has been bruised, but there were steps in the right direction in the second game of the season. There might have been a turning point for Wake Forest's defense, which is a veteran group in many areas, when the Demon Deacons held North Carolina at bay for a long second-half stretch. The confidence gained by the defense might carry into the season in other ways, particularly when the Deacons showed they could be stingy even with NG Nikita Whitlock out because of an ankle injury. But Whitlock is considered the anchor of the line and if his presence is lacking, it could be a rough day against Florida State. The return of CB Merrill Noel, who missed the opener because of a hamstring injury, gives the defense some swagger.? It's so hard to tell much about Florida State's offense, based on the inferior competition it has faced in its first two games. But even playing less than 6 1/2 quarters of football, as result of the abbreviated Savannah State game, the Seminoles still have racked up 1,019 yards of total offense and scored a combined 53 points in the first half. The biggest issue heading into the season was the offensive line and Florida State has been able to generate a solid ground game. Florida State ranks No. 2 nationally in all four major defensive categories: Scoring defense, rushing defense, passing defense and total defense. The 'Noles have allowed only a field goal in two games. But the competition was a big factor. They will face a better test Saturday, Wake Forest and QB Tanner Price, who torched the Seminoles' defense last year. The Deacons have often befuddled Florida State's defense with a variety of misdirection, trap runs and end-arounds to take advantage of the Seminoles' over-pursuit. QUICK NOTES: Demon Deacons: Wake Forest won its first two games by a total of four points. That includes a 28-27 victory over North Carolina at home in the second week of the season. In the 2006 ACC championship season, the Demon Demons opened the ACC portion of its schedule with a 14-13 home victory over Duke. ... Despite its 2-0 start, Wake Forest has been listed as about a 25-point underdog for its game at Florida State. It's no wonder the Demon Deacons aren't expected to win considering their 21-117-1 all-time record against ranked opponents. ... CB Kevin Johnson's 10 tackles in the opener were a career best for the redshirt sophomore. He added five more tackles in the second game, although a head injury caused him to miss time. ... TE Spencer Bishop moved atop the depth chart at the start of the season. The redshirt junior began his career as a walk-on. Seminoles: There was a time when Florida State hardly blinked when thinking about playing Wake Forest. Recent history offers too many bad memories for the Seminoles that to occur anymore. After beating Wake Forest in 14 consecutive years since joining the ACC, Florida State has managed lose four of the last six meetings. ... The game against the Deacons is the third of four at home for the Seminoles to open the season. The fourth is against Clemson Sept. 22. ... The Seminoles have emptied their bench in the first two games, playing newcomers they don't want to redshirt and checking to see progression on various other players. ... WR Rodney Smith extended his receptions streak to 27 consecutive games on a four-yard catch against Savannah State. The Miami native followed with a career-long 61-yard touchdown catch. PLAYERS TO WATCH: Demon Deacons: FB Tommy Bohanon -- The senior caught three passes against North Carolina. That matches the career high for Bohanon, who also is filling a role at tight end. He heads to Florida State for perhaps his final outing in his home state. RG Frank Souza -- He might have made the most improvement of any player on the team from the first game to the second. It's a significant transition for the redshirt junior, who been a defensive linemen until making an offseason position change. WR Michael Campanaro -- Campanaro has caught 22 passes in the first two games of the season, which is tied for the most in the nation. That's the biggest two-game total in school history, three more than Kenny Moore's 2007 mark. Seminoles: QB E.J. Manuel -- He probably feels like he hasn't played a real game yet. Manuel played a little more than two quarters against Murray State and less than a quarter against Savannah State. At issue is whether this affects his rhythm and timing against an opponent with better athletes. TB James Wilder Jr. -- He's been one of the biggest surprises, overcoming a turbulent off season to rush for 126 yards, including a team high four touchdowns and 7.9 per-carry average. Along with Devonta Freeman, who has 133 yards rushing and a touchdown, the Seminoles have a good tandem in the backfield. DE Cornelius Carradine -- One of the newcomers on defense with a big impact. Carradine leads Florida State in tackles with nine, along with one sack and two tackles for losses. INJURY WATCH: Demon Deacons: CB Kevin Johnson (head, day-to-day), RT Colin Summers (calf, probable). Seminoles: TE Nick O'Leary (thigh, probable), C Bryan Stork (neck, probable). ============================================== Florida Atlantic at Georgia ============================================== GAME SNAPSHOT KICKOFF: Saturday, 7:30 ET GAMEDATE: 9/15/12 SITE: Sanford Stadium, Athens, Ga. SURFACE: Grass TV: CSS SERIES: First meeting RECORDS: Florida Atlantic 1-1, Georgia 2-0 POLLS: Georgia (No. 7 AP, No. 7 USA Today) PREDICTION: Georgia 42-7 KEYS TO THE GAME: -- For Florida Atlantic: Solve running game woes. That goes for both sides of the ball for FAU. The Owls gave up 302 yards rushing in their loss at Middle Tennessee State while gaining only 96 on the ground. -- For Georgia: Run the ball. Florida Atlantic allowed 302 yards rushing last week in its 31-17 loss to Louisiana-Monroe. The Bulldogs will look to continue to make big plays on defense. SCOUTING THE TEAMS: Florida Atlantic's new spread offense has generated some life for the Owls, but as coach Carl Pelini noted, many of the 356 yards gained in the loss to Middle Tennessee State came after the issue had pretty much decided. The Owls have had problems trying to develop a consistent running game, but senior QB Graham Wilbert has improved his numbers throwing the football (77.8 completion percentage, 193 yards per game and no interceptions). FAU's defense gave up over 300 yards rushing to Middle Tennessee, which hadn't exactly bowled over an FCS opponent, McNeese State, the week before. The Owls do have a couple of veteran linebackers in senior David Hinds and junior Randell Johnson, and junior S Keith Reaser is solid in the secondary. Coach Mark Richt would like to see more from Georgia's running game, saying the Bulldogs missed some opportunities against Missouri. But the Bulldogs have run for 350 yards in the first two games. Pass protection is another issue. The Bulldogs have allowed five sacks through the first two games. Georgia is allowing only 3.6 yards per rush through two games. The Bulldogs could use a second pass-rusher to emerge opposite LB Jarvis Jones. Jones has been in on all four of Georgia's sacks with three solo and one assist. The Bulldogs have only one interception, also by Jones, but CB Branden Smith has been credited with breaking up three passes. QUICK NOTES: Owls: Ball security has become a big issue for FAU. In just two games, the Owls have fumbled seven times, losing six. That ranks the Owls in a tie with six other teams for 108th in FBS statistics. .. Thanks to a passing game that produced 260 yards at Middle Tennessee, the Owls aren't at the bottom of FBS statistics in total offense after two games. They are 86th out of 120 teams with a 351.50 per game average. ... FAU is 0-4 all-time against SEC opponents. The Owls have two losses to Florida and one each to Auburn and Kentucky. Bulldogs: DB Sanders Commings will cross-train at both cornerback and safety. Commings is returning to action after serving a two-game disciplinary suspension following an offseason domestic battery arrest. ... WR turned CB Malcolm Mitchell will remain on the defensive side of the ball. Mitchell sat out Georgia's season opener against Buffalo because of an ankle sprain and said he played at "about 80 percent" against Missouri. ... LB Chase Vasser is set to return to the lineup after serving a two-game suspension. ... Coach Mark Richt would not confirm or deny whether S Bacarri Rambo and LB Alec Ogletree will return from disciplinary suspensions against Florida Atlantic. PLAYERS TO WATCH: Owls: QB Graham Wilbert -- Back in the starting lineup, the senior responded with career-high numbers in the loss at Middle Tennessee. He was 25-of-32 passing for 260 yards with no interceptions. LB David Hinds -- Hinds has been in double figures in tackles in both of FAU's outings, recording 11 stops at Middle Tennessee after getting 10 against Wagner. He also forced and recovered a fumble against the Blue Raiders. LB Randell Johnson -- Like Hinds, Johnson is one of the few playmakers on the roster. He has one of FAU's two sacks (DE Cory Henry has the other) and is third on the team with 11 tackles. Bulldogs: RB Todd Gurley -- A true freshman, Gurley has rushed for 165 yards on an average of 9.2 yards per carry, with three touchdowns. Gurley has been equally as effective returning kickoffs, with 189 return yards and a touchdown. WR Michael Bennett -- Bennett is second on the Bulldogs in receiving yards (155) and first in catches (13). He's emerged as a steady possession receiver in Georgia's offense. WR Marlon Brown -- The 6-5, 230-pound Brown is coming off an exceptional game against Missouri, catching eight passes for 106 yards and two touchdowns. The key for Brown will be to stay healthy and not aggravate a hamstring injury that forced him to sit Georgia's opener against Buffalo. INJURY WATCH: Owls: No injuries reported. Bulldogs: LB Cornelius Washington (hamstring, probable). ============================================== UAB at South Carolina ============================================== GAME SNAPSHOT KICKOFF: Saturday, 7 ET GAMEDATE: 9/15/2012 SITE: Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, S.C. SURFACE: Grass TV: FoxSportsNet SERIES: South Carolina leads 2-0 (last meeting, 2008, South Carolina 26-13 RECORDS: UAB 0-1, South Carolina 2-0 POLLS: South Carolina (No. 8 AP, No. 9 USA Today) PREDICTION: South Carolina 41-10 KEYS TO THE GAME: -- For UAB: Stop the run. That's not an easy assignment, considering the problems the Blazers had doing that against Troy. South Carolina has one of the nation's top backs in Marcus Lattimore, who could be in a for a big night. -- For South Carolina: Run the football. Whether QB Connor Shaw is back from a shoulder injury or not, the Gamecocks want to power their way to the win. The defense should be able to handle UAB's running game. SCOUTING THE TEAMS: UAB ran for 134 yards against Troy in the opener with RBs Darrin Reaves and Greg Franklin and QB Jonathan Perry netting over 40 yards each on the round. Perry, who said he had trouble gripping the ball because of cramps, completed only 18 of his 33 pass attempts with one picked off. WRs Patrick Hearn and Jackie Williams combined for 13 receptions. UAB had problems with Troy's running game in the opener, yielding 262 yards rushing to the Trojans. LBs Greg Irvin and Marvin Burdette were both in double figures in tackles, but the defense failed to record a sack or interception. South Carolina spit and sputtered a bit offensively in the opening win over Vanderbilt, mostly because starting QB Connor Shaw was dealing with a shoulder injury. But with sophomore Dylan Thompson more comfortable, the Gamecocks rolled past East Carolina 48-10. Thompson was 21-of-37 passing. RB Marcus Lattimore has rushed for 150 yards in his first game back from a knee injury that cut short his 2011 campaign. South Carolina's defense has surrendered only 132 yards rushing in two games but given up 547 passing. The Gamecocks, who have one of the SEC's premier defenders in DE Jadeveon Clowney, have recorded six sacks and five interceptions. CB Jimmy Legree, DT Kelcy Quarles, and LB Shaq Wilson have combined for 32 tackles. Wilson has two interceptions and Legree one. QUICK NOTES: Blazers: UAB used its bye week to work on the basics, especially with a ridiculously young defense with little or no experience. On one play, the UAB secondary had true freshmen at every position. ... No fewer than 17 players saw their first college action on defense for the Blazers in a Sep. 1 loss to Troy. That number included eight defensive backs, four of them true freshmen, and five linebackers. ... RB Bashr Coles, who is expected to play a key role in the UAB backfield this season, did not touch the football in the Blazers' season-opener against Troy, but coach Garrick McGee did not go into specifics as to why he didn't. There are no reports of any injury. Gamecocks: South Carolina will go into its game against UAB looking to extend its winning streak to seven games. The six-game streak is tied for third-longest in school history. ... Coach Steve Spurrier extended his career record to 19-0 at USC and 45-0 all-time against teams outside the BCS automatic qualifying conferences. It was also Spurrier's 199th victory as a collegiate head coach. He is looking to become the 71st coach in NCAA history (all divisions) to get to the 200-win level. ... WR Ace Sanders completed his second career touchdown pass against East Carolina with a 16-yarder to D.L. Moore in the fourth quarter. ... LB Shaq Wilson recorded his second interception in as many games this season. It is the fourth in his career. PLAYERS TO WATCH: Blazers: LB Greg Irvin -- Irvin led UAB with 12 tackles, including seven solo stops, in the Blazers' Sept. 1 loss to Troy. The senior became a full-time starter last season, when he set a UAB record with five fumble recoveries, including four in a game against East Carolina. WR Patrick Hearn -- A senior, Hearn had seven receptions for 108 yards in the opener. WR Jackie Williams -- The junior amassed 157 yards receiving on six receptions against Troy in the opener with a long of 47 yards. Gamecocks: RB Marcus Lattimore -- Lattimore rushed for only 40 yards on 13 carries in the romp past East Carolina, but one of them was a six-yard dash that gave him his 33rd career rushing touchdown. He has 150 yards rushing in two games and also is the team's receptions leader with five catches. CB Jimmy Legree -- The junior picked up his first career interception in the win over East Carolina. He leads the Gamecocks in tackles with a dozen stops, one of them for a loss. DE Jadeveon Clowney -- Clowney, hampered by ribs against East Carolina, has only six tackles in two games but two have been for losses (one sack). He also has been credited with two quarterback hurries. INJURY WATCH: Blazers: QB Jonathan Perry (hand, probable). Gamecocks: QB Connor Shaw (shoulder, questionable), DE Jadeveon Crowley (rib, probable), RB Brandon Wilde (out, doubtful). ============================================== James Madison at West Virginia ============================================== GAME SNAPSHOT KICKOFF: Saturday, 4:30 ET GAMEDATE: 9/15/2012 SITE: FedExField, Landover, Md. SURFACE: Grass TV: Root Sports SERIES: West Virginia leads 1-0 (last meeting, 2004, West Virginia 45-0) RECORDS: James Madison 2-0; West Virginia 1-0. POLLS: James Madison (No. 5 FCS coaches); West Virginia (No. 9 AP, No. 8 USA Today) PREDICTION: West Virginia 55-17 KEYS TO THE GAME: -- For James Madison: Run the football. The Dukes need to run off as much time as possible to keep West Virginia's high-powered offense off the field. The defense needs to keep Mountaineers QB Geno Smith in check, which is no easy task. -- For West Virginia: Push the tempo. Most teams have trouble adjusting to the Mountaineers' rapid-fire offense, and it gets worse for them as a game wears on if a team isn't deep. The cornerbacks need to step up their play. SCOUTING THE TEAMS: James Madison played ball control on offense last season but has scored more quickly in the first two games. The Dukes have run for over 304 yards a game while throwing for over 207, racking up 97 points along the way. Junior RB Dae'Quan Scott leads the Dukes in both running (20 carries for 180 yards) and receiving (eight receptions for 90). He has scored five touchdowns, three on the ground and two receiving. Senior QB Justin Thorpe is an accurate passer (64.4 percent completions). JMU's defense has held its first two foes to just 207.5 yards in total offense per game with only 102 of that coming on passes. The Dukes have held both of their opponents to a combined 7-of-29 success rate (24 percent) on third downs and only one in three trips inside the 20-yard line. WVU gave its offense a bit of a different look in the opening win over Marshall. While it centered on QB Geno Smith's passing game, and he was nearly perfect while throwing four TDs, there were times when he would take the snap up under center rather than in the spread. Part of this was because the Mountaineers were featuring a running game that gained more than 300 yards and coach Dana Holgorsen felt RBs Shawne Alston and Andrew Buie needed a better look as they ran. The new 3-4 defense coach Dana Holgorsen and coordinator Joe DeForest installed this year at West Virginia did not have a good debut against Marshall, giving up more than 500 total yards with over 400 of them through the air. The cornerback play was loose all day, and the tackling left much to be desired. With three days of hard practice this week, tackling was a key element of focus. Redshirt freshman LB Isaiah Bruce established himself as a budding star with 16 tackles in his first game as a Mountaineer. QUICK NOTES: Dukes: James Madison has opened the season with two routs, whipping Saint Francis (Pa.) 55-7 in the opener and Alcorn State 42-3. ... Coach Mickey Matthews is closing in on the 100-win mark at JMU. He has 98 in his 14th season. ... League coaches picked JMU to finish third in the Colonial Athletic Conference preseason voting. Ahead of the Dukes in the poll were Towson and Old Dominion. ... Leading rusher RB Dae'Quan Scott has played only five quarters in two games because JMU assumed significant leads in both outings and he was taken out, but he still has a team-high 180 yards rushing. Mountaineers: WVU paid $500,000 to get out of a matchup with Florida State while keeping JMU on the schedule as a money game that can bring them upwards of $1 million. ... While QB Geno Smith won a pair of national awards for his play in the opener, the Mountaineers' coaching staff selected RB Shawne Alston, who rushed for 123 yards and two touchdowns against Marshall in the opener, as the team's Offensive Player of the Week. ... One reason the Mountaineer coaches were so impressed with Alston's running was that 65 of his 123 yards came after contact, a sign of the slashing kind of power running he displayed. ... LG Jeff Jenkins' surgically repaired knee showed no signs of any problem through camp or in the opener, and he believes he is total healthy. PLAYERS TO WATCH: Dukes: RB Dae'Quan Scott -- Scott earned Colonial Athletic Association Offensive Player of the Week honors after rushing for 108 yards and scoring two touchdowns on just eight carries in the 42-3 rout of Alcorn State. He also had a touchdown reception among his five catches for 39 yards. QB Justin Thorpe -- Thorpe is the Dukes' second-leading rusher with 177 yards in two games as well as throwing for 317. He has completed 64.4 percent of his passes and has thrown for three touchdowns against only one interception. FS Dean Marlowe -- Marlowe is the Dukes' No. 2 tackler with 12 stops, including one for a loss. He has an interception, which he returned 27 yards, and also is credited with breaking up two other passes. Mountaineers: QB Geno Smith -- Considered a legitimate Heisman Trophy contender, Smith led WVU to nine touchdowns in the Orange Bowl, then followed that up with leading them to nine touchdowns against Marshall in the season opener. He added a new dimension to his game this season by being willing to run the football, once turning a broken play into a 28-yard TD and finishing the day with 65 yards rushing. WR Tavon Austin -- Another legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate who does a little bit of everything, always with a flair. He set the school record with 101 receptions last year, and with each one, he was a threat to break it for a touchdown. Austin also will return punts -- which he has worked hard at after having problems last year -- and kickoffs, where he is among the nation's best. LB Isaiah Bruce -- Was the opener a sign of things to come, or simply great play out of a player the offense hadn't counted on being that good because he was making his first start? Whatever the case, the redshirt freshman was everywhere, making 16 tackles and running a fumble back 43 yards for a touchdown. INJURY WATCH: Dukes: No injuries reported. Mountaineers: RB Dustin Garrison (knee, out). ============================================== Notre Dame at Michigan State ============================================== GAME SNAPSHOT KICKOFF: Saturday, 8 ET GAMEDATE: 9/15/2012 SITE: Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, Mich. SURFACE: Grass TV: ABC SERIES: Notre Dame leads 46-28-1 (last meeting, 2011, Notre Dame 31-13) RECORDS: Notre Dame 2-0; Michigan State 2-0 POLLS: Notre Dame (No. 20 AP, No. 19 USA Today); Michigan State (No. 10 AP, No. 10 USA Today) PREDICTION: Michigan State 24-17 KEYS TO THE GAME: -- For Notre Dame: Stop Michigan Sate's running game. That won't be easy with TB Le'Veon Bell leading the Spartans. The Irish must avoid turnovers that lead to cheap scores. -- For Michigan State: Have success passing. The offensive line must improve in protecting QB Andrew Maxwell against an Irish defense that has seven sacks. The Spartans must improve their own pass rush after recording just one sack in two games. SCOUTING THE TEAMS: Notre Dame has numerous weapons on offense. QB Everett Golson is 33-of-49 passing for 433 yards and two touchdowns, and RB Theo Riddick leads in rushing with 165 yards and two touchdowns on 34 carries. RB Cierre Wood comes off a two-game suspension this week. Senior TE Tyler Eifert (eight catches, 120 yards, one touchdown) is two receptions away from 100 for his career and a tie with John Carlson (2004-07) for No. 2 the Irish all-time list for tight ends. Without departed WR Michael Floyd, several receivers are sharing the load. Notre Dame's defense has given up 345 yards on the ground, but held the run-oriented Navy team to just 149. The Irish have come up with seven sacks in just two games with sophomore DE Stephon Truitt leading the way with four. Despite losing two starters early (DE Kapron Lewis-Moore and S Jamoris Slaughter), the Irish didn't permit a single third down conversion in the second half last week against Purdue. Michigan State made a concerted effort to get the passing game going, throwing 28 times in the first half against Central Michigan. Notre Dame will provide a stiff test up front so the passing game should play a big role once again. But expect RB Le'Veon Bell to be more involved than the 18 carries he had against CMU, though likely not near the 44 he had against Boise State. Michigan State continues play with very few flaws on defense. It did not allow a single point against CMU as the only score for the Chippewas came on an interception returned for a touchdown. Teams are having very little success running on MSU and the Spartans forced three more turnovers in Week 2. The Irish will get RB Cierre Wood back in the lineup but a jumbled quarterback situation could be another advantage to a defense already playing ahead. QUICK NOTES: Fighting Irish: The game at Michigan State is the second of three against Big Ten foes. Notre Dame beat Purdue last week and is host to Michigan next week. ... Saturday's game is Notre Dame's 101st all-time at night. The Irish are 63-35-2 under the lights since their first night game in 1951. They played a school record seven night games in 2011. ... The Irish offense is fourth in FBS in third-down conversion percentage, going 18-of-29 (62 percent). The first-team offense is 18-of-26. ... LB Ishaq Williams (elbow contusion), LB Manti Te'o (bruised sternum), DE Kapron Lewis-Moore (calf strain), TE Tyler Eifert (concussion symptoms) and S Jamoris Slaughter (shoulder) were all cleared for this week. ... Notre Dame called on 58 players through the season's first two games, including 21 making career debuts. Spartans: Nine of the past 12 meetings with Notre Dame have been decided by one score or less and the last meeting at Spartan Stadium ended on the now famous "Little Giants" play when Michigan State won on a fake field goal in overtime. ... Michigan State is opening the season with back-to-back home night games for the first time in its history. ... Saturday's game is the 13th night game in Spartan Stadium history and the Michigan State is 8-4 in those games. ...Michigan State's defense continued to dominate in Week 2, albeit a victory over Central Michigan of the Mid-American Conference. But the Spartans again held their opponent without an offensive touchdown for the second straight week. ... Michigan State's offensive line faces a challenge against a Notre Dame defense that has seven sacks and hasn't allowed an individual to rush for 100 yards in either of its two games. PLAYERS TO WATCH: Fighting Irish: LB Manti Te'o -- Te'o had a team-high 10 tackles against Purdue and has 18 over two games to lead the Irish in that category. He also has one of Notre Dame's three intereptions.. CB Bennett Jackson -- Jackson had two interceptions against Purdue, the first time an Irish defender has had two or more since Harrison Smith had three in the 2010 Sun Bowl against Miami. RB George Atkinson III -- Atkinson is second on the team in rushing with 99 yards behind Theo Riddick's 160, but Atkinson has done his damage on just 10 carries. He has rushed for two touchdowns. Spartans: QB Andrew Maxwell -- He was efficient and made better decisions against Central Michigan, but this game will likely tell much more about his progression. If he can continue to improve and stay away from the turnovers (he had three in the opener) it could lead to a great season for the Spartans. RB Le'Veon Bell -- He likely took a dip in the Heisman race with just 70 yards rushing and two touchdowns last week, but that was simply because he was not needed. After 44 carries in the opener, the Spartans were glad to give him a break. But if the Michigan State offense is going to have any success, Bell must be able to get his yards against the Irish. DE William Gholston -- The junior broke through with the Spartans' first sack last week and also led the Spartans with seven tackles. INJURY WATCH: Fighting Irish: PK Nick Tausch (groin, probable), WR DaVaris Daniels (ankle, probable). Spartans: LG Blake Treadwell (leg, probable). ============================================== Furman at Clemson ============================================== GAME SNAPSHOT KICKOFF: Saturday, 3 ET GAMEDATE: 9/15/2012 SITE: Memorial Stadium, Clemson, S.C. SURFACE: Grass TV: RSN SERIES: Clemson leads 41-10-4 (last meeting, 2007, Clemson 38-10 RECORDS: Furman 0-2; Clemson 2-0 POLLS: Clemson (No. 11 AP, No. 11 USA Today) PREDICTION: Clemson 48-7 KEYS TO THE GAME: -- For Furman: Run the ball. The Paladins have averaged a respectable 150.5 ypg in two outings but need to do more to keep the out of Clemson's playmakers' hands. They can't turn the ball over and expect to keep it close. -- For Clemson: Get off to a good start. The Tigers have scored 58 points in the first two quarters of their two games, and duplicating that will make for a comfortable afternoon. The defense needs to get Furman's offense off the field as quickly as possible. SCOUTING THE TEAMS: Furman have a freshman running the show with QB Reese Hannon taking over for an injured Dakota Derrick. Hannon had a nice game in throwing for 255 yards against Coastal Carolina, but he came up two points short in triple overtime. Senior Jerodis Williams has rushed for over 180 yards in two games, and Will King lead in receiving with 13 receptions for 205 yards. He and Ryan Culbreath have two touchdowns receiving each. Furman has held its first two opponents to 131 yards rushing a game, but has surrendered 254 passing. LB Mitch McGrath has the only interception and has one of Furman's four sacks. The others were recorded by DE Shawn Boone (1.5), DE Ricky Lang (1.0), and NT Neal Rodgers (0.5). The defense has held its opponents to seven scores in eight trips inside the red zone, but only five of those were touchdowns. Clemson's offense has clicked on all cylinders in its first two games, and now the Tigers get to add star WR Sammy Watkins to the mix. Watkins, who missed the first two games of the season while serving a suspension as punishment for his arrest last May, is a player who shreds defenses in a variety of ways, so the offense -- which has averaged 537 yards over two games -- should be even more effective. QB Tajh Boyd has completed 75 percent of his passes this season. Throw in RB Andre Ellington, who's averaging 7.1 yards per carry, and it's easy to see why coach Dabo Swinney has no complains about the Tigers' offense. It's a much different story for Clemson on the defensive side, where the Tigers seem to get one problem fixed only to expose another. The secondary, which gave up some big plays against Auburn, was improved against Ball State, but the Tigers' run defense yielded 254 yards. Lack of consistency is the problem. The Tigers held 27 of Ball State's 40 runs to under four yards. Sophomore LB Stephone Anthony continues to make big strides and leads the team with 17 tackles. He also had his first career interception against Ball State. QUICK NOTES: Paladins: Furman is coming off a heartbreaking 47-45 loss to Coastal Carolina in triple overtime. ... The Paladins lost their opener 24-21 at Samford. ... With losses in their first two games, the Paladins are looking to avoid their first 0-3 start to a season since 1979. ... Clemson was Furman's first opponent when the school started its football program back in 1896. ... The Paladins have lost 29 in a row to the Tigers and are only 1-24 in games played in Clemson. ... Reese Hannon will become the first true freshman to start at quarterback for the Paladins since 1997. Tigers: Clemson is a perfect 25-0 against FCS schools since the NCAA formed the division (then Division I-AA) prior to the 1978 season. The Tigers, who play FCS opponent Furman on Sept. 15, have outscored FCS opponents 928-172, which is an average victory margin of 37-7. Their closest game against an FCS opponent came last season when the Tigers slipped past Wofford 35-27. ... Freshman DL D.J. Reader is having a busy fall. The 6-foot-3, 330-pounder has played 31 snaps over the Tigers' first two games and appears to be assuming an increased role on the defensive front behind starting NG Grady Jarrett. But he's also been working out with the Clemson baseball team twice a week as well as doing some hitting on his own. Reader is a designated hitter and pitcher who has been clocked with a 93 mph fastball. Hhe also batted over .500 each of his last two seasons of high school ball. ... QB Tajh Boyd continues to solidify his status in Clemson's record book. Boyd threw three touchdown passes against Ball State on Sept. 8, which moved him into a tie for third place on the school's all-time list in that category. He needs just two touchdown passes to overtake Cullen Harper for second place and nine to supplant all-time leader Charlie Whitehurst. PLAYERS TO WATCH: Paladins: QB Reese Hannon -- A true freshman, Hannon came off the bench after an injury to starter Daota Derrick ad passe for 255 yards and four touchdowns in the loss to Coastal Carolina. RB Jerodis Williams -- The senior has rushed for 2,110 yards in his career, ninth-most in school history. LB Matt Solomon -- A senior, Solomon made his first career start in the last game of the season in 2011, a loss at Florida. He has 32 tackles in two games so far. Tigers: WR Sammy Watkins -- Watkins will be making his season debut after missing the Tigers' first two games while serving a suspension. After 82 catches for 1,219 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, Watkins needs to get untracked with a big game if he hopes to match or surpass last year's numbers. RB Roderick McDowell -- "Hot Rod" is hot indeed. He has 71 yards on just 12 carries this season and is the only running back to score in each of the Tigers' first two games. Although he's no threat to unseat star Andre Ellington, McDowell is the leading candidate to relieve some of Ellington's workload. DB Travis Blanks -- Blanks is a freshman who isn't playing like one. After getting in for 23 snaps in the Tigers' season opener, he started against Ball State and played 42 snaps. He's quickly proving his worth, ranking fourth on the team with 10 stops. INJURY WATCH: Paladins: QB Dakota Derrick (shoulder, out). Tigers: LG David Beasley (knee, questionable), LB Tig Willard (shoulder, questionable), RT Gifford Timothy (knee, questionable). ============================================== California at Ohio State ============================================== GAME SNAPSHOT KICKOFF: Saturday, noon ET GAMEDATE: 9/15/2012 SITE: Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio SURFACE: FieldTurf TV: ABC SERIES: Ohio State leads 5-1 (last meeting, 1972, Ohio State 35-18) RECORDS: California 1-1; Ohio State 2-0 POLLS: Ohio State (No. 12 AP) PREDICTION: Ohio State 28-7 KEYS TO THE GAME: -- For California: Win the quarterback batle. ICal must contain the running of Ohio State QB Braxton Miller and force him to beat the Bears with his passing, even though Cal's weakness is its pass defense Cal QB Zach Maynard needs to have his most efficient game of the season. -- For Ohio State: Make plays in the kicking game. This has been a strength for the Buckeyes in the first two games. The defense must pressure Cal QB Zach Maynard into a couple of mistakes. SCOUTING THE TEAMS: California improved offensively over the second half of last season when it became more of a running team, and the Bears were expected to be a run-oriented team this season. But Cal has not run the ball as effectively as expected. Its 6.1 yards-per-carry average is skewed by the numbers achieved against outmanned Southern Utah. QB Zach Maynard has better numbers than last season, having completed 64.2 percent of his passes with three touchdowns and just one interception, but he has not yet taken the step to elite status that seemed possible at the end of last season. Cal has been much better on defense against the run than against the pass, but that is skewed a bit because Southern Utah was ill-equipped to run the ball against the Bears and relied on its star QB Brad Sorensen. The Bears were unable to handle the spread option attack of Nevada, and Ohio State runs it better than Nevada with QB Braxton Miller. Cal's defense has been hot and cold under defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast, coming up with some great games and some poor ones. Ohio State's depth chart at running back has been blown up for the Buckeyes, who find themselves down three bodies just two games into the season. If that results in even more carries for QB Braxton Miller, it also means his exposure to potential injury spikes. OCoach Urban Meyer wants to see freshman RB Bri'onte Dunn step into the starting role and produce. The Ohio State receivers have a role in this recovery, too. The Ohio State defense faces Cal QB Zach Maynard, who is fifth in the Pac-12 with a 154.2 passer rating. Maynard has completed 64.2 percent of his passes for 474 yards and three touchdowns, with one interception. The pressure from up front will be key for Ohio State, which used that pressure to force a pair of interceptions in the recent win over UCF. The Buckeyes need more from their run defense, which was expected to be one of the toughest in the nation this season. QUICK NOTES: Bears: Cal won the first meeting between the teams in the 1920 season's Rose Bowl, when the Bears topped of a 9-0 season with a 28-0 shutout over and Ohio State team that was 7-0 coming into the game. The Bears have lost all five meetings since then. ... This is Cal's first road game of the season. Cal is just 3-8 on its opponent's home field since the start of the 2010 season. Ohio State has won 20 of its past 22 home games. ... How effective Cal is in its no-huddle offense will be critical. The stepped-up pace seems to fit QB Zach Maynard's personality, especially if it leads to some broken-play situations in which he gets outside the pocket. He has been more accurate on the run than standing in the pocket. Buckeyes: QB Braxton Miller is believed to have set a school record for quarterbacks with his 27 carries in last week's win over Central Florida. Miller's three rushing touchdowns tied a school record set by QB Art Schlichter in 1979. ... The Buckeyes scored 14 points off interceptions against Central Florida, driving for scores after the two times they picked off the Knights. The Buckeyes turned the ball over three times against UCF, but the Knights failed to score after any of them. ... Ohio State is producing 474.5 yards of total offense through its first two games and cranking off an average of 80.5 plays per game with its new no-huddle spread offense. ... DB Zach Domicone, who has appeared in 25 games, mostly on special teams, returned to the field against Central Florida after missing the opener with a minor knee injury. PLAYERS TO WATCH: Bears: WR Keenan Allen -- Always QB Zach Maynard's No. 1 target, Allen is capable of producing a big play as a pass receiver, runner or punt returner. He probably needs to create at least one big play against Ohio State for the Bears to have a chance. TB Isi Sofele -- He had just 22 yards against Nevada and 104 against Southern Utah, and he needs to have his best game of the season against Ohio State's tough run defense. CB Steve Williams -- With the Bears probably focusing most of their defensive attention on stopping the run, Williams and Marc Anthony will have a lot of responsibility in preventing big passing plays. They have played pretty well so far this season and need to play mistake-free defense against Ohio State. Buckeyes: CB Travis Howard -- A senior, Howard has three interceptions already this season, giving him seven for his career. He also ahs been credited with breaking up two other passes. QB Braxton Miller -- The sophomore is averaging 332 yards of offense per game. Miller has completed 66.7 percent of his 48 passes for 362 yards and three touchdowns. WR Corey Brown -- Brown had two carries in the win over UCF, good for 23 total yards. With the Ohio State running backs corps depleted, look for Brown to see the ball more often against Cal. INJURY WATCH: Bears: OT Matt Summers-Gavin (knee, questionable), TE Richard Rodgers (ankle, questionable), LB Chris McCain (shoulder, questionable), LB David Wilkerson (foot, questionable), OG Dominic Galas (chest, out), LB Khairi Fortt (knee, out). Buckeyes: RB Carlos Hyde (knee, out), FB Adam Homan (shoulder, out), DL Michael Bennett (groin, questionable), DL Nathan Williams (knee, doubtful), RB Jordan Hall (foot, out), RB Warren Ball (out). ============================================== Virginia Tech at Pittsburgh ============================================== GAME SNAPSHOT KICKOFF: Saturday, noon ET GAMEDATE: 9/15/2012 SITE: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh SURFACE: Grass TV: ESPNU SERIES: Virginia Tech leads 7-4 (last meeting, 2003, Pittsburgh 31-28) RECORDS: Pittsburgh 0-2, Virginia Tech 2-0 POLLS: Virginia Tech (No. 13 AP, No. 13 USA Today) PREDICTION: Virginia Tech 21-10 KEYS TO THE GAME: -- For Viriginia Tech: Get the running game in gear. The Hokies haven't been able to establish a consistent running game to this point, which has been a big reason they haven't sustained drives. They need to get TBs Michael Holmes, J.C. Coleman and Tony Gregory involved in the game early. -- For Pittsburgh: Finish drives. More than anything, the inability of the offense to finish drives doomed the Panthers the first two games. The defense must make Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas uncomfortable. SCOUTING THE TEAMS: Virginia Tech is hoping now that it is on a normal schedule again its slow offensive starts will no longer be an issue. The Hokies scored only seven points through the first three quarters-plus of the opener against Georgia Tech and waited until late in the second quarter to open things up against FCS opponent Austin Peay. But after playing on a Monday and then coming back on a Saturday, the Hokies have had full week to prepare. Defensively, the Hokies have been dominant at times in their first two games, shutting down Georgia Tech's potent spread option attack and holding Austin Peay to 221 yards Saturday, but they expect to be dominant all the time. The Hokies have yielded only 158 yards through the air in playing a run-oriented Georgia Tech team and an FCS foe in Austin Peay. Pittsburgh's running game has shown some promise, no question. With RB Ray Graham off to wonderful post-surgery start to this season, freshman Rushel Shell expected to see more work and Isaac Bennett running strong, there could be a noticeable emphasis on the ground game Saturday against a Virginia Tech defense that is third nationally against the pass. Of course, the line, which has struggled in pass protection, needs to do its part in helping keeping the chains moving and the clock ticking. It also must avoid critical penalties like a holding call that negated a Graham touchdown run against Cincinnati. Pitt's defense has recorded only one sack and to help remedy the lack of an effective pass rush coach Paul Chryst wants to use an additional blitzer against Hokies QB Logan Thomas. One seems to be the loneliest number as the defense has also forced all of one turnover. Beefing up the pass rush could help loosen things up in terms of generating forced errors and maybe even a turnover or two. Having the defense set up the offense might be Pitt's best shot for an upset Saturday. QUICK NOTES: Hokies: Virginia Tech and Pitt rekindle their old Big East rivalry at Heinz Field in a preview of what's to come when Pitt joins Tech in the ACC's Coastal Division next season. The Hokies are looking to get an elusive win in the Steel City. They have lost three straight in the series. ... Seven true freshmen have played this season for the Hokies: LB Deon Clarke, RB J.C. Coleman, FS Desmond Frye, P A.J. Hughes, CB Donaldven Manning, CB Donovan Riley and WR Joshua Stanford. ... Virginia Tech has won four consecutive true road non-conference games, with two victories at East Carolina, one at Nebraska and one at Marshall. Its last non-conference true road loss was at LSU in 2007. ... The Hokies were ranked in the top 15 before each of their last three losses to Pittsburgh from 2001-03. Virginia Tech was ranked fifth when it lost to No. 25 Pitt at Heinz Field in '03. The Panthers scored a touchdown with 47 seconds left to sink the Hokies. Panthers: Saturday's game is truly a preview of things to come. Not only will Pitt and Virginia Tech be ACC foes starting next season, but the Panthers will join the Hokies in the conference's Coastal Division ... Only one of RB Ray Graham's 33 carries through two weeks went for a negative gain and that was all of a one-yard loss. He has 174 yards and is averaging a robust 5.3 yards per tote. It's not a bad way to return from a torn ACL. ... The Panthers need to be wary of the Hokies' ability to make a difference on special teams, particularly with blocked kicks and punts. ... S Jason Hendricks has again assumed a starting role following an injury-shortened 2011that limited him to seven games. ... DE Jack Lippert started the opener against Youngstown State, but for the second straight week he is listed behind T.J. Clemmings. ... WR Josh Brinson moved to second string on this week's depth chart. His two receptions (24 yards) against Cincinnati doubled his total of last year, the senior's first with Pitt. PLAYERS TO WATCH: Hokies: C Caleb Farris -- This sophomore could see a lot of playing time Saturday at Pitt, as an injury fill-in for starter Andrew Miller, who left Virginia Tech's last game because of a ankle injury. Farris, a sophomore who played 29 career snaps before Saturday, played 40 snaps as a sub against Austin Peay. LB Jack Tyler -- A super sub his first two years at Virginia Tech, Tyler has shown much improvement through the first two weeks of the season and is one of the top linebackers in the ACC. The former walk-on leads the ACC and is tied for 11th nationally with 12 1/2 tackles per game. DE James Gayle -- He led the Hokies with seven sacks in 2011 and is tied for the team lead this season with one. Saturday could be a good day for Virginia Tech's pass-rushers, particularly Gayle, as Pittsburgh allowed six sacks against Cincinnati in a 34-10 loss last Thursday. Panthers: RB Rushel Shell -- After seeing some first-quarter action and totaling 8-31 in his collegiate debut against the Bearcats, Shell is expected to see more time against the Hokies. S Jarred Holley -- After not starting the opener, the 2011 All-Big East performer led the squad with five tackles for loss and 10 total tackles against Cincinnati. LB Shane Gordon -- The junior had the lone sack against UC (the unit's only sack this season) and leads the team in both tackles (17) and passes broken up (3). INJURY WATCH: Hokies: DE Bruce Taylor (ankle, probable), WR D.J. Coles (knee, out), LB Tariq Edwards (knee, out). Panthers: No injuries reported. ============================================== Texas at Mississippi ============================================== GAME SNAPSHOT KICKOFF: Saturday, 9:15 ET GAMEDATE: 9/15/2012 SITE: Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Oxford, Miss. SURFACE: FieldTurf TV: ESPN SERIES: Texas leads 5-1 (last meeting, 1966, Texas 19-0) RECORDS: Texas 2-0, Ole Miss 2-0 POLLS: Texas (No. 14 AP, No. 13 USA Today) PREDICTION: Texas 33-10 KEYS TO THE GAME: -- For Texas: Stay composed. This is the first road game of the season for the Longhorns, which can be an adventure. The defense needs to step up against a productive Ole Miss offense. -- For Ole Miss: Play a complete game. Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze has yet to see his team put together 60 minutes of football. Even if Ole Miss can play a full game, it will have to generate turnovers and make big plays on offense to keep up with Texas. SCOUTING THE TEAMS: One thing Texas has not really done in the first two games offensively is hit the deep pass. QB David Ash has tended to check down at the line of scrimmage, and that has worked well, but watch this week to see if he airs it out more against the Rebels. Ole Miss will be the biggest challenge for the Texas defense to this point. The Rebels are among the top rushing teams in the country, but they can also hurt opponents through the air and like to pick up the pace. The Longhorns started slowly against New Mexico, allowing the Lobos to hold the ball more than 12 minutes of the first quarter, and would like to get off to a quicker start this weekend. QB Bo Wallace has established himself as the starter with back-to-back games that led Ole Miss to victories. He accounted for all four touchdowns last week and is responsible for an SEC-high 42 points (five pass touchdowns, two rushing) this season. WRs Donte Moncrief and Korvic Neat have double-digit receptions, and the offensive line allowed only one sack last week against UTEP. Ole Miss played a bend-but-don't-break defense against UTEP, giving up plenty of yards but allowing only a field goal in three trips to the red zone. That included a goal-line stand and an interception in the end zone. DE C.J. Johnson has only one sack, but Texas coaches have raved about his speed off the edge. LB Dehendret Collins has been everywhere with a team-high 13 tackles, including two for losses. QUICK NOTES: Longhorns: Three of the previous six meetings with Ole Miss have been in Austin, while the other three took place in bowl games. Ole Miss beat Texas in the 1957 Sugar Bowl, and the Longhorns knocked off the Rebels in the 1961 Cotton Bowl and 1966 Bluebonnet Bowl. ... The kick-coverage unit has been one of the strengths for Texas this season. In fact, it's gotten its own nickname, the Wild Bunch. ... WR Mike Davis' first catch on Saturday will be the 100th of his Texas career. ... LS Nate Boyer has gotten a lot of attention this week. The long snapper is a former Green Beret who enrolled at Texas after seeing action in the war on terror. ... QB Case McCoy got extended action in the blowout of New Mexico, playing the entire fourth quarter and going 5-of-8 for 64 yards and a touchdown. Rebels: The SEC has suspended DB Trae Elston for what it deemed a "flagrant and dangerous" hit on a UTEP receiver during last week's game. Elston was not flagged on the play, however. Ole Miss received three points in this week's USA Today coaches' poll. It is the first time the school has garnered any recognition since the 2010 preseason. ... After making only 13 sacks all of last season, Ole Miss has nine through two games. That's the best in the SEC. ... The Ole Miss offense has gained more than 500 yards in back-to-back games for the first time since 2009, when the Rebels did it against Alabama-Birmingham and Arkansas. PLAYERS TO WATCH: Longhorns: LB Jordan Hicks -- Hicks led the Longhorns against New Mexico with nine tackles. Given the strengths of the Mississippi offense, he'll likely be called upon to post similar numbers against the Rebels. RB/WR Daje Johnson -- Johnson showed the speed the coaching staff is so excited about, racing 45 yards for a touchdown after catching a short pass and turning on the jets against New Mexico. As he works his way into the offense, he'll give Texas an added dimension that could pay dividends in Big 12 play. RB Malcolm Brown -- Brown got only two carries against New Mexico, though he was on the field more often than leading rusher Joe Bergeron. The coaching staff explained that by saying QB David Ash checked off to pass plays at the line of scrimmage when he otherwise would have handed it off. Regardless, that should give Brown extra motivation to shine this week. Rebels: FS Cody Prewitt -- Prewitt, a sophomore who will be making his seventh start against Texas, was all over the field last week. He had seven tackles, a sack and an interception in the end zone. WR Donte Moncrief -- In two weeks, Moncrief has 11 catches for 176 yards, including 53- and 55-yard touchdown receptions. The 6-foot-3, 216-pound receiver is QB Bo Wallace's top target. RT Pierce Burton -- The midyear junior college enrollee has been solid but not great in his first two games on this level. He will have to step it up with Texas' defensive ends, considered two of the best nationally, his opponents this week. INJURY WATCH: Longhorns: PK Anthony Fera (groin, questionable). Rebels: RB Jeff Scott (back, probable). ============================================== North Texas at Kansas State ============================================== GAME SNAPSHOT KICKOFF: Saturday, 7 ET GAMEDATE: 9/15/2012 SITE: Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan, Kan. SURFACE: AstroTurf Gameday Grass TV: FoxSports Network SERIES: Kansas State leads 5-1 (last meeting, 2010, Kansas State 49-41) RECORDS: North Texas 1-1; Kansas State 2-0 POLLS: Kansas State (No. 15 AP, No. 14 USA Today) PREDICTION: Kansas State 45-14 KEYS TO THE GAME: -- For North Texas: Contain multi-purpose QB Collin Klein. Klein is an effective, bullish runner who has improved his passing game. The Mean Green must be able to run the ball effectively -- For Kansas State: Maintain intensity. A trip to Oklahoma follows this one, and the Wildcats don't want complacency to slip into this one. Mounting a pass rush should pay dividends. SCOUTING THE TEAMS: UNT has been solid and it starts with the offensive line, which is one of 13 teams in the country to not allow a sack this season. The running backs group is deep and led by the 1-2 punch of junior Brandin Byrd and redshirt freshman Antoinne Jimmerson, with others providing depth. The passing game still needs work and this looks to be a high-scoring game, so Derek Thompson will get his chances. UNT's defense was steady against Texas Southern and not terrible against LSU, but will get a heavy test through the air at Kansas State. UNT's young secondary will get challenged early and the Mean Green should have a good barometer about how good they are after this game. One of the more impressive attributes to Kansas State's dominance against Miami was the volume of the offense the Wildcats showed on two straight touchdown drives to begin the game. Execution was practically flawless as Kansas State capitalized on a variety of runs and passes. If QB Collin Klein continues to improve as a passer, the Wildcats' attack could be one of the most dynamic in the Big 12 because of what they can also achieve with Klein and RB John Hubert as their primary rushers. Better pressure was a must after Kansas State's defense managed no sacks in the opener. The Wildcats produced five sacks against Miami, including two off the edge by DE Adam Davis and another from DT John Sua. Those hits were among 10 tackles for loss as defenders played quicker and more instinctively in the second game. Conditioning also seemed to be a strength. The Wildcats were relentless throughout the game. The only touchdown they surrendered to Miami came after a 77-yard kickoff return late in the fourth quarter. QUICK NOTES: Mean Green: A win over Kansas State would give North Texas its first 2-1 start to a season since returning to FBS football in 1995. The last 2-1 start to a season for the Mean Green came in 1994, the final season in FCS before making the jump to FBS in 1995. ... North Texas coach Dan McCarney is facing a team from the Big 12 as a head coach for the first time since leaving Iowa State after the 2006 season. McCarney, the 2004 Big 12 Coach of the Year, has beaten Kansas State twice while with the Cyclones. ... The Mean Green had the ninth-most rushing yards in a game in school history with 352 yards in the win over Texas Southern. ... CB Zac Whitfield has two interceptions in two games for the Mean Green. The redshirt freshman is one of only two freshmen in nation with two interceptions through the first two weeks. Whitfield and Carlos Mendoza of Arizona State are the only freshman with multiple interceptions in the nation. Wildcats: One play in the 52-13 rout of Miami probably got more attention -- and not because it was good -- than any other. It was a trick play that went awry with Kansas State threatening at the one-yard line. A backward, no-look flip QB QB Colllin Klein tried to give to WR Chris Harper was mishandled, and the resulting fumble pushed Kansas State back to the 20. That forced a field-goal attempt, which PK Anthony Cantele missed from 37 yards out. ... Although the tendency is to clamor for QB Daniel Sams to become a bigger part of the Kansas State package, coach Bill Snyder does not want to lump too much, too soon, on the redshirt freshman. As a backup behind Klein, Sams has scored touchdowns on three of his six carries through two games. ... The last meeting between these two teams resulted in a 49-41 shootout Kansas State won behind a career-high 269 yards rushing by Daniel Thomas. PLAYERS TO WATCH: Mean Green: DB Zac Whitfield -- The redshirt freshman made the move to cornerback during fall practice and moved to the starting lineup right away. Whitfield is looking like a natural right away and already has two interceptions. RG Cyril Lemon -- The sophomore anchors a group that hasn't given up a sack this year. This week, opening up holes in the run game will be crucial and it starts behind Lemon, who started last year as a true freshman. RB Brandin Byrd -- Byrd topped the 100-yard mark last week and ran for two scores against Kansas State. He'll get plenty of chances this week as UNT looks to establish the run game early on the road. Wildcats: QB Daniel Sams -- The backup may figure into more plays from the Wildcat formation after scoring three touchdowns on six touches through the first two games. Sams rushed for 108 yards in those games, an 18-yard average. QB Collin Klein -- Although he will always be recognized mostly as a threat to run, Klein possesses a passing-efficiency rating of 173.68 through two games, which ranks 10th nationally. He has steadily padded his production since the second half of last season. FS Jarard Milo -- Milo arrived at Kansas State as a walk-on from Butler County (Kan.) Community College, yet the senior leads the Wildcats with 16 tackles. While that is a plus, he and the rest of the Kansas State secondary need to improve in coverage. INJURY WATCH: Mean Green DE Brandon McCoy (undisclosed, day-to-day). Wildcats: OG Nick Puetz (foot, doubtful), OG Boston Stiverson (foot, doubtful), LB Jarell Childs (arm/shoulder, day-to-day). ============================================== TCU at Kansas ============================================== GAME SNAPSHOT KICKOFF: Saturday, noon ET GAMEDATE: 9/15/2012 SITE:. Memorial Stadium, Lawrence, Kan. SURFACE: FieldTurf TV: FX SERIES: TCU leads 16-8-4 (last meeting, 1997, Kansas 17-10) RECORDS: TCU 1-0, 0-0 Big 12; Kansas 1-1, 0-0 Big 12 POLLS: TCU (No. 16 AP, No.15 USA Today) PREDICTION: TCU 38-14 KEYS TO THE GAME: -- For TCU: Create big plays. By doing so, the Horned Frogs could take Kansas out of the game early. Kansas has depth in its backfield and could try to milk clock if it can establish its top rushers, speedy Tony Pierson and bruising Taylor Cox. -- For Kansas: No lapses. A mistake helped put Rice into position for a game-deciding field goal last week. Similar plays will see the game get out of hand early with TCU veteran QB Casey Pachall leading the Horned Frogs. SCOUTING THE TEAMS: TCU's offense pretty much had its way in the opener against Grambling State, rushing for 255 yards and throwing for 276 in the 56-0 rout. QB Casey Paschal is a proven leader after taking over the starting role a year ago and he connected on all nine of his attempts against Grambling. The Horned Frogs spread running responsibilities among four backs with Waymon James leading with 69 yards on just five carries. TCU allowed Grambling only 70 yards in total offense. Although the sack recorded by DE Devonte Fields was an encouraging development for the true freshman, he must continue to capitalize on such opportunities. Opponents will still be influenced to contain the Horned Frogs' rusher off the other edge, DE Stansly Maponga, who was double-teamed for much of the matchup against Grambling. Maponga still got in on a sack when Grambling did not use a running back to chip block. If TCU builds a solid pass rush, the transition to defending explosive Big 12 offenses will go much smoother. The rushing attack for Kansas continues to be a dimension the Jayhawks must build upon. They gained 195 yards on 36 attempts for a 5.4-yard average against Rice, yet more passing plays than necessary were called in the second half. If coach Charlie Weis, who doubles as offensive coordinator, can suppress the desire to have transfer QB Dayne Crist exercise his arm and simply let the game come to his quarterback, the Jayhawks could successfully achieve the balance they need to win. Reconstructing the defense into one that can consistently stop opponents will take time for Kansas. No one could have expected the Jayhawks to become dominant on defense overnight, no matter what kind of credential Dave Campo brings as a veteran coordinator. Kansas allowed 400-plus yards in each of its first two games and now confronts a much more potent attack in TCU. Missed tackles were costly in the Rice game, including one on the final drive, which enabled the Owls to move up 10 yards for their game-winning field goal as time expired. QUICK NOTES: Horned Frogs: Holes on the depth chart prompted TCU to use 12 true freshmen in the season-opening game against Grambling, but coach Gary Patterson did his best to downplay that factor and make it sound as if the youngsters deserved the opportunity. Thing is, they probably did, considering PR Deante' Gray was named Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week after setting a TCU record with 160 punt return yards, and DE Devonte Fields recorded a sack in his debut. ... WR Skye Dawson was suspended for the opener against Grambling State for an unspecified violation of institutional policy. Dawson will return against Kansas. ... The Horned Frogs completed all 17 passes they attempted against Grambling, including nine by starting QB Casey Pachall and eight by backup Trevone Boykin. ... Although new rules on kickoffs could limit what returns TCU manages in that phase, getting good field position off punts is a strong possibility to give TCU's offense good field position. PR Deante' Gray starred in the opener, scoring a touchdown while accumulating a TCU-record 160 yards on five runbacks. Jayhawks: Kansas played TCU on an annual basis fro 1944-64 and will do so again with the Horned Frogs joining the Big 12. ... Kansas, meanwhile, has lost 12 straight conference games, dating to comeback win against Colorado on Nov. 6, 2010. ... One of the bigger concerns to come out of the 25-24 loss to Rice last week was the spotty play of QB Dayne Crist. It could be argued that the Notre Dame transfer was rusty in the season opener after playing sparingly for the Irish last season. His interception late in the fourth quarter against Rice was a costly mistake that led directly to the Owls' game-winning field goal as time ran out. PLAYERS TO WATCH: Horned Frogs: OT Tayo Fabuluje -- Fabuluje protects the blindside of QB Casey Pachall and was part of a unit that allowed no sacks in the opener against Grambling. Still, breakdowns are altogether possible because of inexperience, and the 6-7 Fabuluje, a BYU transfer, must be alert. LB Kenny Cain -- The lone senior who starts for TCU on defense, Cain returned as the Horned Frogs' leading tackler from 2011. His experience is invaluable, especially against a Kansas squad that wants to establish the run. TB Waymon James -- James led the Frogs with 69 yards rushing against Grambling and was also the season leader a year ago, though he continues to split carries with TB Matthew Tucker. James is an underrated talent and makes defenders miss at only 5-8. Jayhawks: QB Dayne Crist -- A big opportunity exists for Crist to supply the instant leadership Weis wanted when he installed the Notre Dame transfer as his quarterback. Coming off the deflating loss to Rice, Crist needs to prove he can play at a high level against an inexperienced TCU defense. OT Tanner Hawkinson -- Considered a stalwart who protects Crist's blindside, Hawkinson will be going up against one of the best pass rushers in the Big 12, TCU's Stansly Maponga. This is strength on strength and will impact the Jayhawks' success through the air. FS Bradley McDougald -- He not only keys the Kansas secondary, but the entire defense. McDougald is a standout on a unit that has not yet arrived. Many of his tackles must come as a stop-gap tackler, but he does prevent breakdowns from becoming even bigger. INJURY WATCH: Horned Frogs: WR Brandon Carter (knee, probable). Jayhawks: LB Prinz Kande (knee, out), WR Kale Pick (knee, day-to-day), S Lubbock Smith (knee, day-to-day), RB Brandon Bourbon (undisclosed, probable). ============================================== Massachusetts at Michigan ============================================== GAME SNAPSHOT KICKOFF: Saturday, 3:30 ET GAMEDATE: 9/15/2012 SITE: Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, Mich. SURFACE: FieldTurf TV: Big Ten Network SERIES: Michigan leads 1-0 (last meeting, 2010, Michigan 42-37) RECORDS: Massachusetts 0-2; Michigan 2-0 POLLS: Michigan (No. 17 AP, No. 18 USA Today) PREDICTION: Michigan 41-3 KEYS TO THE GAME: -- For Massachusetts: Try not to be awestruck. The Minutemen are in the early stages of FBS play and will be at one of the most storied venues in college football. They must cut down on their errors or this one will get out of hand in a hurry. -- For Michigan: Be balanced. It is vital for Michigan to play well, and look good doing it, against an overmatched foe for its own psychological benefit. The defense needs to stuff the run to force UMass to throw the ball. SCOUTING THE TEAMS: UMass managed only 78 yards rushing against Indiana and has only 81 net yard rushing for the season. Of the 84 yards in losses, only 33 were the result of sacks given up. Freshman QB Mike Wegzyn has thrown for only 207 yards in his two starts. The top receiver is sophomore WR Marke Michel with eight receptions for 82 yards. The Minutemen's only touchdown came on a rush by Wegzyn. Defensively, UMass has given up 480 yard rushing in two games, which would put the Minutemen at No. 108 in the country if their statistics were not listed as "reclassifying/provisional" in their transition to FBS classification. Senior LB Perry McIntyre leads them in tackles with 22, and he also has broken up a pass. Michigan looks for balance in its rushing game in this meeting with Massachusetts, knowing a showdown with Notre Dame looms just ahead, and then the Big Ten grind begins. QB Denard Robinson has provided plenty so far, but RB Fitzgerald Toussaint needs to take much more of the load. The passing attack showed promise with 208 yards and a couple of scores last week against Air Force, but Robinson needs to get as many Wolverines as possible involved. The Wolverines were a stout and reliable defensive group in 2011, ranking 17th nationally, but the current season has seen them slip significantly. Michigan enters the UMass game ranked as the 117th run defense in the nation after allowing 522 yards on the ground in the first two weeks. Granted, Alabama and Air Force emphasize that plan of attack, but there is still plenty of concern that Michigan needs to find the right personnel and schemes to put this unit back on track. QUICK NOTES: Minutemen: UMass is off to its first 0-2 start to a season since 2001, when they lost their first five games. ... The Minutemen will be playing their second consecutive opponent from the Big Ten. They lost last week 45-6 to Indiana. ... Neighboring Connecticut shut out the Minutemen 37-0 in the opener. ... That means the Minutemen have been outscored 82-6 in their first two games as FBS members. ... QB Mike Wegzyn's 16-yard run for a touchdown was the first touchdown for UMass in as an FBS team. Wolverines: After failing to live up to its role as a three-touchdown favorite last week against Air Force, Michigan finds itself as a better than six touchdown favorite against UMass, the biggest spread in the country in week three of the college football season. ... The Wolverines have won 16 straight home games in the month of September. ... QB Denard Robinson has 32 runs of 20 or more yards in his 576 career carries. The speedy senior from Florida has nine of the top 10 single-game total offense performances in Michigan history. ... CB Blake Countess, who injured his ACL early in the loss to Alabama, will be out for the season. PLAYERS TO WATCH: Minutemen: RB Michael Cox -- Cox earned is undergraduate degree at Michigan and will be facing his old team after his transfer to UMass. He had a career-high 14 carries for 36 yards in the loss to Indiana. S Darren Thellen -- Thellen had 11 tackles and came up with an interception against Indiana. He is second on the team in tackles with 16 stops and also is credited with breaking up a pass. WR Marken Michel -- Michel leads the Minutemen in receivin with eight receptions for 82 yards. Five of the receptions and 68 of the yards came in the loss to Indiana, including a 56-yard reception that set up UMass' only score. Wolverines: DL Frank Clark -- Clark, who was suspended for the Alabama game after he was arrested in the offseason and charged with stealing a laptop computer, had four tackles, two for loss, and broke up a pass against Air Force. TE Devin Funchess -- The true freshman led the Wolverines with his 106 receiving yards in last week's win over Air Force. LB Jake Ryan -- The sophomore has made at least one stop behind the line of scrimmage in eight straight games. INJURY WATCH: Minutemen: No injuries reported. Wolverines: DL Brennan Beyer (knee, out), DL Richard Ash (undisclosed, day-to-day). ============================================== Florida at Tennessee ============================================== GAME SNAPSHOT KICKOFF: Saturday, 6 ET GAMEDATE: 9/15/2012 SITE: Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, Tenn. SURFACE: Grass TV: ESPN SERIES: Florida leads 22-19 (last meeting, 2011, Florida 33-23) RECORDS: Florida 2-0, 1-0 SEC; Tennessee 2-0, 0-0 SEC POLLS: Florida (No. 18 AP, No. 17 USA Today); Tennessee (No. 23 AP) PREDICTION: Tennessee 27-24 KEYS TO THE GAME: -- For Florida: Step up in the secondary. Florida will be challenged against another high-powered passing attack led by junior QB Tyler Bray. Offensively, Florida must stick with a balanced game plan that has helped the Gators win both games this season. -- For Tennessee: Stick with the fundamentals. Tennessee's been known for shoddy tackling at times in the last few years, a problem that's weathered several changes to the coaching staff. It's vital the Vols wrap up and make tackles to prevent getting gashed for big gains. SCOUTING THE TEAMS: Florida has maintained its balance early this season, averaging 181 yards rushing and 155 yards passing through two games. The Gators have run the ball 90 times while throwing the ball only 38 times. Florida is averaging 4.0 yards per carry and had eight runs of 10 yards or more against Texas A&M. Offensive coordinator Brent Pease said he would like to find a way to get WR Andre Debose more involved. Debose, who had a team-high four touchdown catches last season, has no catches through two games this season. Florida has played sound defensively in its first two games this season, giving up only 15.5 points per game. But the Gators have lacked big-plays, forcing only one turnover and making four sacks. Florida's banged up secondary will face a tough test against Tennessee's downfield passing game. CBs Marcus Roberson and Jaylen Watkins will have their hands full with Tennessee WRs Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson. Tennessee has gone to a no-huddle approach that has led to a multitude of quick-strike scores. Through two games, Tennessee has had nine scoring drives that lasted 1 minute, 41 seconds or less. WR Justin Hunter tied a team single-game record with three touchdown catches in last week's 51-13 blowout of Georgia State. Keep an eye on Vols NT Daniel McCullers when Tennessee is on defense. He's a perfect fit for the base 3-4 defense new coordinator Sal Sunseri installed, but because Tennessee's first two opponents spread the field, McCullers didn't get as much playing time because the Vols had to play their nickel and dime packages for most of those games. The massive McCullers (6-7, 360), who only logged eight snaps against Georgia State, is expected to play much more against the pro-style scheme Florida is bringing to Neyland. QUICK NOTES: Gators: The Gators have won seven straight meetings against Tennessee, but the Vols are off to a 2-0 start behind a passing attack that's averaging 353.5 yards per game. ... Florida coach Will Muschamp said he would like QB Jeff Driskel to take less contact when he scrambles. Driskel was sacked eight times against Texas A&M. ... DE/LB Ronald Powell suffered a setback in his rehabilitation from a torn ACL and will redshirt this season. ... Backup QB Jacoby Brissett is taking about "35 to 40 percent" of snaps in practice behind starter Jeff Driskel. ... LB Antonio Morrison, a true freshman, will replace Jelani Jenkins as starter at weak-side linebacker while Jenkins sits out because of a thumb injury. Volunteers: When the Volunteers cracked the rankings this week, it was the first time Tennessee had been considered one of the top 25 teams in the country by a major poll since the preseason 2008 poll. ... Tennessee is looking to snap a seven-game losing streak to the Gators, which dates to 2004 and is the longest run of success for Florida in this series. Coincidentally, the last time Tennessee beat the Gators, it happened in a night game played at Neyland Stadium. ... Tennessee is in the midst of three consecutive games at home, and holds a 47-9 record in games played at Neyland Stadium in September since 1990. The team responsible for seven of those losses? Florida. ... The Vols confirmed via Twitter on Monday that Saturday's game against Florida officially is sold out. PLAYERS TO WATCH: Gators: RB Mike Gillislee -- Gillislee has emerged as Florida's most valuable offensive player. Florida coach Will Muschamp said he will be careful with Gillislee in practice this week after the suffered a groin strain against Texas A&M. QB Jeff Driskel -- Driskel will be facing a hostile road environment in his second straight start. The sophomore was efficient against Texas A&M, completing 13-of-16 passes. But Driskel also took eight sacks, some coming because he held onto the ball too long. LB Jon Bostic -- Bostic has been Florida's steadiest player on defense this season with 13 tackles, three for losses. Volunteers: PK Derrick Brodus -- The walk-on earned his claim to fame when he was whisked to Neyland Stadium by a policeman last November to serve as the emergency kicker against Middle Tennessee. Now, Brodus finds himself anointed as the starting kicker headed into Tennessee's biggest game in years. Brodus will handle extra points and field goals after Michael Palardy, a highly-rated specialist coming out of high school, missed one of each against Georgia State last week. C James Stone -- Stone had a slew of problems with his shotgun snaps during last year's game in Gainesville and lost his starting job. Stone, who is left handed, went back to delivering the shotgun snaps as a southpaw during the offseason and has reclaimed his hold on the position. LB A.J. Johnson -- The Vols' sophomore middle linebacker has taken on the responsibility of making the calls for Tennessee's defensive front, while fifth-year senior Herman Lathers has been sidelined by a shoulder injury. INJURY WATCH: Gators: RB Mike Gillislee (groin probable), CB Cody Riggs (foot, out), LB Jelani Jenkins (thumb, out), OL Matt Patchan (chest, out), TE Kent Taylor (undisclosed, questionable). Volunteers: TE Brendan Dows (knee, questionable) LB Herman Lathers (shoulder, questionable), LB Curt Maggitt (toe, questionable). ============================================== North Carolina at Louisville ============================================== GAME SNAPSHOT KICKOFF: Saturday, 3:30 ET GAMEDATE: 9/15/2012 SITE: Papa John's Stadium, Louisville, Ky. SURFACE: FieldTurf TV: WHAS Louisville SERIES: Tied 3-3 (last meeting, 2011, North Carolina 14-7) RECORDS: North Carolina 1-1; Louisville 2-0 POLLS: Louisville (No. 19 AP, No. 20 USA Today) PREDICTION: Louisville 21-17 KEYS TO THE GAME: -- For North Carolina: Don't settle for field goals. The Tar Heels had to do that twice against Wake Forest and it cost them a one-point loss. The defense must keep the pressure on Louisville QB Terry Bridgewater. -- For Louisville: Be ready for North Carolina's no-huddle, high-tempo spread offense. The Cardinals can't afford to let QB Bryn Renner get on a roll. Offensively, more of the same from the first two games is all that's needed -- ball control, continued accuracy from QB Terry Bridgewater and solid running from Jeremy Wright and Senorise Perry. SCOUTING THE TEAMS: North Carolina QB Bryn Renner is an accurate passer (61.7 percent) and RB A.J. Blue filled in admirably against Wake Forest when Giovani Bernard couldn't play, but receivers are another matter. Senior Erik Highsmith has only eight receptions in two games, and that leads the team. TE Eric Ebron may be developing into a reliable outlet with six receptions for 108 yards. The Tar Heels have outstanding individuals up front (DE Kareem Martin, DT Sylvester Williams), at linebacker (LB Kevin Reddick), and in the secondary (CBs Tim Scott and Jabari Price, FS Tre Boston). But they couldn't keep Wake Forest from driving 93 yards in the fourth quarter for the decisive touchdown with 2:09 remaining. The Heels have held their first two opponents to just a combined 106 yards rushing. Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater has been so accurate and his decision-making has been so outstanding that as long as he has time to find receivers, it's hard to see Louisville dropping off much even against a talented North Carolina defense. The coaching staff is hoping that the line blocks better for the run this week. Last week's win over Missouri State went as Louisville's coaches hoped it would as the Cards allowed just seven points while doing a better job of tackling. This challenge will be much different as North Carolina has weapons at every position and a no-huddle offense which will test Louisville's ability to adjust on the fly. The keys will be mounting some type of pressure on QB Bryn Renner, and doing an excellent job of wrapping up ball carriers and receivers in the open field. QUICK NOTES: Tar Heels: North Carolina is getting good results from its kicking game so far. The Tar Heels are averaging a league-best 42.0 yards on net punting and they are second in punt return average (24.0). Sophomore P Tommy Hibbard is averaging 44.4 yards per attempt, which is second in the league. On field goals, senior Casey Barth is 4-of-4 on field goals and 11-of-11 on PATs. ... Carolina is a big-play team on defense. The Tar Heels are tie for sixth in FBS statistics in tackles-for-loss with a 10.0 average (20 in two games). ... North Carolina has had success recently against non-conference opposition. The only loss was year was to Missouri in the Independence Bowl. Since 2008, the Tar Heel are 16-4 against non-conference opponents. Cardinals: If Louisville is to run the regular season table, as some suggest it might, this could be their toughest test. Not that North Carolina is even a fringe top 25 team at this stage, but there isn't a team in the Big East that will field as much talent as the Tar Heels bring to Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. ... The Cardinals are looking for their first 3-0 start since 2006, when the program reached its apex under coach Bobby Petrino. That year, they opened 8-0. ... Louisville coach Charlie Strong and North Carolina coach Larry Fedora worked under Ron Zook at Florida in 2003-04. Strong was the defensive coordinator and Fedora was in charge of the offense. ... The Cards have been almost perfect when cracking the opponents' 20-yard line in the season's first two weeks, scoring on all nine opportunities to tie for first in FBS. Seven of those nine scores have been TDs. PLAYERS TO WATCH: Tar Heels: TB A.J. Blue -- The junior, whose career has been plagued by injuries, has nearly as many yards rushing in two games as he had in his entire career coming into the season. After going for 106 at Wake Forest, he has 145. His total entering the season was 171. WR Erik Highsmith -- Highsmith has eight receptions for 115 yards in the two games. Both figures lead the team, but he needs to step up his production if the Heels are to have the kind of season they hope for. LB Kevin Reddick -- Reddick is another guy who needs to increase his production but on the other side of the ball. He has 14 tackles with 10 of them solo stops and 1.5 for losses. Cardinals: QB Teddy Bridgewater -- Last year, Bridgewater was thrown into the breach as a freshman and wasn't quite ready for the Tar Heels. Now he's more than ready for whatever comes his way and this could be a national showcase for the sophomore from Miami, who's fast becoming one of the nation's top signal-callers. WR Charles Gaines -- After being benched for the opener against Kentucky, Gaines made his presence known right away against Missouri State with a 55-yard reception. Gaines' big-play ability could be a factor against North Carolina, which has traditionally sported a physical defensive backfield that can be beaten deep off play-action. CB Adrian Bushell -- One of the Big East's best corners, Bushell will have a challenge against the Tar Heels' plethora of tall, physical receivers. Since they run lots of bubble screens and quick slants, Bushell must be physical and be able to tackle surely to help keep this offense in check. INJURY WATCH: Tar Heels: RB Giovani Bernard (knee, day-to-day). Cardinals: RB Dominique Brown (knee, questionable). ============================================== Houston at UCLA ============================================== GAME SNAPSHOT KICKOFF: Saturday, 10:30 ET GAMEDATE: 9/15/2012 SITE: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif. SURFACE: Grass TV: Pac-12 Network SERIES: Tied 3-3 (last meeting, 2011, Houston 38-34) RECORDS: Houston 0-2; UCLA 2-0 POLLS: UCLA (No. 22 AP, No. 23 USA Today) PREDICTION: UCLA 38-10 KEYS TO THE GAME: -- For Houston: Take command of the clock. Against UCLA, the country's third-most productive-rated offense, averaging 649.5 total yards, Houston's best defense will be its offense and keeping the Bruins offense off the field. The Bruins can run and pass with equal aplomb. -- For UCLA: Get the ball to RB Johnathan Franklin. Franklin has 41 carries for 431 yards rushing in two games. Really, all UCLA needs to do is be focused and hungry and not do anything that can erode confidence before the Pac-12 opener against Oregon State. SCOUTING THE TEAMS: After a 77-pass contest, it's little secret that Houston wants to throw the ball early and often. The key is that it's a rhythm attack that, if executed properly, gets the ball out of QB David Piland's hands before even the best of pass rushes have the chance to bear down on him. The intended target is whoever comes open first, evidenced by the fact that seven separate receivers have at least five catches in two weeks. Houston's defense has put the offense in the position of needing to be perfect every game night; which, of course, it hasn't. The yardage and points allowed wouldn't be such a big thing if the defense, led by aggressive LBs Phillip Steward and Derrick Matthews, could force an occasional turnover. But new defensive coordinator Jamie Bryant's stated preseason expectation of three forced turnovers a game has yet to even procure its first. This isn't the UCLA offense of the Rick Neuheisel era. It's way early, of course, but coordinator Noel Mazzone has a good start at winning national assistant coach of the year, re-designing the UCLA offense, which is averaging 649.5 yards through two games. His passing spread offense worked at Arizona State in the past two years and should continue to do the same, as long as QB Brett Hundley stays healthy. He tweaked an ankle last week but seems to be OK for his week. Perhaps a more pressing concern is if a young line -- two redshirt freshmen starters and a true freshman starter -- holds up all season. UCLA's defense is happy to not have to see Houston QB Case Keenum, who was an ultra-efficient 30-of-40 for 310 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions, in the Cougars' victory over the Bruins last season. Not only did Houston lose Keenum, it lost a trio of standout receivers and its head coach after last season, and the Cougars are just a shell of that excellent team from last season. UCLA, after dealing with Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez last week, should be able to corral the passing of David Piland. Charles Sims remains a threat at running back for Houston, and that could be a problem for a UCLA defense that ranks 100th nationally against the run, but keep in mind that the Cougars threw the ball 77 times last week vs. Louisiana Tech. QUICK NOTES: Cougars: QB Dave Piland faces the team that handed him the starting job a year ahead of schedule. After the Bruins knocked starter Case Keenum out of 2010's game with a blown knee, they later forced out backup Cotton Turner as well. That necessitated activating the then-freshman Piland, ... Preseason All-Conference USA cover corner D.J. Hayden, despite a couple of early pass-interference penalties, did a respectable job in coverage. Mirroring Tech wide Quentin Patton most of the night, Hayden limited QB Colby Cameron's top target to just four catches for 36 yards. ... The 500-yard-plus passing game was the first for Piland, a sophomore It topped his previous best of 467 yards set at Southern Mississippi in 2010. Bruins: This game against Houston ends a three-game series between the teams, with this game being the rubber match. TUCLA is in the AP poll, at No. 22, for the first time since the third week of the 2007 season. ... RB Johnathan Franklin leads the nation in rushing with an average of 215.5 ypg. Franklin rushed for about 2,100 yards the past two seasons in coach Rick Neuheisel's pistol offense. ... OG Chris Ward, who started three games last season, took a medical retirement during camp after suffering from various injuries, including to his back and knee PLAYERS TO WATCH: Cougars: WR Daniel Spencer -- The 6-0, 193-pound sophomore is coming off a career game, totaling seven catches for a game-high 158 yards. The best part of Spencer's game may be his running ability post-catch, which makes him a perfect fit for the Cougars' rhythm passing attack. WR Dewayne Peace -- The same goes for Peace, who contributed 11 catches for 141 yards and a score. The 6-0, 190-pound junior contributed just 13 catches in 2011, when he was buried well down the Cougars' depth chart. LT Rowdy Harper -- The freshly converted right tackle has his work cut out for him protecting Piland's blind side against a Bruins defense that's already accumulated nine sacks. Bruins: LB Eric Kendricks -- The sophomore is on his way to big things, making 19 tackles through two games. He and the entire UCLA defense need to be more stout against the run though. WR Joseph Fauria -- He's been the go-to guy in the red zone for a UCLA offense that is trying to develop depth and playmakers at wideout in coordinator Noel Mazzone's passing spread offense. Fauria has three of the team's six touchdown receptions. LB Anthony Barr -- The converted running back/receiver is in his first season playing defense, and he is absolutely loving it, looking like a natural. The junior has 10 tackles, including 2.5 for loss, in two games, and his rangy athleticism (6-4, 235) fits well when he is in attack mode. INJURY WATCH: Cougars: WR Larry McDuffey (hamstring, questionable), C Kevin Forsch (ankle, questionable), RT Ralph Oragwu (ankle, questionable). Bruins: CB Sheldon Price (undisclosed, probable), DE Sam Tai (knee, out), QB Brett Hundley (ankle, probable). ============================================== South Carolina State at Arizona ============================================== GAME SNAPSHOT KICKOFF: Saturday, 9:30 ET GAMEDATE: 9/15/2012 SITE: Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Ariz. SURFACE: Grass TV: Pac-12 Arizona SERIES: First meeting RECORDS: South Carolina State 1-1, Arizona 2-0 POLLS: Arizona (No. 24 AP, No. 25 USA Today) PREDICTION: Arizona 42-7 KEYS TO THE GAME: -- For South Carolina State: Run the ball. The Bulldogs are averaging over 177 yards a game on the ground and need to continue that success to keep the game under control. Their pass defense must step. -- For Arizona: Get backup QB B.J. Denker some playing time. Denker, a junior-college transfer, did a nice job of picking up the offense early in camp, but he hasn't had a chance to play in a game yet behind Matt Scott. This game against a FCS team shapes up as having potential to get Denker's feet wet. SCOUTING THE TEAMS: South Carolina State struggled offensively in its loss to Bethune-Cookman in its last outing, gaining only 69 yards passing to go with 167 rushing. After a solid performance in the opener, 300 yards passing in a 33-6 win over Georgia State, junior QB Richard Cue was only 8-of-28 passing in the loss last week. The Bulldogs have been a good running team, averaging 177.5 yards on the ground in two games. Defensively, South Carolina State has been getting after the opposing passer with seven sacks in just two games. LB Justin Hughes has two of them. His 15 tackles are second on the team to the 16 of LB Joe Thomas. Freshman LB Shaquan Brock doesn't have any tackles, but he does have SC State's only interception. The defense didn't give up a touchdown against Georgia State in the opener, limiting the home team to just two field goals and 229 yards in total offense. Arizona's offense is on a roll, ranking ninth nationally in total offense with 562.5 yards per game and scoring at a clip of 41.5 points through two games. Senior QB Matt Scott, a skilled passer and runner, has quickly proven adept at running coach Rich Rodriguez's read-option offense. He gives Arizona a chance in any game, and sophomore WR Austin Hill is an emerging star, perhaps in the mold of a Juron Criner. What Arizona would like to see is more consistency from its running game. There have been a few big runs -- which helps the stats -- but the ground game has mostly been a collection of two- and three-yard gains. Defensively, Arizona gave up 636 yards last week to Oklahoma State, but the Wildcats made up for that by coming up with four turnovers. This is a small unit that has been able to hang in there by tackling well and coming up with plays in critical situations. The concern is that the lack of depth has led some defensive guys to play more than 100 snaps, including special teams, in each of the first two games. The hope is that Arizona can get a big enough lead on South Carolina State to get more backups valuable experience. QUICK NOTES: Bulldogs: Coach Buddy Pough has taken his team to three FCS playoff berths and four Mid-Eastern Athletic Conferene titles in his 11 seasons. ... The trip to Arizona is the first of back-to-back road games for the Bulldogs against FBS opponents. They go to Texas A&M the next week. ... The Bulldogs had 488 yards in total offense in handling Geoorgia State 33-6 in the opener but only 236 last week against Bethune-Cookman. ... Penalties are huge problem for the Bulldogs. They have been penalized 25 times for 180 yards in just two games. Wildcats: Coach Rich Rodriguez says he knows when Arizona will debut its new copper helmets this season, but he's keeping that secret deep in the vault. ... Senior PK John Bonano was selected the Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week after connecting on all three of his field-goal attempts and all five PAT tries vs. Oklahoma State. His field-goal attempts were from 22, 46 and 24 yards, and helped him regain confidence a week after missing from 24 and 25 yards against Toledo. ... The past two games have featured a UA school-record 182 plays. ... Redshirt freshman RT Jacob Arzouman suffered a torn ACL in fall camp and is out for the season. He was likely to be in the rotation if healthy. ... Sophomore LB Rob Hankins has had to give up football because of a serious concussion suffered early in fall camp. Hankins, one of the gems of Mike Stoops' 2011 recruiting class, started the first three games as a true freshman last season. PLAYERS TO WATCH: Bulldogs: WR Caleb Davis -- A junior, Davis has 13 receptions for 143 yards in two games but has yet to catch a touchdown pass. He is looking for a bounce-back game after catching only three passes last week. RB Jalen Simmons -- Simmons ran for 72 yards in the loss to Bethune-Cookman, giving him a team best 109 for the season. He has one of South Carolina State's two rushing touchdowns. LB Justin Hughes -- Just a sophomore, Hughes leads the Bulldogs in tackles-for-loss (4.0) and sacks (2.0). He also is responsible for one of the team's three fumble recoveries. Wildcats: LB Jake Fischer -- The junior is making up for lost time. He missed the 2011 season because of an ACL injury, but he hasn't left the field on defense in two games, which spans 186 plays. He has made 27 tackles from his middle linebacker spot, and his 19 solo tackles are the most in the nation. WR Austin Hill -- The 6-3 sophomore, the son of former NFL standout TE David Hill, is the most acrobatic of Arizona's receivers. He is able to play the slot and outside receiver, but he is doing most of his damage inside, working against linebackers. He has posted back-to-back 100-yard receiving games to start the season with 12 catches for 263 yards. CB Jonathan McKnight -- The sophomore, who missed last season because of an ACL injury suffered in fall camp, is just fine. He made his first career start against Oklahoma State last week and had the key play -- a 48-yard pick-six in the fourth quarter. McKnight is an aggressive, feisty corner who is back to where he was before the injury, being UA's top cover man. INJURY WATCH: Bulldogs: DE Maquis Park (foot, questionable). Wildcats: LB Hank Hobson (shoulder, questionable), DE Dan Pettinato (knee, questionable), OL Trent Spurgeon (ankle, questionable). ============================================== BYU at Utah ============================================== GAME SNAPSHOT KICKOFF: Saturday, 10 ET GAMEDATE: 9/15/2012 SITE: Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, Utah SURFACE: FieldTurf TV: ESPN2 SERIES: Utah leads 55-34-4 (last meeting, 2011, Utah 54-10) RECORDS: BYU 2-0; Utah 1-1 POLLS: BYU (No. 25 AP) PREDICTION: BYU 35-28 KEYS TO THE GAME: -- For BYU: Be ready. Night games against Utah in recent years have not gone particularly well for BYU, including last year's loss to the Utes. BYU has come out flat in late starts and must find a way to save its focus and energy for when kickoff comes. -- For Utah: Keep emotions in check. Coming off the week in which they lost a game they should have won and then lost their four-year starting quarterback, Utah may try to come out more fired up than normal. Once that wave of emotion passes, the Utes could become flat and more vulnerable. SCOUTING THE TEAMS: BYU's struggling offensive line will be put to the test. Senior QB Riley Nelson applauded the Sept. 8 opponent for hitting him as hard as any team has in his career. But that was an FCS team (Weber State) that got in some pretty nice licks. Utah's a lot more capable. BYU has won 13 consecutive games, and 27 of 30, when rushing for 150 yards, but that will be a tough number to reach this particular week. BYU has won 15 of its last 16 games when reaching the 100-yard mark on the ground. Perhaps at no time in BYU history have the Cougars found their groove so well on defense. BYU has held its first two opponents (Washington State and Weber State) to under 300 yards of total offense, a number that has not been exceeded in eight straight games. The last opponent over 300 yards was Oregon State last October. Utah's experiment on offense with Sam Brenner at left tackle will continue as the Utes continue to search for the right combination on the O-line. In an odd sense, QB Jordan Wynn's departure may help the line become more settled because it no longer has to worry about protecting a fragile quarterback. The offense's identity likely will be a run-based attack that will have to get creative in the passing game to move the ball down the field. That should help the line find its identity. The Utah defensive line has to play up to its preseason hype. DT Star Lotulelei is touted as one of the nation's best at his position, but he has not been the imposing force most pundits made him out to be in the preseason. The line has to step up and take away the run to force the Cougars to become one-dimensional. That should help contain BYU QB Riley Nelson, who is averaging 264.5 passing yards per game. Utah shut down BYU's offense last season, and that should give the defense confidence it can do it again in 2012. QUICK NOTES: Cougars: BYU begs to differ with the Utes on the series record between the two teams, not recognizing six meetings when the school was known as Brigham Young Academy. The two teams split those games 3-3. ... Senior QB Riley Nelson has actually never played in Rice-Eccles Stadium, at least for BYU. But he had a lot of success there in high school, winning multiple state championships. The Utah title games are traditionally held at the University of Utah stadium. ... Although BYU lost badly in the last meeting to Utah, 54-10, last September, the Cougars have bounced back since then. BYU has gone 11-1 in their last 12 games since the rivalry disaster. The only loss was against ranked TCU. Utah, meanwhile, has gone 7-5 over the same span. ... Watch out for turnovers against Utah. BYU has lost all 10 fumbles to the Utes in the last three losses. Utes: Coach Kyle Whittingham stressed that the Utes would not alter their offense the way they did last year when Jon Hays filled in at quarterback. In 2011, RB John White became the focal point of the offense, and the Utes finished the season winning seven of their last eight games. ... Utah coaches can take heart that a lot of the team's mistakes at Utah State were self-inflicted. The Utes allowed a blocked punt, had a poor snap on a potential game-winning field goal, fielded a punt inside its own five-yard line and gave up 15 critical yards on an Aggies' scoring drive in the fourth quarter when DE Joe Kruger lost control of his emotions and threw a punch. ... QB Jordan Wynn retired from football Monday, two days after suffering his fourth shoulder injury in four years. Wynn likely will require surgery to his left shoulder, which has been hurt three times. ... DE Joe Kruger escaped any suspension time after Pac-12 officials ruled that his ejection from the game at Utah State in the fourth quarter was considered "striking" and not "fighting." ... S Brian Blechen is serving the final game of his three-game suspension for a violation of team rules. PLAYERS TO WATCH: Cougars: QB Riley Nelson -- He's a senior, but Nelson has never faced anything quite like a rivalry game on the road. BYU fans are certainly concerned this could be a good chance for Nelson to get hurt, considering how he's been popped routinely by defensive lightweights Washington State and Weber State in the first two weeks. Nelson's last loss came at TCU last October. WR Ross Apo -- Apo did not play Sept. 8 against Weber State because of a hamstring injury sustained late in the practice week. The Cougars could really use him on the opposite side of fellow tall target Cody Hoffman. Coaches insisted after a week of practice he would be ready to go. LB Kyle Van Noy -- Big players make big plays in important games, right? The junior, considered a possible NFL player in the near future, could really raise his stock. Utah has struggled with protecting the quarterback, and Van Noy has shown an even stronger penchant for reaching the passer. He has three sacks this season. Utes: QB Jon Hays -- The good news is that he's been in this situation before and has experience in picking up the pieces of a team's fragile emotional state. But he's clearly not the downfield passing threat that Jordan Wynn was. His strength is managing the offense, but the Utes will need him to make some positive plays through improvisation to get the team going. RB John White -- The senior shouldered the load last season when Wynn went down and will be prepared to do so again. White has to show faith in his offensive line to create holes against what has been a stingy BYU run defense. White has the ability to control the tempo of a football game, and although the Utes don't want him getting 30 carries per game, that should be the target number in Utah's first game without Wynn. LB Trevor Reilly -- He helped the Utah cause last season by forcing three fumbles and collecting a pair of sacks. The defense needs to create some momentum for the offense, and Reilly can be the player who can fly to the football if BYU is concerned with the Utes' defensive line. INJURY WATCH: Cougars: No injuries reported. Utes: SS Eric Rowe (hamstring, questionable).
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By The Sports Xchange September 12, 2012 9:00 PM