TCU at Texas Tech
KICKOFF: Thursday, 7:30 p.m. ET
SITE: Jones AT&T Stadium, Lubbock, Texas
SERIES: TCU is 23-29-2 against Texas Tech, including a 56-53 loss in triple overtime last season. The former Southwest Conference rivals have met just three times since the league dissolved following the 1995 season.
AP RANKINGS: TCU, No. 24; Texas Tech unranked
KEYS TO THE GAME
After routs of SMU and Stephen F. Austin in the first two games, Texas Tech's Red Raiders will find out if they are ready for prime time for their next outing.
The Raiders will be host to TCU in a nationally televised Thursday night affair (Sept. 12) that will serve as their Big 12 Conference opener.
TCU comes into the game ranked No. 24 in both major polls. Tech didn't make either Top 25 but got seven points in the USA Today poll.
"It's a great measuring stick," first-year Raiders coach Kliff Kingsburgy said of the game. "They're at the top of the conference, and if you look at all the preseason polls where people would pick them with all the returners they have coming back, it's going to be a great challenge.
"I'm not sure where we're at as a team, but I know they're really good."
The Horned Frogs are coming off a 38-17 win over Southeastern Louisiana after losing their opener to LSU in Arlington, Texas.
Defensive end Devonte Fields, one of the key figures in TCU's defense, played in the third quarter against Southeastern Louisiana after sitting out the loss to LSU because of a suspension.
He still has one more quarter to serve out the full two-game penalty, but he is scheduled to start against Tech.
"This is by far the best defensive line we'll have faced and one of the best we're going to face all year," Kingsbury said. "Not just Fields. He's a tremendous player, but the entire D-line."
TCU is already at a reset point just two games into the season.
Trevone Boykin, who moved into the starting spot last season as a redshirt freshman and was erratic, gets the starting job back wlikely to miss the rest of the season with an arm injury.
The Horned Frogs won just three of their last nine games with Boykin as the starter. This season Boykin has looked somewhat more polished as a passer while directing TCU to 24 unanswered points against Southeastern Louisiana after replacing Pachall.
Boykin poses more of a dual threat. Last season he was moved to running back just before Pachall left school.
"He's an unbelievable competitor. That's what it starts with," Patterson said. "He understands and runs the offense completely different than he did when he had to start against Iowa State. He's just got to be smarter with the football."
Beginning immediately. TCU (1-1) plays its Big 12 opener with a short week of preparation, traveling to Texas Tech (2-0) for a Thursday-night game on Sept. 12. A year ago, the Red Raiders claimed a 56-53 victory in triple overtime against the Horned Frogs. Tech has since changed coaches, hiring Kliff Kingsbury, who was the first quarterback to play in the Air Raid system Mike Leach installed in Lubbock.
Kingsbury is attempting to revise that structure and has employed a true freshman walk-on at quarterback, Baker Mayfield, who leads the league with 780 yards passing and seven touchdowns.
"I didn't think he was a walk-on. (Mayfield) was a guy that came to our camp," Patterson said. "We really thought he was a really good player. For whatever reason, we didn't pull the trigger."
PLAYERS TO WATCH
--Freshman QB Baker Mayfield has burst onto the scene in a big way in Tech's first two games. The walk-on has thrown for 780 yards and seven touchdowns in Tech's two wins, completing 64 of 90 pass attempts (71.1 percent) without an interception.
--Senior WR Eric Ward, who had 82 receptions in 12 games last year, is well ahead of that pace with 16 catches for 186 yards in two games. Strangely, though Tech quarterbacks have thrown eight touchdown passes, Ward is still looking for his first score.
--Senior DE Kerry Hyder, who had 14 tackles for a loss last year (fifth in the Big 12), has been credited with 3.5 in the first two games. That's good for a tie for fourth in the conference.
--Sophomore LB Micah Awe, who is listed as junior Sam Eguavoen's backup, leads the Red Raiders in tackles with 15 stops in two games. He has been credited with half a sack as well.
--CB Jason Verrett is asked at times to come up and pinch in on opposing rushers, as well as serve as one of the top lockdown cover men in the country. He has 14 tackles and also shares the Big 12 lead for pass breakups (four) with CB Kevin White.
--RB/KR B.J. Catalon ranks second in the Big 12 in all-purpose yardage with a 163-yard average per game and has scored three touchdowns. The sophomore broke in last season and has acquired more duties this year, breaking a kickoff for a TD against LSU.
--QB Trevone Boykin played better on the road last season after he was pressed into action and will face such a test against Texas Tech in the Big 12 opener. Boykin is 15 of 25 passing for 203 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. He has 48 yards rushing.
Stanford at Army
KICKOFF: Saturday, 12 p.m. ET
SITE: Michie Stadium, West Point, NY
TV: CBS Sports Network
SERIES: Stanford is 5-5 against Army in a series that began in 1928 at Yankee Stadium. Army won the most recent meeting 17-13 in 1979.
RANKINGS: Stanford, No. 5
KEYS TO THE GAME
The last time Army beat a ranked team was 41 years ago when it toppled No. 15 Air Force, 17-14, on its way to winning the first Commander-in-Chief's Trophy.
However, Army's triple option running attack, which averages 6.2 yards per rushing attempt, creates an interesting matchup against the Cardinal's standout run defense.
Army led the nation in rushing the past two seasons, and rushing defense is Stanford's forte. The Cardinal yielded just 35 rushing yards to San Jose State in the opener, which puts the Cardinal third in the nation in that category. Stanford ranked fifth nationally in rushing defense in 2012.
Stanford's front seven is among the best in the country, although standout outside linebacker Trent Murphy said he thought the Cardinal was "pretty soft up front" against the Spartans.
Army does not pose much of a passing threat.
Stanford's patient, grind-it-out offense is not built to score points in a hurry, and its 27.9 points a game last year was not among the nation's leaders. However, the Cardinal's point production increased dramatically after Kevin Hogan became the starting quarterback at midseason.
Hogan, running back Tyler Gaffney and the Cardinal offense should have no trouble racking numbers against an Army defense that yielded 40 points and 440 yards to Ball State.
Coaches may not give Hogan many opportunities to throw in this game. But he will probably launch a few bombs because he needs to improve his accuracy on deep throws. Hogan was accurate on a medium-deep pass to Devon Cajuste that resulted in 40-yard touchdown pass on Stanford's opening drive against San Jose State. But Hogan was off the mark on several other deep throws during the game.
An inability to hit the long pass is the one noticeable shortcoming in Hogan's game, and if Stanford cannot demonstrate a deep passing threat, opposing defenses will continue to crowd the line of scrimmage against the Cardinal's power running game.
The biggest concern for Stanford against Army may be the early starting time, which will be 9 a.m. Pacific time.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
--FB Larry Dixon. Army's only chance against Stanford will be if Dixon (25 carries, 220 yards) and Raymond Maples (17 carries, 102 yards) can play keep away. When Army's triple-option offense is in gear it is tough for any team to defend. Neither Dixon nor Maples has been tackled behind the line of scrimmage this year.
--DL Joe Drummond. The Stanford offensive line is one of the best units in college football. Averaging 6-foot-5 and 305 pounds, the Cardinals will dwarf the Black Knights' front seven. Last week Army didn't start a defensive player who weighed more than 250 pounds. It will be up to undersized linemen like Drummond (6-3, 228) to fight hard in the trenches.
--QB Angel Santiago. Army's margin for error is always razor thin. Whether it's junior Santiago or sophomore A.J. Schurr who starts, it will be up to the Army quarterback to take care of the ball. Santiago threw an interception and had two fumbles (one lost) in last week's loss at Ball State. Coach Rich Ellerson said on Monday that the two will be monitored in practice this week before he makes the call on who will start. "Don't be surprised if you see two quarterbacks."
--QB Kevin Hogan is 6-0 as a starter, and that does not include a 49-0 victory in the seventh game last year against Colorado, when Hogan entered the game in the first quarter and supplanted Josh Nunes as the team's No. 1 quarterback. Hogan completed 17 of 27 passes in the 2013 opener, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He was the team's second-leading rusher with 263 yards last year. However, Stanford did not call a single running play for Hogan in the opener. His only three runs came on scrambles on planned pass plays. It will be worth watching whether Stanford calls any running plays for Hogan against Army.
--RB Tyler Gaffney had 104 yards rushing against San Jose State, and the Cardinal figures to rely heavily on its running game against Army. Although coach David Shaw insists Gaffney and Anthony Wilkerson will share the tailback duties, Gaffney was clearly the No. 1 back in the opener. Gaffney had more than twice as many carries as Wilkerson, who got most of his work in the final five minutes of the game when the Cardinal was running out the clock. How Stanford uses its two tailbacks against Army will be informative.
--OLB Trent Murphy may be the most talented player in Stanford's impressive front seven. He will be a key ingredient against Army's option running game and figures to rack up some tackles. He had just two tackles in the opener against San Jose State, and both were sacks.
Louisville at Kentucky
KICKOFF: Saturday, 12 p.m. ET
SITE: Commonwealth Stadium, Lexington, Ky.
SERIES: Kentucky is 14-11 against Louisville but was trounced 32-14 by the Cardinals last season. Louisville has won back-to-back meetings after the Wildcats were victorious in four consecutive meetings. The Cardinals are 6-7 in Lexington.
RANKINGS: Louisville, No. 7; Kentucky unranked
KEYS TO THE GAME
Kentucky showed its offense could be successful with last week's showing, but how it fares against powerful Louisville will provide a more accurate view of the progress.
The progressive attack run by offensive coordinator Neal Brown rolled up 675 yards against overmatched Miami (Ohio) in a 41-7 victory. The output was the third-most in school history and featured 413 passing yards and 262 on the ground.
Now the Wildcats (1-1) host No. 7 Louisville in the Governors Cup and the Cardinals allowed just seven points in each of their first two games and are giving up only 239.5 yards per game.
Louisville is even better on the offensive side with standout quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and coach Mark Stoops is well aware it will take a huge effort for Kentucky to spring an upset.
"I think it's going to take a complete game," Stoops said. "They're a very good team. They're a top-10 team for a reason and we'll need to play good on all three sides to win these games. To beat quality teams, you have to play good in all areas."
The Wildcats certainly fared well on offense against Miami while rotating sophomore quarterbacks Maxwell Smith and Jalen Whitlow.
Smith was 15-for-23 passing for 330 yards and three touchdowns and Whitlow went 10-for-12 for 103 yards.
The rotation will continue against Louisville. Smith is more of a drop-back thrower while Whitlow adds a running dimension.
"It's obviously something I've never done before," Smith said of rotating. "But I'm doing it. We won the game and we played pretty well. So let's keep doing it, right?"
Brown switched the quarterbacks when his instincts told him to do so and the results were better than anyone expected.
"I liked it," Stoops said. "I think Neal had a great feel for it, and it may be what the quarterbacks needed as well. Just eliminate a little bit of pressure from them and they both have their strengths. Our offense has some good packages with both of them."
"We need to be more aggressive and more physical in the run game," Louisville coach Charlie Strong said. "Guys need to stay on their blocks and the backs need to run downhill. A lot of times, it is not going to be blocked right, but you have to run through a defender."
As good as quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has been, he can't carry the offense by himself every week. And this shapes up as a game where the Cardinals will have to play a more complete version of football than was required last week.
Although Kentucky is far from a Southeastern Conference power, it has proven to be decent offensively, averaging 33.5 points in its first two games. This should be a good test for a Louisville defense which has played above expectations in allowing just 14 points against Ohio and EKU.
The Cardinals' biggest worries defensively will be the Wildcats' quick pace and dual-quarterback system. Kentucky has joined the trend of teams lining up on the ball and playing a fast-break style.
Defensive tackle Brandon Dunn said Louisville's game last year against North Carolina, which employs a no-huddle approach, taught him and his stop unit how to play against this kind of system.
"It is a lot of plays in a row but there are no excuses," he said. "You have to get down and be ready to play. Last year against North Carolina, that whole week was crucial. Everything we did was fast. We even got water fast."
For the Wildcats, the Louisville game is the beginning of a stretch in which Kentucky plays four consecutive powerhouse programs, including Florida, South Carolina and Alabama. It goes without saying the Wildcats want to start the stretch with a victory.
"It's a bitter rivalry," senior running back Jonathan George said of Louisville. "The word love won't be thrown around too loosely when you put both teams together in the same sentence."
PLAYERS TO WATCH
--FS Calvin Pryor was named Defensive Player of the Week in the American Athletic Conference for his performance against Eastern Kentucky. Pryor finished with eight tackles, including one for loss, a forced fumble, a 26-yard interception return and 22 return yards after taking a lateral following a fumble recovery. This week will mark his 23rd straight start.
--QB Teddy Bridgewater enjoyed the eighth 300-yard passing game of his career in the win over Eastern Kentucky, throwing for 397 and four TDs. It was his third career game with at least four TDs. As always, Bridgewater spread the wealth, completing passes to eight different receivers, five of whom posted multiple receptions.
--WR DeVante Parker is tied with J.R. Russell (2001-04) for third place in school history with 19 TD catches after snagging two last week. Parker passed Gary Barnidge (2004-07), Anthony Cummings (1987-90) and Deion Branch (2000-01) on the career list with that performance. Parker's 54-yard TD catch was his longest since a 75-yarder last year at Pittsburgh.
--QB Maxwell Smith continues to provide a downfield passing presence and he will need to be on his game if Kentucky is to threaten the Cardinals. He started strong with 170 first-quarter passing yards against Miami and is still adjusting to the rotation system with Jalen Whitlow. Louisville is allowing 145.5 passing yards per game.
--WR Javess Blue made an impact in his second game in the program with six catches for 114 yards. The junior-college transfer had an 88-yard scoring reception for the fourth-longest pass play in school history. The receiving position lacks experience and Blue is showing he can be counted on to be one of Kentucky's prime targets.
--DE Alvin Dupree is adjusting well to being solely on the line as opposed to being an outside linebacker who struggled in pass defense. The position switch is working well and Dupree had seven tackles and a sack against Miami. The junior had 6.5 sacks last season and 10 in his Kentucky career.
--DE Za'Darius Smith is making a huge impact with an exuberant style that coach Mark Stoops wants to see streamlined. The junior-college transfer had three sacks against Miami and has four in two games. "Very excited about the way he's playing," Stoops said. "There's a fine line there. We need to have some fun. We need to enjoy it. We need to play confidently. We expect him to make big plays like that. The over-exuberance has to go."
Akron at Michigan
KICKOFF: Saturday, 12 p.m. ET
SITE: Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, Mich.
TV: Big Ten Network
SERIES: First meeting
RANKINGS: Michigan, No. 11
KEYS TO THE GAME
The Wolverines set the all-time NCAA attendance mark for a college football game last week when they took on Notre Dame in "The Big House" at night. The event drew an announced crowd of 115,109. A mere 114,804 had showed up two years ago when this pair of traditional powers met in Ann Arbor.
This week Michigan needs a snazzy marketing plan, a pizza giveaway or some other kind of gimmick to promote its next game, because the matchup is hardly intriguing. Lowly Akron, a bottom-feeder from the Mid-American Conference, lacks any kind of specter at all.
It will take Michigan head coach Brady Hoke playing the role as the master of all motivators to get the Wolverines locked in on this game, and not looking ahead to the Big Ten schedule, or what might be showing on FX this weekend.
The Wolverines are 32-1 all-time against the MAC, with the only blip coming in the now very forgettable era of former head coach Rich Rodriguez when his team was knocked off by Toledo, one of the MAC's premier programs.
Hoke has tried his best to sell Akron as a challenge, but after Michigan absolutely destroyed MAC middle-of-the-pack team Central Michigan in the opener, it is a very tough deal to pull off.
"I see a team with 22 transfers and one that's coached really well," Hoke said about the Zips. "Thirteen of those transfers are playing significant snaps, including two offensive linemen, one who transferred from Florida State and one from Pittsburgh -- and those are pretty good programs. They've got really good skill. They've got plenty of players and I think head coach Terry Bowden's done a nice job with that program."
If that approach does not work, there is always the Jim Tressel factor. The disgraced former Ohio State head coach, who owned Michigan during his tenure in Columbus, is working as an administrator at Akron, so beating the Zips would be a way for the Wolverines to hand Tressel a loss, in a roundabout manner.
The Zips needed two quarterbacks and all 60 minutes to slip by James Madison and win 35-33 last weekend, but not many have faith that a rotation of Kyle Pohl and Nick Hirschman will be effective over the long haul.
That puts the Zips as the lower part of the biggest mismatch of the weekend as they take their struggling MAC bottom-feeder program into The Big House to face a Michigan team that looks to be humming right along.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
--WR Jeremy Gallon had three touchdown receptions in the huge win over Notre Dame, and his four TD catches through two games leads the Big Ten. His evolution into the showcase role in the passing attack continues.
--DB Blake Countess, who returned this season after missing nearly all of 2012 with an injury, picked off two passes against Notre Dame -- the first interceptions of his career. An active and involved Countess gives the Michigan secondary an additional play-making element.
--PK Brendan Gibbons hit a pair of field goals against Notre Dame, giving him a Michigan record 16 consecutive field goals dating back to last season's early October game at Purdue. If the Wolverines need a kick to decide a game down the line, they will be confident to put their fortunes on Gibbons.
--QB Devin Gardner will wear the number "98" jersey for the rest of the season, in honor of Michigan's first Heisman Trophy winner, Tom Harmon. Gardner is trending in the right direction after his 376 yards of total offense and five touchdowns in the win over Notre Dame.
--DB Raymon Taylor has settled into a starting role this season, and in the recent win over Notre Dame he had nine solo stops and 11 total tackles and the first interception of his career.
Tulsa at Oklahoma
KICKOFF: Saturday, 12 p.m. ET
SITE: Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, Norman, Okla.
SERIES: Oklahoma leads the all-time series, 17-7-1. The Sooners have won 11 of the last 12 dating back to 1979. They are 6-0 against Tulsa under Bob Stoops with an average winning margin of 30 points.
RANKINGS: Oklahoma, No. 14; Tulsa unranked
KEYS TO THE GAME
Whenever there's a plan A, it implies there's a plan B. Or in this case, maybe a plan C.
After a spirited battle in training camp, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops selected redshirt freshman Trevor Knight over seasoned Blake Bell as his starting quarterback for the season opener against Louisiana-Monroe. With redshirt sophomore Kendal Thompson out with a foot injury, the decision mostly came down to the diversity in Knight's game over the pound-it-down-your-throat style of the Bell-dozer.
Now, with Knight out at least one week with a bruised knee, Bell becomes the starter. Thompson, who broke his foot in the first fall practice, is back to practice a bit sooner (no pun intended) than expected and should serve as Bell's backup.
Knight injured his knee on a run late in the first half of the Sooners' 16-7 victory over West Virginia. He came back in the third quarter but threw two interceptions and was replaced by Bell in the fourth.
At 6-6, 252 pounds, Bell is known for his propensity to convert short-yardage situations. Coming into this season, he had 104 rushing attempts compared with just 20 passing attempts. He averaged just 3.6 yards per rush but scored 24 touchdowns. That means he scored once every 4.3 times he carried the ball. He's had just one carry longer than 19 yards and just two longer than 11 yards.
Will that change Oklahoma's approach on Saturday? Probably not, since the Sooners appear to be much stronger in the running game. Plus, Stoops maintains that all his quarterbacks have virtually the same skill set.
"I've said it for a year," Stoops said. "They're all pretty much the same. They all can run. They all can throw. They're all athletic. There's not a lot of difference in their skill set as far as what they can do."
Watch for Oklahoma to count heavily on running back Brennan Clay, who set a career high with 170 yards against West Virginia, plus Bell when the first down or touchdown is three yards or fewer away.
And if that doesn't work? Maybe there's a plan D.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
--QB Blake Bell will need to show that he can pass the ball. Bob Stoops says that all his quarterbacks, including Bell, have basically the same skill set, so Bell must be able to throw it some. The key for Bell, probably, is not to lose the game rather than having the win hanging on his shoulders.
--RB Brennan Clay will be a key with the pulled-back passing game. After a career-best 170 yards against West Virginia, he won't sneak up on anybody. The Sooners are averaging more than 300 yards per game on the ground, and Clay has established himself as the beast in the backfield.
--DB Gabe Lynn was part of a largely mysterious defensive background coming into the season, but he and his mates have shown that familiarity breeds contentment. Tulsa averages 350 yards per game, so it won't be an easy test for the OU defense.
--WR Jalen Saunders has caught seven passes for 90 yards through two games to lead the team. If Oklahoma doesn't want Tulsa's defense to stack the box, he needs to be more of a factor, even with Bell under center.
--P Jed Barnett might be a key for Oklahoma in a low-scoring game. He has punted 12 times in the first two games, and seven of those ended up inside the 20-yard line. Nine of his punts have been fair caught, and two of the other three were touchbacks. The first two opponents have returned a total of one punt for negative-one yard, meaning OU's defense can have a lot of yardage behind it before its own goal line.
--WR Keyarris Garrett underwent surgery to repair a broken leg suffered in the Colorado State game and will miss the rest of the season. Jordan James, Derek Patterson, Keevan Lucas, Josh Atkinson and Conner Floyd were mentioned by TU Coach Bill Blankenship as players who could fill his void, although it is a considerable one.
--It might force Tulsa to play to the tight end more. Trey Watts, a tailback, had been playing as one recently and that could continue.
--Blankenship calls Stetson Burnett, the team's right tackle, "the key to our offensive line." He said he's still determining if he's best on the inside or the outside, and that "I honestly think you'll see him play both positions."
UCLA at Nebraska
KICKOFF: Saturday, 12 p.m. ET
SITE: Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb.
SERIES: Nebraska is 6-5 against UCLA, including a 36-30 loss in last year's game in Los Angeles. Nebraska is 4-1 in Lincoln against the Bruins, with the most recent game at Memorial Stadium a 49-21 Nebraska victory in 1994.
RANKINGS: UCLA, No. 16; Nebraska, No. 23
KEYS TO THE GAME
Bo Pelini has one idea of what could help his young Nebraska defense slow down fast-paced, quick-striking and high-scoring UCLA:
Request that UCLA coach Jim Mora leaves some of his best skill position players back in Los Angeles.
"I could handle that," Pelini joked at his weekly news conference.
That won't happen, so the question remains: Can Nebraska handle UCLA's offense?
It certainly didn't in last season's 36-30 loss to the Bruins in Los Angeles. UCLA, under a first-year quarterback and a first-year coach, besieged Nebraska to the tune of 653 total yards -- the second-highest total ever allowed by the Blackshirts.
That was a sign of things to come for Nebraska's defense last season, which allowed 1,229 yards over its final two games, and began this season by surrendering 602 yards to Wyoming. Of course, this year's defensive unit has 10 freshmen on the two-deep roster, so growing pains are expected.
So, too, is improvement week-to-week, and Pelini saw it in last week's 56-13 victory over a Southern Miss team that lost its 14th straight game. The Huskers started two true freshmen, Josh Banderas and Nathan Gerry, at linebacker.
"I thought especially the young guys were more comfortable, and they communicated better," Pelini said.
The challenge will be significantly steeper against a UCLA team that will spread Nebraska out and try to use its speed at the skill positions to win one-on-one battles. One threat is quarterback Brett Hundley, who accounted for 353 total yards in last year's game.
"We've got to lock up the receivers," Pelini said. "We have to understand he's going to get out some times, but as long as he's behind the line of scrimmage, he's a passing threat. If we're staring back in the backfield too much, we're going to get beat. We have to be disciplined in those situations."
Pelini said he's not playing the revenge card, and is advising his team to follow suit.
"This will be two different teams and these are two different times," he said. "It's really not going to impact this year. At the end of the day I would hope our team is motivated no matter what the situation. It just so happens that we played this team a year ago. If that provides our team with extra motivation, so be it. It's not about wanting to (get revenge), it's about doing the things to get prepared for the game."
The Bruins are heavy-hearted this week and vow to honor the memory of walk-on wide receiver Nick Pasquale. The 20-year-old was hit by a car in his hometown early Sunday morning. The Bruins will wear his No. 36 on the front of their jersey near the left shoulder.
"I want it to be prominent," Mora said. "I want people to see it."
Nebraska will also wear a No. 36 decal on its helmets for Saturday's game against UCLA. There will be a moment of silence for Pasquale before the kickoff.
UCLA is coming off a bye week after defeating Nevada 58-20 in the season opener at the Rose Bowl on Aug. 31. The Bruins travel to Lincoln. Nebraska, looking to avenge last year's 36-30 loss to UCLA in Pasadena, is ranked 17th.
Pelini told reporters Monday the Cornhuskers are not motivated from last year's loss.
"I don't think they are," Pelini said. "It's a different time, different football teams."
UCLA has an unimpressive nonconference road record of 9-7 dating to the 2000 season. The Bruins are 2-4 in such games against ranked opponents.
The Bruins showed more resolve on the road under first-year coach Jim Mora than they have in the recent past. They won four road games in a season for the first time since 2002.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
--LB Josh Banderas admits that as a fan, he'd be nervous if the team he was rooting for was starting two true freshmen at linebacker against a ranked opponent in the season's third game. But now Banderas is that true freshman, responsible for calls and checks from the middle linebacker spot. He's confident in his abilities, and so are coaches, who've turned to Banderas for his preparation during the week, as well as because of his coverage skills.
--OT Jeremiah Sirles remembers last year's game at UCLA, when Bruins' OLB Anthony Barr had two tackles for loss, including a sack, forced a fumble and broke up a pass. Sirles and fellow OT Andrew Rodriquez will be responsible for containing and slowing Barr, who's a speed rusher off the edge, and can disrupt an offense.
--QB Taylor Martinez threw 12 interceptions last season, and seven came in Nebraska's four games against ranked teams (one of which Nebraska won). Martinez is capable of big plays, either on the ground or through the air, but can't afford the mistakes he's been prone to making on the big stage.
--QB Brett Hundley is the first UCLA quarterback to throw for at least 300 yards in three straight games starting with 305 against Nebraska last year. He then passed for 320 yards against Houston and 372 against Oregon State. He is the third to total at least four 300-yard games in a season. With four 300-yard passing games in his career he is seven shy of Cade McNown's school record of 11.
--LB Eric Kendricks, a junior, led the Bruins with 11 tackles vs. Nevada, his eighth-straight game in double-digit tackles. His 150 tackles in 2012 were the most by a Bruin since 1978 (Jerry Robinson had 168 in 1978).
--UCLA's true freshmen combined for 24 tackles and five tackles for lost yardage against Nevada and three receptions for 43 yards. True freshman defensive end Eddie Vanderdoes, who originally signed with Notre Dame, led the Bruins with two tackles for lost yardage against Nevada. Deon Hollins and Myles Jack, true freshmen linebackers, also had a tackle for lost yardage, as did true freshman defensive tackle Kenneth Clark.
--LB Anthony Barr had two tackles for lost yardage against Nevada. He did not record a sack against the Wolf Pack but he has the most sacks of any returning player in the country (13.5). He played against Nevada despite being listed as questionable with concussion-like symptoms earlier in the week in practice. He appears to be fully healthy heading into the Nebraska game.
Alabama at Texas A&M
KICKOFF: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
SITE: Kyle Field, College Station, Texas
SERIES: Alabama is 3-2 all-time against Texas A&M, but lost 29-24 win last November in the teams' first meeting as Southeastern Conference rivals. Prior to that, the last time they met was Dec. 1, 1988 in College Station, a 30-10 Tide win.
RANKINGS: Alabama, No. 1; Texas A&M, No. 6
KEYS TO THE GAME
It's not surprising that Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin would put his team in the underdog role going into this week's SEC opener against top-ranked Alabama. That's what football coaches do, especially when their teams are facing the No. 1 team in the nation.
But Sumlin managed the feat with deference and without putting down his own squad. The Aggies coach simply said Nick Saban has the Crimson Tide in the place where Texas A&M would like to be.
"(Saban) talks about the process all the time and how Alabama goes about doing things," Sumlin said. "It's hard to argue that right now they're not the standard in college football. We're in year two and for this to be a game of this magnitude in our second year in this league tells you that we're on the right track and we've got to continue to keep climbing."
That, of course, makes no mention of the fact that Sumlin and his Aggies defeated Alabama at Alabama in year one.
Sumlin's Tuesday press conference included all of the questions the Aggie coach would be expected to answer. Along the way, he bristled at the idea of "bottling" Johnny Manziel's emotions and outlined the hypocrisy of CBS employing a "Johnny Football Cam" during Saturday's game and in the end stated that managing the football team, which he views as his only job, hasn't changed that much.
All the while, Sumlin maintained that the attention focused on No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 6 Texas A&M is good for his university. Texas A&M's famed 12th man is hyped about the game and Sumlin likes it.
"I want them to be as excited as they've ever been," Sumlin said. "I want this place to be as loud as it's ever been Saturday afternoon."
Internally, though, Sumlin said his players' approach is business as usual. And he likes that too.
"As an organization we've got to remain consistent," Sumlin said "Top organizations are consistent in their approach. We're just getting started at this thing."
Sumlin learned about an hour before the press conference that CBS plans to have a camera trained on Manziel throughout its broadcast. Without saying he wouldn't allow it, Sumlin had specific criticism of the idea.
"Everything we try to do is about team," Sumlin said. "It's about building our team, building our program and not being an individual. Saturday afternoon you're going to have two football teams on the field. I don't understand why there has to be one guy singled out to put a camera on the whole time. All the criticism about individualism on a football team, I don't think that this helps enhance a team concept one bit."
If Alabama is to gain revenge for last year's stunning 29-24 loss to the Aggies, it will have to come with its offensive line making marked improvements from a season-opening 35-10 win over Virginia Tech.
"I think the most important things in games like these (are that) people can stay focused and disciplined to do simple and fundamental things correctly," Saban said. "Everybody has to take care of business. Everybody has to do their job."
While Saban made sure to praise A&M's defense for its toughness and physical play, Alabama appears to have a better matchup this week than it had against Tech. The Aggies don't have the tough, savvy veterans up front that the Hokies did, nor do they have a creative coordinator like Bud Foster who can concoct unusual blitzes that lead to negative-yardage plays.
Still, A&M will have a loud home crowd on its side for perhaps the most-hyped game of the early season, as well as Manziel. Say what you want about his off-field escapades, but Manziel is the Heisman Trophy winner for a reason.
Any quarterback who can carve up the Tide defense, like Manziel did last November in Tuscaloosa, has to be respected and feared. He will make plays and the Aggies will score points, just because of their talent level and scheme.
So it will be up to the Tide offense, and its line, to do the things this week that it couldn't consistently do two weeks ago in Atlanta.
"We are going to have to block, execute, going to have to throw and catch (the ball)," Saban said. "We have to make good decisions and play our game. Get a hat on a hat, eliminate negative plays, try not to get behind in the down and distance and take advantage of opportunities."
PLAYERS TO WATCH
--P Cody Mandell was honored by the coaching staff as one of the special teams players of the game against Virginia Tech. Mandell punted nine times, averaging 46.4 yards per kick, and downed four of them inside the 20-yard line. He had four punts of 50 yards or more, helping the Tide maintain a field position edge.
--DB Landon Collins also earned recognition from the coaching staff for his play against Virginia Tech. Collins had four of his five tackles on special teams, enabling Alabama to keep the Hokies to an average of 16 yards on six kickoff returns. If the kickers can't generate any touchbacks, Collins will have to keep making plays on coverage units.
--OG Anthony Steen was honored by the coaches after the Virginia Tech game. One of only two returning starters on the line, Steen posted the line's highest grade. He'll be a critical component of the line this week in College Station
--QB Johnny Manziel will be the focal point of his own camera during the CBS broadcast of the Alabama-Texas A&M game. On Tuesday, Manziel was also the focus of the most pointed answer given by Sumlin. When asked about "bottling" Manziel's emotions, Sumlin stopped the reported and corrected the question. "He plays with great emotion and intensity and it's my job to have that emotion and intensity moving in a positive direction," Sumlin said. "Because when that happens, great things happen. I think he does a really good job of that for the most part every week. I think the emotion and intensity he plays with is part of his game."
--WR Mike Evans has clearly been the favorite target of Aggie quarterbacks. With 13 receptions for 239 yards he has almost three times the receiving yards of the next leading receiver in that category and he's the only Texas A&M receiver with more than seven catches.
--LB Nate Askew, who was converted from WR to LB, scored his first collegiate defensive touchdown in the second half against Sam Houston State. Askew intercepted a pass and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter, boosting Texas A&M's lead to 58-28.
Tennessee at Oregon
KICKOFF: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
SITE: Autzen Stadium, Eugene, Oreg.
SERIES: Oregon is 1-0 against Tennessee with a 48-13 win over the Volunteers in Knoxville in 2010.
RANKINGS: Oregon No. 2, Tennesssee unranked
KEYS TO THE GAME
Oregon's opponents keep getting bigger and better.
The Ducks opened the season by squashing Nicholls, an FCS school, 66-3. From there, Oregon went to Virginia for a 59-10 victory.
Now Tennessee arrives at Autzen Stadium Saturday with a 2-0 record.
"If you combine the height of Virginia's offensive line and the girth of Tennessee, you'd have an unbelievable squad," Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said. "They are huge, athletic, and well-coached. They have a great scheme, so it's a challenge. Our defensive line faced a great challenge last week and it gets tougher this week."
It will be a battle of new coaches, but Helfrich has had a much smoother transition than Tennessee coach Butch Jones. Helfrich was Oregon's offensive coordinator until he inherited a team that went to four straight BCS bowl games from Chip Kelly, who left for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Oregon is ranked No. 2 in the country and leads the nation with 850 rushing yards, ranks second with 664.5 total yards, and is third in scoring with 62.5 points per game.
Jones took over the Volunteers after three straight losing seasons under Derek Dooley. Jones opened with wins over Austin Peay and Western Kentucky.
"You look at their front on both sides and their skill people are outstanding," Helfrich said. "They always recruit great. Tennessee is an iconic program. The checkerboard end zone, Neyland Stadium, the tradition. They have done a great job recruiting there forever and have a great skill set now. They have big guys, fast guys, it will be an unbelievable challenge."
There has not been a challenge yet for Oregon, which led Nicholls 24-0 after one quarter and 38-3 at halftime. The Ducks led Virginia 21-0 before stretching its margin to 45-10 through three quarters.
While Oregon's offense gets most of the headlines, the defense has been stout so far. Oregon has given up just one touchdown in two games and is allowing 6.5 points per game.
Oregon's nation-leading 850 rushing yards is 70 more than any other school. De'Anthony Thomas has run for 252 yards and five scores, quarterback Marcus Mariota has 235 yards and three touchdowns, and Byron Marshall has run for 155 yards. Thomas Tyner added 51 yards and two touchdowns in his debut last week.
"This is what I hoped for," Oregon running backs coach Gary Campbell said. "I knew we had some good running backs and they had to come out and prove me right."
With the Vols off to a 2-0 start, they face the mountainous challenge of traveling to face No. 2 Oregon. Oregon has outscored its first two foes by a combined margin of 125-13, generating more than 1,300 yards of total offense during that span.
Oregon scored eight touchdowns in a rout of Virginia in Charlottesville, and seven of those eight scoring drives took less than three minutes to complete. The Ducks carved up Virginia for 557 yards of offense, more than 350 of which came on the ground.
Tennessee showed some quick-strike potential of its own in lighting up the scoreboard, but had a ton of help on that end in the game with Western Kentucky. The Vols scored 31 points in 2:19 of game time in their 52-20 win over the Hilltoppers, helped along by WKU committing five turnovers in a span of six offensive plays, including four straight turnovers on as many snaps. NCAA records indicate that's the first time that a team has forced turnovers on four consecutive defensive plays.
Just as it's important for the Vols to maintain the type of tempo Jones wants on offense -- part of the "strain and sustain" philosophy he's been pushing to the team to the point that massive DT Daniel McCullers actually changed numbers as part of the reminding process -- it's also crucial that Tennessee sustain drives. The Vols showed that capability in the second half of their win over WKU.
"Our defense is used to that," Jones said Monday at his weekly press briefing. "The (Ducks) always give you the mindset that they're always attacking. We have to have an attack mode back, defensively."
Keeping the Vols mentally sharp is also a key. Tennessee has a lot of new full-time starters at key positions and is relying on true freshmen, especially at the back end of the defense, where the entire three-deep at one cornerback position currently is comprised of guys who were playing high-school ball this time a year ago. They'll have to manage the hype that comes from playing one of the top-ranked teams in the land, while also dealing with cross-country travel for the first time in what marks Tennessee's first-ever trip to play at Oregon.
Maintaining the Vols' 12-game win streak against non-conference opponents won't be easy. Oregon opened the week as a 26 1/2-point favorite. By the way, Tennessee's most recent non-conference loss before that streak began came against this same Oregon team, in the second game of the 2010 season.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
--RB De'Anthony Thomas was named Pac-12 player of the week after running for 124 yards on 11 carries in the win over Virginia. Thomas is tied for the lead in the nation with five touchdowns and ranks 20th with 126.0 yards rushing per game. He is averaging 8.7 yards per carry. He has two catches for 30 yards and has returned two kicks for 31 yards.
--RB Thomas Tyner finally made his debut against Virginia and ran for 51 yards and two touchdowns on just four carries. The true freshman was a five-star recruit at Aloha High School after setting the state record in the 100-meters in 10.35 seconds while also breaking the single-season rushing record with 3,415 yards. He missed the opener with a foot injury suffered in the fall, but score on his first carry and later added a 31-yard scoring run.
--LB Derrick Malone has been Oregon's leading tackler in his first season as a full-time starter. The junior led Oregon with 11 tackles in a win over Nicholls and added 12 more against Virginia. He was the back-up to Oregon's top tackler, Michael Clay, last year, and started just one game.
--K/P Alejandro Maldonado has been perfect on both field goal attempts this season, each from 29 yards out. He is in his third year as Oregon's kicker, but for the first time is doing double duty as the punter. Oregon did not punt in its first game, but Maldonado averaged 41 yards per punt against Virginia.
--DT Daniel McCullers was pinpointed as the one key player to the success of Tennessee's defense. He's not done much damage on the stat sheet, logging three tackles through the Vols' first two games, but coach Butch Jones said the massive lineman continues to improve. At his weekly news conference Monday, Jones compared McCullers to two of his former pupils at Cincinnati, John Hughes and Derek Wolf, two defensive linemen who went on to play in the NFL. "They had great, great, great senior years," Jones told media members in Knoxville. "We expect and demand a lot from Dan because he's very capable of being a difference-maker. I have been pleased with his progress in a very relative early stage of the season."
--DB Brian Randolph had his 2012 season cut short by a torn ACL. He made up for lost time against Western Kentucky, snaring two of Tennessee's five interceptions. Randolph, who also made eight tackles and broke up a pass, was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week on Monday. He's the first Vol to receive that honor since Eric Berry did so in November of 2008.
--It looks like Vincent Dallas will be the new go-to guy in the Vols' return game. A junior WR, Dallas took over on kickoff return against Western Kentucky after Devrin Young broke his hand in practice last week, an injury expected to sideline the Knoxville native for at least a month. Dallas returned Western Kentucky's opening kickoff to Tennessee's 37-yard line, accumulating 90 return yards on three attempts.
Nevada at Florida State
KICKOFF: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
SITE: Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, Fla.
SERIES: First meeting
RANKINGS: Florida State No. 10; Nevada unranked
KEYS TO THE GAME
Florida State gave Pittsburgh a rude welcome to the Atlantic Coast Conference in front of a national television audience on Labor Day with a 41-13 thrashing on the Panthers' home field.
Now the 10th-ranked Seminoles will look to make Nevada's first-ever trip to the Sunshine State equally unpleasant. The Wolfpack, who have never played a game in Florida, will visit the Seminoles on Saturday afternoon in FSU's home opener and the first meeting between the two schools. Nevada is coming off a 36-7 win against FCS program UC-Davis, and the Wolfpack already have two games under their belt following a season-opening 58-20 loss to No. 16 UCLA.?FSU (1-0), meanwhile, will have had 12 days of rest by the time kickoff arrives Saturday. And Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher welcomed the bye week after just one game.
"I think it's extremely hard to go from a Monday-night game right back to Saturday, especially on a road game when you get back so late. We didn't get home until five o'clock that morning," said the fourth-year head coach, who is now 4-0 in season openers and -- heading into Saturday -- 3-0 in home openers since taking over in 2009. "(With that short of a turnaround) your kids can't even get quality work in to go against an opponent. I also think it's good because we had a very physical camp and were a little banged up going into that game. So I think (the bye week) actually came at a very good time."
As long as the extra down time doesn't cool off freshman starting quarterback Jameis Winston, the Seminoles will be fine.
Winston, the No. 1 high school quarterback recruit in the nation two years ago, made his long-anticipated debut last Monday night -- and it was one to remember. The 19-year-old dual-threat from Hueytown, Ala., put together the best debut by a freshman quarterback in school history, completing a near-flawless 25 of 27 passes for 356 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions, while also rushing for a score.
"I wasn't surprised," FSU defensive back Lamarcus Joyner said of Winston, who surpassed former starter Danny Kanell's 1993 debut as the best in school history by a freshman. "I told him pregame, 'You go against the best every day. And the way you rip us apart sometimes in scrimmages, we know you can do it against anyone in the nation.' "
Any nerves Winston had coming in quickly melted away, leading the way to 28 first-half points.
"Of course I had butterflies," said Winston, who is the NCAA's No. 1-rated passer in the nation (252.2) after one game. "I mean, if you don't have butterflies, you're not a football player."
But don't think for one second that Fisher is planning on his budding superstar having another field day Saturday, even against a Nevada defense that was gashed for 647 yards by UCLA.
"(Our preparations) better not be (any different). If it's any different, we are going to get bit in the tail," Fisher said. "This is a very good football team, very well-coached football team. Whoever the opponent is, we have to respect them."
Fisher certainly respects the ability of All-Mountain West Conference quarterback Cody Fajardo, a former California High School Player of the Year. The junior was nearly as accurate as Winston in Nevada's win last week, completing 18 of 21 passes for 239 yards and three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing) before being pulled in the third quarter with the game well in hand. Fisher is also familiar with the ability of Wolfpack first-year coach Brian Polian, the son of former Super Bowl-winning Indianapolis Colts general manager Bill Polian. And he knows Polian, who earned his first career win as a head coach last week, won't be "intimidated to come in here."
"Great tradition at Nevada, great coaching, they play a lot of big-time games," Fisher said. "Their quarterback is very athletic and creates a play with his arm. He can create plays with his legs, ad-lib when they break down. They run the pistol offense with a lot of different looks, a lot of no-huddles, which our defense will be extremely challenged with."
Nevada, which is averaging 219 yards rushing through two games (33rd in the nation), will have its own challenges keeping up with the Seminoles, who enter the game as whopping 33-point favorites. FSU has an experienced offensive line that gave Winston all day to throw and pick apart Pitt, which also allowed junior wide receiver Rashad Greene and junior tight end Nick O'Leary to combine for 12 catches, 171 yards and four TDs. Additionally, the Seminoles have two bruising running backs in Devonta Freeman and James Wilder Jr. who ran at will against the Panthers. And this week, they'll add the services of recently converted safety Karlos Williams. Williams, the No. 5 overall recruit in the nation two years ago, came to FSU with expectations he'd become a defensive star in the secondary, but he was moved to running back last week. Fisher said this week he expects to work Williams into the rotation against Nevada. And adding another weapon to an already potent offense is the last thing any of FSU's opponents want to see.
"That's a good thing for us," Greene said. "I feel like our teammates like for (the playmakers) to have the ball in our hands just to give us an opportunity to win."
PLAYERS TO WATCH
QB Cody Fajardo -- He's day to day with a sprained knee after taking a shot to the knee last week against UC Davis. He continued to play in that game but has been hampered since. The Wolf Pack rely on him to be the on-field brains of the operation and his ability to move the ball gives Nevada a chance to score against most defenses. That'll be needed for Nevada to stick around given the performance of their 103-ranked defense to date.
--Junior CB Lamarcus Joyner, who played safety last season but was switched to cornerback this year, showed against Pitt that he's a natural wherever he plays. The preseason All-ACC selection led the Seminoles with nine tackles against the Panthers, who also surrendered two sacks -- both to Joyner. Joyner seems to be benefitting from new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt's attacking style. A season ago, FSU recorded no sacks from the DB position, and after one game, Joyner already has two. "I think (the two defenses, last year's and this year's, are) just different," Fisher said. "We've been able to find ways to bring pressure. Some weeks it may be with linebackers or defensive ends, sometimes it may be with secondary people."
--TE Nick O'Leary, who, despite being the nation's top tight end recruit out of high school, didn't quite live up to the hype his first two seasons in Tallahassee with just four total touchdowns. But he more than made up for that in his first game as a junior, when he scored three times. O'Leary, the grandson of golfing legend Jack Nicklaus, didn't just have a knack for getting open against Pitt, he was wide open on every single one of his four catches. Fisher figured he could exploit a weakness in Pitt's pass coverage by utilizing O'Leary, and it sounds like they'll be throwing more balls his direction in the near future. "I thought we could get the ball to him in key situations. (QB Jameis Winston) got through and found him because there were other options on the play," Fisher said. "(Nick) had the ability to work backside and do some things."
--Nevada junior RB Kendall Brock surpassed the 100-yard mark as a running back for the first time in his career in the Wolfpack's win against UC-Davis. Brock, a last-minute starter for injured RB Don Jackson, had 27 carries for 116 yards and two touchdowns -- the first two of his career. Brock was a highly recruited back in high school but spent most of his last two years at Nevada as a wide receiver who also returned punts. Thanks to Brock's unexpected big night last week, Nevada has at least one 100-yard rusher in five consecutive games dating back to last season.
Washington at Illinois
KICKOFF: Saturday, 6 p.m. ET
SITE: Soldier Field, Chicago, Ill.
TV: Big Ten Network
SERIES: Washington leads Illinois 5-4 all-time, but the teams haven't played since 1972, when the Huskies won 31-11 in Seattle. This is the teams' first meeting at a neutral site.
RANKINGS: Washington No. 19; Illinois unranked
KEYS TO THE GAME
For the first time since Tim Beckman arrived at Illinois in January 2012, there is real hope for this program. Amazing what beating a good program by 28 points will do for you.
The Fighting Illini's 45-17 rout of Cincinnati last week was arguably the most shocking result of college football's second week. Not that the Bearcats were a top 25 team, but they have been a consistent winner for most of the last 10 years under four different coaches and, as such, represented a real yardstick.
Now that the Illini have proven they are definitely better than last year's 2-10 outfit, they will step up in competition again on Saturday in a late-afternoon kickoff against 19th-ranked Washington at Soldier Field in Chicago.
"I'm sure that after this win there's more, but again, we are very, very focused on what we need to accomplish and how we need to get better," Beckman said when asked if he's noticed more buzz around Champaign.
Perhaps the most stunning aspect of last week's win was how the defense played. Facing a much more accomplished offense than the Southern Illinois outfit that hung 34 points on it in the opener, Illinois gave up 456 yards but limited Cincinnati to 3-of-13 on third down conversions and made all the big plays.
The young defense faces a much stiffer challenge from Washington quarterback Keith Price, who was excellent in a 38-6 rout of Boise State in the season opener Aug. 31. They also can't ignore tailback Bishop Sankey, who rushed for 161 yards and two scores against the Broncos.
But with Illini quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase having taken to the new offense of coordinator Bill Cubit, this team will bring more confidence to this game than they've had at any point in Beckman's short regime.
"I think our offense did a great job of utilizing different looks and being able to establish the pass first before that run really became effective," Beckman said of the Cincinnati game.
Things are going so well for Washington early on that it moved up a spot in the Associated Press poll despite not playing.
Saturday, the Huskies have their first road trip of the season when they travel two time zones to play Illinois in Soldier Field in Chicago.
The Illini are coming off their surprising win, a 45-17 bludgeoning of Cincinnati last Saturday.
"We have our work cut out for us," Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian said.
No one thought that at the start of the year even though Washington finished 7-6 last season. Illinois was nothing short of atrocious. It lost nine consecutive games to close the season. Even in its opener -- a narrow 42-34 win over FCS opponent Southern Illinois -- the Illini looked mediocre.
But, against the Bearcats, that all changed.
The main reason is Scheelhaase. The senior has completed 74 percent of his passes in his first two games. He has six touchdowns and one interception, good for a 182.1 quarterback efficiency rating.
The Huskies will try to pack last week's momentum onto the plane. They were just 2-5 last season on the road. Sarkisian said last week's practice was spirited and was even more so to start this week. He didn't have to fight against a lull from his team.
"We had a great bye week," Sarkisian said. "I haven't felt it's been difficult (to motivate); I was prepared for that. I was prepared for it to be difficult to keep our guys ready, fired up and going.
"They watched the game Saturday morning. They know Illinois is good, as well. They know it is going to take a really good week of preparation, mentally, physically and emotionally to go on the road and play the way we're capable."
Washington will carry several more weapons than Cincinnati or Southern Illinois.
Preseason All-American tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins was suspended for the Huskies' opener as part of disciplinary action for his March DUI citation. Still, the Huskies rolled up 592 yards against Boise State despite trying to slow things down late in the game with the large margin intact.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
--WR Steve Hull hasn't needed much game action to re-adjust to his old position after starting 15 games at safety from 2010-12. Hull caught three passes for 53 yards, including a 22-yard TD in the third quarter, of the win over Cincinnati. His size and athleticism give the Illini another appealing option in a suddenly solid receiving corps.
--S Taylor Barton had his first career interception in the win over Cincinnati and also added seven tackles. Barton is part of perhaps the youngest defense in college football. Just two seniors (LB Jonathan Brown and DL Tim Kynard) are on the three-deep chart, which contains just nine upperclassmen. By contrast, nine true freshmen populate the three-deep.
--QB Nathan Scheelhaase's 312 yards against Cincinnati marked the first time in his career that he's thrown for more than 300 yards in back-to-back games. Scheelhaase is also one of seven active QBs to throw for three TDs and rush for a score in at least three games, a list which includes big-name guys like Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M) and Tajh Boyd (Clemson).
--RB Bishop Sankey is the kind of back Illinois is yet to see this season. He's short, strong and shifty. He ran for 161 yards against Boise State.
--TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins returns. He holds almost every TE record at Washington and is just starting his junior season.
--S Sean Parker had an interception in the opener and will be a key up top against Illinois, which likes to take deep shots.
Ohio State at California
KICKOFF: Saturday, 7 p.m. ET
SITE: Memorial Stadium, Berkeley, Calif.
SERIES: Cal is 1-6 against Ohio State, with the Buckeyes winning last season 35-28 in Columbus. The Buckeyes have beaten Cal six times in a row, with the Bears' only victory in the series coming in the Rose Bowl following the 1919 season.
RANKINGS: Ohio State No. 4; Cal unranked
KEYS TO THE GAME
The Buckeyes weren't quite sure what shape their team would be in, if by chance the ultra talented Miller got hurt. Well, now they know, and the answer is that the Buckeyes are in awfully good hands when backup QB Kenny Guiton trots out onto the field in a relief role.
In the most recent win over San Diego State, Miller was hurt on a fourth down run early in the first quarter and did not get back up. After having been forced off the field in the opener with cramps, this incident appeared much more serious.
Miller had to be helped up and eventually went to the locker room on a cart. His injury was diagnosed as a knee sprain and he was last seen wearing a knee brace and a baseball cap and watching the game from the sidelines.
Guiton came on and rushed for 83 yards and a touchdown, while also passing for 152 passing yards and three touchdowns. He is a senior who was elected a captain despite never being a starter, and Guiton has a sound grasp of the offense, and an apparent knack for rescuing the moment for his team.
"He is one of the leaders of our team. Everyone on the team knows what we are getting when he comes into the game -- a lot of confidence and a lot of swagger," WR Corey Brown said about his faith in Guiton. "When Kenny is out there, nobody is worried at all."
For Guiton, it is a badge of honor that his teammates don't wince when Miller has to come off the field.
"I take pride in the fact the offense almost does not skip a beat when I come into the game," Guiton said. "I just do my best to be a leader in that way. I let the team know everything is going to be okay."
After watching Guiton drop the clipboard and lead the Buckeyes to a 42-7 rout of his team, San Diego State coach Rocky Long is certain the Buckeyes have no worries about their backup quarterback as they go on the road to face Cal.
"He's as good of a backup quarterback as there is in the country," Long said. "I don't know how they decide which one starts to be honest with you. I think both of them are very good players. When one goes down, I don't think they lose anything."
Cal freshman quarterback Jared Goff has been wowing fans with his passing numbers in Sonny Dykes' spread offense, but if the Bears' defense does not improve significantly in their Sept. 14 home game against No. 4 Ohio State, Cal will get blown out.
It won't matter whether Miller plays if the Bears' defense is as generous as it was in the 37-30 victory over Portland State, an FCS school. Cal yielded 553 yards to the Vikings, who averaged 6.3 yards per rushing attempt.
That's not a good omen against an Ohio State team that rolled up 445 yards of total offense and averaged 6.6 yards per rush in a 42-7 victory over San Diego State.
The Buckeyes did most of that without Miller, who missed most of the game with a knee injury. Miller will probably play against the Bears, but even if he doesn't, his backup, Kenny Guiton, will provide plenty of problems.
Guiton rushed for 83 yards on nine carries against the Aztecs and completed 19 of 28 passes.
The absence of several defensive starters against Portland State accounted for some of the Bears' defensive problems. Many of those injured starters -- including defensive ends Chris McCain and Brennan Scarlett, defensive tackle Mustafa Jalil and linebacker Nick Forbes -- may be sidelined for the Ohio State game as well.
The Bears and defensive coordinator Andy Buh face a major challenge against an Ohio State team that owns the nation's longest active winning streak at 14 in a row.
The one encouraging factor is that Cal nearly upset the Buckeyes last season at Columbus. The game was tied 28-28 with 4:25 left when then-coach Jeff Tedford opted to attempt a field goal rather than go for a first down on a fourth-and-one play from the Ohio State 25-yard line. Vincenzo D'Amato missed a 42-yard field goal, and three plays later Miller threw a 72-yard touchdown in the Buckeyes' 35-28 victory.
Cal tailback Brendan Bigelow had a breakout game with touchdown runs of 81 and 69 yards against the Buckeyes, and the Bears will need a similar performance from Bigelow this time to stay in the game.
Bigelow has been OK, but not brilliant, so far this season, rushing for 136 yards and a 4.1 average per carry through two games. Cal was hoping for more from him and the running game in general.
This is the second of three games Cal plays against ranked teams in its first four games of the season. The defensive challenge will become even greater in its next game, a Sept. 28 contest against No. 2 Oregon.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
--QB Jared Goff, a true freshman, leads the nation in total offense (458.0 yards per game), passing yardage (467.5) and passing attempts (115). Through two games he already has more passing yardage (935) than Joe Kapp had in Cal's entire 1958 season, including the Rose Bowl. Cal has not been to the Rose Bowl since. Goff had thrown three interceptions, but two of them were tipped.
--WRs Chris Harper and Bryce Treggs -- The two sophomores combined for 36 receptions and 475 receiving yards in two games. Treggs has 21 catches and averages 12.7 yards per catch, and Harper has 15 receptions and a 13.9 average. They will need to have big games against an Ohio State defense that is better against the run than the pass.
--TB Brendan Bigelow -- Bigelow had an outstanding game against Ohio State last season, when he rushed for 160 yards on just four carries, including touchdown runs of 81 and 69 yards. The Buckeyes no doubt remember that, too, and will be prepared to stop him. With his speed and shiftiness, Bigelow seems perfectly suited to Sonny Dykes' spread offense, which creates space for running backs. However, after running for 51 yards on Cal's first possession of the season, Bigelow has gained just 85 yards since.
--QB Kenny Guiton stepped right into the breach after starter Braxton Miller went down with a knee injury very early in the San Diego State game, and Guiton excelled. If Miller can't go against Cal, we get to see Guiton as a starter, where the spotlight shines much brighter.
--RB Dontre Wilson turned some heads a month ago when he showed off his jets in fall camp as a true freshman. Now Wilson expects to make some dynamic plays every game. "I'm way faster than a lot of people," he said. "Now, I have to go out and prove it."
--DT Michael Bennett has emerged as the beast in the middle of the new-look defensive front. "He's a difference maker right now," Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said about Bennett. "I can't think of a guy playing better and leading better."
--S C.J. Barnett, who has made 25 starts in his career, returned to the field against San Diego State after missing the opener with an injury. Barnett led the Buckeyes with seven tackles against the Aztecs.
--DB Bradley Roby was back in the lineup against San Diego State after sitting out the first game under suspension following his arrest outside a nightclub this summer. Roby did not start, but was quickly a fixture in the secondary. Against pass-happy Cal, Roby should have a busy evening.
--DE Adolphus Washington has a groin injury and is considered day-to-day as the Buckeyes prepare to play Cal.
Kent State at LSU
KICKOFF: Saturday, 7 p.m. ET
SITE: Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, La.
SERIES: First meeting
RANKINGS: LSU, No. 8; Kent State unranked
KEYS TO THE GAME
No. 8 LSU (2-0) has played 14 true freshmen over the course of its first two games, and that trend figures to continue against Kent State this week.
A week after giving expanded opportunities to first-year players in a 56-17 rout of UAB, coach Les Miles figures to look for more such opportunities before entering SEC play against Auburn on Sept. 21.
"We're putting a lot of young faces on the field, and that's good," Miles said. "We're going to need them. Down the road you get these guys snaps in our stadium, you get them against a quality opponent, live, let the bullets fly, and then we get later in the season, they'll be able to make plays in the kind of games that we're going to need them to make plays in so we can win a championship. So we enjoy the fact that we're playing young guys."
When the Tigers grabbed a 28-0 lead against the Blazers in the second quarter last Saturday, Miles took out nearly half of his defensive starters and it showed. UAB outscored LSU 17-7 the rest of the half.
Miles went back to his starters after halftime and rode them much of the second half when UAB went scoreless.
"I thought the defense played well," Miles said. "Second quarter they ran into a couple adjustments, had some young guys on the field that couldn't get the defense adjusted. But (defensive coordinator) John Chavis is doing a wonderful job. We got him in at halftime, and the adjustments were just more emphatically put, and I think our defense understood what to do and came out in the second half and held our opponent scoreless."
Cornerbacks Tre'Davious White and Rashard Robinson got significant playing time.
"I just want to get some young corners ready to roll because I realize that in the games that we'll need to play, you want to play fresh guys," Miles said. "And should those guys come on, I think it's good to have competition at those corner spots.
"I'm sure that our corners recognize that it's not a position that they can afford not to improve on if they expect to play."
The most notable true freshman to play on offense was quarterback Anthony Jennings, who got a dozen snaps in relief of Zach Mettenberger, and Miles said he'd like to get him a few more snaps this week.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
--RB Jeremy Hill is back after being held out of the season opener because of a second run-in with the law. He was the fifth running back used in a 56-17 victory against UAB last Saturday. The Tigers' leading rusher a year ago, he scored on a 3-yard touchdown on his first carry and finished with 50 yards on six carries. Coach Les Miles has been vague about how he will work Hill back into the rotation, but there's little doubt that Hill will have a very prominent role from here on out.
--WR Odell Beckham Jr. had 331 all-purpose yards against UAB, the third most in LSU history. He was named SEC special teams player of the week after returning a missed field goal 100 official yards (it was closer to 109 in actuality) for a touchdown and returned a punt 60 yards to set up another score. Beckham has three touchdown receptions and is averaging 25 yards per reception and he has got three rushes in the first two games.
--DE Jordan Allen has been a disruptive force on the line through two games. Though Danielle Hunter is playing essentially the same number of snaps, Allen has started both games and has been active in the backfield and affected numerous passes. He has just two tackles, but he has a sack, two pass break-ups and a quarterback hurry.
--SS Corey Thompson didn't play in the opener because of an injury but he was pressed into duty against UAB when Craig Loston suffered a minor leg injury. Thompson was late getting over to help Jalen Mills on a 41-yard touchdown pass, but he figures to get more playing time in the secondary.
Vanderbilt at South Carolina
KICKOFF: Saturday, 7 p.m. ET
SITE: Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, S.C.
SERIES: South Carolina leads the all-time series with Vanderbilt by an 18-4 margin. VU's last win came in Nashville in 2008 in a 24-17 victory.
RANKINGS: South Carolina, No. 14; Vanderbilt unranked
KEYS TO THE GAME
Saturday's 38-3 victory over Austin Peay wasn't a thing of beauty for Vanderbilt.
The Commodores failed to score in the second half, and got just three points in the first quarter, but a 35-point, second-quarter outburst was more than enough to earn a victory.
VU substituted liberally throughout the game, and out-gained the Governors by a 318-25 margin at the half. The Commodores didn't allow a first down until the third quarter.
"After watching the film of the Austin Peay game, it was about what I thought after the game," coach James Franklin said. "I thought we did enough to be 1-0 this week and win the game. I feel like we could have played better in some areas, but now we have two games to learn from and grow."
Now 1-1, Vanderbilt has a chance to take a huge step forward with a victory at 1-1 South Carolina. The Gamecocks beat Vandy, 17-13, in the season opener in Nashville last year. It'll be VU's first road game this season, and Franklin plans to pump in a lot of noise to practice in anticipation of a hostile environment at Williams-Brice Stadium.
Senior receiver Jordan Matthews addressed the difficulty of playing on the road on Monday.
"The biggest thing is that the margin for error is a lot smaller. On the road in the SEC you are in hostile environments, places you aren't used to playing so that makes it tough," Matthews said. "That being said, Coach Franklin and the staff have done a great job over the past few years prepping us for those environments in practice, from there it's on us to execute once we step on that field."
Winning on the road within the conference was something VU rarely did in years past. However, the 'Dores went 3-1 in SEC road games last season, getting wins over Kentucky, Missouri and Ole Miss.
None of those opponents, however, figure to be as formidable as the Gamecocks. The Commodores have moved the ball well in the first two games, averaging 434 yards and 36.5 points per game, but haven't faced a player like Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Franklin addressed how the 'Dores might attack him on Saturday.
"We'd like to add a tight end to that side to chip. You'd like to have a running back in position to help as well. You'd like to slide to him as much as possible, but they're smart as well they aren't going to leave him in the same spot all the time. I think more than anything we just have to be aware of him. We do that every week though, you try and take their strength away and eliminate them," Franklin said.
While others are sweating Clowney, coach Steve Spurrier is worried about myriad issues after a loss at Georgia.
The corrections will have to come quickly, however, as USC hosts Vanderbilt Saturday night and the Commodores have been a difficult test. The Gamecocks have won the last four in the series, but each has gone into the fourth quarter the contest in doubt.
While the team entered with season with goals of winning the SEC, Spurrier believes it needs to simplify that goal for now.
"We have some regrouping to do, no doubt about it," said Spurrier. "We've got to get back to fundamentals and try to coach better -- put our players in position and let them play. Vanderbilt is a very good team coming in. When you watch them on defense, they look like maybe the best defensive team we've faced this year.
"Those guys are fast, quick and always in position. They're a well-coached defense on what they do. We're looking forward to regrouping back at home, getting our fans yelling and screaming and making it tough for the opponent to hear on Saturday night."
PLAYERS TO WATCH
--WR Jordan Cunningham caught a pass -- seven of them, in fact -- for the first time on Saturday. The true freshman made several athletic catches and totaled 67 yards vs. the Governors.
--WR Jonathan Krause (126 yards) has already surpassed last year's yardage total (69) and with eight catches, is just one behind last year's total, also.
--WR Jordan Matthews continues to put up huge numbers. After two games, he's caught 16 balls for 294 yards and two scores. With 2,594 career receiving yards, Matthews is just 18 away from tying Georgia's Tavarres King for the No. 20 spot on the Southeastern Conference's all-time career list.
--LB Kellen Williams, a walk-on, led VU with nine tackles on Saturday. Four were solo. The sophomore totaled just five tackles all last season.
--DE Jadeveon Clowney has has six tackles, with two for loss and one sack so far this season, but many have criticized his performance. Teams are making a more concerted effort to run away from the All-American this season. To combat that trend, defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward moved Clowney from the right to the left side, in addition to in the middle. He even lined up at linebacker a couple times. Following South Carolina's loss to Georgia, the junior was frustrated with his lack of ability to make an impact. "I set the edge most of the night, but they ran away from me," said Clowney. "I told my coach to put me somewhere, anywhere so I could make a play for my team. Their game plan worked out for them."
--QB Connor Shaw struggled with staying in the pocket early against Georgia, but got it together after that and had possibly his best game on the road. He completed 16 of 25 passes for 228 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing 16 times for 75 yards. He suffered a key fumble at the Georgia 25 in the third quarter when South Carolina was driving for a go-ahead score. He is determined to lead his team out of the disappointment of the loss to the Bulldogs so it is ready for Saturday's game against Vanderbilt. "That's the mindset we have to have," said Shaw. "We just have to bounce back after this one."
--RB Mike Davis is proving to be more than just an adequate replacement for All-American Marcus Lattimore, who is now with the San Francisco 49ers in the National Football League. After having his second consecutive 100-yard rushing game this season, he is making a claim to be included among the top running backs in the SEC. He rushed for 149 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries, 11 more yards than Georgia star Todd Gurley in 14 fewer carries. Davis also caught four passes for 49 yards.
"Mike Davis had about as good of a game as any running back I have ever seen," said USC coach Steve Spurrier. "He played his heart out."
--Despite the loss, South Carolina had one of its better offensive performances. It rushed for 226 yards while passing for 228. The team suffered one key turnover, however, a third quarter Connor Shaw fumble at the Georgia 25 when the team was driving for what would have been the go-ahead score.
Notre Dame at Purdue
KICKOFF: Saturday, 8 p.m. ET
SITE: Ross-Ade Stadium, Lafayette, Ind.
SERIES: Saturday will mark the 85th game between the two Indiana schools. Notre Dame leads the series 56-26-2, and won a 20-7 squeaker a year ago.
RANKINGS: Notre Dame, No. 21; Purdue unranked
KEYS TO THE GAME
Against their in-state rival, the Fighting Irish have won five straight in the battle for the Shillelagh Trophy.
Coach Brian Kelly and Notre Dame want to get back to the basics to return to the win column after a discouraging loss at Michigan last week.
"Purdue is going to be ready for Notre Dame," Kelly said, scoffing at the notion of a letdown at Michigan. "We have no doubt about that and we respect our opponent. We gotta put blinders on and focus on ourselves. We're not a finished product. We got some work to do."
Every coach will tell you that their team can't afford to make mistakes if they want to win. Two games into the season, this cliche may be more true for Purdue than it is for other college football teams.
The Boilermakers turned the ball over four times in the season opener, and got blown out by Cincinnati. They were turnover-free against Indiana State and still barely eked out a 20-14 victory over the Sycamores.
The close score against what's by far the easiest team on a brutal Boilermakers schedule was far from encouraging. While Purdue was better than it was in the opener, even a game without any overt screw-ups saw the team do enough that it needed a late Ricardo Allen interception to save it from defeat.
For coach Darrell Hazell and his staff, one of the key concerns has to be the red zone offense.
Purdue had a first-and-goal at the one-yard line in the second quarter against Indiana State, but two stuffed runs and an incomplete pass layer, the Boilermakers had to settle for an 18-yard field goal from Paul Griggs. The next time around, Purdue didn't even get that many points, with Akeem Hunt getting stuffed short of the end zone at the end of the first half. The team also failed to convert a fourth-and-one from its own 41 in the first quarter when Hunt was shut down for no gain.
Sensing a pattern here?
The running game was a question mark entering the season, but many anticipated that it would eventually become a strength because of Hunt's potential. He did have a big game -- running the opening kickoff back for a touchdown -- but not in the way he may have to for this team to beat top opponents.
Notre Dame is one such opponent. The Irish, coming into the game following a loss to Michigan, played in the BCS title game a year ago and need to win out to have a chance at going back. This isn't a team that Purdue can afford to waste opportunities against if it hopes to win.
The Boilermakers got the no turnovers thing down pat a week ago. Now, they need to add getting key yards when they need them to have a chance at sending the fans home with the first big win of the Hazell era.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
--RB Akeem Hunt won the Big Ten's Special Teams Player of the Week honors after taking the opening kickoff back 99 yards for a touchdown against Indiana State last week. Hunt finished with 243 all-purpose yards, and will likely have to improve on those numbers for the Boilermakers to have a chance at the upset this week.
--S Anthony Brown moves into the starting lineup at safety thanks to the injury suffered by Landon Feichter last week. He'll have big shoes to fill -- Feichter was the team's leading tackler a year ago.
--CB Ricardo Allen suffered a high ankle sprain in the season opener, and his status for the Indiana State game wasn't clear until late in the week. He came up huge in that one, preserving the victory with a late interception. It's safe to say that the Notre Dame offense will pose a bigger challenge.
--RB Amir Carlisle. Notre Dame abandoned the run in last week's loss at Michigan, throwing 53 passes and rushing 19 times. A heavy dose of the pass has not served the Irish well. According to Blue & Gold Illustrated, Notre Dame has lost 10 of the last 11 games in which it has thrown 50 or more times. Look for Carlisle, who rushed 12 times for 64 yards last week, and his talented backfield mates to get much more work against Purdue.
--LB Dan Fox. Purdue is in transition with a new head coach (Darrell Hazell) and a new quarterback (senior Rob Henry), who has been unimpressive so far (93.4 QBR) in the Boilermakers' new West Coast offense. This is a good game for Fox and the Notre Dame defense to reestablish its identity. Even with eight starters back, the unit has given up six touchdowns (compared to nine last year in 12 regular season games).
--DL Louis Nix has caught the attention of Purdue coach Darrell Hazell.
The gargantuan (6-2, 342) senior had 1 1/2 sacks in last year's 20-17 win over Purdue and was a hero along with QB Tommy Rees who came off the bench for a shaken-up Everett Golson and guided a drive that produced the winning field goal.
"The thing that impresses me about him is to watch him run down and chase the ball at 350 pounds," Hazell said. "You wouldn't think a guy that big plays with so much energy down the field, but he does a great job. The other guys on the edge, they're outstanding as well. So we're going to have to do a good job of creating some double teams."
Mississippi at Texas
KICKOFF: Saturday, 8 p.m. ET
SITE: Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, Texas
TV: Longhorn Network
KEYS TO THE GAME
Texas showed some confidence in Manny Diaz by bringing him back to coach the defense despite an up-and-down 2012 campaign. But when the Longhorns brought in Greg Robinson to serve as a football analyst for the Longhorn Network this past July, it didn't take a genius to see that a 36-year coaching veteran who served as the defensive coordinator for the 2004 Rose Bowl-winning Texas squad would be someone mighty handy to have nearby should a change need to be made.
That day happened sooner than expected. A brutal performance against BYU on Saturday led to a switch being made less than 24 hours later, with Diaz getting the dreaded reassignment within the athletic department and Robinson moving in to take over a defense that was literally run over for 60 minutes in a loss to the Cougars.
"He's a guy that's watched every practice with the video that we send him every day. He was a self-evaluator for us. So he knows exactly where we are," head coach Mack Brown said of Robinson. "He knows the flaws that we have. He will have the best chance to step up and help us fix it. When we had Greg before, he was sound, simple. He's a great football coach. But the guys played really, really hard for him. They know what to do."
It was a quick hook for Diaz, particularly given the decision to bring him back in the first place.
"I obviously sat and made some hard decisions last year to decide whether to keep the defensive staff intact or not. I made the decision based on the improvement they made at the end of last year," Brown said. "They knew there was a short leash. They knew they had to pick it up. After last Saturday, I wasn't going to let continue what happened last year continue to happen this year."
The move leaves Robinson little time to put his stamp on things heading into a tough game against Ole Miss. His players, meanwhile, have to adjust as well.
"We know his experience, we know of the things he's done in his past, and you know whatever he's saying has worked. That will be the biggest thing for us, his credibility," senior defensive back Cameron Byndom said. "We know whatever he says it has worked before. Two Super Bowls and the Rose Bowl win. Just continue to keep working, that's the biggest thing for us."
"Whenever your coach gets taken out from above you, you feel a little bit responsible. I think that's across the board on our team," junior linebacker Jordan Hicks added. "(Diaz) has been a great coach around here, great leader and I have so much respect for him. But I think the one thing he would want us to do is move on to Ole Miss and make sure that this loss to BYU doesn't affect the way we play against Ole Miss."
PLAYERS TO WATCH
--QB Case McCoy is listed as a co-starter under center this week, thanks to a David Ash injury that may or may not force a quarterback change. This might be the senior's last chance to have an impact as a Longhorn, as the coaching staff seems more committed to Ash than it has been in previous seasons.
--CB Bryson Echols had a brutal day against BYU with two personal foul penalties on special teams, one for roughing the punter and the other for hitting a punt returner illegally. That was lost in the shuffle given the poor defensive performance that took focus off the special teams, but it's these kind of ridiculous mistakes that are becoming more common for the Longhorns.
--WR Mike Davis was one of the few bright spots for the Longhorns against BYU with eight catches for 114 yards and a pair of touchdowns. If he gets one more touchdown catch this week, he'll move into the top 10 in Texas history.
--LB Jordan Hicks had a big game on the stat sheet last week, but it masked a subpar effort for both himself and his defense. Hicks and the rest of the Longhorns have to do a better job of meeting the ballcarrier quicker and pushing backwards, or teams are going to run over the Longhorns all season.
--QB Bo Wallace threw 47 times last week. Ole Miss uses the spread-option more as a run threat than aerial assault and could hit the Longhorns exactly where they were hurt last week at BYU to the tune of 550 rushing yards. Wallace was intercepted three times (13 of 24 for 178 yards) in the 66-31 loss to Texas last season, and much of that total was covered on a 75-yard pass play.
--RB Mike Scott is a game-changer. He was responsible for Ole Miss surviving with a win at Vanderbilt -- his 75-yard sprint to the endzone was the game-winning score in Nashville -- and he's almost always the fastest player on the field. But Scott is working on becoming a more complete back, and will get a chance to showcase it at Texas.