2011 NCAAF Week 3 Weekend Preview

September 17, 2011

This weekend in college football is being dubbed “Road Test” Weekend, due to the handful of Top 25 teams playing away from home. In fact, almost as many ranked teams play on the road (12) as ranked teams that get to stay at home (13) during this exciting weekend.

Expect to see a lot of close games and possibly some upsets this weekend, as playing on the road separates the contenders from the pretenders pretty quickly.

Here is a list of my top five games to watch this weekend, as well as five more games to keep an eye on and some storylines that will keep people talking.

5 Games to Pay Attention to This Weekend

#18 West Virginia at Maryland (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen will get his first true test as the head man when the Mountaineers travel to College Park to take on Maryland. The Mountaineers have looked good on offense in their first two games, but that was to be expected. The Terrapins will be much more difficult to score against.

For Maryland to win this game, they will need to force turnovers, as they did in their opener against Miami. The Terrapins are going to have trouble keeping up with West Virginia’s high octane offense if they can’t find a way to take the ball out of quarterback Geno Smith’s hands. The Mountaineers take good care of the ball, so it may be a long day for Maryland fans.

My Pick: 35-27 West Virginia

Tennessee at #16 Florida (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

Tyler Bray has emerged as one of the best young quarterbacks in the country for the Volunteers, and is a main reason why Tennessee has been able to score in the 40s in their first two games. However, it is very unlikely that Tennessee will hit the 40 point mark against Florida. The Gators have one of the best defensive squads in the SEC, and will look to get after Bray and rattle him early.

Tennessee will need to make Florida respect their rushing attack in order to provide some balance for the offense. If Florida can stop the run with ease and focus primarily on Bray, the Gators will have a huge advantage in this game. This game is normally a close back and forth battle, and I expect it to be much of the same today. I just don’t think Tennessee has taken the next step” with Bray quite yet.

My Pick: 24-20 Florida

#22 Arizona State at Illinois (Saturday, 7 PM ET)

Those who watched last Friday’s prime time matchup know that Arizona State is a team that can make the big play on offense at any time, and look to be a true contender for the Pac-12 South division title. They get no break after beating Missouri though, as they travel to Champaign to face an Illinois team that is dangerously underrated.

There is a good chance that this game will be a shootout, with both teams touting quarterbacks that can sling the ball. Sun Devils quarterback Brock Osweiler has a deep threat target in senior receiver Aaron Pflugrad, who is coming off a monster game against Missouri in which he scored two touchdowns. The Illini will need to keep tabs on Pflugrad to assure that they don’t get beat deep. Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase is going to give Arizona State’s defense trouble as well. He is in the top ten in the nation in pass efficiency and can use his legs to buy time.

The defense that can better contain the opposing quarterback is going to win this game. I see the Illini pulling off the minor upset at home.

My Pick: 35-32 Illinois

#17 Ohio State at Miami (Fl.) (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET)

The Buckeyes travel down to Miami to play a Hurricanes team that is trying to figure out if they are just bruised, or truly broken. Ohio State escaped Toledo at home last weekend, and will need to play much better defensively if they want to beat the Hurricanes on the road.

Ohio State quarterback Joe Bauserman will not win the Buckeyes very many games. However, he won’t lose them very many games either, and can be counted on to make smart decisions in the pocket. The key in this game for both teams will be the running game. The Buckeyes will need it to open up the passing game because Bauserman has shown that he cannot complete the deep pass often. Miami on the other hand will probably live or die by the run. Jacory Harris was eaten up by Ohio State’s defense last year, and the Buckeyes had issues against the run last Saturday. In the end, the team that has more rushing yards is likely to have more points when time runs out in the fourth quarter.

My Pick: 27-24 Ohio State

#1 Oklahoma at #5 Florida State (Saturday, 8 PM ET)

In the game of the week, Florida State gets a chance to even the score against the Sooners, who crushed the Seminoles last year in Norman. The score of this game should not resemble last year’s at all, thanks to the improvements made by Florida State on both sides of the ball. However, the key to victory will be the same for the Seminoles. Stopping Landry Jones is the main concern, and that will not be an easy task.

If Florida State sits back and lets Jones take his time finding receivers, they will be in a lot of trouble. Jones has had some trouble on the road, but it will feel like he is at home in no time if the Seminoles don’t pressure him early. Florida State has the weapons to rattle Jones, and if they can do that, then it will be up to E.J. Manuel to prove to the nation that he really is capable of making his team a national title contender. Expect a close, hard fought battle in which the team that gets more pressure on the opposing quarterback comes away with the victory.

My Pick: 31-30 Oklahoma

5 More to Flip To

#21 Auburn at Clemson (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

Auburn has escaped with close wins in their first two games, but their luck may run out against Clemson on the road.

Washington at #11 Nebraska (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

Washington will give Nebraska a test, and it is still up in the air how good the Cornhuskers really are.

#15 Michigan State at Notre Dame (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

The Fighting Irish will look to avoid starting 0-3, but they will have to stop a very efficient quarterback in Kirk Cousins. South Bend can’t be a very happy place right now.

#23 Texas at UCLA (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

Texas is very young, and it may be a matter of time before they slip up and lose a game to a seemingly lesser opponent. UCLA upset the Longhorns in Austin last season, so it’s possible…

Utah at BYU (Saturday, 9:15 PM ET)

An old Mountain West Conference rivalry, both teams are coming off close losses to big name teams. The first game in the Battle for the Beehive Boot should be an interesting one…

Storylines for the Weekend

Who will survive?

With so many ranked teams playing on the road this weekend, there are bound to be a handful of upsets. This is a great weekend to see which teams are for real, and which teams are just making an appearance in the rankings or are not really national title contenders. The rankings will be noticeably different after this weekend, but it should give us a much better idea of which teams are truly worth getting excited about.

State Your Case

Kellen Moore lit up the Toledo defense on Friday night, firmly planting him in the Heisman race for the remainder of the season, barring some sort of injury. This weekend is a great chance for other Heisman hopefuls, such as Landry Jones and Marcus Lattimore, to make statements. Jones is playing in the game of the week, and a strong showing definitely resonates with the voters. Lattimore is going up against a Navy defense that seems to hold even the best rushers at bay.

– K. Becks


2 Responses to 2011 NCAAF Week 3 Weekend Preview

  1. Guest on September 17, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    TOUCHDOWN TENNESSEE! 18-yard pass to Mychal Rivera. PAT is good by Palardy and the score is now 33-23 Florida with 4:46 remaining.

    • K. Becks on September 22, 2011 at 8:33 pm

      Closed the gap on a game in which Florida looked pretty in control most of the day. Tennessee is improving, but isn’t really strong enough to compete for the SEC East title, in my opinion.

      Thanks for reading!

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