Things I'm watching for today

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

I'm thinking this will be the best week of college football so far this year, and not just because of the titantic Ohio State-USC matchup later tonight in Los Angeles.

It will be the most balanced groupings of the season with more good games involving ranked teams than any week so far.

We can only hope that the excitement matches that we witnessed last night in the wild South Florida-Kansas game.

Here are some of the things I'll be watching.

  • How much the loss of Beanie Wells hurts Ohio State. I'm guessing it will mean we might see Terrelle Pryor. But I'll be also particularly watching game-changing linebackers James Laurinaitis and USC's Rey Maualuga.

  • Watching what Georgia TB Knowshon Moreno can do today against South Carolina. After two games, he's scored six TDs and his team has won two games by 63 points and still dropped in the polls. Will that result in a little extra incentive against the Gamecocks? We'll see.

  • What can Missouri's weak pass defense do to improve against Nevada? The Tigers rank 115th nationally, mainly because most opponents have been forced to pass in the latter stages of games. Nevada QB Colin Kaepernick and his "Pistol" offense will be a big challenge but the return of Missouri S William Moore and the possible return of LB Van Alexander should have them ready.

  • What can UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel do for an encore after beating Tennessee in the opener? BYU and its nation-best winning streak of 12 games will be a challenge for Neuheisel and streaky QB Kevin Craft.

  • In the day's earliest game, how much will moving the Houston-Air Force game to Gerald Ford Stadium in Dallas hurt the preparation of both teams?

  • What can California RB Jahvid Best, my dark-horse favorite in the Heisman race, do against Maryland's defense?

  • How will Iowa State's opportunistic defense handle the bullish line thrusts of Iowa RB Shonn Greene and Jewel Hampton.

  • Can surprise team East Carolina keep its magic alive another week at Tulane? The Green Wave might be a tougher challenge than you expect. Tulane outgained Alabama last week and controlled the ball for most of the game. But they will need big plays to stun the Pirates and claim their first victory over a ranked team since 1982.

  • Some of the magic is gone from the usual excitement of a Notre Dame-Michigan meeting, but both teams desperately need victories.

  • How will Wisconsin respond to the rowdy crowd that will be waiting for them tonight at Bulldog Stadium? Fresno State shouldn't be intimidated, considering its 2001 victory in Madison helped jump-start Coach Pat Hill's "any place, any time" mantra.