Top 25 Overview - Week 3
No. 24 TCU at Texas Tech
For TCU, this game is suddenly much trickier than it seemed before the season began. With Casey Pachall out, the Frogs must roll with Trevone Boykin on the road on a short week of preparation. The Red Raiders are rolling on offense and seemingly improved on defense, and Baker Mayfield will be plenty motivated. If TCU can't slow him down, this could end up being another slugfest like the 56-53, triple-overtime game (a Tech win) that these two teams endured in 2012.
No. 7 Louisville at Kentucky
Mark Stoops might get things rolling at Kentucky eventually, but the Wildcats aren't to the point where they can compete with Teddy Bridgewater and the Louisville juggernaut today. Although it's playing at home, Kentucky will do well to keep this one competitive into the second half.
No. 11 Michigan vs. Akron
The Wolverines are 16-0 under Brady Hoke -- a mark which stands as the longest active home win streak in BCS football. Conversely, the Zips take to the road with a 27-game losing streak away from Akron. The Wolverines are averaging 461.5 yards of offense per game with quarterback Devin Gardner at the helm of the offense. He'll be facing an Akron defense which allowed 498 yards of total offense against James Madison last weekend, so expect the Wolverines to put up big plays and big numbers.
No. 16 UCLA at No. 23 Nebraska
Two of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the country square off in UCLA's Brett Hundley and Nebraska's Taylor Martinez. This is the return game from last year's contest, which UCLA won at home 36-30. Despite a close win against Wyoming, the Cornhuskers are one of the best teams in the Big Ten behind head coach Bo Pelini. The Bruins are coming off a bye week with a heavy heart, following the death of wide receiver Nick Pasquale.
No. 14 Oklahoma vs. Tulsa
The story of this game will be Sooners quarterback Blake Bell. The junior gets the opportunity to prove he should have been named OU's starting quarterback, not Trevor Knight, against the Sooners' in-state foe. Injury has knocked Knight out of this game but, if Bell excels against the Golden Hurricane, Knight could face a long road to regaining his starting spot. OU will be looking to find some type of rhythm on offense with their highly anticipated matchup with Notre Dame at the end of the month on the horizon.
No. 5 Stanford at Army
The Cardinal go cross-country for a game that Stanford head coach David Shaw said his team can't take lightly. Army loves to run the football -- but it'll be going right into the teeth of a Stanford front seven that is one of the best in the country. The Cardinal are riding a streak of 25 games with a takeaway -- tops in college football.
No. 10 Florida State vs. Nevada
Starters James Wilder Jr., P.J. Williams and Tre Jackson are all expected to be ready for Nevada after missing time in the opener with injuries. Still, it's quarterback Jameis Winston who is likely to get the most attention this week after a stunning debut against Pittsburgh in which he completed 25 of 27 passes for 356 yards and four TDs. Meanwhile, Nevada QB Cody Fajardo remains day-to-day with a sprained knee and could be limited against FSU.
No. 1 Alabama at No. 6 Texas A&M
Alabama is seeking revenge from its lone loss a season ago while Texas A&M is looking to prove that its upset of the Tide in 2012 was no fluke. Either way, it's the most highly anticipated game in college football this season. With an extra week to prepare, Alabama's defense should be ready for the firestorm that is Johnny Manziel and the Texas A&M offense. Once again, Kevin Sumlin has the Aggies in the top five nationally in yards per game, first downs and touchdowns.
No. 2 Oregon vs. Tennessee
The Ducks have had five 100-yard rushing performances already in two games -- a pair from De'Anthony Thomas, two from Marcus Mariota and one from Byron Marshall. They wrap up their nonconference season at home against a Tennessee team that's allowed only 20 points in its first two games, but has yet to be really tested.
No. 19 Washington at Illinois
Washington is coming off a bye week following its season-opening rout of Boise State. Illinois, which crushed Cincinnati last week, is getting stellar play from quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase. The Huskies welcome back tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, considered by many the top tight end in the country, after he sat out Week 1 serving a suspension for his offseason DUI.
No. 4 Ohio State at California
The Golden Bears gave the Buckeyes a scare a year ago, but both teams look dramatically different now. Cal has a new coaching staff and an uptempo offense; Ohio State was only scratching the surface at this time last season on the way to going undefeated. Braxton Miller's knee sprain leaves his status somewhat unclear, but whether he's 100 percent or backup Kenny Guiton is in charge, the Buckeyes won't be short of confidence as they head west looking to push their winning streak to 15 games.
No. 8 LSU vs. Kent State
It looks like just another tune-up game for LSU on Saturday as they prepare for the SEC opener against Auburn next week and the showdown with Georgia in two weeks. However, the Tigers face a Kent State team that finished 11-3 a season ago. The big question will be whether or not Dri Archer will play for the Golden Flashes. He missed the majority of the first two games with an apparent ankle injury. If Archer plays, it could be an exciting contest, especially with Odell Beckham on the other side.
No. 13 South Carolina vs. Vanderbilt
The Gamecocks are coming off a loss to Georgia, one in which they looked solid offensively but left with questions on the defense, particularly surrounding defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Can they get it together on D? Vanderbilt cruised to a 38-3 win over Austin Peay after a gut-wrenching season-opening loss to Ole Miss and the Commodores have looked strong on offense so far this year. This matchup is key because the loser falls to 0-2 in SEC play and to the bottom of the SEC East standings.
No. 12 Oklahoma State vs. Lamar
It's been a crazy week in Stillwater as allegations of misconduct ripped throughout the football program earlier this week. The Cowboys will be excited to finally just get out on the Boone Pickens Stadium turf and play football. OSU will be looking to make a strong home debut against Lamar as J.W. Walsh strives to continue to run the Cowboys' offense with laser-like efficiency. This one could get out of hand.
No. 25 Ole Miss at Texas
It's difficult to say who needs this win more: Texas, on the verge of imploding after canning its defensive coordinator or newly ranked Ole Miss, which just cracked the top 25 for the first time since 2009. Longhorns drama aside, winning is still a tall order for the Rebels.
No. 21 Notre Dame at Purdue
The Irish defense is looking to get back to the norm this week after surrendering 41 points at rival Michigan. Now comes another Big Ten rival, Purdue, which nearly ruined Notre Dame's perfect season last year before it even really began. The Boilermakers have gotten off to a slow start in getting blown out by Cincinnati and narrowly beating FCS Indiana State, as new coach Darrell Hazell looks for answers on offense with a prime-time, nationally-televised contest looming.
No. 17 Northwestern vs. Western Michigan
The Wildcats whipped Cal and Syracuse by a combined 35 points in their first two games. They've done so despite receiving almost no contribution from All-America running back/kick returner Venric Mark, who's been nursing an unspecified lower body injury. A highly efficient passing game has made up for the loss of Mark, and Northwestern should be fine with or without him this week against Western Michigan. The Broncos are coming off a loss at home and are 0-2 under new head coach P.J. Fleck.
No. 20 Wisconsin at Arizona State
Wisconsin outscored its first two opponents 93-0 but played UMass and Tennessee Tech. Arizona State won its opener 55-0 against Sacramento State. We'll get a much better read on both teams in this desert showdown. The Badgers' switch to a 3-4 defense is designed in part to contain spread offenses like the one they'll see Saturday. Meanwhile, Will Sutton and the Sun Devils defense must slow a Wisconsin running attack that has produced three 100-yard rushers in each of its first two games.
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