Originally Published: September 16, 2010

Proving Grounds

By Rece Davis
ESPN.com

Only three teams in the country have yet to give up a touchdown. Alabama is one of the three. The other two, Arizona and Baylor, fit squarely into a major theme for the weekend, undefeated, untested teams. I know. Who really is tested after two games? But in a year that already has provided some chaos, surprise contenders are bound to emerge -- at least for conference titles. This weekend will provide some insight.

Liam Foley/Icon SMIArizona QB Nick Foles is 11th in the country in passing efficiency.

On Saturday night, Arizona welcomes Iowa to Tucson (ESPN, 10:30 p.m. ET). Arizona can prove its worth by knocking off a legitimate national championship contender such as the Hawkeyes.

Iowa manhandled the Wildcats last season, and much of the same cast of characters returns for both teams. But there's a difference. Last season, Nick Foles had yet to take a firm grasp on the quarterback job. Since then, he has emerged as one of the best in the embarrassment of riches that is the Pac-10 quarterback crop.

With weapons such as Juron Criner and Nic Grigsby, the Wildcats' offense is far more potent than the overwhelmed unit that visited Kinnick Stadium last season. Iowa's defense will play with a vengeance because that's what the Hawkeyes always do but also for their defensive coordinator Norm Parker, who won't make the trip as he battles diabetes.

This is a big chance for Arizona to burst on the national stage, but don't underestimate an Iowa win. It would be as good a road win as anyone has had to this point in the season. It's definitely worth staying up late Saturday night to watch this clash on ESPN.


Fast quarterbacks are all the rage. There's Taylor Martinez at Nebraska and the maize and blue blur that is Denard Robinson, but Baylor's Robert Griffin likely has a step on all of them. He'll need it to run past TCU's defense.

Baylor had its eye set on a bowl game last season before losing Griffin to a knee injury. Griffin hasn't had to show off that track speed a lot this season, but he will need to if the Bears are to knock off the Horned Frogs.

TCU always takes the in-state Texas battles personally. But it is an odd twist that TCU is the big dog -- or should I say big Frog? -- in this matchup against the Big 12's Bears. Gary Patterson has established a name brand at TCU. The old wounds of being left out of the Big 12 when the SWC formed have been largely soothed by 11-plus win seasons in five of the past seven years and a BCS bowl berth.

Baylor has long since forgotten the Alamo, which was its last bowl trip -- in 1994. The Bears, and their electrifying quarterback, could establish major credibility with an upset of the Frogs. By the way, I wouldn't count on Baylor still being among those that haven't allowed a touchdown after this weekend.


Texas visits Lubbock for the first time since Michael Crabtree's famous grab and touchdown gave the Red Raiders a dramatic win two seasons ago.

Texas Tech fans are just getting to know Tommy Tuberville. This is precisely the type of arena in which his teams excel. He's the underdog. Tubs had a long history at Auburn of knocking off teams such as Florida and Alabama when few expected it. Combine that with Texas' transition into the post-Colt McCoy era, and the Horns are headed into a snake pit Saturday.

The Longhorns are finding new playmakers. They're searching for a go-to running back. Garrett Gilbert has only one touchdown pass so far. Will he bust out with a career game against the Red Raiders? Tech has given up a lot of yards passing (277 per game), but the Red Raiders do have five interceptions, the fourth-highest total in the country. It's worth keeping an eye on.


After a couple of warm-ups, Nebraska gets its first test on the road against Jake Locker and Washington.

Martinez averages 13.5 yards per carry. That's ridiculous. But you don't just waltz into Husky Stadium and run roughshod through Washington anymore. Just ask USC. It was on this weekend last season that the Huskies gave Steve Sarkisian a signature win by beating the Trojans.

It's all dependent on how well the Huskies contain the Huskers QB. By the way, which nickname do you like for Martinez? T-Magic? T-Mobile. If it's the latter, he operates on a mach speed network.

No matter how fast the Huskers go, they'd better start bringing the ball with them. Nobody in the nation has been looser with the ball than Nebraska. Bo Pelini's bunch has fumbled 10 times and lost five of them.


Arkansas has cruised through a pair of warm-ups, but Georgia's revamped defense will be the first 2010 road test for the Hogs. Ryan Mallett & Co. lost a 52-41 shootout to the Dogs last year. A shootout this time would seem to favor the Razorbacks, who will be without RB/return specialist Dennis Johnson. The Hogs could set the stage for a huge SEC West showdown with Alabama next week by getting past the Dogs.


Clemson takes its dual-sport quarterback, Kyle Parker, in to face Auburn's dual treat Cameron Newton. We saw Newton last Thursday night against Mississippi State. He is an absolute load to try to get on the ground, and he has a cannon for an arm. This is a chance for the much-maligned ACC to take a leap on the credibility meter with a marquee win in the SEC's house. But it's a lot to ask. Whether Clemson can hang in will answer a lot of questions about Dabo Swinney's Tigers.

It might not be branded Monster Saturday, but monstrous answers await for some who are unbeaten and untested -- at least until now.

Weekend Watch

By Mark Schlabach
ESPN.com

It's only the third week of the 2010 college football season, but a few teams are already facing must-win situations this weekend.

Here are five things I can't wait to see this weekend:

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Bruce Thorson/US PresswireNebraska QB Taylor Martinez is 7th in the nation in rushing.

1. Georgia has never started a season 0-2 in SEC play under coach Mark Richt. But if the Bulldogs don't beat No. 12 Arkansas at Sanford Stadium on Saturday, they'll fall to 0-2 against SEC foes for the first time in Richt's 10 seasons at Georgia.

Georgia's new 3-4 defense has to find ways to pressure Hogs quarterback Ryan Mallett, who is off to a sizzling start against lesser competition. Georgia outside linebacker Justin Houston has to have a monster game for Georgia's defense to be successful, and the Bulldogs' offensive line has to play better than it did in the first two games. Georgia running backs Caleb King and Washaun Ealey have to run the ball effectively for the Bulldogs to control the clock and keep Mallett off the field.

2. There hasn't been a bigger disappointment this season thus far than Virginia Tech. The Hokies opened the season ranked in the top 10 and had grand visions of playing for a BCS national championship. But Virginia Tech lost two games in six days and really let Boise State beat it twice. After falling to the Broncos 33-30 on Labor Day night, the Hokies inexplicably lost to FCS foe James Madison 21-16 at home this past weekend.

The Hokies are still talented enough to win the ACC's Coastal Division, but they'll have to beat East Carolina at home Saturday to salvage their season. The Pirates are off to a 2-0 start under new coach Ruffin McNeill. The Hokies have won six of the past seven games in the series but will be looking for revenge after ECU won 27-22 in the 2008 opener in Charlotte.

3. Defending ACC champion Georgia Tech and North Carolina are both reeling after losses. UNC lost to LSU 30-24 in its Sept. 4 opener in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta's Georgia Dome. The Yellow Jackets were upset by Kansas 28-25 on the road last week, which ended the Jayhawks' eight-game losing streak.

Georgia Tech has looked undisciplined in its first two games, which you don't expect from a Paul Johnson-coached team, and quarterback Joshua Nesbitt has struggled throwing the football. The Tar Heels still don't know the status of 12 suspended players, including six defensive starters. Running back Shaun Draughn was cleared to play this week, which should help take some of the pressure off quarterback T.J. Yates.

4. UCLA was supposed to be one of the biggest benefactors from cross-town rival USC's off-the-field problems, but the Bruins looked awful in their first two games of the season. This was supposed to be a breakout season for UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel, but the Bruins lost at Kansas State 31-22 in their opener, then looked lifeless in a 35-0 loss to Stanford at the Rose Bowl in Week 2.

If UCLA is going to turn its season around, the Bruins will need a better performance from quarterback Kevin Prince in Saturday night's home game against No. 23 Houston. In two games, Prince has completed only 15 of 38 passes for 159 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. The Bruins might catch a break because record-setting quarterback Case Keenum is questionable to play after suffering a concussion in Houston's 54-24 rout of UTEP on Friday night.

5. Minnesota coach Tim Brewster is feeling the heat after the Gophers lost to FCS foe South Dakota 41-38 at home in Week 2. Brewster can win back some support if Minnesota can upset No. 18 Southern California at home Saturday.

The Trojans haven't been very impressive in coach Lane Kiffin's first two games, but they still travel to Minnesota with a 2-0 record. After allowing 588 yards in a 49-36 victory at Hawaii in the opener, USC struggled to pull away with a 17-14 win over Virginia on Saturday. USC committed 24 penalties for 240 yards in its first two games, the worst mark in the country.

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