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Path: /college-football/georgia-state-panthers-vs-oregon-ducks-preview-and-prediction-2015
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A cupcake awaits Oregon to help mask the bitter taste of losing 31-28 at Michigan State upon the Ducks’ return to Autzen Stadium.

 

The Ducks’ follow-up to playing national championship contender Michigan State is a paycheck game against Georgia State, the fledgling Sun Belt Conference team that just last week won its first-ever road game against an FBS opponent.

 

The Panthers outlasted fellow SBC cellar dweller New Mexico State to reach a significant milestone in the program’s brief existence. Georgia State’s first season was just five years ago.

 

Georgia State will one day score its first upset of a Top 25 opponent — just don’t count on that being this week at Oregon.

 

Georgia State at Oregon

 

Kickoff: 2 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Spread: Oregon -45.5  

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Playing time for reserves  

Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich should have ample opportunity to play his second-and-third-stringers Saturday. Georgia State is overmatched in every phase, so the Ducks starters should have no problem piling on in the first quarter and turning the reins over to the reserves before halftime.

 

This is a great opportunity to fine-tune depth ahead of the Pac-12 Conference opener. Oregon’s inexperience on the offensive line and secondary heading into the season were areas of concern, but Week 3 will give live reps to those in need of more game situations.

 

2. Vernon Adams’ finger

Quarterback Vernon Adams played last week with a broken finger on his throwing hand. It may not be enough to hold the talented graduate transfer out of the lineup, but Saturday is a prime opportunity for Jeff Lockie to play.

 

“We don’t really talk about those kind of player availability things,” Helfrich said on Tuesday’s Pac-12 coaches teleconference. “The best guy for us is going to be out there playing.”

 

If the plan is to have Adams at or near 100 percent for conference play, more snaps for Lockie may be the best solution.

 

3. Turnover creation

Oregon’s defense — and by extension, its offense — thrives with turnovers. The Ducks have ranked at or near the top of college football every season going back to 2010.

 

It’s early into the 2015 campaign, but Oregon is stuck near the middle of the pack nationally with three takeaways through two games. That should change Saturday.

 

Georgia State comes into Saturday’s affair with six turnovers, tied for third most in college football. Last season, the Panthers gave possession away 30 times.

 

Final Analysis

 

There’s no such thing as a sure thing in college football, but an Oregon win over Georgia State is as close as it gets.

 

Panthers head coach Trent Miles took on a cumbersome task when he left Indiana State for this position in 2013. Georgia State is taking baby steps in its growth as a program, much as the Sycamores did in Miles’ tenure at Indiana State.

 

But, if the Washington teams on which Miles was an assistant last decade had little chance at Autzen Stadium, his current Georgia State bunch is really overmatched.

 

Prediction: Oregon 63, Georgia State 6

 

— Written by Kyle Kensing, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a sportswriter in Southern California. Kensing is publisher of CFBHuddle.com. Follow him on Twitter @kensing45.

Teaser:
Georgia State Panthers vs. Oregon Ducks Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 18, 2015 - 12:00
Path: /college-football/smu-mustangs-vs-tcu-horned-frogs-game-preview-and-prediction-2015
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SMU has already faced a talented Baylor team this season. Chad Morris has the Mustangs pointing in the right direction early even if their record does not reflect as such. They have already matched their win total from last season and will have a very good chance of going bowling this season.

 

TCU is undoubtedly a national contender. Coming off a 63-point cakewalk last week the Horned Frogs may be looking for the same kind of dominating performance at home his week as well. However, SMU is not the team TCU saw last season. Do not expect the Mustangs to just roll over in Fort Worth this weekend.

 

SMU at TCU (Battle for the Iron Skillet)

 

Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: Fox Sports Net
Spread: TCU -39.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. How Long Will TCU’s First-String Defense Play?

No, I am not implying that TCU’s defense will easily handle SMU. However, the Horned Frogs have seen multiple injuries in this young season. This is the last non-conference game for TCU before they get into Big 12 play next week against Texas Tech. Health is quickly becoming an issue and TCU head coach Gary Patterson may decide early to begin pulling starters from the game. The problem there may be SMU’s offense keeping them in the game a little longer than TCU may want.

 

2. SMU Offense
SMU was able to put up 21 points against Baylor two weeks ago and they are coming off a 31-point performance against North Texas. SMU’s spread offense can and will score against TCU. SMU may be able to keep this game close for a while much like they did against Baylor. SMU quarterback Matt Davis is accounting for over 288 total yards per game himself. Though not at the level of TCU’s Trevone Boykin, Davis is a threat that will spread the field with both his arm and legs.

 

3. Can SMU Keep it Close?

The simple answer is probably not. The Mustangs did go into the half against Baylor down only seven. Unfortunately the Bears left on doubt in the second half of that contest. The Mustangs are averaging 406.5 yards per game so far this season. Although TCU is averaging 538 yards per game, its defense has already been hit hard injuries and other circumstances. SMU should be able to take advantage of the Horned Frogs' secondary, at least for a few quarters. I don’t want to call this a shootout but SMU may score a little more than expected.
 

Final Analysis

 

SMU may have the upper hand in this matchup from an experience standpoint. The Mustangs have already played Baylor and were able to fine-tune their offense against North Texas last week. Experience will simply not be enough for them to pull the upset though. TCU is one of the most potent offenses in the nation. SMU will simply not be able to contain the Frogs for an entire game. Just like they did against Baylor the Mustangs should be able to hang around for a while before sheer talent and speed take over for TCU. Expect the Mustangs to be able to cover the spread in this game but not much else.

 

Prediction: TCU 60, SMU 24

 

— Written by Jeremy Simon, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and editor-in-chief of BlueGoldSports.com, a must visit for any and all West Virginia Mountaineer fans. Follow BlueGoldSports.com on Twitter @Blue_GoldSports.

Teaser:
SMU Mustangs vs. TCU Horned Frogs Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 18, 2015 - 11:50
Path: /college-football/california-golden-bears-vs-texas-longhorns-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

Texas (1-1) is making its way back onto the national stage. Just not because of their football team.

 

After the firing of AD Steve Patterson on Tuesday, the University of Texas' sports landscape looks very, very different. Head coach Charlie Strong and his team are now the focal point of the spotlight in Austin. All eyes around college football are on what happens next after a good, but not great, week against a tough Rice team. Rice had a great running back and a great quarterback, but they did not have the other pieces to take advantage of defensive miscues of the Longhorns.

 

That will not be a problem for Cal. The California Golden Bears (2-0) are not like Rice. They are not missing pieces on the offensive side of the ball. Cal is averaging 50 points per game after only two weeks. Junior quarterback Jared Goff has thrown for 630 yards and 6 touchdowns in just two weeks, spreading the ball around to as many as six different receivers, starting with Senior Bryce Treggs and Junior Kenny Lawler. The Bears will not struggle to find their offense like the Owls did. 

 

The big question will be whether or not Texas and their young quarterback Jerrod Heard and new coordinator Jay Norvell can develop an offensive scheme that can keep up with the Bears high scoring offense.

 

College Football Podcast: Week 3 Preview with Dari Nowkhah



Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher

 

California at Texas

 

Kickoff: 7:30 PM ET

TV Channel: FOX 

Spread: California -7

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Can Texas keep pace?

There are two numbers that glaringly stand out in the preview of this game. California is averaging 54 points per game. Texas is averaging 22.5 points per game. Those numbers loom large over this game because they suggest that no matter what Texas does, they may not be able to score enough points to keep up with the scoring prowess of the Bears. In addition to that, Cal's offensive attack comes from anywhere on the field and its not very predictable. Defensive Coordinator Vance Bedford is going to have an enormous challenge trying to slow down quarterback Jared Goff's ability to get the ball to his open receivers. The other challenge is whether or not Jay Norvell can put together enough offensive packages to slow the game down for quarterback Jerrod Heard and running back Jonathan Gray to run the ball and milk the clock to keep the Bears off the field. Texas's passing offense must take manageable chunks of yardage, but still keep the Bears from matching them point for point. Either way, clock management could be key to a win. 

 

2. Can Texas get key stops?

Texas, in addition to their offense averaging 22.5 points a game, is giving up 33 points a game in just two games. There are real problems for Texas on the defensive side of the ball and those problems may get exposed this weekend. Texas brings a lot of youth and inexperience to this game, which could be a major problem against a veteran team that returns a lot of key players and will be far from intimidated by Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Coach Bedford will have his hands full, especially in the Texas secondary, where it appears they are extremely vulnerable, giving up 273 yards per game through two games. If this becomes a back and forth shoot out, then that may help the Longhorns because they will be motivated to get the key stops in this game that may seal a victory in a close game. The challenge for Texas is to keep this game from being an early blowout, where the defense spends most of the night playing from behind.

 

3. Jerrod Heard must play better

Quarterback Jerrod Heard's first game was not horrible, but it was not great. Heard finished his starting debut with less than impressive numbers going 4-for-7 for 120 yards and two TDs. He also rushed 10 times for 96 yards. These numbers are not great, but they were sufficient, and they were supported by a strong defensive performance that provided scoring as well. This week, offensive coordinator Jay Norvell must create a plan that plays to the young quarterback's strengths, while also maximizing opportunities for Jonathan Gray to run to help set up the Longhorn passing game. And Heard must play mistake-free football. Unlike the Owls, the Bears WILL capitalize off of every short field given to them, so Texas must avoid giving the Bears short fields due to turnovers.


Related: 10 College Football QBs Looking to Make a Statement in Week 3

 

Final Analysis

 

The challenge for Texas this week will be the greatest they have experienced this season. The young Longhorns have yet to see the kind of multiple offensive attack that the Bears bring to the table, and they will have their hands full. If Texas attempts to get into an offensive shootout with Cal, this game will get away from them very fast. The Longhorns' best strategy is probably to run the ball with both Gray and Heard, and try and keep Goff and the Bears' offensive weapons off the field. The defense of the Longhorns must create turnover opportunities as well, and take advantage of the aggressive nature of the Bears' offensive schemes. 

 

Texas can win this game, but it is not likely that this young team will be able to execute at such a high level for the full 60 minutes. The Bears have a wealth of experience on their side and they will not be caught off guard by Heard's speed or Gray's strength in the run game. The Bears will make Heard have to prove he can beat them in the passing game, and it is just way too early in the season for Heard to be able to do that. 

 

Prediction: California 33, Texas 21

 

— Written by Lloyd H. Spence, Jr., who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Spence also has written for the Dallas Morning News, Yahoo!'s Rivals.com, and ESPN Louisville. He can be heard on the radio of "Talkin NOIZ" and "The Football Show of Collin County." Follow him on Twitter @TalkinNOIZ.

Teaser:
California Golden Bears vs. Texas Longhorns Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 18, 2015 - 11:45
Path: /pittsburgh-panthers-vs-iowa-hawkeyes-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

The Iowa Hawkeyes and Pittsburgh Panthers renew their Big Ten vs. ACC series in Iowa City this Saturday in a game that will match up two very similar teams.

 

The 2014 matchup was a barnburner, with the Hawkeyes outscoring the Panthers 17-3 after half to erase a 17-10 halftime deficit en route to their second consecutive come-from-behind victory over Pitt.

 

The 2015 season will see Iowa face off against a new Panthers coaching staff for the 4th time in as many meetings, as Pat Narduzzi moved from Michigan State to Pitt to replace Paul Chryst, now of Wisconsin.

 

Saturday’s game will be the seventh meeting between Iowa and Pittsburgh dating back to 1931. The series is tied 3-3 with Iowa having won the last two meetings.

 

Pittsburgh at Iowa

 

Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: Big Ten Network & BTN2GO
Spread: Iowa -5.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. How will injuries on the offensive side of the ball impact both teams

The college football landscape has already been dramatically altered for 2015 as team after team has found itself without key personnel. Neither Iowa nor Pitt are an exception. The Panthers enter this weekend's contest without RB James Conner, an Athlon Sports preseason second team All-American and Maxwell Award watch list selection. The Hawkeyes may be without their team's defensive spark plug in DE Drew Ott and one of the most surprising early-season weapons on the offensive side of the ball in RB LeShun Daniels.

 

2. Is Iowa's receiving corps for real

The Hawkeyes knew they had questions at QB with the promotion of C.J. Beathard to the starting job last spring. But as Beathard has found his rhythm in guiding the offense, the biggest surprises have come from junior wide receivers Matt VandeBerg and Riley McCarron. Through two games, Beathard has discovered VandeBerg as a primary target, as he leads the team with 15 catches for 173 yards and two touchdowns. Against Iowa State, VandeBerg hauled in nine passes for 114 yards, including a long of 48. Toss in the receiving wild cards of RB Jordan Canzeri, who picked up 90 yards receiving against Illinois State, and senior TE Henry Kreiger Coble and Iowa is capable of beating you on both the ground and in the air.

 

3. Which defense is over ranked

Entering Week 3 both the Hawkeyes and Panthers have demonstrated tremendous defensive efforts. Iowa's vaunted “swarm” has found its stride, and is currently ranked 29th in the nation in total defense, allowing just 49.0 yards rushing per game. Across the line, Pitt checks in as the 24th-ranked defense in the nation, allowing just 88 yards rushing per game. With the Panthers' backfield is averaging 226.0 rushing yards per game, the Hawkeyes have been equally impressive on the ground (235.0 ypg). Something's clearly going to have to give in this contest.

 

Final Analysis

 

New Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi inherited a tremendously talented roster from his predecessor. But the loss of his most dangerous offensive weapon in Conner has left the Panthers' offense struggling. Iowa's defense on the other hand has been masterful in limiting opponents' time of possession and total offensive production. Even without Daniels in the backfield, the Hawkeye offense won't miss a beat as Canzeri once again carries the load. Watch for Iowa to build on both its offensive and defensive efforts from the second half of the Iowa State game and overpower Pitt as the Hawkeyes avoid the need to pull off their third consecutive come-from-behind victory over the Panthers.

 

Prediction: Iowa 28, Pitt 10

 

— Written by Robert A. Boleyn, a member of the Athlon Contributor Network and a native Iowan currently based in Southern California. A University of Iowa graduate, Boleyn is a former contributing writer for The Daily Iowan and a die-hard Hawkeye. Follow him on Twitter @BoleynRobert.

Teaser:
Pittsburgh Panthers vs. Iowa Hawkeyes Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 18, 2015 - 11:40
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/fordham-unveils-extremely-patriotic-uniforms-saturdays-game-against-columbia
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Fordham is going with a full patriotic look for Saturday’s matchup against Columbia. The Rams unveiled a red, white and blue helmet that resembles the American flag, while the helmets feature the stars and stripes on the shoulder pads and on the pants.

 

Additionally, the back of the uniforms feature NYPD, FDNY, EMS or the Port Authority instead of the usual player names.

 

Needless to say, these are awesome and have our full approval.

 

Check out the full gallery here, with a couple of quick views of the Fordham uniform for Saturday below:

 

 

Teaser:
Fordham Unveils Extremely Patriotic Uniforms for Saturday's Game Against Columbia
Post date: Friday, September 18, 2015 - 11:31
Path: /college-football/colorado-buffaloes-vs-colorado-state-rams-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

The Rocky Mountain Showdown dates back to 1893, though the Colorado-Colorado State series' future is only guaranteed to 2020.

 

That's when the rivalry's contract expires, leaving precious few opportunities for either the Buffaloes or Rams to garner in-state bragging rights each year.

 

Letting this 122-year-old rivalry end would be a real shame. Not many football games feature a pair of live, horned and hoofed animals on the sideline: Colorado State's Cam the Ram and Colorado's Buffalo, Ralphie.

 

More importantly, of course, is what the rivalry means to the state.

 

“It's great you've got an in-state rivalry. I'd like to continue playing them,” first-year Colorado State head coach Mike Bobo said. “I know everywhere I go, everybody wants to ask about that game. That's the No. 1 sign it's a rival game.”

 

As offensive coordinator at Georgia, Bobo was part of a rivalry that, like the Rocky Mountain Showdown, is played at a neutral field. Jacksonville, Florida, is home to the annual Georgia-Florida matchup, while Colorado and Colorado State meet in Denver.

 

The neutral field typically makes for a unique atmosphere with a 50-50 split of Ram fans and Buff fans.

 

Colorado State vs. Colorado (in Denver)

 

Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV: CBS Sports Network
Spread: Colorado -3

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Two of College Football's Best Wide Receivers

The Rocky Mountain Showdown features two of the nation's premier wide receivers.

 

Colorado State's Rashard Higgins led the nation in receiving yards and touchdowns in 2014. He missed the Rams' Week 2 overtime loss to a rugged Minnesota team. His presence almost certainly would have made a difference. Bobo is hopeful Higgins will be in the lineup Saturday, per Coloradoan's Kelly Lyell.

 

On the opposite side, the Buffs have Nelson Spruce. Spruce went off for seven receptions, 104 yards and two touchdowns in last year's matchup with the Rams.

 

“I think Rashard Higgins is an excellent player,” Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre said. “He has speed, athleticism, height, catches all the balls. He's an excellent, excellent player and deserves all the accolades he's getting.

 

“And Nelson Spruce is an excellent player who deserves all the accolades he's being getting,” he added. “It'll be fun to watch both of them.”

 

2. Run Ralphie Run

Colorado's passing attack behind third-year quarterback Sefo Liufau powered the Buff offense throughout MacIntyre's tenure. However, in a much-needed bounce-back win over Massachusetts last week, it was all about the run game.

 

Colorado rushed for a remarkable 390 yards, with Michael Adkins and Christian Powell both eclipsing the century mark, and four Buffs total rushing for touchdowns.

 

“People are going to try to pile up against and when they do that, I think we can throw the football well, too,” MacIntyre said.

 

3. Turnover Battle

MacIntyre said Colorado's win last week was only the 17th game in Buff history without a turnover or sack allowed. Colorado's ball control against UMass was in stark contrast to the 28-20 loss Week 1 at Hawaii. 

 

“Every time we got momentum going offensively, we shot ourselves in the foot,” MacIntyre said. “We just were able to keep our rhythm going. And when we do that, we're bigger, we're stronger, our backs are more powerful, we stay on blocks longer.”

 

Colorado State's been on the opposite end of that equation. The Rams' nine turnovers through two games are the most in college football. The question Saturday is can Colorado take advantage?

 

The Buffs have three interceptions on the season, which matches their total for the entire 2014 campaign.

 

Final Analysis

 

More than bragging rights are on the line for Colorado. After suffering a Week 1 defeat at Hawaii, the Buffs need to win out in the remaining non-conference slate to go into Pac-12 play with a shot at a bowl game. 

 

Even at 3-1, winning four in the stacked Pac-12 South could prove challenging. Every opportunity is important, and Colorado will have one in which it's favored.

 

The Buffs seemingly turned a corner in Week 2, while the Rams come in physically banged up from a down-and-dirty contest with Minnesota.

 

This 87th installment of the Rocky Mountain Showdown should be a classic, however. Look for a Colorado squad that suffered repeated, single-digit heartbreaks in 2014 to finally come out on the right side of one of those close calls.

 

Prediction: Colorado 31, Colorado State 28

 

— Written by Kyle Kensing, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a sportswriter in Southern California. Kensing is publisher of CFBHuddle.com. Follow him on Twitter @kensing45.

Teaser:
Colorado Buffaloes vs. Colorado State Rams Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 18, 2015 - 11:30
Path: /college-football/5-players-watch-saturday-florida-gators-vs-kentucky-wildcats-game
Body:

Last week, the Florida Gators escaped The Swamp with a 31-24 win over the East Carolina Pirates. This week, the Gators will begin conference play against SEC Eastern Division foe the Kentucky Wildcats.

 

Florida currently has a 28-game winning streak over Kentucky, which is the longest active streak in FBS against a single opponent. The Wildcats will field their most talented team in years at Commonwealth Stadium.

 

Related: Florida Gators vs. Kentucky Wildcats Preview and Prediction

 

Here are some of the players to watch for in Saturday’s contest between Florida and Kentucky.

 

1. Patrick Towles, QB, Kentucky

Last year against Florida, Towles threw three of his nine interceptions in the close loss to the Gators. The junior also has been prone to turnovers in his first two games this season against Louisiana-Lafayette and South Carolina.

 

While Towles has thrown for 449 yards and three touchdowns, he has also thrown two interceptions. Throughout his career, Towles has always been inconsistent. He will need a clean game against the Gators from start to finish if Kentucky is going to win in Lexington on Saturday. 

 

2. Will Grier, QB, Florida

Grier made the first start of his college career against East Carolina. After an excellent performance in relief against New Mexico State, Grier struggled against the Pirates.

 

The redshirt freshman completed 10-of-17 passes for 151 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Florida will want to run the ball effectively with its stable of running back, but Grier will have to make plays in his first road game under center.

 

Commonwealth Stadium isn’t one of the most intimating venues in the SEC, but 61,000 people is still a big crowd for a freshman in his first road start.

 

Related: 10 College Football QBs Looking to Make a Statement in Week 3

 

3. Keanu Neal, S, Florida

The Florida secondary struggled last weekend against East Carolina, giving up 346 passing yards to the Pirates. The Gators were without two key players in their secondary, but the team will get one of those players back against the Wildcats.

 

Head coach Jim McElwain pronounced Neal as “ready to roll” after missing the team’s first two game of the season due to a hamstring injury he suffered during fall camp.

 

In 10 games last season for the Gators, Neal recorded 45 tackles and was second on the team in interceptions with three (two of them against Kentucky). With cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III questionable for Saturday’s game, the Gators have to be delighted to get one of the integral players of their secondary back.

 

4. Chris Westry, CB, Kentucky

In his first conference game on the road, the freshman Westry received a big honor. The cornerback was named SEC Freshman of the Week for his outstanding performance against the South Carolina Gamecocks last week. Westry recorded two tackles, a sack, a pass breakup and the game-winning interception. He will likely be lined up against Florida’s best receiver, Demarcus Robinson, most of Saturday night.

 

Last season, Robinson burned the Kentucky defense as he recorded 15 catches for 216 yards and two touchdowns. Westry will have his hands full covering one of the best receivers in the SEC.

 

5. Kelvin Taylor, RB, Florida

Taylor was in the news this week, but for the wrong reasons. Taylor’s throat-slashing penalty, after the Gators scored a touchdown to give them a 14-point lead with 6:57 left in the game, set up a East Carolina touchdown to cut the advantage to just seven.  McElwain made sure Taylor knew how he felt about the bad decision in a display that received plenty of attention of its own after the fact.

 

The junior did lead the Gators in rushing with 55 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. With so many questions about which player gives Florida the best chance to win, Taylor may be needed to help lead the Gators to victory.

 

— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, Pro Player Insiders and is a reporter for Sports Talk Florida. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.

Teaser:
5 Players to Watch in Saturday's Florida Gators vs. Kentucky Wildcats Game
Post date: Friday, September 18, 2015 - 11:20
Path: /college-football/florida-gators-vs-kentucky-wildcats-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

Here are some things that were happening in America the last time Kentucky beat Florida: Gas was around 89 cents a gallon. The best thing on TV was "The Cosby Show." The biggest film of the year was "Top Gun." Ronald Reagan was president. And these people were born: Megan Fox, Shia LaBeouf, Lady Gaga and Lindsay Lohan.

 

So, it's been awhile. 

 

The Gators have won 28 straight in the series, but there are at least a handful of people who think this is the year it comes to an end. Kentucky is coming off an emotional road win at South Carolina, 26-22, and also beat a pretty solid Louisiana-Lafayette team in Week 1. The Wildcats running game is clicking early and quarterback Patrick Towles hasn't looked bad either. 

 

Florida is 2-0, but we still don't know much about them. They were tested at home by an average-looking East Carolina team, so there is some concern. Yet, the Gators scoring attack looks phenomenal in comparison to last year's "offense." While splitting duty, Treon Harris and Will Grier have each completed over 70 percent of their passes. 

 

Saturday marks the 66th meeting between Kentucky and Florida. The Gators not only have won 28 straight, but they have dominated the series overall, 48-17. But the big question here is how will new head coach Jim McElwain's team look on the road against a rising division opponent?

 

College Football Podcast: Week 3 Preview with Dari Nowkhah



Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher

 

Florida at Kentucky

 

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: SEC Network

Spread: Florida -3.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Can Florida establish the run?

The Gators passing attack is clearly improved, but they haven't been able to get much going in the running game, at least against a decent opponent. East Carolina held the Gators to just 168 yards rushing last week, which could be a telling sign that the Gators will struggle in that department against the SEC. The worst part is that Florida did everything it could last week to run the ball, rushing 38 times, only to net 4.4 yards per carry. The good news for Florida is that Kentucky's front seven has been gashed more than once this season. 

 

2. Florida's revamped passing attack vs. Kentucky's lacking secondary

Treon Harris and Will Grier look like a couple guys who don't want to give up playing time. Neither has emerged as the front-runner for the quarterback job, but so far, a two-quarterback system is working pretty well. Harris and Grier appear to be making each other better through competition. Florida has a weapon on the outside who has proven to be electrifying at times, especially against Kentucky. In last year's triple overtime win, Gators wide receiver Demarcus Robinson caught 15 passes for 216 yards and two touchdowns. Not bad. 

 

3. Stanley "Boom" Williams

Kentucky's defense doesn't have much to brag about at this point, but offensively, the 'Cats are clicking in the running game. Jojo Kemp has rushed for 112 yards behind a big offensive line, known for its prowess in run blocking. But the real story is Williams, who is clearly Kentucky's biggest playmaker. On the season, Williams has already accumulated 242 yards on the ground. He is also pretty effective in catching passes out of the backfield and his speed is elite. Florida is stout up front, but Kentucky may have an advantage when it comes to the running back position. 

 

Final Analysis

 

It's difficult to imagine the despair Kentucky fans have had to endure over the past 28 years of playing the Gators. Regardless of the team's involved, for any program to completely dominate another for nearly three decades is impressive. Kentucky has some offensive playmakers, sure, but we've heard this story before. Their defense is not equipped to slow down Florida's offense. McElwain was a significant upgrade on that side of the ball and it will show this week. The 'Cats will score, but Florida also has an advantage on the defensive side. Basically, Kentucky's roster just isn't there yet. They'll give Florida a fight, but the Gators come out of it 3-0.

 

Prediction: Florida 38, Kentucky 33

 

— Written by Cody McClure, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a radio host and lead SEC Writer for Three Point Stance Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @CodyMcClureCFB.

Teaser:
Florida Gators vs. Kentucky Wildcats Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 18, 2015 - 11:15
Path: /college-football/troy-trojans-vs-wisconsin-badgers-preview-prediction-2015
Body:

The nice thing about being a perennial Big Ten powerhouse program is that your early season schedule is normally filled with essential cupcakes in order to prep your team for the daunting in-conference schedule that lies head. 

 

After a 58-0 home drubbing of Miami (Ohio), Wisconsin hosts Troy on Saturday in hopes of continuing its dominance before heading into Big Ten play for what's expected to be another exciting season, as the Badgers look to return to the conference championship game. 

 

The Badgers should use this game wisely to fine tune specific areas of their game, specifically ensuring the health of running back Corey Clement. The junior who entered the season a Heisman Trophy contender has gotten off to a slow start because of a nagging groin injury, but he appears to be getting closer to returning to 100 percent. The offensive line also has much room for improvement after totaling just 45 yards on the ground in the season-opening loss to Alabama.

 

Troy Trojans at Wisconsin Badgers

 

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: Big Ten Network (Saturday) 

Spread: Wisconsin -35.5

 

Three Things to Watch For

 

1. Tanner McEvoy

The former Badgers quarterback has become a two-way star under new head coach Paul Chryst, who this week announced Tanner as "two-way Tanner" after the former quarterback-turned-wide receiver totaled 29 yards receiving and nearly took an interception to the house against Miami (Ohio). McEvoy is an extremely athletic player with a high football IQ, both attributes are exactly what the Badgers are looking for on both sides of the ball. 

 

2. Badgers' offensive line

If Wisconsin has any dreams of finding themselves back in the Big Ten Championship Game, they're going to need to find chemistry along their offensive line. A valid rushing attack wins games in the Big Ten, especially late in the year, and without a healthy Corey Clement and a shoddy offensive line, Wisconsin could be in for a long year. 

 

3. Joel Stave

Stave has overperformed early this season after much criticism during spring camp. Stave has been both accurate and poised this season, even without much of a rushing attack to supplement his workload in the passing game. Look for Stave to get plenty of time in the pocket against Troy, and look for him to work on his intermediate passing game early. 

 

Final Analysis

 

This game isn't going to be close. Not in the beginning, not ever. Wisconsin is far and away the better team, and this one should be over before the first quarter is finished. 

 

Prediction: Wisconsin 70, Troy 7

 

— Written by Chris Dougherty, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Dougherty also serves as a National Recruiting Analyst for 247Sports.com and has written for other sites, including FanSided.com and Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @warontheweekend.

Teaser:
Troy Trojans vs. Wisconsin Badgers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 18, 2015 - 11:10
Path: /college-football/nc-state-wolfpack-vs-old-dominion-monarchs-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

Both the NC State Wolfpack and the Old Dominion Monarchs will enter their game on Saturday with a 2-0 record. NC State defeated Troy and Eastern Kentucky in its first two games of the season while Old Dominion has victories over Eastern Michigan and Norfolk State.

 

Many have called this game the biggest in Old Dominion football history, as the school just started the program in 2009. Considering NC State is the first Power 5 school to visit Foreman Field, that isn’t exactly an exaggeration.

 

NC State at Old Dominion

 

Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: N/A

Spread: NC State -15

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Shadrach Thornton’s return

After being suspended for the first two games of the 2015 season, running back Shadrach Thornton will play on Saturday against Old Dominion. The senior has led the Wolfpack in rushing each of the last three seasons.

 

Last season, Thornton rushed for 907 yards and recorded 10 total touchdowns. His suspension was for a violating a university policy. Head coach Dave Doeren hasn’t given exact details about the suspension, but he has said the related incident happened six months ago.

 

In his absence, NC State averaged 225 rushing yards per game and 4.25 yards per carry against Eastern Kentucky and Troy. The Wolfpack have run the football fine without Thornton, but it will be good for the team to get its starting running back on the field.

 

2. Ray Lawry

While NC State has an excellent rushing game, Old Dominion has a pretty productive ground game of its own. The Monarchs have the nation’s leading rusher and his name is Ray Lawry.

 

In the team’s first two games, Lawry has rushed for over 200 yards in each contest. So far in 2015, the sophomore has 438 yards and six rushing touchdowns.

 

If Old Dominion has any chance of defeating NC State on Saturday night, Lawry will have to play a major role in the team’s offense. The Wolfpack on average has allowed 78 rushing yards per game in their first two games, but Lawry will be the best running back the team has faced this season.

 

3. Can Old Dominion slow down Jacoby Brissett?

The single player that might determine the winner on Saturday might be quarterback Jacoby Brissett. The senior has been one of the most efficient quarterbacks in college football through his first two games, as he is completing 84 percent of his passes. Brissett has also thrown for 412 yards, three touchdowns and has a quarterback rating of 183.4.

 

In Old Dominion’s first two games against Eastern Michigan and Norfolk State, the Monarchs gave up an average of 175 yards passing per contest. It isn't likely Old Dominion can hold Brissett to 175 yards passing, but this unit will have to limit his big plays in order for the defense to be successful.

 

Final Analysis

 

Considering both NC State and Old Dominion have played easy opponents prior to their matchup on Saturday, both teams should get tested.

 

Old Dominion will have to open up the passing game up a bit as the Monarchs have been mostly a running team during their first two games. Freshman quarterback Shuler Bentley has thrown for 306 yards and one touchdown in two starts.

 

While there should be a lot of points scored, Brissett and the NC State offense will be too much for Old Dominion and that’s why the Wolfpack will win a high-scoring affair.

 

Prediction: NC State 48, Old Dominion 28

 

— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, Pro Player Insiders and is a reporter for Sports Talk Florida. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley. 

Teaser:
NC State Wolfpack vs. Old Dominion Monarchs Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 18, 2015 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/south-carolina-gamecocks-vs-georgia-bulldogs-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

The South Carolina Gamecocks will visit the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday in what has been a back-and-forth affair since Steve Spurrier arrived in Columbia. Spurrier is 5-5 against the Bulldogs as the head ball coach for the Gamecocks and for the second straight year, his team will be coming off a bad loss before playing Georgia. But don’t let the Gamecocks' past woes mislead you; this is always a heated and hard-fought matchup.

 

The Bulldogs are 2-0 and would love to put this game away quickly, as Alabama and Tennessee loom big in a couple of weeks. South Carolina is 1-1 after a devastating loss to Kentucky last week. The Bulldogs will have revenge on their mind as the Gamecocks upset Georgia last year 38-35 after South Carolina was blown out by Texas A&M in its 2014 season opener.

 

We’ve seen it all when it comes to this rivalry. We’ve seen defensive games, blowouts, high-scoring affairs and outcomes that effect SEC East standings. Since 2005, an unranked team has won this contest only once (South Carolina, 2007).

 

South Carolina at Georgia

 

Kickoff: 6 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: Georgia -15.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Can Greyson Lambert help Georgia Win?

I know Lambert hasn’t been in this system long but it still remains to be seen if he can help this team win a game. Lambert was benched after going 0-for-7 to start last week's game against Vanderbilt and Brice Ramsey came in to give some relief. We all know the game plan by Georgia: run the ball and let the defense do the rest. At some point this recipe is going to spell disaster if Lambert or Ramsey can’t make throws and open up the run game for Nick Chubb and company. The Bulldogs have a real shot at making the College Football Playoff, like a lot of teams, if they can just get some results out of their quarterback.

 

Related: It's Now or Never For Georgia Quarterback Greyson Lambert

 

2. Expect the Ol’ Ball Coach to Throw the Kitchen Sink at Georgia

If there is one thing everyone knows for sure, it’s that Steve Spurrier really dislikes Georgia and losing to them. I fully believe if Spurrier knew he had a shot at beating Georgia every year, he would coach until he died. Just so he could ruin the Bulldogs' season. That’s what’s so great about college football. I expect Pharoh Cooper to throw, run and catch any and everything he can, at least one special teams fake play, be it a punt or field goal. I also expect multiple-quarterback sets with a double-reverse pass thrown in because why not. Spurrier just wants to beat Georgia and he will do everything he can to accomplish that feat.

 

3. Can Georgia’s Defense Continue to Get Better?

Jeremy Pruitt’s defense is good but struggled against Vanderbilt late because the Bulldogs’ offense couldn’t stay on the field. Remember, before the Dominick Sanders interception return for a touchdown to put the game away for the Bulldogs, this was a 10-point contest and could have been closer if not for a missed Vanderbilt field goal earlier in the fourth quarter. Perry Orth will get his first start after he nearly led the Gamecocks to a comeback victory last week against Kentucky in Lexington. Orth will be playing a much better defense, but the Bulldogs can’t let South Carolina hang around like they did Vanderbilt. This defense has potential to be great but will it crack against a team that has nothing to lose?

 

Final Analysis

 

The Bulldogs are a heavy favorite at home against South Carolina. It’s a trap! Don’t fall for this I beg of you: only twice since 2005 has either team won by a margin of greater than two touchdowns. Spurrier will keep this thing close but I fully expect a heavy dose of Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and Keith Marshall. The Bulldogs don’t want to start another big year with an early loss to South Carolina and last year’s game still hangs in the minds of a lot of these Georgia players. I like Georgia to win but don’t expect them to cover.

 

Prediction: Georgia 27, South Carolina 17

 

— Written by Justin Nails, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @justinnails.

Teaser:
South Carolina Gamecocks vs. Georgia Bulldogs Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 18, 2015 - 10:50
Path: /college-football/rutgers-scarlet-knights-vs-penn-state-nittany-lions-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

Rutgers gave Penn State all it could handle in the first Big Ten game played in Rutgers program history last season. Plenty has changed since Penn State visited and left New Jersey with a nailbiter of a win last September. This year Penn State plays host to the Scarlet Knights, but Rutgers will be without head coach Kyle Flood and top wide receiver Leonte Carroo and is coming off a home loss to Washington State. Can Penn State send their new division and regional rivals home with another reason to be feeling down?

 

Rutgers at Penn State

 

Kickoff: 8:00 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: Big Ten Network

Spread: Penn State -9

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. What is the mindset of Rutgers?

This week Rutgers will be entering rare territory with the head coach not calling the shots. Kyle Flood will serve the first game of his three-game suspension this weekend, which may lead you to wonder just how Rutgers moves forward. Flood was still able to help prepare the team for the game, but it will be assistant head coach and running backs coach Norries Wilson serving as the interim head coach Saturday night. The former head coach of Columbia is the only coach on the staff with previous head coaching experience. No matter the coach, Rutgers wants to beat Penn State at any cost. The question is how much do the off-field distractions begin to impact Rutgers in the primetime atmosphere of Beaver Stadium?

 

Related: Big Ten Week 3 Predictions

 

2. Janarion Grant takes on increased role at receiver for Rutgers

Flood is not the only Scarlet Knight missing the game due to a suspension. Earlier in the week Rutgers announced the suspension of wide receiver Leonte Carroo, one of the bets receivers in the Big Ten. With Carroo out of the mix, that puts a bit more on the shoulders of junior receiver Janarion Grant, who has also been excellent on special teams so far. Grant is the second-leading receiver for Rutgers this season, with 71 receptions on six catches. Matt Flanagan, a sophomore, has a pair of touchdowns and could see more passes thrown his way as well.

 

3. Penn State still has some offensive concerns to play through

Another week, another week of hope the offensive line is coming together. After yielding 10 sacks against Temple in the season opener, Penn State's offensive line did not give up a sack against a far less intimidating and physical Buffalo defense. But there is still room to improve on the line for the Nittany Lions. Christian Hackenberg continues to feel pressure a tad too often for comfort if you are a Penn State fan. considering the shallow depth in the secondary for Rutgers, this could be a good opportunity to let Penn State's receivers make some plays.

 

Final Analysis

 

With Rutgers shuffling into Beaver Stadium without a head coach, its top wide receiver and already having dismissed a handful of players from the team, Rutgers looks prime for a beatdown if Penn State can show any consistency on offense. Getting off to a fast start should be key for Penn State, just as they did against Temple in Week 1. This game could be an ugly one, just as it was last season, but if Penn State can make some plays in the first half it may be able to break the will of this Rutgers team in the Big Ten opener.

 

Prediction: Penn State 23, Rutgers 13

 

— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. McGuire also writes for CollegeFootballTalk.com and hosts the No 2-Minute Warning Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @KevinOnCFB.

Teaser:
Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs. Penn State Nittany Lions Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 18, 2015 - 10:45
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/byu-dreamin-music-video-ucla-miracle-pretty-awesome
Body:

BYU season has been nothing short of a dream, and they've only played two games.

 

If things keep going this way for the Cougars then there's literally no limit when it comes to what they can achieve. To commemorate their season so far, BYU posted a "Dreamin" music video to its YouTube account. Honestly, I was expecting it to be kind of bad but was pleasantly surprised. Everything from the rhyme to the video was top notch.

BYU will look for a little luck to go along with their talent against UCLA on Saturday.

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, September 18, 2015 - 10:37
Path: /college-football/georgia-tech-yellow-jackets-vs-notre-dame-fighting-irish-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

In one of this weekend’s top contests, Georgia Tech takes its first road trip of the year to play at Notre Dame. Both teams are 2-0 but they certainly got there in different ways.

 

The Yellow Jackets overwhelmed Alcorn State and Tulane, putting each game away before halftime. Meanwhile, Notre Dame played two Power 5 programs and needed a late score to survive Virginia.

 

Georgia Tech and Notre Dame both have a rich history and have squared off 34 times since 1922. The Irish hold a 27-6-1 advantage, though the Yellow Jackets' last trip to South Bend was a success, winning 33-3 in the 2007 season opener.

 

Georgia Tech at Notre Dame

 

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: NBC

Spread: Notre Dame -2.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Defending Justin Thomas

The Georgia Tech quarterback is difficult to stop because he does so many things well. As the trigger man in the Paul Johnson offense, first and foremost he has to make proper decisions. The junior from Prattville, Ala., ran for over 1,000 yards last fall, which is not surprising out of the triple option system. What is a surprise is that he threw for over 1,700 yards with an 18-to-6 touchdown to interception ratio. 

 

Virginia did not have much success with traditional running plays against Notre Dame but they did burn the Irish on the outside with the jet sweep. Thomas and his backs will threaten the edge and the Irish must find a way to contain the outside run while not forgetting about fullback Patrick Skov inside and Thomas throwing the ball. Brian Van Gorder’s defense was hardly spectacular against the Cavaliers and will face a significant challenge from the Yellow Jackets' signal-caller.

 

College Football Podcast: Week 3 Preview with Dari Nowkhah



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2. DeShone Kizer’s first start

It was a storybook ending for the sophomore from Toledo. This week, Kizer has to assume the role of starter and realize that the Georgia Tech defense is preparing specifically for him. Kizer has a live arm and certainly showed some accuracy on the game-winning touchdown pass. It did appear that his first look was usually to wide receiver Will Fuller, which isn’t a bad thought. But the ND coaches undoubtedly would like to see Kizer spread it around to others a little more. As a relative unknown, Kizer is a wild card factor in this game.

 

3. Down and distance

One of the great things about the Georgia Tech offense is that they always feel they can pick up positive yardage. The Yellow Jackets can become maddening for opponents because they consistently put themselves in third and short yardage situations. They are also very good in those spots, ranking No. 1 in third down conversions in 2014. Also, because of their success at getting yards when they need to, you can never assume that Georgia Tech will punt even if you stop them on third down. 

 

What Notre Dame must do is create some negative plays that would take the Jackets out of their comfort zone. When Notre Dame has the ball, Georgia Tech would love to force Kizer into obvious passing situations. Stopping C.J. Prosise will be a top priority for Georgia Tech defensive coordinator Ted Roof.

 

Final Analysis

 

Notre Dame has been bludgeoned by injuries but no one will care once the ball is kicked off on Saturday. Quarterback DeShone Kizer has to make plays and with tight end Durham Smythe now lost for the season with a knee injury, Tyler Luatua and freshman Alize Jones will have to do their part.

 

For Georgia Tech, they are in a hostile environment for the first time this year and will be facing their first real opponent. Notre Dame sees the option every year when they play Navy and faced Paul Johnson when he was the coach at Annapolis. The results have been mixed. The Irish are the bigger team but their defenders must be able to fight off the cut blocks. The Irish will struggle to contain Thomas and the Tech offense. But the Georgia Tech defense will also have a hard time with Fuller, Prosise, and Notre Dame’s big offensive line. The Irish survive another close one.

 

Prediction: Notre Dame 31, Georgia Tech 28

 

— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.

Teaser:
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 18, 2015 - 10:35
Path: /college-football/utsa-roadrunners-vs-oklahoma-state-cowboys-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

Oklahoma State has not exactly impressed in its first two games of the season. An 11-point victory over Central Michigan and 24-point victory over Central Arkansas has some wondering where the Cowboys' high-powered offense has gone.

 

UTSA looked impressive in its opener against Arizona but took a step back last week against Kansas State. Make no mistake though, UTSA has not backed down in either game this season and has arguably played stiffer competition to this point than the Cowboys.

 

UTSA at Oklahoma State

 

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: Fox Sports 1
Spread: Oklahoma State -23.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. UTSA QB Blake Bogenschutz

The Roadrunners' redshirt freshman quarterback looked great against Arizona in the opener. Although his completion percentage was under 60, he ended the day with 332 passing yards and two touchdowns. His performance last week against Kansas State. was not as good although he did not commit any turnovers. Blake has the ability to spread the ball. Oklahoma State allowed five plays over 20 yards against Central Michigan. UTSA may be able to effectively move the ball downfield against a Cowboys secondary that hasn’t truly been tested yet.

 

2. Oklahoma State rushing attack
The Cowboys have only averaged 158.5 rushing yards per game to this point in the season. With the Big 12 slate only a week away Oklahoma State will need to get that part of the offense on track. With only three rushing touchdowns, two of which came from quarterbacks, the Cowboys aren’t scaring anyone in the running game. Starting back Chris Carson is only averaging 3.6 yards per carry against defenses the Cowboys' line should have been able to dominate.

 

3. Oklahoma State defense

The Cowboys' defense has only allowed a total of 15 points this season. The unit also has been able to shut down rushing attacks, allowing only 85 total yards on the ground. Where the Oklahoma State defense will be tested against the Roadrunners is in the air. The Cowboys have not allowed either opponent to establish a run game this season. Don’t expect the Roadrunners to establish one this weekend either. However, UTSA has found success through the air. If that passing attack it had against Arizona shows up, Oklahoma State will need to be ready to defend over the top.
 

Final Analysis

 

This will be the third straight year these two have met with the Cowboys winning both prior games. UTSA has the ability to move the ball through the air, but just like the Cowboys have not been able to find a running game.

 

Do not expect this to be a high-scoring game from either side. If the same UTSA team shows up this weekend that went into Manhattan last week you can expect the Cowboys to shut them down offensively. 

 

Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph is starting to find his groove in the pocket and will be able to eventually wear down the UTSA defense. Regardless, I would not expect the Cowboys to be able to cover the spread.

 

Prediction: Oklahoma State 31, UTSA 10

 

— Written by Jeremy Simon, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and editor-in-chief of BlueGoldSports.com, a must visit for any and all West Virginia Mountaineer fans. Follow BlueGoldSports.com on Twitter @Blue_GoldSports.

Teaser:
UTSA Roadrunners vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 18, 2015 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/northern-illinois-huskies-vs-ohio-state-buckeyes-preview-and-prediction
Body:

Listless. Lackluster. Sluggish. These are some of the terms and phrases used to describe Ohio State's 38-0 victory over Hawaii. Considering Ohio State was inconsistent offensively against Hawaii, and relied upon its defense and special teams coverage to spark the team to victory, dare I use another term to describe the victory - Tresselball. For those who are curious, former Buckeyes head coach Jim Tressel will be in attendance in Ohio Stadium on Saturday when Ohio State takes on Northern Illinois, as Tressel will be honored for induction into both the Ohio State Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame.

 

College Football Podcast: Week 3 Preview with Dari Nowkhah



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Like Ohio State, Northern Illinois comes into this contest with a 2-0 record, with victories over UNLV (38-30) and Murray State (57-26). This game will mark the second time the Buckeyes and Huskies have played, with the previous game taking place in 2006. Ohio State defeated Northern Illinois 35-12 in the 2006 season opener.

 

Northern Illinois has a well-deserved reputation for being a giant killer, as the Huskies have defeated several Big Ten teams in their own building. In 2013, Northern Illinois defeated both Iowa (30-27) and Purdue (55-24), on the road and last season did the same to Northwestern (23-15). Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer is well aware of Northern Illinois' reputation, as Meyer formerly faced the Huskies when Meyer was the head coach at Bowling Green.

 

“When you have a team that’s really good on video, it’s all about preparation,” said Meyer on Monday at his weekly press conference at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. “Our players will respect them. I don’t anticipate a problem with that. Because they’re good. They’ve beaten Northwestern, Purdue, Iowa, and Minnesota, and they beat — I wouldn’t call those upsets. I think these guys are very good.”

 

Northern Illinois at Ohio State

 

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ABC/ESPN mirror

Spread: Ohio State -34

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Ohio State's Emphasis on he Running Game

While Ezekiel Elliott has surpassed 100 yards in both games, the offensive line has struggled in its efforts to establish the dominant performance that was displayed last season during the national championship run. Look for Elliott to be the focus of the Ohio State offensive attack, as Meyer stated that, “The biggest concern is the offensive line gets a lot of credit around here. We are an offensive line-driven, absolutely an offensive line-driven program. Our success over the last three years and two games is because of our offensive line, and with that comes a lot of responsibility. We expect them to play much better.”

 

2. Better Quarterback Play

Anyone believing a quarterback controversy is brewing at Ohio State may need to place those ideas on the backburner. In his weekly press conference, Meyer stated, "Cardale (Jones) is the starting quarterback," Meyer said. "I met with him yesterday. J.T. (Barrett) has not beaten him out yet. He's going to continue to have opportunities to do that because J.T. is a very good player, and Cardale has got to perform. Neither played that well Saturday, but a lot of it was due to extenuating circumstances about protection. We just didn't play very well."

 

3. Northern Illinois' Defensive Strategy

Hawaii followed a blueprint of disrupting Ohio State's interior offensive line, with a 3-4 defensive front that the Buckeyes do not routinely face. Anything that works for one program is usually copied or duplicated by another. With a strong defensive line, look for the Huskies to plug the interior lines in an effort to stymie the running game, as the Rainbow Warriors did last Saturday.

 

Final Analysis

 

Unlike last week, Ohio State has a full week of preparation that can be devoted to Northern Illinois. Given the Huskies' history of defeating Power 5 programs on the road, Meyer should have little difficulty in getting the attention of his squad this week. Northern Illinois is a talented team, but may not have enough offensive firepower to keep pace with the Buckeyes after the first half.

 

Prediction: Ohio State 42, Northern Illinois 17

 

— Written by Chip Minnich, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a diehard Ohio State fan. Minnich also writes and podcasts for menofthescarletandgray.com, a site dedicated to Ohio sports with a special emphasis on the Buckeyes. Follow him on Twitter @ChipMinnich.

Teaser:
Northern Illinois Huskies vs. Ohio State Buckeyes Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 18, 2015 - 10:25
Path: /college-football/5-most-important-games-miami-vs-nebraska-rivalry
Body:

If not for a successful Hail Mary by BYU, this week’s Nebraska/Miami matchup would garner more enthusiasm. Nevertheless, both programs still have a great deal to prove in this third week of the season and what better time do so than in one of the most pivotal rivalries in college football.

 

Nebraska and Miami have faced off 11 times over the years, with each program having exorcised its demons against the other. Oh, and they have also played some good games in between. Here are the top five.

 

Related: Predictions for Every Week 3 College Football Game

 

Nebraska 17, Miami 9 – Lincoln, Neb., October 2, 1976

The fifth-ranked and unbeaten Cornhuskers gained 471 yards to Miami’s 168, but still found itself down 9-7 in the fourth quarter. A roughing the punter penalty against the Hurricanes kept a Nebraska drive going that ended with a 32-yard field goal that put the Cornhuskers ahead 10-9 with 6:30 to go. Nebraska quarterback Vince Ferragamo secured the win with a 23-yard touchdown pass to Dave Shamblin.  

 

Nebraska 20, Miami 16 – Lincoln, Neb., October 17, 1953

Nebraska halfback Bob Smith kicked off the festivities with an 80-yard run in the first quarter. Then Miami battled back with a field goal and a touchdown that put the ‘Canes up 10-7 halftime. The ‘Huskers took control in the third and extended their lead to 20-10 in the fourth with a touchdown run by halfback Rex Fischer. Later in the fourth, Miami recovered a fumble on Nebraska’s 15-yard line and capitalized with a touchdown. However, the Hurricanes were unable to score again, and the Cornhuskers won as both teams continued on with their respective losing seasons.

 

Related: SEC Preview and Predictions for Week 3

 

Nebraska 36, Miami 34 – New York, N.Y., December 15, 1962

The New York sportswriters were on strike so this game did not receive the exposure it deserved. Playing in front of 6,166, both teams matched each other score for score and were tied 20-20 at halftime. In the third quarter, Miami went ahead 27-20 on a three-yard touchdown run by John Bennett and kicked the extra point. Nebraska responded with its own score and then Bob Devaney – in his first year as head coach – opted to go for two. Quarterback Dennis Claridge kept the ball and ran into the end zone to put Nebraska up 28-27 going into the fourth. The Huskers extended their lead with another score and two-point conversion to go ahead 36-27. Miami added a touchdown of its own with 9:29 left in the game to close the gap to 36-34. The Hurricanes’ All-American quarterback George Mira, who threw for 321 yards and two touchdowns, then tried to put together a game-winning drive in the final minutes, but was intercepted by Nebraska’s Bob Brown.

 

Miami 31, Nebraska 30 – Miami, Fla., January 2, 1984

Nebraska was 12-0 behind an offense that sported an average 52 points a game and included running back and Heisman Trophy winner Mike Rozier, guard and Outland and Lombardi Trophy winner Dean Steinkuhler, wingback and the first pick in the 1984 NFL draft Irving Fryar and quarterback Turner Gill. Miami was 10-1 and few college football writers gave them a chance in the 50th Orange Bowl. But that’s why games are actually played. Freshman quarterback Bernie Kosar, who would finish the game with 300 yards passing, overwhelmed Nebraska’s secondary and put the ‘Canes ahead 17-0 in the first quarter. Nebraska battled back, getting on the board with a “Fumblerooski” touchdown run by Steinkuhler and then another run by Gill. The ‘Huskers kicked a field goal in the third to tie the game at 17-17, but Miami responded with touchdown drives of 75 and 73 yards to take a commanding 31-17 lead. Nebraska responded with a 76-yard touchdown drive to make the score 31-24. Miami kicker Jeff Davis then missed a 43-yard field goal that would have secured the win and gave Nebraska the ball back on its 26-yard line with 1:47 left. After moving down the field, Nebraska faced 4th and 8 on Miami’s 24-yard line. Head coach Tom Osborne called an option run and Gill pitched the ball to running back Jeff Smith who sprinted into the end zone. Of course, Osborne chose to go for two in one of the most famous decisions in college football history and Gill’s pass fell incomplete. Miami won its first national title and a new era in college football began.

 

Related: Big Ten Week 3 Preview and Predictions

 

Nebraska 24, Miami 17, Miami, Fla., January 1, 1995

Some would argue this ranking, but the 1995 Orange Bowl bookends the 1984 Orange Bowl and was just as dramatic. After suffering two lopsided Orange Bowl losses to Miami in the past 11 years (part of the reason this list mainly has Nebraska victories), the undefeated Cornhuskers found themselves back in the Orange Bowl facing a 10-1 Miami team. Going into the game, Osborne made a controversial decision to start Tommie Frazier, who had been out since September with blood clots in his leg, over backup quarterback Brook Berringer. Miami kicked a field goal on its first possession to go ahead 3-0. Frazier then threw an interception, which the ‘Canes capitalized on with a 97-yard touchdown drive to extend the lead to 10-0. In the second quarter, Osborne put Berringer in as quarterback and he completed a 19-yard touchdown pass to Mark Gilman. Miami took the opening kickoff in the second half and drove 78-yards for a score that made the game 17-7. Nebraska’s only score in the third quarter came when Dwayne Harris sacked Miami quarterback Frank Costa in the end zone for a safety that made the score 17-9. With Berringer unable to move the ball against Warren Sapp and the rest of Miami’s defense, Osborne put Frazier back in with 12:07 left in the game. The rejuvenated quarterback moved the ball down the field on a drive capped by a 15-yard touchdown run by fullback Cory Schlesinger to make the score 17-15. Frazier then tied it with a pass to Eric Alford to successfully convert the two-point play. Nebraska got the ball back and marched down the field for another score to go ahead 24-17. On Miami’s final drive, Costa was sacked twice and threw an interception to secure Osborne’s first national championship.

 

— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.

Teaser:
The 5 Most Important Games in the Miami vs. Nebraska Rivalry
Post date: Friday, September 18, 2015 - 10:20
Path: /college-football/nebraska-cornhuskers-vs-miami-hurricanes-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

Part two of the fantasy matchup that is Nebraska versus Miami takes place this weekend and it may get interesting from a number of angles. The weather calls for rain (maybe even lightning), most of Nebraska’s wounded returns and Daniel Davie still reeks of burnt toast.

 

The two people pleased about that last nugget would be Miami head coach Al Golden and Hurricane quarterback Brad Kaaya.

 

Last year was a classic brawl in both the figurative and literal sense as the Huskers not only bested the ‘Canes 41-31, but the two teams actually traded blows and Golden’s squad was booed out of the stadium.

 

College Football Podcast: Week 3 Preview with Dari Nowkhah



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Miami lost its heart and soul to the NFL Draft with a litany of picks along with presumed heir to running back Duke Johnson’s throne, Gus Edwards and linebacker Darrion Owens to season-ending injuries.

 

How much red fills Sun Life Stadium will be a fun social experiment, but there’s far more for fans to be intrigued about for this weekend’s contest.

 

Nebraska at Miami

 

Kickoff: 3:30. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: ABC/ESPN2
Spread: Nebraska -3.5

 

Three Things to Watch For

 

1. Three Pairs of Hands

There was a botch versus BYU that could cost the Huskers big time if it happens against the Hurricanes. A poor snap led to a bobbled football by Tommy Armstrong which ended up in the hands of a Cougar.

 

The resulting drive gave BYU three points and may have ultimately cost Nebraska the win. While Miami isn’t the team BYU is, any opponent can take advantage of turnover opportunities (I’m looking at you, Auburn).

 

What makes things worse is the need to watch for precipitation. If Terrell Newby is I-Back No. 1 again, things might get dicey as he’s had issues holding onto the football in the past. It’ll be interesting to see what Nebraska does with a running back rotation (if any).

 

Running backs coach Reggie Davis may have also taught Newby how to hold onto the football differently to make sure it sticks snugly through all kinds of weather (like the fans of Dear ol’ Nebraska U).

 

2. Tommy Armstrong versus Miami’s Defense

Two games in, two fantastic performances by Tommy Arm-So-Strong. Does he have another in him? Considering the precipitation, the Huskers are likely keeping the ball on the ground for most of the day or utilizing a fair number of short throws.

 

Expect his completion percentage to be high as I can see head coach Mike Riley dishing out a number of screens for receivers and running backs. Add in some five to seven-yard passes that give the backs or returning tight end Cethan Carter room for yards after the catch and you’ve got a dangerous offense.

 

The Husker offensive line will need to step up to give Armstrong not only the time he needs to make these throws, but I can see him being given more wiggle room to run. As a result, the hosses up front need to stick to their men like glue or put them on the turf.

 

3. Brad Kaaya versus Daniel Davie

Kaaya isn’t the best quarterback the Huskers will see this year, but if he can pick on Daniel Davie with long fade routes like Taysom Hill, Tanner Mangum and Cody Clements did, the loss of wide receiver Phillip Dorsett to the NFL won’t sting as badly.

 

Big Red secondary coach Brian Stewart feels confident in his work with the right side where Davie resides.

 

"They're going to see if we've got that fixed. We're going to show them we got it fixed,” the Associated Press reported him as saying.

 

Don’t be surprised to see returning Blackshirt Jonathan Rose or Chris Jones take over if Kaaya has early success. He’ll try to. Even fellow Blackshirt Michael-Rose Ivey acknowledged that.

 

 "I'm pretty sure the first play is going to be play-action pass deep shot. They're going to keep testing him. I know Daniel is going to respond well."

 

Final Analysis

 

If Nebraska doesn’t turn the ball over, Miami’s going to have to play flawlessly to have a shot. If fumbles from poor snaps or ball security come into play, the Hurricanes could get revenge for last year’s loss by double-digits.

 

I have to think Miami’s loss of talent to both the NFL and injury plays a huge factor here. If the Huskers keep to the ground and mix up just enough passing to keep the chains moving, they should be safe.

 

Prediction: Nebraska 27, Miami 17

 

— Written by Brandon Cavanaugh, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Be sure to follow Brandon on Twitter @eightlaces and Periscope (eightlaces), and like his Facebook page.

Teaser:
Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Miami Hurricanes Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 18, 2015 - 10:15
Path: /college-football/week-3-college-football-picks-against-spread
Body:

College football goes to another level in Week 3 as conference play begins to open up across the nation. Things start to get real this weekend and I’m going right along with it.

 

There are some “circle the wagons” games this weekend and I tend to like the underdog in those matchups. Otherwise, I’m turning to the favorites in the ACC and the biggest game out West.

 

Last Week: 6-5

Year-to-date: 4-3

 

Georgia Tech (-2) at Notre Dame

The only thing that concerns me here with Tech is that everyone is taking the Jackets to win in South Bend. But the Irish defense has been gashed by the option lately and this might be Paul Johnson’s best offense... ever. With a backup quarterback, the Irish may struggle to keep up. Prediction: Georgia Tech -2

 

College Football Podcast: Week 3 Preview with Dari Nowkhah



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Central Michigan (+7) at Syracuse

Cuse got a nice (and surprisingly easy) win over Wake Forest last weekend. Eric Dungey has stepped into the starting role nicely and Central Michigan isn’t setting the world on fire on offense (5.3 yards per play, 372.5 ypg). Take Cuse to go 3-0 easily. Prediction: Syracuse -7

 

NC State (-18) at Old Dominion

Jacoby Brissett will be able to score in bunches for NC State. He’s completed 84.4 percent of his passes through two games and will put up a big number against Old Dominion. Can the defense slow down the nation’s leading rusher Ray Lawry enough to cover? I say yes. Prediction: NC State -18

 

BYU (+16) at UCLA

The Cougars are riding some serious magic after two wins on Hail Mary’s against Nebraska and Boise State. UCLA is cruising along with an elite offense led by true freshman phenom Josh Rosen. The number is big but there is something Vegas knows here for the Cougars to be this big of an underdog. Prediction: UCLA -16

 

East Carolina (+4) at Navy

If you subscribe to the body blow theory, then playing Navy the week after playing in The Swamp against Florida should be extremely difficult. The Gators softened up the Pirates for a Navy team that is coming off a bye weekend. Prediction: Navy -4

 

"Circle the Wagon" Picks

 

South Carolina (+16.5) at Georgia

This game’s differential has been more than 16 points once in eight years and is consistently in single digits.

 

Cal (-7) at Texas

Cal might still win but Texas has had an emotional week and there is some serious pride on the line.

 

Stanford (+10.5) at USC

Stanford’s defense is really good and Kevin Hogan got on track last weekend. This game is also always close as well.

 

Auburn (+7) at LSU

The Auburn Tigers have been hearing how bad they are all week. Call this one a gut pick.

 

Texas Tech (+11) at Arkansas
The Hogs outgained Toledo by roughly 200 yards last weekend and crushed Tech last fall. Circle the wagons.

Teaser:
Week 3 College Football Picks Against the Spread
Post date: Friday, September 18, 2015 - 10:10
Path: /college-football/western-kentucky-hilltoppers-vs-indiana-hoosiers-preview-prediction-2015
Body:

You’ll have to forgive Western Kentucky and Indiana for feeling a little out of place as they convene Saturday in Bloomington. Both sit at 2-0, the first time the Hilltoppers have reached that point in 10 years. Though the Hoosiers have reached the plateau more recently, it has been five seasons since they made it to 3-0. Both teams have the chance to gather some momentum as they head into next week’s final non-conference meetings.

 

Western Kentucky backed up its season-opening surprise win over Vanderbilt by earning a thrilling 41-38 win over Louisiana Tech that featured an offensive explosion emanating from both sidelines. The Hoosiers have beaten Southern Illinois and FIU, but neither game has been as easy as the opposition’s pedigree might lead one to believe they should have been.

 

Western Kentucky at Indiana

 

Kickoff: 4 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV: ESPNews

Spread: Indiana -2

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Spread ‘Em

Both teams employ spread attacks — with fine results. The Hilltoppers piled up 590 yards against the Bulldogs, while Indiana has averaged 517.0 yards/game in its two wins.

 

"(Western Kentucky) is kind of like us in a lot of ways,” Indiana linebacker Marcus Oliver said. “They play a lot like our offense. It's just exciting to finally be able to go out there and play against a team that's going to spread the ball out and try to run it outside and try to trick you with their eyes — do what we do on offense, basically."

 

Unfortunately for the Hilltoppers, star running back Leon Allen, who gained 1,542 yards and scored 13 times last year, tore his ACL against Louisiana Tech and is out for the rest of the season.

 

2. Close Shaves

Both teams have had little margin for error so far. The Hilltoppers have won their games by a combined five points, and Indiana has had to overcome second-half deficits in both triumphs.

 

“We understand our two wins are by two points and three points,” Western Kentucky coach Jeff Brohm said. “It could have easily gone the other way. We did a lot of small things well in those two games in order to win, and we’re going to have to keep doing them.”

 

3. Potent Passers

Both Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty and Indiana’s Nate Sudfeld have had strong starts. Doughty, who received a sixth year of eligibility this season, will take aim at an Indiana secondary that has allowed enemy passers to complete 60.8 percent of their throws and amass seven TDs. Sudfeld has thrown for 583 yards so far and has a pair of dangerous targets in Ricky Jones and Simmie Cobbs.

 

Final Analysis

 

This is a tremendous opportunity for both teams to take a bold step forward. The Hilltoppers have already established themselves atop the C-USA pile with their win over Louisiana Tech (although November 27 meeting with Marshall will be huge), while Indiana is working toward bowl eligibility and needs this win to get closer to the six wins necessary to achieve that.

 

Expect plenty of yards and points as both teams work their spread attacks and create a variety of scoring opportunities. Even without Allen, the Hilltoppers are dangerous, mostly because of Doughty’s arm. It’s not a huge upset, but Western Kentucky prevails in a crazy one.

 

Prediction: Western Kentucky 37, Indiana 35

 

— Written by Michael Bradley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Bradley is a writer and broadcaster based in suburban Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter @DailyHombre.

Teaser:
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers vs. Indiana Hoosiers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 18, 2015 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Tennessee Volunteers, SEC
Path: /college-football/western-carolina-catamounts-vs-tennessee-volunteers-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

On Saturday, the Tennessee Volunteers will welcome FCS challenger Western Carolina to Knoxville. Oddly enough, these two teams have a lot in common.  Like Tennessee, WCU entered the 2015 season projected as a team on the rise, returning most of their starters on both sides of the football. The Catamounts ranked 23rd in Athlon Sports’ pre-season FCS Top 25 Rankings, while the Vols came in at no. 22 in Athlon Sports’ FBS Top 25 rankings. They both run a similar up-tempo offense that likes to spread out opposing defenses. In addition, both schools enjoyed victories against lesser opponents in Week 1, and both are coming off of a tough loss at home.

 

Of course, that is where the comparisons end. Other than the aforementioned facts, the Volunteers and Catamounts could not be more different. A point that should quickly reveal itself when the two schools face off for the first time ever on Saturday night in Neyland Stadium.

 

Western Carolina at Tennessee

 

Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPNU

Spread: N/A

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. The Tennessee passing game

In spite of plenty of pre-season hype, Tennessee hasn’t exactly lit it up through the air so far this season. Highly touted quarterback Joshua Dobbs was solid in the passing game against Bowling Green, but struggled mightily against a much tougher Oklahoma defense last week. Dobbs completed less than 50 percent of his passes for just 125 yards against the Sooners. Dobbs, and his corps of talented receivers, have also struggled with the deep ball, completing just two passes for more than 20 yards in the first two contests, both coming against Bowling Green.

 

The Vols have proven that they can run the football with running back’s Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara, but they must build confidence in the passing game if they want to compete in the SEC. The Western Carolina game provides a valuable opportunity to do just that. Look for the Vols to take some shots downfield on Saturday night.

 

2. Will the Volunteers have some new faces in the lineup?

Following Saturday’s debacle against Oklahoma, several players were criticized for poor individual performances. Most notably at the middle linebacker position and on the offensive line, Tennessee’s two biggest areas of concern heading into the season.

 

The matchup against the Catamounts should allow Tennessee to test some of the younger talent at those positions without risking much as a result. At the very least, you can probably expect to see more of freshman MLB Darrin Kirkland and freshmen offensive linemen Jack Jones and Chance Hall, as the Vols continue to experiment with their lineup before heading into SEC play.

 

3. Will Western Carolina be intimidated by Neyland Stadium?

There really isn’t anything a team can do to prepare for running out into a crowd of 100,000 plus rabid fans that all hate your guts and would love nothing more than to send you packing with a loss and a hearing problem. That being said, Western Carolina should be as prepared as anyone to take on the unfriendly confines of Neyland on Saturday night.

 

The Catamounts are no stranger to the big stage having faced off against some of the toughest teams in America, in some of the toughest environments college football has to offer. A trip to face Alabama in Tuscaloosa last season and trips to take on Virginia Tech and Auburn the previous year provide all the proof you need. Granted, WCU did not fare well in any of those match ups, but this is a veteran team that has been there and done that.

 

Final Analysis

 

The matchup against the Catamounts should provide the Volunteers with two things that they desperately need coming off of the heart breaking double overtime loss to Oklahoma. A chance to regain their confidence, and an opportunity to get some younger players valuable game experience before heading to Gainesville to face arch-rival Florida next week.

 

While WCU is not without talent, most notably All-SoCon performers WR Spearman Robinson, QB Troy Mitchell, and OL Jake Thornton, the FCS Catamounts simply cannot match a talented SEC roster on the road. Expect a lopsided victory in favor of an angry Tennessee football team at home.

 

Prediction: Tennessee 59, Western Carolina 7

 

— Written by Rob McVey, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. McVey is a diehard Tennessee Volunteers' fan who loves singing "Rocky Top" every opportunity he gets. Follow him on Twitter @Rob_UTVOLS

Teaser:
Western Carolina Catamounts vs. Tennessee Volunteers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 18, 2015 - 09:50
Path: /college-football/northwestern-state-demons-vs-mississippi-state-bulldogs-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

Mississippi State lost a hard-fought battle last week against LSU in Starkville. Trailing 21-3 in the second half, the Bulldogs stormed back behind the strong right arm of quarterback Dak Prescott. Unfortunately, Prescott and running back Ashton Shumpert couldn’t hook up on a fourth quarter two-point conversion and Devon Bell couldn’t connect on a 52-yard field goal attempt as time expired.

 

The 21-19 loss hurt, but the Bulldogs must regroup this week against FCS opponent Northwestern State. And, as Auburn found out last week and defensive coordinator Manny Diaz saw firsthand last year, FCS teams can be very dangerous.

 

Northwestern State at Mississippi State

 

Kickoff: 4 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: SEC Network
Spread: N/A

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Can Mississippi State run the football?

One of the biggest concerns for Mississippi State entering the 2015 season was replacing the production of running back Josh Robinson. Through two games, there still isn’t a clear answer.

 

The Bulldogs averaged 233 rushing yards per game last season but this year State has just 248 rushing yards total. Part of the problem is that the Bulldogs have not committed to running the football, and instead have relied on the passing game. State has attempted 92 passes compared to 54 runs, and last week attempted 54 passes against LSU.

 

Brandon Holloway leads the team thus far with 88 yards on 12 carries — an impressive 7.3 yards per attempt — but top ball carriers Prescott and Shumpert both have just 18 carries through two games. Prescott, with two touchdowns, is the only player to score on the ground.

 

2. Northwestern State is no pushover
The Demons may be 0-2, with losses to Southeastern Louisiana and Louisiana-Lafayette, but they are a dangerous squad capable of pulling an upset. Just ask Manny Diaz. Last season, Mississippi State’s defensive coordinator led the defense at Louisiana Tech, who despite winning Conference USA’s Western Division championship, lost to Northwestern State 30-27 early in the season. The Demons forced five turnovers in the game and kicked two field goals in the final 1:05 of the fourth quarter to steal the win.

 

3. The offensive line must protect Dak Prescott
Mississippi State may have only run the football 26 times last week, but they averaged only 1.7 yards per carry, which means the offensive line didn’t open very many holes for State running backs. But the offensive line struggled even more to protect Prescott, who was sacked three times for a loss of 28 yards. Prescott was on the run from LSU defenders all game, and the Tigers recorded eight official quarterback hurries. That means of the 57 times Prescott dropped back to pass, he was under heavy pressure 19.3 percent of the time.

 

Final Analysis

 

After the loss last week, Mississippi State has come up short in three of their last four games, and has four losses in their last six contests. The Bulldogs should get back in the win column this week because they are a bigger, stronger, faster and more talented team at nearly every position. If the offensive line shows improvement, State should win in impressive fashion.

 

Prediction: Mississippi State 41, Northwestern State 7

 

— Written by Nicholas Ian Allen, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Allen's work on college football can also be found on SaturdayBlitz.com and FanSided.com. Follow him on Twitter @NicholasIAllen.

Teaser:
Northwestern State Demons vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 18, 2015 - 09:45
All taxonomy terms: College Football, High School
Path: /high-school/high-school-players-john-jay-football-referee-gma-hit-target-coach
Body:

A Texas school district has been investigating the actions of two high school football players for targeting a referee during a game.

 

The John Jay football players are saying the orders to hit the referee came straight from the head coach. Allegedly the referee had been using racial slurs during the game and aimed them at certain players on the team. Although the official denies that claim, the two players say they heard it for themselves. When the orders came down from the coach, they were simply doing what they were told.

 

"You need to hit the ref, he needs to pay the price," was the order given to the players.

 

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, September 18, 2015 - 09:40
Path: /college-football/alabama-crimson-tide-vs-ole-miss-rebels-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

Last season’s meeting between Ole Miss and Alabama was one of the top games from the SEC’s 2014 slate, and the 2015 version has the potential to be another thriller on Saturday night in Tuscaloosa. Both teams opened the season with a 2-0 start, but the schedule will get tougher starting on Saturday. Ole Miss crushed UT Martin and Fresno State in easy fashion, while the Crimson Tide handled Wisconsin in Week 1, followed by a 27-point victory over MTSU in Week 2.

 

While both teams have impressed through the first two weeks, Saturday night’s showdown is a huge barometer game for both teams. Just how good is Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly? Alabama’s rugged defense should give the Rebels a good idea of where Kelly is in his development, as well improvement from the ground attack. For the Crimson Tide, quarterback Jake Coker remains a question mark two starts into 2015, but this team is loaded with one of the nation’s top running backs (Derrick Henry) and an elite defense.

 

Related: Predictions for Every College Football Game in Week 3

 

The Crimson Tide owns a significant edge in the overall series against the Rebels. Ole Miss won the 2014 meeting in Oxford, but the last victory for the Rebels in Tuscaloosa was in 1988.

 

Ole Miss at Alabama

 

Kickoff: 9:15 p.m. ET, Saturday, Sept. 19

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: Alabama -7

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Ole Miss QB Chad Kelly

New Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly has lived up to the hype so far. After a short stint at Clemson and a stop at East Mississippi Community College, Kelly landed in Oxford prior to spring practice and edged DeVante Kincade and Ryan Buchanan for the starting job. Through two weeks, Kelly leads the nation by averaging 13.9 yards per pass attempt, has completed 29 of 40 passes for 557 yards and six scores. The junior also has 46 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. While Kelly has been sharp in his first two outings, a road test at Alabama is a completely different animal than UT Martin or Alabama. The Crimson Tide’s front seven is arguably the nation’s best, and the secondary is loaded with top recruits. Will Kelly continue his hot start to the season? The junior’s supporting cast also has to step up, and the offensive line is not expected to have left tackle Laremy Tunsil back in the lineup due to an ongoing NCAA investigation. Additionally, the Rebels averaged only 3.9 yards per carry in SEC games last season. That won’t get it done on Saturday night. While Kelly’s play is critical, Ole Miss needs to have balance on offense.

 

Related: 3 Keys to an Ole Miss Upset Over Alabama

 

2. Derrick Henry vs. Ole Miss’ Run Defense

Alabama running back Derrick Henry is off to a fast start in 2015. Through two games, the junior has been one of the nation’s top players. Henry has 243 yards and six scores on 31 rushes, averaging a whopping 7.8 yards per carry. In last year’s meeting, Ole Miss limited Henry to just 37 yards. However, last year’s starter (T.J. Yeldon) had 123 yards on 20 attempts. Alabama’s offensive line hasn’t been perfect this season, but there’s no shortage of talent in this group. Anchored by junior Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss’ defensive front is one of the best in the SEC. This unit has allowed only 3.07 yards per carry this season and no player has reached paydirt against this unit on the ground. Considering the new players stepping into the starting lineup on offense, Alabama needs Henry to keep quarterback Jake Coker out of obvious passing situations, but coordinator Lane Kiffin may need Coker to have success through the air early to prevent the Rebels from stacking the box.

 

Related: SEC Week 3 Preview and Predictions

 

3. Alabama QB Jake Coker and New Wide Receivers

Alabama’s passing attack has its share of concerns entering this matchup. New starting quarterback Jake Coker is 30 of 47 for 427 yards and two touchdown passes this season and is completing 63.8 percent of his passes. Coker opened the year with a sharp performance against Wisconsin but wasn’t as crisp in the Week 2 victory over MTSU. How quick of a hook will Saban have in this game? Backup Cooper Bateman has played in both games so far this season and is 18 of 25 for 149 yards and a score. But the growth of the passing game isn’t solely on the quarterbacks. The Crimson Tide lost their top three receivers from last season, and after two games, this group is still unsettled. Running back Kenyan Drake and tight end O.J. Howard (seven catches for both players) lead the team in receiving yards. Robert Foster and ArDarius Stewart are the team’s top receivers, but this group will face a tough assignment against an Ole Miss secondary limiting opponents to a 58.5 completion percentage. Coker doesn’t necessarily need a huge effort on Saturday night for Alabama to win. However, he needs to be efficient and limit the mistakes. This is his toughest test so far in 2015.

 

Final Analysis

 

This matchup in Tuscaloosa should be one of the weekend’s best games. Ole Miss has been very impressive through the first two weeks, but the competition level has been questionable. Just how good is Chad Kelly? We are about to find out. Kelly’s ability to attack downfield is a huge asset for the Rebels, as receiver Laquon Treadwell and tight end Evan Engram are big-time playmakers that can stretch the field. Has Alabama’s secondary improved since last year? Or will the Crimson Tide’s front seven generate enough pressure to limit the big plays downfield? When Alabama has the ball, keep an eye on the trenches. Running back Derrick Henry is off to a fast start, but the Rebels want to limit the ground attack and force Coker to win through the air. Ole Miss has its share of success on offense. However, Alabama’s defense makes enough plays in the second half to secure the victory.

 

Prediction: Alabama 27, Ole Miss 20
Teaser:
Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Ole Miss Rebels Preview and Prediction 2015
Post date: Friday, September 18, 2015 - 09:30
Path: /college-football/auburn-tigers-vs-lsu-tigers-preview-and-prediction-2015
Body:

Auburn and LSU renew their annual rivalry in Death Valley on Saturday afternoon, as the Week 3 all-Tigers matchup is a crucial one in the rugged SEC West. LSU opened conference play with a 20-19 victory over Mississippi State last Saturday, while Auburn needed overtime to survive Jacksonville State. It’s only Week 3, but there’s plenty at stake in this matchup. While a loss here certainly doesn’t end the conference title hopes of either team, the SEC West is loaded with seven quality teams and there’s little margin for error.

 

While last week was certainly troubling for Auburn, coach Gus Malzahn’s team was shorthanded due to a few injuries on defense, and there was the look ahead factor to this matchup against LSU. For coach Les Miles’ Tigers, LSU’s passing game remains a question mark, but there’s no doubt this team can win a lot of games on the strength of running back Leonard Fournette and a strong defense.

 

Related: Predictions for Every College Football Game in Week 3

 

LSU owns a 27-21-1 edge in the overall series and has won three out of the last four against Auburn. Coach Gus Malzahn’s team won last year’s meeting in convincing fashion (41-7). However, Auburn has not won in Baton Rouge since 1999.

 

Auburn at LSU

 

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: CBS

Spread: LSU -7

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Auburn QB Jeremy Johnson

Johnson was widely considered one of college football’s rising stars this preseason, and the junior was picked by most as one of the SEC’s top quarterbacks for 2015. However, the hype hasn’t matched the production through two weeks. Johnson struggled in last week’s win over Jacksonville State and has passed for 373 yards and three passing scores in 2015. However, the junior also has five interceptions and is not the dynamic running threat his predecessor (Nick Marshall) was for the Auburn offense. Is this the game where Johnson starts to figure it out? LSU’s secondary is among the nation’s best, but top safety Jalen Mills is still sidelined with a leg injury. The Tigers allowed 335 passing yards in last week’s win over Mississippi State, with a good chunk of it coming in the second half. A strong performance by Johnson would significantly boost the odds of Auburn pulling off a road upset.

 

Related: SEC Week 3 Predictions

 

2. Stopping LSU RB Leonard Fournette

The success of LSU’s offense starts with Fournette. Despite question marks about the passing attack and going against extra defenders in the box, Fournette gashed Mississippi State for 159 yards and three scores. If Fournette continues that production, he will be among the leading candidates to win the Heisman Trophy in December. The sophomore faces a similar storyline on Saturday afternoon, as Auburn hopes to slow the ground attack and force LSU to win this one through the air. Auburn’s defense is allowing 199.5 rushing yards per game, but end Carl Lawson – if healthy – would be a big boost for this group. Auburn needs to win the battle on first and second downs to put LSU in long-yardage situations.

 

3. LSU QB Brandon Harris vs. Auburn’s Defense

The final stat line for Brandon Harris against Mississippi State – 9 of 14 for 71 yards – wasn’t overly impressive. However, Harris didn’t make a mistake (zero interceptions) and added 48 rushing yards. But most importantly for coach Les Miles and coordinator Cam Cameron – LSU got the victory. The Tigers don’t necessarily need Harris to throw for 300 yards a week, but he needs to make plays in the clutch and eliminate any turnovers. How much will Harris build off last week’s performance? Safety Tray Matthews is expected back after missing last Saturday’s game, and Auburn has allowed only one passing score so far. Can Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp bait Harris into a couple of mistakes?

 

Final Analysis

 

This is a tough one to predict. Auburn isn’t as bad as it played against Jacksonville State, but it needs a healthy Carl Lawson at end, as well as Johnson to play his best game of the year under center. LSU has its own share of question marks. Will the defense tighten up after struggling in the second half against Mississippi State? Leonard Fournette will get his share of carries, but is quarterback Brandon Harris ready to take another step forward in his development? It’s tempting to take Auburn, as Malzahn should have this team ready to play after last week’s sluggish performance. However, it’s tough to pick against LSU in Death Valley.

 

Prediction: LSU 27, Auburn 24
Teaser:
Auburn Tigers vs. LSU Tigers Preview and Prediction 2015
Post date: Friday, September 18, 2015 - 09:15

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