Week Three: Friday
Thoughts on who the stars of the weekend will be.
Game of the Week- Tennessee at Florida- Yes, this game seems to always be hyped to death, but this year, the winner of this game should get some serious consideration for #3 (and depending on how impressive they look, maybe even #2). Texas and USC are the favorites to get to the Rose Bowl right now, but an SEC team (Tennessee, Florida, LSU) has the best chance to push one of them out of the way if there are three unbeatens at the end of the season. It will be Urban Meyer's first game in his new conference. This one ought to be just as exciting as last year and 2001...and 2000...and 1999...and 1998.
Upset Special- Oregon State over Louisville- Did the Cardinals convince anyone that they really deserved the hype they were getting as a potential Rose Bowl team? They certainly did not convince me against Kentucky. Yes, the Cardinals have a ton of talent. However, Oregon State is pretty good, too. No, the Beavers didn't look like a killer against Boise State, but they won and slowed down the Broncos offense in the fourth quarter. Matt Moore has looked good at quarterback. In the preseason, I said that Oregon State would beat Louisville. I stand by that, though I'm wavering a little bit.
Team of the Week- UCLA Bruins- This section is dedicated to picking the team that I think will make the most impact this weekend in the nation's eyes. This could be because they play a great game and blowout an inferior opponent, or because they beat up a good opponent, or because they pull off an upset that few people think will happen. The UCLA Bruins will fit that mold if they beat Oklahoma. Yes, the Bruins are seven point favorites, but to the average fan that simply looks at the rankings and assumes the higher ranked team is favored, the Sooners are the clear favorites. Oklahoma's offense is having a ton of trouble, and it will be interesting to see if the often criticized UCLA defense can slow them down. The Bruins offense has looked like they should put 24 points or more on the board against Oklahoma. Can the Sooners hope to keep up with that?
Player of the Week:
1) Maurice Drew, UCLA- If the Bruins win against the Sooners, Drew will have an absolutely huge game. The Sooners defense is tough, but Drew can launch his Heisman campaign into full swing with a solid performance in this marquee game.
2) Vince Young, Texas- If Young played against Rice every week, he would win the Heisman Trophy going away. Rice will play ball control and keep away, but they do not have a prayer of controlling his athleticism.
3) Mathias Kiwanuka, Boston College- Yes, the Florida State offensive line is good. However, defensive end Kiwanuka has been waiting for this opportunity. He has not played particularly well so far this year due to schemes trying to neutralize him. Florida State will not run as many schemes trying to neutralize him since they think they can take him without the schemes. Kiwanuka will make them pay. Then they'll change their ways.
4) LenDale White, USC- Call this a gut pick. Arkansas' defense was shredded by Vanderbilt last week, so one of the Trojans stars ought to have a big game. I have a feeling that it's going to be White this week, for some reason. Yes, Bush and Leinart will still get theirs, but White is ready to blow up.
5) Chris Leak, Florida- If the new Florida spread offense works as well as people expect it to, Leak should have a good game. Leak has never beaten Tennessee. People say that Leak does not like to get hit, and he has shown that in the past. The Vols defense will hit him. If Leak keeps his head on straight, he could easily be in the running for the Heisman Trophy at the end of Saturday night.
Incredibly basic previews of tonight's game.
Houston at UTEP (8:00 ESPN2)- The Miners and quarterback Jordan Palmer are the favorite in the C-USA West Division, and one of the popular picks to be the BCS Buster, if there is going to be one this year. Houston was picked to finish second in the West in the preseason by the media. A ton of talent at the skill positions will be on display in this clash.
Very quick recap of Thursday's games.
TCU 23, Utah 20 (OT)- The Utes 18 game winning streak is over. TCU proves that the win over Oklahoma wasn't as fluky as many may have thought. The Horned Frogs loss to SMU was the fluke. These two teams may be the two best teams in the Mountain West. TCU's defense was absolutely amazing in the second half. (Did all of Florida's future opponents see how to slow down Utah's spread?)