Week Three: Thursday
Which games should you watch this weekend? What games should you be keeping your eyes on during each time period? We've got it all worked out for you.The day is divided into five parts. Some are more unequal than others due to the start time of the games.All times are Eastern. The time periods are early games (start time before 2:00), afternoon (start time from 2:15-5:00), late afternoon (start time from 5:15-7:15), evening (start time from 7:30-9:45), and late night (start time after 10:00). The games are ranked by time period and give you a couple of reasons to watch each game, whether it is questions that need to be answered or something else altogether. The games are the games listed on CollegeFootballNews.com as the television games for this weekend. Only Saturday games are included.
Let's get it started!
1. Oregon State at Louisville (12:00 ESPN)- 1) This is popularly considered the toughest game on Louisville's schedule. 2) The Beavers have one of the best receiving groups in the country with Mike Hass, Anthony Wheat-Brown, and Marcel Love. 3) Brian Brohm (quarterback) and Michael Bush (running back) make one of the most electric backfields in the country for the Cardinals.
2. Mississippi at Vanderbilt (12:30 JP/Gameplan)- 1) It's two undefeated teams playing in the SEC. Hard to beat that. The teams they have beaten are Wake Forest, Arkansas, and Memphis, which are all not exactly a Who's Who of college football, but aren't exactly Division 1-AA schools either. 2) The first team All-SEC quarterback in the preseason was not from Florida or Tennessee, but from Vanderbilt, and his name is Jay Cutler. Watch him. 3) Ole Miss linebacker Patrick Willis might just be the best linebacker in the SEC.
3. West Virginia at Maryland (12:00 JP/Gameplan)- 1) That defense that is sitting atop the national rankings through two weeks is West Virginia's. 2) Can Maryland bounce back after a very disappointing home loss to Clemson last weekend? 3) How good is Sam Hollenbach (Maryland's quarterback)? He has improved a lot since last year. Now he takes on a very solid defense.
4. SMU at Texas A&M (12:30 FSN)- 1) So Baylor beat SMU. SMU beat TCU. TCU beat Oklahoma. Oklahoma and Baylor both beat Texas A&M last year. That does it! SMU should win! 2) Will Reggie McNeal and the Aggies passing game get going on a more consistent basis? Against Clemson, McNeal and the Aggies resorted to running the ball to make their comeback that was futile in the end. 3) DeMyron Martin (SMU's running back) did something against TCU that Adrian Peterson (Oklahoma's running back) could not- crack 100 yards rushing. Watch Martin against a sometimes questionable Texas A&M defense.
5. Virginia at Syracuse (12:00 ESPN2)- 1) Marques Hagans (quarterback) and Wali Lundy (running back) are as much fun to watch play football as anybody in the history of Cavaliers football. 2) Ahmad Brooks (Virginia's linebacker) is considered by many to be the best defensive player in the country. 3) Can Damien Rhodes (running back) really care the Syracuse offense on his back this whole season? Will someone else step up to take the load off of his shoulders?
6. Louisiana-Monroe at Georgia (1:00 Gameplan)- 1) How will DJ Shockley (quarterback)respond to his incredibly average game last weekend against South Carolina? 2) Steven Jyles (quarterback) is a playmaker for the Indians and is an exciting player. 3) Everyone wants to see the only Division 1-A team that lost to a Division 1-AA team yet this year take on a ranked SEC team, right?
7. Eastern Michigan at Michigan (12:00 ESPNU/Gameplan)- 1) Watch Chad Henne (Michigan's quarterback) bounce back against the porous EMU defense. 2) Matt Bohnet (Eastern Michigan's quarterback) will try to lead an explosive offense against Michigan's suspect defense. 3) These teams are in-state rivals, and often times the dominant in-state school (in this case Michigan) struggles against the upstart (in this case, Eastern Michigan).
1. Oklahoma at UCLA (3:30 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) Is Oklahoma as bad as they looked in their first two games? 2) This might just be Maurice Drew's (UCLA's running back) coming out party. 3) How will Rhett Bomar fare in his second game as the Sooners starting quarterback?
2. Miami, FL at Clemson (3:30 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) Is Clemson the team of destiny that they looked like they were in their first two games? 2) Kyle Wright (Miami's quarterback) may just be starting his second game, but he is already on the brink of stardom. 3) Charlie Whitehurst (Clemson's quarterback) looked awfully efficient last week against Maryland. Can he continue his dominance this week against a very good 'Canes defense?
3. Michigan State at Notre Dame (3:30 NBC)- 1) It's Notre Dame's first home after a highly successful 2-0 start. 2) Drew Stanton (Michigan State) is one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the country. 3) Michigan State always seems to beat Notre Dame, especially when you least expect it. Can Notre Dame break the curse?
4. Alabama at South Carolina (3:30 CBS)- 1) Brodie Croyle (quarterback) started to show signs that he's back and in charge of the Alabama offense last week against Southern Miss. 2) Steve Spurrier gets to coach his first SEC home game as a Gamecock. 3) The Alabama ground game is one of the better ones in the SEC. South Carolina has struggled to stop the run so far this year.
5. Pittsburgh at Nebraska (3:30 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) Last week Pittsburgh gave up two touchdowns to Ohio's defense on Friday night. On Saturday night, Nebraska's defense scored three touchdowns. Hmmm... 2) Tyler Palko (Pittsburgh's quarterback) is still a threat to have a breakout game any game now throwing the ball to the ultra-talented Greg Lee. 3) Is this the week that Zac Taylor (quarterback) finally figures out Nebraska's offense?
6. San Diego State at Ohio State (3:30 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) Troy Smith will be starting his first game this year for the Buckeyes at quarterback. 2) A.J. Hawk (Ohio State) is one of the most fun linebackers to watch in the country. 3) Will the Aztecs finally show some spunk as they try to save Tom Craft's job?
7. Ohio at Virginia Tech (3:30 ESPNU)- 1) How will Ohio follow up that upset against Pitt? 2) After a week where Ohio gained less than 200 yards of total offense, they take on a Hokies team that gave up less than 50 yards last week. Talk about tough road for the Bobcats offense! 3) Marcus Vick (Virginia Tech's quarterback) is quickly developing into a Heisman Trophy darkhorse.
8. Baylor at Army (3:00 ESPN Classic)- 1) It may just be a sign that the end times are coming if Vanderbilt wins earlier in the day and Baylor wins this game to make both teams 3-0. Of course, Baylor's wins are against Samford and SMU, but SMU did just beat TCU who beat Oklahoma! 2) Zac Dahman (Army's quarterback) is a very good quarterback for Coach Bobby Ross' system. The nation doesn't get to see Dahman nearly enough. 3) We all know that Ross has coaches this team to play hard. Look for a lot of solid, fundamental football from Army.
9. Ball State at Auburn (2:30 Gameplan)- 1) Brandon Cox (quarterback) and the Auburn offense looks like they are ready to explode in this game. 2) With a full roster of players (unlike the Cardinals had in the Iowa game), expect Ball State to play with a little bit more enthusiasm and passion. 3) The Auburn defense lead by Stanly McClover (defensive end) is one of the best in the country.
10. Northern Iowa at Iowa (3:30 Gameplan)- 1) How long will Drew Tate (Iowa's quarterback) last this week? Will he even play? How effective will he be? 2) Iowa's running game really needs to punish somebody. 3) This is just to prove that Iowa has not gone from the best team in the state to the third best team in the state in the span of two weeks.
1. Fresno State at Oregon (7:00 FSN)- 1) The Bulldogs are gunning to prove yet again that if you are a BCS school and the calendar says September, you had better beware the Fresno Power! 2) Kellen Clemens (Oregon's quarterback) is not highly respected outside of the West Coast. Neither is Terrence Whitehead (Oregon's running back). They're pretty darn good. 3) Both these teams play USC later in the year. (Oregon plays the Trojans next week, while Fresno State plays them on November 19.) Does either have a chance against the mighty Trojans?
2. Connecticut at Georgia Tech (6:45 ESPNU)- 1) The wildly inconsistent Tech quarterback Reggie Ball is coming off one of the best games of his career. Now he has to play a defense that hasn't given up a point in two games. 2) Are the Yellow Jackets really a contender in the ACC? Are the Huskies really a contender in the Big East? This will help us sort those questions out a little bit. 3) Matt Bonislawski (Connecticut's quarterback) has been playing great so far this year. But the Yellow Jackets defense is not Buffalo's or Liberty's. This will be his first test.
3. Wisconsin at North Carolina (7:00 ESPN2)- 1) One week Brian Calhoun (Wisconsin's running back) runs all over the Bowling Green defense. The next week, John Stocco (quarterback) throws all over the Temple defense. Which one is it going to be this week? 2) After a week of facing one of the country's better defenses (Georgia Tech), Matt Baker (quarterback) and the North Carolina offense are licking their chops to face a team that gave up 42 points to Bowling Green two weeks ago. 3) The Badgers have to get that constant sound out of their head. It says, "Beat Michigan. Beat Michigan. Beat Michigan." That's not until next week, and this week's game is no slouch.
4. Kentucky at Indiana (6:45 ESPN Classic)- 1) Andre Woodson (Kentucky's quarterback) is thrilling to watch play. 2) It was just against Nicholls State and Central Michigan, but a 2-0 start is a 2-0 start for Indiana. The Wildcats surprisingly close game against Louisville has people talking about them. Which team leaves the day still with a shot at being a surprise team this year? 3) That Indiana passing game has been full of big plays. They are currently averaging 16.2 yards per reception.
5. Rice at Texas (7:00 FSN)- 1) Has the hype gone to Texas' head? They need to come down off the high of beating Ohio State and handle their business this week. 2) Vince Young's (Texas' quarterback) continues his pursuit of the Heisman Trophy. 3) Joel Armstrong (Rice's quarterback) is a better athlete than he gets credit for nationally.
6. UCF at South Florida (7:00 FSN Regional)- 1) This could be the week that UCF finally ends that ugly 16 game losing streak. 2) If you didn't get to see Steven Moffett (UCF's quarterback) play against South Carolina, watch this game. He's worth the price of admission. 3) Andre Hall(South Florida) is an excellent running back, but he's going up against a defense that didn't give up anything to South Carolina on the ground.
1. Tennessee at Florida (8:00 CBS)- 1) This game always plays a big role in the SEC East championship race. 2) Finally, we will at least get to see the beginnning of an answer. How will Urban Meyer's (Florida's head coach) spread offense fare going up against a fast, SEC defense? 3) Chris Leak (Florida's quarterback) and Gerald Riggs (Tennessee's running back) are darkhorse Heisman Trophy candidates. Can either one have the type of game that would propel them into the front of the pack?
2. Florida State at Boston College (7:45 ESPN)- 1) It's Boston College's first ever ACC game, and it should begin to sort out who will win the ACC Atlantic Division. 2) Drew Weatherford and Xavier Lee (Florida State's quarterbacks) need to show that they can play against a really good defense, not just The Citadel. 3) Mathias Kiwanuka (Boston College's defensive end) is one of the best defensive players in the country.
3. Mississippi State at Tulane in Shreveport, Louisiana (8:00 CSTV)- 1) The Green Wave are playing their first game of the season and are trying to focus on football after the horrors of Hurricane Katrina. 2) Yes, Jerious Norwood (Mississippi State) is one of the better running backs in the country. 3) Lester Ricard (Tulane's quarterback) looked real good last year. Will having another year in the system make him look even better?
4. Florida Atlantic at Minnesota (8:30 Gameplan)- 1) Florida Atlantic might have more team speed than Minnesota has seen so far this year. 2) Laurence Maroney (Minnesota's running back) continues his race towards the front of the pack for the Heisman Trophy. 3) Bryan Cupito (Minnesota's quarterback) has been working a lot in practice on his throws. Expect to see some improvement this week.
5. Rutgers at Buffalo (8:00 Gameplan)- 1) Ryan Hart (quarterback), Tres Moses (wide receiver), and Brian Leonard (running back) still are as much fun to watch as any trio of skill position players in the country. 2) Buffalo hasn't scored a point or even attempted a field goal yet this year. How long will Jim Hofher (Buffalo's head coach) stick with Stewart Sampsel with him just completing 28.6 percent of his passes? 3) This will be the second straight Big East foe for Buffalo, after playing Syracuse last week. This will give us a bit of a taste of where Rutgers and Syracuse fall in the Big East pecking order.
1. Arkansas at USC (10:15 FSN)- 1) De'Arrius Howard (Arkansas' running back) will provide a bit of a challenge to USC's defensive line. 2) After Texas' impressive win a week ago, people have started grumbling that maybe Texas deserves to be number one. This will not make USC happy. They will be looking to show why they are the country's best team. 3) Houston Nutt (Arkansas' head coach) has a history of getting his team to play above theri heads in games like this (see Texas in 2003 and 2004). Can he go to the well one more time as the calls for his job become louder?
2. UNLV at Nevada (10:00 ESPNU)- 1) It is an in-state rivalry game, and the two teams have split the previous 30 meetings. UNLV has won the last five. 2) Jeff Rowe (Nevada's quarterback) played pretty well last week against Washington State. He's looking for an even bigger game this week against UNLV. 3) Shane Steichen (UNLV's quarterback) is completing 62.5 percent of his passes. He's got a hot hand right now.
Incredibly basic previews of tonight's games!
Utah at TCU (7:45 ESPN)- The Utes look to continue their 18 game winning streak against a team that just beat Oklahoma twelve days ago.
For complete coverage of the Thursday night game, click on Thursday Night Throwdown.