Posted: Friday September 17, 2010 11:13AM ; Updated: Friday September 17, 2010 11:13AM
Stewart Mandel
College Football Pickoff: Week 3
Saturday, Sept. 18
10:30 p.m. ET (ESPN) No. 9 Iowa (2-0) at No. 24 Arizona (2-0)
This is one of several games this week with upset potential (as you'll see momentarily). Arizona, a dangerous team, will feed off the energy of an amped-up, primetime home crowd. But it's not an ideal matchup for the Wildcats. Iowa's veteran team should handle the atmosphere, while its athletic D-line is ideally suited to disrupting Nick Foles' quick-drop passing attack.
8 p.m. ET (ABC) No. 6 Texas (2-0) at Texas Tech (2-0)
UPSET SPECIAL: Two weeks in, Texas' "transformed" offense ranks 64th in the nation (379 yards per game). Meanwhile, Tech's 11th-ranked passing attack has shown little drop-off under new coach Tommy Tuberville. The 'Horns have better players, but they're young -- most notably sophomore QB Garrett Gilbert, who will be making his first true road start. I smell another Longhorn letdown in Lubbock.
3:30 p.m. ET (FSN) Air Force (2-0) at No. 7 Oklahoma (2-0)
The Sooners dismantled Florida State, but this week is hardly a breather. The Falcons, coming off a rousing 35-14 win over BYU, boast the nation's most prolific rushing attack so far (423 yards per game). Oklahoma won't get off to the same fast start as last week, but this could be a game where Bob Stoops lets RB DeMarco Murray run 35 times and methodically wear down the Air Force defense.
3:30 p.m. ET (ABC) No. 8 Nebraska (2-0) at Washington (1-1)
UPSET SPECIAL II: While Nebraska spent the offseason putting a big, red target on Oct. 16, Washington fans have been eyeing Sept. 18 as the day when senior QB Jake Locker and second-year coach Steve Sarkisian can shock the nation. Locker will seize the opportunity to finally prove himself against an elite defense, while the Huskies will slow down first-year Nebraska sensation Taylor Martinez.
3:30 p.m. ET (CBS) No. 10 Florida (2-0) at Tennessee (1-1)
The Gators' offense has been plagued by slow starts their first two games. The Vols started fine before imploding in the second half last week against Oregon. Expect this one to follow much the same script. The Gators' defense should suffocate QB Matt Simms and the Tennessee offense, while Jeff Demps plays the role of LaMichael James (but with no Kenjon Barner to aid in an avalanche).
3:30 pm. ET (ABC) Arizona State (2-0) at No. 11 Wisconsin (2-0)
Welcome back to the Big Ten, Steven Threet. The former Michigan QB now starts for the Sun Devils, and he's racked up 670 yards in ASU's first two games. Now, the asterisk: Neither game was against an FBS opponent. He'll be facing a steep upgrade in competition against J.J. Watt and the Badgers' defense, while RB John Clay should continue his streak of eight straight 100-yard games for Wisconsin.
Noon ET (ESPN) No. 12 Arkansas (2-0) at Georgia (1-1)
New Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham faces his biggest test so far as the Dawgs look to slow down star Razorbacks QB Ryan Mallett (73.1 percent, 701 yards). But Arkansas' defense, so atrocious last season (89th nationally), will be facing its first test of any kind. Look for Mark Richt to take the training wheels off QB Aaron Murray, who will also benefit from RB Caleb King's return.
7 p.m. ET (ESPN) Clemson (2-0) at No. 16 Auburn (2-0)
Clemson represents one of the ACC's last remaining hopes for salvation, but it's hard to read too much into opening routs of North Texas and Presbyterian. The hunch here is this is the week Auburn freshman RB Michael Dyer has his Marcus Lattimore moment and gashes a Clemson defense that has its hands full dealing with Gus Malzahn's hurry-up tempo and QB Cameron Newton's "escapability."
Noon ET (ESPNU) Maryland (2-0) at No. 21 West Virginia (2-0)
The Terps' dramatic goal-line stand to beat Navy on Labor Day gave Maryland its first reason for hope, and West Virginia's overtime escape at Marshall provided another dose. But Mountaineers QB Geno Smith came alive in last week's comeback, while Terps QB Jamarr Robinson will likely have to throw more than five times (as he did against Navy) to win in Morgantown. Advantage, Smith.
8 p.m. ET (ABC) Notre Dame (1-1) at Michigan State (2-0)
It's a big week for Irish coach Brian Kelly. He doesn't want to find out what it's like to be 1-2 in South Bend. His defense may struggle to hold down Spartans RBs Edwin Baker (150 yards per game) and LeVon Bell (95.0). But a long as Notre Dame QB Dayne Crist's vision remains unimpaired, expect Crist and WR Michael Floyd to carve up the Michigan State secondary.
Record Last Week: 8-2               Record This Season: 16-4
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