Worth Watching: Pac-12 games, Gators-Vols, TCU-Texas Tech
On a weekend full of Pac-12 conference games involving Top 25 teams, there's a good chance we'll come away with a better feel for the league's playoff contenders and pretenders.
The action kicked off Friday night, with No. 21 Stanford beating Oregon State 42-24. The Cardinal (3-1, 2-0) lost their opener to Northwestern, but won at Southern California and now Oregon State.
In Saturday's games, No. 9 UCLA is at No. 16 Arizona (ABC, 8 p.m.), No, 18 Utah visits No. 13 Oregon (Fox, 8:30 p.m.) and No. 19 Southern Cal travels to Arizona State (ESPN, 10:30 p.m.).
The Bruins and Wildcats are each unbeaten in three games coming into their conference opener. Coach Jim Mora's Bruins are 3-0 against coach Rich Rodriguez's Wildcats. Surely, this won't be a defensive struggle, so look for lots of scoring. Oddsmakers are: The over/under is 65 1/2 points.
If nothing else, tune in to see who starts at quarterback for the Utes (3-0, 0-0) and the Ducks (2-1, 0-0). For Oregon, it's Vernon Adams (broken right index finger) or Jeff Lockie, who started for Adams in last week's win. For Utah, it's Travis Wilson (sprained left shoulder) or Kendal Thompson, who started for Wilson in last week's win.
A road trip could spell more trouble as USC (2-1, 0-1) looks to rebound from last week's home loss to Stanford. The Sun Devils (2-1, 0-0) are looking to make it three in a row over the Trojans.
While the focus may be out West, there are intriguing games around the country. Here's a look of what else is worth watching:
No. 3 TCU at TEXAS TECH (Fox, 4:45 p.m.): A year after TCU put up 82 points on Tech, the Horned Frogs visit the Red Raiders. This could be the shootout of the season in Lubbock: TCU averages 50 points and 599 yards per game; Texas Tech averages 54 points and 594 yards per game. Don't take your eyes off TCU QB Trevone Boykin, who threw a Big 12-record seven TD passes in last year's game. Texas Tech counters with Patrick Mahomes, who has already topped 1,000 yards passing in leading his team to a 3-0 start. Unlike last year, when Tech was unable to keep pace and lost by 55 points, the Horned Frogs could be without as many as seven starters on defense.
TENNESSEE AT FLORIDA (CBS, 3:30 p.m.): One of the fiercest rivalries going, this one has featured season-turning performances by star quarterbacks such as the Vols' Peyton Manning and the Gators' Danny Wuerffel and Tim Tebow. Upsets happen, sometimes in Knoxville, sometimes in Gainesville, but Florida (3-0, 1-0 SEC) owns Tennessee (2-1, 0-0) with 10 straight wins heading into the annual tussle. Florida goes with freshman QB Will Grier with starter Treon Harris suspended. The Vols can score, but let's see what they muster against a pretty solid defense.
NO. 8 LSU at SYRACUSE (ESPN, noon): This sounds like a mismatch, not to mention an odd pairing. Turns out it is. LSU is playing in New York state (at the Carrier Dome) for the first time since 1942, when the Tigers beat Fordham in the Polo Grounds. While the Orange are 3-0 for the first time in 24 years, they are on their third quarterback, likely to be Zack Mahoney, a JUCO transfer who was fifth on the depth chart in preseason. LSU is led by the latest Heisman Trophy front-runner in Leonard Fournette, who rolled up 228 yards against Auburn and leads the nation in rushing with 193.5 yards per game.
WESTERN MICHIGAN AT NO. 1 OHIO STATE (ESPN2, 3:30 p.m.): We know the Buckeyes are unlikely to be tested like they were by Northern Illinois last week. Right? And we know Cardale Jones is starting at quarterback - but how long will he stay in? OSU coach Urban Meyer isn't thrilled with Jones or J.T. Barrett so far, so it's likely both will get a chance to prove their worth.
KANSAS AT RUTGERS (BTN, noon): Or, the Misery Bowl. Not much is going right for either team: Rutgers coach Kyle Flood is serving a three-game suspension, star receiver Leonte Caroo is suspended on a domestic violence charge, and six other players have been charged with a series of violent crimes. Kansas, meanwhile, has lost 33 in a row outside Lawrence, Kansas, since 2009 - when its current freshmen were eighth-graders. Why watch? One team will walk off the field happy, at least for a while. Rutgers is 1-2; Kansas 0-3.
PAY ATTENTION TO: Jim Harbaugh is looking for a third straight win after his Michigan coaching-debut loss at Utah. The Wolverines won't have it easy against No. 22 BYU, winners of its first two games with last-ditch touchdown heaves by Tanner Mangum and a one-point loss at UCLA. (ESPN, noon). ... Is Texas freshman QB Jarrod Heard the answer to the Longhorns woes? He goes against No. 24 Oklahoma State in a must-win game a week after setting a school record with 527 total yards in a 45-44 loss to Cal. He ran for 163 yards and three TDs and passed for 364 yards. (ESPN, 3:30 p.m.)
AP college football website: collegefootnball.ap.org