By Stewart Mandel
September 16, 2011
College Football Pickoff: Week 3
Friday, Sept. 16
8 p.m. ET (ESPN) No. 4 Boise State (1-0) at Toledo (1-1)
In its continued quest to overcome criticism about its schedule, Boise sure could have used a Toledo upset of Ohio State last week. As it is, anyone who watched the Rockets take the Buckeyes to the wire knows this isn't a gimme for the Broncos, who need to contain explosive Toledo WR Eric Page. But Kellen Moore, who went 28-of-34 against Georgia, will prove too much for the Rockets' defense.
Saturday, Sept. 17
8 p.m. ET (ABC) No. 1 Oklahoma (1-0) at No. 5 Florida State (2-0)
The 'Noles defense, loaded with playmakers like DE Brandon Jenkins and CB Greg Reid, has improved considerably since last year's 47-17 loss in Norman, and it should be able to hold Landry Jones below his usual enormous production. But the game will come down to FSU's unproven offense against OU's veteran defense. EJ Manuel and his receivers can't keep pace with Jones and Ryan Broyles.
3:30 p.m. ET (ABC) Washington (2-0) at No. 11 Nebraska (2-0)
It's the third meeting in 12 months for the Huskies and Huskers. The first was a disaster for Washington, the second a bowl debacle for Nebraska. Expect more of the former. Taylor Martinez may make mistakes, but he'll still cause problems for a suspect UW defense. Meanwhile, Jared Crick, Cameron Meredith and the rest of the Huskers' defensive front will put heavy pressure on Huskies QB Keith Price.
3:30 p.m. ET (NBC) No. 15 Michigan State (2-0) at Notre Dame (0-2)
It's not every week a ranked, undefeated team plays an unranked, winless team ... and the latter is the Vegas favorite. The oddsmakers clearly still view the turnover-laden Irish as a quality team, and so do I. Expect another big day from RB Cierre Wood, and for an angry Notre Dame defense to put enough pressure on Kirk Cousins to finally prevail in one of these nail-biters.
3:30 p.m. ET (CBS) Tennessee (2-0) at No. 16 Florida (2-0)
This rivalry lost its luster in recent years, but this edition is intriguing. It's time to find out whether Florida's defense is as stingy as it's looked in warmups against FAU and UAB. And more importantly, it's time to see what Charlie Weis' offense really looks like. The guess here (and it truly is a guess) is that John Brantley will be improved but choppy, but also that the Gators' defense will slow Tyler Bray.
7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN) No. 17 Ohio State (2-0) at Miami (0-1)
The teams will be without a combined seven NCAA-suspended players in what has been dubbed the Ineligibowl. OSU is definitely lacking offensive punch without RB Dan Herron and WR DeVier Posey. Miami was impressive in defeat at Maryland, and getting back defensive stars Sean Spence and Marcus Forston will help get pressure on Buckeyes QB Joe Bauserman. This one means too much to Miami.
Noon (ESPNU) No. 18 West Virginia (2-0) at Maryland (1-0)
West Virginia's Geno Smith will undoubtedly have a huge day in Dana Holgorsen's pass-happy attack, and Tavon Austin is always a threat to run back a kickoff. But what Maryland lacks in firepower, it makes up for with offensive balance. Terps quarterback Danny O'Brien looked good in Maryland's Labor Day win over Miami, and his defense is capable of forcing key turnovers to slow down WVU.
Noon (ABC) No. 21 Auburn (2-0) at Clemson (2-0)
In a clash of innovative offensive coordinators, it's Auburn's Gus Malzahn versus former protégé Chad Morris. Clemson QB Tajh Boyd has shown strides under Morris, albeit against Troy and Wofford. But after whiffing badly on last week's Mississippi State game, I'm done picking against Auburn, which has now won 17 straight. Another huge day for Michael Dyer will put his team over the top.
7 p.m. ET (BTN) No. 22 Arizona State (2-0) at Illinois (2-0)
The Sun Devils are more talented, more experienced and more battle-tested after last week's overtime win against Missouri. They're also completely erratic and undisciplined, which makes it hard to believe they can pull off consecutive tough nonconference wins. QB Brock Osweiler will cause problems for Illinois' defense, but counterpart Nathan Scheelhaase is one of the nation's best-kept secrets.
3:30 p.m. ET (ABC) No. 23 Texas (2-0) at UCLA (1-1)
UPSET SPECIAL: We may see four QBs at the Rose Bowl: Texas' Case McCoy and David Ash and UCLA's Richard Brehaut and Kevin Prince. It's possible none will be particularly impressive. But the Bruins seem to have a better flow offensively than in years past, averaging 486 yards in their first two games, while Texas is still figuring things out. Plus, the Bruins have owned the 'Horns recently.
Record Last Week: 6-4               Record This Season: 12-8
Week 3 Preview
Source:SI previews the best of Week 3, including a season-defining bout between Oklahoma and Florida State.

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