By Stewart Mandel
September 13, 2012
College Football Pickoff: Week 3
Saturday, Sept. 15
3:30 p.m. ET (CBS) No. 1 Alabama (2-0) at Arkansas (1-1)
Whether Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson is healthy enough to play or not, the Razorbacks have other issues. Their defense is allowing 436 yards per game. Running back Knile Davis has not returned to 2010 form. And considering Bobby Petrino's teams lost four meetings with Nick Saban by an average margin of 22.7 points, there's not much hope for John L. Smith.
7:30 p.m. ET (FOX) No. 2 USC (2-0) at No. 21 Stanford (2-0)
USC's game notes this week refer to Stanford as its "longtime foe and recent nemesis." The Cardinal have won four of the last five meetings. Stanford will pound the ball with running back Stepfan Taylor and try keep the Trojans' offense off the field, but David Shaw's team lacks the balance to sustain drives and its secondary is ill-equipped to handle USC stars Robert Woods and Marqise Lee.
8 p.m. ET (ABC) No. 20 Notre Dame (2-0) at No. 10 Michigan State (2-0)
Running back Cierre Wood returns from suspension this week to bolster an Irish backfield that figures to play an important role in preventing Michigan State's aggressive defense from teeing off on quarterback Everett Golson. Notre Dame's pass rush could cause problems for still-adjusting Spartans quarterback Andrew Maxwell, but not enough to offset its own offensive struggles.
6 p.m. ET (ESPN) No. 18 Florida (2-0) at No. 23 Tennessee (2-0)
It's a pivotal game for both Derek Dooley and Will Muschamp, two heavily scrutinized SEC East coaches trying to usher their teams back into the division's upper tier. Vols quarterback Tyler Bray, off to a torrid start (73.8 percent completions, six touchdowns, no interceptions) will face stiffer resistance from the Gators' D, but he'll certainly be more productive than Florida's Jeff Driskel.
Noon ET (ABC) California (1-1) at No. 12 Ohio State (2-0)
Cal coach Jeff Tedford must be afraid of flying. And how could he not be given his program's recent road woes (7-14 since 2008)? The Buckeyes have not performed as smoothly as its high ranking would indicate, so a blowout is no certainty. But Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller is simply far more potent than Cal counterpart Zach Maynard.
9:15 p.m. ET (ESPN) No. 14 Texas (2-0) at Ole Miss (2-0)
Texas' first two opponents (Wyoming and New Mexico) have done everything in their power to force quarterback David Ash to beat them. In turn, they've created such statistical oddities as back Malcolm Brown getting two carries last week. While Ole Miss has a handful of talented defensive players (most notably defensive end C.J. Johnson), it doesn't have enough to withstand Texas' rushing attack.
3:30 p.m. ET (ABC/ESPN2) North Carolina (1-1) at No. 19 Louisville (2-0)
Cardinals quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has been nearly flawless through two games (49-of-60, 576 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions). Meanwhile, Wake Forest's Tanner Price threw for a career-high 327 yards in a 28-27 win over UNC last week. The Tar Heels' defense may start stronger this week, but it won't be able to contain Bridgewater and his receivers for four quarters.
10 p.m. ET (ESPN2) No. 25 BYU (2-0) at Utah (1-1)
Utah quarterback Jordan Wynn was forced to retire this week following yet another shoulder injury suffered in last week's loss to Utah State. The Utes may be fine in the long run once touted freshman Travis Wilson gets some experience. For now, however, oft-maligned senior Jon Hays will likely struggle against linebacker Kyle Van Noy and the rest of the Cougars' stifling defense.
7 p.m. ET (ESPN2) Arizona State (2-0) at Missouri (1-1)
Mizzou needs to guard against a hangover effect after all the buildup leading into last week's Georgia game, because the Sun Devils look much improved under Todd Graham. His hurry-up offense will score points. Still, the Arizona State defense hasn't faced a formidable quarterback yet. Mizzou's James Franklin will rebound with a productive night, particularly as a rusher.
8 p.m. ET (BTN) Ball State (1-1) at Indiana (2-0)
Indiana coach Kevin Wilson can't catch a break. Sophomore quarterback Tre Roberson was off to a great start before breaking his leg last week against UMass. The Cardinals lost 52-27 last week at Clemson, but Indiana doesn't have Tajh Boyd. Ball State running backs Jahwan Edwards and Horactio Banks are averaging a combined 198.5 yards per game.
Record Last Week: 4-6               Record This Season: 13-7

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