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FIVE WORTH WATCHING

Sept. 26, 2011
Sept. 26, 2011

Table of Contents
Sept. 26, 2011

LEADING OFF
Inside: THE WEEK IN SPORTS
PRO FOOTBALL
  • Still questioning whether Cam Newton has what it takes to make it as an NFL quarterback? The No. 1 pick is off to a record-setting start with the Panthers. Now he could use a few wins

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FIVE WORTH WATCHING

Here are the games and the names that fans should keep an eye on in Week 4.

NO. 14 ARKANSAS at NO. 3 ALABAMA

This is an article from the Sept. 26, 2011 issue

What we've learned about the Razorbacks: In their tune-up for 'Bama, a surprisingly difficult 38--28 victory over Troy, their O-line was porous and the secondary was suspect. A peaking squad this is not.

What we've learned about the Tide: In its glorified practice against North Texas, Alabama showed how it will try to win the SEC: Pound the ball on offense (both Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy ran for more than 160 yards) and play smothering defense. (The Tide held North Texas to 169 yards.)

What it all means on Saturday: Alabama breezes to a three-TD victory.

NO. 7 OKLAHOMA ST. at NO. 8 TEXAS A&M

What we've learned about the Cowboys: They have one of the nation's most potent throwing-and-catching combinations in Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon, but the key will be running back Joseph Randle, who last week against Tulsa had his third straight 100-yard rushing game (128).

What we've learned about the Aggies: They were sloppy early in their 37--7 win over Idaho, with two turnovers in the first quarter. A&M didn't look like a top 10 team.

What it all means on Saturday: Weeden & Co. look poised for a big win, which will catapult them into the BCS title discussion.

NO. 2 LSU at NO. 16 WEST VIRGINIA

What we've learned about the Tigers: Boasting perhaps the most athletic and physical defense in the nation, LSU only needs QB Jarrett Lee to be efficient, which he was against Mississippi State, completing 21 of 27 passes for 213 yards and one TD in the Tigers' 19--6 win.

What we've learned about the Mountaineers: The bright spot has been QB Geno Smith, who threw for a career-high 388 yards in a 37--31 win over Maryland.

What it all means on Saturday: LSU will be very difficult to beat, especially because its opponent is one of the most inconsistent teams in the nation.

NO. 11 FLORIDA ST. at NO. 21 CLEMSON

What we've learned about the Seminoles: The offense struggled in its 23--13 loss to Oklahoma. Backup QB Clint Trickett completed just 7 of 15 passes, and the 'Noles averaged only 1.0 yard per carry in 26 attempts.

What we've learned about the Tigers: Their offense is humming. It racked up 624 yards in a 38--24 win over Auburn. The breakout player was freshman Sammy Watkins, who caught 10 passes for 155 yards and two TDs.

What it all means on Saturday: The 'Noles have more talent and should win—if they're not still reeling from Saturday's loss.

NO. 23 USC at ARIZONA ST.

What we've learned about the Trojans: In its first two games, USC had scored only one second-half offensive TD. Against Syracuse, Matt Barkley tossed three TD passes after halftime in the team's most complete 60 minutes so far.

What we've learned about the Sun Devils: Illinois revealed how to slow down 6'8" QB Brock Osweiler (left): Blitz on nearly every down. He was sacked six times and threw two picks in a 17--14 loss.

What it all means on Saturday: These are two teams heading in opposite directions, and a USC victory will keep it that way.

PHOTOMARK J. PETERS/CAL SPORT MEDIA