By Josh Kramer
Louisiana-Monroe stole the show in Week 2 with their shocking upset of the heavily favored Razorbacks. In addition, the Pac-12 flexed their muscles against the Big Ten and staked their claim as the second best conference in college football. Luckily for all of us, Week 3 is when the schedule begins to take things up a notch. The powder puff games are few and far between, with ranked matchups galore.
Here are the marquee matchups:
Alabama at Arkansas: Crimson Tide by 24
Headline: No comeback needed this time around. The Crimson Tide smack around the overmatched Razorbacks from start to finish.
Louisiana-Monroe? Do they even have a college football team? This stunning upset was reminiscent of the infamous Appalachian State victory in the Big House back on September 1, 2007. That was last week though. Believe me, Alabama is not going to come to town with milk and cookies because they feel bad for the Razorbacks. Not to mention that the status of Arkansas star quarterback Tyler Wilson is uncertain.
Back when the schedules were released, this was a game that I and many thought would be a classic. That just won’t be the case. The Razorbacks have defeated seven of their past ten ranked foes, but Alabama is better than the Razorbacks in every facet of the game. Add in the fact that Tyler Wilson’s status is uncertain, and you have a blowout in Fayetteville.
Florida at Tennessee: Volunteers by 3
Headline: Neyland Stadium goes wild as the Volunteers defeat their old nemesis for the first time in eight years behind Tyler Bray and the lethal Tennessee passing attack.
Tennessee is ranked for the first time in four seasons. In addition, Tennessee has failed to defeat Florida since September 18, 2004. Next, Tennessee has lost eleven straight games to ranked opponents. Lastly, Tennessee has failed to start a season 3 and 0 since 2004 when they last defeated the Gators. Well that all will change on Saturday in Knoxville.
Florida has an extremely talented defense as is typically the case in Gainesville. Their secondary will be pushed to the limit though by Tyler Bray and the Volunteers aerial attack. Add in what will be an extremely hostile crowd, and trouble is on the horizon for the Gators. I am not entirely sold on this Florida team after watching them struggle against Bowling Green in the opener and sneak out of College Station with a victory. Florida’s vulnerabilities will be on full display Saturday as Tennessee turns this always highly anticipated matchup back into a rivalry with a huge victory in front of the home crowd.
USC at Stanford: Trojans by 17
Headline: Stanford falters without “Luck” on their side against the supremely talented Trojans.
San Jose State. Duke. Not exactly USC-caliber are they? The post-Andrew Luck era officially beings on Saturday night at Stanford Stadium when the number two ranked Trojans come to town. Last year’s triple-overtime thriller was one of the top games of the 2011 season. That was back when Stanford had the NFL’s number one draft pick Andrew Luck, under center.
Matt Barkley has constantly harped on “unfinished business” being a main reason for his return to Trojanville. Well the Heisman frontrunner has failed to defeat the Cardinal in three previous attempts (the lone Pac-12 team he has never defeated). In addition, history is against the Cardinals as well. Stanford has never defeated USC four-straight times during the course of the 107-year rivalry. Besides, Stanford would need a whole lot more than “Luck” to beat the 2012 edition of the USC Trojans.
Notre Dame at Michigan State: Fighting Irish by 3
Headline: The Fighting Irish win a thriller in potentially the last matchup between these two longtime rivals for the foreseeable future.
Brian Kelly insists that there is no quarterback controversy in South Bend. With BK’s track record in terms of quarterbacks, it shouldn’t really matter. Last season, the Fighting Irish vented their frustrations on the Spartans in the form of a 31 to 13 victory in South Bend. This year’s version of Michigan State is better than the 2011 team. They have an outstanding rushing attack and a stout defense.
Fortunately for Notre Dame, they appear to matchup well with the tenth ranked Spartans. Michigan State does not have the offensive skill set to expose the sub-par Fighting Irish secondary. Though Le’Veon Bell will cause issues for Notre Dame, he won’t be able to win the game alone. The real question revolves around whether Andrew Maxwell can actually lead the Spartans through the air in key situations Saturday? My money says he can’t. With a victory, Brian Kelly will win over many of the Fighting Irish faithful and show that this team is the real deal. Do not sleep on the Fighting Irish, as they capture the marquee victory of the Brian Kelly era to date in East Lansing.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.