College Football 2011: Previews and Score Predictions for Week 3
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Week 3 is upon us (already??), and the action is heating up across the country. The Alabama Crimson Tide jumped LSU this week to No. 2 in the AP Poll after a convincing win on the road at Penn State; the Bama defense still looks to be a force as the season unfolds.
Across the state, the Auburn Tigers are doing what they’ve done since November 2009: winning. Despite some seriously terrible defense in the first two games, they’ve shown they have the "it" factor in the fourth quarter to come out with the upper advantage. The Troy Trojans travel to Arkansas this weekend, looking for a big-time upset of an SEC program.
Are you ready yet? Let’s get down to it.
Here goes Week 3.
College Football (18-2 season; 10-0 last week):
-All times Central
-All rankings reflect latest AP Poll
No. 3 LSU (2-0, 0-0) at No. 25 Mississippi State (1-1, 0-1)
Will Mississippi State upset LSU?
Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 7 p.m.; ESPN
LSU will play only the second non-holiday Thursday night game in school history this Thursday night at Mississippi State. Last week, the Tigers shut down the Northwestern State Devils 49-7, extending their non-conference win streak to 35 games. But that didn't matter to the pollsters, who boosted Alabama back over LSU to No. 2 a week after the Tigers passed the Tide in the previous poll.
Mississippi State, coming off a heartbreaking loss at Auburn, will have plenty of support Thursday night from its roaring fanbase, complete with non-stop cowbells and screaming fans desperate for a big-time win for the program. But LSU has won 11 straight over the Bulldogs, and the only other time LSU played on a Thursday night was ironically this same match-up, in 2007. LSU won that one 45-0.
LSU 28, Mississippi State 24
No. 21 Auburn (2-0, 1-0) at Clemson (2-0, 0-0)
Saturday, September 17, 2011 at 11 a.m.; ABC
Will Auburn beat Clemson?
It has almost become a fantasy-land for Auburn fans, as week by week, the Tigers just keep on finding ways to win despite being pummeled on the stat sheets. Well, not much should be different Saturday when the Tigers travel to Clemson to take on, well, the Tigers. The last two meetings between the two teams have been decided on the final play of the game in overtime, including a 27-24 victory for Auburn last year on the Plains. Auburn holds the all-time edge 34-11, and they've won 14 straight over Clemson. Give it to 'em, by an edge, yet again.
Auburn 31, Clemson 28
Ole Miss (1-1, 0-0) at Vanderbilt (2-0, 0-0)
Saturday, September 17, 2011 at 11:21 a.m.; SEC NETWORK
The SEC West's worst team faces off against the SEC East's worst. OK, OK, Kentucky may be worse than Vandy on that side, but I digress. These teams started playing each other way back in 1894; Vandy won the first 19 matches, but Ole Miss has won 47 of the last 66.
In the 86th renewal of the match-up, Ole Miss travels to Nashville, where they'll look to break a seven-year losing streak in SEC openers. The last league-opening win for the Rebels came in 2003 on this very field, when Ole Miss downed the Commodores, 24-21:
Ole Miss 27, Vanderbilt 24
No. 15 Michigan State (2-0, 0-0) at Notre Dame (0-2)
Saturday, September 17, 2011 at 2:30 p.m.; NBC
If you didn't see the thriller last week between Notre Dame and Michigan, you missed out on a whale of a finish. The finish resulted in another loss for Notre Dame, though, the second straight for a program that is better than its record shows at this point. Sure, one could make the argument that that is not a true statement, but the Irish have lost two games by just seven points. If you lose two games by just seven points after turning the ball over five times in each game, you're doing pretty good for yourself. If the Irish can manage to hang onto it this week, they'll be fine against Sparty.
Notre Dame 24, Michigan State 20
Will Tennessee give Florida a scare?
Tennessee (2-0, 0-0) at No. 16 Florida (2-0, 0-0)
Saturday, September 17, 2011 at 2:30 p.m.; CBS
In the 41st meeting between these two storied rivals, the Vols travel to Gainesville for the first game featuring Verne and Gary (SEC on CBS) of the season. Tennessee has lost three straight meetings to Florida in Gainesville after winning two in a row in 2001 and 2003. The Volunteers hope to snap a series-worst six game losing streak to the Gators Saturday afternoon in front of a rowdy Ben-Hill Griffin Stadium. The Vols are 2-0 for the first time since 2003, but this week will be the last time Rocky Top can be called "Undefeated" this season.
Florida 31, Tennessee 21
Navy (2-0) at No. 10 South Carolina (2-0, 1-0)
Saturday, September 17, 2011 at 5 p.m.; ESPN2
The first meeting between these two teams was in 1920, when the Navy football team steamrolled South Carolina 63-0. But since then, the Gamecocks have taken the series lead 4-3. At Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, however, South Carolina is 4-1. The last time these non-conference foes squared off was in 1988, a 19-8 win for favored South Carolina at home. The Gamecocks have won four straight home openers, looking for five as the Midshipmen sail into Columbia. Go Cocks.
South Carolina 37, Navy 23
South Alabama (2-0) at NC State (1-1, 0-1)
Saturday, September 17, 2011 at 5 p.m.; ESPN3.com
South Alabama plays its first FBS team in school history Saturday in North Carolina, carrying a 17-game win streak on the road to ACC Country. The team has yet to lose a game since it began playing football in 2009, and it starts a transition face in 2011 to the Sun Belt Conference. The Jaguars play their first FBS opponent, NC State, this week and follow it up with another FBS foe, Kent State, next on the lineup. The rest of the schedule consists of four FCS and two NCAA Division II opponents.
Next season, the Jags will participate in a full Sun Belt Conference schedule but will not be eligible for the conference championship and/or a bowl game, but in 2013, it's all fair game for Mobile's beloved university.
NC State 43, South Alabama 10
North Texas (0-2, 0-1) at No. 2 Alabama (2-0, 0-0)
Saturday, September 17, 2011 at 6:30 p.m.; FSN
Tide fans won't have much to look forward to Saturday as far as an exciting game goes, but they will get to see the return of a valuable receiver. Darius Hanks returns to the lineup for Bama against the Mean Green of North Texas for the first time this season after sitting out the first two games in compliance with the NCAA's redshirt rule. Alabama currently ranks sixth in the SEC in passing, and Hanks is sure to provide a boost to the Tide's offense. The offense won't need any help Saturday night in Bryant-Denny.
Alabama 49, North Texas 3
Troy (0-1, 0-0) at No. 14 Arkansas (2-0, 0-0)
Saturday, September 17, 2011 at 6:30 p.m.; ESPN3.com
Troy opens its season with two straight "BCS" opponents for the third time in its history, having already pushed Clemson to the wire in Week 1 until losing ground late. The Trojans were off last week but must face an Arkansas team this week that is on a rail. Sophomore Trojan quarterback Corey Robinson needs just 16 passing yards to become just the sixth player in school history to throw for at least 4,000 yards in a career. These two teams put up more than 1,000 yards of offense in their last meeting in 2009, but four turnovers plagued the Trojans in a 56-20 loss.
Arkansas 44, Troy 20
No. 17 Ohio State (2-0, 0-0) at Miami (0-1, 0-0)
Saturday, September 17, 2011 at 6:30 p.m.; ESPN
Everyone remember the 2002 national championship game in Tempe? This young rivalry has lost some of its luster since then, but it's still noteworthy. The Buckeyes struggled at home last week against Toledo, hanging on to win 27-22 in front of more than 105,000 disgruntled fans at the Horseshoe.
On the other side, the Hurricanes took Week 2 off after dropping a Monday night road game to ACC foe Maryland in opening week. Ohio State leads the all-time series between these two 2-1, with the last game going to Ohio State 31-24 in double overtime in the '02 'ship.
Ohio State 34, Miami 28
**Game of the Week**
No. 1 Oklahoma (1-0, 0-0) at No. 5 Florida State (2-0, 0-0)
Saturday, September 17, 2011 at 7 p.m.; ABC
Who will win the Game of the Week?
ESPN's College Gameday travels to Tallahassee Saturday for the first time since 2003 to showcase America's No. 1 team facing off against the No. 5 Florida State Seminoles. This will be just the second time a No. 1 team has visited Doak Campbell Stadium; FSU defeated No. 1 Florida 24-21 in 1996. The Sooners creamed the Seminoles last season in Norman 47-17, and they also boast an impressive 5-1 record in the series history. But alas, they've never played in Tallahassee.
Florida State 31, Oklahoma 27
Tucker Sargent is a senior at Troy University in his home state of Alabama. "Tucker's Pick 'Em" started in 2009 on Facebook, with 10 games of interest being picked each week. Opinions are not meant to offend anyone. Visit Tucker's blog or follow him on Twitter here.
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