Week two of the college football season is one I won’t soon forget. Auburn had a miraculous victory for the second week in a row then Georgia and South Carolina had an epic battle between the hedges. Ohio State barely escaped a tricky Toledo team and Denard Robinson showed, for the second year in a row, that he absolutely owns the Golden Domers. That was just the big surprises though. In addition, the Tarheels squeaked by the Scarlet Knights, the Demon Deacons toppled the Wolfpack, the Hokies ruined ECU’s upset bid, and the Stanford “Andrew Luck’s”, I mean Cardinal….well they did what they were supposed to against Duke. So while I’m still recovering from the madness of last Saturday, week three is almost here and it’s time to look at the games that, on paper, are sure to entertain.
#3 LSU at #25 Mississippi State: September 15, 8:00 p.m.
In week one, the Bayou Bengals impressed with a strong showing on defense, defeating an electric Oregon team 40-27. The LSU defense forced four turnovers and dominated the line of scrimmage holding Chip Kelly’s offense to 335 yards, almost a full 200 yards less than the Ducks averaged last season. The Ducks offense, which averaged 310 yards rushing just a season ago, was held to just 95 yards on the ground by the LSU defense.
Now, the Tigers must face another potent offense in the 25th ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs. Averaging 321 yards rushing thus far, and just slightly under 600 yards of total offense per game, the Mississippi State offense will look to do what Oregon couldn’t in the season opener. Led by their dynamic duo of seniors, quarterback Chris Relf and running back Vick Ballard, the Bulldog offense will look to light up the Davis Wade Stadium scoreboard tonight. With quarterback Jordan Jefferson and wide receiver Russell Shepard still suspended, the LSU defense will need to keep Relf and the Bulldogs in check to win what should be another South Eastern Conference thriller.
#21 Auburn at Clemson: September 17, 12:00 p.m.
For two weeks straight now Gene Chizik and the Auburn Tigers have managed to slip out of Jordan-Hare Stadium with last second victories. Despite being outgained by a total of 234 yards in the two contests all that matters is the zero in the loss column. Saturday Auburn finds themselves with their first road test against the Clemson Tigers. Clemson, much like Auburn, has been less than impressive on defense surrendering 822 yards in two games. However, just like the defending champions the Clemson Tigers find themselves with the all important zero in the loss column. Unlike Auburn though, Clemson has yet to face a quality opponent with their two victories coming against the Troy Trojans and the Football Championship Subdivision Wofford Terriers.
Head Coach Dabo Swinney and the Clemson Tigers will be looking to avenge a 27-24 overtime defeat in which Swinney and the Tigers had the eventual champions on the ropes. Leading 17-3 at halftime, the Clemson defense collapsed in the third quarter surrendering 21 unanswered points, much to the surprise of the Auburn faithful still in attendance. Although Clemson was able to force overtime with a fourth quarter touchdown (the only score of the period), Clemson’s redshirt freshman kicker, Chandler Catanzaro missed a field goal try to force a second overtime.
The loss had a lasting impact on both teams as Clemson went on to lose the next two games and seven total throughout the season while Auburn was able to use the momentum from a comeback victory to lead themselves to a BCS championship. In a game that features two high scoring offenses with suspect defenses, anything less than a shootout would be surprising.
#17 Ohio State at Miami: September 17, 7:30 p.m.
In a game that’s being labeled the Ineligible Bowl, two programs with more problems off the field then on will face off under the lights of Sunlife Stadium. Less than a decade ago the Buckeyes and Hurricanes were battling each other for a BCS championship. Now, the two teams are in the news for all the wrong reasons.
Ohio State was the first of the two in the crosshairs of the NCAA when reports surfaced last December that five current players had traded autographed memorabilia for tattoos. Then the problem compounded when the Buckeyes Head Coach and Columbus Ohio legend, Jim Tressel, was found to be guilty of major NCAA violations. Tressel later resigned and Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor bolted for the National Football League where he was drafted by the Oakland Raiders.
In Miami, things were going smoothly in Al Golden’s first season as the Hurricanes Head Coach. Golden had landed a top 40 recruiting class and he had a returning team full of stars on both sides of the ball. Then, Nevin Shapiro’s tell-all prison interview was released. Implicating 72 former and current Hurricane players, the former booster shared elicit details of the impermissible benefits he provided Miami players. The interview has resulted in 8 Hurricanes being suspended and an ongoing investigation by the NCAA.
On the field the matchup looks one sided in Ohio State’s favor who have a 34 point scoring average compared to Miami’s 24 points scored in their opening week loss to Maryland. However, the Canes will welcome back quarterback Jacory Harris who, despite being prone to turnovers, has been an explosive QB in the past. The Hurricanes also have two capable running backs in Lamar Miller and Mike James. Look for the Hurricanes to run the ball and utilize the play action pass to test a Buckeye defense that has yet to face a quality opponent.
#1 Oklahoma at #5 Florida State: September 17, 8:00 p.m.
Not many teams have had more dominating starts to their 2011 seasons then these two, and while last year’s matchup was a one sided affair, resulting in a 30 point Sooner victory, this year’s should be anything but.
Led by Heisman hopeful quarterback Landry Jones, the top ranked Sooners head into Doak Campbell Stadium off a dominating 47-14 victory against Tulsa. The Sooners, who put up an astonishing 663 yards of offense against the Golden Hurricane, will matchup with a stingy Seminole defense that has given up just 275 yards in their first two contests. The Seminoles also find themselves fourth in the nation in scoring defense yielding just 10 points in two games. Florida State has had their share of fireworks on offense as well, averaging 509 yards and 48 points per game.
If there is a weakness for the Seminoles heading into the game Saturday it’s their inability to create turnovers on defense. Florida State will have to correct this problem against a Sooner offense that has averaged 39 points in Landry Jones’ starts. If the Seminole defense can force Oklahoma to turn the ball over Saturday night could be the beginning of a dream season for Florida State and their fans.