Friday, September 7, 2012

College Football 2012 - Week 2 Preview

Big 10
What I am watching:  How will Wisconsin, Nebraska and Illinois fair in a triumvirate of road games against PAC-12 squads?  The left coast has not been kind to the Big 10 in the regular season or Rose Bowl, so these 3 teams are on danger alert this weekend.  This will also give some indication how these two conferences stack up against each other come BCS time.

Upset alert:  Nebraska at UCLA.  See above, plus the uncertain status of Rex Burkhead.  Can Taylor Martinez take his impressive passing show from a week ago on the road?

Player on the spot:  Andrew Maxwell, QB, Michigan State.  The Spartans make a road trip to Central Michigan and need to get their signal-caller going for upcoming games against Notre Dame and the Big 10.  Sparty also needs receiving options to step forward and help the first-year starter.

What I am watching:  Since I vested myself in North Carolina State with my 10-2 prediction for them, I am interested how they respond to the Tennessee loss with a trip at a solid Connecticut Huskies squad.  An 0-2 start would be a disaster and would leave Clemson and Florida State likely in a two-team race in the ACC Atlantic.

Upset alert:  North Carolina at Wake Forest.  The Tar Heels looked good against Elon College, the Deacons struggled against Liberty.  It wouldn't be the first time a team bounced back at home after such a performance.

Player on the spot:  Perry Jones, RB, Virginia.  The electric Jones may need to make some big plays to open up the passing game against a Penn State defense trying to rebound from a poor 2nd half against Ohio last week.  Jones could be the difference-maker on the field Saturday in Charlottesville.

What I am watching:  The two newbies, Missouri and Texas A&M get their first conference action by hosting Georgia and Florida, respectively.  The two have held their own in the Big 12, but the SEC is supposed to be a different animal.  A&M had their first game wiped out, so the Gators represent their opening act of 2012 with a new coach and quarterback.  Based on Houston's performance last week, it appears Kevin Sumlin took a lot of offensive knowledge with him to College Station.  Missouri gets Georgia and the unknown of the Dawgs suspended defensive players.  Once Georgia gets back to 100%, this team should be elite.  Missouri catches them at a good time.

Upset alert:  Vanderbilt at Northwestern.  The Commodores played South Carolina tough last week but as usual, ended up with a close loss against a supposed superior opponent.  Northwestern is more on par with Vandy, but the Wildcats seem very dangerous as a home underdog.

Coach on the spot:  Dan Mullen, Mississipp State.  Mullen has never beaten Auburn.  Last season the Bulldogs were a foot from overtime.  This year Auburn appears vulnerable once again and optimism reins in Starkville.  Mullen needs to find a way to beat Auburn if Mississippi State is ever going to take a step forward to the upper-division of the SEC West.

Big 12
What I am watching:  Three Big 12 teams play against fellow BCS schools...Oklahoma State travels to Arizona, Iowa State slugs it out at Iowa and Kansas State hosts Miami, FL.  The Big 12 did not schedule many games the likes of these, so these will provide a barometer of both these 3 teams and the conference as a whole.  I am especially interested in the Kansas State/Miami game, as it was the game last year at Miami that announced Kansas State as a team to watch.  A home victory here would signify that they plan on sticking around the upper-echelon in 2012.

Upset alert:  Kansas State vs Miami, FL.  The above being said, the Wildcats made a living of playing close games a season ago and anything can happen in such instances.  The Hurricanes were good in Week 1 and have talent equal or better than K-State.

Player on the spot:  Steele Jantz, QB, Iowa State.  Jantz had a solid performance against Tulsa, but may need to improve on his 6.3 ypa to upset rival Iowa.  It will also be Jantz's first trip into Iowa City, a place that most Cylcone quarterbacks come out with L's.

What I am watching:  7 PAC-12 teams are in action against fellow BCS conference teams and 2 others play non-slouches Fresno State and Utah State.  With USC and Oregon already penciled-in for two match-ups that could leave both with at least one loss, the PAC-12 needs to show in these non-conference games to boost the BCS Title chances of the Trojans and Ducks.  The biggest coup would be Washington going into LSU and throwing a huge wrench into the National Title picture.  Regardless it will be a telling weekend in the PAC-12.

Upset alert:  Arizona State vs Illinois.  The Sun Devils have the PAC-12 history on their side and the offense looked impressive a week ago, but Illinois beat Arizona State a year ago and have a veteran quarterback leading them into Tempe.  The Illini were a sleeper for some in the Big 10 and can capture some attention with a road win Saturday.

Player on the spot:  Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA.  If the Bruins are going to upset the Cornhuskers, Franklin is going to need to play a huge role.  After thrashing Rice for 214 yards a week ago, Franklin should be bursting with confidence going in against a fairly inexperienced Husker run defense. 

Big East
What I am watching: 

Upset alert:  Temple vs Maryland.  Because their are no others on the board.  I don't think this will happen either.

Player on the spot:  Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse.  If he somehow outplays Matt Barkley, is Nassib a Heisman contender? 

Non-BCS Conferences
What I am watching:  Will any teams from the non-BCS conferences add to the wins over BCS conference teams this week?  Ohio, Nevada and Colorado State tallied wins over BCS conference teams a week ago.  Potential spots for week 2...Utah State vs Utah, Texas State vs Texas Tech, Kent State at Kenucky and Rice at Kansas.

Upset alert:  Colorado State vs North Dakota State.  The Rams, fresh off a win vs rival Colorado, take on the FCS champions from a year-ago in North Dakota State.  The talent difference will not likely be that great if Colorado State is not ready.

Coordinator on the spot:  Travis Bush, OC, Houston.  When your offensive coordinator resigns after one week something is amiss.  Bush steps in Mike Nesbitt after last week's debacle vs Texas State.  With big expectations, the Cougars need to rebound against a talented Louisiana Tech team.

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