This is a binoculars week for college football. Kind of like bird watching. Unlike weeks one and two, there are not a lot of obvious huge match-ups jumping up, slapping you in the face and saying, “Watch me!” Now of course to us, any college football is good college football. But we are tasked with highlighting the biggest match-ups each week, so we got our Bushnell’s and went searching. Here is the College Football Preview-Week 3.
College Football Preview-Week 3; Binoculars
LSU (2-0) @ Auburn (2-0); Saturday 3:30pm EST CBS
Is this the battle for the SEC West? Or “just the battle for second in the SEC West?” Either way, it’s a very compelling game. Maybe you need some digital zoom binoculars for this one to make sure you catch it all. The last two years have been amazingly close so you will want to see it to the last play.
The story in Baton Rouge again is the defense. They made life miserable for Miami quarterback Malik Rosier a couple of weeks ago. The pass rush has been exceptional with nine sacks in two weeks. It is going to have to be. The offense is still uncertain. Quarterback Joe Burrow is completing only 48% of his passes and has only two touchdowns. Of Burrow’s 151 yards last week, 40 of those came on one play. LSU hasn’t needed to throw to win. Running back Nick Brossette has rushed for over 100 yards in back-to-back games. The offense line is also a little banged up.
Jarrett Stidham should be the first real test for the LSU defense. He is completing 68% of his passes for Auburn. Considering how good LSU is up front, and how the Auburn offensive line is still a unit in development, this is not going to be the game where you spot a running game out of the Tigers from the Plains. The game comes down to Auburn offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey being able to get just enough time for Stidham to operate. Auburn still has games against Mississippi State, Georgia, Ole Miss and Alabama, so it is plain to see this one is a bit of a must-have on their season checklist.
Ohio State (2-0) vs. TCU (2-0); Saturday 8pm EST ABC; Arlington
The vision here is deceptive with both teams at 2-0. Ohio State has beaten up on Oregon State and Rutgers. The Buckeyes have an average margin of victory of 47 points, but like we said, Oregon State and Rutgers. This is the last game of the Urban Meyer suspension and the first game of resembling any real test. No laser range finder needed on the binoculars to see this test. TCU knows they need this game to show they are something other than just a good Big XII runner-up to Oklahoma.
TCU quarterback Shawn Robinson is putting up mistake-free kind of numbers. He has thrown for four touchdowns and only one interception. He has only 336 yards passing in two games, because even against inferior teams like Southern and SMU, he is not being asked to extend himself too much in the air. Robinson is much more comfortable in a run-pass-option offense than the air raid style game the Horned Frogs have used in the past. Watch the other side of the ball. Keep your glasses on TCU defensive lineman Ben Bangou to see if the Horned Frogs can slow down the Buckeyes offense.
Ohio State is #2 in the country right now in total offense, but we repeat….Oregon State and Rutgers. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins has insane stats. He has thrown for 546 yards and nine touchdowns against just one interception. He has a 79.2 % completion rate! Yes, you read that correctly. But we say again, Oregon State, and….oh nevermind. You see where we are going with that. The real key for Ohio State is the offensive line. At 6-4, 308 pounds, right guard Demetrius Knox is the smallest of the starting five. These guys dominate. Stats against weak teams aside, this is an Ohio State offensive line versus TCU defensive line game.
USC (1-1) @ Texas (1-1); Saturday 8pm EST Fox
Here we have two teams who are a little unsure of their footing right now. USC came into the season with a lot of youth but with the usual lofty expectations. But the Trojans offense could not be found with military-grade rangefinder binoculars last week in the loss to Stanford. Sure, they got to the Stanford 40-yard line a handful of times and had 300+ yards of offense. But all of that got them three points and 14-point conference loss. Freshman quarterback JT Daniels is off to a nice start in terms of yardage, (497), but has one touchdown to two interceptions. He has completed a rather pedestrian 54% of his passes. USC is going to need to rely more on their rushing game with Aca’Cedric Ware and Stephen Carr who have combined for 265 yards over two games.
The USC defense is allowing 19 points per game but Texas is scoring 28 points over the first two weeks. But we don’t know is which Longhorns team is real; the one that lost to Maryland or the one that beat Tulsa. Quarterback Sam Elhinger’s stats are slightly better than those of Daniels. He has 500 yards throwing, a 64% completion percentage and four touchdowns. He does have two interceptions, but they were both in week one. While the offenses appear similar, the Texas defense should be key. The Longhorns are scoring 28 points, as we mentioned, but the defense is giving up 27.5 points per game. They will be scanning the Stanford game tape like crazy this week for the keys to stop USC.
One last note of interest. Everyone remembers the epic 2005 BCS title between USC and Texas. Except USC. Texas history notes that the Longhorns are 1-5 against USC with that one win being that 2005 BCS game. The USC notes say the Trojans are undefeated against Texas, (5-0). How can that be? You may remember USC had to vacate all their wins that year due to the Reggie Bush NCAA violations. USC decided to vacate their most notable loss as well. No day-night vision binoculars are going to bring that loss into focus as far as USC is concerned.