1. Toledo has a tremendous running back-wide receiver combination in Adonis Thomas and Eric Page. These two gave Ohio State fits in the ‘Shoe last weekend, but facing this Boise State defense is a much different story. The Bronco defensive front shut Georgia’s running game down and has had a week of rest to prepare for the Rockets. Keep an eye on Boise State safety George Iloka in this game, as he’ll be key in helping stop Page out on the perimeter. Iloka does a little bit of everything although he presumably won’t be used to cover Page. However, Iloka will “lean” Page’s way to help slow the Toledo star WR down.
2. I’ve seen bits and pieces of Clemson’s new offense under new OC Chad Morris, but I’m pumped to get a chance to see how it executes against Auburn. Now, Auburn’s defense isn’t a true SEC defense – it’s a year away from being real good, but it has some young players that can make life uncomfortable for QB Tahj Boyd and company. I’d venture a guess that the two teams will combine for about 190 plays in this matchup with Morris and Auburn OC Gus Malzahn calling ball plays.
3. Georgia is going to get a win at a much needed time against Coastal Carolina. If it doesn’t…I won’t go there. But, I really liked what I saw in Isaiah Crowell last week against South Carolina’s defense. He showed the whole package against the Gamecocks. If this one goes as planned, we won’t see much of Crowell, but it’s getting to a point where I want to see him week in and week out.
4. Mack Brown has never used a two QB rotation. Now, he’s had two QB “situations”, but he’s always determined a direction with one of the two involved in that “situation”. So, I’m intrigued to see how he handles the two QB rotation of Case McCoy and David Ash. Using two QBs is one thing. Using two freshmen QBs is quite another. The two do complement one another, but that could be a problem for the Horns as opponents can hone in on Ash as the runner and McCoy as the passer. Throw in a trip to the Rose Bowl to take on UCLA and the plate is full for David McCoy or Case Ash, whatever works for you.
5. Speaking of 1-2 punches, Michigan State and Notre Dame will fire them at each other on Saturday on the ground. Edwin Baker and Le’Veon Bell are averaging 125 yards per game on the ground, while Cierre Wood and Jonas Gray are averaging 160 yards per game rushing, with Wood averaging 119 on his own. Both teams’ quarterbacks are effective, no question, but when these two duos get rolling, these two offenses are difficult to stop.
6. Seeing Jerry Kill on Minnesota’s sideline will be a lesson to any player that ever suits up for him in the future. After leaving last week’s game against NMSU with a seizure, Kill was back at practice this week and projects to be on the sideline leading the Gophers against Miami (OH). Can you imagine a player walking into Kill’s office with a slightly sprained ankle, saying he can’t play or can’t go in practice? Think that’s going to fly?
7. In last year’s Holiday Bowl, Nebraska couldn’t stop RB Chris Polk. The Husky star was in total beast mode, toting the mail for 178 yards on 34 carries. He’s already off to a strong start this season, averaging 116 yards per game. That all being said, Polk will be wearing a big, fat bullseye on his #1 this week as he and the Huskies go to Lincoln to take on the Huskers for the third time in a calendar year. Nebraska’s front seven is nasty and physical…and doesn’t forget.
8. I talked about the Florida Gators defensive line in the Three that Matter this week. But, I didn’t mention Shariff Floyd in that assessment because I wanted to mention him by his lonesome here. Floyd has been serving a two game suspension and returns to the lineup this week against Tennessee. I’m real interested to see what he adds to the Gators defense, a unit that has already been playing to rave reviews. If he’s what he’s “supposed to be”, then it’s clear that Florida is the team to beat in the SEC East. Yes, Gamecock fans, I just said that. East Carolina and Georgia scored a total of 79 points on that defense. And, Auburn, Arkansas and potentially Florida are more explosive than those two units.
8. Speaking of South Carolina, I can’t wait to see that SEC defense take on the option for a full 60 minutes against Navy. You think South Carolina gives a rat’s you-know-what about taking a bunch of pesky Midshipmen, especially after beating hated Georgia last week in Athens? Hell no and that could be the problem. Stopping the option, especially Navy’s option, takes the utmost in discipline and if South Carolina isn’t interested in playing responsible option defense, it’s in trouble. Not “losing the game” trouble, but “being in a 60 minute game it shouldn’t be” trouble.
9. The true test of a great team is its ability to expend all it has in a hard fought win one week then go on the road and get a win it SHOULD get the next. That’s what Arizona State is facing this week. After winning a knock-down-drag-out battle with Missouri last Friday night, the Sun Devils travel to Champaign for a battle with Illinois and QB Nathan Scheelhaase. Can you stand prosperity, ASU? We’ll find out on Saturday when the Sun Devils attempt to stop the Fighting Illini.
10. Stanford is flat out better than Arizona this season, but I’m going to be watching to see if the ‘Zona Zoo can motivate and push the ‘Cats to compete for a full 60 minutes against the Cardinal. Arizona just took too many body blows from Oklahoma State early in last Thursday’s blowout loss, but if QB Nick Foles can work the short/quick passing game early and get on a roll, maybe Arizona can stick around. Stanford doesn’t have a Justin Blackmon that Arizona can’t stop so maybe Arizona will be able to force Stanford to have to drive the ball on them throughout the game. If Stanford struggles to string 8 to 12 play drives together on a consistent basis, the ‘Cats just may stay in this one. Maybe.
11. Just FYI, there will be a Marinovich playing in the Coliseum this weekend (Mikhail for Syracuse at USC)
12. Miami returns a handful of starters to the lineup after missing the Maryland opener to face an Ohio State team that struggled to put Toledo away last Saturday. I’m always intrigued as to how teams re-incorporate players back into the fold after suspension and/or injury. Al Golden’s squad showed a ton of moxie against Maryland, albeit severely shorthanded. So, the question is will Jacory Harris, et al.. thrive off that spirit or be more concerned about “getting theirs”? Ohio State will be facing the same question in a few weeks when the Ohio State Four return from a five game suspension.