KICKOFF: Saturday, 8 ET
SITE: Bronco Stadium, Boise, Idaho
SURFACE: Blue AstroPlay
SERIES: Oregon State leads the series, 4-2. Last meeting (2006, Boise State, 42-14).
RECORDS: Boise State 2-0, Oregon State 1-1.
POLLS: Boise State (3 AP, 3 USA Today) Oregon State (24 AP, unranked USA Today.)
PREDICTION: Boise State 34-26
KEYS TO THE GAME:
--Boise State's defensive line will be chasing an inexperienced quarterback. Oregon State's problematic secondary will be facing an experienced quarterback. Those two matchups could be the difference-makers.
--Oregon State will need to not only combat a very good football team, but blunt the heavy dose of emotion that will be present. In two previous trips to Broncos Stadium, OSU teams took early leads but once the momentum turned, the Beavers couldn't stop the onslaught.
SCOUTING THE TEAMS:
The Broncos can attack from all angles. QB Kellen Moore is one of the nation's best passers, he has one of the nation's best possession receivers in Austin Pettis and a fearsome deep threat in Titus Young, the tight ends are capable receivers and the run game has provided strong balance. The X-factor is TB Doug Martin, who in his first year as the starter has shown terrific tackle-breaking ability.
Defensively, the Broncos have been dominant inside. The group has racked up 14 tackles for loss already this season. The line has helped the Broncos limit opponents to 107 rushing yards in two games. The Broncos also have recorded seven sacks.
Quizz Rodgers finally had his 100-yard rushing game against Louisville, but will he find many openings against Boise State? The Broncos have held two opponents to a net of 107 rushing yards, which is 53.5 yards on average and an average of 1.5 yards per running play. The Beavers obviously need a better performance than that, but to achieve that balance it will take a better passing game than they've shown in the first two games.
Mobile quarterbacks have been troublesome for the Beavers, who struggled against TCU's Andy Dalton and have only two quarterback sacks. Moore isn't a quarterback who runs often, but he's nifty at avoiding pressure in the pocket and picks apart secondaries if given ample time to throw. Unless the OSU front four steps up its play, it's likely to be a long day for the secondary.
Broncos: Boise State will be looking for its second victory over a ranked opponent after beating Virginia Tech in the opener ... The Broncos are 7-10 against ranked opponents in school history, but have won three straight games and five of their last seven against ranked foes ... Boise is 7-17 against teams from BCS-affiliated conferences, but has won five of its last six against those teams with a 73-4 record (.948) since 2000, the Broncos are the nation's winningest program during that span ... The Broncos have scored 51 non-offensive touchdowns since 2000, most recently on Shea McClellin's fumble recovery against Wyoming earlier this season ... QB Kellen Moore has thrown for more than 200 yards 24 times in his career, including twice this season ... The Broncos are 4-11 in school history against Pac-10 foes, but have won four of their last six games against them. Boise is second nationally in tackles for losses and rushing defense, fifth in total defense and seventh in total offense. The Broncos, along with Alabama and Oregon, are the only teams nationally to rank in the top 10 nationally in total offense and total defense ... Boise ranks 98th in pass efficiency defense ... K Kyle Brotzman is tied for third nationally in field goals ... DE Shea McClellin is tied for ninth in tackles for losses.
Beavers: Boise State's No. 3 ranking represents the highest ranked non-conference opponent Oregon State has faced since meeting No. 3 LSU in the 2004 opener. The last time that OSU defeated a non-conference foe ranked No. 3 or higher was on Oct. 21, 1967 at No. 2 Purdue (22-14). They also beat No. 2 Duke in the only Rose Bowl to be played outside of Pasadena in 1942 ... OSU coach Mike Riley had the Beavers' practice fields painted blue this week in preparation for the storied blue turf in Boise. An anonymous donor covered the cost of the paint ... OSU WR/KR/RB James Rodgers leads the nation in all-purpose yards per game with 226.5 and averages 18.9 yards every time he touches the ball. Rodgers needs 61 yards to become OSU's all-time leader in the category, passing Ken Simonton ... Oregon State junior RB Jacquizz Rodgers is tied for third in the nation among active players for career touchdowns with 38, while Boise State senior WR Austin Pettis is tied for eighth with 33 ...The Beavers are averaging 56 players per game, compared with 79 for opponents. OSU's time of possession is 23 minutes, 28 seconds per game, next-to-last nationally in front of only Middle Tennessee's 22:57 ... The Beavers are tied for third in turnover margin and 10th in kickoff returns ... They rank 105th in total defense, 107th in total offense and 110th in rushing defense ...
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
RB Doug Martin -- He has rushed for 188 yards at 6.5 yards per carry in the first two games, a strong start to his first year as the starter.
WR Austin Pettis -- He was benched for most of last week's game because he drew an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty. It will be interesting to see how he responds. He already has three touchdown grabs this season.
DE Shea McClellin -- He recorded four tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks against Virginia Tech and scored a touchdown against Wyoming, but he left the Wyoming game in the first half with a concussion and is questionable this week.
QB Ryan Katz -- After two games, the OSU sophomore ranks 10th in the Pac-10 in passing efficiency, and has completed only 47 percent of his passes. He's obviously going to have to step up his performance because Boise State typically makes an extra effort at stopping the running game. Katz and his receivers will have to make the Broncos pay for that.
LT Michael Philipp -- Assuming the sophomore starts again this week after regaining his starting role, he and right tackle Mike Remmers figure to have a big task when they block Boise State end Ryan Winterswyk. The Boise State senior is fifth in school history in tackles for loss, and leads a front four that brings heavy pressure on quarterbacks.
TE Joe Halahuni -- Boise State's emphasis on stopping the running game brings the safeties up closer to the line of scrimmage and leaves the cornerbacks playing a lot of single coverage. The openings might be in the middle of the field, if run fakes freeze the safeties and Halahuni gets off the line of scrimmage.
TCU at Southern Methodist
KICKOFF: Saturday, 8 ET
SITE: Gerald J. Ford Stadium, Dallas, Texas
SURFACE: A-Turf Premier
SERIES: TCU leads the series, 43-39-7. Last meeting (2009, TCU, 39-14).
RECORDS: TCU 3-0, SMU 2-1.
POLLS: TCU (4 AP, 5 USA Today).
PREDICTION: TCU 49-21 KEYS TO THE GAME:
-- TCU needs to follow a similar recipe as in their victory against Baylor last week. Use the offense to try to jump ahead early and dictate the pace. A successful running game will enable the Horned Frogs to keep the ball away from SMU's potent offense and take an expected boisterous crowd out of the game from the beginning. On defense, the Horned Frogs have the playmakers to check SMU. But they can't allow the pass-coverage busts that surfaced against Oregon State in the opener to bite them again in their toughest defensive test since that game.
-- SMU can't get flustered at the point of attack. They will need to hope for a balanced offensive attack and for an improving defense to keep its growth - even in the face of its toughest challenge of the season in TCU's varied offensive attack.
SCOUTING THE TEAMS:
TCU has been in sync on offense in every game this season, utilizing a balanced attack with strong running and passing elements. Andy Dalton broke the school record for single-game completion percentage last week and Ed Wesley appears to have emerged as a featured running back from a deep stable of producers. SMU's defense has improved, but hasn't faced anything like the multi-talented array of playmakers that TCU will force them to account for.
The Horned Frogs' defense has always been the hallmark of Gary Patterson's program, understandable because of his defensive background. The experienced group has had effectiveness in the past containing June Jones' pass-happy run-and-shoot attack. Don't expect any fancy coverages or blitzing schemes. The Horned Frogs will line up with the idea of crushing the Mustangs at the point of attack. There's some youth in TCU's pass defense that has some early problems against Oregon State and hasn't been subsequently tested since then. Look for SMU QB Kyle Padron to try to attack those areas early as the Mustangs' best hope in winning.
SMU coach June Jones has said that he sometimes forgets that Padron has only started a handful of games as a quarterback. But he was pleased with Padron's development last week when he rifled a career-best four touchdown passes against Washington State to spark the Mustangs' victory. Padron's development will be accentuated by an improving running game keyed by the emergence of bullish TB Zach Line. That balance should help the Mustangs as the season continues, but the offense will be in for a huge test against a TCU defense that is studded with playmakers and ranks fourth nationally in total defense.
SMU's defense will likewise face a huge test. The SMU defensive group has become a strong, productive unit during its last two games. The Mustangs' front seven has been particularly noticeable with a consistent pass rush and strong play in the trenches. LB Ja'Gared Davis and NT Marquis Frazier have been active during their last two games, providing a noticeable lift to the middle of the Mustangs' defense. The emerging unit will have to play at its best when the Mustangs try to contain Dalton, who set a school record with 11 straight completions to start last week's game against Baylor. And the Mustangs also need to play their gaps well to check TCU's deep collection of running backs.
Horned Frogs: TCU is in the midst of a 17-game regular-season winning streak. Coach Gary Patterson is 7-1 as a head coach against SMU. His only loss came in 2005 when the Mustangs stunned the No. 22 Horned Frogs, 21-10 ... The Horned Frogs have won 17 of their last 18 games and are 29-3 in their last 32 contests ... Nine of TCU's last 10 victories have been by at least 27 points ... The Horned Frogs are playing on a Friday night for the first time since beating Houston in the 2007 Texas Bowl, 20-13 ... TCU has won its last six road games and 11 of its last 13. The Horned Frogs' 33-14 record (.702) in road and neutral-site games since 2003 ranks seventh nationally ... TCU has won four of its last five games at SMU and are 18-22-2 against the Mustangs in Dallas. SMU is TCU's third most-played series, trailing only Baylor (106) and Texas A&M (82). Since the final season of the Southwest Conference in 2005, TCU is 10-3 versus SMU. TCU QB Andy Kerley set a school record last week against Baylor by completing his first 11 passes and 21 of 23 for the game ... The Horned Frogs scored touchdown on their first five possessions last week to cruise to a 35-3 halftime lead and a 45-10 victory over the Bears. It enabled them to start 3-0 for the fifth time in eight seasons. On the last four times they started 4-0, the Horned Frogs went on to win 11 games later in that season. TCU ranks fourth nationally in tackles for losses and total defense, sixth in scoring, ninth in rushing offense and scoring defense and 10th in punt returns. TCU's worst national ranking is 70th in passing offense. TCU DE Wayne Daniels is tied for ninth nationally in tackles for losses and TB Ed Wesley is 10th in rushing.
Mustangs: SMU is coming off a 35-21 home victory over Washington State, which snapped a 17-game losing streak to teams from BCS conferences. ... SMU is 2-0 this season and has won five straight games at Ford Stadium. It's their longest since a five-game stretch during the 1985-86 seasons. SMU is 7-2 in its last nine games, the school's best mark for any nine-game run since the 1984 and 1985 seasons ... SMU has scored on 12 of 13 trips to the red zone in 2010, punching in 11 TDs. The only non-score came when the Mustangs knelt on the ball in the final seconds of their victory over UAB ... Only four of the Mustangs' 22 starters are seniors ... TCU is the highest team ever to visit Ford Stadium, the highest-ranked team SMU has hosted since No. 2 Texas in 1983 and the highest-ranked team the Mustangs have faced since No. 1 Notre Dame in 1989 ... SMU QB Kyle Padron threw a career-best four TD passes against Washington State last week. Three of the scoring tosses went to WR Aldrick Robinson. SMU's highest national ranking is in kickoffs, where the Mustangs rank 11th ... The Mustangs rank 100th nationally in pass defense and 106th in sacks allowed.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
QB Andy Dalton -- He's coming off a record-breaking effort where he set school passes for completions at the start of the game (11) and single-game completion percentage (91.3 percent), completing 21 of 23 passes.
TB Ed Wesley -- The speedy breakaway threat has emerged as TCU's leading rusher in each game this season, including a career-best 165 yards last week against Baylor.
CB Greg McCoy -- He struggled early on a couple of long touchdown passes against Oregon State in the opener. McCoy and the secondary appeared to have shored those concerns up, but we won't really know until they face Kyle Padron and SMU's developing passing attack.
QB Kyle Padron -- His confidence in the offense is soaring after throwing a career-best four TD passes against Washington State last week.
NT Marquis Frazier -- SMU's most consistent defensive lineman will face a huge challenge against the strength of TCU's interior.
LB Ja'Gared Davis -- Emerging as one of the nation's most productive linebackers, leading Conference USA in tackles for loss (2.67 per game) and tied for the conference lead in sacks (1.33 per game).
KICKOFF: Saturday, 8 ET
SITE: Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, Utah.
SERIES: Utah leads 5-1. Last meeting (2009, Utah, 24-14).
RECORDS: Utah 3-0, San Jose State 1-2.
POLLS: Utah (13 AP, 13 USA Today).
PREDICTION: Utah, 41-10
KEYS TO THE GAME:
-- The Spartans gave the Utes a fight last year in San Jose by keeping the score down. That's what needs to happen again this year. If the Utes' offense gets rolling, the Spartans can't keep up.
-- Utah must eliminate mistakes. The Utes gave up a blocked punt and had a defensive breakdown that allowed a Pittsburgh rally to send the season opener to overtime before the Utes prevailed. They allowed UNLV some brief moments of hope with poor third-down defense early and another blocked punt. New Mexico opened the second half with a defensive touchdown from one of Utah's four fumbles (three lost) that momentarily gave UNM life.
SCOUTING THE TEAMS:
The Utes can take their sweet time nursing QB Jordan Wynn back to health because backup Terrance Cain is playing so well. The team has to stop shooting itself in the foot with fumbles. Three RBs have combined for four fumbles this season. The Spartans are giving up 182.7 yards per game, so the Utes have to think they can get some things straightened out in the run game and be productive. Outside of WR Jereme Brooks, the Utes are still looking for a second receiver to step up. DeVonte Christopher had a strong opening game but hasn't matched that performance in the last two games. San Jose State is struggling to run the football, which plays right into the Utes' hands. SJSU is averaging just 67 yards per game, and Utah is giving up 84.3 yards per game. That means the Utes should be able to apply pressure with their front four and use their back seven to harass Spartans QB Jordan LaSecla. The Utes did give up a couple of plays to New Mexico in the second half last week and have to make sure the secondary stays in coverage.
San Jose State's offensive line has been decimated by injuries, which hasn't helped the Spartans pump life into one of the nation's worst offenses. QB Jordan La Secla has done a nice job, and some young playmakers have stepped up, but the lack of a running game continues to haunt the program. The defense has been more encouraging. The Spartans held Southern Utah without a touchdown last week -- the first time since 2003 that they were able to accomplish that feat. And they did a solid job the week before at Wisconsin. Still, the group has a long way to go if it wants to hold up in a WAC that is loaded with offensive firepower. Utah, which averages 40.3 points per game, will be a stiff test.
Utes: Utah soared to No. 13 in both polls last week. It's their highest ranking since finishing the 2008 season ranked No. 2 in the AP poll after beating Alabama in the Sugar Bowl ... Utah's 19-game home winning streak is the longest streak in MWC history, the second-longest in school history and the third-longest active win streak in the nation. It dates back to a Sept. 15, 2007 victory over 11th-ranked UCLA and currently ranks behind only Oklahoma (33) and Boise State (26). The school record for consecutive home wins is 26, set 1928-34. ... Saturday's game will be homecoming. San Jose State's only victory in the series came in 1974 when it was the Utes' homecoming foe ... Utah KR Shaky Smithson won his second MWC Special Teams Player of the Week award in as many weeks and cornerback Lamar Chapman won his first MWC Defensive Player of the Week award following Utah's 56-14 win over New Mexico last week. Smithson ranks fourth nationally in punt returns ... The Utes have produced 72% of their points (87) in the second and third quarters ... Utah has allowed just one sack and its first-string offensive line has not allowed any ... The Utes have scored on 10-of-12 (83%) trips into the red zone with eight touchdowns (67%) ... The Utes rank tied for second in sacks allowed, third nationally in punt returns and seventh in passing efficiency ... They are tied for 89th in turnover margin and 107th in net punting ... LB Chaz Walker ranks tied for ninth nationally in tackles.
Spartans: San Jose State claimed its first victory of the season by beating Southern Utah last week after earlier losing to Alabama and Wisconsin. It's the first time since 1993 that the Spartans have played three nationally-ranked teams in a four-week span ... San Jose State will be looking to snap a 17-game losing streak in regular-season, non-conference road games. The Spartans' most recent road victory was a 38-35 triumph at Illinois on Sept. 21, 2002 ... San Jose State limited Southern Utah without a touchdown in the 16-11 victory, limiting the Thunderbirds to three field goals and a safety. It was the first time San Jose State limited an opponent without a touchdown in 84 games ... CB Ronnie Yell tied a school record last week with four pass break-ups ... The Spartans are one of 22 teams nationally with a 100 percent efficiency scoring rate in the red zone after three weeks of action. The Spartans have three touchdowns and a pair of field goals in their five times in the red zone this season ... The Spartans' top national ranking is 27th in sacks allowed. San Jose State ranks 118th in scoring offense, 116th in total offense, 115th in rushing, 103rd in net punting and 101st in total defense.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
KR/PR Shaky Smithson -- Smithson has been the benefactor the last two weeks when the Utes have faced teams that don't compare favorably in terms of talent. San Jose State, in its first year under Coach Mike MacIntyre, may find out how athletic Smithson is. He'll try to tie a school record for punt returns for a TD set by Steve Smith in 1999.
QB Terrance Cain -- Cain could have one more chance to make a claim to be the starter, even when Jordan Wynn returns. Cain hasn't made any errors and has completed 76.7 percent of his passes. The Utes might help Cain's cause if his offensive teammates can keep from fumbling the football.
CB Lamar Chapman -- Chapman has been the best player in the Utah secondary, averaging seven tackles per game. He also has 2.5 sacks this season. He can continue to help the inexperienced Utes DBs gain confidence and make plays. When the secondary starts playing up to its potential, the defensive line will become more dominant.
CB Ronnie Yell -- He tied a school record with four pass breakups last week in his first start of the season.
WR Chandler Jones -- He has been a nice surprise this year with 20 catches for 170 yards and a touchdown. He needs to improve his 8.5-yard average per catch.
S Bene Benwikere -- The true freshman replaces injured standout Duke Ihenacho. He has an interception and a forced fumble.
C Zane Taylor (knee, probable), QB Jordan Wynn (thumb, probable), TE Brad Clifford (shoulder, out), LB J.J. Williams (foot, out), DE Derrick Shelby (ankle, probable), RB Sausan Shakerin (concussion, out for season), DB Damian Payne (foot, questionable).
G Ailao Eliapo (ankle, probable), S Duke Ihenacho (foot, out for season), DE Mohamed Marah (shoulder, out for season). OL Fred Koloto (knee, questionable), C Robbie Reed (knee, out), LB Pompey Festejo (foot, out for season).