There are seven games over the course of Saturday during week three of the college football season that I will be eyeing very closely. Here are some things to watch for...
3:30 p.m. EST
I am really looking forward to this game. So much is on the line for both programs. This is a terrific non-conference game that will enhance the winner's chances for a playoff run. There are two things that jump out to me that I will be watching closely: how does Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer handle his first start and how does the Fighting Irish defense handle the Tech triple option attack?
Many, myself included, were drinking the Auburn kool-aid during the off-season, assuming Jeremy Johnson would just slide into the starting quarterback position and have the Tigers roaring offensively. Sure, Auburn is a perfect 2-0 but Johnson has been up and down and struggled. He has completed only 60.4% of his passes and has thrown five interceptions and only three touchdowns against Louisville and Jacksonville State. Again, can Gus Malzahn's offense strike balance in Baton Rouge and can Johnson play (big) mistake free ball?
Conversely, LSU is coming off a huge road win in Starkville, where the Tigers held on against the Bulldogs. How well will they get their sophomore running back Leonard Fournette going? Can their offensive line control the line of scrimmage against Will Muschamp's defensive unit to take pressure off their young quarterback, Brandon Harris?
Those are the things I am watching for in this one.
This will be a huge "barometer" game for Miami. I want to know where this program is heading. We all know that Hurricane coach Al Golden is on the hot-seat and needs to have a big season. But how big? Hard to say and only the Miami administration really knows the answer to that question. What I know is that it's time for Golden and company to make something happen. It starts here in this big non-conference game against a new Cornhusker team led by coach Mike Riley. I am watching to see if this Hurricane program takes the next step. It starts this weekend with this program.
7:30 p.m. EST
The Cal offense versus the Texas defense will be an interesting matchup between Bears offensive coordinator Tony Franklin and the Longhorns' Charlie Strong. The Longhorns won't shut them down, but you would think they should be able to slow them down. But what I will be watching is this Texas offense. Can they keep up with Cal and generate points? Ball control and field position will be critical to their success.
8:00 p.m. EST
How does Rutgers handle a tough road game without their head coach who is suspended?
9:15 p.m. EST
There is so much to watch for here. The big one is can the Crimson Tide defense slow down the offense attack of the Rebels that has averaged over 70 points a game? Both teams are playing two new starting quarterbacks in Chad Kelly and Jacob Coker. The question is which one can make the most plays down the field in the passing game? Can Derrick Henry run the ball and control the game from Alabama's perspective against a very good Ole Miss defense? Finally, is this the game Calvin Ridley makes some splash plays at wide receiver for Nick Saban?
10:30 p.m. EST
This may be the most fun game to watch, highlighted by two special freshmen quarterbacks in Josh Rosen for UCLA and Tanner Mangum for BYU. Which one makes more plays? What I will be watching for is if Mangum can weave some late-game magic once again for BYU?