Week 3 of the 2012 college football season gives us three games between top 25 teams: Notre Dame playing Michigan State, number 2 USC facing Stanford and Florida travelling to Tennessee, while national champions and number one team in the nation, Alabama, travel to face a beaten and possibly Arkansas team who will be without their starting quarterback.
Alabama (1) at Arkansas (3:30 PM ET)
Very simple – This was supposed to be a top 10 kind of clash, but doesn’t seem to be a very close encounter, in all likelihood. While Alabama are coming off an easy win over Western Kentucky, Arkansas dropped out of the rankings after their humiliating home loss to Louisiana-Monroe, while quarterback Tyler Wilson is out due to a head injury. Freshman Brandon Allen, who was rather bad last week in the loss, is likely to start. The only stat going for the Razorbacks is their record against ranked teams – won seven of its past 10 matchups with ranked teams and four of the last five.
USC (2) at Stanford (21) (7:30 PM ET)
Stanford have beaten USC the last time these big rivals have met, but they’ve never won four in a row against the Trojans. Despite their 2-0 start and playing at home, they’re nine point underdogs against the most feared offense in the nation, facing its toughest test so far this season. The offense wasn’t the problems for the Trojans in New York, the defense was, but Matt Barkley, Marqise Lee and Robert Woods should be enough to make it 3-0, especially if they don’t make Josh Nunes get too comfortable early on.
Idaho at LSU (3) (8:00 PM ET)
Another piece of cake game for the LSU against a non-conference rival, facing the 0-2 Vandals. The lines for this game? LSU are 42.5 point favorites, coming off their 41-3 demolition of Washington last week. LSU are piling up big start losses as each week goes by – Tyrann Mathieu, Chris Faulk and Tahj Jones, but it should be more than enough against Idaho, as Alfred Blue is looking to carry on with his fantastic start (224 yards, 1 touchdown) to his Junior season.
Tennessee Tech at Oregon (4) (3:00 PM ET)
The Ducks took a hit this week after realizing that they’ve lost safety John Boyett and offensive lineman Carson York for the season. Still, with an FCS opponent heading into Autzen that is 0-27 against FBS schools, that shouldn’t be a problem, with the offense that has scored 99 points so far this season looking to have one game when they keep scoring for the entire 60 minutes instead of completing their job after one half of football.
Wake Forest at Florida State (5)
Florida State begin their season at home against an opponent that has beaten four out of the last six meetings, including two out of the last three in Doak Campbell Stadium. Wake Forest began their ACC season with a narrow win over North Carolina, but should prove a much tougher opponent for the Seminoles, who have seen only FCS rivals so far. Michael Campanaro (WR) and Tanner Price (QB) will be looking to continue their hot start to the season, but are 28 point underdogs heading into Tallahassee, maybe because of last year’s 31-0 loss.
Florida Atlantic at Georgia (7) (7:30 PM)
It’s been four seasons since Georgia had a 3-0 start, and that shouldn’t be denied, backed by their impressive win against Missouri in Columbia despite the four defensive starters suspensions last week. Aaron Murray should have no problem against the 1-1 Owls, who are 0-9 against Top 25 opponents while the Bulldogs are 30-1 at home against non-conference opponents.
UAB at South Carolina (8) (7:00 PM ET)
Steve Spurrier has Alabama-Birmingham standing in front of him and his 200th Career win in College Football, making him the 71st head coach to reach that milestone. Connor Shaw isn’t a sure start, but Dylan Thompson did very well at quarterback in the 48-10 win over East Carolina. UAB, who lost their season opener to Troy, shouldn’t pose much of a problem to Spurrier’s milestone, as the coach is 45-0 in his college career against teams from outside the BCS.
James Madison at West Virginia (9) (4:30 PM ET)
West Virginia got a week off after their 69-34 rout of Marshall on opening week, and should probably put up similar numbers playing at home against James Madison, a school that did beat Virginia Tech in 2010 but have about 0.0001% of doing something in Maryland playing the Mountaineers, who’ll be looking to keep on putting big numbers through quarterback Geno Smith, running back Shawne Alston and wide receiver Steadman Bailey.
Notre Dame (20) at Michigan State (10) (8:00 PM ET)
It was an impressive win for Notre Dame last week at home against Purdue, but the quarterback dilemma opened up in the fourth quarter, with Tommy Rees replacing Everett Golson for the final drive could turn into a season long problem at some point. Anyhow, this is a real test, against a Michigan State team with one of the best running backs in the country (Le’Veon Bell, 280 yards, four touchdowns) who’ll be a massive test for the Fighting Irish’s defense. For Michigan State, probably the best team in the Big Ten, it’s going to be a lot about how Andrew Maxwell performs, after throwing three interceptions in his first two games this season.
The rest of the games involving Top 25 Teams –
Furman at Clemson (11), 3:00 PM
California at Ohio State (12), 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech (13) at Pittsburgh, 12:00 PM
Texas (14) at Ole Miss, 9:15 PM
North Texas at Kansas State (15), 7:00 PM
TCU (16) at Kansas, 12:00 PM
UMass at Michigan (17), 3:30 PM
Florida (18) at Tennessee (23), 6:00 PM
North Carolina at Louisville (19), 3:30 PM
Houston at UCLA (22), 10:30 PM
South Carolina State at Arizona (24), 10:30 PM
BYU (25) at Utah, 10:00 PM