Here we are, friends. After this week, we are one-third of the way through the college football season. Sad, yes, but just think of all the great action we have left to experience!
We had another compelling slate of games last week — except, of course, for that Middle/Minnesota tilt. That’ll happen when you try to take on a really good Gopher club without Brent Stockstill or Richie James. Still, we persevere. Before you press play on that handy little audio player before you and hear the breakdown of our first three games and this week’s trivia question, let’s quickly review last week’s games.
Memphis 48, UCLA 45
Minnesota 34, Middle Tennessee 3
Florida 26, Tennessee 20
Vanderbilt 14, Kansas State 7
Clemson 47, Louisville 21
USC 27, Texas 24 (2OT)
(While we’re on that Florida-Tennessee game, how did this even happen? Good grief, Feleipe Franks!)
Come with us, ladies and gentlemen, and check out our slate of six games! To hear the first three, press play!
Keyword Search (all times Eastern and rankings AP)
#5 USC (3-0) at Cal (3-0)
3:30pm | ABC
- You again: Cal coach Justin Wilcox gets a crack at the Trojans for the first time since taking over as leader of the Bears, and there might be a bit of heat in this one. USC coach Clay Helton fired Wilcox before the 2015 season ended, and the 40-year-old spent a year leading the Wisconsin defense before heading to Berkeley. The young defensive whiz gets the tough assignment of a USC offense that has broken the 400-yard mark in 13 straight games, while his Bears have surrendered 416 or greater — all in wins — in every outing this season. Cal has surrendered 1015 passing yards in three games this year, just 13 more than the total for which Sam Darnold has thrown in the same number of contests.
- You again — again: Cal quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator Marques Tuiasosopo was part of that same USC staff with Wilcox in 2014 and 2015, and he will look to find early freedom for his sophomore quarterback, Ross Bowers. Bowers has completed just 60.2 percent of his passes for 799 yards, and is coming off his roughest outing of the year against Ole Miss Saturday night. The Rebels picked off Bowers twice and held him to 24-for-47 passing for 236 yards and a score. USC is holding opposing passers to a relatively consistent 52.7 percent completion ratio, but Texas’ Sam Ehlinger appeared to find some creases in the Trojan D Saturday night. Cal doesn’t have the same type of volume receiver as Collin Johnson, but Vic Wharton III (5 catches, 57 yards, TD Saturday against Ole Miss) and Kanawai Noa (6 catches, 81 yards Saturday) may be able to create some separation.
- Monitoring Mooch: Cal’s sports information department notes that a win Saturday would make Wilcox only the second Cal coach in the last eight to win his first four games as the Bears’ leader. Only Steve Mariucci has accomplished the feat at the school, starting the 1996 season 5-0 (beating San Jose State and USC on the road, and San Diego State, Nevada and Oregon State at home) before his team lost six of its final seven (beating just Arizona, 56-55) to finish 6-6. Mariucci left Cal after that lone year to take over at the helm of the San Francisco 49ers.
Print that, tweet that, whatever: Both of these teams had too-close-for-comfort wins last week. We should have a better read on who they really are after Saturday.
#4 Penn State (3-0) at Iowa (3-0)
8:00pm | ABC
- Precision passing: If you like efficient passers, this is the game for you. Iowa’s Nate Stanley and Penn State’s Trace McSorley have combined for 19 scores through three games, versus just three rips. Both are north of 60 percent through the air (Stanley 61.4 percent, McSorley 67.4), and neither has thrown a second-half pick this season. Stanley has attempted greater than 27 passes just once this season, going 27-for-41 for 333 yards and five scores in a 44-41, overtime victory against in-state rival Iowa State. McSorley, for his part, has attempted greater than 27 just once himself, throwing 28 passes — completing 15 — in a 33-14 victory over Pittsburgh.
- Doing it all: Iowa’s sports information department points out that running back Akrum Wadley ranks third in the Big Ten and 13th nationally in all-purpose yards, averaging 170 per game. Unfortunately for the Hawkeyes, the conference leader (second nationally) will be standing on the opposing sideline. Penn State running back Saquon Barkley averages 218.3 yards per game, and a blinding 12.4 yards per play. Barkley ranks second nationally in receiving yards among running backs (241), behind only Virginia’s Olamide Zaccheus (250). Barkley averages 8.08 yards per carry, versus Wadley’s 4.30. Barkley carried 20 times for 167 yards in last year’s 41-14 victory over the Hawkeyes, finding the end zone once in the effort. Wadley was held to nine carries (28 yards) in that contest, tied for his second-lowest total on the year.
- Pulling rank: Iowa will be aiming for its fifth win in its last six tries against a nationally-ranked Penn State team. The victory would also be the Hawkeyes’ seventh in 19 tries all-time against a ranked Nittany Lions club. Last year’s 41-14 loss snapped a four-game streak by Kirk Ferentz’ club in such situations that dated back to 2002. If Iowa pulls off the home victory Saturday night — which would be its 400th home win in program history — that would also snap a three-game losing streak to Penn State.
Print that, tweet that, whatever: Penn State doesn’t want to leave its playoff destiny to chance again. Iowa might not give them a choice.
#7 Washington (3-0) at Colorado (3-0)
10:00pm | FS1
- Topping the polls: This game will mark the first time a school so highly ranked has visited Folsom Field in nearly four years. Second-ranked Oregon visited Boulder on October 9, 2013, thumping the Buffs by a 57-16 final score. Current Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota threw for 355 yards and seven scores that day. This is also the first meeting between the schools since Washington’s 41-10 victory in the 2016 Pac-12 title contest.
- We can’t run, but we’ll stop you: Neither of these teams is particularly adept at actually running the ball, but have shown themselves capable of shutting down opposing rushers. The Buffaloes and Huskies are 85th and 95th, respectively, in rushing, with neither school topping 150 yards per game on the ground. They are, however, 29th and 21st, respectively, in defending the run, allowing 105 yards per game or fewer. Two teams have cracked the 100-yard mark against Washington this year (131 for Rutgers, 119 for Fresno State), while Texas State (156) is the only team to break the century milestone against the Buffs. Colorado ranks 40th nationally in total defense (317.7 yards per game), compared to Washington’s 14th (261.7).
- Proficient passers: Washington’s Jake Browning and Colorado’s Steven Montez have both experienced impressive starts to the season. Browning is 58-for-78 for 798 yards and eight scores against just one pick this year, with Montez 69-for-101 for 858 yards and six scores versus three picks. Browning has missed on just seven of his last 48 throws, following a 19-for-22 performance against Fresno in which he threw for 255 yards and four scores. Montez completed nearly 71 percent of his tosses in last week’s victory over Northern Colorado, also finding the end zone four times.
Print that, tweet that, whatever: A fast start would be huge for Colorado and its sophomore signal-caller. That may be a tall task against the forceful Husky defense.
Music break time!
All year long, we’re taking you back 25 years in music. It was the year of the first SEC championship game, and if you don’t already feel old just hearing that, these music videos will do the trick.
Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road” was still #1 this week in 1992, and would continue to be for another couple of months. Seriously. However, if you look on the list of debuts that week, you’ll see a song you’ve heard 500,000 times in every stadium in America, and wish that you could forget. We won’t let you, though! Get ready to have this stuck in your head for weeks!
Now that you’ve finished swearing at me, click that handy little “follow” button below to stay in touch with my Twitter shenanigans, will ya?
Until next week, America!