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Saturday, September 14, 2013

Week 3 - Saturday Preview: The Early Games

More way-too-soon EPA analysis, with EPA breakdowns for every nationally televised game on Saturday, and some thoughts on the un-televised as well.

This first part will deal with the early slate of games, starting 12:00-3:00.

Bowling Green (2-0) at Indiana (1-1), 12:00, ESPNU

BGSU rush O (.10) vs. IU rush D (.194)
BGSU pass O (.30) vs. IU pass D (-.151)
IU rush O (.16) vs. BGSU rush D (-.160)
IU pass O (.48) vs. BGSU pass D (-.035)
Indiana's passing offense has been impressive so far, and their pass defense is working well.  Unfortunately, the rush defense has been so bad it didn't really matter; last week they allowed 444 ground yards to Navy on 70 carries.  That's not catastrophic, but it's not good.  If you tune in to this game, you'll be tuning in to watch Indiana's offense take on Bowling Green's D.  Indiana has been really good at offense this year, thanks to some healthy and maturity from players who have been in Kevin Wilson's system a few years.  Bowling Green has been really good at defense for the past 15 or so games.  Should be fun to see who wins.  EPA star to watch: Indiana QB Nate Sudfield - Sudfield is currently 5th in the country in EPA with 39.8.

#7 Louisville (2-0) at Kentucky (1-1), 12:00, ESPN

Louisville rush O (-.02) vs. Kentucky rush D (-.012)
Louisville pass O (.84) vs. Kentucky pass D (-.099)
Kentucky rush O (.20) vs. Louisville rush D (-.266)
Kentucky pass O (.30) vs. Louisville pass D (-.167)
EPA suggests that Louisville could have some problems running the ball effectively against Kentucky, but it won't matter, because every other facet of Louisville has been phenomenal this season.  The defense has been outstanding, and Teddy Bridgewater is carrying the offense.  EPA star to watch: Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater - #1 in the country in expected points added, Bridgewater is the Heisman winner for the first two weeks.

Akron (1-1) at #11 Michigan (2-0) - Michigan should dominate.
Western Illinois at Minnesota (2-0) - Minnesota is 2-0 despite not really doing anything particularly well over the first two weeks.  WIU may be FCS, but they're 2-0 as well and it seems to be a good year for an FCS uprising.

Virginia Tech (1-1) at East Carolina (2-0), 12:00, Fox Sports 1

VT rush O (.16) vs. ECU rush D (.085)
VT pass O (-.26) vs. ECU pass D (-.098)
ECU rush O (-.06) vs. VT rush D (-.247)
ECU pass O (.31) vs. VT pass D (-.409)
Virginia Tech should win this game by virtue of defense alone.  Their strength, pass defense, matches up well with ECU's strength.  We saw what VT did to AJ McCarron.  They're stout, to say the least.  However, worth watching will be how Scott Loeffler runs this offense.  The Hokies offense has run 128 plays this year.  62 have involved Logan Thomas doing something particularly ineffective.  ECU has shown in 2 games this year that they're kind of decent against passers, and they're not very good at stopping the run.  Virginia Tech has proven to be pretty awful when they drop back to throw, and pretty good when they run.  This gameplan should be really easy to put together, right?  You would think.  However, you'd also think that, after a 77 yard TD run against Alabama, they'd have steered the focus more toward RB Trey Edmunds, who got only 20 carries.  EPA star to watch: ECU QB Shane Carden.  Currently #11 nationally in EPA with 34.8, Carden won't face a tougher defense all year.  If he looks good in this game, it's time to start paying serious attention to the man.

#16 UCLA (1-0) at #23 Nebraska (2-0), 12:00, ABC

UCLA rush O (.45) vs. Nebraska rush D (.012)
UCLA pass O (.54) vs. Nebraska pass D (-.035)
Nebraska rush O (.11) vs. UCLA rush D (-.050)
Nebraska pass O (.56) vs. UCLA pass D (.036)
Exploding scoreboard!  The lowest scoring game either team has been involved in so far this year was Nebraska's 56-13 win over Southern Miss.  Tune in for points, and lots of them. EPA star to watch:  UCLA QB Brett Hundley, who is 25th in total EPA despite playing in only one game this season.

Tulsa (1-1) at #14 Oklahoma (2-0), 12:00, ESPN2

Tulsa rush O (-.14) vs. Oklahoma rush D (-.165)
Tulsa pass O (-.09) vs. Oklahoma pass D (-.293)
Oklahoma rush O (.20) vs. Tulsa rush D (.072)
Oklahoma pass O (-.37) vs. Tulsa pass D (-.264)
It's surprising how little punch the Sooners have had throwing the football this year.  In two games, the Sooners have 243 passing yards on a whopping 54 attempts.  54 attempts for 243 isn't that good if you're a running back.  If you're passing, it's dreadful.  Oklahoma is averaging 6 yards per play, and .20 expected points per play, rushing.  That's not good news for Tulsa, who excels against the pass but has struggled a bit against the run.  Tulsa was held to 7 points by a good Bowling Green defense, and then looked decent but not great against Colorado State.  The Sooner D has picked up the slack caused by the offense so far, so Tulsa could be in for a long day when they have the ball.  Expect a comfortable Sooner victory. EPA star to watch: Oklahoma RB Brennan Clay (7.0).

Georgia State (0-2) vs. West Virginia (1-1) - Mountaineers should win handily.

#5 Stanford (1-0) at Army (1-1), 12:00, CBS Sports Network

Stanford rush O (.15) vs. Army rush D (-.019)
Stanford pass O (.38) vs. Army pass D (.316)
Army rush O (.24) vs. Stanford rush D (-.079)
Army pass O (-.30) vs. Stanford pass D (-.025)

This one sets up to be an easy Stanford win, with pretty much every matchup going their way.  EPA star to watch: Stanford QB Kevin Hogan (12.0).

Southern Miss (0-2) at Arkansas (2-0) - USM's losing streak should reach 15 games.
ULM (1-1) at Wake Forest (1-1) - ULM offense vs. Wake D could be decent matchup.
New Mexico (1-1) at Pittsburgh (0-1) - New Mexico leads country so far in average time of possession per drive.  Pitt should still win.
Eastern Michigan (1-1) at Rutgers (1-1) - Knights will win.
Fordham (2-0) at Temple (0-2) - Fordham isn't a pushover, but Temple's hungry for a win and should get one.
Fresno State (2-0) at Colorado (2-0) - Mike MacIntyre's 2-0 start feels like a big win already for the Buffs.  This will probably be loss #1, but they seem to have gotten themselves a good coach.
Youngstown State (2-0) at Michigan State (2-0) - Michigan State gets yet another matchup they should win by a lot, but yet again they will win by 8-14 points, and the difference will most certainly be provided on defense.
Boston College (2-0) at USC (1-1) - BC has been better than advertised and USC has been worse.  Don't sleep on this one, and it's kind of a shame it's not televised.

Brent Blackwell compiles the NEPA rankings for  Follow Brent on Twitter by mashing the pretty button below.

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