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Saturday, September 14, 2013

Week 3 Saturday Preview - The Night Games

A preview of games starting 7:00 or later.

Mississippi State (1-1) at Auburn (2-0), 7:00, ESPN2

MSU rush O (.02) vs. Auburn rush D (-.022)
MSU pass O (.09) vs. Auburn pass D (-.074)
Auburn rush O (.13) vs. MSU rush D (-.084)
Auburn pass O (.15) vs. MSU pass D (-.212)
So far this year Auburn has the better offense, and MSU has the better defense.  Obviously that's the matchup to watch.  EPA star to watch: Auburn RB Corey Grant (15.0), who ranks 14th nationally in rushing EPA.

#4 Ohio State (2-0) at California (1-1), 7:00, FOX

OSU rush O (.30) vs. Cal rush D (.131)
OSU pass O (.11) vs. Cal pass D (.171)
Cal rush O (-.12) vs. OSU rush D (-.192)
Cal pass O (.14) vs. OSU pass D (-.123)
The Bears don't have the defense to really contain the Buckeyes, so I'm not expecting an upset.  However, as the Cal players get more experience in Sonny Dykes' Bear Raid (which is a name I unabashedly love), they're only going to improve.  That alone should make this game worth watching.  EPA star to watch: Cal WR duo Chris Harper (19.6) and Bryce Treggs (19.5), who rank 12th and 13th respectively in receiving EPA.

Florida Atlantic (0-2) at South Florida (0-2) - If we had some kind of pillowfight of the week designation, this would probably win.  The highlights for these two teams this year include losing to McNeese State by 30+ and spiking the ball on 4th down.

Kent State (1-1) at #8 LSU (2-0), 7:00, ESPNU

KSU rush O (-.10) vs. LSU rush D (.018)
KSU pass O (.25) vs. LSU pass D (-.095)
LSU rush O (.09) vs. KSU rush D (.010)
LSU pass O (.54) vs. KSU pass D (.353)
The LSU from the opening weeks isn't the LSU we're used to, playing sub-par rush defense and doing most of their offensive damage through the air.  The Kent State we've seen has also been unexpected, mostly because Dri Archer, the country's most productive RB in 2012, has played only one series.  Archer is expected back in this game.  He's hoping that LSU's trademark rush D isn't.  EPA star to watch:  LSU QB Zach Mettenberger (32.2).

Nicholls State (1-1) at UL-Lafayette (0-2) - The Ragin' Cajuns should get win number one tonight.
Northwestern State (2-0) at Cincinnati (1-1) - With Munchie Legaux out for the year, the Bearcats get an FCS opponent to break in the new starter.
Massachusetts (0-2) at Kansas State (1-1) - Bill Snyder either beats opposing QBs or writes lovely, complimentary notes to them.  And Bill Snyder's all out of stationary.
Memphis (0-1) at Middle Tennessee State (1-1) - That moment you realize Memphis is in the AAC, an automatic BCS qualifying conference - that's a weird moment.

Vanderbilt (1-1) at #13 South Carolina (1-1), 7:00, ESPN

Vandy rush O (.20) vs. SC rush D (.002)
Vandy pass O (.24) vs. SC pass D (.346)
SC rush O (.13) vs. Vandy rush D (.169)
SC pass O (.30) vs. Vandy pass D (-.152)
Both offenses have looked very good so far.  Vandy's pass defense has been impressive.  South Carolina's pass defense looks awful, but they've faced UNC (who they did pretty well against) and UGA (who they didn't), two much better passing teams than Vandy has faced.  Likewise, SC's rush defense numbers look pretty good considering they've faced Todd Gurley.  The numbers here like Vanderbilt in the upset, but I think this is why we have to beware the numbers to an extent this early in the year.  This is potentially SC's easiest game of the year so far, and the Gamecocks should win.  EPA star to watch: Vandy QB Austyn Carta-Samuels (26.1).

Eastern Washington (2-0) at Toledo (0-2) - EWU upset Oregon State, and Toledo takes a break from its grueling SEC East schedule to face them.  The game should be fairly high scoring.
Western Kentucky (1-1) at South Alabama (1-1) - Western Kentucky leads Toledo by one game in the SEC East standings.
Maryland (2-0) at Connecticut (0-1) - Randy Edsall returns to Connecticut, and he'll hear boos.  Whether they're for him or Paul Pasqualoni, we can't be sure.  Note: We can be sure they're for both.
Lamar (1-1) at #12 Oklahoma State (2-0) - A lot of attention has been given to the Oklahoma State scandal, but little seems to be focused on OSU playing against a man named Lamar in week 3.  That hardly seems fair.
Kansas (1-0) at Rice (0-1) - Technically this is nationally telecast on CBS Sports Network, but I'm not sure they want that advertised.  Also, because I may not get the chance to do so much longer, allow me to type the words "undefeated, Charlie Weis-coached".  Thanks.
UTEP (0-1) at New Mexico State (0-2) - Someone has to win, and that someone will probably be UTEP.
Marshall (2-0) at Ohio (1-1) - Rakeem Cato has just 75 plays in 2 games.  Is he injured?
#25 Ole Miss (2-0) at Texas (1-1) - Manny Diaz got scapegoated last week, but its doubtful much will change.  That being said, last week was just one week, and Texas is still probably a pretty decent team, so a win today would not be out of the question or even particularly surprising.  This one is on the Longhorn Network if you get it.
Weber State (1-1) at Utah State (1-1) - Chuckie Keeton could put up some monster stats against this FCS team.

#21 Notre Dame (1-1) at Purdue (1-1), 8:00, ABC

ND rush O (.05) vs. Purdue rush D (.092)
ND pass O (.14) vs. Pudue pass D (.017)
Purdue rush O (-.10) vs. ND rush D (.041)
Purdue pass O (-.30) vs. ND pass D (.012)
Notre Dame's strongest asset is their passing offense.  In fact, the Notre Dame offense is the only unit in this game that has graded as above average so far this year.  I feel weird.  EPA star to watch:  Notre Dame WR TJ Jones (18.6).

Western Michigan (0-2) at #17 Northwestern (2-0) - The phrase "young energetic coach" will get a lot of mileage tonight.

Oregon State (1-1) at Utah (2-0), 10:00, Fox Sports 1

OSU rush O (.03) vs. Utah rush D (-.070)
OSU pass O (.36) vs. Utah pass D (.003)
Utah rush O (.24) vs. OSU rush D (.053)
Utah pass O (.48) vs. OSU pass D (.302)
When the two largest numbers in either column are on the same line, that's a mismatch, and tonight Utah's passing game represents a mismatch for Oregon State's pass defense.  It's taken two years, but Kyle Whittingham's Utes are finally starting to look like a Pac-12 team rather than a MW team playing a Pac-12 schedule.  The Beavers' passing game should be able to keep them competitive in what should be an exciting late night game.  EPA star to watch: Both QBs, Oregon State's Sean Mannion (40.1, #4 nationally) and Utah's Travis Wilson (39.3, #6 nationally).

Central Michigan (1-1) at UNLV (0-2) - UNLV is one of the worst passing teams in the country and has a whopping 31% of runs go for negative yardage.  CMU isn't good, but against UNLV, I'm not sure you have to be.

#20 Wisconsin (2-0) at Arizona State (1-0), 10:30, ESPN

Wisconsin rush O (.36) vs. ASU rush D (-.565)
Wisconsin pass O (.49) vs. ASU pass D (-.484)
ASU rush O (.04) vs. Wisconsin rush D (-.432)
ASU pass O (.60) vs. Wisconsin pass D (-.234)
Fun fact: Neither team has allowed a point this season.  Why that's meaningless: the best opponent either has faced is Massachusetts.  So, basically, we get to see both teams for the first real time.  EPA star to watch: Arizona State QB Taylor Kelly (24.3).

UTSA (1-1) at Arizona (2-0) - Arizona RB KaDeem Carey has 13.2 EPA on just 16 plays.  

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

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