Football Games To Watch This Weekend 9/22-9/23/2012 [Opinion]
The weekend is here…and that means FOOTBALL! Here are the games that I think will be the ones to watch:
UTEP (1-2) AT WISCONSIN (2-1) 10 a.m. ESPN 2
UTEP wraps up the non-conference portion of its 2012 schedule at Big Ten power Wisconsin. It marks the first meeting between the Miners and the Badgers. Utep finally got the offense going last week against NMSU. It will be a tougher task against Wisconsin as they out weigh the Miners by 60lbs in some positions. The Badgers offense has been struggling so far, so if the Miner defense plays good, Utep has a chance to win.
The Miners are making their first visit to the state of Wisconsin. Capacity in Camp Randall Stadium is 80,321. UTEP has played before crowds of 80,000 or more just four times historically, and crowds of 70,000 or more eight times. UTEP is 0-8 in those games.
#22 ARIZONA (3-0) AT #3 OREGON (3-0) 8:30 p.m. on ESPN
Seriously, there may not be enough lights in the scoreboard to handle this game. The two teams rank fourth (Arizona) and seventh (Oregon) in total offense and average over 100 points per game between them. The numbers are like something you’d see in a video game. Oregon has scored 42 or more points in its last six games. Running back De’Anthony Thomas is averaging almost 18 yards per carry this season. Arizona quarterback Matt Scott ranks fourth in the nation in total offense at 395 yards per game. While Oregon is a heavy favorite at home, after manhandling Oklahoma State, the Wildcats have shown that they have the ability to keep pace with up-tempo, high-scoring offenses. Oregon has won 15 of its last 18 against Arizona, including eight of the last nine at home.
#10 CLEMSON (3-0) AT #4 FLORIDA STATE (3-0) Saturday, 6 p.m. on ABC
After this week, the Seminoles will not have to play another ranked team until their season-ending rivalry game against #14 Florida. So Clemson could be the biggest hurdle left standing between Florida State and a shot at the national championship. The Seminoles rank first in virtually every defensive category and are 12th in total offense and second in scoring. However, those numbers came at the expense of Murray State, Savannah State and Wake Forest. This week, they step up considerably against the 10th-ranked Tigers. Clemson’s All-American receiver Sammy Watkins went for 141 yards and two touchdowns in the Tigers’ win over Florida State last year. In addition to Watkins, Clemson features quarterback Tajh Boyd (747 yards and six touchdowns this season) and running back Andre Ellington (leading the ACC in rushing). So this will be the first real test of a Florida State defense that has given up just three points this season.
#15 KANSAS STATE (3-0) AT #6 OKLAHOMA (2-0) Saturday, 5:50 p.m. on Fox
Last year, Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones picked apart the Wildcats defense to the tune of a school record 505 yards and five touchdowns in a 58-17 win. The Sooners, who rank 11th nationally in both scoring and total offense, hope that having a bye last week will help prepare them for a similar outcome this year. However, Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein certainly gives the Wildcats a fighting chance. Everybody knew the senior was a threat to run (1,141 yards and 13 touchdowns last season), but he has given Kansas State’s offense a new dynamic with improved passing (43/59 for 609 yards and five touchdowns this year). The Wildcats have committed just five penalties this season. The bad news for K-State is that OU is almost unbeatable at home. The Sooners have lost just three home games in 13+ years under Bob Stoops (including wins in 42 of the last 43), and none of those were to a ranked opponent. Kansas State has won in Norman just three times (1970, 1994, 1997).
#18 MICHIGAN (2-1) AT #11 NOTRE DAME (3-0) Saturday, 5:30 p.m. on NBC
In two previous games against the Irish, Denard Robinson has accounted for 948 total yards (582 passing, 366 rushing) and eight touchdowns. However, this is undoubtedly the best Notre Dame defense he’s faced in his time with the Wolverines. Led by All-American linebacker Manti Te’o, the Fighting Irish rank eighth nationally in scoring defense and 18th in total defense, their best start since the school’s national championship year of 1988. Notre Dame is 3-0 for the first time in a decade and just recorded its first win over a top 10 team in seven years. The Notre Dame faithful would be fired up for this rivalry game regardless, but expect a particularly raucous crowd in South Bend with the Irish’s hot start and likely move into the top 10 with a win. However, it won’t be easy as the Wolverines have won three in a row in this series and five of the last six. Robinson needs just 191 total yards to pass Chad Henne as Michigan’s career offense leader.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (1-1) AT DALLAS COWBOYS (1-1) 11am FOX
The Buccaneers let what seemed to be a sure win slip away in a loss to the Giants last week. After giving up 510 passing yards to Eli Manning, the Tampa Bay secondary will be tested again, this time by Dallas quarterback Tony Romo. The Cowboys never seemed comfortable during their loss to Seattle, as the offense sputtered and the defense was unable to stop the run. The Cowboys need to stop making dumb mistakes if they want to win against the Bucs. They need to repeat the performance that they had against the Giants
ATLANTA FALCONS (2-0) AT SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (2-0) 2:05 PM CBS
A battle of unbeaten teams finds the Falcons traveling to San Diego. Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan has a solid receiving corps, but the status of running back Michael Turner is uncertain after he was jailed on charges of drunken driving and speeding early Tuesday. The Chargers have used solid defense and an efficient offense to beat Oakland and Tennessee, but they’ll be more challenged by the Falcons’ talent.
HOUSTON TEXANS (2-0) AT DENVER BRONCOS (1-1) 2:25 PM CBS
The Texans have looked impressive thus far in 2012, with a stingy defense and a running attack led by Arian Foster and Ben Tate . The Broncos need quarterback Peyton Manning to have a better first quarter than he did against Atlanta, when three interceptions all but sealed Denver’s fate.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (1-1) AT BALTIMORE RAVENS (1-1) 6:20 PM NBC
A rematch of the franchises that met in last year’s AFC Championship Game will play out in the spotlight of Sunday night. New England is still recovering from a missed Stephen Gostkowski field goal that would have won last week’s game against Arizona, but they’ll have to recover quickly against the Baltimore defense led by Haloti Ngata. The Ravens need quarterback Joe Flacco not to regress after a great start to 2012.
Enjoy the games!