Week 3 of the college football season has some solid match ups. This is always an interesting time in the season because you still typically have some quality intersectional games as well as teams beginning to really dive into conference play. There's a ton of conflict in my five games this week, so get your last channel button and DVRs ready. With that said, I bring you the five non-Alabama games of the week you should watch:
GEORGIA TECH (14) at MIAMI (20)
Thursday, September 17th - 6:30 pm - ESPN
This is one of two games this weekend between ranked teams. Georgia Tech had some sloppy play on opening weekend against a Ryan Perriloux-less Jacksonville State and then blew a 24-0 lead against Clemson in week two only to come back and win the game late in the fourth quarter. They've certainly got some issues, but they're winning and there's something to be said for finding yourself and mounting a late come from behind win (Arkansas '07 anyone?) Miami's win over Florida State has lost a bit of its luster after the way Florida State barely scraped past a Ryan Perriloux-having Jacksonville State last week (Ohio Valley Conference foes beware!) I never thought Jacksonville State would be mentioned twice in an article involving two ranked teams. That being said, this is an important game for the ACC Coastal Division, which currently has four ranked teams. This is a division race shaping game and likely a game to shape the entire ACC seeing as the Atlantic Division winner won't likely challenge the Coastal Divison winner.
NEBRASKA (19) at VIRGINIA TECH (13)
Saturday, September 19th - 2:30 pm - ABC
Nebraska spent weeks one and two of the season slapping around a pair of cupcakes (Florida Atlantic and Arkansas State) and have been rewarded with a number 19 ranking for their efforts. Nebraska went 9-4 last year with all of the losses coming to fairly stiff competition (Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Missouri, Virginia Tech.) Winning here over Virginia Tech would be the most significant win in Bo Pelini's young head coaching career. On the VT side of things, we've seen first hand what they can do. After losing to us in week one (and giving us a collective heart attack in the process), they snapped back and clobbered Marshall 52-10. One has to give VT credit for scheduling two traditional powerhouses for non-conference games so close together (the two teams were a combined 21-6 last year.) Their contest last year in Nebraska ended with Virginia Tech winning 35-30 and holding off a late Nebraska comeback.
GEORGIA (23) at ARKANSAS
Saturday, September 19th - 6:45 pm - ESPN
Georgia can't stay off of this list despite their question raising loss to Oklahoma State in Stillwater and their struggles in a wild 41-37 win over South Carolina. Their contest with the Gamecocks had a 100 yard kickoff return, two interceptions (one returned for a TD), five fumbles and only three punts. Despite racking up 41 points, Georgia only managed 308 yards of offense. It's anybody's guess what Georgia's record is going to be this year, though many people are thinking it'll end up the worst of the Mark Richt era. As far as Arkansas is concerned, we know even less about them. In this young season, they've had a bye and a 48-10 win over Missouri State. Despite blowout losses to Alabama, Texas and Florida last year, the Razorbacks fought on and improved as the season went on. Though they finished with a 5-7 record, their other four losses (to Mississippi State, Kentucky, Ole Miss and South Carolina) came by a combined 19 points (and 13 of those were to South Carolina.) They finished off the season by knocking off LSU. With Ryan Mallett under center and Petrino in year two of his tenure at Arkansas, I expect the Hogs to improve significantly. Seeing as they're our first conference game, this was a no brainer to make the list.
WEST VIRGINIA at AUBURN
Saturday, September 19th - 6:45 pm - ESPN2
If this game were being played a few years ago with coaches Rodriguez and Tuberville on the sidelines, this would've likely been the location of ESPN Gameday. What a difference a few years makes. Rodriguez is now at Michigan and Tuberville is working on his golf game. Both teams are unranked, but are both on the bubble. If one extends out the "others receiving votes" category of the AP poll, West Virginia comes in at #32 and Auburn at #33. West Virginia looked a bit groggy early in their opening game against Liberty (it was tied 10-10 early in the 2nd quarter), but they came alive and went on to a 33-20 victory. Week two saw them put away East Carolina 35-20. Auburn also struggled early in their opener against Louisiana Tech (the Tigers were only up 13-10 at the half), but went on to soundly beat them 37-13. Week two saw them crush hapless Mississippi State 49-24. Needless to say Gus Malzahn has the Barn's offense operating infinitely better than the anemic outfit of 2008. Whoever wins this game will certainly be a lot closer to being ranked when next week's polls come out.
TEXAS TECH at TEXAS (2)
Saturday, September 19th - 7:00 pm - ABC
Last year's contest between these two Big XII South rivals was a thrilling spectacle. Though the Red Raiders hopped out to a 19-0 lead, the Longhorns never gave up and clawed their way to what looked like victory late in the fourth quarter. Roughly 950 yards of combined offense and two lead changes in the last 1:40 made this one that'll be talked about for ages. This year is quite a bit different though, gone from Tech's high powered offense are household names Michael Crabtree and Graham Harrell. Opening weekend saw them put up a mere 38 points on North Dakota when they usually hang a trainload on FCS schools. They did step it up in week two though smacking Rice 55-10 and QB Taylor Potts threw for seven TDs. UAB managed to hang 44 on Rice though so there's no telling what Tech's impressive performance against the Owls actually says about them. This we do know, Texas is light years beyond the two teams the Red Raiders have faced and will have revenge on the brain after the Red Raiders spoiled what was looking like a national championship run season. Texas comes into this game ranked #2 after having beaten up on cupcakes Wyoming (though they only led 13-10 at the half) and Louisiana-Monroe (I can see the message board jokes from our rivals already.) I imagine Texas will cruise in this one, but it'll be the first real test for either team and should let us know a bit more about what the Longhorns are really like.