What to Watch this Weekend

BY MICHAEL LEESE

BOISE STATE (2-1) AT FRESNO STATE (2-0) The Broncos have rebounded nicely after opening their season with a blowout loss at Washington. Last week’s 42-20 win over Air Force saw quarterback Joe Southwick find his groove, as he completed 93% of his passes. So far this season, Southwick has thrown for 673 yards with six TDs. The Broncos will need to get a running game going in this contest to provide some balance to their offense.  Fresno is coming off of an unexpected bye , as last week’s game at Colorado was postponed due to the flooding in Boulder.  Bulldogs QB Derek Carr enters this game with outstanding stats — He has completed 71% of his passes, for 661 yards and eight scores!  The problem for Fresno has come on the defensive side of the ball, as they are surrendering 38 points per game. This is a huge game for both clubs, and the winner will have an edge in the race for the Mountain West crown. The Broncos have won the last five games in this series, outscoring the Bulldogs 230-61!  I’ll be in attendance for this match-up and expect to witness plenty of scoring.  But I don’t think the Broncos can shake the Bulldogs off their back, Fresno State wins 41-37.

MICHIGAN STATE (3-0) AT  No. 22 NOTRE DAME (2-1) The Spartans finally got their offense into gear this past weekend,  with the insertion of Connor Cook as starting quarterback. Cook looked sharp as he threw four touchdown passes, albeit against an FCS foe in Youngstown State.  Cook will need to duplicate that performance in his first collegiate start on the road, against one of the nation’s best defenses!  Last week, Notre Dame needed a fourth quarter rally to defeat Purdue.  Quarterback Tommy Rees has thrown for an impressive 969 yards and seven scores. The Irish have yet to play a complete dominant game like they did so many times last year, and the Spartans defense has been outstanding allowing only 12 PPG, while scoring four TDs in three games.  The visitor in this series has lost four out of the last five.  I expect the Irish to put together that dominant type of game this week, Notre Dame 23-10.

No. 23 ARIZONA STATE (2-0) AT No. 5 STANFORD (2-0) This is the Pac-12 opener for both teams and could easily be a preview to the Pac-12 Championship Game! Both teams have playmakers on both sides of the ball. The Sun Devils are averaging 43 points per game and are led by quarterback Taylor Kelly who ranks eighth in FBS in passing yards at 358 per game. Marion Grice has been impressive, rushing for five touchdowns. The Cardinal have a balanced attack on offense that features quarterback Kevin Hogan, running back Tyler Gaffney and Wide receiver Ty Montgomery. The three have combined to score ten touchdowns.  Both teams have impressive offenses and big physical defenses, but Stanford has won three in a row in this series. I say make it four in a row, Stanford 31- 24

KANSAS STATE (2-1) AT TEXAS (1-2) These two teams were expected to be 3-0 entering conference play.   An opening loss to FCS foe North Dakota State served as a wake up call for the Wildcats.   They’ll face a Longhorn defense surrendered more than 800 yards rushing the last two weeks, in losses to BYU and Ole Miss. The Wildcats will surely look to exploit that with QB Jake Waters and tailback John Hubert.  David Ash hopes to return at QB for the Longhorns who really need a win to open conference play.  The Longhorns are 13-1 in conference home openers, but the Wildcats have beaten the Longhorns five straight times!  Somethings got to give here, and I think it’s the Wildcats streak.  Hook’em Horns as Texas wins in overtime 38-35.

UTAH (2-1) AT BYU (1-1)  The 89th edition of what residents of the beehive state call the “Holy War” could be the best game this weekend. The Utes enter into this game in a daze, coming off of a 51-48 overtime home loss to Oregon State.  Utah quarterback Travis Wilson has been outstanding throwing for 845 yards and seven TDs, with another 245 yards and five scores on the ground!  The Cougars will counter with Taysom Hill and Jamaal Williams who have combined for 627 yards rushing.  The Cougars are second in the country averaging 368 rushing yards a game, but will need to do better through the air if they hope to end a three game losing streak to the Utes. Last year BYU was left heartbroken after the Cougars missed two field goals in the final seconds.  This year, they get their revenge, Cougars win, 31- 28.

 

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