No. 23 Arizona State at No. 5 Stanford
Tonight is the time for the Cardinal to show the nation why they are legit national championship contenders. It has been a slow start to the season for Stanford, and while it is 2-0, it hasn’t done much to convince anyone they are the team to beat in the Pac-12. The conference is now in the national spotlight. Now, both teams need to show why.
Slow starts against both San Jose State and Army have not garnered any “style” points, but defensively this team has stepped up on third downs, holding offenses to a 32.14% conversion rate (35th in the nation).
However, it must do a better job stopping Arizona State in the red zone. The Cardinal defense has allowed five out of six trips to result in points (three TDs) during their first two contests. Offensively, Stanford has moved the ball well converting 69.23 percent of its third down conversations, while gaining 6.5 yards a play.
Quarterback Kevin Hogan has yet to lose as the man under center. His passing numbers aren’t flashy, but he is averaging almost nine yards per passing attempt.
Southern Methodist at No. 10 Texas A&M
-Johnny Manziel has put up some pretty numbers, and the Texas A&M offense has looked solid. However, if this team wants to make good on Manziel’s post-game rant, the defense had better step up mightily. Even with the return of four starters from suspensions the Aggie defense was absolutely smashed by the Bama front. Offense has been on display early in the SEC, so allowing 36 points a game won’t cut it.
There wasn’t a whole lot of stock placed in the bad performances against Rice and Sam Houston State due to various starters missing from suspensions, but the Tide were able to move the ball at will. There was zero resistance. A&M will not have the slightest chance to make a run at the SEC West title if their run defense doesn’t step up. Even in the game against Sam Houston State the Aggies gave up 240 yards on the ground, while allowing 6.72 yards per play.
Auburn at No. 6 LSU
-Zach Mettenberger is very much improved and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron is the reason. The biggest reason LSU hasn’t won a national championship in recent years has been QB play. Mr. Cameron, you have transformed one of the most inconsistent passers in the nation, but when do you anticipate you will make a move back to the NFL?
What’s equally impressive is how the defense has replaced their entire defensive line and is still ranked within the top 10 nationally in total defense. The Tigers truly have a plug and play system. And it continues to amaze how each year talent is replaced with more talent. LSU currently has the third-ranked SEC defense, allowing an average of just 110.7 rushing and 267.7 yards overall per game in 2013. There has yet to be a team crack 300 yards of offense on the Tigers.
Kansas State at Texas
There comes a time in every coaching tenure when fans don’t even have to listen to press conferences, but still know exactly what the head man will say. There also comes a time when the narrative becomes more insulting than anything else. That time has come in Austin, and a loss tonight will only accelerate the vehicle flying down a hill without brakes.
In week two, I wrote that in order for the Longhorns to be taken serious as a Big 12 contender moving forward, they would have to beat BYU convincingly. Texas is now the laughing-stock of the nation, and no single coaching staff firings can change the lack of player development. The Longhorns need to win tonight, or the 2013 season will crash harder than a 5-7 finish.