Welcome to Week Three of The Lowe Down. Ah, upset specials. Year after year we see them and year after year they never get old. Last week, Louisiana-Monroe shocked the college football nation when it came from behind to beat then-No.8 Arkansas 34-31 in overtime. Next up for the Warhawks is 0-2 Auburn, who looked awful in a 28-10 loss at Mississippi State last week. If La.-Monroe can go into Jordan-Hare Stadium and beat its second straight SEC team — and another SEC West team at that — then Todd Berry could become a really hot commodity at season’s end. And, on the other hand, if the Tigers fall to 0-3, Gene Chizik’s team could be in for an extremely long season. Last week’s record was 13-2, bringing the yearly record to 30-7. To the games we go …
Saturday, Sept. 15
Wake Forest (2-0) at No. 5 Florida State (2-0) 11:00 a.m. CT
Last year, Wake Forest quarterback Tanner Price played a big role in the Demon Deacons 35-30 win over the Seminoles by passing for 233 yards and three touchdowns. If that happens again, Florida State will have its hands full against a team that isn’t short on experience. The Seminoles opened up with cupcakes Murray State and Savannah State to start the season, while Wake Forest downed Liberty and North Carolina — by a point — in its first two games. FSU will get its revenge this Saturday, but this won’t be an easy game for Jimbo Fisher’s team.
The Lowe Down: Florida State 36, Wake Forest 27
Louisiana -Monroe (1-0) at Auburn (0-2) 11:21 a.m. CT
The Warhawks will try to make it two in a row against SEC teams when they travel to Auburn to take on the struggling Tigers. Last week, Gene Chizik’s Tigers were embarrassed by Mississippi State 28-10 due in part to poor quarterback play from Kiehl Frazier, sloppy tackling and just overall poor execution on offense and defense. If Auburn plays like it did last week against a veteran Louisiana-Monroe squad, it could drop to 0-3 for the first time since the 1950 season under head coach Earl Brown. In other words, this is a must-win game for a Tigers team that’s struggling to find itself. A loss for Auburn could be catastrophic with games against LSU and Arkansas on the horizon.
The Lowe Down: Auburn 27, Louisiana-Monroe 23
No. 13 Virginia Tech (2-0) at Pittsburgh (0-2) 11:00 a.m. CT
Pittsburgh’s Tino Sunseri was expected to provide playmaking ability and leadership from the quarterback position, but so far that hasn’t been the case. Although Sunseri’s number aren’t that bad (43 of 67 for 517 yards and two TDs), he just hasn’t made plays at crucial times in games, which is uncharacteristic of a guy with as much experience as he has. If Pitt has any chance to win this game, Sunseri will have to play lights out. But squaring off against Bud Foster’s defense is no easy task. Nor is stopping VT quarterback Logan Thomas.
The Lowe Down: Virginia Tech 29, Pittsburgh 17
North Carolina (1-1) at No. 19 Louisville (2-0) 2:30 p.m. CT
After North Carolina lost by one at Wake Forest a week ago, it could be tough for the Tar Heels to bounce back playing back-to-back road games. Louisville head coach Charlie Strong has his team playing well, and Cardinals quarterback Teddy Bridgewater keeps getting better and better with each passing game. North Carolina quarterback Bryn Renner is a gamer, but the Tar Heels defense just isn’t good. That doesn’t bode well squaring off against a red-hot Cardinals offense.
The Lowe Down: Louisville 30, North Carolina 20
No. 1 Alabama (2-0) at Arkansas (1-1) 2:30 p.m. CT
Even with a healthy Tyler Wilson, it would be a tall task for Arkansas to beat Alabama. Without him, it may be downright … Hey, I’m not going to say impossible because anything can happen in a football game, but this Crimson Tide team is really good. Before the season began, I felt like this Arkansas team lost too much to be a major player in the SEC West race. I still believe that. And I believe it even more now that Brandon Taylor or Brandon Mitchell will be the starting quarterback for this game. Regardless of who starts in place of Wilson, he’ll get some valuable experience. But he’ll also get hit, and get hit on numerous occasions. The Tide rolls.
The Lowe Down: Alabama 34, Arkansas 10
No. 18 Florida (2-0) at No. 23 Tennessee (2-0) 2:30 p.m. CT
At one time, this was the premier game in college football. And thanks to Florida’s comeback win over Texas A&M, it’s one of the top games of the weekend. This will be a matchup of contrasting styles, but ultimately the team that imposes its will on the other will prevail. Offensively, Tennessee, with Tyler Bray, likes to air it out, while Florida likes to play smash mouth, ball-control offense with tailback Mike Gillislee. Both teams have played good defensively so far this season, but give the Gators probably have a slight edge on that side of the ball. So who wins? Considering this is the Gators second straight week on the road, I’ll go with Derek Dooley and Tennessee to get it done. Maybe then the Vols fan base will give him some breathing room.
The Lowe Down: Tennessee 26, Florida 17
No. 2 USC (2-0) at No. 21 Stanford (2-0) 6:30 p.m. CT
Although USC is the favorite to win its matchup with Stanford, don’t be surprised if this game goes down to the wire. The Cardinal has won three straight in the series (of course they had Andrew Luck in those wins) and has the benefit of playing the high-powered Trojans at home. Everyone knows USC can score, but Stanford should be able to move the ball on the ground against a Trojan front four that’s small and yet to be tested. Fullback Ryan Hewitt is back for the Cardinal after sitting out the first two games, and he’s a big part of what Stanford does offensively on the ground. He and Stepfan Taylor will need to play big in this game if Stanford wants to pull the upset. Another Cardinal that will have to play well is quarterback Josh Nunes. Nunes played better last week in the team’s win over Duke, but he could get rattled if USC jumps out to a big lead. If Nunes plays well, Stanford should hang around.
The Lowe Down: USC 37, Stanford 30
No. 20 Notre Dame (2-0) at No. 10 Michigan State (2-0) 7:00 p.m. CT
This is always and entertaining game, but Notre Dame dominated the meeting between the two teams last year (31-13) so don’t expect the Irish to be intimidated by playing on the road. The key to this game will likely come down to quarterback play. State quarterback Andrew Maxwell and Notre Dame signal-caller Everrett Golson, who injured his thumb in the team’s win over Purdue last week but will start, have played well in spurts this season, but this is a game that will likely be decided by who makes the fewest mistakes. I’ll roll with Golson in this case. I like this guy’s game.
The Lowe Down: Notre Dame 27, Michigan State 23
No. 14 Texas (2-0) at Ole Miss (2-0) 8:15 p.m. CT
You’ve got to hand it to Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze. In only a short while, he has his team, and the fans, believing they can win again. Quarterback Bo Wallace has been one of the biggest early season surprises in the SEC, and the Rebel defense has also played surprisingly well. But squaring off against Texas is a different animal. The Longhorns have athletes galore and their running game, led by tailback Malcolm Brown, and defense (which has allowed 17 points in two games) are the strength of their team. However, quarterback David Ash can be rattled if he is pressured. It will be imperative that Ole Miss get heat on Ash, while getting in a rhythm on offense, or Texas will simply be too much.
The Lowe Down: Texas 30, Ole Miss 17
No. 25 BYU (2-0) at Utah (1-1) 9:00 p.m. CT
People around the country may have given Utah a hard time about losing to Utah State, but I’ve seen that Aggie team first hand and they’ve got talent and are well-coached. Losing starting quarterback Jordan Wynn (out for year; shoulder) was a major blow for the Utes, so the fate of Utah’s season now rests on the shoulders of senior Jon Hays. Hays is a good game manager, but he’s not a great passer. That’s doesn’t bode well going up against a solid BYU defense.
The Lowe Down: BYU 27, Utah 20
In other Saturday games:
Cal 17 at No. 12 Ohio State 36
No. 16 TCU 55 at Kansas 21
Texas A&M 27, SMU 13
UAB 14 at No. 8 South Carolina 37
North Texas 14 at No. 15 Kansas State 48
Arizona State 30 at Missouri 33
Mississippi State 38 at Troy 23
Florida Atlantic 17 at No. 7 Georgia 56
Utah State 24 at Wisconsin 28
Houston 17 at No. 22 UCLA 37
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