Welcome to Week Four of The Lowe Down. I’ve got to tip my hat to Will Muschamp and the Florida Gators. I really didn’t think they could go on the road in back-to-back weeks and upend a Tennessee team that would be playing with a lot of confidence, but they gave me a big ol’ slice of humble pie. From the looks of it, Florida has found themselves a QB in Jeff Driskel. What a game he played last week. It will be interesting to see him mature as a player as the season goes on. The same can be said for Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson. Love his game. Last week’s record was 16-4, bringing the yearly record to 46-11. To the games we go …
Friday, Sept. 21
Baylor 45 at La.-Monroe 37
Saturday, Sept. 22
Maryland (2-1) at No. 8 West Virginia (2-0) 11:00 a.m. CT
Two words: Geno Smith. If you’ve yet to see this guy play this season, then you need to do so. He and that West Virginia offense are hitting on all cylinders. Yeah, there’s still a lot of football left to be played, but so far his play has been nearly flawless. Through three games, Smith has completed 88 percent of his passes for 734 yards and nine touchdowns. Maryland has played better after losing to William and Mary in the season opener, but it’s a stretch to think they’ll have a chance in this game.
The Lowe Down: West Virginia 63, Maryland 17
Kentucky (1-2) at No. 14 Florida (3-0) 11:21 a.m. CT
After losing to Western Kentucky in overtime last weekend, Kentucky’s Joker Phillips is feeling the heat in Lexington. That heat will likely be turned up even higher after the Wildcats venture to The Swamp to take on Will Muschamp’s surging Gators. A big reason behind Florida’s early season success has been a stout defense, a sound running game, solid special teams and the emergence of quarterback Jeff Driskel. Driskel is growing up before our eyes, and he looks like he has a bright future in Gainesville.
The Lowe Down: Florida 38, Kentucky 10
Missouri 2-1 at No. 7 South Carolina (3-0) 2:30 p.m. CT
Missouri star quarterback James Franklin (injured shoulder) is expected to play when the underdog Tigers roll into Williams-Brice Stadium to take on the Gamecocks. If Franklin is able to go, then the Tigers have the athletes to make this a game, although they have to establish a ground attack. Speaking of injured shoulders, South Carolina QB Connor Shaw has also been dealing with a nagging one himself. Shaw is expected to start, but he’ll likely have to deal with some pain to get through four quarters. With Shaw’s injury up in the air, look for the Gamecocks to rely on the running of Marcus Lattimore and their defense to pull out a hard-fought victory.
The Lowe Down: South Carolina 27, Missouri 14
California (1-2) at No. 13 USC (2-1) 5:00 p.m. CT
All the talk about a national championship for the Trojans went by the wayside when Stanford upset the nation’s No. 2 team. Now, it will be interesting to see how USC responds. Already lacking depleted depth due to scholarship reductions, USC has been hit hard recently by the injury bug. Starting center Khaled Holmes is questionable this week with an ankle injury, and his backup, Abe Markowitz, is also questionable. Those injuries come after starting defensive end Devon Kennard was lost possibly for the season earlier in the year. Although it may be foolish to think Cal won’t make this a game, I think the Trojans get mad and rebound in a big way here. Remember, the Golden Bears have lost eight straight to USC.
The Lowe Down: USC 45, Cal 20
No. 2 LSU (3-0) at Auburn (1-2) 6:00 p.m. CT
It’s not often that Auburn is a three touchdown underdog at home at night, but LSU is one of the nation’s best teams and the line is validated. Gene Chizik’s club hasn’t improved a whole lot on offense or defense that last three weeks, but something has got to give with this Auburn team or the season will go up in smoke. Yes, the Tigers (from Alabama) don’t feature a lot of seniors on their roster, are young in areas and feature a first-year starter at quarterback, but this LSU team they’re about to play started a number of freshmen and sophomore players a year ago and went 13-1. Sooner or later, it comes down to going out and executing. In my opinion, we’ll really find out where Chizik’s club stands after Saturday night.
The Lowe Down: LSU 34, Auburn 17
No.18 Michigan (2-1) at No. 11 Notre Dame (3-0) 6:30 p.m. CT
If the Irish take down the Wolverines, then it may be safe to say that Brian Kelly’s team is for real. Notre Dame dominated a well-coached Michigan State team a week ago behind a stellar defensive effort and brilliant play from quarterback Everett Golson. To get another win this week versus a good Michigan team, the Irish will likely need to get good play in those areas again. Although linebacker Manti Te’o gets all the headlines for Notre Dame, watch the Irish defensive line — led by end Stephon Tuitt, who ranks second in the nation with five sacks. They are big and athletic and will play a major role in containing Michigan QB Denard Robinson.
The Lowe Down: Notre Dame 30, Michigan 20
Vanderbilt (1-2) at No. 5 Georgia (3-0) 6:45 p.m. CT
This game was tight a year ago, but I just don’t that being the case this year. Georgia’s offense has looked nearly impossible to stop at times, and the defense has the ability to turn up the heat and shut anybody down when it wants to. Two key matchups in this game will be Vanderbilt’s run defense against Georgia tailbacks Todd Gurley, Ken Malcome and Keith Marshall. The Commodores rank first in the SEC in defending the pass, but they must stop the Bulldogs run game to have a shot. On a side note, Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin and Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham were involved in a heated exchange after last year’s game. Rest assured, if Georgia can hammer Vandy, it will.
The Lowe Down: Georgia 38, Vanderbilt 16
No. 15 Kansas State (3-0) at No. 6 Oklahoma (2-0) 6:50 p.m. CT
Who’s the best QB in the Big 12? Outside of West Virginia’s Geno Smith, it’s safe to say that Kansas State’s Collin Klein and Oklahoma’s Landry Jones are right there in the mix, which means the offensive fireworks could be plentiful when these two lock horns in Norman. Through the first two games, Oklahoma hasn’t done a whole lot to impress. A big win over a good Kansas State team, who the Sooners beat 58-17 a year ago in Manhattan, may swing the balance on that conversation however.
The Lowe Down: Oklahoma 45, Kansas State 20
No. 10 Clemson (3-0) at No. 4 Florida State (3-0) 7:00 p.m. CT
Everyone is talking about the Seminoles being back, but that seems a little premature. When FSU is running the table and competing for national titles, that’s when they should be considered back, especially with the amount of success that the school had in the 80s and 90s. If FSU can knock off Tajh Boyd and Clemson, then it will be a good sign that Jimbo Fisher has the ‘Noles heading in the right direction. But with Sammy Watkins back, and armed with an improving defense, the Tigers should be in this one until the end.
The Lowe Down: Florida State 30, Clemson 27
No. 22 Arizona (3-0) at No. 3 Oregon (3-0) 9:30 p.m. CT
You’ve got to tip your hat to Rich Rodriguez. In just a short time, he has made Arizona football relevant again. Now will that matter when the Wildcats travel to Eugene to take on Oregon? Probably not considering the Ducks are so tough at home, but at least the Wildcat faithful have something to anticipate on the weekends now. If Arizona expects to pull the upset, it must slow the powerful Oregon rushing attack, which features quarterback Marcus Mariota, tailback Kenjon Barner and WR/RB De’Anthony Thomas. If the Wildcats can do that, and quarterback Matt Scott can avoid mistakes, then Rodriguez’s team could possibly pull the upset. Keyword: possibly.
The Lowe Down: Oregon 59, Arizona 27
In other Saturday games:
Virginia 16 at No. 17 TCU 30
UTEP 17 at Wisconsin 30
Miami 20 at Georgia Tech 28
Temple 14 at Penn State 28
Florida Atlantic 0 at No. 1 Alabama 48
Oregon State 20 at No. 19 UCLA 26
No. 20 Louisville 34 at Florida International 27
Southern Mississippi 20 at Western Kentucky 34
Syracuse 23 at Minnesota 26
Utah 23 at Arizona State 31
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