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Top 25 College Football preview capsules

Posted: September 5, 2013 - 11:06pm
Oklahoma State cheerleaders perform a routine on the sidelines as their team plays Mississippi State during the second half in their NCAA college football game Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013, in Houston. (AP Photo/Richard Carson)  Richard Carson
Richard Carson
Oklahoma State cheerleaders perform a routine on the sidelines as their team plays Mississippi State during the second half in their NCAA college football game Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013, in Houston. (AP Photo/Richard Carson)

No. 2 Oregon (1-0) at Virginia (1-0), 3:30 p.m. (ABC)

Line: Oregon by 22.

Series record: First meeting.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

Oregon has won 15 consecutive games on its opponents’ field, the longest streak in the nation, and will arrive at Scott Stadium with its highest ranking this early in the season. Virginia has won twice in 20 previous games against teams ranked in the top five, and both of those victories came at home.

KEY MATCHUP

Oregon’s running game against Virginia’s defense. The Ducks gained 500 of their school-record 772 yards on the ground last week against Nicholls State with three players going over 100 yards, and Virginia allowed 187 yards on the ground against BYU. The Cavaliers play an aggressive defense designed to get penetration, which could leave them susceptible to misdirection against the Ducks’ exceptional speed.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Oregon: QB Marcus Mariota. He was 12 for 21 for 234 yards last week, and added 113 yards rushing on five carries. The Cavaliers know their pressure will be more effective if the Ducks face second- and third-and-long situations, allowing them to get after the sophomore and perhaps cause turnovers.

Virginia: DE Eli Harold. The sophomore caught Ducks coach Mark Helfrich’s eye with two sacks against BYU, and is probably the fastest player on Virginia’s front seven.

FACTS & FIGURES

The Ducks haven’t lost on their opponent’s field since a 51-42 setback at Stanford on Nov. 7, 2009. ... Eight of Oregon’s nine TD drives against Nicholls State took less than 2 minutes to complete. ... The Ducks have three players on their roster (De’Anthony Thomas, Marcus Mariota and Josh Huff) who have a touchdown run in their career that covered at least 85 yards. ... The last team ranked in the top 5 to play at Virginia was No. 3 Southern Cal, which beat the Cavaliers 52-7 in the 2008 season-opener. ... The Cavaliers touchdown drives last week covered 19 and 13 yards. One was set up by a blocked punt, the other by an interception. .... Oregon had 12 plays of 25 or more yards last weekend; Virginia had none.

Buffalo (0-1) at Baylor (1-0), 3:30 p.m. (FSN)

Line Baylor by 27½.

Series record: Baylor leads 2-0.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

Baylor has the longest winning streak in the Big 12 at five games in a row, and the Bears have also won nine consecutive nonconference games since the 2010 Texas Bowl against Illinois. Buffalo, which lost its opener 40-20 at No. 2 Ohio State after falling behind 23-0, is playing consecutive games at ranked opponents for the first time.

KEY MATCHUP

Baylor’s quick-strike offense against Buffalo defense. With new QB Bryce Petty, who had been a backup for Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III and record-setting Nick Florence, the Bears had four TD drives under 1 minute and three more in less than 2 minutes. Ohio State rushed out to a 16-0 lead over Buffalo with TD drives of 1:09 and 1:20, and had another drive of 58 seconds.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Buffalo: LB Khalil Mack had nine tackles, 2½ sacks and returned an interception 45 yards for a touchdown against Ohio State. His 58½ career tackles for loss are 16½ shy of Jason Babin’s NCAA career record.

Baylor: RB Lache Seastrunk has five consecutive 100-yard rushing games, a school record. He had 111 yards and two touchdowns on only 11 carries in the Bears’ season opener.

FACTS & FIGURES

Baylor has recorded six quarterback sacks in consecutive games, the Holiday Bowl victory over UCLA last December and the season-opening over Wofford. ... Buffalo is 1-10 vs. Top 25 teams since 1996, and the Bulls’ only victory was 42-24 over 12th-ranked Ball State in the 2008 Mid-American Conference championship game. ... Bears K Aaron Jones, already Baylor’s career scoring leader with 339 points, made 9 of 9 extra points and a 25-yard field goal in the opening 69-3 win over Wofford. ... The 69 points for Baylor were the most in at Floyd Casey Stadium, which is in its 64th and final season.

South Carolina State (0-1) at No.4 Clemson (1-0), 12:30 p.m. (RSN)

Line: No line.

Series record: Clemson leads 1-0.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

A really embarrassing free fall for Clemson, which rose to its highest ranking in 25 years after beating No. 11 Georgia 38-35 a week ago. The Tigers don’t want to follow that with a loss to FCS opponent in South Carolina State. The Bulldogs are 0-10 against FBS opponents, including a 54-0 loss at Clemson in 2008 — the only time the teams have met.

KEY MATCHUP

South Carolina State QB Richard Cue vs. Clemson’s defensive front. Cue is a fifth-year senior who threw for 178 yards and a touchdown in the Bulldogs’ 27-20 opening week loss to Coastal Carolina last week. He’ll have to be on his toes against Clemson’s fast linemen. They sacked Georgia’s Aaron Murray four times last week.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

South Carolina State: RB Justin Taylor rushed for 80 yards and a touchdown against Coastal Carolina. Taylor is a Kentucky transfer who was once committed to Alabama.

Clemson: QB Tajh Boyd was the talk of college football — and a way-too-early Heisman Trophy front-runner — after accounting for five touchdowns in the win over Georgia. In a perfect Clemson world, Boyd would get a break by halftime with the Tigers up by several touchdowns.

FACTS & FIGURES

Clemson is looking to start 2-0 for the fourth straight season under coach Dabo Swinney. ... South Carolina State is seeking to bounce back from a 5-6 mark in 2012, its first losing season in coach Buddy Pough’s 11 previous seasons. ... Clemson is 26-0 against teams from the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA). The Tigers also play FCS opponent Citadel on Nov. 23 ... Clemson’s 6-foot-6 punter Bradley Pinion went 7-for-7 on kickoffs out of the end zone last week. He also had only one of his seven punts returned by Georgia and three were downed inside the 20. ... There were seven FCS road victories over FBS teams last week, including North Dakota State’s win at Kansas State and Eastern Washington’s victory over previously ranked Oregon State. ___

San Jose State (1-0) at No. 5 Stanford, 11 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)

Line: Stanford by 26 ½.

Series record: Stanford leads 51-14-1.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

Stanford, coming off a Pac-12 title and its first Rose Bowl victory in 41 years, is eager to get started after a rare opening-week off. San Jose State, which handled Sacramento State 24-0 in its opener, is out to prove last season’s 20-17 loss at Stanford — before winning a school-record 11 games and finishing ranked No. 24 in the final AP poll — was no fluke.

KEY MATCHUP

San Jose State QB David Fales vs. Stanford’s defense. The Spartans will need another big game from Fales to have any chance against the Cardinal, who led the Pac-12 in total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense, sacks and tackles for loss last season. Fales completed 24 of 35 passes for 217 yards and a touchdown before throwing an interception at Stanford’s 45-yard-line with a little more than a minute remaining a year ago. He led the nation with a 72.5 percent completion percentage, throwing for 4,193 yards and 33 TDs.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

San Jose State: WR Noel Grigsby. Fales’ favorite target gave Stanford fits last season, catching seven passes for 93 yards and a touchdown.

Stanford: LB Shayne Skov. Sure, the fifth-year senior might not even be the top linebacker on his own team — almost every NFL scout believes that’s Trent Murphy. But Skov is the unquestioned leader of the Stanford defense and his impact is clearly noticeable when he’s on the field. He served a one-game suspension against San Jose State last year for a DUI arrest. He finishing the season with a team-best 81 tackles.

FACTS & FIGURES

Both teams have won eight straight games, third-best in the nation. ... Stanford has won its last five season openers and 10 of 13. ... The Spartans are 0-20 against ranked teams since a 27-24 victory over No. 9 TCU on Nov. 4, 2000. That’s also the highest-ranked team San Jose State has ever beaten. ... Stanford has won the last five meetings. ... The schools are not scheduled to play beyond this season.

No. 6 South Carolina (1-0, 0-0 Southeastern Conference) at No. 11 Georgia (0-1, 0-0), 4:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Line: Georgia by 3.

Series record: Georgia leads 46-16-2.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

The early lead in the SEC East, though Georgia has overcome losses to the Gamecocks the last two years to win the division, thanks in part to favorable schedules. This time, South Carolina appears to have the easier road the rest of the way, which makes it unlikely the Bulldogs will be able to pull off another escape should they lose to their rival for the fourth year in a row.

KEY MATCHUP

Georgia’s offensive line vs. South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney. In an opening win over North Carolina, Clowney didn’t do much on the stat sheet (three tackles, three quarterback hurries) and seemed to run out of gas. Touted as a Heisman Trophy candidate, he’s already hearing some criticism over the lackluster performance. Look for a more determined Clowney to take the field against Georgia, which boasts an experienced line (three seniors, two juniors) that allowed four sacks against Clemson.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

South Carolina: RB Mike Davis rushed for 115 yards in the opener, averaging 9.5 yards per carry and ripping off a 75-yard touchdown.

Georgia: QB Aaron Murray has put up record passing numbers for the Bulldogs, but he’s also known as the guy who struggles against Top 10 opponents. He’s never beaten the Gamecocks and needs to avoid the sort of crucial mistakes that always seem to plague him in big games.

FACTS & FIGURES

Georgia is trying to avoid its second 0-2 start in three years. ... This has been a traditional SEC opener since South Carolina joined the league in 1992. The only time they didn’t meet in their first conference game was last season, when a change in the format to accommodate two new members resulted in Georgia-South Carolina being pushed back to Week 6. ... Georgia RB Todd Gurley rushed for a career-best 154 yards and two touchdowns against Clemson. ... South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier has been a longtime nemesis for Georgia, posting a 15-5 career record vs. the Bulldogs. He was 11-1 as Florida’s head coach and 4-4 since taking over the Gamecocks, including South Carolina’s first three-game winning streak in a series that dates to 1894.

Sam Houston State at No.7 Texas A&M, 6 p.m. (FOX PPV)

Line: No line.

Series record: Texas A&M 11-0.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

It’s Texas A&M’s last tuneup before a Sept. 14 rematch with top-ranked Alabama. Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel is expected to start after his was suspended for the first half of the opener Because of what the school called an “inadvertent” violation of NCAA rules involving signing autographs. The Aggies beat Sam Houston State, which has reached the FCS title game the last two seasons, 47-28 in 2012.

KEY MATCHUP

Manziel vs. the Sam Houston State defense. Three of Manziel’s six completions in Texas A&M’s win over Rice were for touchdowns. He threw for 94 yards and ran for 19 more in less than a half of work. He did pretty much whatever he wanted in last year’s win over the overmatched Bearkats, throwing for 267 yards and three touchdowns and running for 100 yards and two more scores in just more than a half.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Sam Houston State: RBs Steven Hicks, Richard Sincere, Cory Idlebird and Timothy Flanders. The group led a rushing attack that combined for 365 yards in a 74-0 win over Houston Baptist. The 99 yards Hicks gained were nine more yards than Houston Baptist’s total on offense.

Texas A&M: RB Tra Carson impressed in his Texas A&M debut after sitting out last season after transferring from Oregon. He gained 76 yards on 14 carries with two scores.

FACTS & FIGURES

Texas A&M and Sam Houston State are just 53 miles apart. ... This will be just the third meeting between these teams since 1941. ... A&M CB Deshazor Everett will have to sit out the first half on Saturday after being ejected in the second half against Rice for targeting. ... The Aggies will also be without CB De’Vante Harris, LB Steven Jenkins, DE Gavin Stansbury and WR Edward Pope, who will finish two-game suspensions for violating team rules. ... Sam Houston State returned two interceptions for touchdowns, blocked two punts and had a safety in its season-opener. ... A&M has gained 400 or more yards in a school-record 13 straight games. ... Since becoming an FCS team in 1986, the Bearkats are 3-26 against FBS.

Eastern Kentucky (1-0) at No. 8 Louisville (1-0), noon (ESPN3)

Line: No line.

Series record: Louisville leads 17-8-1.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

Eastern Kentucky, ranked 21st in this week’s FCS coaches poll, seeks its first 2-0 start since 2000 and its first win against an FBS school since beating Louisville 45-21 in 1985. Louisville also aims to go to 2-0 and beat the Colonels a third straight time in the series.

KEY MATCHUP

Eastern Kentucky’s offensive line returns three starters including 6-foot-1, 332-pound senior LG Travon Carter and 6-2, 290-pound RG Justin Meredith. The line’s challenge is trying to generate a ground game and pass protection against Louisville’s veteran defensive front including senior DT Roy Philon, who had the Cardinals’ only sack against Ohio, and junior NT Brandon Dunn.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Eastern Kentucky: QB Jared McClain presents a dual threat for the Colonels but faces a Louisville defense that allowed 273 yards to Ohio. McClain’s coming off an impressive starting debut against Robert Morris, with two touchdown passes, two TD runs and 232 yards on offense in a 38-6 win.

Louisville: Former Auburn star Michael Dyer is still listed third behind Senorise Perry and Dominique Brown on the depth chart but figures to get more touches after breaking off a 46-yard touchdown run against Ohio, the Cardinals’ only rushing score. Competing in his first game since 2011 with the Tigers, the two-time 1,000-yard rusher finished with four carries for 50 yards.

FACTS & FIGURES

The intrastate schools are meeting for only the third time since 1991. ... Ten points have decided the last two games, including Louisville’s 23-13 win in 2010, Charlie Strong’s first as Louisville coach. ... Eastern Kentucky beat Louisville 45-21 in 1985 and is 4-18 against top-tier schools. ... After ranking eighth in third-down conversions last year at nearly 50 percent, the Cardinals converted 13 of 16 opportunities against Ohio.

UAB (0-1) and No. 9 LSU (1-0), 7 p.m. ET (ESPNU)

Line: LSU by 34½.

Series Record: UAB leads 1-0.

WHAT’S AT STAKE: LSU, which has won a nation’s-best 42 consecutive nonconference regular season games since 2002, looks to build on its season opening victory over TCU and maintain its top 10 ranking. An upset by the Blazers would go down as one of UAB’s greatest victories since defeating a Nick Saban-coached LSU squad in 2000.

KEY MATCHUP

LSU senior QB Zach Mettenberger, who appears more composed and accurate under new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, against a UAB secondary that yielded 30 completions and 319 yards passing in a 34-31 OT loss to Troy last week.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

UAB: WR Jamarcus Nelson had 10 catches for 199 yards, as well as 168 yards on kickoff returns, including a 97-yard touchdown. Nelson finished with 367 all-purpose yards. QB Austin Brown passed for 301 yards and three TDs.

LSU: RB Terrence Magee scored two TDs and led the Tigers with 95 yards rushing yards against TCU, including a 52-yard score. The junior, who started as a running back, then switched last season to receiver, and back to running back this season, saw action in part because coach Les Miles sat out 2012 leading RB Jeremy Hill for disciplinary reasons, and could do so again this week.

FACTS & FIGURES

LSU is 32-0 in nonconference regular-season games since Miles became coach in 2005. He inherited a 10-game non-conference winning streak from Saban ... UAB is the last non-SEC opponent to beat LSU in Tiger Stadium. The 13-10 Blazers victory came on a last-second field goal on Sept. 23, 2000. Since then, the Tigers have won 37 straight home games vs. non-SEC teams. . LSU is 133-38-12 against current members of Conference USA. ... UAB WR Jamari Staples had six receptions for 103 yards and a TD in his Blazers debut last week. ... Mettenberger is 11-3 as the starter ... UAB RB Darrin Reaves has rushed for more than 100 yards in four of the past six games for the Blazers, including 110 yards last week.

No. 12 Florida (1-0) at Miami (1-0), Noon (ESPN)

Line: Florida by 3

Series record: Miami leads 28-26

WHAT’S AT STAKE

Plenty, even though it’s just a nonconference game in Week 2. For Miami, a win means an almost-certain return to the AP Top 25 for the first time since 2010, bragging rights over a rival and being able to say the rebuilding phase might really be over. For Florida, it’s a chance to leave a big exclamation mark on the series, since these teams are not expected to play again for a long, long time.

KEY MATCHUP

Miami’s wide receivers vs. Florida’s cornerbacks. With players like Marcus Roberson and Jaylen Watkins at the corners, the Gators might have the deepest secondary in the nation, and having playmakers back there is a Florida tradition of sorts. Look for plenty of 1-on-1 matchups that Miami wideouts Phillip Dorsett, Allen Hurns and Stacy Coley will have to win for the Hurricanes to be successful.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Florida: Flanker Trey Burton is a threat in many ways, including when the Gators use him lining up in the Wildcat formation. Florida is 9-1 when he runs for a touchdown, and while he might not put up monster numbers, his versatility alone could keep Miami’s defensive line guessing.

Miami: All eyes will be on RB Duke Johnson, whose 186 rushing yards led the nation in Week 1. If Florida keeps him bottled up, the Hurricanes could be in trouble. Johnson didn’t have big stats in games against top-notch opponents last season, though a toe injury had him hampered at times. This season, he’s bigger and stronger.

FACTS & FIGURES

The teams have no future meetings scheduled, though Miami would like to see the series continued. ... The last meeting was in 2008, a 26-3 Florida win. ... Miami has added more than 1,300 seats to Sun Life Stadium for this game, bringing the capacity to just under 77,000, which would be a Hurricane record for that facility.

No. 13 Oklahoma State (1-0) vs. Texas-San Antonio (1-0), noon (Fox Sports 1)

Line: Oklahoma State by 26.

Series record: First meeting.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

After defeating Mississippi State 21-3 last week in Houston, Oklahoma State plays its fourth consecutive game in the state of Texas, with victories in the prior three. The upstart UTSA program, in just its second FBS season, is coming off an inspiring comeback win at New Mexico last week, 21-13.

KEY MATCHUP

Oklahoma State’s defense, which allowed just a first quarter 40-yard field goal against Mississippi State, up against Texas-San Antonio’s offense, which gained 394 yards in its opener in New Mexico. OSU linebacker Caleb Lavey is the reigning Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week, while UTSA QB Eric Soza threw for 237 yards and two touchdowns, utilizing 11 different receivers.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Oklahoma State: QB J.W. Walsh is a pass-run threat who earned the Cowboys’ starting job after completing 18 of 27 passes for 135 yards and rushing for 125 yards and a touchdown against Mississippi State.

Texas-San Antonio: RBs Evans Okotcha and David Glasco II need to do more on the ground than the combined 49 yards they had against New Mexico. Okotcha, a senior who is the school’s career leading rusher, picked up 17 yards on six carries, as Soza led all Roadrunners with 48 yards on 11 carries.

FACTS & FIGURES

UTSA coach Larry Coker spent seven seasons as Oklahoma State’s offensive coordinator from 1983-89, including the four years that current OSU coach Mike Gundy played there. This is the first meeting between the two coaches... Oklahoma State RB Jeremy Smith, who gained 102 yards on 15 carries last week, has scored a rushing touchdown in 10 consecutive games.

No. 14 Notre Dame at No. 17 Michigan, 8 p.m. (ESPN)

Line: Michigan by 3 1/2

Series record: Michigan 23-16-1.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

The scheduled matchup between the rivals in Ann Arbor, Mich. After next season’s game in South Bend, Ind., the storied programs will probably not play again for at least a decade because Notre Dame chose last year to cancel the last three games of the series to help it adjust to playing five games against Atlantic Coast Conference teams.

KEY MATCHUP

Michigan’s offensive line against Notre Dame’s defensive line. The Wolverines broke in three new starters in the middle of their line in last week’s tuneup against Central Michigan, but the trio is in for a big test. Wolverines offensive coordinator Al Borges said the Fighting Irish have the best defense he’ll see all year, and the unit is led by defensive end Stephon Tuitt and 6-foot-3, 342-pound nose guard Louis Nix.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Notre Dame: Tuitt. The 6-6, 312-pound junior is projected as one of the top picks in the 2014 NFL draft if he skips his senior season.

Michigan: OT Taylor Lewan. The 6-8, 315-pound senior turned down a chance to be a first-round pick to play another year of college.

FACTS & FIGURES

The Big House hosted its first night game two years ago against Notre Dame, and it lived up to the hype. Former Michigan QB Denard Robinson threw 2 TD passes in last 1:12, including one with 2 seconds left in a 35-31 win in front of an NCAA-record crowd of 114,804. Current Notre Dame QB Tommy Reese threw a 29-yard TD with 30 seconds left in the instant classic in 2011. ... Notre Dame picked off five of Robinson’s passes last year and forced a sixth turnover in last year’s 13-6 win. ... Michigan leads major college football with 904 victories and a .7347 winning percentage and Notre Dame’s .7337 winning percentage trails only Michigan and its 866 wins rank third.

No. 15 Texas (1-0) at BYU (0-1), 7 p.m. (ESPN2)

Line: Texas by 7

Series record: BYU leads 2-1

WHAT’S AT STAKE

Texas coach Mack Brown promised a fast-paced offense this season and it certainly delivered in a 56-7 win over New Mexico State. The Longhorns had a school-best 715 yards of total offense, including four touchdowns of 50 or more yards. Now, they face a stingy BYU defense that ranked among the best in the nation last season. The Cougars are looking to rebound after letting a late lead slip away in a 19-16 loss to Virginia.

KEY MATCHUP

BYU LB Kyle Van Noy against Texas OLs Mason Walters and Trey Hopkins. Van Noy is one of the top linebackers in the nation and had 2½ tackles for losses, a pass breakup and a QB hurry against Virginia. The Cougars need him to pressure QB David Ash, who’s coming off a game in which he threw for 343 yards and four touchdowns. The experienced offensive line for Texas is anchored by Walters and Hopkins, who were named to several preseason watch lists.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Texas: RB Malcolm Brown became just the fourth Texas tailback to top 100 yards receiving in the New Mexico State game. He finished with 109 yards and had a 74-yard TD, which was the third-longest by a Texas running back.

BYU: WR Cody Hoffman is close to becoming BYU’s all-time leading receiver in several categories. He needs 538 yards receiving and three TDs to break Austin Collie’s career marks. He’s also 19 catches away from eclipsing Dennis Pitta’s school record in receptions. Hoffman was a late scratch against Virginia with a hamstring injury.

FACTS & FIGURES: The Longhorns have won their last 11 nonconference road games. ... The Cougars are 15-19 versus Big 12 teams, with their last win against No. 3 Oklahoma in 2009. ... BYU held Virginia to 223 total yards of offense.

West Virginia (1-0) at No. 16 Oklahoma (1-0), 6 p.m. (Fox Sports)

Line: Oklahoma by 20½

Series record: Oklahoma leads 3-2

WHAT’S AT STAKE

The winner of the first Big 12 game of the season will get a leg up in the conference race. Oklahoma wants to learn if its defense is as good as it seemed in a season-opening 34-0 romp over Louisiana-Monroe, the Sooners’ first shutout since the 2010 season. West Virginia is hoping its typically freewheeling offense isn’t as sluggish as it appeared when the Mountaineers trailed by 10 points at halftime before rallying by William & Mary 24-17

KEY MATCHUP

Oklahoma’s defense began a late-season swoon last season at West Virginia, giving up a school-record 778 yards to the Mountaineers, albeit in a 50-49 win. The Sooners remember that game and see their matchup against West Virginia as a sort of measuring stick. Will the changes made by Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops be enough to offset the game plan developed by the Mountaineers’ coach and offensive mastermind, Dana Holgorsen? Even without Geno Smith and Tavon Austin - who ran wild over the Sooners last season - can West Virginia again pile up the yards and points?

PLAYERS TO WATCH

West Virginia: RB Charles Sims, who hopes to pick up against the Sooners where Austin left off last season. Sims looked sharp against William & Mary, carrying 23 times for 120 yards and a touchdown.

Oklahoma: QB Trevor Knight, who will be making his second career start. Against Louisiana-Monroe, the redshirt freshman led the Sooners in rushing with 103 yards but struggled with his short- and intermediate-length passes, throwing for only 86 yards.

FACTS AND FIGURES

West Virginia’s last visit to Norman came in 1982, when quarterback Jeff Hostetler passed for 321 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Mountaineers to a 41-27 upset of No. 9 Oklahoma . The win over Louisiana-Monroe was No. 150 in Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops’ career. He became the sixth-fastest major-college coach to reach 150 wins, having done so in 187 games . Landry Jones’ touchdown pass to Kenny Stills with 24 seconds left last season lifted Oklahoma past the Mountaineers in Morgantown . Oklahoma kicker Nick Hodgson booted seven kickoffs for touchbacks against Louisiana-Monroe.

Syracuse (0-1) at No. 19 Northwestern (1-0), 6 p.m. (Big Ten Network)

Line: Northwestern by 12.

Series record: Tied 5-5.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

Northwestern is trying to build on a 10-win season and keep the momentum going after 44-30 win at California. After this game, the Wildcats take on Western Michigan and Maine before opening Big Ten play against Ohio State. Syracuse’s Scott Shafer came up a little short in his first game as a head coach, losing 23-17 to Penn State at MetLife Stadium. With new quarterback Drew Allen calling the shots, the Orange can ill afford opening the season with two straight losses as they transition into the Atlantic Coast Conference.

KEY MATCHUP

The Syracuse offense against the Northwestern defense. The Orange defense had too many breakdowns on offense after Allen completed his first five passes against the Nittany Lions. He connected on 11 of his final 32 throws with two interceptions, finishing with 189 yards and no TDs. That has to improve for Syracuse to have a chance.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Syracuse: DE Robert Welsh copped ACC defensive lineman of the week honors for his performance in a 23-17 season-opening loss to Penn State. In his first career start, Welsh intercepted a pass and returned it 31 yards to set up a touchdown, and he also recorded six tackles, including his first career sack.

Northwestern: QB Trevor Siemian could be the lone man at quarterback for Northwestern if Kain Colter is unable to play. The two usually share time. But Colter suffered a concussion on the first drive last week. Siemian went 18 for 29 for 276 yards and a touchdown in a more extensive role. RB Venric Mark was also hampered by an injury in the opener.

FACTS AND FIGURES

Northwestern tied the series at 5-all with a 42-41 victory last fall inside Syracuse’s Carrier Dome. Syracuse rallied from a 35-13 deficit midway through the third quarter to take the lead before Demetrius Fields’ TD catch with 44 seconds left lifted Northwestern to the victory.

Southern Mississippi (0-1) at No. 22 Nebraska (1-0), 6 p.m. (Big Ten Network)

Line: Nebraska by 28 ½.

Series record: Nebraska 3-1.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

Nebraska surrendered 602 yards to Wyoming in the opener and has given up 1,831 yards in its last three games. The Cornhuskers better get a handle on what’s wrong with their defense or they’re going to have a big problem against Brett Hundley and UCLA next week. Southern Mississippi is going to be hard-pressed to end its losing streak, now at 13 games, with consecutive road games against Nebraska, Arkansas and Boise State.

KEY MATCHUP

Nebraska defensive line vs. Southern Miss QB Allan Bridgford. The Huskers continue to struggle when it comes to pressuring quarterbacks. They didn’t sack Wyoming’s Brett Smith even once. Bridgford is an easier target. The transfer from California has an NFL arm but isn’t mobile.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Southern Mississippi: WR Rickey Bradley Jr., a junior-college star who walked on in 2012 but failed to qualify academically. His 193 yards on seven catches against Texas State were the most by a Southern Miss receiver since 2008 and fourth-most in school history.

Nebraska: RB Terrell Newby, who impressed in his first college game with 76 yards on 15 carries against Wyoming. Newby backs up Ameer Abdullah and Imani Cross, but he carried nine times during a 13-play touchdown drive with the game still in doubt in the second half. He also returns kicks.

FACTS & FIGURES

The game originally was scheduled to be played in Hattiesburg, Miss., but the financially strapped Southern Miss athletic department struck a deal to be the visiting team in exchange for a $2.1 million paycheck. The Golden Eagles will return to Lincoln in 2015 for $700,000 ... Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez passed for a career-high 354 yards and matched his high with five touchdown passes in a 49-20 win over Southern Miss in last year’s opener ... Freshman Tyre’oune Holmes’ 12 catches last week were the most by a Southern Miss player in his first game ... The Golden Eagles’ six turnovers against Texas State were the most committed by any team in the nation.

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