September 15, 2005

Week 3 – What to Watch

Tennessee at Florida, 8:00 p.m., CBS
Last year, Tennessee got handed the game after the refs called a personal foul on Florida’s Dallas Baker, ignoring a previous, instigating head slap by Tennessee safety Robert Wade. Subsequently, the Vols drove into field goal range and stole the game, 30-28. Since then, Urban Meyer was hired by Florida, Tennessee QB Brent Schaeffer transferred and his counterpart Erik Ainge was demoted to second string. Senior QB Rick Clausen will get the start for the Vols opposite Florida junior QB Chris Leak. Leak has talent but has done nothing noteworthy to anyone outside of Gainesville. This Saturday is his chance to start leaving his mark on the program. Expect the fans to be unruly, expect a few signs in the stands about last year’s robbery, and expect the Gators to win.

Florida 27, Tennessee 17

Florida State at Boston College, 7:45 p.m., ESPN
Nothing is truly known about Florida State coming into this game. The Noles won a titanic defensive struggle with an anemic offense against Miami and then played the Citadel. Drew Weatherford is somewhere between his 7-for-24 and 67 yard performance vs. Miami and his 26-for-37, 342 yards against the Citadel. The BC Eagles haven’t played the caliber of Miami, but their two opponents (BYU and Army) give us a bit more of picture of what the Eagles have done. QB Quinton Porter is the x-factor for this game. Another variable will be the presence of ESPN’s Gameday in Chestnut Hill. The ACC debut for the Eagles could be a fantastic start or a rude welcome to the league. After this game, I think we will know that Florida State’s offense is a far cry from the Mark Richt-days in Tallahassee.

Boston College 21, Florida State 14

Miami, FL at Clemson, 3:30 p.m., ABC
I can’t see Miami going 0-2 and I think Clemson has been living a charmed life in their first two games. Miami will have the motivation on their side, having suffered a defeat at home last year to the Tigers. Miami QB Kyle Wright now knows he is the leader of this team after nearly taking a victory from the jaws of defeat in Tallahassee. Devin Hester needs to put a little more steak to his sizzle. Clemson’s hopes are on the renaissance of Charlie Whitehurst. In 2003, he was brilliant leading Clemson to a Peach Bowl upset of Tennessee capping off a year that grabbed pro scout attention. Last year he threw only seven TD’s and 17 interceptions. Which Charlie shows up, or will Miami simply be too focused for it to matter? I just can’t envision the Canes winless going into October.

Miami 24, Clemson 20

Michigan State at Notre Dame, 3:30, NBC
The Irish come into the game sky-high after beating rivals Michigan and Pitt to begin the season. Charlie Weis is warning anyone this week who will listen that the Spartans are to be feared. Michigan State has rolled through Hawaii and Kent State, winning by a 91-28 combined score. The Irish have faced much better talent in Pittsburgh and Michigan. However, the Irish offense didn’t win the game at Michigan like they did against Pitt. Irish WR Rhema McKnight will miss the game with a knee sprain, but the Irish return WR Matt Shelton, the 2004 deep-threat for the Irish with six touchdowns on only 20 receptions. The cause for concern for Notre Dame and their fans is that there is a lot of mention of the USC game in mid-October after the Michigan win. I hope that Charlie’s warnings aren’t falling on deaf ears.

Notre Dame 23, Michigan State 14

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Heavenly time period: College football season until the championship game of March Madness.