#4 Clemson at NC State – Thursday, 9/19 7:30 pm EST, ESPN
Thursday night’s in Carter-Finley Stadium don’t always go well for the visitors. An underrated crowd is always vivacious for the primetime matchup and the Wolfpack tend to feed off of it. Clemson is the better team without a doubt, but must be focused and on their game to get the victory. The Tigers are coming off of a bye after the opening week matchup against Georgia and a blow out victory over South Carolina State. This will be Clemson’s first game since losing starting WR Charone Peake for the year to an ACL tear and they need to have WRs step up opposite Sammy Watkins. The Wolfpack come in a very unimpressive 2-0 after needing a comeback and late FG against Richmond to secure the victory. Ball security was an issue in the game with NC State turning it over 4 times.
North Carolina at Georgia Tech – Saturday, 9/21 12:00 pm EST, ESPN
If either of these teams have aspirations for competing in the ACC Coastal division and an opportunity for an ACC Championship, this is the type of game they need to win. Georgia Tech got started on the right foot last week with an easy 38-14 victory over Duke. Going to 2-0 in the ACC is essential for Georgia Tech as they have the tougher road needing to play at Clemson and Miami later in the season. For North Carolina, a win on the road would go a ;ong ways to establishing themselves as a contender. UNC avoids both Florida State and Clemson from the Atlantic this year and gets Miami at home in Chapel Hill. This was a wild affair last season with Georgia Tech winning a 68-50 shootout.
Tennessee at #18 Florida – Saturday, 9/21 3:30 pm EST, CBS
What was once the premier rivalry in the SEC during a long stretch of the 90s into the early 2000s has become, for the most part, an afterthought. Florida has dominated the series lately winning 8 straight, the longest streak in the rivalries history. It hasn’t even been close lately with a 19 point average margin of victory and all wins by double digits in the last 6 meetings. Both teams comes into the matchup reeling, Florida playing for the first time since being upset in Miami and Tennessee coming off an embarrassing 59-14 loss to Oregon. In particular, both offenses have struggled with neither ranking among the Top half among Total Offense in the nation. Florida’s defense, however, continues to be outstanding and gives them a clear edge along with the home field advantage in The Swamp.
#23 Arizona State at #5 Stanford – Saturday, 9/21 7:00 pm EST, FOX
Arizona State has their second Top 25 matchup in as many weeks taking on Stanford. Last week, Arizona State defeated Wisconsin in a controversial ending. Lost in the craziness of the ending, however, was the fact that the Sun Devils played very well in the upset of Wisconsin. In particular, Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly has been exceptional through the first two games averaging 326 yards passing and throwing 5 touchdowns to just one interception. Stanford has been solid though possibly unimpressive in two wins this year over San Jose St and Army. The Cardinal are the more well rounded team in this matchup, but they’ll have to step up their play this week to avoid a second straight Arizona State upset.
Auburn at #7 LSU – Saturday, 9/21 7:45 pm EST, ESPN
Auburn and LSU meet for their annual SEC West Clash in the ESPN primetime matchup. LSU has been impressive in the early going this season thanks to the emergence of Zach Mettenberger, who finally has given some balance to the LSU offense that has been largely one dimensional in recent seasons. Mettenberger has thrown for 250+ in each of the teams first 3 games and has thrown 9 touchdowns without a pick. Auburn is coming off of their first conference victory after losing 10 straight. They needed a touchdown in the final seconds to beat Mississippi State and breathe a little bit of life into a program that had fell on very hard times after their 2010 National Championship. The task gets much harder this week going into a Death Valley and this will be new Auburn Coach Gus Malzhan and quarterback Nick Marshall’s first real test of the season.