College Football Week 3 Preview: LSU-Miss St, OK-FSU, Heisman Watch

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Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops
Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops has a 7-6 record in bowl games and must figure out how to stop Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel.

The college football world has been dominated by conference realignment talk over the past month, including the most recent talks of No. 1 Oklahoma and Oklahoma State heading to the Pac-12.

Realignment talk, along with cover stories on new, ridiculous football uniforms, has overshadowed a potentially huge weekend in college football. There's a matchup between two top five teams in Oklahoma-Florida State, a huge SEC game between No. 3 LSU and No. 25 Mississippi State, as well as multiple games throughout the weekend that could have a major impact on the Top 25 next week.

Let's avoid some of the realignment talk and take a look at this weekend's college football action.

Game of the Week: No.1 Oklahoma (2-0) at No. 5 Florida State (2-0)

Where to watch: Saturday night at 8 p.m. on ABC

The Stoops Bowl features two dynamic teams in the Top 5 in one of this season's early heavyweight games. Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops faces his brother Mark, the defensive coordinator for Florida State, in a rematch of last year's Oklahoma drubbing of the Seminoles, 41-17.

The Seminoles are led by quarterback E.J. Manuel and are hoping to get a little revenge in Tallahassee for the beat down the Sooners handed them in Norman last season.

Ultimately this game could come down to how well Manuel stacks up with Oklahoma's Heisman hopeful quarterback Landry Jones. Jones carved Florida State's defense up last season for 380 passing yards and four touchdowns, something that Florida State has to dramatically curtail if it hopes to get the victory.

Other Major Games of Note:

No. 3 LSU (2-0) at No. 25 Mississippi State (1-1)

Where to watch: Thursday night at 8 p.m. on ESPN

The zany magician (Les Miles) versus the coaching world's rising star (Dan Mullen) is just one of many storylines going into Thursday night's game. Coming off a devastating 41-34 loss to Auburn last Saturday, Mullen tries to regroup his team against a school that has long dominated Mississippi State. The No. 3 Tigers have won the last 11 games against Mississippi State and boast one of the strongest defenses in the country under Miles.

Mississippi State fans are desperate for a big-time win and a win over LSU would surely satisfy their palates, but it will be awfully difficult to pull off.

No. 17 Ohio State (2-0) at Miami (0-1)

Where to watch: Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN 

The Ineligible Bowl features two former football powerhouses currently stuck in the NCAA's doghouse. Ohio State, under new coach Luke Fickell, is expected to get three players back from suspension for its game against Miami. Miami returns quarterback Jacory Harris after a one-game suspension following Yahoo Sport's groundbreaking investigation into the football program's corruption.

Both teams still possess hordes of talent, but Miami is expected to still be missing key members of its defensive unit. Last year Ohio State came out on top against the Hurricanes at home, 36-24, but this time the game moves to Coral Gables.

Miami, still smarting after a tough Labor Day loss to Maryland, could use some good news like a win over Ohio State, but a lot of that will depend on whether Harris can limit the miscues that plagued him in last year's contest.

No. 18 West Virginia (2-0) at Maryland (1-0) (Noon, Sept. 17 on ESPNU)

Where to watch: Saturday at Noon on ESPNU

The match-up between two first-year coaches, Dana Holgorsen for West Virginia and Randy Edsall for Maryland, has been overshadowed by other components. Maryland's uniforms continue to completely dominate the media's attention, and more people seem to be talking about West Virginia's request to its fans to stop wearing inappropriate clothing than the team itself.

But when you ignore all of the extenuating circumstances, this game should be pretty darn entertaining. Maryland offensive coordinator Gary Crowton ran a hurried up, no huddle offense in the team's 31-24 victory over Miami, while Holgorsen is known for his offensive prowess and guided the Mountaineers to double-dig win margins in the team's first two games.

This game will likely turn into a gun slinging battle between Maryland's sophomore quarterback Danny O'Brien and West Virginia's junior quarterback Geno Smith.

3 Coaches Up, 3 Coaches Down

Coaches Moving Up

1) Randy Edsall, Maryland

More attention has been paid to the school's uniforms than its performance on the field, but first-year coach Randy Edsall seems to have the Terrapins on the right path. The team got a huge win against Miami in an ESPN primetime game, and could jump into the Top 25 if the Terps can take down West Virginia on Saturday. Plus all that uniform news -- apparently is helping out on the recruiting trail.

2) James Franklin, Vanderbilt

Franklin, who interesigly enough came to Vanderbilt from much-talked about Maryland, is already doing wonders at the SEC's premier academic school. Franklin has Vandy at 2-0, is starting to really do well recruiting wise, and is starting to get national pub for the oft-overlooked school. He gets his first big test on Saturday against SEC foe Ole Miss.

3) Brady Hoke, Michigan

Sure Michigan's victory over Notre Dame is known more for its late fourth quarter action than steady play, but any time you beat a big rival like Hoke did earns you points. Michigan could hit some speed bumps over the season as it transitions away from Rich Rodriguez's spread offense, but Hoke looks to have the Wolverines on the right path.

Coaches Moving Down

1) Mark Richt, Georgia

The pressure continues to build for Richt after his Georgia Bulldogs dropped to 0-2 with a heartbreaking loss to South Carolina last Saturday. Georgia fans continue to demand better results and right now it just doesn't look like Richt is going to be able to deliver. This week Georgia should get an easy win against Coastal Carolina, but then delve deep into its brutal SEC schedule. It'd likely take a miraculous turnaround for Richt to keep his job, but anything is possible.

2) Brian Kelly, Notre Dame

It's only year two of the Brian Kelly reign at Notre Dame, but Notre Dame fans have infamously high standards. First was the bad loss to South Florida, but the last minute loss to rival Michigan is sure to annoy the Irish's most diehard fans. Unfortunately for Kelly it doesn't get any easier going forward, as he somehow has to find a way to get a win against No. 15 Michigan State. An 0-3 record won't look too good should Kelly's team lose.

3) Houston Nutt, Ole Miss

Ole Miss rebounded with a 42-24 victory over Southern Illinois last weekend, but fans still question whether Nutt is the right guy to lead Ole Miss going forward. Nutt hasn't had the success that Ed Orgeron did on the recruiting trail, plus has disappointed fans with slightly lackluster results. This week's game against Vanderbilt could go a long way to either ratcheting up the pressure or giving Nutt some breathing room.

Heisman Watch:

1) Quarterback Kellen Moore, Boise State

Moore passed for 361 yards and three touchdowns in the team's opening week win over Georgia. This week Boise State travels to Toledo for a Friday night ESPN game.

2) Quarterback Robert Griffin, Baylor

Griffin blew up on the Heisman scene after leading Baylor to a thrilling victory over TCU. Griffin threw for 359 yards and five touchdowns and should pad those stats this weekend against Stephen F. Austin.

3) Quarterback Andrew Luck, Stanford

The Heisman favorite entering the season has led his team to an undefeated record, but hasn't dominated thus far. Luck has passed for 461 yards and six touchdowns in the team's first two games, but isn't generating the buzz that he was at the end of last season.

4) Running back Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina

Lattimore looked extremely impressive in South Carolina's win over Georgia, rushing for 176 yards and a touchdown. Lattimore is more of a dark horse candidate right now, but if South Carolina keeps winning he could see his candidacy become more legitimate.

5) Quarterback Landry Jones, Oklahoma

Landry Jones is the classic example of the best player on the nation's best team getting Heisman publicity. Jones won't put up the gaudy numbers like some of the other candidates, though he did throw for 375 yards in the team's opening win, but could remain a constant in the Heisman Watch if Oklahoma remains undefeated.

 

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