What to watch for

For those of you who read my Sept. 3 column regarding the “weekend college football things to watch” know that I was right on the money.

OK, I’m being overzealous, but at the conclusion of college football’s opening weekend I was feeling pretty good about my predictions. So much so, that I’m back to test my luck in week three.

College football is off to an exciting start, packed with upsets (James Madison anyone?) and statistical madness (Denard “Shoelace” Robinson), and we’re just two weeks in. So without further adieu, here is my top-five must-see events for the upcoming college football weekend.

5. Pac-10 schools vs. other conferences
The Pac-10 is notoriously bad against out-of-conference foes, especially in meaningful games. Last season, of the seven Pac-10 schools that competed in a bowl game, five lost by an average of 16 points. The only two victories came from USC and UCLA, and they were against Boston College and Temple. Saturday will be a great way for the Pac-10 to prove itself. With matchups such as No. 9 Iowa at No. 24 Arizona, Cal at Nevada and No. 23 Houston at UCLA, the Pac-10 can either quiet naysayers or fuel their fire even more.

4. Denard Robinson vs. Massachusetts
UMass will have the tough task of keeping “Shoelace” under 500 yards. If you think that’s a joke, think again. Robinson torched Notre Dame for 502 total yards by himself last week, solidifying himself as a true Heisman Trophy candidate. Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) UMass has little chance of going into the Big House and pulling off an Appalachian State-type upset, but can earn a moral victory if they keep Robinson off of ESPN’s Top-10 Plays.

3. Virginia Tech vs. East Carolina
I won’t be watching this game because, quite frankly, I’ve lost all respect for the Hokies this season, but you can bet Boise State will be interested. Virginia Tech has been demoted to the nation’s perennial laughing stock after its five-point loss to FCS James Madison, and with each pathetic loss, Boise State loses a little credibility. Expect Virginia Tech to have a big game, because when you lose to a school that barely posted a winning record in the FCS last season, you don’t want to lay an egg the following week.

2. No. 8 Nebraska at Washington
The Jake Locker Show hosts one of college football’s most NFL-like defenses. Locker, who is starting to look like the Heisman candidate we all praised him to be, will need to have a similar performance to last week (289 pass yards, 4 touchdowns) to derail the Cornhuskers’ national title hopes. A lot of NFL scouts should be watching this game, mostly because of Locker, but also because two Nebraska defensive players, cornerback Prince Amukamara and defensive tackle Jared Crick, are likely 2011 first round draft picks.

1. No. 9 Iowa at No. 24 Arizona
This game tops my list because, well, it’s the only game this weekend pinning two top-25 teams. In a somewhat dismal weekend for college football, these two teams should spice it up a little bit. Rarely-talked-about Iowa travels over 1,500 miles to Tuscon to take on the rising Wildcats for a game that should have Rose Bowl implications at the end of the season. Arizona quarterback Nick Foles has completed 83 percent of his passes this year and is in All-American form. Iowa is currently ninth in the country in total defense. Something has to give.

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