RALPH D. RUSSO
The Southeastern Conference’s first huge game of the season was spoiled by Louisiana-Monroe.
Instead of a top-10 matchup in Fayetteville, Ark., on Saturday, No. 1 Alabama comes to town to face an unranked Arkansas team that’s still shaking off a monster upset and unsure whether star quarterback Tyler Wilson can play.
Wilson sustained a head injury in the 34-31 loss to the Warhawks, a setback that has Razorbacks fans wondering if their team’s once-promising season is already shot.
If Wilson can play — coach John L. Smith said Wednesday he was more optimistic than the day before, but “I’m keeping fingers crossed as well” — it should give the Razorbacks at least a puncher’s chance against the Tide.
If not? Brandon Mitchell could move back to quarterback after switching to receiver this season — to face Alabama. Not ideal.
Arkansas lost 38-14 at Alabama last season with Wilson. Home-field advantage might not be enough to compensate.
No. 2 Southern California also faces a potentially tough road test at No. 21 Stanford. The Cardinal have won three straight against the Trojans, remarkable considering the relatively one-sided history of the rivalry.
USC leads the series 59-28-3 and Stanford has never won more than three straight.
The last two meetings have produced wild games. Andrew Luck and the Cardinal beat Matt Barkley and USC 37-35 in 2010 and 56-48 in triple overtime last year.
Barkley is 0-3 as a starter against Stanford.
“It’s just another game,” Barkley told the Press-Telegram of Long Beach (Calif.) earlier this week. “It’s the next game. It’s Week 3. We’re going up north for an away game. Nothing special about it.”
No. 1 Alabama (minus 20) at Arkansas
Lose to ULM, then beat ‘Bama? Doesn’t sound possible … Alabama 34-21.
No. 2 Southern California (minus 8) at No. 21 Stanford
Stanford’s out of Luck … USC 35-20.
Idaho (plus 42½) at No. 3 LSU
Do tigers eat potatoes? … LSU 55-7.
Tennessee Tech (no line) at No. 4 Oregon
When does Oregon start playing real games? … Oregon 62-14.
Wake Forest (plus 27½) at No. 5 Florida State
Demon Deacons have won four of last six meetings … Florida State 28-10.
Florida Atlantic (plus 43) at No. 7 Georgia
Jarvis Jones for Heisman? Bulldogs’ LB is scary good … Georgia 52-7.
UAB (plus 33½) at No. 8 South Carolina
No need for Gamecocks QB Connor Shaw to rush back … S. Carolina 45-10.
No. 9 West Virginia (no line) vs. James Madison at Landover, Md.
Mountaineers shooting for 60 again … West Virginia 62-17.
No. 22 Notre Dame (plus 5) at No. 10 Michigan State
Irish and Spartans could see less of each other when ND goes to ACC … Michigan State 24-17.
Furman (no line) at No. 11 Clemson
Sammy Watkins returns for Clemson, tunes up for Seminoles … Clemson 46-14.
California (plus 17) at No. 12 Ohio State
First meeting since 1972; Buckeyes are 5-1 against Bears … Ohio State 28-17.
No. 13 Virginia Tech (minus 10½) at Pittsburgh
Panthers trying to avoid first 0-3 start since 2005 … Virginia Tech 28-14.
No. 14 Texas (minus 10½) at Mississippi
Should be best party in the Grove in a few years … Texas 31-13.
North Texas (plus 28½) at No. 15 Kansas State
Rugged Wildcats QB Collin Klein is Tebow-lite … Kansas State 47-14.
No. 16 TCU (minus 21) at Kansas
First Big 12 game for Horned Frogs … TCU 48-24.
Massachusetts (plus 46) at No. 17 Michigan
UMass has been outscored 82-6 by UConn and Indiana … Michigan 55-7.
No. 18 Florida (plus 3) at No. 23 Tennessee
Gators have won seven straight in once-great rivalry … Tennessee 28-23.
North Carolina (plus 3½) at No. 19 Louisville
Tar Heels hope to have RB Giovani Bernard back from injury … North Carolina 28-24.
Houston (plus 17) at No. 22 UCLA
Cougars have allowed 86 points in two games … Ucla 56-35.
South Carolina State (no line) at No. 24 Arizona
Wildcats get to enjoy at least another week in rankings … Arizona 62-14.
No. 25 BYU (minus 4) at Utah
Holy War has been played every year since 1946 … BYU 20-17.
Last week’s record: 20-4 (straight); 11-8 (vs. points)
Season record: 41-5 (straight); 20-16 (vs. points)
Best bets: 0-2.
Upset specials: 1-1.