Top 25 college football preview capsules


Associated Press

Mississippi (3-1, 0-0 SEC) at No. 1 Alabama (4-0, 1-0), 3:15 p.m. (ESPN)

Line: Alabama by 31.

Series Record: Alabama leads 45-9-2.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

Mississippi’s league-leading rushing offense runs into its stiffest test yet. The Rebels are gaining 259.75 yards per game on the ground (11th nationally), but the Crimson Tide’s formidable defense is yielding just 62.25 a game (sixth) and a four-game total of 249 yards and one touchdown.

KEY MATCHUP

Alabama CB Dee Milliner vs. Ole Miss WR Donte Moncrief. If Milliner can shut down the Rebels’ main offensive weapon, things could get ugly in a hurry.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Mississippi: QBs Bo Wallace and Barry Brunetti. Both have been effective when called upon either to run or pass. Being one-dimensional against a Nick Saban/Kirby Smart defense has typically been a recipe for trouble, so the Rebels will have to test Alabama’s secondary, a risky proposition.

Alabama: RB T.J. Yeldon is averaging 6.3 yards per carry, and RB Eddie Lacy is averaging 5.2. They’ve combined for six touchdowns and provided a serious one-two punch for the Tide so far this season.

CB Dee Milliner. He has been the Tide’s shutdown cornerback with an interception and team-high five pass breakups despite missing one game. It should be interesting when he lines up against Donte Moncrief, who has four touchdown catches and 343 yards, more than a third of the Rebels’ total.

FACTS & FIGURES

Alabama has won the last eight meetings, but had to vacate three of them. … Ole Miss has lost its last eight SEC openers and played all but two of the last 10 on the road. … The Rebels are also 0-8 against No. 1 teams. … Alabama has not trailed after the first quarter in the last 18 games and hasn’t been behind in regulation at all since Tennessee went ahead 3-0 with 2:26 left in the first quarter last season. That’s a total of 587 minutes, 26 seconds of game time.

No. 2 Oregon (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) at Washington State (2-2, 0-1), 4:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Line: Oregon by 28½ .

Series Record: Oregon leads 48-38-7.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

Oregon hits the road for the first time this season, but it remains to be seen how much the Ducks trip to Seattle is truly a road game. Thousands of Oregon fans are expected to make the trip north for the matchup. Washington State is hoping to hang around the same way it did last year in Eugene in a 43-28 loss, but blowing a 31-14 fourth-quarter lead and losing 35-34 to woeful Colorado at home last week was not a good precursor.

KEY MATCHUP

Oregon’s speed vs. Washington State’s defense. There’s no doubt Oregon will score. The blurring speed of De’Anthony Thomas and Kenjon Barner could have a field day with Washington State’s defense and turn this into a blowout early. But the past two seasons, Washington State has managed to keep its games with Oregon close and if the Cougars can this might be a chance for Connor Halliday and their offense to do something special.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Oregon: TE Colt Lyerla. He’s not just a tight end anymore. Chip Kelly has found unorthodox ways to get Lyerla involved in the offense, including giving him seven carries for 63 yards and a touchdown last week against Arizona. That’s on top of eight catches for 107 yards and two scores already this season. Lyerla is just one more gadget for the Ducks’ dynamic offense.

Washington State: WR Marquees Wilson. He needs just 46 yards to pass Brandon Gibson for the most receiving yards in Washington State history. Wilson is still waiting for a big breakout game in Mike Leach’s “Air Raid” offense, despite having five receptions and two touchdowns catches in each of the last two games.

FACTS & FIGURES

First time teams have ever played in Seattle. Game is part of Washington State’s plan to play once a season at the home of the Seattle Seahawks and future plans are to play either Oregon or Oregon State in the annual Seattle game. … Oregon’s offense has 27 touchdown drives this season — 14 have taken 2 minutes or less. … Halliday has 17 TD throws in the first seven games of his career. That’s the most in school history.

Towson (2-1) at No. 3 LSU (4-0), 1 p.m. (ESPNU)

Line: NA.

Series Record: First meeting.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

LSU is looking for an easy and dominant win to maintain its high national ranking and regain some confidence following a narrow 12-10 victory at heavy underdog Auburn a week earlier. After the Towson game, LSU launches into a difficult stretch of its SEC schedule that includes currently unbeaten Florida and South Carolina in back-to-back weeks. For Towson, the game offers a chance, however remote, of a historic victory. And a chance to play a night game at Tiger Stadium, which is cool.

KEY MATCHUP

LSU’s defensive front seven against Towson’s running game, which has gained an average of 196.3 yards this season. LSU is giving up only 56.8 yards rushing per game, and that has come against four teams from the FBS, including Washington of the Pac 12 and Auburn of the SEC.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Towson: RB Terrance West, who rushed for nearly 1,300 yards as a freshman, has 251 yards and five TDs through his first three games this season.

LSU: DE Sam Montgomery was the SEC Defensive Player of the Week last week after recording 3 1/2 tackles for losses, including a crucial safety in LSU’s 12-10 victory at Auburn.

FACTS & FIGURES

The game marks the second straight week that the LSU Tigers face an opponent also called the Tigers. … Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt, currently suspended six games in connection with the NFL’s bounty investigation, played linebacker at Towson from 1974-77, and current Saints left tackle Jermon Bushrod also played at Towson from 2003-06. … The game marks the second time Towson has played an FBS team this season, having lost to Kent State 41-21, but it is only the sixth FBS opponent for Towson in program history. Towson also has never played a team from the SEC or a team ranked in the Top 25. … LSU has won an NCAA record 40 straight nonconference regular season games, a school record 20 consecutive games in Tiger Stadium and 17 straight regular season games. … Since coach Les Miles arrived in Baton Rouge in 2005, LSU is 48-4 vs. unranked teams, including a current streak of 16 straight victories.

No. 4 Florida State (4-0) at South Florida (2-2), noon (ESPN)

Line: Florida State by 15.

Series record: South Florida leads 1-0.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

USF won the only previous meeting 17-7 on the road in 2009, with QB B.J. Daniels making his first college start in his hometown of Tallahassee. Much has changed for both programs since then, including much-scrutinized coaching changes that saw Jimbo Fisher take over for Bobby Bowden and Skip Holtz replacing Jim Leavitt. FSU was in decline as a national power three years ago, but is on the rise again. Just the opposite with USF, which is only a tad over .500 since the first meeting and enters Saturday coming off consecutive losses to Rutgers and Ball State.

KEY MATCHUP

Florida State’s high-powered offense vs. a USF defense that’s provided little resistance to opponents to the past three games. The Seminoles are coming off a season-high 667-yard outing in their first real test of the year in a 49-37 victory over Clemson. The Bulls allowed 549 yards in a one-point road victory over Nevada, 421 to Rutgers in a 10-point loss to Rutgers and 413 in falling to Ball State, none of whom are nearly as explosive as the talented Seminoles.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Florida State: QB E.J. Manuel is the Seminoles’ career completion leader and is off to a blazing start, completing 73.4 percent of his attempts for 905 yards, eight touchdowns and one interception through four games. In USF, he’s facing a secondary that’s yet to notch its first interception.

South Florida: At times, Daniel is a virtual one-man show. In addition to throwing for 1,142 yards, nine TDs and six interceptions through four games, the red-shirt senior has been USF’s leading rusher the past two.

FACTS & FIGURES

Florida State is playing on the road for the first time. The Seminoles have rushed for more than 200 yards in each game and currently is the only team is the country to rank in the top 10 nationally in 10 different statistical categories, including No. 2 in total defense and No. 4 in total offense. … Daniels is 20-17 as USF’s starting QB. In beating Florida State in his first college start, the six-foot, 217-pounder who grew up near the FSU campus threw for 215 yards, two TDs and two interceptions. He also rushed for 126 yards on 23 attempts. … USF’s loss to Ball State was the Bulls’ first to a non-BCS opponent since joining the Big East in 2005.

Tennessee (3-1, 0-1 SEC) at No. 5 Georgia (4-0, 2-0 SEC), 9:30 a.m. (CBS)

Line: Georgia by 13 1/2.

Series record: Tennessee leads 21-18-2.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

Georgia is attempting to match Florida’s 3-0 start in the Southeastern Conference’s Eastern Division and remain unbeaten before next week’s key game at No. 6 South Carolina. Tennessee, which lost 37-20 to Florida in its first SEC game, needs a conference win to show progress is being made in coach Derek Dooley’s third season. Ending a streak of two straight losses to the Bulldogs would send a strong message to Tennessee fans needing encouragement after a five-win 2011 season that included 1-7 in the SEC.

KEY MATCHUP

Tennessee NG Daniel McCullers vs Georgia C David Andrews. The massive McCullers (6-8, 377) is a matchup nightmare for a first-year starter. The offensive line was a key preseason concern for Georgia, which had three 2011 starters selected in this year’s NFL draft, including both starting tackles and center Ben Jones.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Tennessee: LB A.J. Johnson leads the Vols with 31 tackles and four quarterback hurries and also has four carries for 7 yards and two touchdowns in Tennessee’s “Beast” version of the Wildcat offense.

Georgia: CB/WR Malcolm Mitchell. The team’s second-leading receiver as a freshman in 2011, Mitchell moved to cornerback in spring practice. With the defense returning to full strength, Mitchell was back at receiver in Tuesday’s practice and may be a two-way player against the Vols.

FACTS & FIGURES

Tennessee will be playing its second game of the season in the state of Georgia. The Vols opened with a 35-21 win over N.C. State in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome. … The 3-1 start is Tennessee’s best record through four games since 2006, also the last time the Vols were 4-1. … Led by QB Tyler Bray, the Vols lead the SEC and rank eighth in the nation with their average of 341 yards passing. They are on pace to break the school record of 3,981 yards passing in 1997, when Peyton Manning finished second in the Heisman voting. … Georgia has scored more than 40 points in each of its first four games for the first time in school history. … The Bulldogs are playing for their fourth 4-0 start in 12 years under coach Mark Richt. … Georgia has won 14 straight regular-season games, the nation’s second-longest streak behind LSU (17). … Georgia (47.5) and Tennessee (38.2) rank first and second in the SEC in scoring.

No. 6 South Carolina (4-0, 2-0 SEC) at Kentucky (1-3, 0-1), 1 p.m. (ESPN2)

Line: South Carolina by 21

Series Record: South Carolina leads 15-7-1

WHAT’S AT STAKE

South Carolina can tie SEC East-leading Florida for the division lead. The Gamecocks also seek their first 5-0 start under coach Steve Spurrier and a good tuneup for next week’s division showdown with Georgia. Kentucky, shut out 38-0 at Florida last week, is trying to end a two-game losing streak.

KEY MATCHUP

South Carolina DEs Jadeveon Clowney and Devin Taylor vs. Kentucky OTs Darrian Miller and Kevin Mitchell. Clowney (4.5 sacks) has earned attention, but Taylor (10 tackles, two for loss) gets in the backfield a lot, too. Kentucky has allowed just four sacks with Mitchell and Miller but Florida pushed the offensive line back often last week, rattling emergency starter Morgan Newton into throwing three interceptions.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

South Carolina: QB Connor Shaw. Answered questions about his sore shoulder by completing a school-record 20 consecutive passes for 252 yards and two touchdowns in the Gamecocks’ 31-10 victory against Missouri last week. He also likes to run, carrying 31 times for 127 yards in three games.

Kentucky: QB Maxwell Smith. The sophomore returns after missing the Florida game with a separated throwing shoulder. He has completed 102 of 149 passes for 966 yards and eight touchdowns.

FACTS & FIGURES

Shaw’s completion streak tied Ole Miss’ Kent Austin (1982) for second-longest in SEC history. He’s three shy of Tee Martin’s conference record set in 1998 with Tennessee. … South Carolina has won seven of its last eight road games dating back to last season. It opened this season with a 17-13 win at Vanderbilt. … Kentucky lost 54-3 to South Carolina last year in Columbia but won the last meeting at Commonwealth Stadium, rallying from a 28-10 deficit for a 31-28 victory. The Wildcats are 4-8 against the Gamecocks at home

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No. 25 Baylor (3-0) at No. 9 West Virginia (3-0), 6 a.m. (FX)

Line: West Virginia by 12 1-2.

Series record: First meeting.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

The scoreboard keeper’s sanity. The teams are averaging a combined 98 points per game. It’s the Big 12 debut for the Mountaineers, who hope to build momentum for upcoming trips to No. 12 Texas and Texas Tech. Baylor is in the Top 25 for the first time this season and wants to stay there.

KEY MATCHUP

Baylor QB Nick Florence against West Virginia’s defense. Florence, the nation’s total offense leader, threw for 351 yards and a career-high four TDs in a 47-42 win over Louisiana-Monroe last week. But Baylor had to dig out of a 14-0 hole after Florence’s two first-quarter interceptions set up touchdowns. The Mountaineers have nine sacks over their last two games and have scored two defensive touchdowns this season but will be tested to stop Florence, who is averaging 7.6 yards per rushing attempt as well.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

West Virginia: QB Geno Smith, WRs Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. Smith averages 357 yards passing per game and has thrown for 12 TDs — five apiece to Austin and Bailey. Austin had 13 catches last week to break Bailey’s school record of 12 set in the Orange Bowl.

Baylor: WRs Terrance Williams and Tevin Reese. The pair is averaging more than five catches per game and 20 yards per catch.

FACTS & FIGURES

The game also marks a reunion between head coaches Art Briles of Baylor and Dana Holgorsen of West Virginia. They were together on Mike Leach’s staff at Texas Tech from 2000-02. Holgorsen was an assistant at Oklahoma State when the Cowboys beat Briles’ Bears in 2010. … Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby is the honorary marshal for West Virginia’s homecoming parade Friday night. … Baylor has the second-longest winning streak in the FBS (behind TCU’s 11) and can tie a school record with its 10th consecutive win, which also occurred during the 1936 and 1937 seasons.

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No. 12 Texas (3-0) at Oklahoma State (2-1), 1:50 p.m. (Fox)

Line: Texas by 2½.

Series Record: Texas leads 22-4.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

In an early-season test for both teams, the Cowboys start the defense of their first Big 12 title against a Longhorns team out to prove this strong start isn’t a fluke.

KEY MATCHUP

Oklahoma State running backs vs. Texas defense. With backup J.W. Walsh likely to start in place of injured starting QB Wes Lunt, the Cowboys will need contributions from RBs Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith to set up the play-action passing game that worked so well for Walsh when he was thrust into duty against Louisiana-Lafayette. Smith had 140 yards and two TDs on seven carries last year in OSU’s second straight win against the Longhorns.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Texas: DE Alex Okafor. With three sacks this season, the NFL prospect leads the Longhorns’ defensive front against an OSU offensive line that hasn’t given up a sack in three games — and 134 pass attempts — this season. However, it was a blitzing defender that got to Lunt and hit him as he threw the ball away.

Oklahoma State: WR Josh Stewart. He played with Walsh at Guyer High School in Denton, Texas, and the two hooked up frequently after Walsh replaced Lunt in the last game. Stewart had a career-high 104 yards receiving, tied his career best with nine catches and scored twice. A game earlier, he caught nine of Lunt’s passes.

FACTS & FIGURES

Oklahoma State has won nine straight games against teams from Texas, dating back to the loss to the Longhorns in 2009. … Texas is 6-0 in Stillwater under Mack Brown. … Out of the Longhorns’ seven takeaways this season, three are interceptions by cornerback Quandre Diggs. … The Cowboys lead the nation in scoring (62.3 ppg). Texas is seventh (49.3).

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No. 14 Ohio State (4-0) at No. 20 Michigan State (3-1), 9:30 a.m. (ABC)

Line: Michigan State by 2½.

Series Record: Ohio State leads 27-13.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

It’s the Big Ten opener for Michigan State, which is hoping to reach the Rose Bowl after narrowly missing out the last two seasons. Ohio State isn’t eligible to win the conference, but this is a chance for new coach Urban Meyer to make a statement on the road against a quality opponent.

KEY MATCHUP

Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller vs. Michigan State’s pass rush. It wasn’t pretty for the Buckeyes last year, when they allowed nine sacks in a 10-7 loss to the Spartans. Ohio State’s defense is currently ranked last in the Big Ten, so Meyer’s offense may need to score some points to win this one.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Ohio State: RB Jordan Hall. He’ll be playing his third game since missing all of preseason camp after cutting a tendon in his foot. He went for 87 yards on 17 carries two weeks ago in a comeback win against California, then had a career-best 105 yards on 17 carries in a victory over Alabama-Birmingham.

Michigan State: RB Le’Veon Bell. With the Spartans’ passing game struggling to hit its stride, Bell already has 610 yards on 117 carries. He had 182 carries all last season.

FACTS & FIGURES

Michigan State becomes the first team to host three opponents ranked in The AP Top 25 before Oct. 1 since Stanford and Washington in 2007. The Spartans beat Boise State and lost to Notre Dame. … This is Ohio State’s first game on grass this season. The Buckeyes were 0-3 on grass last season. … Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio spent three years as the defensive coordinator at Ohio State (2001-03) under then-coach Jim Tressel. … This is Meyer’s eighth 4-0 start.

No. 15 TCU (3-0) at SMU (1-2), 1 p.m. (Fox Sports Net)

Line: TCU by 16.

Series Record: TCU leads 44-40-7.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

The Battle for the Iron Skillet, the unique trophy that goes to the winner in the Dallas-Fort Worth rivalry, provides an opportunity for TCU to avenge its last loss. The Horned Frogs have won an FBS-best 11 games in a row since their overtime loss at home to SMU last October that ended their 25-game winning streak in regular season games.

KEY MATCHUP

SMU RB Zach Line against the TCU defense. Line, Conference USA’s leading rusher the last two seasons, is averaging 99.7 yards per game this season. He had 120 yards on 21 carries against the Horned Frogs last season. TCU has allowed only one touchdown this season and is tops in the nation in points allowed. The Frogs give up 95 yards rushing per game.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

TCU: LBs Joel Hasley and Kenny Cain. Hasley leads the Frogs with 25 tackles, and also has four tackles for losses and two sacks. Cain had two interceptions and recovered a fumble against Virginia. WR Brandon Carter has consecutive 100-yard receiving games.

SMU: DE Margus Hunt, the senior from Estonia. Hunt broke the NCAA career record with his ninth career blocked field goal against Stephen F. Austin, and then blocked an extra point against Texas A&M in the Mustangs’ last game. He has 16 career blocked kicks, and 9½ sacks.

FACTS & FIGURES

SMU hasn’t won consecutive games in the series since 1992 and 1993, when both teams were still in the Southwest Conference. … This is the last nonconference game for both teams. SMU, headed next year to the Big East, hasn’t played its Conference USA opener yet. The Horned Frogs won their first Big 12 league game at Kansas two weeks ago. They play their first Big 12 home game next week against Iowa State. … The Mustangs’ two losses are lopsided decisions against instate FBS teams, 35 points at Baylor and 45 points at home against Texas A&M. … TE Griffin Gilbert, one of 15 freshmen to play this season for TCU, is the younger brother of SMU quarterback Garrett Gilbert. … TCU has played more freshmen than it has scholarship seniors (11). … The Frogs are 18-2 their last 20 road games, though they will travel only about 1 1/2 miles further to SMU than they would to their own stadium from the hotel they stay at for games in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

No. 17 Clemson (3-1, 0-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) at Boston College (1-2, 0-1), 9:30 a.m. (ESPN2)

Line: Clemson by 9 ½.

Series record: Clemson leads 10-9-2.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

Clemson is seeking to bounce back from last week’s 49-37 loss at No. 4 Florida State. The Tigers led 31-21 in the third quarter before the Seminoles put up four touchdowns down the stretch against a tiring defense that has struggled against the run all year long. Boston College is hoping to pull off an ACC surprise as it did in 2010’s 16-10 victory over Clemson on Chestnut Hill.

KEY MATCHUP

Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins vs. Boston College’s defense. Watkins missed the season’s first two games because of suspension, and then tuned up for about a half in a win over Furman before facing Florida State. Watkins has 10 catches for just 76 yards and no touchdowns this season. Boston College has given up just 202 yards passing a game, fourth best in the ACC.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Clemson: QB Tajh Boyd had a record-setting season for the Tigers last year and has largely picked up where he left off in 2011. He’s averaged 246 yards a game and has thrown nine touchdown passes, tied for second in the ACC.

Boston College: QB Chase Rettig is the ACC’s surprise leader in passing yards per game and total offense. As Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said this week, “It’s been a long time since we’ve seen them lead the league in passing.”

FACTS & FIGURES

Clemson has lost two of three meetings in Boston since the Eagles joined the ACC in 2005 … Boston College linebacker Nick Clancy leads the nation with more than 14 tackles per game. … Clemson kicker Chandler Catanzaro has made his last 15 straight field goals, surpassing the school record of 14 straight held by former NFL kicker Obed Ariri in 1980. … The Eagles had last week off after losing at Northwestern, 22-13 on Sept. 15. … The winner of this game receives the O’Rourke-McFadden Trophy, an award named for Charlie O’Rourke of Boston College and Banks McFadden of Clemson. The two competed against each other in the 1940 Cotton Bowl.

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No. 18 Oregon State (2-0, 1-0 Pac-12) at Arizona (3-1, 0-1), 4 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)

Line: Arizona by 3.

Series Record: Arizona leads 21-13-1.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

Oregon State has managed its uneven schedule superbly, beating ranked teams Wisconsin and UCLA despite playing every other week due to a postponed game and a bye week. The Beavers get another big test heading to the desert to face the up-tempo Wildcats, who are trying to bounce back from a 49-0 loss to No. 2 Oregon last week.

KEY MATCHUP

Arizona’s defense against Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion. The Beavers’ sophomore is having a strong season, averaging a Pac-12-best 327.5 yards passing a game after throwing for a career-high 379 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s 27-20 win over then-No. 10 UCLA. The Wildcats played well defensively early against Oregon last week before wilting.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Oregon State: WR Brandin Cooks. A threat to break a big play off on every touch, Cooks is third in the nation in receiving yards, averaging 127.7 yards per game. He had six catches for 175 yards and a TD against the Bruins.

Arizona: QB Matt Scott. One of the nation’s leaders in total offense the first three games, the fifth-year senior had his first taste of adversity last week against Oregon. Out of synch most of the game, he had one of his two interceptions returned for a touchdowns and threw for a season-low 210 yards on 22-of-44 passing against Oregon. Expect a bounce-back.

FACTS & FIGURES

Oregon State hasn’t opened a season 3-0 since 2003. … Arizona was 0-for-6 in the red zone against Oregon last week after converting 16 of 20 inside the opponents’ 20-yard line the first three games. … The Beavers have a chance to match their win total from the entire 2011 season. … Oregon State beat Arizona 37-27 in Corvallis last season. … Arizona is playing its third ranked team in four weeks, a stretch that will likely go to four ranked teams in five weeks with No. 8 Stanford up next.

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No. 19 Louisville (4-0) at Southern Mississippi (0-3), 2 p.m. (CBSSN)

Line: Louisville by 10 ½.

Series Record: Southern Miss leads 18-10-1.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

Louisville is off to its first 4-0 start since 2006 and has continually improved under third-year coach Charlie Strong. The Cardinals barely squeezed by Florida International 28-21 in overtime last week and would like a convincing victory over the Golden Eagles before entering the heart of their Big East schedule. Southern Miss is still looking for its first win of the Ellis Johnson era after losing the first three games by at least 10 points.

KEY MATCHUP

Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater against the porous Southern Miss defense. Bridgewater has connected on 91 of 124 passes for 1,049 yards and seven touchdowns through four games. On paper, he should be able to shred a Golden Eagles’ defense that’s giving up more than 473 yards per game.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Louisville: RB Senorise Perry has 340 rushing yards, a 5.5 yards per carry average and three touchdowns, proving the Cardinals’ offense isn’t one dimensional.

Southern Miss: WR Tracy Lampley has had a slow start this season, but still leads the team with five catches for 82 yards. He’s also a special teams threat, returning a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown.

FACTS & FIGURES

This is the first meeting between the former conference rivals since 2010, when Louisville beat Southern Miss 31-28 in the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl. … Though Southern Miss has an 18-10-1 advantage in the series, Louisville has won the past five meetings dating back to 1999. … Louisville is 29-12 against nonconference opponents since joining the Big East in 2005. … Southern Miss has had a brutal start to the season on offense, averaging just 136.3 passing yards and 282.7 total yards per game. Both marks are among the worst in the Football Bowl Subdivision. … Lampley has 4,037 career all-purpose yards, which ranks him fourth in Southern Miss history. … Southern Miss has an 0-3 record for the first time since 1976. … The Golden Eagles are trying to recover and qualify for a bowl game for the 11th straight season. Only 12 other programs in FBS have an equal or longer streak.

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Wisconsin (3-1) at No. 22 Nebraska (3-1), 2 p.m. (ABC)

Line: Nebraska by 12 1-2.

Series Record: Tied 3-3.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

If Nebraska hopes to win its first conference championship since 1999, beating the Badgers at home is almost a must. The schedule doesn’t get any easier in October. Plus, the Huskers would love to avenge last year’s 48-17 loss in Madison. Two-time defending Big Ten champion Wisconsin has been shaky so far, with three of its first four games decided by five points or less. The Badgers could use a big road victory to build confidence.

KEY MATCHUP

Nebraska running backs vs. Wisconsin’s front seven. Rex Burkhead looked healthy against Idaho State after missing a couple games because of a knee injury. He gets lots of help from Ameer Abdullah and other young backs. The Huskers’ running game is producing better than 300 yards a game. The strength of the Badgers’ defense is up front. They’re allowing only 81 yards on the ground.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Wisconsin: QB Joel Stave is making his first start on the road. Night games at Memorial Stadium have been known to chew up and spit out first-timers.

Nebraska: DE Eric Martin has been a terror coming off the edge. If Stave is forced to throw, he better watch out. Martin has 3.5 sacks and six QB hurries in four games, and six of his seven tackles have been for losses.

FACTS & FIGURES

Each team will be dressed in alternate uniforms. The Huskers will be in red from head to toe with a black “N” on the chest. The Huskers also will wear a black helmet with a red “N.” Wisconsin will be in all-white with a red “W” on the chest. The Badgers’ helmets will be red with a white strip and white “W” that harkens to the 1962 Big Ten championship team. … Wisconsin RB Montee Ball, who sustained a head injury against UTEP last week, expects to play. He ran for 151 yards and four TDs against Nebraska last year. … Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez’s 180.9 passer rating is 10th in the country. His rating at home is 230.2. … The Huskers have won the previous two meetings with Wisconsin in Lincoln, in 1965 and 1973. … The Huskers have 12 scoring plays of 25 yards or longer.

No. 24 Boise State (2-1) at New Mexico (2-2), noon

Line: Boise State by 26.

Series record: Boise State leads 3-0.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

Boise State needs to find it’s mojo on offense after failing to score a single point in last week’s 7-6 victory over BYU. Broncos coach Chris Petersen is content to focus on details rather than wholesale changes. For the Lobos and first-year coach Bob Davie, it’s another test of how far the program has come — or has yet to go — against some of the nation’s elite programs.

KEY MATCHUP

New Mexico offense vs. Boise State defense. The Lobos run a triple option that is averaging 234 yards rushing per game and similar to the Air Force attack that gave Boise State’s defense a big headache last year. The Broncos’ defense has led the way this year, holding foes to 11.6 points per game and an average of 297 yards of total offense.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Boise State: DE Demarcus Lawrence, a junior college transfer, has been dominating at times this season. He leads the team in sacks with 3.5, is second in tackles with 20 and has recovered a fumble and forced another.

New Mexico: KR Chase Clayton has been dangerous on special teams. So far, he has returned two kicks for scores and is averaging a national-best 43.3 yards on kick returns.

FACTS & FIGURES

Boise State has posted a 1.67 turnover margin in three games and tied for 13th best nationally. … Boise State has won 12 straight conference openers since a 17-10 loss against North Texas in 1999. … For just the second time in his career, running back D.J. Harper has notched back-to-back games with more than 100 yards rushing. … The Lobos are back at home after a three-game trip that included stops at Texas, Texas Tech and New Mexico State. … Coach Davie and his staff have used 30 first-year players through the first four games of the season, including 18 freshmen.

 

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