We’re already into Week 3 of the season and things are just beginning to take shape. South Carolina captured the first conference game of 2017 and three more SEC matchups highlight Saturday’s schedule.
Here’s a look at each game and the key matchups that will help determine the outcomes.
UL-Lafayette (1-1) at Texas A&M (1-1)
ULL QB vs. Aggies secondary: Under normal circumstances, this matchup might be an afterthought. But with DB Nick Harvey lost to A&M with a knee injury before the season started and the foot injury to veteran standout DB Donovan Wilson, things could open up for Lafayette QB Jordan Davis, who in two games this season has already thrown for 471 yards and three touchdowns.
Tennessee (2-0) at Florida (0-1)
Quinten Dormady vs. Gators pass defense: In two games, the Tennessee QB has thrown for 415 yards and four touchdowns as the Vols rolled up 42 points in each game. But can he keep up that pace against a Florida defense that gave up 218 passing yards to Michigan in its opener?
Mercer (1-1) at Auburn (1-1)
Auburn run game vs. Mercer defensive front: The Tigers’ vaunted run game was limited last week by injuries to both Kamryn Pettway (foot) and Kerryon Johnson (hamstring). That, in turn, caused major problems for QB Jarrett Stidham, who was sacked 11 times by Clemson. Neither is 100 percent, and that could have lingering effects for Saturday.
Purdue (1-1) at Missouri (1-1, 0-1)
Drew Lock vs. Purdue secondary: The Missouri QB has already thrown for 766 yards and eight touchdowns in two games this season. His ability to move the ball through the air against a Boilermakers defense that has yielded 601 passing yards through two games will be a key in this non-conference battle.
Colorado State (2-1) at Alabama (2-0)
Rams QB vs. stingy Bama secondary: This could ultimately decide whether or not Colorado State can stay within striking range of the top-ranked team in the nation. Rams QB Nick Stevens has already piled up 985 passing yards and six touchdowns. But the Tide have already picked off three passes in two games and look for more against Stevens, who has throw four interceptions in three games.
LSU (2-0) at Mississippi State (2-0)
Nick Fitzgerald vs. LSU pass rush: If DE Rashard Lawrence (ankle) can’t go on Saturday, it would put added pressure on the Tigers’ defense in trying to contain the Bulldogs’ do-it-all quarterback. The return of 2016 sack leader Arden Key will help to restrain Fitzgerald, who has accounted for eight touchdowns and 515 total yards.
Samford (2-0) at Georgia (2-0)
Georgia RB Nick Chubb (above) vs. Samford defensive line: Although Samford gave up 401 passing yards to West Alabama, it’s the Bulldogs’ run game that will be key. Sony Michel (ankle) isn’t 100 percent, and that puts the spotlight on Chubb, who must churn up the yardage, freeing up Georgia QB Jake Fromm to operate.
Kansas State (2-0) at Vanderbilt (2-0)
Kansas State balanced offense vs. Vanderbilt stingy defense: Something has to give in this matchup. The Wildcats have moved the ball both on the ground and through the air with relative ease, scoring 55 points in each of its two games this season. But the Commodores have given up just six points all season. They’ll be put to the test in this first-ever matchup.
Kentucky (2-0) at South Carolina (2-0, 1-0)
Stephen Johnson vs. South Carolina secondary: The Gamecocks must tighten up defensively if they hope to continue their win streak. Last in the SEC in total defense, giving up an average of 463.5 yards per game, the Gamecocks will be hard pressed to limit Jackson. The Kentucky QB averages 202.5 passing yards per game so far and has thrown two touchdown passes without tossing an interception.
Ole Miss (2-0) at California (2-0)
Shea Patterson vs. Bears porous pass defense: This should be fun to watch; Patterson is already just 82 yards shy of 1,000 passing yards for the season. Cal’s pass defense is last in the Pac-12, yielding an average of 326 yards per game. How it does in keeping Patterson’s numbers from going off the chart, will determine which team continues its current win streak.
Source: Saturday Down South