A bulk of the conference gets the week off, while two teams that figure in the SEC East race prepare to square off.
Time to go Inside the SEC...
Towson (2-1) at LSU (4-0)
Who exactly is Towson? Well, they're a member of the Colonial Athletic Association and come into this contest sporting a 2-1 record. TU is currently ranked 12th in this week's Sports Network FCS poll. LSU is 4-0 for the sixth straight season, and are 30-0 in non-conference, regular season games under Coach Les Miles.
Some will claim young teams can't win. Texas A&M believes otherwise and backs that up by posting the number two ranked scoring offense and number four ranked scoring defense this season. That's impressive considering this team was asked to replace so much experience, plus change their offensive and defensive schemes.
Arkansas' season has spiraled completely out of control and making a tough road trip against a natural rival is a recipe for more disaster at this point. The last couple of games between these two have been shootouts that the Razorbacks have won, but the odds are match-ups are not in their favor at all this year.
It may be a close game, but the Aggies are in a better place right now and being at home - along with their more consistent play - gives them the advantage.
Missouri (2-2) at UCF (2-1)
Missouri has struggled mightily finishing games this season, and that is a trend that will have to change if they hope to emerge successful from a series of coming SEC games. Mizzou’s biggest issue this year has been keeping opposing defenses off of their quarterback. Their offense is all about timing, and consistent pressure has disrupted their effectiveness as well as caused injury to starter James Franklin.
UCF is a quality opponent, but Missouri has faced tougher this year and walked away with the win. Expect a hard fought game similar to last week's with the Tigers coming out on top. Their offense is good enough to win here and being on a long road trip will help prepare them for coming road trips in the conference.
Tennessee (3-1) at Georgia (4-0)
The league's top two offenses will be on display here, and this game carries a ton of weight in the SEC East race. The Vols cannot afford another conference loss if they hope to remain a factor in this thing. Georgia needs a coming out party stronger than what they've had against Missouri or Vanderbilt.
For Tennessee to get this done, stopping the Bulldogs' fierce pass rush will be top priority. The Volunteers have a serviceable running game, but they go as well the arm of QB Tyler Bray... so keeping him upright is the way to victory.
Georgia, on the other hand, has grown to not need QB Aaron Murray to do it all as their' running game has emerged behind freshman phenom Todd Gurley, who leads the league in rushing yards per game and averages over nine yards a carry. That is a huge issue for Tennessee; as they don't do well against the run, giving up nearly five yards a carry.
The Vols will put up a fight, but Georgia's pass rush and running game are enough to propel them to a win and one step closer to establishing a serious claim to the throne in the East.
South Carolina (4-0) at Kentucky (1-3)
South Carolina looks like a team with serious aspirations to return to the top of the SEC East, while Kentucky looks lost. Despite that, the Gamecocks have to show up interested to win this game. Steve Spurrier’s squad has answered the bell all season in the face of adversity, and this week should be no different as they notch another win closer to the big goal of making a trip to Atlanta in December.
Meanwhile the Joker Phillips termination countdown continues.
Ole Miss (3-1) at Alabama (4-0)
The Tide has played well in the first four games of the season and has totally dominated in each contest. That's not to say the team still doesn't have work to do, but this is one of two teams in the country firing on all cylinders right now.
Ole Miss leads the league in rushing and that's a major turnaround for a team that could barely get out of the tunnel right last year. However, the Rebels just don’t have the depth, strength, or speed to hang with a team like Bama right now. Expect Saban’s super human squad to have another opportunity to get the bench plenty of work as they cruise to another victory.
LSU plays their final non-conference game of the regular season as they host Towson.
Who exactly is Towson? Well, they're a member of the Colonial Athletic Association and come into this contest sporting a 2-1 record. TU is currently ranked 12th in this week's Sports Network FCS poll.
LSU is 4-0 for the sixth straight season, and are 30-0 in non-conference, regular season games under Coach Les Miles. LSU has also won an NCAA record 40 straight non-conference games during the regular season, a school record 20 straight home games, and 17 consecutive regular season games overall. The Bayou Bengals got a scare last week, as they slipped by Auburn on the road in what was their SEC opener.
Listen to the LSU-Towson Preview:
This game marks the first time LSU will have played Towson, or any member of the CAA for that matter.
Balance has been the key in the early going for the TU offense, as the team averages 196 yards per game rushing and 202 passing. As a result, they score nearly 30 points per game, and have done the bulk of that scoring early. Towson has put up 60 points in the first half of games compared to just 27 after the half.
Most of the offensive production comes from two players. QB Grant Enders is completing 75 percent of his passes with four TDs and three INTs, while RB Terrance West has racked up 251 yards rushing and has found the end zone five times. The team has two receivers with double-digit catches, as Erron Banks and Spencer Wilkins have combined for 23 grabs, 280 yards and a TD.
The Towson defense is led by safety Jordan Dangerfield and his 20 tackles. This unit has collected 15 tackles for loss and nine sacks, but has managed only one turnover.
LSU is generating 442 yards per game on offense, using a potent rushing attack to do the bulk of its damage and uses the aerial attack to add support. Jarvis Landry leads the Tiger receiving corps with 17 grabs for 160 yards, but his one TD pales in comparison to the three turned in by Kadron Boone, who only has seven total catches on the year.
The Bayou Bengals defense is ranked in the top 10 nationally in several statistical categories, including 3rd in run defense, 4th in total defense, 8th against the pass, and 8th in scoring defense. The team boasts nine players with double-digit tackles thus far, including Kevin Minter who leads the way with 25. Micah Eugene has three of the D's eight sacks, and both Jalen Mills and Ronald Martin have a pair of interceptions.
Coach Miles knows there is little margin for error when it comes to winning in the SEC, and while this week's opponent shouldn't pose much of a threat, playing fundamentally sound football is always the goal as the Tigers prepare for powerhouses in Florida, South Carolina and Alabama.
Towson doesn't stand a chance in Death Valley against an LSU squad that has something to prove after dropping a spot in this week's AP poll - despite maintaining its unblemished record.
If you beat your buddy last week because Golden Tate was gifted that touchdown in the Seahawks win over the Packers, you totally owe your bro a brewskie.
Besides lousy officiating, I've noticed a lot of names scoring TDs that aren't helping us fantasy owners. One example was Saints fullback Jed Collins stealing an end zone dance from someone actually on a fantasy roster. Paging Marcus Colston, where are you Colston?
Anyway, here are my recommendations for week 4...
Jay Cutler QB, Chicago Bears
After a solid Week 1 performance, Cutler has been going downhill. Well, don't expect Mr. Pouty Face to turn it around against a very solid Dallas defense.
Statistically speaking, the Cowboys have the best defense in the NFL, and their pass defense ranks second in the league.
This is not the same Dallas secondary from 2011, and Cutler's top target Brandon Marshall will be blanketed. Throw in the fact that Cutler is prone to throwing an interception or two, and I see him as a MUST SIT.
Kevin Smith RB, Detroit Lions
Smith started the season well and then saw his job go up in smoke last week. Mikel Leshoure returned to action and Smith was relegated to third back duties, meaning he didn't get a single touch. Former Saint Joique Bell was Leshoure's back-up, and this puts Smith on the backburner.
Honestly I put him as a sit until further notice. Leshoure and Bell will split time again this week, and we will see little or nothing at all out of Smith unless there is an injury.
Philadelphia Eagles Defense
After scoring solid fantasy points in Week 1, the Eagles have combined to post next to nadda over the last two games. Now they have a date with the Giants, who haven't been a defensive whipping boy. In fact, defenses have scored the sixth-fewest fantasy points against Eli Manning's crew.
Cedric Benson RB, Green Bay Packers
Benson has gotten over 15 touches and scored in double digits in the past two games. This week, he faces the league's worst run defense in our very own Saints. The Black and Blue...ugh, I mean Gold... currently rank 32nd in run defense by allowing 215 yards per game. We witnessed a less than 100% Jamaal Charles explode for 233 yards against the Fleur Di Lis D, and while you shouldn't expect Benson to get that many, you can expect him to have a great game against the league's worst run defense.
Denarius Moore WR, Oakland Raiders
Moore came on strong near the end of the 2011 NFL season as he built a good relationship with QB Carson Palmer. The Raiders offense is definitely lacking in play makers, so the fact that he has become Carson's favorite, makes Moore worthy of looking into for a start this week against Denver.
I know the Raiders will be in a tough position versus the Broncos, but they will likely be playing from behind and needing to pass often. I think Moore ends up posting his best numbers of the season.
Seattle Seahawks defense
The Seahawks defense is legit folks. Forget the blown call to end the game against the Packers. They held Green Bay to just 12 points and sacked Aaron Rodgers eight times.
The Pack only managed 268 total yards despite possessing the ball for over 33 minutes, and this is an offense that's supposed to be one of the NFL's most explosive.
This week Seattle faces the Rams, who are coming off a six-point, 160 total-yard performance against Da Bears. St. Louis still lacks consistent pass protection and doesn't present much outside of running back Steven Jackson.
Pick up & play of the week
Kevin Kolb QB, Arizona Cardinals
Kevin Kolb has almost certainly cemented his role as the Cardinals starter after leading his team to victory against the Eagles on Sunday. Since relieving the injured John Skelton in Week 1, Kolb has posted one rushing and four passing touchdowns - with zero interceptions - en route to consecutive wins against three favored opponents. He faces the Miami Dolphins on Sunday and will have a great shot at keeping the win streak alive.
All the buzz today surrounding the NFL is for once NOT about the Saints. But quarterback Drew Brees' comments just hours before the Monday Night Football game that everyone is talking about, could have not been more accurate.
"You know, they're just not prepared to be in this situation," Brees said about the replacement officials. "The game is so fast, and the level that all of them were at and now are at - it just doesn't even compare. You know I think its getting to a point where its pretty horrendous and its an embarrassment to the league and the way its being conducted."
The Seahawks were awarded a game winning touchdown on a ball heaved up by rookie Ruseell Wilson that Packers safety M.D. Jennings clearly picked off. Somehow the replacement refs ruled that Seattle receiver Golden Tate, who caught Jennings, made the game winning reception.
Brees tweeted this after the game; "I love this league and love the game of football, but tonight's debacle hurts me greatly. This is NOT the league we're supposed to represent."
Will this debacle help speed the process up between the NFL and the locked out refs? Let's hope so, because the Saints sure don't need any more help in losing football games.
The conferences season hasn't kicked into full gear just yet, but Week 4 brings us several key matchups that will shape the rest of the year.
Time to go Inside the SEC…
LSU at AUBURN
LSU is 3-0 on the year, but they're virtually untested as they've outscored their opponents 145-31. Auburn is sitting at 1-2 on the season and has already lost a conference game to Mississippi State. They have really struggled as the offense has a long way to go, and the defense needs much better tackling. Click here for a complete breakdown of this game...
MISSISSIPPI at TULANE
Ole Miss appears to have an effective offense, but absolutely no defense. Sadly, Tulane has neither. Advantage: Rebels.
KENTUCKY at FLORIDA
Kentucky has lost 25 straight overall to Florida, and 16 straight in Gainesville. The Gators have the third best rushing attack in the conference, and its defense is stingy against the run. This is what is known as a mismatch folks. If Kentucky doesn’t find a way to at least make the final score respectable, expect coach Joker Phillips to wake up to a collection of "for sale" signs dumped in his yard on Sunday.
MISSOURI at SOUTH CAROLINA
This is my game of the week in the SEC, as it will tell exactly how good Missouri is or isn’t. South Carolina can’t keep its starting quarterback healthy and will be without safety D.J. Swearinger after a questionable suspension for what league officials deemed a cheap hit on a UAB player last week. Missouri knocked off a much-improved Arizona State team, but this is a conference game on the road and will be a totally different animal than what they have experienced up to this point. South Carolina’s defense hasn’t lived up to billing, especially against the pass, and Missouri can hurt the Gamecocks through the air. But can Missouri’s small defense stop Marcus Lattimore? Probably not.
FLORIDA ATLANTIC at ALABAMA
For Alabama to lose this game, the Tide would have to forget when kickoff time was and show up two hours late. Bama’s greatest challenge here is maintaining focus and seeing if they can pitch their 3rd straight shutout.
RUTGERS at ARKANSAS
Prior to the season, this game looked like just another stepping stone for the Razorbacks on their way to challenging for a BCS bowl slot. Now, it becomes a must-win game against an undefeated team from a BCS school. The Razorbacks aren’t falling apart, they’ve fallen apart. Rutgers stumbled along to unimpressive wins in the first two games before beating one of the Big East’s better teams, South Florida, in Week 3. The Scarlet Knights seem to have a tough defense, but have problems moving the ball on offense. Meanwhile, the Hogs’ defense is giving up yardage like water through a strainer right now. It’s literally a toss-up, but I give Arkansas the edge simply because the game is on their home field.
SOUTH ALABAMA at MISSISSIPPI STATE
South Alabama has a solid coaching staff and, in time, will be a legitimate Sun Belt program. But now isn’t that time. Mississippi State got a scare from Troy last week, but there is a wide gap between them and their Sun Belt brother in Mobile. The Bulldogs shouldn’t go two consecutive weeks playing with questionable focus and won’t.
SOUTH CAROLINA STATE at TEXAS A&M
The Aggies are looking to get their first conference victory next week against Arkansas and may be looking past South Carolina State. It won’t matter. Look for A&M QB Johnny Manziel to post video game type numbers again this week.
AKRON at TENNESSEE
The Volunteers need to look sharp in this one just to keep the vultures off Derek Dooley’s not yet dead carcass. Tennessee’s second half collapse against Florida lit a bonfire under Dooley’s seat. If the Vols struggle with this Akron team, which has yet to win a game this year against Division-IA opposition, that bonfire will be doused with rocket fuel.
VANDERBILT at GEORGIA
Vandy may be the conference’s hardest team to figure out in 2012. They are obviously getting good coaching, but the bulk of the team’s talent is probably in the freshman and redshirt freshman classes. The only hope for the Commodores here is to strike early and often with their ground attack, as the Dawgs’ rush defense has been mediocre. UGA has simply too many athletes though and can pull away at any time.
LSU is 3-0 on the year, but they're virtually untested as they've outscored their opponents 145-31. The Tigers are running the football just like they did last season, leading the SEC in rushing offense and scoring offense. Kenny Hillard and Alfred Blue are leading the way and have combined for 77 carries for 573 yards and eight touchdowns. Blue, however, is injured and will be unavailable after he banged up his knee against Idaho. Expect Michael Ford and Spencer Ware to get more carries, with Hilliard leading the way.
While he hasn't wowed anyone yet, Zach Mettenberger has made this offense balanced. He is completing almost 73% of his passes for 609 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions. In fact his numbers could be even better, but LSU receivers have had some big drops. Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry have combined for 23 catches for 280 yards and one touchdown. Kadron Boone and Mettenberger seem to have a good thing going as Boone has caught three touchdowns.
LSU is #1 in the SEC in total defense, allowing a mere 205 yards per game. We all knew they could replace the Honey Badger, and Jalen Mills has done a very nice job of doing just that. They have depth at every position, and the defensive line has lived up to the hype thus far. They have pressured the quarterback, and teams are being forced to get rid of the ball quickly.
On the flipside, Auburn is sitting at 1-2 on the season and has already lost a conference game to Mississippi State. They have really struggled as the offense has a long way to go, and the defense needs much better tackling.
Quarterback Kiehl Frazier looks lost at times leading the offense, and the best offense has been the power running game with Jay Prosch at fullback and Onterio McCalebb or Tre Mason at running back. The passing game is ranked last in the SEC, gaining 161 yards per game.
The Auburn defense hasn't fared much better. This group is 13th in the conference in total defense, allowing 442 yards per game. The rushing defense has been destroyed, allowing 217 yards per game on the ground.
LSU will come in and try to run the football down Auburn's throat, and for good reason. The Bayou Bengals are averaging more than 200 yards per game on the ground. The biggest key will be whether Auburn has any ability at all to stop it. We all know Les Miles, and as soon as he gets a lead on you, he pounds you into submission.
This will be Zach Mettenberger's first road start and SEC start. He will probably have some jitters, but I still really want to see what this kid is made of. I think he is the single key to LSU's ability to beat Alabama. Let's see what he can do against an SEC defense, even if it is Auburn.
Auburn will try to provide an upset special on the Plains as the visitor in this series is 1-11 since 2000, with three straight losses. Don't bet on that happening though as Auburn is a 19 point home underdog.
My fantasy team rebounded from a rough week 1 outing, and I'm happy to report that they at least haven't started the year 0-2 <cough, cough>. Hopefully your squad is clicking on all cylinders; unless of course, you happen to be one of the owners in my league...he he he he. Here's my advice for this week:
Chris Johnson: RB Tennessee Titans
This is always the hardest moment for fantasy owners. You spent a high draft pick on a running back that has had great success in the league, but not only does he start out slow; he is abysmal. So the question becomes, is this just a nightmare start or does this warrant a benching?
I think at this point you cannot afford to play the running back formally known as CJ2K in a bad matchup, and that's the case this week against Detroit. The Lions were the 12th fantasy running back defense last year and are the 16th ranked one so far this season. Put Johnson on your bench and wait to see if he can break out of this slump.
Carson Palmer: QB Cincinnati Bengals
I know, I know, Palmer is eighth in fantasy points among quarterbacks heading into Week 3, but he could find it difficult to sling it against the Steelers. Pittsburg has surrendered the fifth-fewest passing yards so far, and honestly I still need to see more from Palmer before I fully trust him as a starter.
San Diego Chargers defense
The Atlanta Falcons are rolling on offense right now. In fact, opposing defenses are averaging negative fantasy points over the first two weeks of the season. That makes the Chargers, a must to avoid. San Diego ranks a very pedestrian 16th among defenses based on fantasy points.
Dennis Pitta: TE Baltimore Ravens
Going into this season, there wasn't much talk about Dennis Pitta in the fantasy world. After two weeks his ears are starting to ring as folks keep talking about him. He leads the Ravens in all receiving categories and has been targeted 23 times, catching 13 of them for 138 yards and a TD.
The team has been raving about him since training camp started; it just took everyone outside of Baltimore a few weeks to listen.
Dwayne Bowe: WR Kansas City Chiefs
How can anyone not love Dwayne Bowe this week? He is coming off an impressive game where he hauled in eight balls for 102 yards and two touchdowns. This week he faces a Saints secondary that, as we all know, can't cover anyone! The former LSU Tiger is Matt Cassel's only reliable target and will be the beneficiary of this terrific matchup.
New York Jets defense
Despite the fact that the Mean Green did next to nothing in the stat sheets last week, their defense is still ranked among the top options in fantasy land. This week they go up against the Dolphins and rookie QB Ryan Tannehill. Rex Ryan is going to bring the heat, and I look for the J-E-T-S to put up big fantasy points Sunday in this AFC East tilt.
Pick up & play of the week
Donnie Avery: WR Indianapolis Colts
Avery followed an opening week touchdown with a 9 catch, 111 yard performance against the Vikings. His success is tied to Andrew Luck's, and the rookie QB has so far shown he can put up big passing numbers regardless of his struggles with ball security.
The biggest threat to Avery's production going forward could be Austin Collie, though the oft-concussed receiver is no safe bet to stay healthy. I really like Avery as an occasional game-breaker out of the slot.
Well, we thought that Alabama at Arkansas in Week 3 was going to be one of the premier games of the 2012 season, but the Hogs' overtime loss to ULM last weekend has quelled that hype. Tennessee hosts Florida in the most important conference game of the week. The winner of that game will establish itself as a legitimate SEC East contender, while the loser will need some help from around the division to get back into contention.
Now, let’s go inside the SEC:
LOUISIANA-MONROE at AUBURN
Suddenly, this throwaway game is the talk of the conference’s slate of games this week. ULM comes in having knocked off Arkansas in Little Rock, while Auburn got crushed by Mississippi State. Louisiana-Monroe finds itself in a game where it might actually have the superior offensive talent, especially at quarterback, but I’m not expecting an upset in back-to-back weeks.
PRESBYTERIAN at VANDERBILT
The Commodores have scored only 13 points in each of their first two games, and have two losses to show as a result. Presbyterian provides a breather, as it barely has a football team to speak of, coming off a 59-3 loss to Georgia Tech.
This one will allow Vandy to build some confidence in Nashville.
ALABAMA at ARKANSAS
Alabama already has one road victory under its belt, the opener in Dallas against Michigan. Arkansas, meanwhile, has struggled in both of its opening games. ‘Bama has proven to be much more physical, and are certainly less of a sideshow currently.
The big question, of course, is who will start under center for the Razorbacks. The Crimson Tide didn’t appear to have much trouble with Tyler Wilson last year, knocking him around and forcing mistakes. Who believes it won’t happen again, especially since the Hogs are worse along the offensive line, and Wilson is trying to shake the mental cobwebs out.
TEXAS A&M at SOUTHERN METHODIST
Texas A&M revives memories of the old Southwest Conference here. SMU, meanwhile, got crunched in its opener against Baylor and doesn’t appear to have as good a team as a lot of people expected.
The Aggies’ sometimes-soft defense might have trouble containing the Mustangs’ offense all the time, but A&M should have no trouble scoring when they have the ball.
FLORIDA at TENNESSEE
Before the season started, this game was viewed as the meeting of two potentially mediocre teams that were mere shells of their former selves, fighting for third or fourth in the SEC East. But Tennessee’s impressive opening win over North Carolina State, coupled with Florida winning its SEC debut on the road in College Station, have changed the dynamics of this one somewhat.
Tennessee has a more dangerous offense, but doesn’t have a great defense. Florida’s defense is growing salty, but its offense continues to misfire with a young quarterback at the helm.
On a neutral site, Florida should win 7 out of 10 times, but this game is in Knoxville. If Derek Dooley is to save his job, a win against the Gators is a must.
WESTERN KENTUCKY at KENTUCKY
If you’re looking for an upset special this week, here it is. No one is sold on the Wildcats, and Western Kentucky is coming off a 35-0 loss to Alabama where the score was made lopsided by too many turnovers.
Kentucky had best not sleep on the Hilltoppers.
ARIZONA STATE at MISSOURI
This figures to be one of the most entertaining games of week, if for no other reason than to watch the offensive fireworks. Arizona State is off to a 2-0 start and its offense looks for real.
Missouri hung with Georgia for a half before yielding to the Bulldogs’ superior depth. The PAC-12 is looking good so far, and Arizona State is beginning to emerge as a possible spoiler, but the Tigers have home field and that boost should be enough in this game.
ALABAMA-BIRMINGHAM at SOUTH CAROLINA
UAB is a bit of a mess at the moment, while South Carolina may be the class of the SEC East. There won’t be much drama here, unless Gamecocks QB Connor Shaw is out again and erratic backup Dylan Thompson repeats his Vanderbilt performance, rather than the one he put up against East Carolina.
MISSISSIPPI STATE at TROY
The Bulldogs are 2–0, but the majority of their fans are all but certain that MSU will be 5–0 when Tennessee visits on Oct. 13. That is why this week’s trip to Troy is a bit dangerous.
The Bulldogs have struggled in recent years with some teams from so-called lesser conferences. They beat Louisiana Tech last season and UAB in 2010 by an average of 5.5 points and lost to Houston in ’09 and Louisiana Tech in ’08.
Dan Mullen is well aware of what his team can accomplish this season and will do everything in his power to be sure the Bulldogs are mentally ready to take care of business against the Trojans.
FLORIDA-ATLANTIC at GEORGIA
The Bulldogs are getting two defensive starters back for this game, which will make it an even longer night for the already outmanned Owls. This is just one last tune-up for Georgia before really diving into SEC play, as the Dawgs will roll in this one.
Rebels sophomore Bo Wallace has been a pleasant surprise at quarterback for first-year coach Huge Freeze. The junior college transfer has completed 76% percent of his passes for 438 yards with five touchdowns and one interception. He’s also rushed for 135 yards and two scores.
Those stats, however, were accumulated against Central Arkansas and UTEP. Wallace will now test his mettle against a ferocious Texas defense that has allowed a total of 17 points in two games. The Ole Miss QB will have to play extremely well to give the Rebels a chance to win as they are a 10.5 underdog at home.
Aiming to become the first team in NCAA history to win 40 straight non-conference regular season games, the LSU Tigers host the not-so-mighty Idaho Vandals.
The Bayou Bengals, who have won a school-record 19 straight home games, wrap up a three-game home-stand Saturday before traveling to Auburn for their SEC opener next week. Head coach Les Miles has said that he likes the direction his team is heading, but noted there is still work to be done.
Meanwhile, Idaho enters this matchup still in search of its first win of the season. The Vandals fell at home to Eastern Washington in their season-opener, then dropped a 21-13 decision at Bowling Green last weekend.
In the only previous meeting between these two teams, LSU posted a 53-20 win over Idaho in 1998.
The Vandals are averaging just eight points a game currently, which ranks 119th out of 120 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Despite the team's struggles to generate points, one positive did emerge from last week's loss, as transfer Dominique Blackman shined in his highly-anticipated debut at quarterback. He had one of the best first starts in school history, completing 30-of-37 passes for 352 yards and a touchdown. However, Blackmon also took four sacks and tossed an interception.
On the defensive side of the ball, Idaho did manage to hold Bowling Green to just seven first-half points on the road. The Vandals D performed well against the run, holding the Falcons to 90 rushing yards on 27 attempts.
For LSU, Coach Miles said that he liked the balance his offense was able to strike between the run game and the passing game against Washington, although there were too many dropped passes. The Tigers ran for 242 yards and four scores on the ground, while Zach Mettenberger completed 12-of-18 passes for 195 yards with a touchdown and was not sacked.
The Tigers have scored 40 or more points in 12 of their last 16 contests, as the offense has continued to operate in high gear through the first two games of the 2012 campaign. The Tigers have posted 41 points in each of their first two tilts, thanks largely to the second and third ranked rushers in the SEC in Alfred Blue and Kenny Hilliard.
LSU's defense notched four sacks last week and applied constant pressure on Washington quarterback Keith Price, which is precisely the attacking style of defense Miles wants his team to play. The Tigers enter the weekend atop the SEC in total defense and rushing defense, while ranking second in scoring defense.
If LSU can put up 41 points against the third best team in the Pac-12, how many points might they put up against Idaho? I expect the Vandals to get violated in this one.
I took a beating last week with my 3 picks to sit. Adrian Peterson scored 2 TDs, Peyton Manning looked like...well, Peyton Manning and the 49ers defense went into Lambieu and shut down Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.
Like the Saints, I'll shake it off as just one week and will look to redeem myself in week 2.
RB Michael Turner, Atlanta Falcons
I hope you entered your draft with the same mindset as I did; forget about Michael Turner this season, he is over the hill. Yes, he runs for a powerful offense, but was quite lackluster to open the season. Fellow RB Jacquizz Rodgers actually logged more fantasy points.
In Week 2 Atlanta faces a Denver defense that held the Pittsburgh rushing attack in check. The Dirty Birds will continue to focus on their air attack given its success in Week 1. This means Turner and Rodgers could again see decreased production. I think Turner should see around 10-12 carries in Week 2 and rush for 40-50 yards. Keep him on your bench until we see some production.
QB Mark Sanchez, New York Jets
It would probably be easier to just list every Jets scoring option in the Sit Em category this week. Sanchez did toss three scores last week at the Bills' expense, but away from New Jersey he's a .500 fantasy QB with 25 TDs and 25 interceptions.
This week's foe, Pittsburgh, will be in a foul mood after losing its opener in Denver. I forecast Sanchez for around 200 yards -at most- with 1 TD and 2 interceptions minimum. If you are in need of a QB to start, I suggest looking elsewhere at friendlier matchups.
RB Trent Richardson, Cleveland Browns
The upside for Richardson is that Hardesty and Jackson saw no action in Week 1. The downside is he only rushed for 39 yards and recorded a minimal 5 reception yards. Cincinnati should be an interesting matchup for Richardson this week, but I think he is going to struggle to put up the numbers most fantasy owners would expect from a number one back.
My suggestion with him is to sit him on your bench until we see some spark of production. The Cleveland offense is working to correct their ways, and this is going to take time. Richardson is going to suffer along with his offensive unit, and this week I look for around 40 rushing yards and maybe 10-15 receptions.
RB C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills
To say that Week 1 was a game the Buffalo Bills would just as soon forget is an understatement.
Not only was the team smoked by the New York Jets in the season opener, but the Bills also lost starting running back Fred Jackson for the foreseeable future to a sprained knee.
That thrusts C.J. Spiller back into the starting lineup and into fantasy consideration this week.
No running back scored more fantasy points over the last three weeks than Spiller a year ago, and with a matchup on tap against a Kansas City Chiefs squad that surrendered the eighth most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs last year, Spiller is a strong play in Week 2.
WR Lance Moore, New Orleans
Starting any WR on the Saints is never really a bad idea with how many times Drew Brees throws the ball. Moore had a very slow start to the game against the Redksins, but that picked up in the 2nd half .
Despite his slow start, Moore was targeted 10 times, catching 6 of them for 120 yards and 1 touchdown. Over the last 4 years, Moore has been a reliable source of touchdowns so if you need a 3rd receiver or flex starter this week, give Moore a look. It is never a bad thing starting a receiver who catches passes from any of the top QBs.
New England Patriots Defense
New England's defense held the Titans to 13 points and scored a TD of its own on opening day. Now look who's coming to dinner this week...why, it's Kevin Kolb, the Arizona Cardinals backup! He is a turnover factory, and the Philadelphia Eagles' trade equivalent of Herschel Walker.
He may have beaten Seattle Sunday, but Kolb's one of those QBs who is great as a backup but spontaneously combusts as the starter.
The Patriots defense isn't an elite unit, but it'll play like one vs. Kolb and the Cards.
My pick up & play of the week:
WR Dexter McCluster, Kansas City Chiefs
McCluster is a utility knife who was too often kept in the drawer during the Todd Haley days. He looked sharp and figured prominently in new coordinator Brian Daboll's offense though. His skills have never been in question; it was just a matter of getting the ball in his hands. With a new lease on life and a more clearly defined offensive role, he could be in line for a breakthrough season and could easily be this year's Darren Sproles.
What was the missing ingredient in the Saints 40-32 loss Sunday to the Washington Redskins? Could it have been the absence of fiery suspended Head Coach Sean Payton?
WWL's Bobby Hebert asked interim head coach Aaron Kromer on The Coaches Show if his low key personality is suited to "get on" a player or coach that has made a mistake.
"You know everybody has got to be themselves, and I'm going to be myself on the sideline," Kromer replied. "Just as much can be accomplished by a different personality, of a word, a talk, a disappointed look. Those kind of things can solve the problem just as much as a guy screaming and yelling, because that's his personality."
Listen to Bobby and Kromer:
Kromer and the Saints look to rebound this week, but it will be no easy task as they are on the road to face the upstart Panthers. Carolina also lost their opening game of the year to division foe Tampa Bay.
LSU puts the nation's longest home field winning streak (18) on the line when they welcome the Washington Huskies to Tiger Stadium Saturday night.
What you need to know about Washington:
Even though the Huskies are coming off a 21-12 victory over San Diego State, they left a lot to be desired on the field.
Washington's leaders are QB Keith Price and WR's Kasen Williams and Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Price threw for 213 yards and one touchdown last week, while Williamsand Seferian-Jenkins combined for 14 catches for 148 yards and one touchdown. Price wasn't too happy with his performance, though, and said it was the worst game he has played in a while.
The Dawgs have a below average running game featuring Bishop Sankey, who rushed for just 66 yards last week with a touchdown - averaging 3.0 yards per carry. Their rushing attack should struggle mightily against LSU's front seven.
The Huskies have a new defensive coordinator this year in former Tennessee Coordinator Justin Wilcox. They forced three turnovers and had four sacks vs. San Diego State and looked much improved from a wretched 2011.
Last year, the Huskies allowed an average of 453 yards per game on defense; they gave up 327 last week.
What you need to know about LSU:
LSU sleepwalked past North Texas last week. But it was still a good contest for the Tigers for a couple of reasons… It got Zach Mettenberger some experience and got the team back into game mode.
Mettenberger finished 19 of 26 for 192 yards with one TD and one interception. He was hit early on a blitz that the Tiger O-line failed to pick up, and he even had to leave for one series before returning. He played okay, but the Tigers will need to get more production from the QB moving forward, especially against teams that will stop the run. Wide receivers Kadron Boone and Jarvis Landry played well, and we should see both get even more involved in the passing game.
The running backs are in midseason form already. Kenny Hilliard and Alfred Blue ran for a combined 264 yards and two touchdowns. Spencer Ware and Michael Ford should get involved more this week, if Ware is healthy.
I really expect this defense to get after the Huskies' quarterback, after playing very vanilla against North Texas.
What you need to watch:
Last week the Huskies gave up 199 yards rushing to San Diego State, and I fully expect Les Miles to pound the rock heavily in this one.
LSU's offensive line should maul Washington's defensive line and create an edge all night.
All eyes will be on LSU QB Zach Mettenberger, but once again it will be the running backs that will be the difference.
Washington quarterback Keith Price can sling it around the field, and the best way to minimize his impact is to keep him on the sidelines with a power rushing attack. Washington will game plan against that and try to force Mettenberger to beat them with his arm, which he can and will do.
The Gamecocks are a bit beaten up after their SEC opener with Vanderbilt, but fortunately for South Carolina, the no-defense Pirates of East Carolina are rolling into town. South Carolina needs to get better in pass coverage because the Pirates have good offensive talent, and this game might not be comfortable for Steve Spurrier and company.
FLORIDA at TEXAS A&M
This was supposed to be Texas A&M's second game of the year, but Hurricane Isaac forced a change in plans. As a result, the Aggies are at a huge disadvantage here, playing for the first time while Florida already has a game under its belt.
In A&M's favor is the fact that Florida still looks to be a bit of a mess after not being able to put Bowling Green away for good until late in the game last week. At least the Gators have decided firmly on Jeff Driskel as the starting quarterback. The Aggies will be amped up for their first SEC conference game, but look for Florida to eke out a win on the road.
WESTERN KENTUCKY at ALABAMA
Remember all of those questions about the holes on Alabama's defense? Not an issue.
After last week's demolishing of the Wolverines, the Crimson Tide get a cake walk with the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers this week before next week's showdown in Fayetteville vs. Arkansas.
I don't expect Alabama's offense to be flashy and give Arkansas much on tape, so this will be a simple, yet emphatic win for the Tide.
GEORGIA STATE at TENNESSEE
Tennessee looked every bit like an SEC East contender last week in its win over N.C. State.
Now, it's time to build on that performance vs. Georgia State in preparation for next week's showdown vs. Florida.
The Vol's secondary nabbed four picks against the Wolfpack, but blew several coverages, causing new defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri to crank up the pressure which caused several mistakes.
This is the game in which the Volunteers need to get those secondary issues resolved, because next week's game could determine which team, Florida or Tennessee, will contend with Georgia and South Carolina for the SEC East title.
LOUISIANA-MONROE at ARKANSAS
The Hogs rolled up Jacksonville State last week, and quarterback Tyler Wilson looked like a legitimate Heisman candidate. He completed 19-of-27 passes for 367 yards and three touchdowns for the Razorbacks.
More importantly, wide receivers Brandon Mitchell and Javontee Herndon combined for 218 receiving yards. That's important for Arkansas, which is looking for more downfield weapons opposite of wide receiver Cobi Hamilton and tight end Chris Gragg.
Defensively, there still are a few issues to work out, and the tune up this week before hosting Alabama is a nice luxury to have.
This one is going to get ugly for ULM.
TEXAS-EL PASO at MISSISSIPPI
Ole Miss fans were probably gleaming at the prospect of starting 2-0 on the season; until they saw UTEP nearly upset Oklahoma in the Miners' season opener.
Ole Miss, meanwhile, had more trouble than it should have with Central Arkansas, not looking sharp at all on defense. If UTEP were to knock off Ole Miss, it would still be a huge surprise, not to mention an embarrassment for Rebel fans. But hey, it's possible.
GEORGIA at MISSOURI
The Bulldogs sleepwalked through the opener against Buffalo, which was somewhat disturbing given the amount of talent Georgia is supposed to have on defense.
Missouri opened with a lower-division opponent, so there's not much to be gathered about the Tigers. They figure to be emotionally charged for this game, but Georgia should still win it if the Bulldogs can avoid showing up overconfident.
This game is the closest thing this week to an “upset special” in the SEC.
VANDERBILT at NORTHWESTERN
The Commodores lost a heart-breaker last week at home to South Carolina.
The biggest key for them now is to not let that game beat them twice, because the Northwestern Wildcats will prove a dangerous test coming off a thrilling win on the road at Syracuse on opening weekend.
The Wildcats gave up 470 passing yards last week to the Orange, so expect Vandy quarterbacks Jordan Rodgers and Jordan Matthews to be featured early and often.
This isn't the best matchup of the weekend, but it's still pretty intriguing.
KENT STATE at KENTUCKY
Kentucky didn't look great in their loss to rival Louisville, but if there was a bright spot, it was the play of Maxwell Smith at quarterback.
He completed 35-of-50 passes for 280 yards and two touchdowns, which isn't bad, especially considering he got little help from the run game.
The Wildcats are hoping Kent State's players run the wrong way again, since it would give Kentucky the chance they need to win the game. WARNING: Joker Phillips' job is in serious jeopardy.
Adrian Peterson RB, Minnesota Vikings
As if fantasy owners weren't concerned enough about Peterson coming back from a torn ACL, they had to hear Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier tell reporters that he is going to wait until Sunday to determine whether the star running back will play against Jacksonville.
Even if Peterson does play in this game, I can't imagine the Vikings will cut him loose right out of the gate with 20-25 carries. Eventually he will be fine and back to his normal tricks, but for right now, you should turn to your bench to find a running back. Hopefully you drafted Toby Gerithart as a handcuff to AP.
Peyton Manning QB, Denver Broncos
After a year away, fantasy owners finally get back arguably the most reliable quarterback in fantasy football for the last decade. But unlike previous years, when you could lock him in for 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns, no one knows which Peyton Manning they are getting.
Another problem is the team he is going up against. The Pittsburgh Steelers boast one of the fastest, most ferocious attacking defensive teams in the NFL. They are going to send everything and the kitchen sink after him until he proves he can beat them.
San Francisco 49ers Defense
The strength of the Niners is still going to be the defense this year. They have one of the best defensive front sevens in the NFL and should easily end up as one of the five best fantasy defenses by the end of the season.
Much like Manning against the Steelers, however, there just isn't a lot to like about San Fran going up against Aaron Rodgers and the "Pack Attack."
If there is one weakness to the 49ers defense, it is in the secondary. It was great at creating turnovers last season, but it finished in the middle of the pack with 231 yards allowed through the air. Rodgers is so good moving around and has so many weapons at his disposal that he could, and probably will, exploit the defense.
Darren McFadden RB, Oakland Raiders
For no other reason than he'll be healthy when the game starts. McFadden's a game breaker, a homerun hitter, a dream for every fantasy owner who has him on their roster when he's healthy. You have to start him against a Chargers D that isn't all that stingy to opposing offenses.
Andre Johnson WR, Houston Texans
Andre is a freak, he'll jump over you and run wild and then tear a hamstring all in the matter of seconds. He's another one of those players that when healthy, you can always rely on this guy.
Nobody from Miami's defense scares me. There's a future with new Coach Joe Philbin for the Fins but until the talent follows suit, this team is going to have lots of ups and downs. Expect at least one TD and at least 100 yards receiving from Johnson on Sunday.
Vernon Davis TE, San Francisco 49ers
OK, so Jimmy Graham and Rob GRONKowski will be beasts at tight end again, but what is lost is how Vernon Davis came on strong at the end of last year culminating in that amazing pitch and catch between him and Alex Smith vs. the Saints in the playoffs. The Packers yielded the second most fantasy points to tight ends last year, so he's a very strong play in this game.
Pick up & play of the week
Buffalo Bills Defense
I really don't need to sell you on this one, just look at the Bill's opponent. J-E-T-S...Suck Suck Suck. Sanchez and Tebow looked awful in the preseason, amassing a whopping zero TDs from both during the preseason. Add to that "Super" Mario Williams to a revamped Bills, and I like this pickup if your other defense has an unfavorable match-up