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October 15, 2010
Keep an eye on: What our guys are watching
Each week, Rivals.com's college football experts give fans things to keep an eye on over the course of the weekend. Here are some key things to watch this weekend.
Texas' defense. The Longhorns must find a way to slow QB Taylor Martinez and the Nebraska offense. Before the season, Texas coach Mack Brown said this could be the best defense he had had at Texas, but the group certainly didn't look the part in allowing 264 rushing yards in a loss to UCLA. The defense played better but made costly penalties in a loss to Oklahoma. Can the defense come up with a performance that would warrant Brown's preseason praise? It needs to if the Longhorns are going to have any chance of beating the Huskers. - OLIN BUCHANAN
Missouri. The Tigers are off to a 5-0 start, but who have they beaten? Illinois, McNeese State, San Diego State, Miami (Ohio) and Colorado -- not impressive. That's why it's difficult to get too excited about some of Missouri's stats, including a defense that ranks No. 4 in the Big 12 (318.6 ypg). And the offense has struggled despite playing weak competition, ranking seventh in the conference (414.2 ypg). The running game looks anemic without Derrick Washington; leading rusher Henry Josey has only 226 yards. More reason to worry: QB Blaine Gabbert has a gimpy hip. How will Missouri do when the competition stiffens? We will find out beginning with a trip to Texas A&M this Saturday. A visit from Oklahoma is next, followed by trips to Nebraska and Texas Tech.
- TOM DIENHART
California's defense on the road. This is how far the defense at USC has fallen: I'm far more interested in watching Cal's defense against the Trojans. I want to see if Cal can slow Matt Barkley and his new favorite target, Robert Woods, who had 12 catches for 224 yards and three touchdowns against Stanford last week. The Bears' defense had a disastrous day at run-oriented Nevada, and maybe there's a good reason for that: Cal is far better against the pass and at rushing the quarterback. Cal is in the top 10 nationally in sacks, passing efficiency defense and total defense behind guys such as Mychal Kendricks, Darian Hagan and Mike Mohamed. The game could be a turning point for both teams. Cal is seeking its first road win of the season after losing in the rout to the Wolf Pack and 10-9 to Arizona. Meanwhile, USC will try to recover from back-to-back losses on last-second field goals.
- DAVID FOX
Ryan Mallett and Cameron Newton. The quarterbacks at Arkansas and Auburn, respectively, will be in the spotlight in the SEC West showdown. Newton leads the SEC in rushing and has been effective as a passer, too. Mallett is having a big season and he'll be going against an Auburn secondary that has been shaky against the pass. Both these guys know that they must play well for their team to win. In addition, the winning quarterback becomes the SEC's "leader" in the Heisman race.
- MIKE HUGUENIN
Wisconsin RB John Clay. Clay gained just 59 yards on 20 carries last season in a 31-13 loss to Ohio State. Clay, the Big Ten's second-leading rusher, will have to do much better Saturday. Wisconsin QB Scott Tolzien is 16th in the nation in passing efficiency, but this remains a run-oriented offense. Clay needs to gain at least 80 yards for Wisconsin to win this game. Frankly, he probably needs more than that.
- STEVE MEGARGEE