Fiu, Cirminiello, Mitchell on TV - Campus Insiders | Buy College Football Tickets

What You Need To Know From Week 3
Posted Sep 16, 2012

The five biggest storylines to come from the third weekend of the season.

What You Need To Know   

What was important in Week 3?
- What Was Important In ... Week 1 | Week 2

By Pete Fiutak
Follow Us ... @ColFootballNews
In case you missed any and all the fun, here’s all you really need to know from the third weekend of the 2012 college football season.

 It’s Alabama’s world, and everyone else is just taking up space

There are other good-looking teams like Georgia, Florida and Texas coming up with hot starts, but no one is doing more to impress early on than the defending national champions. Alabama didn’t just obliterate Michigan to kick off the season, it also went into Arkansas and pounced all over a wounded team in a 52-0 blowout. The run defense is impenetrable, quarterback AJ McCarron has been flawless, and the coaching is at its normal peerless level with Nick Saban and his staff appearing to have everyone fully focused on each and every step to a possible repeat. LSU’s offensive line is having a few problems protecting quarterback Zach Mettenberger, and there were a few defensive lapses against Idaho, but it’s beginning to look more and more like the Nov. 3rd showdown in Baton Rouge will be for the national championship. There’s an eternity before then, but right now, Alabama is looking untouchable.

The fall of Troy

It wasn’t just that USC got beat; it got beaten up. Stanford was more physical on both sides of the line in the 21-14 win, and the Trojans didn’t have any responses. There were not big pass plays and there wasn’t any hope of turning on the production against a Cardinal defense that hit Matt Barkley often enough to force misfire after misfire. Even after the loss there’s still the belief that USC can get back in the national title chase with high-profile games against Oregon, Notre Dame and UCLA still ahead, but the weight and expectations of being a championship contender, along with the general lack of depth on the lines coming off the NCAA sanctions, might be too much to overcome. Stanford is good. It’s not that good. After an offseason when it seemed like everyone was ready for USC to be USC again, the team might merely be above average.

Stanford's defense held Matt Barkley in check all night. (Kevin Carden)

Notre Dame’s big statement

Because of the terrific play from the defense that stuffed Michigan State and allowed just three points and with the maturation of quarterback Everett Golson, all of a sudden, Notre Dame might just be a contender for some really, really big things. The schedule is still a bear with road trips to USC and Oklahoma along with games against Stanford, BYU, and next week, Michigan, but there doesn’t appear to be any one team on the slate the Irish can’t beat. Michigan State might be the best team in the Big Ten when all is said and done -- it certainly appears to have the best defense -- and the Irish went into enemy territory and came away with a win. There are still way too many tough games to start thinking about a BCS championship dream, but 10-2 and an at-large bid wouldn’t disappoint anyone. Now, after this win, that seems more than attainable.

Florida State set the tone

Clemson needed to work a bit too hard to get by a mediocre Auburn team to start the season, but now it’s humming offensively after blowing away Ball State and Furman. The big winner from the Tigers’ hot start is Florida State, who now gets a chance to make a national case for itself in the BCS title race with a Game of the Week caliber home date next weekend. Murray State and Savannah State were hardly worth scheduling –- to be fair, FSU needed to scramble to schedule Savannah State after West Virginia had to back out –- but blowing away a solid Wake Forest team 52-0 was an eye-opener. Start out the season winning the first three games 176-3 and people will start to pay attention. However, after playing Clemson, the Seminoles have to go on the road for five of its next seven games, including trips to Miami and Virginia Tech before closing out the year against Florida.

Reports of the Big East’s demise have been greatly ... well, correct, but it had a good weekend

With Notre Dame and the ACC announcing this week that they’re deciding to hook up, all of a sudden the future of the Big East is looking far weaker. For now, though, this was the league’s chance to stick it to the conference that’s been such a thorn in the side. Pitt rose up to ruin Virginia Tech’s national title dreams with an emphatic thud, steamrolling over the Hokies 35-17. The Big East continued the fun over the ACC with Louisville beating North Carolina after hanging on for dear life late. Maryland started out the year well, and then Connecticut came in and ran all over former Husky head coach Randy Edsall’s team in a 24-21 victory. The Big East might not be the SEC, but it’s showing some fight.