Week 3 Ind - Notre Dame at Purdue & More

Posted Sep 12, 2013

Week 3 - Independent Fearless Predictions, Notre Dame at Purdue & More

Stanford (1-0) at Army (1-1) Sept. 14, 12:00, CBS Sports Network

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Stanford is taking its No. 4 AP ranking on a rare journey to the East Coast to face Army. The Cardinal opened its season last Saturday with a methodical victory over rival San Jose State, 34-13. This is the program's last chance to work out the kinks and smooth over some wrinkles before the Pac-12 season begins with a key showdown versus Arizona State a week from now. The Black Knights return to Michie Stadium looking to bounce back from a 40-14 thrashing at the hands of Ball State in Indiana. The Academy hasn't defeated a ranked team since 1972, so there'll be a chance to make history on the Hudson this weekend.
Why Stanford Might Win: The Black Knights simply don't have the defensive troops to slow down what the Cardinal wants to do on offense. Stanford is massive in the trenches and physical in all phases, which will present insurmountable challenges for Army. If the Cardinal simply chooses to ground-and-pound with Tyler Gaffney and Anthony Wilkerson, the host will be powerless to stop it. On play-action, QB Kevin Hogan should have his pick of open targets.
Why Army Might Win: The triple-option can vex opponents that rarely see it. Stanford, for instance. The Black Knights want to control the clock and the tempo of the game by feeding the Cardinal a steady diet of fullback dives from Larry Dixon and timely pitches from QB Angel Santiago. Army will try to wear down the Cardinal, keeping this game close until deep into the second half.
Who To Watch Out For: The Cardinal might want to use this week to fine-tune the passing game. Hogan was so-so in the opener, and he needs time to develop better timing with his new receivers and tight ends.

- Stanford boasts one of the premier front sevens in the country. It'll be interesting to see how well the defenders maintain patience and gap-integrity, as opposed to simply pinning their ears back.

- Cardinal head coach David Shaw and his staff recruit nationally, so it's always nice getting a chance to spread the brand to a different region of the country. The program has a handful of kids from the New York metropolitan area who'll be playing in front of a larger than usual number of friends and family.
What Will Happen: Playing across the country in a game that'll feel like 9 a.m. to the Cardinal can be a little tricky. It's a good thing that Army doesn't have the size or the talent to effectively match up on Saturday. Stanford will bully its opponent at the point of attack, essentially imposing its will on the Black Knights. Although it's hard to imagine the Cardinal maintaining their emotion for very long, it'll only need about 20 points to salt this one away.
Prediction: Stanford 45 … Army 13
Line: Stanford -28.5 o/u: 50
Must See Rating: (5 Boardwalk Empire – 1 Teen Beach Movie) … 2.5

Delaware (2-0) at Navy (1-0) Sept. 14, 3:30, CBS Sports Network

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Could Delaware be a possible threat in the Colonial? It wasn't expected to be, but after two terrific wins over Jacksonville and Delaware State – okay, terrific might be a tad strong – all of a sudden, things are coming together under head coach Dave Brock. Meanwhile, Navy is coming off a strong win over an Indiana team that has its offense going to warp speed. The Midshipmen survived the firefight, and now needs to go on a run with several winnable games – or at least 50/50 games, before hosting Pitt. Navy blew out the Fightin' Blue Hens two years ago in the opener, but lost in a 59-52 stunner in 2007. This could be another shootout.

Why Delaware Might Win: 62 that's how many rushing yards Delaware has allowed so far. The pass defense has been a slight issue, and the D has had problems keeping points off the board, but the defensive front has been fantastic against the run two games in. On the other side, the offense has exploded out of the gate with 93 points and the eighth-best rushing offense in the FCS. The offense has been a machine so far, especially getting key first downs, and it needs to control the clock to keep Navy off the field.

Why Navy Might Win: Navy just played an Indiana team with a more firepower than Delaware, and everything turned out to be fine. Ten starters might be back on offense for the Fightin' Blue Hens. And it might have a fantastic back of its own in Andrew Pierce, but it's about to do be pressed and pressed hard. Navy was unstoppable at times against Indiana, and while the big passing numbers were there for the Hoosiers, the running game wasn't able to generate a push.

Who To Watch Out For: Navy corner Parrish Gaines. He's a corner who's built like a safety, but he did a little of everything last week against Indiana with a team-leading ten tackles and a little bit of attitude to his play. The left corner job has been his for the last year-and-a-half, and now he's coming into his own. At 6-2 and 196 pounds he has good size, and while he gives up a few too many big plays, he'll handle the No. 1 receivers. He should be able to deal with Delaware's.

What Will Happen: Delaware will get its licks in. There will be moments when the Blue Hens control the action, but Navy will take it right back with a long march. Midshipmen QB Keenan Reynolds played too well against Indiana to not let it all carry over.
Prediction: Navy 41 … Delaware 31
Line: Navy -16 o/u: 53.5
Must See Rating: (5 Boardwalk Empire – 1 Teen Beach Movie) ... 1.5

Northern Illinois (1-0) at Idaho (0-2) Sept. 14, 5:00

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Northern Illinois beat a decent Iowa team in the opener and Jordan Lynch now gets his chance to pad his stats. Idaho has looked terrible through two weeks, but there's nothing like a home opener to lift the morale of a struggling team.
Why Northern Illinois Might Win: Idaho's defense has more holes than Swiss cheese in the first two weeks and a quarterback of Jordan Lynch's caliber will take advantage. The Huskies will also be able to establish a run game with the running backs, something they couldn't do against Iowa.
Why Idaho Might Win: Getting to Moscow, Idaho is a hassle and it's possible the travel makes the Huskies a bit weary on gameday. On the field, quarterback Chad Chalich has completed 69.5 percent of his passes for 412 yards and could take advantage of Northern Illinois' secondary.
Who To Watch Out For: Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch should have a field day against an Idaho defense that has given up more than 577 yards per game. His dual threat ability means he should gain 300 yards through the air and 100 yards on the ground.
What Will Happen: Jordan Lynch will perform like a Heisman candidate against this weak Idaho defense and put up video game numbers. The Vandals offense will continue its struggle to move the ball and the Huskies will fly away from Idaho with a big victory.
Prediction: Northern Illinois 45 … Idaho 7
Line: Northern Illinois -28 o/u: 61
Must See Rating: (5 Boardwalk Empire – 1 Teen Beach Movie) ... 1.5

UTEP (0-1) at New Mexico State (0-2) Sept. 14, 8:00, ESPN

Why You Should Give A Hoot: The Miners and the Aggies are locking horns for the 91st time, with both programs seeking their first win of 2013. UTEP opened with an overtime loss to New Mexico last week, a disappointing start to the Sean Kugler era in El Paso. New Mexico State has been outclassed in both of its games, falling to Texas and Minnesota. The Miners have taken four straight in the series.
Why UTEP Might Win: The Miners have a couple of offensive newcomers capable of keeping them in every game this season. Texas A&M transfer QB Jameill Showers started slowly last week, throwing just a single touchdown pass, but better days are ahead for No. 1. The running game received an instant lift from true freshman Aaron Jones, who came off the bench to rush for 127 yard and a score on 11 carries.
Why New Mexico State Might Win: The Aggies begin Week 3 battle-tested, having already faced teams from the Big Ten and the Big 12. They should be able to exploit a Miner D replacing eight starters and coming off a miserable performance versus the Lobos. Without much of a running game, New Mexico State will put the ball in the hands of accurate QB Andrew McDonald, who'll look to WR Joshua Bowen to keep drives alive on third down.
Who To Watch Out For: Showers has to do a better job of getting the ball in the hands of top receiver Jordan Leslie, who caught just five passes for 12 yards last weekend.

- Someone on that Aggie defense will need to keep an eye on Jones and starting RB Nathan Jeffery. S Davis Cazares and linebackers Bryan Bonilla and Trashaun Nixon will each be asked to maintain gap integrity on running plays.
What Will Happen: With a game in the rear view mirror, UTEP will play more confidence and consistency than it did a week ago. The Miners have more threats on offense than the Aggies, which will help keep them a step ahead in Las Cruces. UTEP will split its two games with schools from New Mexico, giving Kugler his first win at his alma mater.
Prediction: UTEP 34 … New Mexico State 24
Line: UTEP -6.5 o/u: 53
Must See Rating: (5 Boardwalk Empire – 1 Teen Beach Movie) … 1.5

Notre Dame (1-1) at Purdue (1-1) Sept. 14, 8:00, ABC

Why You Should Give A Hoot: It always seems like Purdue should be a big rival for Notre Dame considering the proximity and familiarity, but it's been a bit one-sided lately. The Boilermakers seem to give the Irish a hard time, but lose, like last year in a 20-17 fight. Purdue has won just once in the series since 2004, and after a rocky start with a blowout loss to a Cincinnati team that got destroyed by Illinois, and a way-too-close win over an Indiana State team that was obliterated by Indiana, it's going to take a massive effort for new head coach Darrell Hazell to come up with something special. With Wisconsin, Northern Illinois, Nebraska, Michigan State and Ohio State up next, life isn't going to get much easier.

On the flip side, this is the eye of the storm for Notre Dame after a fun loss – and it sort of was fun, as losses go – at Michigan and with Michigan State, Oklahoma, Arizona State and USC up next. The defense had a rough time dealing with the Wolverines last week, but the offense has been explosive, efficient and effective. This needs to be a breather, and if there's any reasonable hope of getting into a BCS game, this can't be a hiccup.

Why Notre Dame Might Win: The Purdue offense can't seem to find its footing. The passing attack is bad, the running game worse, and there's no flow or rhythm so far. The big issue is third down, struggling like made to keep the chains moving and turn drives into points. At the moment, Purdue doesn't have any one thing – like a Devin Gardner's mobility – that the Notre Dame defense can't stop. The Irish had a nightmare of a time stopping the Wolverines from keeping the offense moving, while the other side of the ball was able to hit on third down after third down and fight back late in the game. The Boilermaker secondary is about to get have a very, very bad day.

Why Purdue Might Win: The defense hasn't been bad, even with the problems in the opener against Cincinnati. The Bearcats moved the ball and were good on short-to-midrange passes, and the running game was solid helped by the mobility of QB Munchie Legaux, but for the most part, the problems were from a Boilermaker offense that struggled more than because of a defense that couldn't hold up. At some point, the Purdue passing attack should be able to get going once everyone adapts to the pro-style attack, but as long as it doesn't screw up, and as long the terrific punting game can keep the field tilted toward the Irish side, there's a chance to keep this interesting.

Who To Watch Out For: The NFL types will be focusing on the defensive interior with Notre Dame's Louis Nix and Purdue's Bruce Gaston. Nix hasn't quite gummed up the works to make the run defense a rock, but he certainly hasn't been bad. His worth isn't measured by stats; he's the one everything works around. On the other side, Gaston has done a little of everything with 12 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and two sacks. He can be an anchor, a pass rusher or a run stopper, and he's playing up to his billing and potential.

- It was overshadowed because of the play of Devin Gardner, but Tommy Rees was terrific in the loss to Michigan. He threw two picks, but he could hardly be blamed for the second one, while throwing for 314 yards and two touchdowns. He's spreading the ball around well and he's moving the offense.

- Purdue needs to find one thing or one guy on offense that rocks. QB Rob Henry hasn't been able to find his consistency, but it's not like he's getting any help. No one's making things happen.

- With the good start from Rees has come a nice first few games from TJ Jones. The pressure was on to become a bigger factor as a No. 1 receiver, especially with TE Tyler Eifert off to the NFL, and Jones has stepped up so far with 15 catches for 232 yards and a score.

What Will Happen: The Irish will score on its first few drives and will coast from there. The defense will start to look a little more like the defense of last year, partly because the Purdue offense will continue to struggle.
Prediction: Notre Dame 45 … Purdue 16
Line: Notre Dame -20.5 o/u: 52
Must See Rating: (5 Boardwalk Empire – 1 Teen Beach Movie) ... 3