There's a reason College Gameday will be in North Dakota this week....it's 'cause this weeks national slate is about as strong as a Bartles and James party. However, out here in the West we feature the top games of the week. It starts Friday night in the San Joaquin Valley with Boise @ Fresno and the battle for Mountain West supremacy and the coveted Milk Can. Which makes sense, since nothing is more refreshing when tweaking than milk out of a can. On Saturday, Chuckie Keeton will basically be doing the USC HR department's job for them as Utah State takes on USC. Keeton might also kickoff his Heisman campaign in the Coliseum. Late night we have the Holy War in Provo and the Howdy Doody Bowl in Colorado Springs. But the headliner is definitely ASU @ Stanford. Wear your wool socks, 'cause as my great granpappy used to say "trench foot is a bitch." Oh, and if you hate Colorado State, you can watch them play Alabama.
Boise State @ Fresno State Sept 19th, 6:00 PST - ESPN
Boise Players to Watch: Demarcus Lawrence DE(19) #8 JR -- Matt Miller WR(13) #2 JR -- Matt Paradis C(30) #65 SR -- Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe DT(55) #43 SR -- Joe Southwick QB(NR) #16 SR -- Jeremy Ioane S(31) #10 JR
Fresno Players to Watch: Derek Carr QB(7) #4 SR -- Devante Adams WR(15) #15 SO (‘15) -- Isaiah Burse WR(78) #1 SR -- Derron Smith FS(16) #15 JR -- Austin Wentworth LT(21) #72 SR -- Tyeler Davison NG(24) #92 JR -- LJ Jones CB(36) #6 SR
Key Matchups: Lawrence v. Wentworth -- Carr/Adams/Burse v. Ioane -- Southwick v. Smith
Preview: It’s going to be a big night in the San Joaquin Valley. Dawg fans are geeked up for this one, and rightfully so. The Dawgs are led by a great senior QB in Carr, and Boise doesn’t look Boise-ish. Derek Carr looks like the perfect NFL QB….in 2005. Unfortunately this is 2013 and teams expect more from their QBs. That being said, the NFL is still more of a passers league and Carr’s QB Camp skills should fit in well. I really want to see him to make post snap decisions, step up and deliver the ball with authority. The uncontested throws make for nice stats in college, but it doesn’t show a lot about pro potential. I expect a bipolar Boise defense that’s going to show him a lot of different looks. The defensive prospect need big games as well. Demarcus Lawrence was pretty invisible in Huskie Stadium. He faces off against the master of the fat guy touchdown in Wentworth. Derron Smith is the pre-season MWC defensive player of the year, but hasn’t done a whole lot to this point. While national buzz means little for NFL scouts and GMs and big game on national TV couldn’t hurt his prospects.
San Jose State @ Minnesota Sept 21st, 9:00AM PST - ESPN2
San Jose State Players to Watch: David Fales QB(10) #10 SR -- Noel Grigsby WR(11) #23 SR -- Nicholas Kaspar RG(34) #75 SR -- Travis Raciti DT(17) #3 JR -- Keith Smith ILB(20) #31 SR -- Vince Buhagiar OLB(18) #36 SR -- Bene Benwiekere CB(29) #21 SR
Minnesota Players to Watch: Ra’Shede Hageman DT(7) #99 SR -- Zac Epping LG #52 JR -- Derrick Wells CB() #13 JR
Key Matchups: Hageman v. Kasper -- Grigsby v. Wells
Preview: The last time we saw David Fales he was running for his life on The Farm. While I think Fales played OK, he didn’t blow me away. It looked like he was playing QB in in The Most Dangerous Game. Against Minnesota, he should have much better opportunities. Ra’Shede Hageman is a great player and could make life tougher for SJSU, but Fales should be able to work around the massive DT. Travis Raciti impressed me against Stanford’s Man Wall, so I look for him to have a good game in Minneapolis.
Utah State @ USC Sept 21st, 12:30 PST - ABC
Utah State Players to Watch: Tyler Larsen C(3) #58 SR -- Chuckie Keeton QB(32) #16 JR -- Eric Schultz RT(44) #66 SR -- Nevin Lawson CB(37) #1 SR -- Jake Doughty ILB(57) #51 SR -- Zach Vigil ILB(56) #53 JR -- Kyle Fackrell OLB(41) #52 SO
USC Players to Watch: Marquis Lee WR(1) #9 JR -- Kevin Graf LT(18) #77 SR -- Marcus Martin C(8) #66 JR -- Silas Redd RB(5) #25 SR(?) -- Morgan Breslin OLB(4) #91 SR -- Georde Uko DT(14) #90 JR -- Hayes Pullard MLB(9) #10 JR -- Dion Bailey S(3) #18 JR -- Lamar Dawson OLB(26) #55 JR -- Torin Harris CB(27) #4 SR
Key Matchups: Lee v. Lawson -- Keeton v. Breslin --Larsen v. Woods
Preview: While all the attention is on Lane Kiffin and USC’s QB situation, their defense is freaking amazing and loaded with NFL talent. Enter Chuckie Keeton. Now most people outside of the MWC don’t know Chuckie Keeton from their neighborhood barista, but he’s a straight up baller. He’s got two arms and two legs and he like to use them. He runs, he thows, he might even do them both at the same time. Which he’ll probably have to do to escape the Breslin. Another interesting aspect of this game will be to see how Utah State’s trio of LBs do against a very talented offensive line. If they can play well, and force USC into passing situations, I like the Aggie’s chances. Oddly enough, that will be involving their best player Marquis Lee. Lee has been relatively quiet thus far. Let’s see how open he gets and if Kessler can get him the ball. At the end of the day, the real burden will be on Chuckie Keeton and he’s done pretty damn well in big games before. If Chuckie Keeton walks out of the LA Coliseum Chuckie Football, Lane Kiffin walks out of the Coliseum without a job.
Arizona State @ Stanford Sept 21st, 4:00 PST - FOX
Arizona State Players to Watch: Marion Grice RB(49) #1 SR -- Chris Coyle TE(13) #87 SR -- Will Sutton DT(5) #90 SR -- Carl Bradford WLB(14) #52 JR -- Osahon Irabor CB(60) #24 SR -- Alden Darby SS(26) #4 SR
Stanford Players to Watch: Kevin Hogan QB(18) #8 SO -- David Yankey LG(1) #54 JR -- Cameron Fleming RT(8) #73 JR -- Kevin Danser RG(22) #76 SR -- Ben Gardner DE(8) #49 SR -- Henry Adams DE(13) #91 JR -- Trent Murphy OLB(6) #93 SR -- Shayne Skov ILB(4) #11 SR -- AJ Tarpley ILB(27) #17 JR -- Jordan Richardson SS(5) #8 JR -- Ed Reynolds FS(2) #29 JR -- Alex Carter CB(NR) #25 SO (‘15))
Key Matchups: Sutton v. Yankey/Danser -- Grice v. Skov/Tarpley
Preview: I don’t know what was more weird, the way the Wisconsin game ended or the fact that Stanford struggled to put away Army. I mean Pac-12 refs screwing up is a pretty regular occasion. It’s odd to say, but the main event is going to happen in the trenches. And not some sexy D-End v. Left Tackle matchup, but rather a D-Tackle v. Guard. Will Sutton v. David Yankey and Kevin Danser has the sex appeal of a dairy farm, but like a dairy farm it’s going to produce some serious goodness. Sutton and his partner in crime Jaxon Hood like to shoot the gaps and create chaos. They make it really difficult for QBs to step up causing them to make dumb decisions. Yankey and Danser are pretty quick, and I will be watching their footwork to see if they can keep their positions on ASU’s DTs. When ASU has the ball I am going to watch Standord’s LBs. They will really dictate what Kelly and Grice are able to do. I have a feeling that they are going to stuff the run and force Kelly to make tough throws.
Oregon State @ San Deigo St Sept 21st, 4:30 PST CBSSN
Oregon St Players to Watch: Brandin Cooks WR(20) #7 JR -- Storm Woods RB(32) #24 SO(OUT) -- Isaac Seumalo C #56 SO(‘15) -- Michael Philipp LT(51) #77 JR -- Sean Mannion QB #4 JR -- Scott Crichton DE(7) #95 JR -- Rashaad Reynolds CB(44) #16 SR
SDSU Players to Watch: Adam Muema RB(39) #4 JR (PROB) -- Nat Berhe SS(37) #20 SR -- Derek Largent OLB(NR) #50 JR (OUT)-- Nick Terhaeff OLB(51) #36 SR -- Jake Fely MLB(39) #42 JR
Key Matchups: Cooks v. SDSU DBs
Preview: This is a must win for both teams that have lost to FCS foes. For SDSU this would be a chance to save their season. Their LBs are going to need to perform better than what we have seen thus far. They looked like they were wearing ankle weights against tOSU. Storm Woods looked unstoppable against Utah. I want to see how good his routes are, and see if he can stack CBs when he beats them.
Wyoming @ Air Force Sept 21st, 9:15 PST ESPNU
Wyoming Players to Watch: Brett Smith QB(21) #16 JR -- Robert Herron WR #6(NR) SR -- Blair Burns CB(57) #20 JR -- Eddie Yarbrough DE(NR) #55 SO
Air Force Players to Watch: Jon Lee RB #24 JR -- Tyrone Sauls RB #40 JR -- Jarrett Hudson RT SO Project -- Alex Hanson DE #87 SO
Key Matchups: Yarbrough v. Hudson
Preview: The Mister Eff-ing Howdy Doody Bowl is here! While Air Force probably won’t send a single player to the NFL, they do play some good football. Brett Smith and Robert Herron should have their way with AFA defense. But I’m not sure if the Pokes can stop the triple option attack. This will be a good opportunity to see if Yarbrough can follow up his great performance against Nebraska. But I’m mostly pumped to watch Brett Smith do Brett Smith things and have Dave Christensen call Troy Calhon “Fly Boy” again. Whooooo! See musical version here.
Utah @ BYU Sept 21st, 9:15 PST ESPN2
Utah Players to Watch: Brian Blechen OLB/SS(12) #4 SR (OUT)-- Eric Rowe FS(17) #18 JR -- Trevor Reilly DE(NR) #9 SR -- Travis Wilson QB #7 SO(‘16) -- Kenneth Scott WR(NR) #2 JR (OFY)
BYU Players to Watch: Cody Hoffman WR(4) #2 SR -- Kyle Van Noy WLB(4) #3 SR -- Kaneakua Friel TE(16) #82 SR -- LT Ryker Matthews LG(29) #72 SR -- Taysom Hill QB/ATH #4 SO
Key Matchups: Hoffman v. Rowe
Preview: I’m sure everyone in Gaza will be tuned in for the real Holy War. Kyle Van Noy has been raping and pillaging opposing defenses like a 12th C. crusader. I’m sure he has something in store for those heathens from SLC. Travis Wilson has emerged as a solid QB for the Utes, but I’m not sure he’s ready for what KVN is going to bring on Saturday. The Utes have a pretty good defender in Blechen who should be a better foe for Hill than anyone Texas had on the field. Hoffman has been great when given the chance. I really like his size and speed. I hope the Utes can slow down Hill so I get a chance to see more of Hoffman.