No. 11 Florida (1-0) at No. 13 Tennessee (1-0), 8
Both teams need to successfully run the ball, not only to open up the passing game, but possibly just to survive depending on how poor the field conditions are from two days of heavy rain. Florida and the Vols each have a stable of running backs to rely on, but Tennessee's top runner, Cedric Houston, is nursing an ankle injury. He's scheduled to play, but won't be 100 percent. Florida's Ciatrick Fason and DeShawn Wynn are healthy and eager to improve on the Gators' 73 total yards rushing in the game last season. Florida has the edge at quarterback, with sophomore Chris Leak returning for his second season against a Vols secondary with several inexperienced players. Tennessee quarterbacks Brent Schaeffer and Erik Ainge have played just one collegiate game and are being protected by a young offensive line. While Florida's secondary also has some inexperienced players, the Gators are hoping to shake up the Vols offense with their formidable front seven.
_ ANTONYA ENGLISH, Times staff writer
USF (1-0) at S. Carolina (1-1), 7
USF gets its fourth shot at beating a Southeastern Conference team, having lost at Kentucky in 2000, at Arkansas in 2002 and last season at Alabama. The Bulls don't have an SEC opponent set for next year, but will play Auburn in 2007 and Florida in 2008-09. They can expect a bigger crowd than the last time they played in South Carolina, as the attendance for USF's 1998 win at Charleston Southern _ not a typo _ was 884. . . . USF comes in with the No. 1 total defense in the nation, having allowed only 145 yards in its season-opening win against Division I-AA's Tennessee Tech. South Carolina's best national ranking is in turnover margin. The Gamecocks have forced four more turnovers than they've coughed up, which ranks them 12th. Receiver Troy Williamson is averaging 115 receiving yards, good enough to lead the SEC and rank 13th in the nation. South Carolina has five Floridians on its roster, but the only one from the area is defensive back Stoney Woodson, a freshman who graduated from Middleton and has not recorded a tackle. On the Bulls' side, chances are you'll see more of a few freshmen, such as receivers Johnny Peyton and Jackie Chambers and running back Andre Copeland, who played sparingly in the season opener.
_ GREG AUMAN, Times staff writer
UAB (1-0) at No. 8 FSU (0-1), 6:30
Florida State coach Bobby Bowden needed little time after an opening loss to begin fretting about the Blazers, who beat Baylor 56-14 on Sept. 4. "They really surprise me," he said. "After you lose a game, it scares you pretty good." UAB junior quarterback Darrell Hackney threw for 168 yards and three touchdowns and tailback Dan Burks gained 92 yards on three carries, including a 69-yard touchdown run in the opening moments. UAB's veteran defense, which has 10 starters back, returned an interception and a fumble for touchdowns. The Blazers, however, figure to try to set the tone defensively and that means blitzing Chris Rix, who is prone to committing turnovers when pressured. He had four turnovers in the overtime loss at Miami. It's one thing for the Hurricanes to befuddle Rix and the offense. It might be another for the Blazers to do that. "I'm not sure the two best defenses in the country weren't playing each other in Miami and Florida State," said UAB coach Watson Brown, who had the chance to watch "every game known to man" on television last weekend. "This is a very talented team, one of the top 10 talent teams in the country in my opinion. We have one chance to win and that's to be confident, which we are, and to play well."
_ BRIAN LANDMAN, Times staff writer
Louisiana Tech (2-0) at No. 4 Miami (1-0), 1
The Hurricanes are 3-0 against the Bulldogs. Louisiana Tech's strength is junior tailback Ryan Moats (5-9, 205 pounds), who has pounded out 257 yards in each of the Bulldogs first two games. He also has scored four touchdowns. It's a major change for a program known for being one of the most prolific passing teams in the nation over the past decade. Since 1996, the Bulldogs have thrown for 32,073 yards, more than any Division I program. But with Luke McCown gone to the NFL, coach Jack Bicknell has changed things completely. Miami's defense, which shut down FSU's rushing attack and held the Seminoles to no offensive TDs, likely will be missing starting middle linebacker Leon Williams, who broke a bone in his right hand on the first play of overtime against FSU on Sept. 10. The 'Canes will put second-year freshman Jon Beason into Williams' slot. Offensively, look for Sinorice Moss to get the first start of his career at receiver in place of Ryan Moore, who looked bad against FSU dropping three passes. Moss tied the FSU game on a 30-yard catch and run from Brock Berlin and had his first 100-yard receiving game. UM kicker Jon Peattie has been bothered by a strained groin. If he can't kick, look for Mark Gent to get first crack at handling extra points and field goals. Walk-on Francesco Zampogna also could see action.
_ MICHAEL SNYDER, Times correspondent
UCF (0-2) at Penn State (1-1), 12:10
UCF struggled in its first two games under new coach George O'Leary, losing to ranked opponents Wisconsin and West Virginia. O'Leary, though, said he sees progress in his young squad _ half the depth chart consists of freshmen and sophomores _ and at the moment progress is all he is concerned about. The play of the offensive line was a bright spot last weekend, and as a result so was the play of running back Alex Haynes (137 yards, 34 carries). Penn State is coming off a 21-7 loss at Boston College in which the Nittany Lions racked up 391 yards but had five turnovers.
FAU (2-0) at Middle Tennessee (1-0), 3
FAU has had an excellent start to the season, opening with an upset at Hawaii and beating North Texas 20-13 last weekend. This will be the Owls' third consecutive road game against a Division I-A opponent, and the Blue Raiders will not be taking them lightly. FAU shocked host Middle Tennessee in last year's season opener with a 62-yard touchdown pass in the final seconds to win 20-19, making the Owls the quickest start-up team to beat a I-A opponent.
BCC (1-0) vs. Grambling State (0-2), 1
The Wildcats are reeling after freshman Kovensky Pierre, who was expected to redshirt this season, was killed Tuesday in a car accident in which freshman teammate Willie Jackson also was injured seriously. Both were from Delray Beach and were returning to campus. BCC enters the game in Cincinnati coming off what had been a satisfying 27-14 season-opening victory at Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Grambling is coming off a 21-9 loss to Alabama A&M.
FAMU (0-2) at Temple (0-2), 2
This is the third of three consecutive I-A opponents for the Rattlers, who lost at Tulane 39-19 last weekend and at Illinois in the opener. Temple is led by quarterback Walter Washington, who was 16 of 27 for 188 yards and rushed for 75 yards and two touchdowns in a 45-22 loss at No. 21 Maryland last weekend.
_ SHARON GINN, Times correspondent