Saturday’s Featured Late Evening Games
NCAA September 17, 2016
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#17 Texas A&M (2-0) vs Auburn (1-1)
Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin sees a lot of similarities between his No. 17 Aggies and host Auburn heading into Saturday’s SEC opener. Both teams have recorded big offensive games, have shown improving defenses and have fan bases expecting more wins.
The Tigers have been solid against the run, allowing 108.5 yards on the ground after allowing 182.7 yards last year, and the Aggies have also improved their rushing-defense numbers, allowing 78.5 rushing yards after holding Prairie View A&M to 32. Texas A&M features some of the league’s top receivers while Auburn has built a balanced attack behind sophomore quarterback Sean White. The teams have split their four meetings since the Aggies joined SEC with the road team winning each time.
Notre Dame might have the toughest first-month schedule of any contender for the College Football Playoff, and it is still looking for a signature win. The 18th-ranked Fighting Irish opened the season with a double-overtime loss at Texas but declared DeShone Kizer starting quarterback for Week 2 and rolled past Nevada to even its record. The Spartans have had two weeks to prepare for Notre Dame due to an early bye in Week 2.
Ohio State was expected to go through a few growing pains this season, as the team returned only six starters. It’s the fewest in the BCS. Yet after two impressive wins, the expectations are sky high. The Buckeyes have won 18 straight road games. It’s a school record and the longest active streak in the nation.
USC (1-1) vs #7 Stanford (1-0)
Visions of Stanford star Christian McCaffrey looks to be still fresh in USC’s memory. McCaffrey had a school-record 461 all-purpose yards to help Stanford clinch last season’s Pac-12 title with a 41-22 victory over the Trojans in December.
The junior running back began this season’s Heisman Trophy quest strong, and looks to get back inside their opponents mind. Stanford defeated USC twice last season and has won six of the last eight meetings, but seven of the past 10 games have been decided by eight points or fewer. The Trojans will need an even better performance to keep pace with Stanford and McCaffrey, who has collected at least 200 all-purpose yards in seven consecutive games.
#11 Texas (2-0) vs California (1-1)
Texas looks to avenge last year’s narrow loss to California on Saturday as the 16th-ranked Longhorns head out on the road for the first time this season to face the high-powered Golden Bears. While Texas is seeking its first 3-0 start since 2012, Cal is hoping to bounce back after allowing 334 rushing yards in last Saturday’s 45-40 loss at San Diego State.
Coach Charlie Strong recorded his 50th career win last Saturday against UTEP.
This game figures to be a shootout reminiscent of last season’s 45-44 Cal victory, with Texas averaging 45.5 points and 466.5 yards through its first two games. The Longhorns were 1-4 on the road last season but have the weapons to keep pace with a Cal offense led by senior quarterback Davis Webb, who has thrown for 963 yards and nine touchdowns in games against Hawaii and San Diego State. Cal ranks 125th nationally defending the run while allowing 291 yards per game and could struggle to slow down Texas quarterback Shane Buechele and backup Tyrone Swoopes, who rushed for three scores in the season’s opener against Notre Dame.