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September 17, 2010
Keep an eye on: What our guys are watching
Each week, Rivals.com's college football experts give fans things to keep an eye on over the course of the weekend. Here are some key things to watch this weekend.
Arizona QB Nick Foles and how he'll fare against Iowa. Foles became the Wildcats' starting quarterback last season only after a 27-17 loss in Iowa City. He played well as the starter, and Arizona's offense improved. He also has played well this season, but hasn't faced anything close to the caliber of competition he'll see against the Hawkeyes. Arizona has gotten better under coach Mike Stoops but still needs a signature victory over a top-10 opponent (yeah, they beat No. 2 Oregon in '07, but that was because of Dennis Dixon's injury). Can Foles lead Arizona to that signature win?
- OLIN BUCHANAN
Is Arkansas ready to be a legit SEC contender? Arkansas hasn't been tested during a 2-0 start. But the Hogs' game at Georgia will tell us if the Razorbacks are poised to turn the corner and be a legit SEC contender in their third season under Bobby Petrino. As a fun sidebar, it also will be Petrino's first visit to the state since he quit on the Atlanta Falcons with three games left in the 2007 season, causing lots of bad blood. If Arkansas can beat a Bulldogs team that last week failed to score a touchdown and got run over on defense in a loss at South Carolina, it will set up a huge showdown next Saturday, when Alabama visits Fayetteville.
- TOM DIENHART
Taylor Martinez's first road start. Martinez, Nebraska's redshirt freshman quarterback, is relieving some doubts about the Huskers' offense ability to keep up with the defense. There's another big test this week as Martinez makes his first road start against the toughest opponent he has faced so far. Will he be able to outplay Washington quarterback Jake Locker, projected to be one of the first quarterbacks taken in the 2011 NFL draft? Washington has struggled recently, but the Huskies are a different team at home. All of Washington's wins under second-year coach Steve Sarkisian have come at Husky Stadium.
- DAVID FOX
Georgia Tech QB Joshua Nesbitt. He is the key player in Tech's visit to North Carolina in an important ACC Coastal Division showdown. Forget his pitiful passing; he never is going to be even a mediocre passer. It's his running that folks need to watch Saturday. He has been held to below 50 rushing yards in a game eight times since he became the starter for the 2008 season -- and Tech has lost five of those games, including three of the past four occasions. One of those was last week's inexplicable loss to Kansas, when he had just 33 yards on 15 carries. He played a key role in helping Tech roll up 307 rushing yards against the Heels last season.
- MIKE HUGUENIN
Will Texas struggle in Lubbock again? Texas' trips to Texas Tech rarely are easy. Everyone remembers Michael Crabtree's thrilling last-second touchdown that beat the Longhorns two years ago. Texas rallied from a 21-0 deficit to win 35-31 in Lubbock in 2006, and the Longhorns lost 42-38 at Texas Tech in 2002. Of the past four Texas-Texas Tech games in Lubbock, only the Longhorns' 51-21 triumph in 2004 failed to come down to the final minutes. Even though Texas is ranked fourth in the coaches' poll and Texas Tech is unranked, don't be surprised if this one goes down to the wire.
- STEVE MEGARGEE