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September 3, 2008

Five to Watch: ECU looking for another upset

We hope you got your fill of good football last week because the second week of the season is sorely lacking.

Marquee matchups will be few and far between. There are no games between ranked teams. Six ranked teams will go on the road, but three of those matchups are against Conference USA teams. The other three are against Nevada, Washington and Vanderbilt.

Look at the bright side, though: There will be plenty of opportunities for mammoth upsets. By winning in Week One, East Carolina and Stanford have made their respective games against West Virginia and Arizona State a little more interesting.

Here are the top five games to watch this week:

All times Eastern.


When: 8:30 p.m. Thursday
Broadcasters: Chris Fowler play-by-play, Craig James and Jesse Palmer analysts
Line: South Carolina by 9
Why you should watch: Should South Carolina be on upset alert? Gamecocks quarterback Tommy Beecher stunk last week, and the new starter is smelly: sophomore Chris Smelley. Beecher threw four interceptions before injuring his shoulder against N.C. State. Smelley entered in relief and tossed two touchdown passes. Vanderbilt turned in a strong opening performance in a 34-13 win at Miami University, but the Commodores could have trouble moving the ball against a stingy Gamecocks defense. Be sure to check out Vandy's D.J. Moore, an All-SEC cornerback who also returns punts and plays some offense.


When: 3:30 p.m. Saturday
TV: ABC regional/ESPN GamePlan
Broadcasters: Ron Franklin play-by-play, Ed Carpenter analyst
Line: Oklahoma by 20
Why you should watch: Overlook Cincinnati at your own risk. The Bearcats shocked Oregon State 34-3 early last season. Oklahoma also doesn't need to be convinced that a Big East underdog can do some damage after losing to West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl. Bearcats coach Brian Kelly says this game will be a barometer for his program. For the viewer, this game matches Sam Bradford, the nation's most efficient passer last year, against the interception-happy duo of DeAngelo Smith and Mike Mickens. The pair combined for 14 picks last year.


When: Saturday, 4:30 p.m.
Broadcasters: Mike Patrick play-by-play, Todd Blackledge analyst
Line: West Virginia by 8
Why you should watch: West Virginia will have no excuse if East Carolina sneaks up on the Mountaineers. The Pirates' 27-22 win over Virginia Tech last week caught everyone's eye, but West Virginia already knew East Carolina had giant-killer potential. The Pirates gave West Virginia fits in 2005 and '06. ECU will face a different West Virginia team this year, though. WVU senior quarterback Pat White attempted a career-high 33 passes and ran only nine times against Villanova last week.


When: Saturday, 8 p.m.
Broadcasters: Brent Musburger play-by-play, Kirk Herbstreit analyst
Line: Florida by 21
Why you should watch: The teams stopped meeting on a yearly basis in 1987. Since then, they've met just four times. Florida hasn't beaten UM since 1985. Tune in to find out if redshirt freshman Robert Marve is Miami's answer at quarterback and if Florida continues to find other runners besides Tim Tebow.


When: Saturday, 10 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Net Arizona/Fox Sports Net West
Broadcasters: Trey Bender play-by-play, Juan Roque analyst
Line: Arizona State by 14
Why you should watch: Could this season's surprise team be Stanford? The Cardinal has a chance to start its Pac-10 schedule 2-0. The Cardinal's physical defense and Toby Gerhart's 147 rushing yards and two touchdowns were two of the biggest surprises in Week One's win over Oregon State, but the competition gets tougher against the Sun Devils. Rudy Carpenter, who was 22 of 28 for 388 yards last week, is a substantial upgrade at quarterback over Oregon State's Lyle Moevao.

David Fox is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at dfox@rivals.com.

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