For the first time in the history of the AP poll, the top three teams will play true road games against ranked foes. The some College Football Playoff contenders could fade and others could emerge. There’s a lot going on for mid-September.
Five things to know for week three of the college football season.
No. 3 Florida State at No. 10 Louisville.
ESPN GameDay makes it first trip to Louisville for what is the biggest regular-season home game the Cardinals have played since moving into the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson has put up crazy numbers in two games, accounting for 13 touchdowns for the No. 1 offense in the country. The Seminoles present a very different challenge. Deondre Francois and Dalvin Cook showed against Mississippi in the opener that they can put up points in bunches, too.
And Florida State is no Syracuse on defense. The Seminoles, though, are not without concerns on that side of the ball against Jackson and company. Florida State safety Derwin James (knee) is out. He is one of the best and most versatile players in the country. Against all that Jackson and Louisville coach Bobby Petrino can throw at a defense, James would have been used as counter-punch all over the field.
A breakout game on the road, leading a relatively inexperienced offense at No. 14 Oklahoma could thrust Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett toward the front of the Heisman Trophy race. The junior has accounted for nine touchdowns against not-so-great competition so far for the third-ranked Buckeyes.
Barrett tends to get mentioned after some of top headliners of the 2016 season, such as Deshaun Watson and Christian McCaffrey, when the Heisman is being discussed. He is not as flashy as Watson and Jackson, but he finished fourth in the Heisman voting in 2014 when he was the Big Ten player of the year.
NUMBERS TO KNOW
2 — Consecutive wins by No. 19 Mississippi against No. 1 Alabama. The Rebels have never won three straight in the series. In fact, they had never won two straight before the last two seasons and have only 10 wins total in 63 meetings with the Crimson Tide.
10-4 — Nebraska coach Mike Riley’s record against Oregon while he was Oregon State coach, including losses in the last seven Civil War rivalry games. The 22nd-ranked Ducks come to Lincoln, Nebraska, Saturday.
9-3 — Michigan State’s record in its last 12 games against ranked opponents, including wins in five of the last six. The 12th-ranked Spartans visit No. 18 Notre Dame.
OFF THE RADAR
Army visits UTEP trying to improve to 3-0 for the first time since 1996. The Cadets are playing under unusually difficult circumstances. Earlier this week, cornerback Brandon Jackson was killed in a car accident.
The Black Knights decided to play to honor their late teammate. Services for Jackson will be held Monday in New York.
COACH IN NEED OF A WIN
Southern California’s Clay Helton against No. 7 Stanford. Helton is in his first season as Trojans coach after being promoted from interim head coach at the end of last season. Since getting the gig to lead the storied but adrift program, Helton is 1-3. This season started with a humiliating loss to Alabama, players getting ejected from each game and two players being suspended during a sexual assault investigation.
A blowout of Utah State last week at the Los Angeles Coliseum, which was about one-third empty, provided temporary relief. Now a trip to the Farm to face a Stanford team that has won six of eight against the Trojans while replacing USC as the standard-bearer program of the Pac-12.
Helton is probably not in danger of being fired after one season, but beating Stanford could help him hit the reset button on a dicey start to his tenure.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP