Gazing into the Crystal Ball: Week Three

The camaraderie and fellowship remain in full effect in the halls of the Crystal Ball Run, and the fun we have never ceases to amaze me. With our magical crystal ball lost in transit one of our fearless leaders, Aaron Torres, stepped up big.

Actually, he just used FedEx and overnighted the beauty my way for a look at the third week of the college football season. Aaron just reviewed the second week, while fellow CBR writer Ty Hildenbrandt handled the first week with his usual aplomb.

As we learned in the previous two weeks … the thing has some special powers of prediction.

Now we find out the winners of the best games in the third week of the season.

Saturday, Sept. 15: Alabama at Arkansas (Game time TBA)

The defending national champion Alabama will get everyone’s best game, and taking on the Razorbacks in Arkansas will be a tough task. The Razorbacks are going to miss Bobby Petrino calling the offensive plays, but there is still plenty of talent.

It starts with quarterback Tyler Wilson and it’s nice to have Knile Davis returning at running back. Arkansas’ defense is not as good as Alabama’s, but it’s still an upper echelon unit.

Alabama is loaded with confidence and this group wants to prove it can win back-to-back titles. The offensive line is massive and talented, and if that group plays up to its potential then opponents are in for a lot of trouble.

The Tide still lost a number of key players and they will slip up somewhere this fall.

Result: Arkansas 23, Alabama 21

Saturday, Sept. 15: USC at Stanford (Game time TBA)

Stanford pulled off a spectacular win at USC last year in four overtimes. The Cardinal have brought in some special talent but the last time I looked none of them are named Andrew Luck.

Instead, Stanford will go with Brett Nottingham, who has seen limited action while sitting behind Luck.

On the other side, though, USC still has Matt Barkley. He threw for 3,528 yards as the Trojans went 10-2. The offense may be even more explosive than last year, though, and that’s not good news for Stanford.

Barkley will be able to light up Stanford’s defense as he utilizes Robert Woods, Marqise Lee and Curtis McNeal.

Result: USC 38, Stanford 17

Saturday, Sept. 15: Virginia at Georgia Tech (3:30 p.m.)

Virginia may actually be favored in this game, but just ask Clemson how tough Georgia Tech can be when playing in Atlanta.

The Cavaliers have the players to make a run at an ACC championship, especially with quarterback Michael Rocco. But I’m not sold the defense is good enough to win a championship.

The Yellow Jackets, however, have an experienced group that can handle big games … especially early in the season.

Quarterback Tevin Washington is the right guy to lead Paul Johnson’s explosive offense. With a veteran offensive line and speed in the backfield, Virginia is going to struggle to slow them down.

Result: Georgia Tech 35, Virginia 31

Saturday, Sept. 15: Notre Dame at Michigan State

The Crystal Ball has heard about the rise of Notre Dame under Brian Kelly, but she’s not listening.

The game is going to be a good one, but the Spartans have home-field advantage and one of the best defenses in the Big Ten. MSU also benefits from the running of Le’Veon Bell, but the Spartans are turning over the quarterback duties to junior Andrew Maxwell.

That bit of inexperience could be the downfall of the Spartans.

Notre Dame returns some experience at quarterback with Tommy Rees, but the position is not completely his. If Notre Dame turns to athletic Everett Golson, Crystal Ball likes the Irish a bit more in this game.

While Michigan State will have already been challenged with an opener against Boise State, this game will be Notre Dame’s first real test of 2012.

Result: Michigan State 28, Notre Dame 21

Saturday, Sept. 15: Florida at Tennessee (Game time TBA)

The Florida-Tennessee game used to be one of the premiere SEC games each fall. Now it’s not even one of the better games in the SEC East.

But three weeks into the season the annual match up is definitely worth watching.

With Tyler Bray healthy again, Tennessee may have the best passing game in the SEC (no offense to Arkansas). Bray and the Vols will be tested, though, by a superior Gator defense. The secondary is talented, but young so the timing of this game could benefit Tennessee.

Florida’s offense was miserable in Will Muschamp’s first season, and the outlook for year two is not much better unless he finds a quarterback. Jacoby Brissett seems to be the favorite, but don’t count out Jeff Driskel.

If you believe the Crystal Ball then Florida will be coming off a tough loss to Texas A&M and opening the season 1-2 is not what Muschamp and the Gators need. However, a win is exactly what the embattled Derek Dooley needs.

Result: Tennessee 27, Florida 20

Other games to watch: Brigham Young at Utah, North Carolina at Louisville, Virginia Tech at Pittsburgh, Texas at Ole Miss and California at Ohio State.