Prove It - Week 3
Wake Forest at Florida State, 12pm, Saturday
PROVE IT RANKING: #8 Florida State
Last year, Florida State was clearly over ranked in the preseason. The Seminoles ended up at 9-4 last season after they hit a three-game skid in the early part of the season. They finished strong with a bowl win against Notre Dame, but 2011 was a let down in many regards. This year, Florida State appears to truly have earned their high preseason ranking. They have been playing like a dominant team. They have cruised through the first two weeks of the season (including a 55-0 win against Savannah State). The Seminoles will surely have one of the top ranked defenses at season’s end. Many prognosticators have predicted Florida State to even reach the BCS title game.
The first speed bump hits this weekend against Wake Forest. In the last half decade, the Seminoles are 2-4 against the Demon Deacons. No other conference team has given Florida State as many fits in that same span. In 2006, Riley Skinner led Wake Forest to a 30-0 blanking of the Seminoles in one of the most lopsided ACC losses Florida State has ever had. Last season, Florida State lost 30-35 to Wake Forest even though the ‘Noles were clearly the better team. Wake Forest played a solid, smart game and did not allow EJ Manuel to get into any sort of positive rhythm. The Seminoles are far and away considered the better team again this year. As recent results would suggest, the fact that they have more talent has not mattered. To truly justify just how highly they are thought of, the Seminoles need to win this opening ACC game to get on the right track. Not only that, but they need to beat the Deacons to prove to themselves that they are not snake-bitten when a lot is expected of them. A loss this weekend would derail any BCS championship hopes.
Houston at UCLA, 10:30pm, Saturday
PROVE IT TEAM: UCLA
UCLA is the hottest team out of the gate in 2012. New head coach Jim Mora, Jr. brings NFL experience along with energy and swagger to a program that has been second best for longer than they care to remember. In the first two weeks of the 2012 season, UCLA took care of Rice easily and defeated a ranked Nebraska team, 36-30. Quarterback Brett Hundley has thrown six touchdowns and no interceptions. The Bruins are second in the nation in rushing at nearly 350 yards per game. It is early, but those are eye-popping numbers for a team that was not considered to be any sort of contender in the Pac-12 South. Right now, they look like they could be.
UCLA will need to remain consistent if they want to keep riding this wave. They beat a team they were supposed to in Rice and then pitched the upset against Nebraska. Now they face a Houston team that has historically been an offensive juggernaut. The 2012 version of the Cougars is not nearly as great as the teams from the past, but this is still a big team from a reputable conference. Houston is the Bruins last non-conference game before they are thrust into Pac-12 play next weekend. This is the perfect set-up for a trap game, especially for a team that is not used to having success this early. UCLA will surely lose a few games this year. Their conference is too good. The only way to tell if the Bruins have reached the next level on the football field would be for them to beat Houston on Saturday and continue their recent run of success. No Pac-12 opponent would overlook a 3-0 UCLA team heading into the meat of their schedule.