Tony's Top 10: Arkansas' tall task; Barkley's last chance at Stanford

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Here are Tony's Top 10 for the third weekend of college football:

1. It's going to be an ugly day for Arkansas: If quarterback Tyler Wilson had been able to go, Arkansas would at least have a chance in Saturday's game with No. 1 Alabama. Wilson is a future NFL quarterback and when you’ve got a QB, you’ve got a chance in any league. But that’s not going to happen. It now appears Wilson will not be cleared to play against the Crimson Tide after taking a shot to the head against ULM last Saturday in Little Rock. That’s the best decision because it’s a long season and playing against this Alabama defense is not the best thing for a completely healthy quarterback, much less one who is dinged up.

What’s sad about this is that Wilson passed on the NFL and came back to school specifically to play in this game, which a lot of people hoped would launch Arkansas’s hopes of a national championship. But then Bobby Petrino self-destructed and Arkansas lost to ULM. And now Wilson can’t play in the biggest game of the year.

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Arkansas is going to lose this game. The only question is how bad it is going to be and whether or not John L. Smith can hold this team together through the rest of the schedule. I have a bad, bad feeling about this.

2. Barkley gets final shot at Stanford: USC quarterback Matt Barkley's march to the Heisman Trophy continued last week when he threw six touchdowns with only 187 yards passing during a thumping of Syracuse. This week Barkley hopes to take care of some unfinished business when the Trojans go to Stanford. In his storied career at USC, Barkley has beaten every Pac-12 team but one. He is 0-3 against the Cardinal and in that stretch Stanford has averaged almost 488 yards per game. Now Stanford did all that with Andrew Luck pulling the trigger on offense, but the defense is still there. Stanford has held its last five opponents to under 100 yards rushing.

3. Watch out for the Deacs: Wake Forest is one of the smallest schools in the FBS, with an undergraduate enrollment of 4,775. But the Deacons, who are coming off a 28-27 upset of North Carolina last Saturday, have been at their very best lately when they take on Florida State.

Florida State leads the all-time series 23-6-2, but the Deacons have beaten the Seminoles in four of their last six meetings, including last season's 35-30 victory at Winston-Salem. After exhibition games against Murray State (69-3) and Savannah State (called in the third quarter at 55-0), Florida State has to play a real team with a real quarterback in Tanner Price, who has completed 65 percent of his passes in two games.

4. The Head Ball Coach goes for 200: If South Carolina beats UAB in Columbia, Steve Spurrier will record his 200th win as a college football coach. Spurrier won the Heisman Trophy as a player at Florida in 1966 and became a college head coach in 1987. In 23 seasons he has hit some significant milestones:

  Duke has won exactly one ACC championship in the past 50 years. Spurrier won it in 1989.

  Florida had never won an SEC championship before Spurrier got there in 1990. He won six.

  He is the winningest coach ever at Florida (122 victories) and with 10 wins this season will be the most successful coach ever at South Carolina. The Gamecocks host Missouri next week.

  And here's an interesting nugget for you: Spurrier is 45-0 against non-BCS competition.

5. Florida-Tennessee finally relevant again: It's been a while since Tennessee fans have been as excited about a regular-season game as they are about Saturday's meeting between Florida and Tennessee in Knoxville. That's because hope is a powerful thing. And Tennessee has hope with a 2-0 start and a passing game that looks to be among the best in the country. That Tennessee enthusiasm has to be tempered by the fact that Tyler Bray & Co. put up those numbers against N.C. State and Georgia State while Florida went on the road last week and won a very tough game (20-17) at Texas A&M. Remember this tidbit: In this rivalry, the team that has rushed for the most yardage has won nine straight and 21 of the last 22.

6. Invasion of the Longhorns: Since the "Eli Manning expansion" of 2003, Mississippi's Vaught-Hemingway Stadium has a capacity of 60,580. It's not going to be nearly enough as Texas -- or, as some folks call it, "By God Texas" -- literally prepares to invade Oxford, Miss., on Saturday. Tailgating in the Grove in Oxford is one of those things every college football fan wants to check off his bucket list. And there are stories that some of the well-heeled Texans are renting local homes for as much as $20,000 for the weekend. Local officials say there could be as many as 100,000 people crammed into Oxford. Ole Miss and new coach Hugh Freeze are excited because the Rebels, picked to finish dead last in the SEC West, are 2-0 for only the second time in 10 years.

7. Milestones for Geno Smith: James Madison, coached by Mickey Matthews, is one of the best FCS programs in the country. The Dukes are currently ranked No. 5 nationally in their division. Let's not forget that two seasons again James Madison went to Virginia Tech (after the Hokies had played a Monday night game) and won. But Matthews says his team is looking at something special as they head to FedEx Field to go against West Virginia, which has never lost to an FCS team.

"I don't know if we can stop them," Matthews told reporters this week. "They've got a guy [Geno Smith] who will probably be invited to New York [for the Heisman Trophy ceremonies]."

It will probably be a record-setting day for Smith. He enters the game needing just 374 yards passing to become the school's all-time leader over Marc Bulger. He needs 41 passing attempts to set the school record, also held by Bulger.

8. Spartans better get the Irish while they can: Notre Dame announced Wednesday it will join the ACC in all sports but football, but the football team will commit to playing at least five games each year against ACC teams. Notre Dame will certainly keep its annual games against USC, Stanford and Navy which means some traditional Big Ten opponents, like Michigan State, may not see the Irish as often in the future. At least the Spartans get a shot at the Irish on Saturday in East Lansing.

A few items to keep in mind: Michigan State has a 15-game home winning streak. The Spartans haven't loss at home since Nov. 21, 2009, to Penn State. That game has since been vacated. The good news for Notre Dame? This time a year ago the Irish had 10 turnovers in two games. This season (with wins over Navy and Purdue), Notre Dame has only two turnovers.

9. Beware of the Warhawks (again): Last week was a good one for Louisiana-Monroe (the alma mater of Timmy Brando) of the Sun Belt Conference. The Warhawks picked up a cool $950,000 to play Arkansas in War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock. But under the unique terms of the agreement ULM got to count it as a home game, boosting its overall attendance and thus helping the school maintain its requirements to remain the Football Bowl Subdivision. Then ULM had the temerity to beat No. 10 Arkansas in overtime, the biggest upset of this young season. It was the first win ever by the Sun Belt Conference over a top-10 team. They've even got the T-shirts: "The Shock in Little Rock."

Well, if you think last week was good, what if ULM goes to Auburn on Saturday and wins? With QB Kolton Browning (42 of 67, 412 yards vs. Arkansas) the Warhawks certainly have a shot against Auburn (0-2), which is last in total defense in the SEC. And for those of you keeping score at home, ULM will be paid $1,050,000 for the visit to Jordan-Hare Stadium.

10. Will Mizzou have an SEC hangover?: Missouri's lack of depth, particularly on the offensive line, was a big factor last week when the Tigers were dominated in the fourth quarter and lost their SEC opener to Georgia 41-20. Missouri came out of that game pretty beat up and now has a non-conference game against an up-tempo team in Arizona State.

Todd Graham was called everything under the sun when he suddenly left Pittsburgh after one season to go to Arizona State. But so far so good as the Sun Devils are looking to go 3-0 for the first time since 2007 and have outscored their first two opponents (Northern Arizona, Illinois) 108-20. After all of the emotion Missouri poured into last week's game with Georgia, it will be interesting to see the energy level on Saturday at Faurot Field.

Watch The Tony Barnhart Show on Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET on the CBS Sports Network.


Tony Barnhart is in his fifth season as a contributor to CBSSports.com. He is a college football analyst for CBS Sports and The CBS Sports Network. Prior to joining CBS he was the national college football writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for 24 years. He has written five books on college football.
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