Top 25 previews

A look at the action around college football. I’ve excerpted a couple of previews and you can read even more below this post.
AP: No. 1 Alabama (2-0) at Duke (1-1), 3:30 p.m. (ABC)
Line: Alabama by 24.
Series Record: Alabama leads, 2-1.
Last Meeting: 2006, Alabama, 30-14.

WHAT’S AT STAKE
The Crimson Tide — who are coming off a victory over Penn State and face Arkansas next week in their SEC opener — hope the return of Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram (knee injury) and defensive end Marcel Dareus (suspension) can prevent a letdown in their first road game of the season and avoid what surely would be the upset of the year.

KEY MATCHUP
Alabama QB Greg McElroy vs. Duke’s pass defense. With so much attention on Ingram and talented backup Trent Richardson, McElroy and WR Julio Jones can prove there’s more to the Tide’s offense than the ground game. The Blue Devils gave up 400 total yards to an FCS team and last week allowed a Wake Forest freshman to throw for three TDs.

PLAYERS TO WATCH
Alabama: Ingram missed the first two games after having knee surgery, but the Tide’s only Heisman winner was proclaimed “ready to go” by coach Nick Saban. That’s bad news for a Duke defense that ranks 89th nationally against the run.

Duke: QB Sean Renfree has thrown for 708 yards and six TDs in two games, but hasn’t faced a defense quite like Alabama’s and is hoping to become the first player to lead a touchdown drive against the Tide this season.

FACTS & FIGURES
Duke coach David Cutcliffe knows the Alabama program well: He’s a 1976 Alabama graduate who was an undergraduate assistant for Paul “Bear” Bryant, was on the staff of the Tide’s 1973 national championship team, and went up against them as a head coach at Mississippi and an assistant at Tennessee. … Cutcliffe went 1-4 against Saban from 2000-04 when Cutcliffe was at Ole Miss and Saban was at LSU. … This game marks the return trip from the Blue Devils’ 2006 visit to Tuscaloosa. … The schools met in the 1945 Sugar Bowl. … Wallace Wade, the namesake of the Blue Devils’ stadium, coached at Alabama from 1923-30 before coming to Duke.

No. 6 Texas (2-0) at Texas Tech (2-0), 8 p.m. (ABC/ESPN2)
Line: Texas by 3.
Series Record: Texas leads 44-15.
Last Meeting: 2009, Texas, 34-24.

WHAT’S AT STAKE
The Big 12 debut for new Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville is a whopper. Win and the Red Raiders are instant contenders for the league crown. Texas returns to the site of a devastating 39-33 defeat in 2008 that derailed its national championship hopes.

KEY MATCHUP
Texas secondary vs. Texas Tech WRs Detron Lewis and Lyle Leong. The Longhorns’ secondary was a young group in ’08 and it showed when the Red Raiders marched to the game-winning touchdown. The Longhorns don’t have an interception through two games but dropped two that could have resulted in touchdowns.

PLAYERS TO WATCH
Texas: Safety Blake Gideon, who dropped a sure interception the play before Texas Tech scored the game-winner in ’08, and CB Curtis Brown, who was beaten by Michael Crabtree on the winning TD.

Texas Tech: QB Taylor Potts. Potts threw for 420 yards against Texas last season but had key turnovers in the loss. He also took a tremendous hit to the helmet on a sack and kept playing.

FACTS & FIGURES
The first true road game for Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert. The season-opener against Rice in Houston was in front of a pro-Texas crowd … Texas coach Mack Brown is 3-3 in Lubbock … The points pile up fast in this rivalry. The winning team has scored at least 34 points in the past nine meetings.

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No. 9 Iowa (2-0) at No. 24 Arizona (2-0), 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Line: Iowa by 1 1/2.
Series Record: Tied 6-6.
Last Meeting: 2009, Iowa, 27-17.

WHAT’S AT STAKE
The first true test for both teams after a pair of pushover games to start the season. Arizona beat up on FCS schools Portland State and Northern Arizona by a combined score of 93-8, while Iowa beat Eastern Illinois and Iowa State by a total of 72-14. A win Saturday could be the springboard to a big season.

KEY MATCHUP
Arizona QB Nick Foles vs. Iowa’s pass rush. Foles has been superb in his first full season as starter, completing an astounding 83 percent of his passes. Iowa, led by big, agile DE Adrian Clayborn, figures to get more pressure on the junior than Portland State and N. Arizona. The Wildcats must keep Clayborn and the gang away from Foles long enough for him to get passes off.

PLAYERS TO WATCH
Iowa: QB Ricky Stanzi. The senior can look like the best quarterback in the country at times, and miss receivers badly in others. He’s been solid so far this season, with a QB rating of 183.59 and 433 yards and three TDs passing. With a solid running game behind Adam Robinson, Stanzi shouldn’t have to, and shouldn’t try to, carry the Hawkeyes against Arizona.

Arizona: RB Nic Grigsby. The senior has scored five TDs already this season and has pulled off multiple highlight reel-worthy runs the first two games. With Iowa likely to go after Foles hard, Grigsby will need to find holes and take the pressure off with big runs.

FACTS & FIGURES
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz and Arizona’s Mike Stoops have a connection that dates to the early 1980s — Stoops was a defensive back at Iowa and later an assistant coach there while Ferentz was the offensive line coach. … Arizona has yet to allow a TD. … Both teams were an overtime loss away from meeting in the 2010 Rose Bowl; Iowa to Ohio State, Arizona to Oregon State in double OT. … Wildcats WR Juron Criner, who tied for the Pac-10 lead with nine TD catches last season, is expected to play after leaving last week’s game against The Citadel with a shoulder stinger.

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No. 10 Florida (2-0) at Tennessee (1-1), 3:30 p.m. (CBS)
Line: Florida by 14.
Series Record: Florida leads 20-19.
Last Meeting: 2009, Florida 23-13.

WHAT’S AT STAKE
The Florida offense has been inconsistent this season but can gain some momentum after scoring on five of its final six drives in a 38-14 win over South Florida last week. It’s also a chance for the Gators to continue their dominance over Tennessee after winning the last five meetings in the series and make an early claim to the top spot in the Southeastern Conference’s East Division. For the Volunteers, a win over one of their most bitter rivals would provide a lift, especially after they gave up 45 consecutive points in a 48-13 loss to Oregon.

KEY MATCHUP
Florida RB Jeff Demps vs. Tennessee’s defense. The team with more yards rushing has won 18 of the past 20 meetings. In its loss to Oregon, Tennessee missed tackles left and right on a 72-yard touchdown run by LaMichael James and an 80-yard punt return by Kenjon Barner. Demps had 139 yards rushing, 95 yards on kick returns and 21 yards receiving against South Florida. The Gators’ 100-meter dash star is faster and may be even tougher to bring down than the Ducks’ dynamic duo.

PLAYERS TO WATCH
Florida: SS Ahmad Black. The senior leads the SEC this season with three interceptions — two last week against South Florida — and 20 tackles. Black’s interception against Tennessee last season sealed the Gators’ 23-13 win.

Tennessee: RB Tauren Poole. Poole leads the SEC in rushing having averaged 136 yards in the first two games and piled up 111 yards against the Ducks last week in the first quarter alone. After spending two seasons buried on the depth chart, this is the junior’s first shot at the Gators, who promise to be ready for him.

FACTS & FIGURES
This is the first season Florida has held a lead in the all-time series, and the Gators’ current five-game winning streak is their longest in the series. The Vols still hold an 11-9 lead in games played in Knoxville. … The Vols are hosting top-10 teams on back-to-back weekends for the first time in program history. … Gators junior starting WR Chris Rainey is suspended after being charged with aggravated stalking, a third-degree felony, for allegedly sending his sometimes-girlfriend a threatening text message. Sophomore Omarius Hines will start in his place. … Vols senior starting WR Gerald Jones will not play as he continues to recover from surgery on a broken bone in his left hand. MORE of the preview story below: