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Previewing the Top Games of 2012: Week Three

15 more weeks until the college football season begins.

Our list of the top games for the 2012 rolls on. If you've missed the first two weeks they are listed below.

Week One

Week Two

The best matchups as they stand right now for week three after the jump.

Alabama at Arkansas

The SEC is really packing in some big games early in the season. In week three the Razorbacks will face their first test of the season and begin the first of a brutal four-game stretch (vs. Bama, vs. Rutgers, at A&M, at Auburn). Arkansas should have a high ranking coming into this tangle with the Tide, but they might be in for a hard tumble over the following few weeks.

Alabama faces Michigan at JerryWorld to start the season but will come in nice and rested after playing Western Kentucky at home. That should give Saban plenty of time to prepare for the explosive Arkansas offense.

Arkansas State at Nebraska

The Corn Huskers are in for a tough beginning to their 2012 season. Perhaps tough isn't the right word---tricky is more appropriate. Nebraska faces Southern Miss, then UCLA on the road, before this home game against Arkansas State.

See that is tricky.

This will be the second major road trip for the Red Wolves in three weeks as well. They open against Oregon in Eugene so Guz Malzahn will have his hands full in his new gig.

Arizona State at Missouri

The Tigers open with a doughnut in Southeastern Louisiana (can you guess their nickname?) but host Georgia and then Arizona State at home in the season's first three weeks. I'd imagine if Missouri drops their game to the Bulldogs this would turn into a must-win against the Sun Devils.

Arizona State opens up against mighty Northern Arizona but hosts Illinois in week two (they lost to the Illini 17-14 last year) before traveling to Columbia for this battle. It will be the second of 11 straight games against BCS teams for the Sun Devils.

BYU at Utah

The 93rd edition of the Holy War comes in the third week of the season, just like last year when the Utes destroyed the Cougars by 44 points in Provo. That victory was the second largest in a Utah win in series history and the largest for the Utes since 1922.

Utah owned this series well into the early 1970's, but the Cougars would go on to win 19 of 21 against the Utes from 1972 to 1992. Since then, Utah has gained the advantage winning 12 out of the past 19 meetings, including the past two.

California at Ohio State

In Urban Meyer's first year in Columbus the Buckeyes open with four straight non-conference home games---this meeting with the Golden Bears being the third and likely most difficult.

Ahh, can you smell that Ohio State 4-0 start and top 15 ranking when they begin B1G play?

California faces Nevada in week one---that has the potential to be interesting---but should be well rested before entering the Horseshoe with a home game against Southern Utah.

These two teams haven't played since 1972 as well. Cal won the first meeting but Ohio State has won the past five.

Connecticut at Maryland

Randy Edsall faces his former team in the first-ever meeting between these two schools. Storylines galore!

With games against William & Mary and Temple, the Terps might be coming into this game equaling their win total from last year. 1-1 is a possibility once Maryland visits the quarter-filled Lincoln Financial Field though. Either way, Edsall is going to really want this game against the Huskies.

This will be the second straight ACC game for UConn---perhaps a sign of the future? They'll take on NC State at home in week two before heading to College Park.

Florida at Tennessee

This SEC series is close (22-19 Florida) but the Gators have won 7 straight.

Florida gets their MACtion on hosting Bowling Green in week one, but they'll be coming off a rare taste of Texas against A&M prior to this Tennessee game.

The Vols may have a slight edge as they host NC State to open their season but take a breather against Georgia State before hosting the Gators.

Navy at Penn State

Penn State has an interesting opening schedule playing a decent Ohio team, on the road against an up and coming Virginia team, then hosting a pesky Navy program. Don't worry, the Nittany Lions will play Temple in week four!

Navy will be well rested from a bye week after (hopefully) losing to Notre Dame in Ireland. There's always talk about stopping the Middies triple option offense, but as we've learned so often in the past, you need to bury Navy with a lot of touchdowns when you have the ball.

Will Penn State's new offense be able to exert that much pressure on Navy?

USC at Stanford

Both teams should breeze through their first two games of the season which means this will likely be a top 10 early-season matchup.

Did you know that Stanford has won three straight and four of five in this series? Andrew Luck had a lot to do with those three consecutive wins, but there was also that 2007 victory when USC out-gained the Cardinal by 224 yards but coughed the ball up 5 times and saw their 35-game home winning streak snapped. Don't forget that Stanford team ended up losing to the 3-9 Irish squad later in the season.

The Trojans are going to snap that losing streak this year.

Virginia Tech at Pittsburgh

This series gives a glimpse of the past and the future. These teams met every year from 1993 to 2003 while they competed in the Big East together, but this will be the first meeting between these schools in 9 years. Soon, these programs will be together again in the ACC and playing each other often.

Pitt has won the past three meetings---after losing the previous three before that---and the Panthers lead the overall series 7-4.

I wonder if this will be a rare sellout at Heinz Field?

Wake Forest at Florida State

This series hasn't been too friendly to Florida State in the recent past. After winning 6 straight from 1960 to 1970, and then 14 straight from 1992 to 2005, the Seminoles have lost 4 out of the past 6 games against Wake Forest.

That includes last year's 35-30 loss at Winston-Salem a year after shutting out the Demon Deacons 31-0.

Florida State has a lot of player coming back and should be able to win this game easily if they don't turn the ball over like they did last season.

What games are you looking forward to?