College Football's Most Meaningful Matchups - Week 3
Week 2 was wacky, wild and amazing despite what looked like a nothing-burger schedule. There aren’t a ton of major matchups on paper for Week 3 – there’s a few - but there’s a lot of mid-sized luxury quality. It will be hard to top the first two weeks for fun…but that’s what college football seems to do every year. Without further ado, here’s Week 3’s Top 10 Most Meaningful Matchups (and why)->>>
10. Michigan St. @ #24 Miami – Noon ABC – The Hurricanes survived narrowly against Appalachian State last week in what was one of our top 10 games. Can they get more consistency on offense and rev their engine to power through this game? They have more talent overall than the Spartans, but Michigan State has been a real surprise with two wins to open season when many picked them to do very poorly in a rebuilding year in the B1G.
9. #15 Virginia Tech @ West Virginia – Noon FS1 – Renewal of an old Big East rivalry, the Hokies were a surprise winner in the opening week against North Carolina while West Virginia lost a close one to Maryland. This game is big for both teams regionally in recruiting. Fuente is not off the hot seat at Tech and West Virginia wants to avoid a 1-2 start.
8. Purdue @ #12 Notre Dame – 2:30 PM NBC – A “rivalry” of sorts renewed, Purdue is playing Notre Dame for the first time since 2014. The Irish have dominated the series but Purdue has started 2-0 and, you’d think, is at least as good as the Toledo team that nearly upset Notre Dame last week. I would expect a relatively close game – Purdue could serve notice that they’ve got more fire this year than in the past couple.
7. Virginia @ #21 North Carolina – 7:30 PM ACC Network – The Tar Heels started off the season with a disappointing loss to Virginia Tech after being built up all offseason as the favorite to win the Coastal Division of the ACC. However, no team looks invincible right now on that side of the league. However, Virginia has unexpectedly looked very good in early action, albeit against overmatched competition. The Cavaliers seem to have found a good-to-great QB to go along with strong defense and running game. This game is a critical one early in the ACC conference schedule as a loss for Heels could send them reeling while Virginia wants to show they belong.
6. Fresno State @ #13 UCLA – 10:45 PM PAC-12 Network – We haven’t seen UCLA on the field since their stunning thumping of LSU while Fresno State took suddenly-national contender Oregon to the wire the same weekend. If the Bruins look past the Bulldogs they could be in a world of hurt. This is the kind of game teams like UCLA who have the look of an upstart have lost in years past in the PAC 12. It’s a LATE game on East Coast but I believe will be a very good one.
5. Nebraska @ #3 Oklahoma – Noon FOX – Will this game be a close one? No, probably not. However, considering the powerful history of this rivalry that’s been on hold since the ‘Huskers left for the Big 10, and that Scott Frost could really use a close game to show some progress…there are enough storylines and “helmet matchup” intrigue to consider this a very meaningful game. Oklahoma DID struggle against a Tulane team that runs kind of a similar system to Nebraska – I’d expect a blowout but you never know.
4. #19 Arizona State @ #23 BYU – 10:15 PM ESPN – A battle of two ranked teams anchors the late late schedule this Saturday. BYU is coming off one its best weeks in a long time with a win over arch-rival Utah and Big 12 Conference invite. Can they refocus on a very good Sun Devil squad? Arizona State, due to USC’s loss to Stanford and other developments, could find itself as the top team in the PAC 12 South – or certainly right there with UCLA – but this game is an important one to set the tone for the season before heading into conference play.
3. #8 Cincinnati @ Indiana – Noon ESPN – While Indiana’s opening weekend loss took a little of the luster off this game nationally, it’s still a huge one for Cincinnati as they seek to build a resume to be part of the College Football Playoff discussion. Cincy needs to win – impressively if possible – and then root hard for the Hoosiers the rest of the season. Meanwhile, Indiana got punched in the mouth in week 1 by Iowa. They won against lesser opponents last week and now have the chance to reestablish their edge as a physical and rising team under Tom Allen. I’ll take the Bearcats here but believe it will be close.
2. #22 Auburn @ #10 Penn State – 7:30 PM ABC – This is a great cross-conference matchup between two traditionally successful programs. Penn State has aspirations to be in the national title hunt. This game is a must-win. Auburn was picked by many (including me) to have a bit of a down, rebuilding year under new coach Bryan Harsin. They’ve started off looking great….against Akron and FCS Alabama State. Let’s see what happens with a step up in competition. Huge opportunity for Harsin to grab a defining win – while Franklin still needs to show last year is behind the Nittany Lions. I believe Penn State wins a lower scoring game by a touchdown.
1.#1 Alabama @ #13 Florida – 3:30 PM CBS – I may be biased as a Tide fan but this top 15 matchup is the game of the day in college football. Alabama was sloppy last week in a blowout win against FCS Mercer while Florida had some moments against awful South Florida but did give up 20 points. Will Emory Jones give way to Anthony Richardson at QB for the Gators? Will Alabama be able to better control the line of scrimmage to have run/pass balance? How will the young-ish Tide handle the noise and intensity of the Swamp? So many questions – by 7:00 PM Eastern we should have some answers. Personally I think the 15 point line favoring Alabama is too high. I’m expecting the Tide to win but more likely by 9-11 points, maybe a late FG putting game out of reach. Then – you can flip over to ABC to catch the Auburn-Penn State game. It’s going to be a great weekend!
Oklahoma St. @ Boise St. – 9:00 PM FS1 – Intersectional non-conference matchup between two teams that are trying to really take off. Oklahoma State wants to prove they are primed for an upper-level Big 12 finish and Boise could use a Power 5 win to shake off the sting of their opening come-from-ahead loss to UCF in Week 1. Expect a defensive ball game on the blue turf.
Miss. St. @ Memphis – 4:00 PM ESPN – Important nonconference matchup for both programs as the Bulldogs try to keep the momentum going. Memphis is fertile recruiting area for Mississippi schools as well as much of the Southeastern Conference and AAC. Memphis has risen up to beat other Power 5 competition in the recent past, can they do it again?
Tulane @ #17 Ole Miss – 8:00 PM ESPN2 – The Green Wave gave Oklahoma a scare in Week 1…can they do it to the Rebels? I’m assuming they won’t sneak up on them but this should be a high-scoring game. Ole Miss under Kiffin equals fun, unless they’re playing your team.
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