This Weekend in College Football: Week 3

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Noon:

  • California @ Ohio State (ABC): While Cal rebounded from their Week 1 debacle against Nevada, it’s still hard to see how they can really manage to do anything in Ohio Stadium.
  • Texas Christian @ Kansas (FX): While perusing the scoreboards last weekend, I saw Kansas had a narrow lead but a lead nonetheless against Rice in the fourth quarter and stopped thinking about it. Then I saw a bunch of “decided schematic advantage” jokes on Twitter and realized what must’ve happened. Yeah, so I can’t say I like their odds against TCU.
  • Wake Forest @ Florida State (ESPN): Ready to have your mind blown? Wake Forest is 4-2 against Florida State in their last six meetings. Yes, after winning every meeting between joining the ACC in 1992 and 2005, FSU has now lost four of their last six against the Demon Deacons. That said, it’s still hard to be a sane person and pick against the Seminoles. While one might generously call their opposition so far “undermatched”, FSU has still destroyed them, while Wake only beat Liberty by 3 and escaped against a depleted Tarheel roster.
  • Arkansas State @ Nebraska (ESPN2): The main takeaway for me from Nebraska’s loss to UCLA last week was that the Bruins were probably slightly better than we all thought more than it really said anything about the Cornhuskers. More obsessive college football fans had high hopes for Gus Malzahn’s first year at Arkansas State, but so far the promise of a wide-open spread attack hasn’t materialized, being limited to a come-from-behind 5-point win over a moribund Memphis team. I guess what I’m trying to say, Nebraska’s going to win.
  • Virginia Tech @ Pittsburgh (ESPNU):

    “The problem here,” says my O-lineman little brother, “is that Pitt is not any good at football.”
    — Holly (@Nastinchka) September 7, 2012

    They really aren’t. VPI should roll.

  • Louisiana-Lafayette @ Oklahoma State (FSN): Cowboys. Next!
  • Northern Illinois @ Army (CBSS): I’m trying to figure out a diplomatic way to say that I think Army’s going to get creamed but I can’t.
  • Eastern Michigan @ Purdue (BTN): This has been a banner year for the Football Championship Subdivision (they might change it so that’s why I’ve started saying FCS after holding out for years). I note this because Illinois State beat EMU last week. Meanwhile, Purdue managed to beat Eastern Kentucky, so I’ll give them the edge.
  • Louisiana-Monroe @ Auburn (SEC): Okay so UL-Monroe beats a team coached by John L. Smith and everyone gets all excited. But remember, as bad as Auburn looks this year (and they sure don’t look very good) they are still not, in fact, coached by John L. “Slappy” Smith. I like the Tigers here.

12:30: Connecticut @ Maryland (ACC): UConn lost to NC State 10-7 last week. Maryland is just awful (don’t let the 2-0 record fool you). I would generally advise that you not watch this game. If you do, don’t be surprised if UConn wins.

3:30:

  • Alabama @ Arkansas (CBS): The U.S. Open is over so CBS is back with a matchup that probably looked a lot more interesting two weeks ago than it does now. I’m picking the team that has the former Michigan State coach that Sparty fans probably actually miss.
  • Navy @ Pennsylvania State (ABC/ESPN2): Man, Penn State looks really bad eh? Then again, it’s not like Navy is going out there with a roster stocked with blue chip players either. And they did get demolished by Notre Dame to start the year, but they took last week off so it’s hard to tell anything more. I like the Midshipmen here a little bit.
  • North Carolina @ Louisville (ABC/ESPN2): This weekend is awful. I’m not sure I’ve gotten to a single truly compelling game yet. Looking down the list I think we might have two or three and that’s it. But yeah, UNC looked bad against Wake Forest last weekend, while Louisville has generally taken care of business so far this year. I’ll take the Cardinals.
  • Virginia @ Georgia Tech (ESPNU): I was only able to listen to the first half of this game last weekend, but Tech rebounded well from the VPI loss. Virginia did win last week against Penn State, but they looked awful doing it and as you may’ve heard by now, PSU did miss a few (or five) field goals. The hope for the Jackets is that the defense has finally turned a corner in its third year under former UVA head coach Al Groh. Three years out should also mean that most of the UVA starting offense shouldn’t remember their former coach at this point. To be honest, the other effect of having the VPI game in week 1 is that the rest of the season doesn’t seem to have anything to particularly look forward to until the very end. The goal isn’t to get better over the course of the season. Even more so than usual in college football, the goal is to win every game because the only chance for us is that VPI slips up twice along the way. Again, let this be a lesson to those who want to move the UGA game to week 1.
  • Texas Agricultural and Mechanical @ Southern Methodist (FSN): SMU lost 59-24 to Baylor two weeks ago, so yeah I’m going with TAMU here.
  • East Carolina @ Southern Mississippi (CBSS): Not much to go on here, as both teams have losses against obviously better competition. Pre-season USM was supposed to be a good mid-major team, so I’m going with them on that pretty much.
  • Massachusetts @ Michigan (BTN): In their first season playing real, big-boy football, UMass has been out-scored 82-6. By UConn and Indiana. Expect this trend to continue.

4:00:

  • Portland State @ Washington (FX): Listed only because it’s on a major national cable network.
  • Miami @ Boise State (NBCS): No, it’s not that Miami, it’s the other one (i.e., the one in Ohio). The Broncos should roll.

6:00: Florida @ Tennessee (ESPN): I guess this is one of the more interesting games of the day, but I can’t muster a lot of enthusiasm for it. I have no read whatsoever on either of these, other than that they’re probably both slightly less bad than I’d been led to believe. I guess I’ll take the Gators though.

7:00:

  • Arizona State @ Missouri (ESPN2): Mizzou and TAMU sure didn’t acquit themselves well in their first week of SEC play, did they? I had hoped that maybe some exposure to some wide open offenses might throw Georgia and Florida for a loop, but alas, it did not turn out to be, especially for the Tigers. So far all we know about the Sun Devils is that they demolished Illinois. (I swear this’ll be better next week, because on my schedule for today is pretty much “watch college football”, which I didn’t get to all that much of the past two weeks.) So I guess I’ll take “beating a really bad Illinois team” over “rolling over for what is probably a pretty good Georgia team”.
  • Western Kentucky @ Kentucky (ESPNU): This week we will discover precisely how awful Kentucky is. My guess is “awful” but not awful enough to lose to WKU.
  • North Texas @ Kansas State (FSN): I’m still trying to process that Kansas State beat Miami (yes, that Miami) 52-13. I like their chances against the Mean Green.
  • Alabama-Birmingham @ South Carolina (SEC/FSN): This one could get ugly.

7:30: Southern California @ Stanford (FOX): This is probably my favorite game of the day. No I haven’t been infected with some sort of West Coast brainworm or something. Even though we don’t really know anything about Stanford yet and we know that they lost pretty much all their best players from the last two years, this is still USC’s first significant test. I like the Trojans here, but I still think this will be one of the better games of the day that is very sorely lacking in interesting matchups.

8:00:

  • Notre Dame @ Michigan State (ABC): Folks are starting to wake up the echoes, and that’s all fine and dandy, but except for last year’s game this series has been nothing if not interesting these past few years. I like Sparty here but still, this is probably the other interesting game of the day and could be close after USC-Stanford is decided.
  • Colorado @ Fresno State (CBSS): This is your reminder that Colorado lost to Colorado State in week 1, and then both those teams lost to FCS teams in week 2. Yeesh. Fresno at least managed to beat Weber State, so I’ll go with them.
  • Utah State @ Wisconsin (BTN): Wisconsin has had… issues so far this year. Dramatic overtime victories aside, I suspect there’s a pretty good chance the badgers get their groove back here.

9:15: Texas @ Mississippi (ESPN): I refuse to accept that Ole Miss may not be awful this year until proven otherwise, so I’m going with Texas here.

10:00: Brigham Young @ Utah (ESPN2): Depressingly, this is the last time this bitter rivalry will be played for a while. I expect this one to be close and intense, but I think in the end the Stormin’ Mormons will be 2-0 against the Pac-12 this year.

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