As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.
- South Carolina @ Central Florida (ABC): I’m sure this is just here because ABC/ESPN was happy they could get a SEC team on the broadcast network for a noon game. ‘Cause otherwise it’s hard to see much of a chance for UCF.
- Oklahoma State @ West Virginia (ESPN): Stats You Probably Don’t Expect to Read: WVU has scored seven points against FBS competition this season. Yeah, it’s hard to see how a team that got shut out by Maryland is going to score enough to keep up with Oklahoma State.
- Northern Illinois @ Purdue (ESPN2): Let’s just say that I like NIU’s chances to get to 4-0 and notch their second victory against a Big Ten team.
- Southern Methodist @ Texas Christian (FS1): TCU should just be too good for their cross-town rivals.
- Miami @ South Florida (ESPNU): USF is ranked 121st in the country in scoring offense. That is not good, but that’s what happens when you lose to the McNeese States of the world 53-21. (Much less the Florida Internationals of the world.) The ‘Canes should take this one going away, as they should anyway since unlike USF they actually are in a geographical entity one would reasonably call “South Florida”.
- Miami @ Illinois (BTN): In years past, I would’ve had fun with this, but it appears the Illini might not be completely awful this year.
- South Alabama @ Tennessee (SEC): Tennessee should be able to take care of business here.
- East Carolina @ North Carolina (ACC): UNC should be good enough to contain ECU.
- Virginia @ Pittsburgh (ACC): Pitt gave up 55 points to Duke last week, but a) they did end up winning by scoring 58 and b) Duke’s offense is probably better than UVA’s. I like the Panthers’ chances here.
2:00: Navy @ Western Kentucky (ESPNEWS): I like Navy’s chances here, especially with WKU’s defensive issues.
3:00: Colorado @ Oregon State (PAC12): Oregon State still isn’t very good or anything, but Colorado is probably still worse.
- Oklahoma @ Notre Dame (NBC): Except against WVU, it’s all gone according to plan for the Sooners this season. Will they be able to carry that and their so far stingy defense into South Bend? Well, in the two games after the Michigan game, ND has looked like they’re out of ideas on offense, which I don’t think bodes well for their chances here.
- Louisiana State @ Georgia (CBS): With LSU now doing the offense thing in addition to the defense thing, I’m not sure UGA will be able to keep up.
- Iowa @ Minnesota (ABC/ESPN2): UMN is 4-0 based on the strength of a great run game and a slew of thus far awful opponents. Their first Big Ten game will provide their stiffest test so far, but it’s not because Iowa is great or anything. I would probably avoid this game unless it’s close late or something. I’ll with UMN for the heck of it.
- Florida State @ Boston College (ABC/ESPN2): Boston College’s 35-7 loss was a comforting affirmation that at least they’re still awful. FSU should be able to produce a similar, if not better, scoreline.
- Wake Forest @ Clemson (ESPNU): Things are going to happen here. Bad things, if you’re a Wake Forest fan.
- Texas-El Paso @ Colorado State (CBSS): By the thinnest of margins, UTEP appears to be the better team here.
- Army vs. Louisiana Tech (@Dallas, TX; FS1): I wouldn’t have thought so at the outset of the season, but I actually like Army’s chances here, mostly because LaTech is very, very bad.
- Houston @ Texas-San Antonio (FSN): Houston should win easily.
6:30: Mississippi @ Alabama (ESPN): This is a reminder that while it may appear that the Alabama Death Machine is not as intimidating as in years past, that is a purely relative term. This team is still very good, and frankly the only opponent on their schedule I expect to provide any resistance is LSU.
- Arizona @ Washington (FOX): There’s a reason why one 3-0 team is ranked and the other isn’t, and it comes down entirely to scheduling. I expect the Huskies to be able to ake care of business here. (That said, I do find it kind of amusing that on the other side of town, their normally cross-state rival will be playing a game at CenturyLink Field a few hours later.)
- Texas Agricultural and Mechanical @ Arkansas (ESPN2): Losing by four to Rutgers does not bode well for Arkansas’s chances against Manziel and Co.
- Florida @ Kentucky (ESPNU): Florida.
7:30: Alabama-Birmingham @ Vanderbilt (SEC/FSN): Vandy should be able to get back on track against their neighbors down I-65.
- Wisconsin @ Ohio State (ABC): This is the Buckeyes’ first chance to prove they belong with the national frontrunners, due to their pathetic non-conference schedule. Provided they have Braxton Miller, though, OSU should possess enough dynamism on offense to be able take a lead, and they have a good enough defense to hold it.
- Air Force @ Nevada (CBSS): Boy howdy, it is not looking good for the Air Force academy this year. I’m going with Nevada, even.
10:00: Stanford vs. Washington State (@Seattle, WA; ESPN): Pretty sure this is still technically a home game for Wazzou. Anyway that probably won’t affect the impending beatdown they’re about to receive.
10:15: Southern Mississippi @ Boise State (ESPNU): This isn’t a great Boise team, but they don’t need to be to beat USM.
- Southern California @ Arizona State (ESPN2): Utah State is a good team and all, but nonetheless I think it’s fair to say that USC probably should’ve won by more than a field goal. But despite that I just cannot pick them to lose to most other Pac-12 teams, at least not yet. If they do lose here, they may have a new coach next week.
- California @ Oregon (PAC12): Cal is better this year, but not better enough to go into Eugene and get a win.
As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.
- Virginia Tech @ Georgia Tech (ESPN): Thanks to the weirdness of last season, this isn’t the guarantee it used to be vis-a-vis determining the Coastal representative in the championship game. Nonetheless, it remains a major sticking point on the schedule. Since VPI joined the ACC, we’ve only beaten them twice: once in Blacksburg in 2006 (on the back of Calvin Johnson), and the upset at home that paved the way to the ACCCG in 2009 (VPI was ranked in the top 5 at the time).
Arguably, the most talked about aspect of this game isn’t what either team does well, it’s more about how bad VPI’s offense has been. Which is a shame, because the flip-side is a true strength-versus-strength matchup. VPI has been one of the few teams to keep the GT offense in check since 2008, with Bud Foster willing to mix things up on his defense (i.e., using smaller, faster defensive linemen that can evade the cut block and get to the ball carrier).
GT’s defense has been “okay” I would say so far. Last week was their first real test, and the first half was a mixed back. The second half, though, showed improvement in the pass rush and in the coverage game, as we realized that UNC’s best receiver was their tight end and adjusted accordingly. I have to say that the last thing I want, though, is for Logan Thomas to remember how tall he is, as I still feel like two years ago the dude just sort of yelled “TIMBER!”, fell over, and got first downs.
- Iowa State @ Tulsa (FS1): Well, Fox Sports 1 has to start somewhere I guess, but I’m not sure this is the optimal choice. Neither of these teams can really score or play defense, so this could well be a puntfest. I’m going with Tulsa scoring the “upset” at home.
- Utah State @ San Jose State (ESPN): Looking this up just made me remember that the Mountain West’s new divisions are named “Mountain” and “West”. Which is actually fine geographically but seriously what’s wrong with “East”? You were halfway right! Anyway, the game. SJSU still doesn’t look very good, but they are better. The Aggies are still even better, though.
- Middle Tennessee State @ Brigham Young (ESPNU): MTSU has started well in C-USA, scoring wins over Memphis and Florida Atlantic. Oh, right, those teams are awful and they lost to UNC by 20. They might do the same to BYU.
- North Carolina @ Georgia Tech (ESPN): UNC will be the first quality opponent we’ve played all year. They boast the first real challenging offense we will face, and thus the first real test for our new 4-3 look defense. The claimed strength of our defense is the secondary, but that’s mostly theory at the moment I’d say. We’ll know for sure in 9 hours or so. The forecast calls for rain, which I would ordinarily say favors a running offense, but for an option offense it’s sort of a mixed blessing as a wet ball doesn’t make an option pitch easier to catch than a throw. Either way this contest goes, I don’t really expect a repeat of last year’s 68-50 scoreline.
- San Jose State @ Minnesota (ESPN2): Minnesota.
- Louisiana Tech @ Kansas (FS1): It’s hard to make any definitive statements about this game other than that it’ll probably be a pretty awful football contest. If this were last year’s Louisiana Tech squad with last year’s Louisiana Tech coach I would have the Bulldogs in a rout. But it’s not, and so far this year they’ve been blown out by NC State and have lost to Tulane. Tulane is a not a very good football team. I think I will have to go with KU to get their first FBS win since September 10, 2011. (Fun fact: their current FBS losing streak started with a 66-24 rout by Georgia Tech in Lawrence.)
- Marshall @ Virginia Tech (ESPNU): VPI should be able to score enough to beat these guys, though if their defense is as good as it seems then 3 points should be enough.
- Vanderbilt @ Massachusetts (ESPNEWS): I’m still fascinated by the concept of live football on ESPNEWS, but it’s a bit baffling at the same time because I’m pretty sure there’s lot of folks out there who don’t get ESPNEWS in HD or at all. Either way, Vandy in a walkover.
- Wake Forest @ Army (CBSS): More mediocre-to-bad football here. Let’s pick Army just for the hell of it, because if there’s any “major” team they could potentially run over it’d be Wake.
- Pittsburgh @ Duke (ACC): I have Duke penciled in as going to a bowl again, mostly because I think they can go 4-0 against their out-of-conference schedule (though Navy may give them fits, we’ll see in a few weeks) and probably picking up two ACC wins. This isn’t one of them.
- Tulane @ Syracuse (ACC/FSN): The hits just keep one coming. The ‘Cuse aren’t very good, but they shouldn’t need to be to beat Tulane.
3:00: Houston vs. Rice (@Houston, TX; FSN): I wish I go back to different parts of the past 10 years and pick a different Rice and Houston team for this game, but alas, I cannot. Stuck in the present, I’ll have to go with the Cougars.
- Michigan State @ Notre Dame (NBC): This is probably the best game of the day. I still don’t really “believe” in Sparty’s offense, and it’s almost impossible to judge their defense at this point owing to a lack of data. Notre Dame is probably just “okay” on both sides of the ball, though probably slightly more okay on offense that defense. So if it’s coming down to who is likely to actually score 28 points, then I have to give the edge to the Irish.
- Tennessee @ Florida (CBS): This game will probably because slugfest, but if there’s any team that can win a 9-7 game this year it’s the Gators.
- Purdue @ Wisconsin (ABC/ESPN2): Well, I’ll bet that if Wisconsin ever finds themselves in a late game clock-management situation again, they probably won’t spend 10 seconds complaining to the officials as the clock continues to run. Anyway, such a scenario is exceedingly unlikely to unfold again with the Boilermakers.
- Utah State @ Southern California (ABC/ESPN2): I need to see one more bad loss by the Trojans before I can buy into the “USC is burning” narrative. Utah State is good, but they already lost to Utah. So yeah, if USC loses here, than sure, I’ll say they’re awful. But for now I think they win.
- Arkansas @ Rutgers (ESPN): This is another difficult game to call. I’m tempted to give a slight edge to the Razorbacks because “ESS-EEE-CEE” and all but that narrative sure didn’t work for them last year. Perhaps worrying for the Scarlet Knights is that they were outgained by Eastern Michigan last weekend, though that was in the passing game so perhaps it doesn’t apply to Arkansas’s seemingly potent rushing attack.
- West Virginia vs. Maryland (@Baltimore, MD; ESPNU): I don’t believe Maryland’s 3-0 record, so I’m going to roll with the Mountaineers here.
- Kent State @ Pennsylvania State (BTN): I guess the guys at the LSU frat that made fun of the Kent State shooting weren’t big CSNY fans. Anyway, Penn State should probably get this one.
4:00: Louisiana-Monroe @ Baylor (FS1): Speaking of rematches of games from last year that involved a ton of points, well, seeing as how the Warhawks only put up 21 on Wake Forest last week, I’m not optimistic for a repeat performance.
- Arizona State @ Stanford (FOX): This will be one of the more entertaining games of the day. And before you say “well, that’s not saying much” realize that we’ll get a classic contrast of styles matchup here, between Stanford’s hard-nosed, old-school approach and the Sun Devils’ more West Coast friendly aerial game. That said, they faced similar attack in Wisconsin last weekend and only made it out because of what will probably be the year’s biggest end-of-game officiating debacle, so I’ll go with the Cardinal here.
- Colorado State @ Alabama (ESPN2): Alabama.
- Southern Methodist @ Texas Agricultural and Mechanical (ESPNU): SMU’s throwback unis should not be enough to come anywhere close to TAMU, but we did see last week with both Michigan and Notre Dame that even good teams can have a bit of a hangover effect. Then again, they both won, and TAMU is probably better than either of them.
- Texas State @ Texas Tech (FSN): This one should not stress the Red Raiders too much.
- Oregon State @ San Diego State (CBSS): These two have something in common: losses to FCS teams! But Oregon State lost to a good Eastern Washington team, while SDSU got routed by Eastern Illinois. That does not bode well for the Aztecs, even in this rare home game with a power conference team.
- Troy @ Mississippi State (SEC/FSN): I think that Miss State will probably have less trouble against this team from the state of Alabama, which would bring their record against such to 2-1 on the year.
7:45: Auburn @ Louisiana State (ESPN): Tigers win! Okay, with that out of the way, it’s still hard to see how Auburn will have the talent with this point to move the ball against LSU’s defense. Combined with LSU’s newfound ability to actually score points, and we have the makings of a potential SEC “darkhorse” candidate if there ever was such a thing.
- Kansas State @ Texas (ABC): Considering how big of a disaster Texas is shaping up to be this year, does it really matter who their quarterback is? I say no. Also for that reason I’m going with K-State here.
- Michigan @ Connecticut (ABC): This 8 o’clock timeslot pretty well encapsulates everything that’s wrong with this week’s slate of games. I have Michigan here.
- Missouri @ Indiana (BTN): Mizzou, probably.
- Utah @ Brigham Young (ESPN2): Utah gave up 170+ yards rushing to their other in-state rival, so it’s hard to see how they’re going to stop the Stormin’ Mormons in this edition of the Holy War.
- Wyoming @ Air Force (ESPNU): Air Force’s defense has been pretty porous in their other two Mountain West games so far, and it’s hard to see that trend abating against Wyoming.
- New Mexico State @ California-Los Angeles (PAC12): If UCLA is as good as everyone says they are, they’ll win thus one easily. They’d win either way to most likely, but still.
- Idaho @ Washington State (PAC12): Wazzou is probably going to have a field day with these guys.
As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.
- California-Los Angeles @ Nebraska (ABC): I’m still a bit boggled that either, much less both, of these teams are ranked, but that’s Week 3 for you. I’m going to roll with Nebraska in this one.
- Louisville @ Kentucky (ESPN): I’m finding it incredibly easy to pick against the team that lost to Western Kentucky in Week 1. Hint: it wasn’t Louisville.
- Tulsa @ Oklahoma (ESPN2): Maybe instead of conference moves I should’ve made a table of coaching moves because I keep forgetting that Derek Dooley is now the head coach at Tulsa. It should probably not be a huge surprise, then, Tulsa hasn’t been very good this year and that a potentially intriguing game is now likely to be a laugher.
- Virginia Tech @ East Carolina (FS1): It’s difficult to really predict that VPI will lose this game, though exactly how they will score any points is unclear.
- Bowling Green @ Indiana (ESPNU): This doesn’t happen very often, but, well, I’m going to pick a MAC team over a Big Ten team.
- Stanford @ Army (CBSS): As noted in my Pac-12 out-of-conference scheduling preview, Army fans should enjoy the sights from Michie Stadium, as the action on the field likely won’t be as appealing as the scenic beauty of the Hudson River Valley.
- Akron @ Michigan (BTN): I don’t really need a lot of convincing to pick Michigan here.
- Southern Mississippi @ Arkansas (SEC): It looks like it won’t just be a one-year funk for Southern Miss. As noted elsewhere, their best bet for a win in the first two months of the season was against Texas State and they blew it. Their odds are not any better against the Razorbacks.
- New Mexico @ Pittsburgh (ACC): Similarly, losing to Texas-San Antonio is also not a great sign, so I’ll take Pitt here.
- Louisiana-Monroe @ Wake Forest (ACC): I have actually seen at least one person suggest that Jim Grobe is on the hot seat. I wasn’t aware that a Wake Forest football coach could ever even have a warm seat, but here we are. The problem is that I still have a tough time taking a Sun Belt team over an ACC team, so I’m going to stick with Wake.
3:00: Boston College @ Southern California (FS1): Look, I know Washington State is bad and all, but it’s hard to ignore that on paper USC out-classes Boston College so thoroughly I’m not sure how I could pick against them in this situation. So I won’t. But I won’t be surprised if they lose, either. (In fact, I’ll probably think it’s hilarious.)
- Alabama @ Texas Agricultural and Mechanical (CBS): Well, here we are. The Game of the Week of the Year of the Century, for Week 3. All available evidence suggests that both these teams are really good. If anything, I still think that Alabama is slightly better, especially on defense. Looking back over last year’s game, the thing that stands out to me is A.J. McCarron’s uncharacteristic 2 interceptions. In addition, Alabama also had a fumble. In a five-point game, three turnovers is more than likely to be the difference. I don’t think Alabama will make those mistakes again, and come away with the win.
- Tennessee @ Oregon (ABC): Apparently my worries were unfounded and Tennessee and Oregon fans get along just fine. Of course, Oregon should also notch a win here without much resistance, which may help.
- Nevada @ Florida State (ESPN): Losing to UCLA by 38 does not bode well for the Wolfpack heading into Tallahassee.
- Georgia Tech @ Duke (ESPNU): Few things make me feel older than, perhaps, the regular staff of writer for the only Georgia Tech blog I read, From the Rumble Seat. (As A5 often notes, the downside of not having a journalism school is that means GT doesn’t really turn out a lot of interesting bloggers, and trust me, I do not think I am interesting.) One such example was that in their pre-season previews, one of them mentioned that he couldn’t remember the last time Georgia Tech lost to Duke. Well, I can, because it happened my freshman year. And that’s when I remember that my freshman year was 10 years ago. And then I feel old.
So, yes, in addition to feeling the inevitability of aging, there are some other things going on here. We, unhelpfully, had a bye in Week 2. I probably would’ve preferred to have that in the middle of conference play, but oh well. Other fun facts: Duke is by far Tech’s most-played ACC opponent (this will be their 81st meeting) and they have met every year since 1933. The last time the game was played in neither November nor October was 1996. Also, Duke will be without their first-choice quarterback, but from what I’ve read there wasn’t that much of a difference between the starter and the backup anyway. They both represent a departure from the Sean Renfree years, as apparently Cutcliffe is going toward more the read-option style and away from the classic NFL-style QBs that got him where he is today (read: the Manning brothers). This also means that what most people tabbed as one of GT’s strongest units – the pass defense – will be negated somewhat. Duke, unlike Tech, has played a FBS opponent this year, though it was Memphis and they only won by 14. Since otherwise the teams have only played FCS teams, there’s just no way to make any definitive judgments here.
4:00: Ball State @ North Texas (FSN): UNT is in C-USA now? Huh. Either way, Ball State looks better so far.
- Iowa @ Iowa State (FS1): Well, at least Iowa beat the the FCS team they played. This could well be a trainwreck game, which in fairness is still a little interesting since it is a rivalry game and all. I’ll go with Iowa but I’m not sure why.
- Washington @ Illinois (BTN): Perhaps one of the most surprising results of this young season was Illinois’s domination of a slightly well-regarded Cincinnati team last weekend. Washington’s dominant win over Boise State is probably still more impressive, and plus, I think everyone had this one as a walk-over for the Huskies so may as well stick with it.
- Ohio State @ California (FOX): Seeing as how Cal already lost to Northwestern by two touchdowns back in Week 1, I don’t think I’m going out on a limb to pick the Buckeyes here.
- Vanderbilt @ South Carolina (ESPN): I watched the South Carolina-Georgia game last weekend, and I have to say, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen an offense so dedicated to avoiding one particular defensive player like Georgia avoided Clowney in that game. I am pretty much convinced the call was always that the play-side would be the opposite of whatever side he lined up on. That said, while this is new and improved Vandy, the Gamecocks are still the superior squad and will be seeking to re-assert that in this game.
- Mississippi State @ Auburn (ESPN2): I can’t really come up with anything nice to say about either of these teams, other than the score will probably not be 3-2 again and that I’m going with the Bulldogs.
- Kent State @ Louisiana State (ESPNU): LSU.
7:30: Kansas @ Rice (CBSS): What’s worse than only having only two games of data? Only having one! But that’s what we have here. I guess I’ll pick Kansas and we’ll see what happens.
- Notre Dame @ Purdue (ABC): I try to keep this joke in reserve and only use it once a week: <Team> Status: Still awful! So I think you can put the pieces together here.
- Marshall @ Ohio (ESPNEWS): Still fascinated by the fact that ESPNEWS is showing live football games. Not so much by this game, though. Marshall’s… probably going to win?
9:00: Western Michigan @ Northwestern (BTN): Northwestern.
10:00: Oregon State @ Utah (FS1): I think this is probably a minor upset, but I’m going with the Utes here.
- Wisconsin @ Arizona State (ESPN): This may be the most underrated game of the day, and is certainly a boon to those of us in the West. I mean, I think it’s still pending whether or not Arizona State is going to be any good, but the Badgers are at least a known, above-average quantity. There will definitely be a bit of fun in the contrasting style, with Wisconsin bringing the typical Midwestern cloud of dust offense and the Sun Devils supplying the West Coast aerial goodness. Which will prevail? Well, I’m going to go with the Badgers.
- Texas-San Antonio @ Arizona (Pac12): Arizona.
More World Cup qualification scenarios, hopefully correct!
Uzbekistan will advance to the inter-confederation playoff against the 5th place CONMEBOL team with a win or draw against Jordan. Therefore, Jordan must win outright to advance.
- The United States will directly qualify for the World Cup if they defeat Mexico and Honduras wins or draws against Panama.
- Costa Rica will directly qualify for the World Cup with a win and a Honduras win or draw against Panama.
- With a Uruguay loss to Colombia, Argentina and Colombia will directly qualify for the World Cup.
- Argentina will directly qualify with a win over Paraguay.
- Argentina can directly qualify with a draw if Uruguay loses or draws against Colombia.
- Italy will directly qualify for the World Cup with a win over the Czech Republic.
- Italy can directly qualify with a draw if Bulgaria draws against Malta.
- Italy can directly qualify even with a loss if Bulgaria loses to Malta.
- Germany can directly qualify with a win over the Faroe Islands if Sweden loses or draws against Kazakhstan.
- The Netherlands can directly qualify with a win over Andorra and a Romania loss or draw against Turkey.
- The Netherlands can also directly qualify with a draw and a Romania loss.