The weekend is almost back, which means it’s time to see your favorite collegiate teams back on the gridiron. We’ve got an interesting and chaotic Saturday ahead to say the least. Without elaborating further (as you’ll see why it’s chaotic below), it’s time for me to tell you what to expect.
About Last Week…
Now that we’re a week into these things, it is time to introduce this quick section that will review the previous week’s action. Unlike the first week in which lots of things happened but the significance is unknown, week two has brought a lot of clarity and season narratives are starting to come to fruition before the meat of this CFB season hits.
As far as my picks go, I went 16-3 overall (84%) (3-1 in “Games of The Week” previews). Northwestern (!) and Florida were the culprits that let me down in the honorable mentions. College Football is a crazy thing (and that is what makes it so fun), so I will be very lucky to come out of the weekend that successful again. From now on, I will only be selecting a handful of other games per time slot to pick besides the previewed game, so that could affect these results in both positive and negative ways in future weeks.
In the “Games of The Week”, things for the most part went as expected. Oklahoma secured a win against an expectedly-struggling UCLA team, Georgia (although far more dominantly) proved themselves AT HOME against South Carolina, and Clemson ended up superior in the end of a battle with Texas A&M that lived up to the hype. Going into very late Saturday night, my previewed games picks seemed to be pretty spot on, until Arizona State happened. The Sun Devils defeated Michigan State on a game-winning field goal, in an all-around classic “SPARTY NO” game. It is no secret I love a team they loathe, and it brings an empty feeling to me for them to fall below my own positive professional expectations of them. Let’s hope they find an identity before bigger games down the road.
The single biggest takeaway from week two should be the statements that both Clemson and Texas A&M made in their primetime, GameDay-appearance worthy showdown. A&M is bringing the noise this year at home more than ever, and they can stick around in big games, with some serious offensive productivity. Meanwhile, Clemson’s senior Kelly Bryant proved to distance himself as the first option for the quarterback position, and the team proved worthy of winning big games in a road environment. This puts some positive foreshadowing on future weeks for the Tigers.
THE FLORENCE EFFECT
On a normal week, the previews would be right here, but there is a (very likely) devastating weather event this week that is getting national attention, and it is implicating College Football.
For quick reference, here are the games that have been affected by Hurricane Florence:
#2 Clemson @ Georgia-Southern (Pushed Up to Noon)
Ohio @ Virginia (Will be played @ Vanderbilt)
Southern Miss @ Appalachian State (Postponed)
Norfolk State @ Liberty (Postponed)
East Carolina @ #13 Virginia Tech (Cancelled)
#14 West Virginia @ NC State (Cancelled)
#18 UCF @ North Carolina (Cancelled)
Marshall @ South Carolina (Cancelled)
(Other games have been moved to Thursday and Friday)
This also implicates this preview, as I was going to preview UCF/UNC, so I’ve got something fun in mind as it’s last-minute replacement…
Noon Game of The Week:
Rutgers @ Kansas
When: 11:00 CT
Rain (Above 40%)? No, but if it did it would be awesome.
Where: David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium (Lawrence, KS)
Series History: Rutgers 27-14 in 2015 (Only meeting all-time)
This could very well be the greatest college football game ever played. These are two teams that really got attention last week, as Kansas FINALLY WINS ON THE ROAD POST-2009, and Rutgers triumphantly scored THREE points, just falling short of upsetting Ohio State (Final Score: 52-3). This is an absolute must-see non-conference matchup that will immediately have major playoff implications. All college football fans should make time to see this game before any other on Saturday. You can even make a road trip to Lawrence and see this game for a ticket that is even lighter than your average LFHS football game. What a bargain!
In all seriousness, this could top the infamous “M00N” Game of 2014 as the saddest combined performances you will ever see on a college football field. Expect to see literally anything except productivity from absolutely everything.
Because Kansas might be a little too excited about that win at Central Michigan last week, and an impressive win streak, I think Rutgers can sneak away with an upset here, bringing some pride into the Big Ten season.
Rutgers Wins, 7-2
Other Noon Games of Note:
#2 Clemson @ Georgia-Southern (ESPN2)
#5 Oklahoma @ Iowa State (ABC)
#21 Miami @ Toledo (ESPN2)
1:30 CT (Because NBC insists on doing this stuff for ND Football):
Vanderbilt @ #8 Notre Dame (NBC)
Afternoon Game of The Week:
#12 LSU @ #7 Auburn
When: 2:30 CT
Rain (Above 40%)? No
Where: Jordan-Hare Stadium (Auburn, AL)
Series History: LSU 27-23 in 2017 (LSU leads 29-1-22 all-time)
After comedy hour at noon is over, it’s time for a great SEC rivalry that has become famous for likewise mascots, dramatic finishes, and crowd noise earthquakes.
In this edition, two teams that have air raided (figuratively, not schematically) the likes of Miami(FL) (LSU) and Washington (Auburn) in the first week of the CFB season. They have gotten a chance to improve against two cupcake opponents in week two, and are both preparing for battle in this week three matchup.
Although the tigers LSU has beaten a quality Miami Hurricanes team, the loss really seemed to say more about the quality of Miami’s team than LSU. This quality win has also been paired with a uninspiring 31-0 score against South Louisiana. Although these shortcomings have proven to be significant in LSU’s play in their first 120 minutes, they still have significant upside and all of their goals ahead of them. Plus, Head Coach Ed Orgeron’s job status remains intact, and that can’t be a bad thing.
The tigers Auburn, meanwhile, have had more upside, with an encouraging victory over Washington, and taking care of business in a blowout over a cupcake. They boast an impressive defense that is looking to make a notable difference in the turnover margin.
This game will consist of two successful passing games and comparable defenses that cancel each other out. The team that will win this game will be the team that can establish the run most efficiently. Although LSU’s Nick Brossette has had more yards so far this year, Auburn’s Kam Martin has only had half of the amount of attempts Brossette has received. This will be Martin’s breakout game in a more productive than flashy way.
Auburn Wins, 38-28
Other Afternoon Games of Note:
#17 Boise State @ #24 Oklahoma State (ESPN)
BYU @ #6 Wisconsin (ABC)
South Florida @ Illinois (BTN)
Ohio @ Virginia (Game Moved to Vanderbilt due to Florence) (ACCN)
Night Game of The Week:
#4 Ohio State vs. #15 TCU
When: 7:00 CT
Rain (Above 40%)? YES. 80% and heavy chances of afternoon storms.
Where: AT&T Stadium (Arlington, TX)
Series History: Ohio State 37-3 in 1973 (OSU leads 4-1-1 all time)
The final (and most groundbreaking…sigh) aspect of Urban Meyer’s three game suspension as the result of off-field issues takes place here, as the Buckeyes take on TCU in the Dallas Cowboys’ home. Although this is a neutral game and Ohio State fans travel well, TCU gets the heavy geographical advantage, and ESPN’s College GameDay will be live from Fort Worth on the TCU campus before all of the games kick off at noon (this displays aforementioned geographical advantage).
Ohio State interim head coach and offensive coordinator Ryan Day has had a successful run, including a 52-3 trouncing of a splendid Rutgers team (that will be the last Rutgers/Kansas joke). Sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins has proven to be a sound replacement of J.T. Barrett, with some serious offensive production leading OSU to a promising start. Defense remains solid per usual Ohio State, with Nick Bosa (final sibling of the family, and he’s one of the good ones) leading the charge.
They take on a Horned Frogs team that has quite the productive quarterback themselves in also-sophomore Shawn Robinson, who led TCU to many passing touchdowns and a high passing efficiency in their opening two games, including a beatdown of SMU last week. Although this is going well for Texas Christian, the defense is once again the highlight of their team, the 2017 top 30 defense has held opposing offenses to no more than a touchdown.
Although both of these teams are solid and will penetrate the national picture throughout the year, Ohio State is by far more considered to be a playoff contender and has greater depth talent-wise. This team is going to have to earn it though, as they have yet to have a real test in 2018. As a result, this first test on the road will cut things far closer than expected. The score won’t reflect this though, as the Buckeyes will tack on a couple touchdowns to secure the victory.
Ohio State Wins, 30-13
Other Night Games of Note:
#1 Alabama @ Ole Miss (ESPN)
Louisiana @ #16 Mississippi State (SECN)
Missouri @ Purdue (BTN)
#22 USC @ Texas (FOX)
Late Game of The Week:
#10 Washington @ Utah
When: 9:00 CT
Rain (Above 40%)? No. Source says 0%.
Where: Rice-Eccles Stadium (Salt Lake City, UT)
Series History: Washington 33-30 in 2017 (UW leads 10-1 all-time)
Like most road games, this will be a lot of fun. PAC 12 After Dark presents a Huskies/Utes matchup that will have serious conference implications.
Washington prepares a team this year that has had some unimpressive results so far. They fell short against an LSU team of decent quality, but not that of the level of expectations as the Huskies. This is the kind of quality win that could determine playoff presence for this kind of team. The team will look to establish who they are in this game in Salt Lake City. They look on track to do that considering an impressive and overwhelming victory over North Dakota in week two.
Although this Utah team has yet to lose, they have also had their fair share of shakey results this year. Last week, the team had a low scoring showdown with a far less impressive Husky team in Northern Illinois. Unlike Washington, this team isn’t looking to establish their identity, but reinstate it with an intimidating home crowd under the lights.
This game will depend on the first quarter. One team needs to break through and get fired up, and that team will come through with the victory. Expect a low amount of lead changes (most likely none) and a play of the game in the first touchdown.
I believe that Washington can accomplish this with the motivations behind coming off of a first 120 minutes of play below expectations. An early score can take the crowd out of it, and they have the tools with a talented receiving unit that can be hard to come by in CFB. Their defense as a whole also proved to be a breakout position group, and considering Utah has the most struggles at the offensive line, that will be the biggest difference maker.
Washington Wins, 48-23
Once again, enjoy your Saturday, everyone!
Weather Source: Weather.com, all images are labeled freeuse.