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College Football Picks: Predicting Every Game in Week 3

Derrius Guice

Derrius Guice

The Week 3 edition of picking every game on the college football schedule is highlighted by the pivotal ACC Atlantic Division clash in Louisville as the Cardinals host Clemson. Elsewhere, the SEC swings into action with three key games: Tennessee-Florida in the Swamp, Kentucky-South Carolina in Columbia and LSU-Mississippi State in Starkville. Here is every game in Week 3:

Clemson Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney

Thursday, Sept. 14

New Mexico at Boise State

Both teams are coming off crushing losses to regional rivals. New Mexico lost at home, 30–28, to New Mexico State when a two-point conversion failed with 1:11 remaining, and Boise State lost a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter en route to a 47–44, triple-overtime defeat at Washington State. Boise State 31, New Mexico 24

Friday, Sept. 15

Illinois at South Florida

Illinois is averaging a Big Ten-worst 258.0 yards per game after playing two Group of 5 teams at home. And yet, the Fighting Illini are 2–0, with wins over Ball State and Western Kentucky. South Florida has had an interesting 2017 season to date. The Bulls rallied from a 16–0 deficit to beat San Jose State 42–22 in Week 0 and then returned home for a closer-than-expected 31–17 win over FCS foe Stony Brook. Then, last week’s game at UConn — the AAC opener — was postponed due to Hurricane Irma. South Florida 28, Illinois 13

Massachusetts at Temple

Massachusetts was the first team in the nation with two losses. Now, the Minutemen are the first to three after losing at home to Old Dominion. At Temple, Geoff Collins picked up his first win as a head coach, but it wasn’t easy. The Owls beat Villanova 16–13 on a 49-yard field goal with 1:00 on the clock. Temple 24, Massachusetts 13

Arizona at UTEP

Losing at home to Houston did not help Rich Rodriguez’s approval rating in Tucson. The Wildcats make the trip to El Paso this week to play a UTEP team that has been outscored 87–21 by Oklahoma and Rice. Arizona 48, UTEP 17

Saturday, Sept. 16

Air Force at Michigan

Michigan was a bit lethargic in its 36–14 win over Cincinnati. The defense was dominant (as expected), limiting UC to 200 total yards on a 2.9-yard average. The Wolverines’ offense isn’t quite playing at the same level (despite gaining over 400 yards in both games). Michigan 31, Air Force 13

Delaware State at West Virginia

West Virginia is averaging 218.5 yards rushing and 387.0 yards passing through two games, a loss to Virginia Tech and a win over East Carolina. Dana Holgorsen would love for that type of production to continue. West Virginia 58, Delaware State 6

Iowa State at Akron

It’s clear that Matt Campbell has Iowa State moving in the right direction. That being said, the Cyclones missed a great opportunity to make a statement with a win over rival Iowa, losing 47–44 in overtime. The Cyclones will get back in the win column this week. Iowa State 38, Akron 17

Kansas at Ohio

I thought Kansas was making progress in Year 3 under David Beaty. I apparently was wrong. The Jayhawks gave up 590 yards of total offense in a 45–27 loss at home to Central Michigan. Not good. Ohio was pounded by Purdue. This is not the sexiest of matchups. Kansas 31, Ohio 30

Louisiana at Texas A&M

Texas A&M struggled to get past Nicholls just six days after its collapse at UCLA. Maybe we should give the Aggies a pass … or maybe we should be concerned that they were tied with an FCS team midway through the fourth quarter. Louisiana is a middle-of-the-pack Sun Belt team that can score some points (the Cajuns have 93 in two games) but has trouble stopping the opposition. Texas A&M 48, Louisiana 21

Northern Illinois at Nebraska

Nebraska continues to have issues on defense, but the Cornhuskers are finding ways to score. Tanner Lee has been solid at quarterback (though his completion percentage is only at 52.1 percent), and Tre Bryant is emerging as one of the Big Ten’s top running backs (299 yards in two games). This is a game Mike Riley cannot afford to lose. Nebraska 37, Northern Illinois 24

Oklahoma State at Pittsburgh

Oklahoma State has been one of the most impressive offensive teams in the nation through the first two weeks, averaging 572.5 yards and 51.5 points per game. Pittsburgh did a decent job defensively in last week’s 33–14 loss at Penn State (the Nittany Lions had only 312 yards on 52 offensive snaps), but the Panthers have had trouble preventing big plays in recent years. Oklahoma State 47, Pittsburgh 30

UCLA at Memphis

This was a popular upset pick over the summer. And it made sense — inconsistent (and sometimes disinterested UCLA team) travelling across the country to play a game at 9 am Pacific time. That, however, was before we watched UCLA’s epic comeback against Texas A&M followed by a surgical dismantling of Hawaii. Memphis is good. UCLA, assuming it’s ready to play, is better. UCLA 34, Memphis 27

Connecticut at Virginia

Virginia missed an opportunity to take a step forward with a disheartening 34–17 loss at home to Indiana. The Cavs managed only 314 total yards on 91 offensive plays for a 3.5-yard average. Connecticut did not play last week after rallying to beat Holy Cross in Week 1. Virginia 21, Connecticut 14

Furman at NC State

NC State overcame a sluggish start and pulled away from Marshall to record a 37–20 win in Raleigh. Furman is 0–2 with both losses by a combined four points. NC State 37, Furman 13

Baylor at Duke

Baylor is on the short list of most disappointing teams in the nation after starting the Matt Rhule era with losses at home to Liberty and UTSA. The Bears are making a move at quarterback, starting sophomore Zach Smith in place of Arizona grad transfer Anu Solomon. Duke recorded one of the most impressive wins in Week 2, dominating Northwestern on both sides of the ball in a 41–17 victory in Durham. Duke 33, Baylor 20

Coastal Carolina at UAB

Coastal Carolina, in its first year in the FCS ranks, visits a UAB program that is in its first season back after a two-year hiatus. Coastal Carolina is 1–0 with a win over UMass. UAB is 1–1 with a win over Alabama A&M and a loss at Ball State. Coastal Carolina 31, UAB 30

Northern Colorado at Colorado

Colorado joins Clemson as the only teams in the nation that have not allowed a touchdown in 2017 (min. two games played). At some point, the opponent will cross the end zone on the Buffs. It might not be this weekend. Colorado 31, Northern Colorado 9

Tennessee Tech at Ball State

Ball State is showing signs of improvement through two weeks, with a close loss at Illinois followed by a convincing win over UAB. Tennessee Tech figures to be one of the weaker teams in the OVC. Ball State 41, Tennessee Tech 7

Utah State at Wake Forest

Wake Forest has been very impressive in the early going, beating Presbyterian and Boston College (on the road) by a combined score of 85–17. Utah State has taken several steps backward in recent years. The Aggies have regressed from 10 wins in 2014 to six wins in ’15 to three wins a year ago. In their only game against an FBS opponent in 2017, they lost at Wisconsin 59–10. Wake Forest 34, Utah State 20

Central Michigan at Syracuse

Central Michigan, a Group of 5 team, won at a Power 5 team (Kansas) last week. Syracuse, a Power 5 team, lost at home to a Group of 5 team (Middle Tennessee) last week. Still, Syracuse is a 10.5-point favorite. Seems a bit high. Syracuse 34, Central Michigan 30

FIU at Indiana

Indiana rebounded from its Week 1 loss vs. Ohio State with a nice win at Virginia. The big story was the play of redshirt freshman Peyton Ramsey, who replaced starter Richard Lagow in the second quarter. Ramsey threw for 173 yards and two TDs and rushed for 42 and one score in the Hoosiers’ 34–17 victory. Indiana 37, FIU 13

Morgan State at Rutgers

Even in defeat, Rutgers looked like a much-improved team in Week 1 against Washington. The Scarlet Knights took a step back on Saturday, losing at home to Eastern Michigan 16-13. The offense sputtered, gaining only 326 yards and scoring only one touchdown. Rutgers 30, Morgan State 10

Middle Tennessee at Minnesota

Contrasting styles will be on display. Minnesota attempted eight passes in its 48–14 win at Oregon State. Middle Tennessee threw the ball 36 times (which is low for the Blue Raiders) in a 30–23 victory at Syracuse. Keep an eye on the health of Middle Tennessee quarterback Brent Stockstill this week. His dad, the head coach, questioned whether he would be available. The son, the QB, says he will be ready to go. Minnesota 33, Middle Tennessee 21

Notre Dame at Boston College

This series has been surprisingly streaky over the last two decades. Boston College has won five straight dating back to 2009. Previously, Notre Dame won six straight from 2001-08. Overall, the Fighting Irish hold a 14–9 advantage. What does all that mean for this year’s game? Not much. Notre Dame 30, Boston College 10

North Texas at Iowa

Nathan Stanley had a breakout performance in the Hawkeyes’ win at Iowa State, throwing for 335 yards with five TDs and zero interceptions. Expect the Iowa offense to keep rolling this week. Iowa 37, North Texas 10

SMU at TCU

TCU had one of the more impressive wins of Week 2, avenging last year’s loss to Arkansas with a thorough 28–7 win over Arkansas in Fayetteville. SMU has averaged 56 points in wins over Stephen F. Austin and North Texas. The Frogs have won five straight and 15 of the last 17 in the series. TCU 36, SMU 24

Tennessee at Florida

It’s dangerous to judge an offense off of one game — especially when the opponent (Michigan in this case) is elite defensively — but there wasn’t a lot to like about the Florida Gators attack in Week 1. Tennessee had its issues on both sides of the ball in a Week 1 overtime win over Georgia Tech, but the Vols appear to be identifying some playmakers — John Kelly at running back and Marquez Callaway at receiver. Don’t expect a ton of points in this one. Florida 20, Tennessee 17

North Carolina at Old Dominion

After beginning the season with losses at home to Power 5 teams (Cal and Louisville), North Carolina hits the road to play a Conference USA foe. Old Dominion is 2–0 but has yet to be challenged (wins over Albany and UMass). North Carolina 33, Old Dominion 23

Virginia Tech at East Carolina

East Carolina has been arguably the most consistent defensive team in the nation — consistently awful. The Pirates were torched for 614 yards in a Week 1 loss to James Madison and for 619 the following week in a 56–20 loss to West Virginia. Scottie Montgomerie shook up the defensive staff, “reassigning” second-year coordinator Kenwick Thompson and handing over play-calling duties to defensive line coach Robert Prunty. Will it be enough to change the Pirates’ defensive fortunes? Too early to tell, but it’s not likely that ECU will have much success slowing down Virginia Tech on Saturday. Virginia Tech 49, East Carolina 21

Wisconsin at BYU

BYU has been dreadful on offense, averaging 231.7 yards in games against Portland State, LSU and Utah. Wisconsin is allowing only 276.0 per game. This figures to be a struggle for the Cougars — even at home. Wisconsin 27, BYU 10

Mercer at Auburn

Auburn hosts Mercer in a get-well game before diving into its SEC schedule with a trip to Missouri. It’s safe to assume that the Tigers will not get sacked 11 times on Saturday like they did at Clemson. Auburn 41, Mercer 7

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Purdue at Missouri

Purdue is 2–0 against the spread this season, with easy covers against Louisville and Ohio. Still, Vegas doesn’t appear to be a believer. Purdue is more than a touchdown underdog against a Missouri team that has given up 74 points in its two games — a 29-point win over Missouri State and an 18-point loss to South Carolina. Missouri 35, Purdue 30

Army at Ohio State

Army has as many victories as completed passes this season: two. The Black Knights will have to have some semblance of success throwing the ball to hang with Ohio State. Ohio State 34, Army 14

Oregon State at Washington State

Oregon State could be the most disappointing team in the nation. The Beavers have lost both of their games against FBS foes (Colorado State, Minnesota) by an average score of 53–21. Washington State 53, Oregon State 21

Colgate at Buffalo

Buffalo appears to be improved in 2017, but the Bulls have nothing to show for it, with respectable losses at Minnesota (17–7) and Army (21–7). Buffalo 30, Colgate 10

NC A&T at Charlotte

Charlotte is tied for the national lead with East Carolina with five interceptions thrown in two games. The 49ers are getting picked off on one out of every 10.8 attempts. Not good. Charlotte 28, NC A&T 14

Tulane at Oklahoma

Oklahoma, fresh off its impressive win at Ohio State, is clearly one of the elite teams in college football. Tulane, on the other hand, is coming off a 4–8 record in 2016 and is in rebuilding mode under second-year coach Willie Fritz. But the Green Wave are improved; they beat Grambling 43–14 in the opener and then dropped a 23–21 decision at Navy last weekend. Oklahoma 38, Tulane 10

Bethune-Cookman at FAU

Lane Kiffin hasn’t exactly provided a quick fix for the FAU offense. In two games, the Owls have a total of 574 yards and are averaging only 5.2 yards per play. FAU 47, Bethune-Cookman 30

Kent State at Marshall

These two schools, separated by 250 miles, played regularly during Marshall’s stint in the MAC (late ‘90s, early 2000s) but have met only once since: a 36–29 win by the Herd in 2015. Marshall 37, Kent State 20

Alabama A&M at South Alabama

Alabama A&M’s tour through the FBS ranks makes its final stop on Saturday in Mobile. The Bulldogs have already lost to UAB and Vanderbilt by a combined score of 80–7. South Alabama 35, Alabama A&M 10

Appalachian State at Texas State

Texas State has yet to top the 300-yard mark in a game this season; the Bobcats had 290 in a win over Houston Baptist and 283 in a loss at Colorado. App State has led the Sun Belt in total defense in each of the last three seasons and is currently first in the league after two games. Appalachian State 27, Texas State 6

Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Arkansas State

Arkansas State had its home game against Miami (Fla.) cancelled last week due to Hurricane Irma. The Red Wolves have not played since losing 43–36 at Nebraska in Week 1. Arkansas State 48, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 10

Colorado State at Alabama

Colorado State coach Mike Bobo, a former Georgia quarterback and offensive coordinator, ventures back into SEC country. His team is built for success in the Mountain West — the Rams were picked second behind Boise State in the Mountain Division — but shouldn’t pose too much of a threat to Alabama. Alabama 35, Colorado State 14

Idaho at Western Michigan

You could make a case that Western Michigan is the best 0–2 team in the nation. The Broncos played well in losses at USC (49–31) and Michigan State (28–14), showing that the program can remain relevant after P.J. Fleck’s departure. Western Michigan 30, Idaho 21

Idaho State at Nevada

Jay Norvell is off to an 0–2 start at Nevada, but the Wolfpack have been respectable in losses to Northwestern and Toledo. Alabama transfer David Cornwell has yet to throw a pass; junior Ty Gangi has received the start in the first two games. Nevada 34, Idaho State 13

Louisiana Tech at Western Kentucky

The favorites in C-USA West (Louisiana Tech) and East (Western Kentucky) both suffered humbling losses in Week 2. Tech jumped out to a 9–0 lead against Mississippi State but was outscored 57–12 the rest of the way. Western Kentucky had only 244 yards of offense in a 20–7 loss at Illinois. It’s a bit premature to jump off the bandwagon for either of these teams, but there are some alarming signs, especially at WKU. Louisiana Tech 30, Western Kentucky 17

LSU at Mississippi State

This is a huge litmus test for Mississippi State, which has looked great en route to a 2–0 start that featured dominating wins over Charleston Southern and Louisiana Tech (on the road). Bulldog quarterback Nick Fitzgerald struggled last year against LSU, completing 12-of-24 passing attempts for 120 yards and rushing for only 13 yards on 13 attempts. State will need far more production from its quarterback to beat LSU. LSU 20, Mississippi State 10

Oregon at Wyoming

Wyoming’s Josh Allen might be more attractive — at this point — to NFL scouts, but you could make a strong argument that Oregon sophomore Justin Herbert will be the best quarterback on the field in Laramie on Saturday. Oregon 30, Wyoming 20

Southern at UTSA

Frank Wilson’s stock continues to rise. After guiding UTSA to a bowl in his first season as a head coach, Wilson and the Roadrunners opened the 2017 campaign with a 17–10 win at Baylor. They are emerging as a legitimate threat to win the C-USA West title. UTSA 33, Southern 14

Tulsa at Toledo

This is a fun game between two of the most consistently strong offensive teams in the Group of 5 ranks. Tulsa is already over 1,000 yards of offense in two games (loss to Oklahoma State, win over Louisiana), while Toledo has “only” 979 yards in its wins over Elon and Nevada. Toledo 47, Tulsa 44

Southern Miss at ULM

The Southern Miss defense is off to a strong start in 2017, yielding an average of 197.0 yards in a loss to Kentucky and a win over Southern. Southern Miss 17, ULM 13

Bowling Green at Northwestern

Northwestern returns home after a humbling loss in which it was manhandled on the line of scrimmage by Duke. There were no positives: Quarterback Clayton Thorson reverted back to his freshman year form, and workhorse tailback Justin Jackson ran only seven times for 18 yards. Northwestern 34, Bowling Green 17

Georgia State at Penn State

It’s the final game of a three-game homestand to open the season for Penn State. The Lions cruised to wins over Akron and Pittsburgh and shouldn’t have much (if any) trouble with a Georgia State team that is 0–1 with a loss to Tennessee State. Penn State 48, Georgia State 0

Kansas State at Vanderbilt

The competition hasn’t been too difficult, but the two quarterbacks in this game, Vanderbilt’s Kyle Shurmur and Kansas State’s Jesse Ertz, are a combined 61–of-83 for 1,009 yards with 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions. The guess here: Shurmur keeps rolling. Vanderbilt 27, Kansas State 23

Samford at Georgia

Georgia returns to Sanford Stadium to play Samford in a well-deserved breather after last week’s big win at Notre Dame. This will be a nice opportunity for true freshman quarterback Jacob Fromm to experience some success in the passing attack. Georgia 44, Samford 10

Kentucky at South Carolina

South Carolina ranks 13th in the SEC in total offense and last in total defense. But the Gamecocks are plus-2.0 per game in turnover margin and, most important, 2–0 in the win column. South Carolina 27, Kentucky 17

Arizona State at Texas Tech

It was only game, but Texas Tech looked much improved on defense in its Week 1 win over Eastern Washington. The Red Raiders limited EWU — one of the top offensive teams in the FCS ranks — to 301 yards in a 56–10 win. Arizona State coach Todd Graham is feeling the pressure after the Sun Devils’ 10-point loss at home to San Diego State. Texas Tech 47, Arizona State 41

Cincinnati at Miami (Ohio)

Cincinnati showed significant progress from Week 1 (a lethargic effort in a win over FCS doormat Austin Peay) to Week 2 (a respectable loss at Michigan that was still in doubt in the second half). If we are comparing scores, Miami beat Austin Peay 31–10 in Week 2, which was more decisive than UC’s 26–14 win over the Govs. What does it mean? Not much. Miami 24, Cincinnati 20

Clemson at Louisville

Lamar Jackson’s numbers through two games are absurd: .647 completion percentage (up from .562 last season), 771 yards passing, five TDs, zero interceptions, 239 rushing yards, three rushing TDs. This week, he will face arguably the nation’s best defensive front when Clemson rolls into town. The Tigers have limited their two opponents (Kent State and Auburn) to a total of 237 yards on a 2.1-yard average. The biggest issue for the Louisville offense in the Jackson era has been the offensive line, and that figures to be a major problem on Saturday. Clemson 27, Louisville 21

Rice at Houston

The sample size is small, but so far so good for Major Applewhite and Houston. The Cougars are 1–0, with a 19–16 win at Arizona. Rice bounced back from its dismal performance against Stanford in Australia by beating UTEP on the road last week. Houston 41, Rice 20

Troy at New Mexico State

New Mexico State picked up a huge win last weekend, knocking off rival New Mexico on the road for one of the best wins of the Doug Martin era. Now, the Aggies host Troy in the Sun Belt opener for both teams. Last year, Troy won this matchup 52–6. Troy 34, New Mexico State 17

Texas at USC

USC played a nearly flawless game last week, dismantling Stanford with surprising ease. But in Week 1 the Trojans struggled with Western Michigan at home. We need to see some consistency from this team before we can assume it’s headed to the College Football Playoff. USC 34, Texas 20

Fresno State at Washington

New Fresno State coach Jeff Tedford served as an analyst at Washington last season. That inside info won’t matter on Saturday. Washington 38, Fresno State 10

San Jose State at Utah

The early reviews for new Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley are positive. The sophomore is completing 73.5 percent of his attempts for 527 yards, and he’s also the Utes’ leading rusher with 159 yards and three TDs. He’ll add to those stats vs. San Jose State. Utah 41, San Jose State 13

Ole Miss at California

Shea Patterson has been brilliant in Ole Miss’ wins at home over South Alabama and UT Martin. Now, however, comes a bigger test. In three games against Power 5 (SEC) opponents late last year, Patterson completed only 54.5 percent of his attempts. That needs to improve. Ole Miss 37, California 35

Stanford at San Diego State

Stanford needs to shore up its run defense — USC gashed the Cardinal for 307 yards last weekend — as it prepares to face Rashaad Penny, the nation’s leading rusher (413 yards in two games). Stanford 24, San Diego State 17