Top 10 College Football Games to Watch in Week 3
Week 3 of the college football season consists of many even matchups, unlike Week 2.
UCLA heads to Lincoln to take on Nebraska in the first game of the day, while the afternoon spotlights Tennessee-Oregon and the big game in the SEC between Alabama and Texas A&M. The day finishes with Wisconsin traveling down to Tempe to battle it out with Arizona State.
Many of the top non-conference games are going to be close, so don’t be surprised if one or two top teams suffer a heartbreaking loss.
Here are the top 10 games to watch for in Week 3:
No. 16 UCLA at No. 23 Nebraska
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No. 16 UCLA @ No. 23 Nebraska Noon ET ABC
The Bruins will come into Memorial Stadium off a bye week, which means sophomore dual-threat quarteback Brett Hundley will be well-rested. Against Nevada, where UCLA won, 58-20, and put up an astounding 647 yards, Hundley had 274 passing yards and two touchdowns.
After a rough home opener against Wyoming, Nebraska looked much better against Southern Miss. The Huskers were already up 35-6 at the half and eventually went on to win, 56-13.
The offense was clicking, and the defense looked impressive, as it had two interceptions for touchdowns and held the Golden Eagles to just 62 total rushing yards.
The matchup in this game will be UCLA’s offense led by Hundley against the Nebraska Blackshirt defense. The Blackshirts have recently had difficulty containing teams with solid rushing attacks.
Nebraska senior quarterback Taylor Martinez needs to get the offense off to a comfortable start, because if not, the Huskers will be put in a position where they have to play catch-up.
Not only will it be a challenge to play catch-up on the scoreboard, it also won’t help facing a UCLA defense that has a talented linebacking unit headed by Anthony Barr.
A main concern for the Bruins is the game begins at 9 a.m. PT. They better be ready to go bright and early because it’s going to be a close one again between these two.
Prediction: Nebraska 31, UCLA 28
Tennessee @ No. 2 Oregon
Oregon sophomore quarterback Marcus Mariota against Virginia on Sept. 7
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Tennessee @ No. 2 Oregon 3:30 p.m. ET ABC
At least Tennessee has momentum heading into a hostile Autzen Stadium after starting the season off with two blowout wins under first-year head coach Butch Jones.
It’s going to be tough for the Vols to keep up with Oregon, which seems to be almost every team’s problem. Tennessee is rebuilding, and the Ducks already look more dangerous offensively than last season.
The Ducks destroyed Virginia on the road last week, 59-10. Marcus Mariota passed for 199 yards, rushed for 122 yards and scored three touchdowns. Running back De’Anthony Thomas rushed for 124 yards and had three touchdowns. The Oregon defense also caused four turnovers.
It’s intriguing that an SEC team is traveling out to the Pacific Northwest to play against a Pac-12 team, but the Ducks are far better, and it’s going to be deja vu all over again.
Prediction: Oregon 48, Tennessee 17
No. 1 Alabama @ No. 6 Texas A&M
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No. 1 Alabama @ No. 6 Texas A&M 3:30 p.m. ET CBS
This was the most hyped game heading in to the 2013 college football season, and now, it’s finally here.
Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M went into Tuscaloosa last season and pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the season over the Crimson Tide, 29-24. Can they do it for a second consecutive time, though?
Alabama dominated Virginia Tech, 35-10, with the help of three Christion Jones touchdowns and a stout defense. The offense didn’t hit expectations, but one can be sure that Nick Saban has his offense ready to go on Saturday.
It’s all about Manziel down in College Station these days, even with the distractions surrounding him, he continues to play like his normal self.
Manziel passed for 426 yards and scored four touchdowns against Sam Houston State last week. Running backs Tre Carson and Ben Malena are playing well in the backfield, and wide receiver Mike Evans has already accounted for 239 yards and two touchdowns.
Once again, the Crimson Tide defense has to be able to contain Manziel. If a defense consisting of C.J. Mosley can avoid having the rough start it had last year in Tuscaloosa against the Aggies, the Alabama offense will be able to score enough points with its fire power and likely come away with a win in tough Kyle Field environment.
It will be close once again, but quarterback AJ McCarron will lead his team down the field in the remaining minutes of the fourth quarter and put them in position for a game-winning field goal.
Prediction: Alabama 34, Texas A&M 31
No. 19 Washington @ Illinois (Chicago)
Washington junior running back Bishop Sankey against Boise State
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No. 19 Washington @ Illinois (Chicago) 6 p.m. ET Big Ten Network
Prior to the beginning of the season, it would have been unheard of to pick Illinois in this matchup. This is, by far, the toughest pick of Week 3.
The Washington Huskies had a huge opening-week win at home against Boise State. Quarterback Keith Price was at his best, and running back Bishop Sankey rushed for 161 yards and two touchdowns on the Broncos. The Husky defense also showed up and held Boise State to just six points.
Illinois had a close call against FCS Southern Illinois in Week 1, but blew out AAC Conference contender Cincinnati at home last week, 45-17. The Illini have already matched their win total from last season of two, and it’s, in large part, due to senior quarterback Nathan Scheelhasse’s play in Bill Cubit's spread offense.
The Huskies had a week off to prepare for this game, and the Illini are coming off an unexpected blowout win. It’s going to be a tight game that goes down late in the fourth quarter.
Illinois will have home-field advantage being in Chicago, but the Huskies will end up fighting the Illini off.
Prediction: Washington 33, Illinois 31
Iowa @ Iowa State
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Iowa @ Iowa State 6 p.m. ET Fox Sports 1
The question of this game: Will the winner score more points than Vodka_samm has drinks? I’ll just answer that and say “no.”
The battle for the Cy-Hawk Trophy seems to be an even game as of late.
The Iowa Hawkeyes lost a heartbreaker to Northern Illinois in Week 1, 30-27, but was able to get their first win since last October against FCS opponent Missouri State, 28-14.
There is promise at the quarterback position with new starter Jake Rudock, but the offense is still going to be an issue. At least the Hawkeyes can rely on running back Mark Weisman to make plays from the backfield. Once again, though, a lot of pressure will be on the defense to win games.
Many Cyclone fans found it amusing that hated in-state rival Iowa had lost to BCS qualifier Northern Illinois in the afternoon of Week 1, but by the end of the night, they had been upset by FCS opponent Northern Iowa, 28-20.
Iowa State is coming off a bye week and will be looking to bounce back and defeat Iowa for the third consecutive time.
Cyclone quarterback Sam Richardson has more experience than Rudock and is more of a threat to defenses because of his dual-threat ability. He also has Justin Coleman as a solid target in the passing game.
This matchup will be all about field position. It won’t be as low as the 9-6 score from 2012, but expect another low-scoring affair with both teams playing tough defensively.
Every year, this is a tough pick. I’ve picked the Hawkeyes the past two years, and they’ve lost. Hopefully, a third time's a charm.
Prediction: Iowa 20, Iowa State 17
No. 4 Ohio State @ Cal
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No. 4 Ohio State @ Cal 7 p.m. ET FOX
The biggest question heading into this game will be the health of Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller and if he will play after spraining a ligament in his left knee in a 42-7 win over San Diego State last Saturday.
The Golden Bears already played Big Ten opponent Northwestern at home this year and kept it close until late in the fourth quarter. With potentially not having Miller under center, there would be a lot more pressure on running back Jordan Hall to make plays out of the backfield.
The Ohio State defense will get their first real test of the season after playing two mediocre opponents their first two weeks.
The Golden Bears may have struggled against FCS opponent Portland State and won with a final score of 37-30, but the offense led by true freshman quarterback Jared Goff, who is one of the best in the nation.
Goff has already passed for 935 yards and four touchdowns this season. The offense leads the nation with 472.5 passing yards per game.
This game is going to be very much like last season when the Buckeyes escaped, 35-28, in Columbus. Cal will keep it close, but Urban Meyer’s squad will find a way to squeak out a win.
Prediction: Ohio State 42, Cal 37
Vanderbilt @ No. 13 South Carolina
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Vanderbilt @ No. 13 South Carolina 7 p.m. ET ESPN
Both teams have already suffered close SEC losses.
The Commodores are led by wide receiver Jordan Matthews, who has recorded 289 yards and two touchdowns in two games.
New starting quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels has played well thus far. The biggest obstacle will be for the offensive line and tight ends to shut down Jadeveon Clowney. Clowney, so far this season, has been frustrated because he is being double-teamed up front, and teams are going to the other side.
The Gamecocks defense was completely outplayed by Georgia last week, as it gave up 538 yards in a 41-30 loss. Connor Shaw is inconsistent at times, but, overall, he is proving to be a huge aspect to the Gamecock offense. The running game is looking good with Mike Davis, and wide receivers Shaq Roland and Nick Jones have played well.
South Carolina won in a defensive battle last season, 17-13. Vanderbilt will keep it close in the beginning, but a determined South Carolina team at home will put the game out of reach in the second half.
Prediction: South Carolina 34, Vanderbilt 20
Mississippi State @ Auburn
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Mississippi State @ Auburn 7 p.m. ET ESPN2
It’s early in the season, but this is a critical game. Both teams have to play opponents from a difficult SEC West Division and may need this game at the end of the season to clinch a bowl birth.
Mississippi State’s offense was completely shut down against Oklahoma State in Week 1 and then bounced back last week against FCS opponent Alcorn State. Senior quarterback Tyler Russell is expected to play after sitting out last week with a concussion.
Auburn is already making strides under Gus Malzahn. The Tigers have matched their win total from 2012, and the running game and defense have made improvements. Corey Grant, Tre Mason and Cameron Artis-Payne have combined for 512 yards and five touchdowns this season.
The Bulldogs knocked off the Tigers for the first time since 2007 last season, but they won’t do it again, especially at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Auburn will win in a close game and give themselves some momentum heading into LSU the following week.
Predictions: Auburn 28, Mississippi State 23
No. 25 Ole Miss @ Texas
Ole Miss freshman defensive end Robert Nkemdiche
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No. 25 Ole Miss @ Texas 8 p.m. ET Longhorn Network
The Longhorns are coming off a bad loss at BYU, where the defense was completely run over.
Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz was fired, and now, former Longhorn defensive coordinator and Longhorn Network analyst Greg Robinson will be in charge. It’s not a good situation, and Mack Brown is feeling the heat.
On the other hand, Ole Miss is already looking solid in year two of Hugh Freeze’s tenure. A huge last-minute touchdown at Vanderbilt in Week 1 to win, 39-35, was a big step for the program.
The offense is clicking with quarterback Bo Wallace, running back Jeff Scott and wide receivers Donte Moncrief and Laquon Treadwell. The defense led by freshman Robert Nkemdiche is playing well, too, but an inexperienced secondary could have problems with Texas's wideouts.
This is a big chance for the Rebels to prove how talented they are as a unit, and the Longhorns are just hoping they can bounce back and stop the bleeding.
This will be a game that goes back and forth, but in the remaining minutes, Ole Miss will take down the mighty Longhorns.
Prediction: Ole Miss 31, Texas 27
No. 20 Wisconsin @ Arizona State
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No. 20 Wisconsin @ Arizona State 10:30 p.m. ET ESPN
Big Ten versus Pac-12 Saturday night in the desert. This an important game for both teams because it gives one of them a confidence booster heading into conference play.
Wisconsin relies heavily on a talented rushing attack, consisting of Melvin Gordon, James White and freshman Corey Clement, while Arizona State favors more of a passing attack headed by quarterback Taylor Kelly.
Both are good offensively, but the defenses for each team consist of All-American candidates. Linebacker Chris Borland leads an always physical Badger defense, while defensive tackle Will Sutton, who is one of the best defensive players in the country, leads the Sun Devils.
It should be noted that Wisconsin and Arizona State have not surrendered a single point yet this season.
There is a lot of hype surrounding this showdown, and it won’t leave anyone disappointed at the end of the night. Even with the talent each team has on defense, it’s going to be an offensive game consisting of a lot of speed and scoring.
Arizona State is 8-0 all time at Sun Devil Stadium against Big Ten opponents, but it looks like that streak is going to be snapped.
Wisconsin 38, Arizona State 35