College Football Picks: Week 3 Predictions for Every Game

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistSeptember 14, 2017

College Football Picks: Week 3 Predictions for Every Game

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    After a Saturday in which several top-ranked teams demanded the spotlight and challenged another Top 25 squad, Week 3 settles into a familiar September feeling.

    While the weekend still has a marquee showdown with Clemson's trip to Louisville, most national contenders are playing a nonconference foe right before league action begins.

    However, in addition to Clemson and Louisville, notable programs like Florida, LSU, Tennessee and Washington State will open their conference schedules this weekend.

    Every game that involves a Football Bowl Subdivision team is predicted. The list is organized chronologically, while any matchup with an AP Top 25 team takes priority at a particular time.

    Note: Miami at Florida State, Georgia Tech at UCF and Florida International at Indiana have all been either postponed or canceled due to the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

Top Saturday Early Games

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    Air Force (1-0) at No. 7 Michigan (2-0), noon ET

    Wilton Speight and the offense are still working through some issues, but the defense is just as dominant as expected. While the Wolverines must be especially sound against Air Force, their sideline-to-sideline speed will be too much for the Falcons to handle.

    Prediction: Michigan 38, Air Force 13

       

    No. 9 Oklahoma State (2-0) at Pitt (1-1), noon ET

    Pitt's leaky secondary could be in for a rough day. Mason Rudolph has completed 72.6 percent of his passes for 638 yards and six touchdowns through two games. Given the troubles Max Browne has faced, it's likely the Panthers struggle to keep up.

    Prediction: Oklahoma State 41, Pitt 23

         

    No. 25 UCLA (2-0) at Memphis (1-0), noon ET

    Riley Ferguson had a forgettable 2017 debut, but Memphis has an opportunity to shake that memory when UCLA comes to town. The problem? Josh Rosen might be on the hottest streak of any quarterback in the nation, having tossed nine touchdowns over his last six quarters. Memphis' defense won't hold up against Rosen.

    Prediction: UCLA 38, Memphis 27

         

    Northern Illinois (1-1) at Nebraska (1-1), noon ET

    After a dismal first half at Oregon, Nebraska turned a 28-point deficit into a one-possession loss. That fight will be important against a Northern Illinois defense has surrendered just 3.1 yards per play. The Cornhuskers will eventually create some distance on the scoreboard, but the Huskies will hang around into the second half.

    Prediction: Nebraska 33, Northern Illinois 24

Other Saturday Early Games

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    Louisiana (1-1) at Texas A&M (1-1), noon ET

    Kellen Mond is the future at quarterback for Texas A&M. Jake Hubenak should probably be the guy right now following A&M's late-game collapse at UCLA and an uninspiring performance last week. As long as the Aggies don't unnecessarily shuffle between him and Mond, they'll cruise to a win.

    Prediction: Texas A&M 37, Louisiana 17

         

    Kansas (1-1) at Ohio (1-1), noon ET

    Although the Jayhawks have an edge in the talent department, five turnovers in two games is a real concern. They'll fall to a MAC team for the second straight week if Peyton Bender can't protect the ball. But we'll give a slight nod to Kansas.

    Prediction: Kansas 34, Ohio 27

         

    Delaware State (0-2) at West Virginia (1-1), noon ET

    Will Grier didn't let East Carolina think about an upset for long. The Florida transfer guided the Mountaineers to touchdowns on seven of their eight first-half possessions. Grier finished with 352 yards and five scores in the 56-20 win, and it shouldn't be much different when Delaware State heads to Morgantown.

    Prediction: West Virginia 52, Delaware State 10

       

    Iowa State (1-1) at Akron (1-1), noon ET

    Penn State thrashed Akron's defense. The unit locked down Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Both were expected developments, but can the Zips do enough of the latter when Iowa State visits? Though the Cyclones will give up some points, Jacob Park will propel the Big 12 program to a double-digit win.

    Prediction: Iowa State 37, Akron 27

        

    Connecticut (1-0) at Virginia (1-1), noon ET

    After a frustrating win over Holy Cross and a canceled game, Connecticut will be looking to make a statement on the road. But that's not going to happen against Virginia unless the Huskies can dominate field position like Indiana did in Week 2.

    Prediction: Virginia 31, UConn 20

        

    Furman (0-2) at North Carolina State (1-1), 12:20 p.m ET

    North Carolina State's defense has not performed to its potential, giving up three passing scores to South Carolina and 6.6 yards per play to Marshall. Though a matchup with Furman may get the unit on track, the speed of the Wolfpack offense will be the decisive factor. 

    Prediction: NC State 41, Furman 17

       

    Baylor (0-2) at Duke (2-0), 12:30 p.m ET

    Anu Solomon, who was under center for losses to Liberty and UTSA, has been benched in favor of Zach Smith. Baylor coach Matt Rhule announced the change Monday. However, the change won't spark an immediate turnaround since the defense won't be able to stop Duke's balanced attack.

    Prediction: Duke 38, Baylor 24

       

    Coastal Carolina (1-0) at UAB (1-1), 1 p.m. ET

    UAB quarterback A.J. Erdely will shape the nonconference clash. His running ability is important, but the Blazers will only hang with Coastal Carolina if the passing game is more than a moderate threat. We're not expecting it to happen, however.

    Prediction: Coastal Carolina 34, UAB 23

       

    Northern Colorado (1-0) at Colorado (2-0), 2 p.m. ET

    Hurricane Irma canceled Northern Colorado's trip to Florida, so Colorado hasn't seen how the Bears stack up against an FBS team. That's just as well since the Buffs will trust their defense to take control of the game right away. The unit has forced five turnovers in two games and will continue wreaking havoc this weekend.

    Prediction: Colorado 34, Northern Colorado 3

        

    Utah State (1-1) at Wake Forest (2-0), 3 p.m. ET

    This is an intriguing matchup between a dual-threat quarterback, Utah State's Kent Myers, and a stout defense. But the difference will be Wake Forest's offense, which is benefiting from the best September of John Wolford's four-year starting career.

    Prediction: Wake Forest 27, Utah State 23

         

    Tennessee Tech (0-2) at Ball State (1-1), 3 p.m. ET

    Anthony Winbush is becoming a force on the defensive line. The senior has seven tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks through two games, helping the Cardinals total 17 TFL. Tennessee Tech, meanwhile, has ceded at least six stops behind the line of scrimmage in both games. Ball State will ride Winbush and the defense to a win.

    Prediction: Ball State 38, Tennessee Tech 13

Top Saturday Midafternoon Games

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    No. 10 Wisconsin (2-0) at BYU (1-2), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Which BYU run defense shows up? The Cougars held Portland State to 2.4 yards per tote before LSU posted 5.2, and then they limited Utah to 3.2. Wisconsin back Bradrick Shaw is uncertain for Saturday, but Jonathan Taylor and Chris James filled in effectively once. If Shaw is out again, the duo will help the Badgers control the clock. Otherwise, the Badgers will have a three-headed monster.

    Prediction: Wisconsin 27, BYU 16

         

    SMU (2-0) at No. 20 TCU (2-0), 3:30 p.m. ET

    After two unspectacular years, TCU might have a better-than-average defense once again. SMU should stress the secondary with NFL prospect Courtland Sutton and LSU transfer Trey Quinn, so the Horned Frogs won't easily dispatch the in-state foe. The Mustangs won't be able to stop Kenny Hill and the TCU attack, though.

    Prediction: TCU 43, SMU 24

        

    No. 23 Tennessee (2-0) at No. 24 Florida (0-1), 3:30 p.m. ET

    For a variety of reasons, offense may be at a premium in Gainesville. Despite the potential for a weird shuffle at quarterback, Feleipe Franks deserves a full-game opportunity to lead Florida. Because of a strong defense to complement Franks, the reigning SEC East champions should dispatch their rivals as long as the coaching staff picks one quarterback and stays with him.

    Prediction: Florida 24, Tennessee 17

       

    Notre Dame (1-1) at Boston College (1-1), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Boston College has a defense capable of frustrating just about any offense. The problem is the Eagles still cannot complement that strength with a major scoring threat. Notre Dame may lumber through the opening half, but it'll pull away after the break.

    Prediction: Notre Dame 31, Boston College 13

         

    Army (2-0) at No. 8 Ohio State (1-1), 4:30 p.m. ET

    Ohio State needs to correct some issues in the secondary, but the run defense could hardly be stronger. The Buckeyes have ceded a mere 1.9 yards per attempt through two games, and that'll come in handy against Army's triple-option offense. The Black Knights don't have the horsepower to keep up.

    Prediction: Ohio State 45, Army 10

Other Saturday Midafternoon Games

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    No. 16 Virginia Tech (2-0) at East Carolina (0-2), 3:30 p.m. ET

    East Carolina lost to James Madison and was nowhere close to competing with West Virginia. The Pirates cannot be expected to put a scare into Virginia Tech, which just accumulated 12 tackles for loss in a shutout victory over Delaware.

    Prediction: Virginia Tech 41, East Carolina 10

       

    Central Michigan (2-0) at Syracuse (1-1), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Shane Morris bounced back from a rough debut in style, throwing five touchdowns to lead Central Michigan past Kansas. Now, can Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey recover from his frustrating day? Syracuse will clip the visiting Chips as long as Dungey avoids a critical mistake late, though that's no guarantee opposite an interception-happy defense.

    Prediction: Syracuse 31, Central Michigan 27

        

    North Carolina (0-2) at Old Dominion (2-0), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Brandon Harris or Chazz Surratt? The question seemed to be answered, but an injury to Surratt allowed Harris a second chance that he took advantage of. UNC can navigate Old Dominion with either quarterback, but this is the final opportunity for the Tar Heels to find a starter before Coastal Division play begins.

    Prediction: UNC 34, Old Dominion 23

         

    North Texas (1-1) at Iowa (2-0), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Iowa's defense had a letdown in Week 2, but quarterback Nathan Stanley saved the Hawkeyes with five touchdown passes. However, it's uncharacteristic of Iowa to have consecutive poor performances on defense. Kirk Ferentz's team must handle the pace of North Texas' offense, but the Hawkeyes will rebound at home.

    Prediction: Iowa 34, North Texas 16

        

    Middle Tennessee (1-1) at Minnesota (2-0), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Given the unlikelihood Middle Tennessee can establish a ground attack, the success of the passing game will mold the outcome. Star wideout Richie James will probably have a productive day, but the Blue Raiders can only spring the upset if second and third options make plays like they did against Syracuse. However, the Gophers have a deeper secondaryand a better pass rushthan the Orange.

    Prediction: Minnesota 30, Middle Tennessee 22

       

    Morgan State (0-2) at Rutgers (0-2), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Through two games, Morgan State has not scored a point. Although Rutgers is still seeking its first win, the defense has played fairly well in both losses. Kyle Bolin and the offense need to improve quickly, but the Scarlet Knights will grab their first victory of 2017 thanks to another quality day from the defense.

    Prediction: Rutgers 23, Morgan State 6

       

    Mercer (1-1) at No. 15 Auburn (1-1), 4 p.m. ET

    One week after toiling to run the ball against Clemson, Auburn gets a potential reprieve. Mercer just surrendered 5.2 yards per carry in a loss to Wofford. Gus Malzahn's squad must not discount the Mercer front, but Auburn should overwhelm the FCS school.

    Prediction: Auburn 48, Mercer 10

       

    Purdue (1-1) at Missouri (1-1), 4 p.m. ET

    Defense figures to be optional when Purdue travels to Missouri, considering the teams rank 110th and 101st, respectively, in yards per play allowed. The Boilermakers' struggles to defend the pass will be the difference on the road. Drew Lock is inconsistent, but he tends to pick apart a shaky secondary.

    Prediction: Missouri 45, Purdue 34

Top Saturday Evening Games

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    Oregon State (1-2) at No. 21 Washington State (2-0), 5:30 p.m. ET

    After two losses of 30-plus points and a three-point win over Portland State, Oregon State doesn't look like a threat to the upper tier of the Pac-12. Washington State played relatively poorly in a triple-overtime victory against Boise State, but the Cougs shouldn't have any trouble steamrolling the conference foe.

    Prediction: Washington State 47, Oregon State 17

       

    Tulane (1-1) at No. 2 Oklahoma (2-0), 6 p.m. ET

    Oklahoma needs to avoid a post-Ohio State letdown, but the good news is a slow start won't hassle the Sooners for long against Tulane. The Green Wave managed just 262 yards in a loss at Navy. Oklahoma will cruise to 3-0 on the year.

    Prediction: Oklahoma 44, Tulane 13

       

    Colorado State (2-1) at No. 1 Alabama (2-0), 7 p.m. ET

    In respect to Mountain West competition, Nick Stevens leads a dangerous attack. Nationally speaking, though, it's not the same. Colorado State should put together a couple of scoring drives, but the defense won't be able to handle Alabama's strength up front.

    Prediction: Alabama 41, Colorado State 10

        

    No. 12 LSU (2-0) at Mississippi State (2-0), 7 p.m. ET

    The SEC clash will be decided in the trenches. Mississippi State tallied 608 rushing yards in two blowouts to begin the campaign, while LSU surrendered just 63. Since both teams rely on the ground game, possessions should be limited. That'll keep Mississippi State close, but LSU's defense will control the fourth quarter.

    Prediction: LSU 27, Mississippi State 20

       

    Louisiana Tech (1-1) at Western Kentucky (1-1), 7 p.m. ET

    In this rematch of the 2016 Conference USA Championship Game (and potential preview of 2017's edition), both programs are coming off losses to power conference schools. Neither offense performed well, but WKU held Illinois to 13 points excluding a pick-six. The unit will buoy the Hilltoppers while quarterback Mike White deals with a shaky blocking unit.

    Prediction: Western Kentucky 34, Louisiana Tech 27

        

    Oregon (2-0) at Wyoming (1-1), 7 p.m. ET

    The second of two high-profile nonconference outings for Wyoming is at home. That should help quarterback Josh Allen, who stumbled in the road opener against Iowa. He should be more successful against a rebuilding Oregon defense. The issue for the Pokes is they'll labor to match the speed of the Justin Herbert-led attack.

    Prediction: Oregon 48, Wyoming 27

       

    No. 18 Kansas State (2-0) at Vanderbilt (2-0), 7:30 p.m. ET

    Kansas State quietly wrecked Central Arkansas and Charlotte, scoring 55 points in each contest. Vanderbilt, however, boasts a stingy defense that surrendered just 2.9 yards per play and six total points in the first two games. K-State will grab a quick lead, but the 'Dores will challenge the Wildcats to the final whistleprovided quarterback Kyle Shurmur's early improvement is real.

    Prediction: Kansas State 27, Vanderbilt 20

        

    Kentucky (2-0) at South Carolina (2-0), 7:30 p.m. ET

    Kentucky is an unimpressive 2-0, while South Carolina has earned praise after toppling NC State and Missouri. The Wildcats could use this game as the turning point in their overall performance. But as their unsteady offensive line goes up against a disruptive front, the more likely result is a close Gamecocks win.

    Prediction: South Carolina 27, Kentucky 23

Other Saturday Evening Games

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    North Carolina A&T (2-0) at Charlotte (0-2), 6 p.m. ET

    Charlotte only scored seven points in losses to both Eastern Michigan and Kansas State. North Carolina A&T, which blew out its first two opponents, will present a considerable challenge for the 49ers. Charlotte will stave off the upset thanks to dual-threat quarterback Hasaan Klugh, though.

    Prediction: Charlotte 27, North Carolina A&T 24

       

    Colgate (1-1) at Buffalo (0-2), 6 p.m. ET

    Defense hasn't been a problem for Buffalo, since the unit limited Minnesota and Army to fewer than five yards per play on the road. Expect more of the same when Colgate comes to town. Moving the ball more consistently will get the Bulls over the hump against a solid FCS opponent.

    Prediction: Buffalo 24, Colgate 16

       

    Bethune-Cookman (1-1) at Florida Atlantic (0-2), 6:30 p.m. ET

    Bethune-Cookman is absolutely capable of putting a scare into Florida Atlantic. BCU quarterback Larry Brihm Jr. accurately tossed short passes against Miami and threw for 354 yards in his second start. FAU should finally get its running game on track, which will be the difference in a contested finish.

    Prediction: Florida Atlantic 31, Bethune-Cookman 23

       

    Kent State (1-1) at Marshall (1-1), 6:30 p.m. ET

    While nobody expected Kent State to compete with Clemson, the Golden Flashes allowed a few too many yards for comfort against Howard. Yes, the FCS squad had just shocked UNLV, but it doesn't bode well for Kent State's outings with quality offenses like Marshall. Chase Litton and Co. will jump ahead early and hang on.

    Prediction: Marshall 37, Kent State 24

       

    Southern Miss (1-1) at Louisiana-Monroe (0-1), 7 p.m. ET

    Louisiana-Monroe gave Memphis a four-quarter test before falling 39-27. Was that simply a bad day for Memphis, or did ULM improve immensely during the offseason? Southern Miss is the better team and should record a road victory, but this is a statement opportunity for the Warhawks.

    Prediction: Southern Miss 37, Louisiana-Monroe 27

       

    Southern (1-1) at UTSA (1-0), 7 p.m. ET

    Baylor's offense has been far less successful than expected, but UTSA had a wonderful performance against the Bears in Week 2. The Roadrunners should be able to carry over that defensive effort against Southern, which has only scored 14 total points in two games.

    Prediction: UTSA 34, Southern 7

       

    Arkansas-Pine Bluff (1-1) at Arkansas State (0-1), 7 p.m. ET

    Nebraska isn't a great team, but putting up 36 points on the Cornhuskers was a commendable performance. Behind quarterback Justice Hansen, Arkansas State will painlessly navigate an Arkansas-Pine Bluff team coming off a 49-point loss to Akron.

    Prediction: Arkansas State 45, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 13

       

    Idaho (1-1) at Western Michigan (0-2), 7 p.m. ET

    Giving up 357 rushing yards to UNLV is not an encouraging sign for Idaho prior to meeting Western Michigan, which piled up 263 yards on the ground against USC. The Vandals won't enjoy the trip to Kalamazoo unless they force a couple of fumbles.

    Prediction: Western Michigan 37, Idaho 20

       

    Alabama A&M (0-2) at South Alabama (0-2), 7 p.m. ET

    "Overpowered and outmatched" is the story of September for both programs, but South Alabama is more likely to buck the trend. Alabama A&M trudged to 286 total yards in losses to UAB and Vanderbilt, so a little bit of defense will go a long way for South Alabama.

    Prediction: South Alabama 34, Alabama A&M 10

       

    Tulsa (1-1) at Toledo (2-0), 7 p.m. ET

    Do you like scoring? Have we got the game for you. Tulsa hung 66 points on Louisiana, and Toledo is averaging 42 despite almost exclusively running the ball in the fourth quarter so far. Given Tulsa's explosiveness, the Rockets will unleash quarterback Logan Woodside for the first time in 2017. And he'll torch a hapless secondary.

    Prediction: Toledo 48, Tulsa 38

       

    Appalachian State (1-1) at Texas State (1-1), 7 p.m. ET

    On one side of the ball, Texas State could compete. The defense has accumulated 14 tackles for loss and ceded a meager 1.9 yards per carry over two showings. Unfortunately for the Bobcats, their offense will struggle to put together enough scoring drives to threaten Appalachian State.

    Prediction: Appalachian State 33, Texas State 14

       

    Idaho State (1-1) at Nevada (0-2), 7 p.m. ET

    Following a pair of losses to quality opponents in Northwestern and Toledo, Nevada should find its way into the win column. It won't happen without a decent fight from Idaho State, but the FCS visitors won't have the firepower to hang around in the second half. Running back Jaxson Kincaide will propel the Wolf Pack.

    Prediction: Nevada 37, Idaho State 17

       

    Georgia State (0-1) at No. 5 Penn State (2-0), 7:30 p.m. ET

    Georgia State dropped its season opener against Tennessee State of the FCS. Have fun with Saquon Barkley and Penn State! The Nittany Lions should quickly build a multi-possession advantage on the scoreboard and cruise to a third straight win.

    Prediction: Penn State 48, Georgia State 7

       

    Samford (2-0) at No. 13 Georgia (2-0), 7:30 p.m. ET

    Jacob Eason could return soon, but at Notre Dame the defense showed it's capable of carrying the Dawgs against even above-average competition. Although Samford has a respectable offense, a couple of takeaways will put Georgia on a winning path.

    Prediction: Georgia 45, Samford 13

       

    Bowling Green (0-2) at Northwestern (1-1), 7:30 p.m. ET

    Northwestern is prone to slow starts, and an ugly loss at Duke only continued the trend. Fortunately for the Wildcats, they can rebound against a Bowling Green team that played poorly at Michigan State and fell to FCS opponent South Dakota.

    Prediction: Northwestern 38, Bowling Green 14

Saturday Night Games

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    No. 3 Clemson (2-0) at No. 14 Louisville (2-0), 8 p.m. ET

    In case anyone doubted the ability of Clemson's defensive front, 11 sacks in a victory over Auburn should end that conversation. And while Louisville's blocking unit isn't great, at least it has Lamar Jackson ready to bail the linemen out. The one-man show will keep the Cardinals close, but Clemson's defense will make one final stopjust like 2016to eek out a critical victory.

    Prediction: Clemson 30, Louisville 27

       

    Rice (1-1) at Houston (1-0), 8 p.m. ET

    Following a sloppy outing against Stanford, Rice assembled a terrific bounce-back game opposite UTEP. However, the rushing attack that propelled the Owls in that matchup won't find similar success with Ed Oliver wreaking havoc on the interior.

    Prediction: Houston 41, Rice 13 

       

    Troy (1-1) at New Mexico State (1-1), 8 p.m. ET

    New Mexico State nearly pulled off an upset against Arizona State and held off a late charge from New Mexico to win the rivalry game. The common theme was a ton of passes from Tyler Rogers, who can be erratic—and tossed five interceptions against Troy last year. The Trojans secondary will snatch a couple of picks and shape the outcome.

    Prediction: Troy 30, New Mexico State 21

       

    Cincinnati (1-1) at Miami, Ohio (1-1), 8 p.m. ET

    With four lost fumbles in two weeks, ball security is a major concern for Miami. Cincinnati's defense, meanwhile, has recovered three loose balls. The RedHawks should defend home field thanks to quarterback Gus Ragland, but one silly turnover could swing this contest in Cincinnati's favor.

    Prediction: Miami 23, Cincinnati 20

       

    Arizona State (1-1) at Texas Tech (1-0), 8 p.m. ET

    Like a few other choices on the Week 3 slate, this nonconference clash should feature plenty of scoring. Texas Tech is the favorite, however, because the Red Raiders have a more explosive quarterback and Arizona State hasn't showed it can stop the run.

    Prediction: Texas Tech 45, Arizona State 37

       

    Texas (1-1) at No. 4 USC (2-0), 8:30 p.m. ET

    Shane Buechele has returned to practice, per Jeff Howe of 247Sports, but Texas' preferred quarterback is not a certainty for Saturday. However, his availability cannot completely offset the Longhorns' defensive woes. Ronald Jones II and USC should run all over Texas, which surrendered 263 yards and four touchdowns to Maryland.

    Prediction: USC 44, Texas 26

       

    Fresno State (1-1) at No. 6 Washington (2-0), 9:30 p.m. ET

    Following an unimpressive debut, Washington played like the team we expected and obliterated Montana, 63-7. Yes, Fresno State is a step up in competition, but the Bulldogswho lost to Alabama 41-10 in Week 2will labor to limit running backs Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman.

    Prediction: Washington 45, Fresno State 14

       

    San Jose State (1-2) at Utah (2-0), 10 p.m. ET

    Since taking a 16-point lead on USF in the season opener, San Jose State has been outscored 98-6 by Power Five opponents. Balanced offenses present a major problem for the Spartans, and Utahwhile not dynamichas a respectable attack. It may take the Utes a couple of quarters to create separation, but they will eventually.

    Prediction: Utah 38, San Jose State 13

       

    No. 19 Stanford (1-1) at San Diego State (2-0), 10:30 p.m. ET

    Possessions may be extremely limited in a matchup between two run-heavy teams. That, or short drives and punts will be a regular sight in San Diego. If the Aztecs score a non-offensive touchdown, they'll make it interesting. But in a game without turnovers, Stanfordwhich has yet to cede possession in 2017has the edge.

    Prediction: Stanford 28, San Diego State 17

       

    Ole Miss (2-0) at Cal (2-0), 10:30 p.m. ET

    We know Shea Patterson and the Ole Miss offense can score. How will the defense fare against power-conference competition? The Rebels probably won't grade out positively on that side, but they'll be fortunate Cal has an even rougher unit.

    Prediction: Ole Miss 47, Cal 37

       

    All recruiting information via Scout. Stats from cfbstats.com or B/R research. Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow Bleacher Report CFB writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.

Thursday Games

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    New Mexico (1-1) at Boise State (1-1), 8 p.m. ET

    Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien exited the loss at Washington State after a hard hit. His uncertain status means the Broncos may prepare Montell Cozart to start. Boise State will be fine if the Kansas transfer is under center since the stout run defense will play the biggest role in containing New Mexico.

    Prediction: Boise State 34, New Mexico 24

Friday Games

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    Illinois (2-0) at South Florida (2-0), 7 p.m. ET

    Illinois locked down Western Kentucky in Week 2, likely to the surprise of many college football viewers. Can the Illini put together an encore performance opposite Quinton Flowers? We're still giving USF the benefit of the doubt, but the early-season difficulty running the ball is a legitimate issue for the Bulls.

    Prediction: USF 33, Illinois 19

         

    UMass (0-3) at Temple (1-1), 7 p.m. ET

    UMass tight end Adam Breneman should have a bounce-back game, but the offense's struggles to stay balanced will be a problem against Temple. The Owls lean on running back Ryquell Armstead and shut down the Minutemen's ground game to snatch a tight win.

    Prediction: Temple 27, UMass 20

        

    Arizona (1-1) at UTEP (0-2), 10:15 p.m. ET

    It wasn't a surprise Oklahoma rolled over, around and through UTEP in Week 1, but it wasn't a promising development for the Miners that Rice did the same. Arizona will recover from a loss to Houston with a run-heavy attack while dealing with questions at quarterback.

    Prediction: Arizona 43, UTEP 23