College Football Picks: Week 3 Predictions for Every Game

Brian Pedersen@realBJPFeatured ColumnistSeptember 15, 2016

College Football Picks: Week 3 Predictions for Every Game

0 of 67

    Ole Miss looks to beat Alabama for the third year in a row.
    Ole Miss looks to beat Alabama for the third year in a row.Joe Murphy/Getty Images

    The 2016 college football season has produced a pair of excellent weeks of action—one that lived up to the hype (Week 1) and another that pleasantly surprised (last week). What's in store for the third go-around?

    This week's slate of 67 games features four matchups of ranked opponents and another seven where a ranked team is playing on the road. Those ranked pairings include games where the No. 1, 2 and 3 teams in the country are all on the road, which, according to the Associated Press' Ralph D. Russo, hasn't happened in nearly 13 years.

    Conference clashes in the ACC, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC are also on the docket, along with another dozen FCS-FBS pairings where a few more lower-division schools could join the seven FCS teams that have already pulled upsets this season.

    We've made predictions for every game and will update with results as they go final. Check out who we've picked to win, and then tell us your choices in the comments section.

    Note: All rankings are from the Associated Press poll.

    Last week: 60-15 (.800)

    Season: 129-32 (.801)

No. 2 Florida State at No. 10 Louisville

1 of 67

    Louisville QB Lamar Jackson
    Louisville QB Lamar JacksonBrett Carlsen/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; noon ET

    Last meeting: Florida State beat Louisville 41-21 last October.

    What to watch for

    Florida State (2-0) opens ACC play having scored 97 points in its first two games, and it might need at least half of that to beat a Louisville team that's scoring at a record pace. The Cardinals (2-0, 1-0) have found the end zone 18 times, with quarterback Lamar Jackson accounting for 13 of those along with 1,015 yards of total offense.

    Last week, Jackson became the first player in FBS history to throw for 400 yards and rush for 175 in a 62-28 win at Syracuse, when he gained 610 yards and was part of two 72-yard TDs in the first five minutes.

    He's made FSU redshirt freshman Deondre Francois seem almost pedestrian, though Francois is doing it as a first-time starter. He's thrown for 681 yards and five TDs on 69 percent passing.

    Both teams are known for their defense, but Louisville hasn't had to show it yet, and the Seminoles will be down a key player in sophomore safety Derwin James. James needs surgery to repair torn knee cartilage, putting extra pressure on the rest of FSU's defenders.

    Louisville wants to be considered a player in the ACC. This is the chance to do it, but it will have to avoid being the latest team to give up a big lead to FSU like Ole Miss did on Labor Day. Neither team will lead by more than two scores, and it will be lower scoring than expected.

    Prediction: Louisville 27, Florida State 24

Ohio at No. 15 Tennessee

2 of 67

    Derek Barnett (left) and Justin Martin hold up the Battle of Bristol trophy Tennessee claimed after beating Virginia Tech.
    Derek Barnett (left) and Justin Martin hold up the Battle of Bristol trophy Tennessee claimed after beating Virginia Tech.Michael Shroyer/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; noon ET

    Last meeting: Tennessee beat Ohio 34-23 in September 2009.

    What to watch for

    Ohio (1-1) won 37-21 at Kansas thanks to 313 yards of total offense from Greg Windham. The senior has 743 yards and six touchdowns in two games for a Bobcats offense that is running 95 plays per game.

    Tennessee (2-0) spotted Virginia Tech a 14-0 lead and then raced past the Hokies for a 45-24 win at Bristol Motor Speedway. Though a far more complete performance than the overtime victory against Appalachian State, the Volunteers still stumbled out of the gate, and Joshua Dobbs has completed only 54.2 percent of his passes.

    With the next four games against currently ranked SEC opponents, this is Tennessee's last chance to work out the kinks. Expect a hard push to jump out of the gate fast and put the game away early.

    Prediction: Tennessee 47, Ohio 22

Georgia State at No. 9 Wisconsin

3 of 67

    Wisconsin RB Ricky Finco
    Wisconsin RB Ricky FincoDylan Buell/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; noon ET

    Last meeting: None

    What to watch for

    Georgia State (0-2) has given up 789 yards and nine touchdowns in two games, outscored 79-35 by Ball State and Air Force. The Panthers are 0-7 all time against power-conference opponents, each loss by at least 28 points.

    Wisconsin (2-0) pounded Akron 54-10 thanks to 294 rushing yards, its most since beating Hawaii last September. The Badgers' run game is making strides but still isn't at the level it was before 2015, when for five straight seasons they averaged at least 235 yards per game.

    Expect a ton of ground production in Wisconsin's final tuneup before a Big Ten gauntlet that begins with four straight ranked opponents, three of which are on the road.

    Prediction: Wisconsin 58, Georgia State 14

    FINAL: Wisconsin 23, Georgia State 17

No. 25 Miami (Florida) at Appalachian State

4 of 67

    Miami RB Joseph Yearby
    Miami RB Joseph YearbyJoel Auerbach/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; noon ET

    Last meeting: None

    What to watch for

    Miami (2-0) has been minimally tested in home wins over Florida A&M and Florida Atlantic by a combined 108-13, with the most notable development being the running of Mark Walton and Joseph Yearby. They've paced a rushing attack that ranks sixth nationally at 326 yards per game.

    Appalachian State (1-1) gets a second chance to beat a ranked team after losing in overtime at Tennessee on Sept. 1. The Mountaineers have held six consecutive opponents under 400 yards and are giving up 3.84 yards per carry this season.

    This is Miami's third trip to play a "Group of Five" team in the past two seasons, an odd scheduling philosophy for a power program. It resulted in a loss at Cincinnati last October and will make its Top 25 ranking a distant memory.

    Prediction: Appalachian State 26, Miami 21

    FINAL: Miami 45, Appalachian State 10

South Carolina State at No. 5 Clemson

5 of 67

    Clemson QB Deshaun Watson
    Clemson QB Deshaun WatsonTyler Smith/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; noon ET

    Last meeting: Clemson beat South Carolina State 73-7 in September 2014.

    What to watch for

    South Carolina State (0-2) has lost at UCF and Louisiana Tech to start the season, dropping it to 0-14 against FBS schools. The Bulldogs have been outscored 91-24 and outgained 1,189-516 so far.

    Clemson (2-0) has a pair of uninspiring six-point wins on its resume so far, 19-13 at Auburn and then 30-24 against Troy. The Tigers' 406.5 yards per game are 108 fewer than last season when they reached the national championship game.

    The Tigers are 30-0 against the FCS and should have their best performance of the season to date.

    Prediction: Clemson 64, South Carolina State 10

    FINAL: Clemson 59, South Carolina State 0

North Dakota State at No. 13 Iowa

6 of 67

    Iowa celebrates after retaining the Cy-Hawk Trophy awarded to the winner of the annual Iowa-Iowa State game.
    Iowa celebrates after retaining the Cy-Hawk Trophy awarded to the winner of the annual Iowa-Iowa State game.Matthew Holst/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; noon ET

    Last meeting: Iowa beat North Dakota State 59-0 in September 1947.

    What to watch for

    North Dakota State (2-0) is the five-time defending FCS champion and has won five straight games against FBS opponents, most recently in 2014 at Iowa State. The Bison, however, have needed overtime to win their first two games of 2016 at home against Charleston Southern and Eastern Washington.

    Iowa (2-0) has won its last 14 regular-season games, most recently 42-3 against rival Iowa State. The Hawkeyes are 13-0 against the FCS ranks, but their last four such games were decided by an average of only 12.5. None of those opponents were as good as North Dakota State.

    North Dakota State isn't as good this season as during its current title run but will still be a tough out. Iowa doesn't lock it up until the fourth quarter.

    Prediction: Iowa 30, North Dakota State 21

    FINAL: North Dakota State 23, Iowa 21

Iowa State at TCU

7 of 67

    TCU WR KaVontae Turpin
    TCU WR KaVontae TurpinRonald Martinez/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; noon ET

    Last meeting: TCU won 45-21 at Iowa State last October.

    What to watch for

    Iowa State (0-2) managed just a field goal in a blowout loss at rival Iowa, a week after head coach Matt Campbell's debut with the Cyclones was spoiled by losing to FCS Northern Iowa. Maybe leaving the state will kick-start a run game that's produced 2.95 yards per carry, second-worst in the Big 12.

    TCU (1-1) opens conference play still smarting over the double-overtime home loss to Arkansas, a game in which it rallied to take the lead in the fourth quarter but then allowed touchdowns on the last three drives. The Horned Frogs have allowed 82 points and 6.31 yards per play, forcing only one turnover so far.

    Head coach Gary Patterson's team is out of the rankings for the first time since September 2014, and while a win here might not fix that immediately, it will be a step in the right direction.

    Prediction: TCU 51, Iowa State 21

    FINAL: TCU 41, Iowa State 20

Akron at Marshall

8 of 67

    Marshall QB Chase Litton
    Marshall QB Chase LittonJoe Robbins/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; noon ET

    Last meeting: Marshall won 48-17 at Akron in September 2014.

    What to watch for

    Akron (1-1) allowed 294 rushing yards in a 54-10 loss at Wisconsin—its worst performance against the run since November 2014. The Zips had won four of their previous five road games.

    Marshall (1-0) opened the 2016 season last week by shutting out Morgan State 62-0, representing its largest margin of victory since moving back to FBS in 1997. The Thundering Herd have won eight in a row and 21 of 22 in Huntington.

    Prediction: Marshall 34, Akron 19

    FINAL: Akron 65, Marshall 38

New Mexico at Rutgers

9 of 67

    Rutgers WR Janarion Grant
    Rutgers WR Janarion GrantMel Evans/Associated Press

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; noon ET

    Last meeting: None

    What to watch for

    New Mexico (1-1) gave up a nine-point fourth-quarter lead to fall 32-31 at rival New Mexico State last week. The Lobos are averaging 324.5 rushing yards per game, seventh-best in FBS.

    Rutgers (1-1) scored 52 consecutive points after trailing FCS Howard 14-0 in the first quarter to win its home opener. The Scarlet Knights haven't won consecutive games since the end of the 2014 season.

    New Mexico hasn't beaten a power-conference team since 2008.

    Prediction: Rutgers 33, New Mexico 26

    FINAL: Rutgers 37, New Mexico 28

Middle Tennessee at Bowling Green

10 of 67

    Bowling Green QB James Knapke
    Bowling Green QB James KnapkeGreg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; noon ET

    Last meeting: None

    What to watch for

    Middle Tennessee (1-1) lost 47-24 at Vanderbilt despite a career-high 399 passing yards from Brent Stockstill, who has topped the 300-yard mark in seven of the last eight games. The Blue Raiders are 4-8 against current Mid-American Conference teams.

    Bowling Green (1-1) avoided its first 0-2 start since 2010 when North Dakota went for two and didn't covert at the end of a 27-26 win. A year after Matt Johnson threw only eight interceptions in 569 attempts, Falcons quarterbacks James Knapke and James Morgan have been picked off six times in 85 throws.

    Stockstill has 4,733 passing yards and 38 touchdowns since the start of 2015 and will have another big game, but Bowling Green plays well at home and will pull it out.

    Prediction: Bowling Green 38, Middle Tennessee 34

    FINAL: Middle Tennessee 41, Bowling Green 21

Temple at Penn State

11 of 67

    Penn State RB Saquon Barkley leaps over the goal line for a touchdown last Saturday at Pittsburgh.
    Penn State RB Saquon Barkley leaps over the goal line for a touchdown last Saturday at Pittsburgh.Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; noon ET

    Last meeting: Temple beat Penn State 27-10 last September.

    What to watch for

    Temple (1-1) beat Stony Brook 38-0 for its first shutout win in almost two years. The Owls haven't had their best rusher, Jahad Thomas, due to a thumb injury, and his status remains uncertain for this in-state clash.

    Penn State (1-1) showed some spunk despite losing 42-39 at Pittsburgh, since it trailed 14-0 and 28-7. Despite what was supposed to be a greater emphasis on the run this season, the Nittany Lions' per-game average (109.5) is more than 24 yards below last season when they ranked 106th in FBS. The Lions will avenge last year's embarrassing loss at Temple and might even try to run it up a little for good measure.

    Prediction: Penn State 38, Temple 17

    FINAL: Penn State 34, Temple 27

Kansas at Memphis

12 of 67

    Memphis RB Patrick Taylor Jr.
    Memphis RB Patrick Taylor Jr.Joe Murphy/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; noon ET

    Last meeting: Memphis won 55-23 at Kansas last September.

    What to watch for

    Kansas (1-1) couldn't give its fans a reason to storm the field for a second straight week, losing 37-21 at home to Ohio. Now the Jayhawks play their next two on the road, where they've lost 35 consecutive games dating back to the 2009 season.

    Memphis (1-0) was off last week after opening with a 35-17 win against Southeast Missouri State. The Tigers last beat the same power-conference team in consecutive seasons when they downed Ole Miss in 2003-04.

    Kansas might be vastly improved from last year's winless team, but expecting road wins anytime soon isn't part of the equation.

    Prediction: Memphis 33, Kansas 17

    FINAL: Memphis 43, Kansas 7

Vanderbilt at Georgia Tech

13 of 67

    Georgia Tech QB Justin Thomas
    Georgia Tech QB Justin ThomasDavid Goldman/Associated Press

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 12:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Georgia Tech won 56-31 at Vanderbilt in October 2009.

    What to watch for

    Vanderbilt (1-1) scored 47 points in a home win over Middle Tennessee—the most against an FBS school since September 2013. The Commodores are only averaging 4.25 yards per play and 293 yards per game, but they avoided their third straight 0-2 start and the fourth in five seasons.

    Georgia Tech (2-0) isn't doing much better (341 yards per game), but it's averaging 5.03 yards per carry with another balanced option run game. More importantly, the Yellow Jackets are getting off the field on defense and aren't being forced out of their comfort zone by passing.

    Vanderbilt has looked good against the run, but the option is a different animal. Georgia Tech controls the clock and gets the win.

    Prediction: Georgia Tech 24, Vanderbilt 16

    FINAL: Georgia Tech 38, Vanderbilt 7

Virginia at Connecticut

14 of 67

    Connecticut WR Noel Thomas Sr.
    Connecticut WR Noel Thomas Sr.Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 1:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Connecticut beat Virginia 45-10 in September 2008.

    What to watch for

    Virginia (0-2) has lost at home to an FCS school and on the road to Oregon, each by at least 17 points. The Cavaliers are allowing 7.61 yards per play, third-worst in the country.

    Connecticut (1-1) mismanaged a goal-line possession at the end of its 28-24 loss at Navy last Saturday in American Athletic Conference play. The Huskies are looking for their first win over a power-conference team since beating Rutgers in 2013.

    Head coach Bronco Mendenhall, who was at BYU for 11 seasons before taking the Virginia job, will be 0-3 for the first time in his career. 

    Prediction: Connecticut 27, Virginia 20

    FINAL: Connecticut 13, Virginia 10

Idaho at Washington State

15 of 67

    Washington State QB Luke Falk
    Washington State QB Luke FalkOtto Kitsinger/Associated Press

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 2 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Washington State beat Idaho 42-0 in September 2013.

    What to watch for

    Idaho (1-1) fell 59-14 at Washington for its 31st consecutive loss against a power-conference team. The Vandals, in the middle of a three-game road trip, have dropped 28 of their last 29 outside the Kibbie Dome in Moscow.

    Washington State (0-2) played much better in a 31-28 loss at Boise State than in the opening setback to FCS Eastern Washington, particularly on defense. But the Cougars are still last in FBS in yards allowed per play at 8.08, squandering quarterback Luke Falk's 898 passing yards and 78.7 percent completion rate.

    The Cougars haven't been 0-3 since 2008 and have won eight straight against an Idaho team located nine miles away. 

    Prediction: Washington State 53, Idaho 24

    FINAL: Washington State 56, Idaho 6

North Carolina A&T at Tulsa

16 of 67

    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 2 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: None

    What to watch for

    North Carolina A&T (2-0) won 39-36 in four overtimes at Kent State last week for its first-ever victory against an FBS school. The Aggies are 19th in the FCS rankings.

    Tulsa (1-1) comes home looking to rebound from a 48-3 loss at Ohio State in which it was tied 3-3 early in the second quarter before falling apart. Quarterback Dane Evans, who was picked off four times last week, only threw eight interceptions in 13 games last season.

    The Golden Hurricane will look more like the team that scored 45 against San Jose State in Week 1 but will give up some points. 

    Prediction: Tulsa 47, North Carolina A&T 24

    FINAL: Tulsa 58, North Carolina A&T 21

Florida Atlantic at Kansas State

17 of 67

    David Madison/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 2:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Kansas State beat Florida Atlantic 45-0 in September 2006.

    What to watch for

    Florida Atlantic (1-1) lost 38-10 to Miami (Florida) to drop to 1-30 against power-conference teams, its only win coming in 2007 against Minnesota. The Owls have allowed 30 or more points in three straight games.

    Kansas State (0-1) opened with a loss at Stanford before taking last week off. The Wildcats haven't started 0-2 since 1989, when they went 1-10 in Bill Snyder's first season as coach.

    The Wildcats' last loss to a non-power team came in 2013 to North Dakota State during the third year of its current five-year run as FCS national champions. Florida Atlantic isn't half as good as that opponent.

    Prediction: Kansas State 36, Florida Atlantic 16

    FINAL: Kansas State 63, Florida Atlantic 7

UNLV at Central Michigan

18 of 67

    Central Michigan QB Cooper Rush
    Central Michigan QB Cooper RushAlonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 3 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: UNLV beat Central Michigan 31-21 in September 2013.

    What to watch for

    UNLV (1-1) has lost 13 of its last 14 road games, but the 42-21 loss at UCLA last week was a seven-point game entering the fourth quarter. The Runnin' Rebels are averaging 5.76 yards per carry, 18th in FBS and 1.11 yards better than last season.

    Central Michigan (2-0) scored the craziest win of last week with its Hail Mary pass and lateral to beat Oklahoma State 30-27 on the road. Though the play shouldn't have counted, resulting in the Mid-American officiating crew getting suspended, it still counts as the Chippewas' first-ever win over a Big 12 school and fourth against a power-conference team since 2009.

    Quarterback Cooper Rush, who moved into second on the school's career passing list, needs 51 yards to get to 10,000. He'll get there before the first quarter is over.

    Prediction: Central Michigan 37, UNLV 20

    FINAL: Central Michigan 44, UNLV 21

Fresno State at Toledo

19 of 67

    Toledo RB Kareem Hunt
    Toledo RB Kareem HuntDavid Richard/Associated Press

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 3 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Fresno State won 55-54 at Toledo in September 2008.

    What to watch for

    Fresno State (1-1) beat Sacramento State 31-3 last week for its fewest points allowed in nearly seven years. The Bulldogs have lost seven of eight on the road and haven't won east of the Rocky Mountains since 2010.

    Toledo (2-0) has averaged 7.88 yards per play so far, fifth-best in the country, and its defense is one of 14 in FBS that has yet to allow a passing touchdown. The Rockets haven't had consecutive 3-0 starts since 2000-01.

    Prediction: Toledo 48, Fresno State 20

    FINAL: Toledo 52, Fresno State 17

Eastern Kentucky at Ball State

20 of 67

    Ball State WR Jordan Hogue
    Ball State WR Jordan HogueMarc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 3 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Eastern Kentucky beat Ball State 13-12 in September 1970.

    What to watch for

    Eastern Kentucky (1-1) lost at Purdue in Week 1 to fall to 7-26 against FBS opponents. The Colonels won at Miami (Ohio) in 2014.

    Ball State (1-1) plays at home for the first time after opening with a win at Georgia State followed by a 10-point loss to Indiana. The Cardinals trailed 30-0 last week and have turned it over five times this season after having only 15 takeaways in 2015.

    The Cardinals have 10 losses to FCS schools, most recently in 2014, but coach Mike Neu will win his home opener.

    Prediction: Ball State 27, Eastern Kentucky 18

    FINAL: Ball State 41, Eastern Kentucky 14

No. 1 Alabama at No. 19 Ole Miss

21 of 67

    Alabama WR Robert Foster
    Alabama WR Robert FosterKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Ole Miss won 43-37 at Alabama last September.

    What to watch for

    Alabama (2-0) has outscored its first two opponents 90-16, yet coach Nick Saban isn't satisfied, based on what he called a sideline "ass chewing" of offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin late in last week's 38-10 win over Western Kentucky. The Crimson Tide are gaining 6.53 yards per play and freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts has accounted for six touchdowns, but there's a reason Saban has won so many national titles.

    He knows that what 'Bama has done to this point isn't good enough, especially when heading out to face the team it has lost to each of the past two seasons.

    "What Alabama needs is stability—and fast," Bleacher Report's Christopher Walsh wrote.

    Ole Miss (1-1) has the past on its side when it comes to facing the Tide, but the present has been uneven. First there was the collapse against Florida State, giving up 36 straight points after being up 22, and then an unimpressive 38-13 win over FCS Wofford.

    The Rebels have been able to take advantage of 'Bama not being set in its ways when they met in 2014 and 2015, and while the Tide are still figuring out their offensive identity, the defense remains rock solid. Saban hasn't lost three years in a row to the same opponent since 1997-99, to Purdue while at Michigan State.

    Prediction: Alabama 33, Ole Miss 21

    FINAL: Alabama 48, Ole Miss 43

Colorado at No. 4 Michigan

22 of 67

    Chris Evans (12) takes a pitch from Wilton Speight.
    Chris Evans (12) takes a pitch from Wilton Speight.Dave Reginek/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Michigan beat Colorado 27-3 in September 1997.

    What to watch for

    Colorado (2-0) has been one of the biggest surprises out of the power conferences this season, not for beating Colorado State and Idaho State but doing so in dominant fashion, outscoring them 100-14. The Buffaloes are allowing 2.7 yards per play, and the run game has gained 261 yards per game after rushing for only 276 yards in their last four games of 2015.

    But now comes a test against a defense that has looked really good, albeit against similarly inferior competition.

    Michigan (2-0) saw little resistance in wins of 63-3 over Hawaii and 51-14 against UCF, recording seven sacks and 20 tackles for loss. Wilton Speight is completing 70 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns, and though no featured back has emerged, the Wolverines have no shortage of options.

    This will be Michigan's toughest game to date, and it might have some trouble early, particularly if Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau can spread the ball around. But don't expect a replay of the famed 1994 game in Ann Arbor that Colorado won on a Hail Mary, even if the Buffaloes are wearing the same uniform combination.

    Prediction: Michigan 37, Colorado 17

    FINAL: Michigan 45, Colorado 28

No. 22 Oregon at Nebraska

23 of 67

    Nebraska WR Jordan Westerkamp
    Nebraska WR Jordan WesterkampSteven Branscombe/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Nebraska beat Oregon 48-14 in September 1986.

    What to watch for

    Oregon (2-0) has looked its usual self on offense in lopsided wins over UC-Davis and Virginia, averaging 48.5 points per game and 8.07 yards per play. Royce Freeman is churning out 9.19 yards per carry, and Dakota Prukop has six touchdowns and a 68.9 percent completion rate.

    It's the Ducks defense, and its attempt to be more helpful under coordinator Brady Hoke's watch, that will dictate how the season goes. So far so good, the 4.88 yards allowed per play far below last season's 6.03 rate.

    Nebraska (2-0) is in a similar boat with its defense, which gave up 27.8 points per game and 5.88 yards per play in 2015 but has forced eight turnovers and allowed 27 total points. If the Cornhuskers could get their offense to follow suit, at least in the first half, there's no telling how far they could go in the Big Ten.

    The 'Huskers have scored 64 of 95 points after halftime but will need more early on to keep pace with Oregon.

    Prediction: Nebraska 37, Oregon 31

    FINAL: Nebraska 35, Oregon 32

Boston College at Virginia Tech

24 of 67

    Virginia Tech WR Cam Phillips was responsible for one of the Hokies' five lost fumbles against Tennessee.
    Virginia Tech WR Cam Phillips was responsible for one of the Hokies' five lost fumbles against Tennessee.Michael Shroyer/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Virginia Tech won 26-10 at Boston College last October.

    What to watch for

    Boston College (1-1, 0-1 ACC) ended a nine-game losing streak by winning 26-7 at Massachusetts last week but there's still the run of nine consecutive league losses to deal with. Twenty points and 332 yards per game don't sound like much, but it's a vast improvement over last year.

    Virginia Tech (1-1) will be glad to be back in the cozy confines of 65,000-seat Lane Stadium after an NCAA-record 156,990 fans watched it lose 45-24 to Tennessee at Bristol Motor Speedway. The Hokies have had major trouble holding on to the ball, losing nine fumbles.

    BC has already recovered three fumbles and forced four this season. The Eagles will knock another one or two loose, but Tech will figure things out enough to give head coach Justin Fuente a win in his first ACC game. 

    Prediction: Virginia Tech 26, Boston College 13

    FINAL: Virginia Tech 49, Boston College 0

Pittsburgh at Oklahoma State

25 of 67

    Oklahoma State RB Chris Carson
    Oklahoma State RB Chris CarsonJ Pat Carter/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: None

    What to watch for

    Pittsburgh (2-0) held off Penn State 42-39 in the renewal of a heated rivalry, a game that saw the Panthers' run game erupt for the most yards (341) since November 2014. They allowed four rushing TDs to Penn State but are holding opponents to 1.98 yards per carry on the ground.

    Oklahoma State (1-1) deserved to win its game against Central Michigan since the game-ending Hail Mary touchdown shouldn't have been allowed, but the Cowboys are also to blame for putting themselves in position to lose. They led 14-0 early but couldn't slow down the passing game, and their offense was 1-of-11 on third down.

    The Cowboys have lost three straight home games to FBS opponents. To end that skid they'll need to lean on an improved run defense.

    Prediction: Oklahoma State 28, Pittsburgh 23

    FINAL: Oklahoma State 45, Pittsburgh 38

San Diego State at Northern Illinois

26 of 67

    San Diego State QB Donnel Pumphrey
    San Diego State QB Donnel PumphreySean M. Haffey/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: San Diego State beat Northern Illinois 30-10 in September 1971.

    What to watch for

    San Diego State (2-0) has won 12 straight games, the latest a 45-40 victory over California for its first win against a power-conference team since 2011. Donnel Pumphrey ran for a career-best 281 yards and passed Marshall Faulk for the Aztecs' career rushing mark

    The Aztecs picked off three passes against Cal. They have 31 takeaways during their win streak but haven't won a nonconference road game since 2013.

    Northern Illinois (0-2) was blown out at South Florida after falling in triple overtime in its opener and has lost five in a row since despite winning a sixth straight Mid-American West Division title last season. The Huskies have allowed 193 points during that skid and allowed at least 230 rushing yards in each setback.

    Pumphrey will run all over the Huskies.

    Prediction: San Diego State 30, Northern Illinois 20

    FINAL: San Diego State 42, Northern Illinois 28

Florida International at Massachusetts

27 of 67

    Florida International QB Maurice Alexander
    Florida International QB Maurice AlexanderRob Foldy/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Massachusetts beat Florida International 24-14 last October.

    What to watch for

    Florida International (0-2) hits the road after playing poorly in a pair of home games against Big Ten schools, losing to Indiana and Maryland by a combined 75-27. The Golden Panthers have lost their last six road games.

    Massachusetts (0-2) managed only 122 yards and had minus-23 yards on the ground in a 26-7 home loss to Boston College. The Minutemen rank last in FBS in total offense (154.5 yards per game) and scoring.

    We're guaranteed an 0-3 team after this one, and it might take overtime to figure out who that is.

    Prediction: Florida International 25, Massachusetts 22

    FINAL: Massachusetts 21, Florida International 13

Western Kentucky at Miami (Ohio)

28 of 67

    Western Kentucky QB Tyler Ferguson
    Western Kentucky QB Tyler FergusonKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Western Kentucky beat Miami 56-14 last September.

    What to watch for

    Western Kentucky (1-1) managed only 239 yards and didn't get to the end zone until 46 seconds were left Saturday, but since it was at defending champion Alabama, the result can be considered an outlier. The Hilltoppers more closely resemble the team that scored 46 and gained 649 yards the week before against Rice.

    Miami (0-2) lost to FCS Eastern Illinois, giving up two touchdowns in the final 3:57 for its fifth loss in its last six home games. The RedHawks are trying to avoid a fifth 0-3 start since 2009.

    Prediction: Western Kentucky 41, Miami 20

    FINAL: Western Kentucky 31, Miami 24

South Florida at Syracuse

29 of 67

    South Florida QB Quinton Flowers
    South Florida QB Quinton FlowersJason Behnken/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: South Florida beat Syracuse 45-24 last October.

    What to watch for

    South Florida (2-0) gained 658 yards in a 48-17 win over Northern Illinois last week, its seventh straight game with at least 200 rushing yards. The Bulls are seeking their first 3-0 start since 2011.

    Syracuse (1-1) yielded 845 yards to Louisville in a 62-28 home loss last Friday, the most points it'd allowed since a 62-0 loss to Virginia Tech in 1999. Head coach Dino Babers' uptempo system is averaging 87 plays per game, nearly 25 more than last year's Orange team, but they're only 78th nationally in yards per play.

    The Orange defense is giving up 7.21 yards per play and has allowed nine plays of 30 or more yards, tied for second-most in the country. South Florida isn't as explosive as Louisville but almost as potent.

    Prediction: South Florida 35, Syracuse 29

    FINAL: South Florida 45, Syracuse 20

James Madison at North Carolina

30 of 67

    North Carolina QB Mitch Trubisky
    North Carolina QB Mitch TrubiskyMike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: North Carolina beat James Madison 42-10 in September 2011.

    What to watch for

    James Madison (2-0) is ranked eighth in the FCS after beating Central Connecticut 56-21 last weekend. The Dukes are 6-25 against FBS schools, winning at SMU last season and at Virginia Tech in 2010.

    North Carolina (1-1) plays the first of two FCS opponents for the second consecutive season, but after opening with power schools Georgia and Illinois, an easier matchup isn't so bad. The Tar Heels won 48-23 at Illinois but allowed more than five yards per carry on the ground for a fifth straight game.

    James Madison leads FCS in rushing at 405 yards per game, averaging 6.28 yards per carry with 13 touchdowns. UNC hasn't lost to an FCS school since 1999 but is in great risk of doing so if it can't make some stops.

    Prediction: North Carolina 45, James Madison 33

    FINAL: North Carolina 56, James Madison 28

Monmouth at Kent State

31 of 67

    Kent State QB Mylik Mitchell
    Kent State QB Mylik MitchellMatthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: None

    What to watch for

    Monmouth (2-0) brings a four-game win streak into its second-ever meeting with an FBS school. Last September the Hawks lost 31-10 at Central Michigan during a 5-6 season.

    Kent State (0-2) has dropped seven in a row after losing in four overtimes at home to FCS North Carolina State. The Golden Flashes scored 22 points after regulation, more than they had in any full game since last September, yet still failed to gain 300 yards for the seventh straight game.

    Another loss to an FCS school might be the final nail in the coffin for coach Paul Haynes, who is 9-28 in three-plus seasons.

    Prediction: Kent State 23, Monmouth 19

    FINAL: Kent State 27, Monmouth 7

Western Michigan at Illinois

32 of 67

    Illinois RB Ke'Shawn Vaughn
    Illinois RB Ke'Shawn VaughnMichael Hickey/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 4 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Illinois beat Western Michigan 24-7 in September 2012.

    What to watch for

    Western Michigan (2-0) is off to its best start since 1994 thanks to a season-opening win at Northwestern and last week's blowout of FCS North Carolina Central. The Broncos have played Big Ten teams tough under coach P.J. Fleck, as the Northwestern win was its first since 2008 but last season they fell by only 13 at home to eventual league champion Michigan State and in 2014 they lost by nine at Purdue.

    Illinois (1-1) lost 48-23 at home to North Carolina, managing only 309 yards. The Fighting Illini have lost their last six games in which they've failed to gain at least 400 yards and lost eight straight when yielding at least 400.

    Western Michigan has averaged 515.8 during a four-game win streak. It will give Illinois a hard push but the Fighting Illini will pull it out late.

    Prediction: Illinois 31, Western Michigan 27

    FINAL: Western Michigan 34, Illinois 10

New Mexico State at Kentucky

33 of 67

    Kentucky RB Boom Williams
    Kentucky RB Boom WilliamsMike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 4 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: None

    What to watch for

    New Mexico State (1-1) scored twice late to beat rival New Mexico at home last week even though star running back Larry Rose III missed a second straight game. The Aggies haven't beaten a power-conference team since 2011, at Minnesota.

    Kentucky (0-2) allowed 79 unanswered points from late in the first half of its season-opening loss to Southern Mississippi until the final minutes of last week's 45-7 setback at Florida. The Wildcats have run only 98 offensive plays this season, fewest of any team that's played twice.

    A loss here wouldn't just mean Kentucky's worst start since 1982—it would also likely cost head coach Mark Stoops his job.

    Prediction: Kentucky 43, New Mexico State 24

    FINAL: Kentucky 62, New Mexico State 42

East Carolina at South Carolina

34 of 67

    South Carolina QB Brandon McIlwain
    South Carolina QB Brandon McIlwainWesley Hitt/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 4 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: South Carolina beat East Carolina 33-23 in September 2014.

    What to watch for

    East Carolina (2-0) beat an ACC team for the fourth consecutive season, knocking off North Carolina State at home. Former Minnesota quarterback Philip Nelson has completed 81.3 percent of his passes with six touchdowns, and the Pirates are averaging 5.96 yards per carry, two better than in 2015.

    South Carolina (1-1) has managed 27 points and 551 yards in two games, the run game producing a mere 2.46 yards per carry. Those numbers came on the road against SEC opponents, so head coach Will Muschamp's home debut could be the setting for a breakout performance.

    As much success as East Carolina has had with the ACC, it's 6-27 against current SEC teams with the last win coming against South Carolina in 1999.

    Prediction: South Carolina 27, East Carolina 22

    FINAL: South Carolina 20, East Carolina 15

Northern Colorado at Colorado State

35 of 67

    Colorado State RB Dalyn Dawkins
    Colorado State RB Dalyn DawkinsThe Coloradoan-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 4 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Colorado State beat Northern Colorado 33-14 in September 2011.

    What to watch for

    Northern Colorado (2-0) has scored 111 points in its first two games, winning 55-52 at Abilene Christian last week. The Bears are winless in nine tries against FBS schools.

    Wyoming (1-1) lost 52-17 at Nebraska last week thanks to six turnovers, four of which came after pulling within 24-17 in the third quarter. Six of the Cowboys' seven wins under coach Craig Bohl have been in Laramie, where the altitude tends to give them a distinct advantage against lower-elevation opponents.

    It helped in the season-opening triple-overtime win against Northern Illinois and will again here.

    Prediction: Colorado State 37, Northern Colorado 17

    FINAL: Colorado State 47, Northern Colorado 21

UC Davis at Wyoming

36 of 67

    Wyoming QB Josh Allen
    Wyoming QB Josh AllenBruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 4 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: None

    What to watch for

    UC Davis (1-1) opened 2016 with a 53-28 loss at Oregon, making it 2-15 against FBS schools. The Aggies won at San Jose State in 2010.

    Wyoming (1-1) lost 52-17 at Nebraska last week thanks to six turnovers, four of which came after pulling within 24-17 in the third quarter. The Cowboys have lost eight in a row on the road but are 6-7 in Laramie under coach Craig Bohl, though one of those losses was last September to FCS North Dakota.

    Prediction: Wyoming 27, UC Davis 20

    FINAL: Wyoming 45, UC Davis 22

Idaho State at Oregon State

37 of 67

    Oregon State DT Noke Tago
    Oregon State DT Noke TagoAdam Bettcher/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 5 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Oregon State beat Idaho State 61-10 in September 2007.

    What to watch for

    Idaho State (1-1) lost 56-7 at Colorado last week, dropping its record against the FBS to 4-17. The Bengals' last win against a big school came in 2000 at Utah State and they've been outscored 188-15 by their last three FBS foes.

    Oregon State (0-1) was off last week after opening the season with a 30-23 loss at Minnesota. The Beavers have dropped 10 straight, the longest active skid in FBS, but the offensive performance at Minnesota was promising with the second-most passing yards since Gary Andersen took over as coach last year.

    Extra practice and a home opener makes for the end of a losing streak.

    Prediction: Oregon State 43, Idaho State 13

    FINAL: Oregon State 37, Idaho State 7

Louisiana-Monroe at Georgia Southern

38 of 67

    Todd Bennett/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 6 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Georgia Southern won 51-31 at Louisiana-Monroe last October.

    What to watch for

    Louisiana-Monroe (1-1) gave up 640 yards in a 59-17 loss at Oklahoma, trailing 42-0 at halftime. The Warhawks, who have lost their last nine road games, have allowed 527 rushing yards this season.

    Georgia Southern (2-0, 1-0 Sun Belt) is averaging 362 rushing yards per game with five different players gaining more than 100 so far. The Eagles run defense has been even more impressive, yielding 107 yards and 1.98 yards per carry.

    The Eagles have won 15 of 17 conference games since moving up to FBS in 2014, winning all eight at home.

    Prediction: Georgia Southern 49, Louisiana-Monroe 16

    FINAL: Georgia Southern 23, Louisiana-Monroe 21

Eastern Michigan at Charlotte

39 of 67

    Eastern Michigan TE Dan Buschman
    Eastern Michigan TE Dan BuschmanJamie Squire/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 6 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: None

    What to watch for

    Eastern Michigan (1-1) lost 61-21 at Missouri a week after scoring 61 in its season opener. The Eagles have dropped 20 of their last 21 road games.

    Charlotte (1-1) ended an 11-game losing streak with a 47-14 win over FCS school Elon, its most points scored at the FBS level and 16 more than in the 49ers' previous three games combined.

    Any faint bowl hopes either team has must involve a win in this 50-50 game, which will go to the more experienced team.

    Prediction: Eastern Michigan 33, Charlotte 31

    FINAL: Eastern Michigan 37, Charlotte 19

Old Dominion at North Carolina State

40 of 67

    North Carolina State FB/TE Jaylen Samuels
    North Carolina State FB/TE Jaylen SamuelsGrant Halverson/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 6 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: North Carolina State won 38-14 at Old Dominion last September.

    What to watch for

    Old Dominion (1-1) lost 31-7 at Appalachian State, failing to score on either red-zone possession. The Monarchs' 42.9 percent conversion rate inside opponents' 20-yard line is worst in FBS through two weeks.

    North Carolina State (1-1) lost 33-30 at East Carolina despite gaining 500 yards for a second straight game. The Wolfpack need to keep finding different ways to get the ball to Jaylen Samuels, who has four touchdowns on just 19 touches this season and 20 TDs in his last 15 games.

    Prediction: North Carolina State 44, Old Dominion 19

    FINAL: North Carolina State 49, Old Dominion 22

Delaware at Wake Forest

41 of 67

    Wake Forest RB Cade Carney
    Wake Forest RB Cade CarneyGrant Halverson/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 6:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Wake Forest beat Delaware 7-0 in October 1932.

    What to watch for

    Delaware (2-0) has won three straight after its 24-6 victory at Lafayette last week. The Blue Hens are an impressive 15-14 against the FBS but last beat one in 2007 at Navy.

    Wake Forest (2-0) snapped a five-game ACC losing streak by winning 24-14 at Duke last week, the first time it's won a league game while scoring a touchdown since October 2013. The Demon Deacons ran for 239 yards, their most in almost four years, while they've allowed just 17 points this season.

    The Deacons' last 3-0 start came in 2008, which was also the last time they finished with a winning record. Their two most lopsided victories under Dave Clawson have come against FCS schools.

    Prediction: Wake Forest 23, Delaware 13

    FINAL: Wake Forest 38, Delaware 21

Mississippi State at No. 20 LSU

42 of 67

    LSU QB Danny Etling
    LSU QB Danny EtlingJonathan Bachman/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: LSU won 21-19 at Mississippi State last September.

    What to watch for

    Mississippi State (1-1, 1-0 SEC) switched quarterbacks early in its first game, a home loss to South Alabama, but Nick Fitzgerald went the distance in the Bulldogs' 27-14 win over South Carolina. And while his passing numbers were good, even more impressive were his 195 rushing yards on 17 carries.

    To put that into perspective, Dak Prescott's career-high rushing performance was 154 yards.

    LSU (1-1) doesn't need its quarterback to run the ball, just get it to a talented but vastly underused receiving corps. Brandon Harris couldn't do it against Wisconsin and early against Jacksonville State, and he was pulled in favor of Danny Etling, behind whom the Tigers moved the ball more effectively.

    Head coach Les Miles hasn't named his starter for the SEC opener yet, though we do know Leonard Fournette will be playing after sitting out the last game. Add in the Tigers going with some sweet Gridiron Gold uniforms and all signs point to the home team winning.

    Prediction: LSU 33, Mississippi State 17

    FINAL: LSU 23, Mississippi State 20

Texas A&M at Auburn

43 of 67

    Auburn QB Sean White
    Auburn QB Sean WhiteMichael Chang/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Auburn won 26-10 at Texas A&M last November.

    What to watch for

    Texas A&M (2-0) hasn't lost in September since 2013, and to keep that streak going, the Aggies will need to keep running the ball effectively as they have to start this season. They've averaged 6.08 yards per carry with seven touchdowns, and under coach Kevin Sumlin are 24-0 when rushing for at least 200 yards.

    Auburn (1-1) scrapped the revolving door quarterback system it used against Clemson and stuck almost entirely with Sean White in Week 2 to great results. He threw for 244 yards and three TDs against Arkansas State, with that consistency allowing the run game to go for 462 yards. That's the Tigers' best output since going for 545 yards in the 2013 SEC title game against Missouri.

    Both teams have defended the run well so far this season so it could come down to the more effective passer. White has looked comfortable playing at home while A&M's Trevor Knight is making his first road start since November 2014.

    Prediction: Auburn 26, Texas A&M 23

    FINAL: Texas A&M 29, Auburn 16

Navy at Tulane

44 of 67

    Tulane coach Willie Fritz
    Tulane coach Willie FritzRob Carr/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Navy beat Tulane 31-14 last October.

    What to watch for

    Navy (2-0, 1-0 American) survived 28-24 at home against Connecticut for its eighth win in nine league games since moving from independent play. The Midshipmen are averaging 6.43 yards per carry, eighth-best in FBS.

    Tulane (1-1) gave coach Willie Fritz his first win with the program via a 66-21 victory over Southern, the most points the Green Wave have scored since beating Louisiana-Lafayette 72-20 in 1998. The 437 rushing yards they gained were more than in any two contests in 2015.

    With 41 total pass attempts between the teams, don't expect much action through the air. But keep an eye out for Tulane grabbing a signature win.

    Prediction: Tulane 24, Navy 23

    FINAL: Navy 21, Tulane 14

South Alabama at Louisiana-Lafayette

45 of 67

    Louisiana-Lafayette RB Elijah McGuire
    Louisiana-Lafayette RB Elijah McGuireMark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: South Alabama beat Louisiana-Lafayette 32-25 last November.

    What to watch for

    South Alabama (1-1, 0-1 Sun Belt) couldn't carry over the momentum from its historic win at Mississippi State, scoring only nine points in a home loss to Georgia Southern. The Jaguars haven't started 0-2 in league play since 2012, their first year at the FBS level.

    Louisiana-Lafayette (1-1) ended a five-game losing streak by knocking off FCS McNeese State 30-22, giving up 220 fewer yards than the previous game that led to its defensive coordinator getting fired. The Ragin' Cajuns have won their last eight Sun Belt openers.

    South Alabama has lost five of its last six Sun Belt road games and has never won in Lafayette.

    Prediction: Louisiana-Lafayette 26, South Alabama 20

    FINAL: Louisiana-Lafayette 28, South Alabama 23

Maryland at UCF

46 of 67

    UCF QB Justin Holman
    UCF QB Justin HolmanDave Reginek/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: None

    What to watch for

    Maryland (2-0) plays its second straight game in Florida after winning 41-14 last Friday at Florida International, its largest road margin of victory since 2007. Head coach D.J. Durkin's background is defense, but so far, it's the Terrapins offense that has stood out, with consecutive games gaining more than seven yards per play and no turnovers, a season after they gave it away 36 times.

    UCF (1-1) lost 51-14 at Michigan but held the Wolverines to 2.9 yards per carry. The Knights also ran for 275 yards, their most since 2012, though no player has gained more than 100 yards for the season.

    A battle of first-year (and first-time) head coaches will go Scott Frost's way, giving UCF its first win against a power opponent since beating Baylor in the 2014 Fiesta Bowl.

    Prediction: UCF 27, Maryland 21

    FINAL: Maryland 30, UCF 24 (2 OT)

Louisiana Tech at Texas Tech

47 of 67

    Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes II
    Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes IIChristian Petersen/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Texas Tech beat Louisiana Tech 40-10 in October 1933.

    What to watch for

    Louisiana Tech (1-1) scored 53 points and gained 727 yards against South Carolina State and would have had much more if not for four turnovers. The Bulldogs came close to their first win over an SEC team since 2011 but can now set their sights on beating their first Big 12 team since knocking off Oklahoma State in 2002.

    Texas Tech (1-1) continues to go only as far as its defense, which isn't promising. Despite 584 yards of total offense from quarterback Patrick Mahomes II, the Red Raiders still lost 68-55 at Arizona State last Saturday, yielding 652 yards overall and giving way to eight total touchdowns by one player.

    Outscoring teams is the only hope the Red Raiders have of winning most weeks, so expect another shootout.

    Prediction: Texas Tech 51, Louisiana Tech 44

    FINAL: Texas Tech 59, Louisiana Tech 45

Troy at Southern Mississippi

48 of 67

    Southern Miss QB Nick Mullens
    Southern Miss QB Nick MullensChuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Southern Mississippi beat Troy 30-27 in the 2008 New Orleans Bowl.

    What to watch for

    Troy (1-1) lost 30-24 at Clemson last week, failing to recover an onside kick with 44 seconds left, preventing a chance at a major upset. The Trojans haven't won a nonconference road game since September 2012.

    Southern Mississippi (2-0) beat Savannah State 56-0 for its first shutout victory since 2009. Quarterback Nick Mullens surpassed 9,000 career yards, but he's been intercepted four times on 48 pass attempts.

    The Golden Eagles move to 3-0 for the first time in seven years thanks to an offense that's converting 54.8 percent of third downs and has gone 10-of-11 in the red zone.

    Prediction: Southern Mississippi 34, Troy 21

    FINAL: Troy 37, Southern Mississippi 31

Army at UTEP

49 of 67

    UTEP running back Aaron Jones
    UTEP running back Aaron JonesCooper Neill/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: None

    What to watch for

    Army (2-0) is off to its best start since 1996 after a 31-14 win over Rice on Saturday, rushing for 300-plus yards and four touchdowns for the second game in a row. But the Black Knights head to Texas with heavy hearts after defensive back Brandon Jackson was killed in a car accident later that night.

    UTEP (1-1) lost 41-7 at Texas and gained 208 yards, its fewest since the 2015 opener at Arkansas. Running back Aaron Jones is second in FBS with 372 rushing yards after two games.

    Two of the least pass-oriented teams in the country will play a quick game, one taken by the home team.

    Prediction: UTEP 27, Army 23

    FINAL: Army 66, UTEP 14

Liberty at SMU

50 of 67

    SMU QB Ben Hicks
    SMU QB Ben HicksTom Pennington/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: None

    What to watch for

    Liberty (1-1) opened this season with a 36-13 loss at Virginia, making it 4-21 against FBS schools. The Flames won at Georgia State in 2015 and Appalachian State in 2014.

    SMU (1-1) kept Baylor out of the end zone until late in the first half but couldn't hold on to the ball in a 40-13 loss, turning it over four times. The Mustangs are playing at home, where they averaged 34.3 points per game in 2015, for the first time since late November.

    Liberty will challenge the Mustangs but won't be able to keep up on the scoreboard.

    Prediction: SMU 39, Liberty 31

    FINAL: SMU 29, Liberty 14

No. 12 Michigan State at No. 18 Notre Dame

51 of 67

    Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer
    Notre Dame QB DeShone KizerJoe Robbins/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 7:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Notre Dame beat Michigan State 17-13 in September 2013.

    What to watch for

    Michigan State (1-0) got an early bye that created extra time to prepare for its first road game, but later in the season, the Spartans might be wishing they could get a break from playing at least 11 weeks in a row. The time off was likely used to shore up an offense that looked like a work in progress in the opener against Furman.

    Notre Dame (1-1) has identified DeShone Kizer as its sole quarterback, which should help the entire offense thrive. He's been responsible for 54.4 percent of the Fighting Irish's yardage and nine of 11 touchdowns in two games.

    According to Bleacher Report's David Kenyon, the team that scored first has won each of Notre Dame's last eight games. "Michigan State might be the toughest defense Kizer faces all season, and a quick score would provide invaluable confidence," he wrote.

    After losing to Texas, Notre Dame may need to win out to remain in contention for the College Football Playoff. Michigan State's fate is tied more to its performance in the Big Ten.

    Prediction: Notre Dame 24, Michigan State 20

    FINAL: Michigan State 36, Notre Dame 28

No. 3 Ohio State at No. 14 Oklahoma

52 of 67

    Oklahoma WR Mark Andrews
    Oklahoma WR Mark AndrewsJackson Laizure/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 7:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Ohio State beat Oklahoma 24-14 in September 1983.

    What to watch for

    Ohio State (2-0) has put up monster scoring numbers through two games, yet it still looked a little uncertain early against both Bowling Green and Tulsa. That's understandable since other than J.T. Barrett, almost everyone else is relatively inexperienced.

    The Buckeyes defense is young, too, but so far hasn't shown it. Three different players have returned interceptions for touchdowns, Malik Hooker has already picked off three passes and it's forced nine turnovers.

    Oklahoma (1-1) can wipe the slate clean from its opening loss to Houston with a win here, followed by another strong run in the Big 12. For that to happen, the Sooners must do better than the 5.21 yards they've allowed per play and have to get more pressure on the quarterback, as their first two opponents have averaged 7.7 yards per attempt.

    The Sooners ran it 46 times against Louisiana-Monroe compared to 26 against Houston, and the more they run, the better they fare. Ohio State won't be able to contain the run enough to force quarterback Baker Mayfield into bad throws, and the home team will pick up a huge nonconference victory.

    Prediction: Oklahoma 28, Ohio State 24

    FINAL: Ohio State 45, Oklahoma 24

No. 16 Georgia at Missouri

53 of 67

    Georgia OG Dyshon Sims
    Georgia OG Dyshon SimsScott Cunningham/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 7:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Georgia beat Missouri 9-6 last October.

    What to watch for

    Will Georgia (2-0) look like the team that impressively beat North Carolina in Atlanta or the one that had to hang on to edge FCS Nicholls State by two points at home? It might depend on who starts at quarterback, or more importantly who finishes, since Jacob Eason started the last game but didn't look as good as when he came off the bench.

    Missouri (1-1) exploded for 61 points against Eastern Michigan last week, its most points since the 2012 opener. The Tigers only managed 67 points in their previous eight games, getting 11 at West Virginia in Week 1 despite running 100 plays. Quarterback Drew Lock's 730 yards in two games accounts for almost 55 percent of what he had last season, and his six touchdown passes are already two more than in 2015.

    Georgia cannot afford to lose here with games against Ole Miss and Tennessee immediately following. It might not be pretty, but the Bulldogs still win.

    Prediction: Georgia 26, Missouri 14

    FINAL: Georgia 28, Missouri 27

North Texas at No. 23 Florida

54 of 67

    Florida WR Antonio Callaway
    Florida WR Antonio CallawayMike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 7:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: North Texas beat Florida 20-12 in October 1947.

    What to watch for

    North Texas (1-1) ended a five-game losing streak by beating Bethune-Cookman for head coach Seth Littrell's first victory. Quarterbacks Mason Fine and Alec Morris have both struggled with accuracy, though, making the Mean Green's hopes of their first win over a power-conference team since 2011 less than ideal.

    Florida (2-0) has allowed two touchdowns and 336 yards in wins over Massachusetts and Kentucky, holding opponents to a 38.7 percent completion rate with three interceptions. The Gators ran for 244 yards and two touchdowns against Kentucky, but only one carry through their first two games has gone for 20-plus yards.

    The Gators should feast on North Texas' young defense and keep making strides with the ball.

    Prediction: Florida 54, North Texas 10

    FINAL: Florida 32, North Texas 0

Texas State at No. 24 Arkansas

55 of 67

    Arkansas celebrates after Austin Allen (8) scored the game-winning touchdown in overtime at TCU.
    Arkansas celebrates after Austin Allen (8) scored the game-winning touchdown in overtime at TCU.Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 7:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: None

    What to watch for

    Texas State (1-0) won its opener at Ohio in triple overtime but will be hard-pressed to keep that momentum going after getting an early bye. The Bobcats are 0-19 all-time against power-conference opponents.

    Arkansas (2-0) has danced with the devil twice and come out ahead both times, first in a one-point home win over Louisiana Tech and then a double-overtime victory at TCU. The latter saw the Razorbacks blow a 13-point lead and then force OT with a trick-play two-point conversion.

    The Razorbacks could stand to have a dramaless game, but that will require doing better than allowing a 56.7 percent conversion rate on third down.

    Prediction: Arkansas 46, Texas State 22

    FINAL: Arkansas 42, Texas State 3

USC at No. 7 Stanford

56 of 67

    Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey
    Stanford RB Christian McCaffreyKyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 8 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Stanford beat USC 41-22 in last season's Pac-12 championship game.

    What to watch for

    USC (1-1) opens Pac-12 play with a blowout loss (52-6 vs. Alabama) and a blowout win (45-7 vs. Utah State) but no clear picture of how good it is. It's probably closer to the latter result, but the run game still hasn't gotten going.

    The Trojans were at their best last season when then-interim coach Clay Helton dedicated snaps to the run, but in the last four games, they've averaged 3.56 yards per carry.

    Stanford (1-0) held Kansas State to 2.88 yards per carry in its opener and will try to force USC to throw. Offensively, the Cardinal will look to be diverse, but running back Christian McCaffrey will remain the first, second and probably third option on most plays.

    The Cardinal are defending Pac-12 champs and will play like it, beating USC for the third time in less than a year.

    Prediction: Stanford 31, USC 20

    FINAL: Stanford 27, USC 10

Portland State at No. 8 Washington

57 of 67

    Washington DL Greg Gaines
    Washington DL Greg GainesJennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 8 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Washington beat Portland State 52-13 in September 2012.

    What to watch for

    Portland State (1-1) lost 66-35 at San Jose State last week, committing six turnovers. The Vikings won at Washington State and North Texas in 2015 and are 4-24 against FBS competition.

    Washington (2-0) has so far lived up to its heaping offseason hype, outscoring its first two foes 107-27 and forcing six turnovers. The Huskies have scored 44 or more in five straight games.

    Portland State won't be pulling off another shocker here.

    Prediction: Washington 56, Portland State 19

    FINAL: Washington 41, Portland State 3

Duke at Northwestern

58 of 67

    Northwestern WR Macan Wilson
    Northwestern WR Macan WilsonJonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 8 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Northwestern won 19-10 at Duke last September.

    What to watch for

    Duke (1-1) lost 24-14 at home to Wake Forest and ran for only 37 yards, its second-fewest rushing total in the past four seasons. Quarterback Daniel Jones threw for 332 yards on 48 attempts, but that's not the Blue Devils' game, and without the ability to control the clock, they struggle.

    Northwestern (0-2) has lost its games by a combined three points, both at home, to Western Michigan and FCS Illinois State. The Wildcats are 9-of-28 on third down and averaging 104.5 rushing yards per game, less than Justin Jackson averaged on his own last season.

    Duke's Midwest swing—it plays at Notre Dame on Sept. 24—will start off badly, while Northwestern avoids its first 0-3 start since 1992.

    Prediction: Northwestern 19, Duke 16

    FINAL: Northwestern 24, Duke 13

Buffalo at Nevada

59 of 67

    Nevada coach Brian Polian will continue to rotate QBs.
    Nevada coach Brian Polian will continue to rotate QBs.Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 9 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Nevada won 24-21 at Buffalo last September.

    What to watch for

    Buffalo (0-1) had a week off to let its season-opening loss to FCS Albany fester. Now the Bulls travel across the country with a four-game losing streak intact. The Bulls last started 0-2 in 2013.

    Nevada (1-1) lost 39-10 at Notre Dame in a game that saw the Wolf Pack use three quarterbacks and break out an option attack. Tyler Stewart, Ty Gangi and converted safety Asauni Rufus will continue to rotate, coach Brian Polian told Chris Murray of the Reno Gazette-Journal.

    The elevation and time difference give Nevada a major advantage.

    Prediction: Nevada 34, Buffalo 20

    FINAL: Nevada 38, Buffalo 14

UCLA at BYU

60 of 67

    BYU QB Taysom Hill
    BYU QB Taysom HillJeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 10:15 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: UCLA beat BYU 24-23 last September.

    What to watch for

    UCLA (1-1) looked shaky at times during its 42-21 home win over UNLV last week, only leading by seven entering the fourth quarter. Quarterback Josh Rosen had his first interceptionless game since mid-November, though, and running back Soso Jamabo is establishing himself as the Bruins' go-to back after scoring three times on 11 carries.

    BYU (1-1) went for two and was stuffed in the final moments of its 20-19 loss at archrival Utah, a week after winning in the last seconds against Arizona. The Cougars are set to face the third of four straight power opponents and one of just three home games before November.

    Quarterback Taysom Hill has been uneven as a passer but remains a threat with his legs. He wasn't around for last year's loss to UCLA, but he will be the difference this time.

    Prediction: BYU 28, UCLA 21

    FINAL: UCLA 17, BYU 14

No. 11 Texas at California

61 of 67

    California QB Davis Webb
    California QB Davis WebbSean M. Haffey/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 10:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: California won 45-44 at Texas last September.

    What to watch for

    Texas (2-0) has looked tremendous on offense so far, adeptly blending quarterback Shane Buechele's arm and QB Tyrone Swoopes' power running. The Longhorns are averaging 0.1 yards more per play than in 2015, but the tempo is faster and therefore more productive. They might want to slow it down a bit, however, to give the defense a rest after dealing with one of the top passing attacks in the country.

    California (1-1) has gotten 963 yards and nine touchdowns in two games from Texas Tech transfer Davis Webb, including 522 yards and five TDs against San Diego State. But he was picked off three times as well in the 45-40 loss trying to make up for a porous Golden Bears run defense that's allowed 6.85 yards per carry.

    Texas will be able to run at will but may need to score every time unless it can disrupt Webb and force him into bad throws.

    Prediction: California 43, Texas 42

    FINAL: California 50, Texas 43

Utah at San Jose State

62 of 67

    Utah players celebrate after knocking off rival BYU.
    Utah players celebrate after knocking off rival BYU.George Frey/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 10:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Utah beat San Jose State 56-3 in September 2010.

    What to watch for

    Utah (2-0) stopped BYU on a late two-point conversion to win its rivalry game for the sixth time in a row, though the Utes turned it over six times. They've scored 24 or fewer in four of five dating back to November but have won eight of their last 11 on the road.

    San Jose State (1-1) scored 66 points against FCS Portland State, its most points since a 70-63 win over Rice in 2004. The Spartans are searching for their first win against a power-conference team since beating Stanford in 2006.

    No team has thrown for more than 300 yards against San Jose since November 2013, so look for Utah to try to establish a run game that so far has only scored once on 79 carries but loses depth with senior running back Joe Williams' retirement.

    Prediction: Utah 23, San Jose State 20

    FINAL: Utah 34, San Jose State 17

Hawaii at Arizona

63 of 67

    Arizona QB Brandon Dawkins played well in his first career start last week.
    Arizona QB Brandon Dawkins played well in his first career start last week.Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Sept. 17; 10:45 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Arizona beat Hawaii 27-6 in September 1998.

    What to watch for

    Hawaii (1-2) beat Tennessee-Martin 41-36 late Saturday for its lone home game until October. The Rainbow Warriors have already played in Australia and Michigan, are allowing 7.19 yards per play and have turned it over eight times.

    Arizona (1-1) trailed FCS Grambling 21-3 at halftime before catching fire in the second half to win by 10. In quarterback Brandon Dawkins' first career start in place of the injured Anu Solomon, he produced 320 yards of total offense and two touchdowns. His mobility could give him the edge in the long term, since Solomon has averaged 2.22 yards per carry in his career.

    Hawaii has lost nine straight off the island. Its last mainland win against a power team came against Washington State in 2009.

    Prediction: Arizona 41, Hawaii 27

    FINAL: Arizona 47, Hawaii 28

No. 6 Houston at Cincinnati

64 of 67

    Houston QB Greg Ward Jr.
    Houston QB Greg Ward Jr.Jackson Laizure/Getty Images

    When: Thursday, Sept. 15; 7:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Houston beat Cincinnati 33-30 last November.

    What to watch for

    Houston (2-0) opens defense of its American Athletic Conference title with possibly its hardest test of the league slate, and it has to do so on short rest. But the Cougars' last game was a 42-0 walkover against Lamar in which a ton of backups played, leading to freshmen Mulbah Car and Kevrin Justice both rushing for 100-plus yards.

    Neither quarterback Greg Ward Jr. nor running back Duke Catalon played in that one, though both are expected back for the Cougars' first true road game of 2016.

    "He's still sore [shoulder], but the soreness is all muscular," Houston coach Tom Herman said of Ward, per Joseph Duarte of the Houston Chronicle.

    Cincinnati (2-0) won impressively at Purdue, 38-20, picking off five passes to give it seven interceptions in 2016. The Bearcats are 10-2 at home under head coach Tommy Tuberville.

    With both teams pushing hard to get into the Big 12, this will make for a great audition tape for the winner. Houston's move to rest its best last week will pay off.

    Prediction: Houston 39, Cincinnati 33

    FINAL: Houston 40, Cincinnati 16

No. 21 Baylor at Rice

65 of 67

    Baylor RB Terence Williams
    Baylor RB Terence WilliamsTom Pennington/Getty Images

    When: Friday, Sept. 16; 8 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Baylor beat Rice 70-17 last September.

    What to watch for

    Baylor (2-0) has allowed only 20 points in two games, is giving up 3.43 yards per play and limited opponents to 18.75 percent on third down. That, combined with the usual balanced offense, has made the Bears look as good as any time during former coach Art Briles' tenure. The opposition has helped, too.

    Rice (0-2) has been outscored 77-28 in a pair of road losses, managing only 290 yards per game. The Owls defense was torched for 552 passing yards by Western Kentucky and then 348 rushing yards by Army.

    The Owls' last win over a power-conference team came in 2013 against Kansas, but any chance of beating Baylor will depend on being able to make a stop.

    Prediction: Baylor 41, Rice 20

    FINAL: Baylor 38, Rice 10

Arkansas State at Utah State

66 of 67

    Utah State RB Devante Mays
    Utah State RB Devante MaysKirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Friday, Sept. 16; 9 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Arkansas State beat Utah State 21-14 in September 2014.

    What to watch for

    Arkansas State (0-2) has been outscored 82-24 in losses to Toledo and Auburn, giving up 647 rushing yards in the process. The Red Wolves haven't started 0-3 since 2004.

    Utah State (1-1) lost 45-7 at USC but returns home to where it has won 15 of the last 16 games. The Aggies ran for 428 yards and six touchdowns in their season-opening win and have topped 200 rushing yards six times in their last 12 outings.

    The Aggies are hard to beat in Logan, and Arkansas State won't reverse this trend.

    Prediction: Utah State 31, Arkansas State 16

    FINAL: Utah State 34, Arkansas 20

Arizona State at UTSA

67 of 67

    ASU RB Kalen Ballage
    ASU RB Kalen BallageChristian Petersen/Getty Images

    When: Friday, Sept. 16; 9:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: None

    What to watch for

    Arizona State (2-0) unleashed a record-setter in its 68-55 win over Texas Tech in the form of Kalen Ballage, who tied an NCAA mark with eight touchdowns (seven rushing, one receiving). The Sun Devils are averaging 56 points per game but have given up 7.3 yards per play in 2016, fifth-worst in FBS.

    UTSA (1-1) was held to minus-1 rushing yards in a 23-14 loss at Colorado State, its eighth consecutive nonconference loss. The Roadrunners are 0-7 against power-conference teams since forming their program in 2011 but have been competitive in several of those contests, including a 26-23 home loss to Arizona in 2014.

    The Roadrunners are eventually going to pick someone off, and this is the perfect opportunity to catch a team still riding high from its last game.

    Prediction: UTSA 29, Arizona State 27

    FINAL: Arizona State 32, UTSA 28

    All statistics courtesy of CFBStats.com, unless otherwise noted. All series history information courtesy of CFBDataWarehouse.com, unless otherwise noted. Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.

🚨 SPORTS NEWS ➡️ YOUR INBOX

The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.


X