Week three of the college football season is usually one of those weeks where you’d hope the wheels start turning and teams start hitting their strides.
This week a bunch of teams (10 in fact), hit the road and will try to maintain the preseason and early season hype that has been lauded their way or been thrust upon them. There could be a possible shake up in both the AP and Coaches polls if we see teams like Central Florida and Ohio State get upset. For other schools like Alabama, Florida, and newly-ranked Maryland, you are just hoping to get through the weekend unscathed and healthy.
Here’s five games to keep an eye on this coming weekend.
No. 20 Washington State at Houston (in NRG Stadium on Friday)
6:15 p.m. on ESPN
The Cougars, along with Utah and USC are among the top unbeaten contenders from the Pac-12 that have a chance to place themselves in contention but games like Friday are paramount to that cause. It will be a battle of air-raid offenses and Cougars in NRG Stadium and if you like high powered offenses, this game will be your Valhalla.
Like typical Washington State teams, not many people know about what this team can do on a national scale at the start of the season. If Washington State does win this “Battle of the Cougars” on Friday, it will be on the arm of Anthony Gordon. Through two games the senior has thrown for 884 yards and nine touchdowns, but that was against New Mexico State and Northern Colorado. We really don’t have a good gauge on how good this Houston team is as they were blown out by Oklahoma but then beat lowly Prairie View A&M last week. Wazzu will be playing on the road but Mike Leach will be “home” in the state of Texas as he was the head coach of Texas Tech from 2000-2009.
Pick: Washington State 46-36
Stanford at No. 17 Central Florida
12:30 p.m. on ESPN
Dear Central Florida,
You wanna run with the big boys? Win games at home like this one.
The luster has been lost on this one a bit since Stanford laid an egg at USC a week ago. While the playoff is pretty much done, the Cardinal can still spoil any hopes for the playoff that UCF may have. If the Cardinal have any hope of not repeating their loss to the Trojans on Saturday, they’ll need a better all around effort. From the defense making stops against a Central Florida still trying to figure out their QB issues to an offense that returns QB KJ Costello but is without offensive lineman Walker Little.
Pick: Central Florida 28-23
No. 24 USC at BYU
12:30 p.m. on ABC
Much like Central Florida, USC has a week of confirmation upcoming, only theirs will be extended over the next month and a half. It seems that the Trojans have found their guy at QB with true Freshman Kedon Slovis. In the 45-20 upset of Stanford last week, Slovis threw for 377 yards and three touchdowns. Now he’s gotta go on the road to face a BYU team that pulled out one of the more dramatic victories of the early season over Tennessee in overtime.
This week, USC was rocked with the news that Lynn Swann was resigning as Athletic Director. While it may seem that the USC brass is behind head coach Clay Helton, the Trojans inconsistencies have been active enough that any sudden slides can turn the hot seat up on Helton and seemingly any moment. A win here would help hold off any anti-Helton backers.
Pick: BYU 30-28
No. 19 Iowa at Iowa State
1 p.m. on FS1
In what should be billed at the biggest game in the history of Iowa State’s football program, they’ll be center stage this weekend and will have ESPN’s College Gameday in town this weekend. Iowa State has been billed as a sleeper of sorts for a chance to reach the Big 12 championship game and while this game won’t have an impact on it, their legitimacy as a team on the rise could be questioned if they do not fall through with a win on Saturday.
For those die-hard college football fans who appreciate the more obscure rivalries in college football, this game is almost like a crowning achievement. The two schools battle for the “Cy-Hawk” trophy but it has developed into another name, “El Assico”. Neither school usually has much on the line but that changes this weekend.
Pick: Iowa State 24-17
No. 1 Clemson at Syracuse
4:30 p.m. on ABC
This game was supposed to be the final hurdle in Clemson’s brief two-game gauntlet against two ranked teams, Texas A&M last week and Syracuse this week. Well, the Maryland Terrapins had something to say about that with a stunning 63-20 victory. Now, the hype going into this week’s game has been tempered a bit. Still, this will not be a walkover for Clemson.
In the last two seasons, not only has Syracuse come close to beating the Tigers but in 2017 they handed Clemson their last loss in conference on October 13. In what will probably be an insane Carrier Dome, Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence gets what could be his toughest road environment of the season. All that being said, the Tigers have way too many weapons.
Pick: Clemson 45-24