College football games to look forward to in Week 3
Week 2 of the college football season is in the books and it was a pretty eventful one. We saw the Texas Longhorns take down the Alabama Crimson Tide on the road, and the Miami Hurricanes picked up a big home win over the Texas A&M Aggies. It was also another week in which people doubted Deion Sanders' Colorado Buffaloes, but they had no trouble beating the Nebraska Cornhuskers. We're probably in for a little less drama in Week 3, but I'll still dive into the top matchups below.
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Week 3 Games of the Week
The Week 3 college football slate is somewhat barren, so this is probably the game I’m looking forward to the most. Mississippi State was able to survive a comeback by Arizona last week, coming away with a 31-24 overtime victory. Now, the Bulldogs are undefeated heading into this meeting with a Tigers team that had national title aspirations before being humbled in a loss to Florida State. But this is still an LSU team that can do big things this season. However, the margin for error for Brian Kelly’s group is now very small, and I do think this road game against Mississippi State will be a tough test. Zach Arnett is a brilliant defensive mind, so he’ll have something in place to try and make Tigers star Jayden Daniels uncomfortable. And we learned in Week 1 that this LSU defense is beatable. So, Mississippi State quarterback Will Rogers and running back Jo’quavious Marks will likely feel good about their chances of making plays in this one. This game should also have a wild atmosphere, so look out for the cowbells here. These Bulldogs fans will be hungry for a 3-0 start, plus a signature win to the start of the Arnett era. But it should be noted that the Tigers are 4-1 straight-up and against the spread in the last five meetings between these two.
Texas is looking like a whole different beast after earning a road win over Alabama, but Kansas State is still a team that wants to contend in the Big 12 this season. But the Wildcats will have to prove themselves in a road game against the Tigers in Week 3. There wasn’t a lot of buzz surrounding this Missouri program heading into this year, but the Tigers brought back 15 players that started games last season. They also had a rock-solid defense in 2022, allowing only 25.2 points per game. So, having eight starters back on that side of the ball could mean an elite defense in 2023. Missouri has allowed only 29 points through two games this season, but that was against inferior competition. Now, the Tigers will have to prove they can slow down a Wildcats team that is averaging 43.5 points per game. Kansas State has a very good dual-threat quarterback in senior Will Howard, so Missouri’s defense will need to show up here. The Tigers will also need to hope that quarterback Brady Cook is up to the challenge of scoring against a Wildcats defense that has been borderline elite in three of the last four seasons. Will it happen? I’m not exactly sure. But I’m very interested in watching this game. Kansas State feels like one of the few programs that can challenge Texas in the Big 12, and Missouri can use this win if it wants to notch its first winning season under head coach Eliah Drinkwitz.
Minnesota’s Week 1 win over Nebraska was extremely ugly, and the 25-6 victory over Eastern Michigan last week wasn’t much better. But the Golden Gophers are still 2-0 heading into this meeting with a 2-0 Tar Heels team, so this is a game that deserves your attention. For as miserable as Minnesota has looked this year, this is still a team with a very good defense. That means that the Gophers will have a chance of slowing down quarterback Drake Maye and this explosive Tar Heels offense. Meanwhile, North Carolina’s defense still has some issues slowing opponents down, so that could mean that Minnesota’s shaky offense will look passable in this game. That leads me to believe that this will be a more competitive game than expected. And the Golden Gophers are 2-1 SU and 3-0 ATS as a road underdog of 7.5 to 14 points under P.J. Fleck. They’re also 19-1 SU and 13-6-1 ATS in nonconference games in that span. Meanwhile, the Tar Heels are just 5-7-1 ATS as a favorite of 3.5 to 10 points under Mack Brown. So, it isn’t crazy to think that North Carolina will have some trouble putting Minnesota away.
There’s something of a dark cloud hanging over this Spartans team right now. Head coach Mel Tucker, who led the team to an 11-2 record two years ago and signed a huge contract extension afterwards, is suspended indefinitely without pay because of sexual harassment allegations. So, Michigan State is lacking in the stability department right now. But this team is still 2-0 and brought back a number of starters from last year. With that in mind, the on-field product isn’t as miserable as you might think. And the bright side of all of this is that legendary head coach Mark Dantonio will now be spending some time with the team. That could have a positive impact, and it should at least fire up the fans for this game. The question is whether that will be enough for this Michigan State defense to slow down what is arguably the best offense in the country. Michael Penix Jr. is now second on the Heisman Trophy odds board and this passing game is something else. If the Spartans can’t tune out everything that’s happening off the field and find a way to prepare for it, this could get ugly in a hurry.
Florida’s Week 1 loss to Utah looks a bit worse after seeing the Utes struggle against a Baylor team that lost to Texas State in its season opener. But the Gators did earn a blowout victory over McNeese State in Week 2, and the team looked a lot more competent on both sides of the ball in that one. Of course, facing an SEC school is a lot different than facing an FCS program. But it was still good to see that Florida is capable of executing head coach Billy Napier’s vision against somebody. Now, the Gators will look to do so against a Volunteers team that actually struggled in a 30-13 win over Austin Peay last week. So, there’s some hope that Florida can find a way to win this game, especially with it being played in Gainesville. The home team has covered in each of the last four meetings between these rivals, so it isn’t out of the question. And Tennessee quarterback Joe Milton hasn’t started a game in an environment like this since arriving in Knoxville. How will he handle that? And will it matter if Florida quarterback Graham Mertz doesn’t turn in a solid performance?
If this wasn’t The Backyard Brawl, it wouldn’t have made the list. But last year’s 38-31 win for Pittsburgh was electric, showing the world exactly why this rivalry needed to be renewed after 11 years without the two facing off. Also, five of the last six meetings between these teams have been one-score games. That might not mean all that much with most of those games taking place in 2011 or earlier, but the fact of the matter is that these two programs bring out the best in one another. And considering this will be a night game in Morgantown, it should be fun to at least check in and see if it turns into a competitive game. Pittsburgh is coming off a rough loss to Cincinnati last week, but the Panthers were supposed to be decent this year. Meanwhile, West Virginia didn’t look awful in a loss to Penn State in Week 1, and the team then earned a 56-17 win over Duquesne last week. That said, we’re still learning a lot about both of these teams. That makes it hard to say that this will be a good game or a terrible one. But I’ll be tuning in. This rivalry means a lot to both schools and these are the types of college games that usually end up delivering.
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