A quick primer on who, what and where to look for/at as we head into Week 3 of the 2019 college football season.
WEEK 3 STORYLINES
- When ESPN‘s College GameDay traveling roadshow sets up camp in Ames for a game that decides the winner of the aptly-named Cy-Hawk Trophy, you know you’re in for, at least on paper, a light weekend of football schedule-wise. Thanks to Syracuse tripping over itself in Week 2 and Iowa State nearly getting knocked off by an FCS opponent in the opener, it’s Blutarsky’s GPA when it comes to Top 25 vs. Top 25 matchups in Week 3. The last time there were no ranked teams facing each other? Oct. 14, 2017 — and No. 2 Clemson was knocked off by unranked Syracuse on the road that weekend. This weekend, No. 1 Clemson faces… unranked Syracuse… on the road.
- It’s only Week 3, but Jeremy Pruitt and Chip Kelly are in more dire need of a win than any white man in history. Pruitt has Tennessee off to its worst start to a season since 1988; under Kelly, UCLA has started a season 0-2 in back-to-back seasons for the first time since World War II. Fortunately for UT, FCS Chattanooga is on tap and the Viols are 28-point favorites (then again, they were 26-point favorites over Georgia State and we all know how that turned out). Unfortunately for UCLA — but fortunately for those looking to score free tickets — No. 5 Oklahoma is up next. If/when the Bruins suffer what seems like an inevitable loss, it will mark the first time since 1920-21 that they have gone 0-3 in back-to-back seasons.
- In the first two games of the 2019 season, Florida State’s defense has allowed a combined 54 second-half points in a 1-1 start that includes the season-opening collapse against Boise State. Enter Jim Leavitt, who Willie Taggart added this week in a defensive analyst role. Leavitt served as Taggart’s defensive coordinator during the latter’s one-and-done season as Oregon’s head coach. During his two seasons in Eugene, the Ducks finished tied for 63rd nationally in scoring defense in 2018 (27 points per game) and 77th in 2017 (28.3 ppg); the year prior to Leavitt’s arrival, they were 126th (out of 128 FBS teams at the time) at 41.4 ppg. FSU travels to Charlottesville Saturday to face No. 25 Virginia.
- With a Week 2 win over Western Michigan, Mark Dantonio tied Duffy Daugherty‘s Michigan State record for most career wins at 109. If, unlike last year, No. 18 MSU can handle Arizona State this weekend, Dantonio, in the midst of his 13th season with the Spartans, will surpass the College Football Hall of Famer and stand alone in school lore with 110 wins.
- No. 21 Maryland will take on Temple this weekend. Maryland is leading the nation in scoring at 71 points per game (Penn State is next at 62); Temple is tied for 18th in the country in scoring defense at 12 ppg.
- So, as you see, these notes signal very loudly that Week 3 is light in the britches and short in the wallet, as my grandfather used to say to describe one of his not-so-favorite sons-in-law. Which, of course, means that utter and absolute chaos will very likely ensue…
SIX-PACK OF MUST-SEE GAMES
- No. 6 Ohio State (-16½) at Indiana — Each of the past three seasons, a ranked OSU team lost to an unranked Big Ten opponent on the road in a game in which they were favored. Are the Hoosiers the Buckeyes’ trap-game Waterloo this season?
- No. 19 Iowa (-2) at Iowa State — As referenced earlier, this would’ve been a Top 25 matchup if then-No. 21 Iowa State hadn’t barely escaped Northern Iowa in triple overtime and dropped out of the rankings as a result. The Hawkeyes have won the last four games in the rivalry; the Cyclones last home win in the series came in 2011.
- No. 20 Washington State (-9) vs. Houston — This Friday-night, neutral-site affair is mentor vs. protégé as Wazzu’s Mike Leach had Houston’s Dana Holgorsen on his Texas Tech coaching staff from 2000-09. Not only will this be the first time Leach and Holgorsen have been on opposing sidelines as head coaches, it’ll also be the first time since 1988 — and just the fourth time ever — the two schools have squared off in football.
- No. 2 Alabama (-25½) at South Carolina — Alabama will be playing its first true road game of the 2019 season. The last time these two teams met at Williams-Brice Stadium, the Gamecocks upset the top-ranked Crimson Tide in 2010. Unless I’m mistaken, though, neither Stephen Garcia nor Marcus Lattimore nor Alshon Jeffery will be suiting up this weekend.
- Stanford at No. 17 UCF (-7½) — UCF will have two regular-season chances to prove its worth to national pundits against Power Five foes — this one at home, in Week 4 vs. Pitt. Stanford is coming off a 25-point drubbing at the hands of USC that dropped them out of the Top 25, while UCF has beaten FAMU and FAU by a combined score of 110-14.
- No. 9 Florida (-8) at Kentucky — If there’s a revenge game in Week 3 and despite the public pronouncements, it’s this one. Week 2 last year, Kentucky beat Florida for the first time since Nov. 15, 1986, ending the Wildcats’ streak of 31 straight losses to the Gators. That game was in Gainesville; this one is in Lexington.
BEST/WORST WAGERS OF WEEK 3
- BEST: No. 1 Clemson at Syracuse (+28). Clemson is, obviously, the better team, but on this weekend they won’t be four touchdowns better than Syracuse at home — the Orange’s spitting the bed against Maryland in Week 2 notwithstanding.
- WORST: No. 5 Oklahoma at UCLA (+22½). Take the Bruins and the points at your own peril as the Sooners are primed to deal out a historic beatdown on Chip Kelly‘s woebegone squad.
- COVER SPECIAL: Hawaii (+21) at No. 23 Washington. Hawaii has beaten two Pac-12 opponents (Arizona, Oregon State) to start the 2019 season. Run, don’t walk, to your cyber betting window and lay that money on the Rainbow Warriors to cover.
HEISMAN TROPHY WATCH
- Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma (Last week: No. 1) — Three touchdowns and 259 yards passing in a half’s worth of Week 2 work vs. an FCS foe would’ve been more than enough to maintain the top slot; working out like a boss immediately after the win and prior to the postgame press conference solidified it.
- Joe Burrow, QB, LSU (No. 8) — Nine touchdown passes in two games this season for Burrow, giving him 25 in 15 appearances since transferring from Ohio State to LSU; in the two years prior to his arrival, Tiger quarterbacks accounted for 29 in 25 games.
- Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama (No. 2) — In just over a half of play vs. New Mexico State, the junior completed 16-of-24 passes for 227 yards and three touchdowns. He also scored another on the ground.
- Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State (No. 5) — In his first two career starts, the Georgia transfer has been responsible for nine total touchdowns (six passing, three rushing).
- Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin (No. 4) — Taylor has three receiving touchdowns in two games after never catching one his first two seasons. Oh, and he also has five touchdowns on the ground for good measure.
- Sam Ehlinger, QB, Texas (No. 6) — Even in a loss to Burrow’s Tigers, Ehlinger shined statistically as he totaled 401 yards and four touchdowns through the air.
- Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson (No. 7) — The sophomore has been fair to middlin’ the first two games, throwing more interceptions (three) than touchdowns (two).
- Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon (No. 9) — Five touchdowns, 310 yards passing in a blowout win over Nevada in Week 2.
- Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson (No. 3) — After 205 yards and three touchdowns in the opener, he put up 53 and zero in Week 2.
- Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama (No. 10) — As the token non-QB/RB, Jeudy is making a case to be taken out of the No. 10 slot as this past weekend he tied a school single-game record with three receiving touchdowns. The junior’s statline this season is 18-240-4.
(DROPPED OUT: None)
WEEK 3 BRAZEN PREDICTIONS
BRYAN FISCHER (@BryanDFischer): Given the slate of lackluster matchups (editor’s note: that’s being way too kind), I think we’re in for some chaos this weekend. I’ll go with four ranked teams getting upset on Saturday, with at least two getting upended at home.
ZACH BARNETT (@zach_barnett): Tennessee drops to 0-3. See the thing people don’t understand about Chattanooga is… okay, no. Mack Brown springs his third straight upset, moving the Mack Attack to 3-0. UNC is a three-point underdog for Friday’s non-conference game at Wake Forest; I would take them as three-point favorites. Sam Howell continues making the plays that need to be made and one of the best stories of this young season continues.
KEVIN MCGUIRE (@KevinOnCFB): Maryland has been scoring plenty of points to start the season and takes their high-flying, rejuvenated offense on the road this week. They are due for a letdown, and Temple is the team to give them their first tough battle of the year. The Owls get defensive at home in The Linc and the Terrapins go home with their first loss of the season, dropping them out of the top 25 as quickly as they entered. The AAC has a solid week as UCF sends Stanford home with a loss too.
JOHN TAYLOR (@CFTalk): Not only will No. 17 UCF win and cover, but the Group of Five school will hand Stanford its worst loss since Washington waxed them 44-6 in September of 2016.
NFL DRAFT PROSPECT WATCH
This week, our pals over at Rotoworld take an in-depth look at matchups in games such as Clemson-Syracuse and Oklahoma USC. For the entire extensively-detailed piece, click HERE.
An injury cost Quinten Pounds the last half of the 2018 season. An injury cost the wide receiver playing time in Washington’s opener as well.
Moving forward, it’ll be a punitive measure that will further sideline the fifth-year senior.
Monday, Chris Petersen confirmed that Pounds did not play in the Week 2 upset loss to Cal because of a suspension. Furthermore, the head coach revealed, the receiver will miss the next two games as well because of the suspension.
The only reason given was an unspecified violation of team rules.
Because of the suspension, Pounds will miss games against Hawaii and BYU. He’ll be eligible to return for the Sept. 28 home game against USC.
Prior to his injury last season, Pounds had caught eight passes for 166 yards and a touchdown. For his career, he’s caught 24 passes for 407 yards and three touchdowns.
A quick primer on who, what and where to look for/at as we head into Week 2 of the 2019 college football season.
WEEK 1 STORYLINES
- Let’s face it: Week 1 was, by and large, a scheduling dud, with just one ranked-on-ranked game — and zero Top 10 matchups — on the opening weekend docket. This week, though, college football fans will feast on the likes of No. 12 Texas A&M-No. 1 Clemson and the first Top 10 tilt of the season in No. 6 LSU-No. 9 Texas. Toss in Army and its 10-game winning streak traveling to the Big House to face No. 7 Michigan; a Cincinnati squad that took care of UCLA in the opener heading up I-71 to No. 5 Ohio State; and No. 25 Stanford vs. USC in what is now the Backup Bowl, and Week 2 is setting up to be a much more palatable Saturday of football. Oh, and there is also…
- No. 25 Nebraska making its way to Colorado to take on the Buffaloes. The Men of Corn vs. Ralphie. The former Big 8/12 rivals have played 69 times previously, but just once (2018) since NU bolted to the Big Ten ahead of the 2011 season. The Cornhuskers will be making their first trek to Boulder since the 2009 season, with what some would call memories of dirty pool still fresh in the Blackshirts’ minds.
- What can Jalen Hurts do for an encore? In making his Oklahoma debut, all the former Alabama quarterback did was set career-highs with 332 passing yards (previous best was 248), 176 rushing yards (154), and three rushing touchdowns (two). The three passing touchdowns tied his previous career-best set against FCS Mercer in November of 2017. With FCS South Dakota on tap, don’t expect to see Hurts on the field for more than a half of action — but do expect some additional video game-like numbers.
- Can the Mountain West Conference even remotely come close to matching its Week 1 success? Four teams from the MWC scored wins over Power Five schools last weekend — Nevada over Purdue, Boise State over Florida State, Wyoming over Missouri, Hawaii over Arizona. In Week 2, four more MWC schools will square off with Power Five teams — Hawaii-Oregon State, Nevada-Oregon, San Diego State-UCLA, Fresno State-Minnesota. According to the Westgate sportsbook, three more upsets are certainly within the realm of possibility as the Bulldogs, Rainbow Warriors and Aztecs are 3-, 6½- and 7½-point underdogs, respectively. The Wolf Pack upending the Ducks, on the other hand, would be a significant upset as the latter is set as a 24-point favorite.
- In two-plus seasons, Jonathan Taylor has averaged 156 yards rushing per game. A year ago, Central Michigan was 104th nationally in giving up 204.7 yards per game on the ground. No. 17 Wisconsin will play host to CMU Saturday as Taylor continues his climb toward becoming the NCAA’s all-time leading rusher (Taylor has 4,306, record-holder Donnell Pumphrey had 6,405) in just three seasons.
- Owners of the second-longest Power Five losing streak in conference play — Rutgers is first at 12 straight — Arkansas hasn’t won an SEC game since beating Ole Miss in late October of 2017, a string of 11 losses in a row. Saturday, the Razorbacks go on the road to face… the Rebels in Oxford. Just throwing that out there.
SIX-PACK OF MUST-SEE GAMES
- No. 6 LSU (-6) at No. 9 Texas — Who would’ve thought that an LSU game would feature a two-sided battle of the quarterbacks? That will be the case this week as the Tigers’ Joe Burrow tossed five touchdowns in a half’s work of work, while the Longhorns’ Sam Ehlinger was very efficient in throwing four touchdowns of his own in their opener.
- No. 12 Texas A&M at No. 1 Clemson (-17) — As evidenced by one pregame guarantee, this will be a revenge game for A&M as an Aggies failed two-point conversion late in the fourth — which was preceded by a critical fourth-quarter fumble and two missed first-half field goal attempts — allowed the Tigers to escape College Station with a 28-26 win en route to the 2018 national championship.
- Army at No. 7 Michigan (-22) — ‘Merica’s Team is riding a 10-game winning streak, the second-longest in the country. Conversely, the Black Knights are on a staggering 45-game losing streak against ranked teams, with Army’s last win coming against then-No. 19 Air Force in November of 1972. Michigan’s last loss to a service academy? October of 1967 to Navy.
- No. 25 Stanford at USC (-1) — The Trojans knew early on that they would be without their starting quarterback as J.T. Daniels suffered a torn ACL in the season opener. The Cardinal, after a week’s worth of theirs dealing with a head injury that had him officially listed as questionable, will officially be without their starter, K.J. Costello, as well. As a result, both schools will have first-time starters under center (redshirt sophomore Davis Mills for the Cardinal, true freshman Kedon Slovis for the Trojans).
- Cincinnati at No. 5 Ohio State (-16) — Bearcats head coach Luke Fickell returns to The Horseshoe to face the Buckeyes, where the Columbus native once served as a player (1993-96), assistant coach (1999; 2002-10; 2012-16) and interim head coach (2011). OSU has played 41 games versus in-state schools; they have won each one, including all five against UC.
- Miami (-4) at North Carolina — There’s a bit of a past between the two head coaches in this matchup as Miami’s Manny Diaz served as North Carolina’s Mack Brown‘s defensive coordinator at Texas before Brown fired him in September of 2013 after giving up 550 yards rushing in a Week 2 loss to BYU. More importantly, The U will be looking to avoid its first 0-2 start since 1978.
BEST/WORST WAGERS OF WEEK 2
- BEST: Cal (+14) at Washington. I’m taking Cal’s defense and running with the points as Washington’s offense is still a work in progress after losing the school’s all-time leading passer, rusher.
- WORST: Nebraska (-3½) at Colorado. Nebraska barely escaped against South Alabama in the opener, and actually opened as an eight-point favorite over Colorado before the (smart) money started flowing in on the home team.
- COVER SPECIAL: Nevada (+24) at Oregon. The MWC school won’t beat Oregon outright, but the team that knocked off Purdue in Week 1 will cover.
HEISMAN TROPHY WATCH
- Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma (Last week: No. 3) — Six touchdowns and 500-plus yards of offense in the opener earns you the top spot.
- Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama (No. 2) — The junior had almost as many touchdowns (four) as incompletions (five) vs. Duke.
- Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson (unranked) — Etienne had 205 yards and three touchdowns on just a dozen carries.
- Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin (No. 5) — After zero receiving touchdowns his first two seasons, Taylor had two in the opener (plus two on the ground).
- Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State (No. 4) — Five total touchdowns (four passing, one rushing) in first career start.
- Sam Ehlinger, QB, Texas (No. 6) — Four passing touchdowns, 169.4 pass efficiency rating.
- Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson (No. 1) — Lawrence had four interceptions as a true freshman; he had two in the opener.
- Joe Burrow, QB, LSU (unranked) — Burrow’s five first-half touchdown tosses set the school’s single-game record.
- Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon (No. 8) — Performed reasonably well (242 yards,1 TD, 0 picks) against one of the best defenses he’ll face in 2019.
- Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama (unranked) — I’ve decided to put a non-QB/RB in the 10th spot moving forward, and the Tide junior (10-137-1) is a good start.
(DROPPED OUT: Nebraska QB Adrian Martinez (No. 7), Georgia QB Jake Fromm (No. 9), Ohio State RB JK Dobbins (No. 10))
WEEK 2 BOLD PREDICTIONS
BRYAN FISCHER (@BryanDFischer): Arkansas (+6½) upsets Ole Miss for their first SEC win in 679 days. The Razorbacks were uninspiring — to say the least — in their opener against Portland State, but they move to 2-0 with a last-minute win at the Rebels as Chad Morris breaks through and Matt Luke‘s hot seat turns to lava.
ZACH BARNETT (@zach_barnett): Tennessee drops to 0-2. The Vols didn’t lose to Georgia State because they were dehydrated, a la Florida State. They lost because Georgia State was a better football team. BYU is, too.
KEVIN MCGUIRE (@KevinOnCFB): There is a lot of speculation that Army and Cincinnati will give Michigan and Ohio State, respectively, some good battles. I don’t see it happening. After some slow starts in the first quarter, both the Buckeyes and Wolverines romp at home this week.
JOHN TAYLOR (@CFTalk): Joe Burrow set a school record with five touchdown passes in the season opener a week ago; that benchmark will last exactly seven days as Burrow will break his own record by tossing six in LSU’s win over Texas in what will be an unexpectedly high-scoring affair.
NFL DRAFT PROSPECT WATCH
Wide receiver vs. cornerback battles in games such as Texas-LSU, Stanford-USC, Nebraska-Colorado and Texas A&M-Clemson are the flavors of the week as our buddies over at Rotoworld place their weekly spotlight on next-level players. For the entire extensively-detailed piece, click HERE.
It may mean more in the SEC, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s more better*. And, most certainly, the conference has had better weekends than what Week 1 wrought.
Somewhere in the neighborhood of 17-point favorites entering Saturday’s opener against Wyoming, Missouri looked every bit the part as they jumped out to a 14-0 lead on the home-standing Cowboys after one quarter of play. A 27-point offensive explosion in the second quarter, though gave the Mountain West Conference school a 27-17 lead heading into halftime; that lead was stretched to 34-17 at one point before the Cowboys held on for a 37-31 upset win over the Tigers.
Regardless of how you spin it, the Mizzou loss was a continuation of what has been a rough opening weekend for the SEC, especially the East Division of the league. How rough? Let us count the ways:
- First and foremost, Tennessee suffered arguably the worst loss in program history as they fell to 26-point underdog Georgia State in the school’s first home-opening defeat since 1983 and first loss to a Group of Five school since 2008 against… Wyoming, of all teams.
- South Carolina lost to a North Carolina team that won two games in 2018.
- Ole Miss lost to Memphis, although at least that loss came against a quality Group of Five foe.
- Again, Mizzou.
- Mississippi State needed a very late field goal to put away what was a 10-point win over a Louisiana team that entered the game as a 20-point underdog.
- TENNESSEE LOST TO A 26-POINT UNDERDOG AT HOME.
Yes, there was Alabama steamrolling Duke as expected… and Auburn outlasting Oregon in the only ranked-on-ranked matchup of Week 1… and LSU, unlike Tennessee, easily handling its business against a Georgia Group of Five school… but still, damn, that was a harsh weekend for The Best Damn Football Conference in the Land.
While we’re here talking about conferences, how about that Mountain West? In addition to the SEC courtesy of Wyoming, that league has collected Power Five pelts from the ACC (Boise State over Florida State), the Big Ten (Nevada over Purdue) and the Pac-12 (Hawaii over Arizona) in Weeks 0 and 1.
(*Yes, grammar dolts, I know. I’ll take literary license whenever I damn well please.)
Week 0 is officially in the books and oh how great it was to have college football once again in our lives.
While most of the attention nationally was on the compelling matchup between Florida and Miami down in Orlando, the better of the two FBS games in action on Saturday was actually out in the islands where Hawaii pulled a 45-38 upset of Arizona. The latter game had a ton of moments that only seem to happen late into the night like turnovers galore, some wild touchdowns and the Rainbow Warriors defense stopping a weaving Wildcats quarterback Khalil Tate at the one yard line to preserve the win a la Kevin Dyson in Super Bowl XXXIV.
The real fun may have come after the game was over while most of America was soundly sleeping though. First off, Hawaii head coach Nick Rolovich took to Twitter to have a little fun with the prognosticators on ESPN’s College GameDay for their game picks…
Well played. He wasn’t the only one to have a bit of fun at Arizona’s expense either with the Wildcats’ bitter rivals Arizona State also getting into the act with a cheeky Mahalo as well.
Troll game… strong. Welcome back college football, where that Territorial Cup game at the end of the regular season just might be a little more fun given the way the season has started off.