The Week 3 college football slate didn’t look all that promising at the start of the season. But it has actually gotten quite trickier, with three top-25 matchups and several other non-conference clashes with the potential to shake up the perceived order.
In all, we present seven contests on Saturday for your consideration. These include a move from Alabama to hostile territory with big-name events, some independents hoping to defend their home turf, and the renewal of a long-standing regional rivalry that once had conference championship implications. No he doesn’t. read on.
No. 1 Alabama at No. 9 Florida
3:30 PM ET, CBS
see why: The Crimson Tide begins SEC play with this trip to Gainesville. It is a rematch of last year’s league title game, although there have been a number of personnel changes at Alabama and the Gators. The Alabama offense, however, doesn’t look much different with QB Bryce Young in control. This time with WR Jameson Williams and John Machi III there is consistent big-playing potential. The Florida attack is a bit withdrawn with QB Emory Jones adding more dynamism to the situation, though he also has substantial deep threats led by WR Jacob Copeland.
Why it can disappoint: He is pick-prone when Jones throws, however, four already through two games. It’s a recipe for disaster against Crimson Tide. Freshman Anthony Richardson has also impressed in the QB for the Gators, but he sprained a hamstring and cannot be at full speed. The Alabama defense could also be shorthanded, with LB Will Anderson suspected with a leg injury, but the Gators could still have a hard time when the Tide offense rolls in.
No. 20 Auburn No. 12 Penn State . Feather
7:30 p.m. ET, ABC
see why: The Brian Horsin era at Auburn began as expected when the Tigers pulled off two easy victories against unrivaled opponents. We’ll find out more about their ability to challenge the SEC this week as they face the hostile environment of a White Night at Beaver Stadium. The Nittany Lions started 2021 with two solid wins from a disastrous start to last season and appeared set to once again compete in the Big Ten East. Penn State QB Sean Clifford has been steady, benefiting from the presence of big-game WR Jahan Dotson along with a healthy RB Noah Cain. Auburn QB Bo Knicks has been error free so far, but it remains to be seen whether he can overcome the discrepancies he displayed in his first two seasons under centre. RB Jerkes Hunter and Tank Bigsby can help.
why it can be frustrating: But the Nittany Lions kept Wisconsin’s running game on hold in an impressive Week 1 win on the road. If they can do the same against Auburn and beat the Knicks in the air, it could mean trouble for the Tigers if he can’t deliver.
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Brigham Young at No. 21 Arizona State No. 23
10:15 a.m. ET, ESPN
see why: The Cougars continue their opening stretch in hopes of going three-on-three against the Pac-12. The Sun Devils, who have emerged as early favorites of the South Division with UCLA, will look to score a quality non-conference win on the road. BYU QB Jaren Hall threw for 347 yards through his first two starts and ran for 128. His opposite number would be veteran ASU QB Jayden Daniels, who is a dangerous double threat with 307 yards so far and 165 yards off the ground.
why it can be frustrating: The BYU has faced stiff competition at the start, and on the heels of an emotional victory against hardcore Utah last week, the Cougar will have to refill their collective tank. ASU, on the other hand, have conceded 20 penalties through their first two outings, and the Sun Devils’ defense struggled against UNLV last week. If this happens again in Provo it could prove problematic.
Cincinnati in No. 8 Indiana
Afternoon ET, ESPN
see why: It is the first of two major non-conference games for Cincinnati at Indiana State (at Notre Dame in Week 5) that the Bearcats have to adapt their long-shot bid to crack the college football playoffs from outside the Power Five. will have to win. . Unfortunately for UC, the Hoosiers didn’t live up to their end of the bargain as they dropped their season opener in Iowa and now need this win as much to regain their top-25 spot. IU entered the winning column in Week 2 against Idaho as QB Michael Penix pulled Jung out of his first game with an injury. UC QB Desmond Ridder and RB Jerome Ford were a little slow out of the gate in last week’s tune-up against Murray State, but were ready to go.
why it can be frustrating: The Penix needs to show he’s ready to challenge a quality defense, and the Bearcats certainly have one with a seasoned secondary. UC has been somewhat careless with the ball with four turnovers, a possible sign of trouble if the problem persists.
Purdue at No. 10 Notre Dame
2:30 PM ET, NBC
see whyWhether the Fighting Irish deserved their high rankings or not, their game has created no controversy forcing us to see this season, Florida State prevailed in overtime and then overtook Toledo with late scores Is. Then there’s traditional in-state rival Purdue, with the Shillong Trophy on the line. The Boilermakers handled their home opener against Oregon State before adjusting to the hapless Connecticut last week. Purdue QB Jack Plummer has six scoring throws without a pick through his first two outings, but now faces the more accomplished Notre Dame secondary. Fighting Irish may continue to join newcomer QB Tyler Buchner to begin his running game as a change of pace to start Jack Cone.
why it can be frustrating: It’s hard to know what to expect based on Purdue’s early results. The Fighting Irish can actually possess superior talent across the board and take charge quickly. Again, Notre Dame has shown absolutely no ability to ward off opponents.
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No. 15 Virginia Tech in West Virginia
Afternoon ET, FS1
see why: At the same time there is another renewal of acquaintances between former conference rivals, but we think it will be more interesting than in Oklahoma-Nebraska. It is also a trophy game, although the Black Diamond Trophy has been on the line only once since 2005. In addition, this is a game that will tell us a lot about teams other than the participants. The Hokies, who began the campaign with a takedown of preseason ACC coastal favorite North Carolina, hit the road for the first time. The Mountaineers’ start of the season wasn’t nearly as successful in an error-filled loss to Maryland, and they need a strong showing here with a trip to Oklahoma next. Tek’s early success is made significant by an improved defense led by DE Amare Barno. Climbers QB Jarrett Doage should stay away from them and hope RB Lady Brown can contribute.
why it can be frustrating: The Hokies’ offense has not been a model of continuity, and QB Braxton Burmeister must solve the Climbers’ back-loaded defense that may have been confusing at first. But if he can do that and give Tech an early cushion, the WVU offense could struggle in catch-up mode. This sequence of events would quickly neutralize the climbers’ home field advantage.
No. 13 Fresno State at UCLA
10:45 a.m. ET, Pac-12 Network
Why watch: We apologize for pointing you to a game on a channel that can be hard to find, but, like the previous entry on this list, this late night special also provides some context for some of the earlier results. could. Remember that Fresno State gave Oregon all it could handle until the week the Ducks took down Ohio State. If the Bulldogs give the Bruins a similar fight—and possibly take away the upset—they will confirm their place as a contender in the Mountain West. UCLA, meanwhile, is now established as a major player in the Pac-12 South and could use another quality non-conference win to add to their Week 1 win over LSU. And yes, the Bulldogs have won the last three meetings with the Bruins. The triggerman QB for Fresno State is Jake Heiner, who started off tremendously in 2021 with eight TD throws and no picks through three games. The Bulldogs also have a strong defensive front, anchored by experienced DT Kevin Atkins, who can keep Bruins QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson Off Balance.
Why it can disappoint: RB Zach Charbonnet’s impressive debut gives the UCLA attack a power dimension to complement the aerial game. Bulldogs are unlikely to thank for their aggressive fire power, but they won’t want to play from behind from the start.
Follow college reporter Eddie Timmans on Twitter @aditimanas