After the Sun Belt shock-a-thon last Saturday, Week 3 of the 2022 college football schedule oozes with opportunities for even more twists and turns.
On offer this week are a total of 72 games, 22 of which feature an FBS program taking on an FCS foe. That’s down from the 80-plus total games and 35-plus FCS contests that played out during both Weeks 1 and 2. Edging ever-closer to the in-conference portion of the schedule, five of this week’s games are league affairs and 13 feature a clash between two Power 5 members.
As was the case last week, its less obvious which matchups have the potential to further upend the narrative of the season. Of the top five teams listed in the latest AP poll, only one (No. 1 Georgia) will play a Power 5 club (South Carolina). Additionally, all five are favored by 24-plus points.
Intriguingly, the teams ranked from No. 11-13 are all underdogs this week. If Vegas has anything to say about it, perhaps that’s where the tables turn next.
Here’s your mental checklist going into Week 3:
(1) Once again, there are no games scheduled before Friday night which kicks off at 7:30pm ET on ESPN (a quality ACC affair worth watching).
(2) On Saturday, the Noon ET block of games is less appealing than what’s on offer in the mid-afternoon and evening slots. If you’re pressed for time, tune in later rather than earlier.
Take special care to keep an eye out for (12) BYU at (25) Oregon (3:30pm ET, FOX), (22) Penn State at Auburn (3:30pm ET, CBS), Mississippi State at LSU (6pm ET, ESPN) and (11) Michigan State at Washington (7:30pm ET, ABC).
(3) (13) Miami Fla. at (24) Texas A&M comes on at 9pm ET on ESPN, so don’t think the goodness is over if the 7 and 8pm kickoffs aren’t showing promise.
(4) As was the case with Week 2, late night is worth losing sleep over with three quality matchups starting at 10pm ET or later.
Friday, Sept. 16
7:30pm ET – ESPN – Florida State at Louisville
8pm ET – CBSSN – Air Force at Wyoming
Saturday, Sept. 17
Noon ET – ESPN – (1) Georgia at South Carolina
With Georgia favored by 24.5-points it’s tough to call this one a fascinating strength vs. strength matchup. That said, after two games South Carolina is ranked No. 24 nationally/No. 4 in the SEC in passing offense, most recently dialing up 376 yards on an (10) Arkansas defense that hadn’t allowed that many air yards since its loss to (2) Alabama last season. It makes for must-see, or at least “check-it-out” TV vs. a Bulldog D that finished last season No. 12 in the FBS against the pass. It’s the same group that held (25) Oregon to 173 air yards in Week 1. Keep an eye on Gamecock junior QB Spencer Rattler (#7) (yes, he transferred from Oklahoma), the No. 16 passer in America and junior WR Antwane Wells Jr. (#3), the No. 9 receiver.
Noon ET – FOX – (6) Oklahoma at Nebraska
One of the shining rays of hope in Nebraska’s 1-2 start is junior RB Anthony Grant (#10), averaging 142.67 yards per game he’s the No. 3 back in the country through three outings. It makes for a great matchup vs. an Oklahoma defense that finished last year a decent No. 30 nationally against the run but returned just five starters (and only two to the front seven) this year. Will the 164 ground yards that the Sooners gave up to Kent State last week become the alarm bells nobody heard? Will the Huskers show a new spark under a new head coach? Tune in to find out!
Noon ET – ABC – UConn at (4) Michigan
Noon ET – Big Ten Network – Western Kentucky at Indiana
Western Kentucky is 0-4 vs. Indiana and 0-10 all-time against the current membership of the Big Ten but is only a 6.5-point underdog in this one.
Noon ET – ESPN2 – Purdue at Syracuse
2pm ET – Pac-12 Network – South Alabama at UCLA
We’re not trying to hop on the bandwagon by predicting that South Alabama will be the next Sun Belt club to play the role of giant killer. We’re just letting you know that after two outings the Jaguars are the No. 12 ranked pass offense in the FBS. Leading the way is senior QB Carter Bradley (#2) who started the season with a 260-yard, three-score performance vs. FCS Nicholls State and then hung up 354 yards and three more TDs on Central Michigan last week. UCLA, on the other hand, returned a meager two starters to a defense that finished 2021 ranked No. 107 nationally/dead last in the Pac-12 vs. the pass. Among the attrition were ten of the Bruins’ top 15 tacklers and all but one starter from the secondary.
Bonus coverage: This is South Alabama’s first-ever meeting with a current Pac-12 member.
2:30pm ET – NBC – Cal at Notre Dame
Notre Dame hasn’t started a season with three consecutive losses since 2007, year three of the Charlie Weis experiment. That Irish team went 0-5 before finally scoring a 20-6 win at UCLA on Oct. 7. After dropping four additional games they finished with back-to-back wins vs. Duke and at Stanford for a 3-9 mark, the fourth-worst record in program history.
3:30pm ET – FOX – (12) BYU at (25) Oregon
3:30pm ET – CBS – (22) Penn State at Auburn
3:30pm ET – ABC – (20) Ole Miss at Georgia Tech
3:30pm ET – ESPN2 – Colorado at Minnesota
After giving up 275 rushing yards and four rushing TDs in a loss to TCU in Week 1, Colorado coughed up an additional 435 yards and five scores at Air Force in last Saturday’s 41-10 defeat. It earns the Buffs the No. 131 spot – or dead last – in the FBS vs. the run. This week it’s Minnesota, which Phil Steele had as his No. 4 overall rushing unit in the nation coming into the season. How’s it going? The Gophers are currently No. 2 in the FBS in rushing yards per game (Air Force is No. 1) and lay claim to the No. 7 back in the land in RB Mohamed Ibrahim (#24). It could add up to Colorado’s first 0-3 start since 2012.
3:30pm ET – Big Ten Network – New Mexico State at Wisconsin
After its upset loss vs. Washington State last week, Wisconsin ought to rebound in a big way against New Mexico State. Where the Badgers have the No. 9 back in the nation in sophomore Braelon Allen (#0), the Aggies finished last year ranked No. 112 in the FBS last year against the run. The good news is, they returned nine defensive starters, the bad news is, they’ve given up 584 ground yards through three games, earning them the same No. 112 national rank vs. the run again this year.
4pm ET – SEC Network – ULM at (2) Alabama
4pm ET – ESPNU – Kansas at Houston
A win over the Cougars would give Kansas its first 3-0 start since 2009 when the Jayhawks won their first five games only to drop their last seven and finish 5-7. They’re ten-point underdogs vs. Houston.
5pm ET – ACC Network – Liberty at (19) Wake Forest
Tune in to this one to see Wake Forest’s passing attack – currently the No. 26 ranked unit in the USA – take on a Liberty D that finished last year ranked No. 6 nationally vs. the pass and are No. 11 after two outings this season. With only four defensive starters back for the Flames, this matchup will be a great litmus test for Hugh Freeze’s young defense. Keep an eye on junior Demon Deacon QB Sam Hartman (#10), who is back in the saddle and fresh off a 300-yard, four-score performance in the Week 2 win over Vanderbilt. Also worth noting is junior WR A.T. Perry (#9) who caught eight passes for 142 yards and one TD last week.
6pm ET – ESPN – Mississippi State at LSU
This matchup marks Brian Kelly’s first SEC game as the Tigers’ head coach. Kelly hasn’t coached a team in true conference action (not counting the quasi, kind-of, sort-of ACC schedule Notre Dame engineered in 2020) since December 5, 2009, when he led then (5) Cincinnati in a 45-44 Big East thriller over (14) Pitt.
7pm ET – FOX – Toledo at (3) Ohio State
What’s interesting in this David vs. Goliath matchup is Toledo’s defense – one of the best, if not the best, in the MAC this season. The Rockets returned eight starters to a unit that finished 2021 ranked No. 27 nationally in scoring and No. 22 vs. the pass. While an upset is highly unlikely vs. the deep Buckeyes, this one might prove more competitive than advertised.
7pm ET – ESPN2 – Texas Tech at (16) North Carolina State
After upending (25) Houston in double overtime last week, Texas Tech could beat a ranked opponent in back-to-back games for the first time since 2008 when it scored victories at (19) Kansas, vs. (1) Texas, and vs. (8) Oklahoma State before getting destroyed at (5) Oklahoma the next week. If the Red Raiders do vanquish the Wolfpack, they’ll have a chance to re-achieve the glorious trifecta of ‘08 with (21) Texas visiting Lubbock next weekend.
7pm ET – ESPN+ – Arkansas State at Memphis
After hanging up 415 passing yards on Navy last Saturday this week Memphis clashes with an Arkansas State defense that returned a mere five starters to a unit that finished 2021 ranked No. 95 nationally vs. the pass. It’s the same group that gave up 370 yards and four scores to (3) Ohio State in Week 2. Keep an eye on Memphis sophomore QB Seth Henigan (#5), he finished last season ranked No. 11 nationally in passing yards per game and is currently the No. 20 QB in the land.
7:30pm ET – ABC – (11) Michigan State at Washington
When you think of Michigan State it’s almost impossible not to picture a swarming defense wreaking havoc on opposing offenses. But the truth is, the Spartans finished last year ranked No. 130 in the FBS – or dead last – vs. the pass. No defense gave up more yards through the air! Though MSU returned nine defensive starters this season and are ranked No. 49 in the FBS in pass D through two outings, Washington presents a different challenge than its first two opponents – Western Michigan and Akron. While the Huskies weren’t a force through the air in 2021 with a new head coach, a ton of experience on the offensive line and Indiana transfer junior QB Michael Penix Jr. (#9) under center, it’s a new era in Seattle. Through two games (although be it vs. Kent State and FCS Portland State), Washington is ranked No. 6 nationally in passing yards per game and Penix is the No. 7 QB in college football. This quiet little matchup is full of intrigue: Is Michigan State a Top Ten team while Washington is still trying to get it right? Or…are the Spartans about to visit Struggle-town while the Huskies are on the up escalator?
7:30pm ET – FS1 – SMU at Maryland
Maryland junior QB Taulia Tagovailoa (#3) opened his junior campaign with a 290-yard performance vs. Buffalo and then exploded for 391 yards and four scores at Charlotte last week earning him the No. 8 spot nationally in passing yards per game. Cue up SMU, the No. 124 ranked pass defense from last season, and Tagovailoa could look like a Heisman candidate in this one.
8pm ET – ACC Network – Louisiana Tech at (5) Clemson
8pm ET – Longhorn Network – UTSA at (21) Texas
Though Texas deserves every bit of the credit it’s getting from its gritty loss to (2) Alabama last Saturday, it will have to be careful to avoid a hangover performance against a UTSA club that went 12-2 last season and went toe-to-toe with then (24) Houston (a 37-35 loss in triple overtime) in this year’s opener. The Longhorns are only 12-point favorites over the Roadrunners.
9pm ET – ESPN – (13) Miami Fla. at (24) Texas A&M
10pm ET – ESPN2 – San Diego State at (14) Utah
As 21-point underdogs, San Diego State seems like an unlikely suitor to hand Utah it’s second loss on the season. But wait! Isn’t this the same Aztec D that returned seven starters to a unit that finished No. 3 nationally vs. the run last year? Only Wisconsin and Georgia were more successful – and – SDSU finished one notch above mighty Alabama at No. 4. It makes for a strength vs. strength matchup vs. a Utah team that returned eight starters to an offense that finished 2021 ranked No. 13 in the nation in rushing yards per game and is No. 17 thus far this season. This is worth staying up for!
10:30pm ET – FOX – Fresno State at (7) USC
Though the obvious matchup here is USC’s high-powered passing attack (currently the No. 16 ranked unit in the FBS) taking on a Fresno State D that returned seven starters to a unit that finished last season in the middle of the pack vs. the pass, the real intrigue comes when you flip the script. Indeed, dial up this late-night love affair to see the Bulldogs’ pass offense (currently ranked No. 9 in the nation) clash with USC’s defense which returned three starters to a unit that finished last season ranked No. 90 vs. the pass. The good news is that after two games the Trojans have improved their rank to No. 34. The bad news is that they’ve only played Rice (ranked No. 94 in pass offense) and Stanford (No. 45). Keep an eye on Fresno State senior QB Jake Haener (#9), the No. 5 passer in the FBS.
11pm ET – FS1 – FCS North Dakota State at Arizona
Tune in to this one to see the Alabama of the FCS take on a Power 5 program that’s been set adrift in the Sea of Losing. Where the Bison have captured nine FCS national championships since 2011, the Wildcats have only won two games since 2020.
OFF THIS WEEK (9)
- ACC: North Carolina
- American: Navy
- Big Ten: Illinois
- Big 12: TCU
- C-USA: FIU
- MWC: San Jose State, Utah State
- Pac-12: Stanford
- Sun Belt: James Madison
FIRST-EVER MEETINGS (5)
- Eastern Michigan at Arizona State
- Georgia Southern at UAB
- Nevada at Iowa
- South Alabama at UCLA
- UTSA at (21) Texas
REUNITED…And it feels so good
- (11) Michigan State at Washington (last played in the 1997 Aloha Bowl)
- Louisiana at Rice (last played in 1989)
- Tulane at Kansas State (only-ever meeting in 1988)
- Cal at Notre Dame (last played in 1967)
- New Mexico State at Wisconsin (only-ever meeting in 1962)
- SMU at Maryland (last played in 1962)
15: Cincinnati has won 15-straight over Miami Ohio (last loss in 2005)
- Akron has NEVER beaten a current SEC member (0-8)
- (17) Baylor has NEVER lost to a current Sun Belt member (11-0)
- Cal has NEVER beaten Notre Dame (0-4)
- Florida Atlantic has NEVER beaten UCF (0-3)
- Fresno State has NEVER won AT (7) USC (0-3)
- Houston has NEVER beaten Kansas (0-3)
- Louisiana Tech has NEVER beaten (5) Clemson (0-3)
- North Texas has NEVER won AT UNLV (0-3)
- Northern Illinois has NEVER beaten Vanderbilt (0-4)
- Ohio has NEVER beaten Iowa State (0-7)
- (15) Tennessee has NEVER lost to a current MAC member (9-0)
- Texas State has NEVER beaten a current Big 12 member (0-13)
- Toledo has NEVER beaten (3) Ohio State (0-3)
- Western Kentucky has NEVER beaten a current Big Ten member (0-10)
HARDWARE UP FOR GRABS
THE PAINT BUCKET – Arkansas State at Memphis – Saturday, 7pm ET, ESPN+ – series started in 1914 – Memphis leads 31-23-5 and has won three-straight.
The Paint Bucket Bowl (also referred to as the “Mid-South’s Oldest Rivalry”) has featured some memorable moments including a Hail Mary pass in 2006 (the “Bluff City” miracle), a bench-clearing brawl in 1992, and a controversial fifth down-play in 1987. The Paint Bucket trophy (an actual bucket decorated in both school’s colors) – along with the tradition of the winner of the game smearing paint on a designated area of the loser’s campus – were both established to “eliminate the defacing of each campus and the ‘kidnapping’ of opposing football players during game week.” The two campuses are located a mere 70 miles apart.
THE VICTORY BELL – Cincinnati vs. Miami Ohio (at Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio) – Saturday, Noon ET, ESPNU – series started in 1888 and is tied 59-59-7 – Cincinnati has won 15-straight, the longest win streak in the history of the series.
One of nine bells played for at the FBS level, Cincinnati and Miami’s rivalry bell is tied with North Carolina and Duke’s for the oldest such prize. According to legend, the original version of the Victory Bell was taken from Miami’s campus in Oxford, Ohio (where it was rung to celebrate Redhawk victories) by Cincinnati fans in the 1890s establishing the tradition of the winning team retaining the bell. Today, the original Bell is back on display at Miami with a replica awarded to the winner of the annual game. The traveling Bell records Cincinnati victories on one side and Miami wins on the other. The two schools are located a mere 30 miles apart and have plans to play through 2029.
In a weird twist of scheduling fate, in Week 3 ULM plays the final stanza in its two-part role as the bookends to a blockbuster. The Warhawks opened the season with a roadie at Texas, resulting in a 52-10 loss. The Longhorns very next opponent after waving goodbye to ULM was (2) Alabama, which visited Austin and barely escaped with a 20-19 win. The Tide departed Texas for home this week to prepare for its next game, which is this Saturday in Tuscaloosa, against guess who? ULM.
Historical data courtesy of Sports Reference-College Football. Statistics courtesy of CFBStats.com. Odds courtesy of Oddshark.com.
Bobby Petrino’s first trip back to Fayetteville with his Missouri State team should have been filed under ‘Reunited’.
Ms. Amy Daughters,
I believe this is the 1st Time BYU (12) VS UOR (25) have been ranked when playing each other.
There is a lot more regular Season & post-season NY6 exhibition bowl possibility on the Line this early in the ’22 Season for UOR & BYU on the national Landscape.
Trust Five Conference Entitlement Expectation Psychosis was displayed by UOR’s Program in the 2006 LV Bowl VS dependent 5 MW Conference Champion BYU who was chomping at the Bit to prove they deserved the Top 25 Rank of (19).
Since the MW Champion is excluded from any NY6 consideration unless they are 12 Ws & 0 Losses which BYU wasn’t, 10 – 2 was our Record.
IF ( The Ducks superior Trust Five 5, 4 & 3 Star talent Pool exerted subpar “effort over ability” VS BYU’s 3, 2, 1, 0 Star talent Pool ) UOR’s players Effort was 100% the Game would have been a Victory for the Ducks.
Instead, 38 Points BYU 8 Points UOR
No mention of the longest winning streak in the country