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Looking Ahead to College Football: Big Games in Week Three

Louisville QB Lamar Jackson

Looking Ahead to College Football: Big Games in Week Three

BY Kevin Krest

@KevinKrest

Week three brings the beginning of more compelling conference games, although the conference schedules will still be a week or two away from getting into full swing. The ACC boasts two contests that will have a big impact on the Coastal and Atlantic races, what most experts are calling the top four teams in action. Another ACC team hosts a squad many have as the favorite in Big Twelve, while a very important SEC East clash takes place in The Swamp.

Clemson @ Louisville: Last year’s game was a classic and set the stage for Clemson to contend for and eventually win the national championship. Both these teams will have been tested by FBS opponents by this point, so there won’t be a significant step up in class experienced by either one. With Florida State as the favorite in the ACC Atlantic, the loser of this one will have a difficult time contending for the title, especially with Clemson also having to travel to Blacksburg in an ACC Championship game rematch with Virginia Tech. Louisville’s path is significantly easier, as they draw the other, and much worse, Virginia ACC school. Can you say early elimination game?

Miami @ Florida State: The two favorites in their respective ACC divisions meet in a crucial early season with national implications. Mark Richt, the former Florida State offensive coordinator brings what many believe will be an improved Hurricane team into Tallahassee to face a Seminole team that will already have faced Alabama in week one. The outcome of that game will have a significant impact on the what this game means for the Seminoles. A win against the Tide and they emerge as favorites to get into the playoffs. A loss would mean another one against Miami spells elimination from national consideration. Intriguing to say the least, especially considering the import of this rivalry.

Wisconsin @ BYU: BYU’s late season schedule is probably too weak to put them into playoff consideration, regardless of their record, but to go undefeated they would have had to defeat LSU in week one and then the Badgers in this game. Stranger things have happened, especially early in the season. Wisconsin is always in the mix in the Big Ten, and this year they benefit from a much easier schedule than last year’s killer stretch to open the conference slate. They trade Ohio State for Maryland, a change that gives them a real chance to win the Big Ten West and contend for a playoff spot.

Baylor @ Duke:  On the surface, this game doesn’t have the national appeal of some of the other early season, inter-conference match-ups. However, prior to beating Boise State in the Cactus Bowl to end last season, Baylor had dropped its final six regular season games and more than one of those defeats were pretty ugly. With a new coach and hopefully more disciplined approach both on and off the field, I’m interested to see how the Bears come out of the chute. Duke took a step back last season and will be coming off a game against Northwestern, so we’ll  already have seen if the Blue Devils are headed  back in the right direction.

Oklahoma State @ Pittsburgh: Even before the retirement of Bob Stoops at Oklahoma, many experts were picking Oklahoma State as the favorites to win the Big 12. I’m not necessarily one of them, but a win in a tough place for visiting teams would go a long way toward changing my mind. As mentioned in an earlier post, the Panthers will be coming off a big rivalry game at Penn State. The outcome of that game will make a significant difference in what the contest against the Cowboys might mean.  Back to back upsets for Pitt could set them up for a breakthrough season.

Arizona State @ Texas Tech: Arizona State hasn’t won a football game since October of last year and with head coach Todd Graham on the hot seat, this one is important for the Sun Devils. Neither of these teams made it to bowl game last season and finished with identical 5 – 7 records. Last season Texas Tech was inconsistent on offense and just plain bad on defense, not a great combination in the high scoring Big 12. In their last eleven games, the Red Raiders yielded an average of just under 46 points a game. That’s a very big number, so it might actually be a blessing that they only return four starters off that defensive unit. Arizona State wasn’t any better, giving up almost 47 points a game during their six game losing streak to end the season. This one might end up looking like a basketball score.

Texas @ USC: The Tom Herman era begins at Texas with the former Houston coach making the short transition to Austin. With USC having faced Stanford in a big, early season conference game the prior week, the Longhorns may have an opportunity to catch the Trojans at an opportune time. They’ll need all the help they can get as USC will most likely open the season ranked in the top five nationally. With seven returning starters coming back off a decent defense, Texas has a chance of slowing down a team that won nine games in a row to end last season, capped off with a victory over Big Ten champ Penn State in the Rose Bowl. This one will probably have significant national implications.

Tennessee @ Florida: After Tennessee defeated Florida and followed it up with a win at Georgia to start the season 5 – 0 overall and 2 – 0 in the conference, it would have been difficult to find many that would have predicted that it would be the Gators playing for the SEC Championship against Alabama. But that’s exactly what happened as the Vols proceeded to lose their next three games to fall out of the SEC East race. Despite the odd outcome of last season, this will still be a significant game for these two teams that will probably be chasing Georgia for the division title. The Swamp should be rocking!

 

[Photo: Athlon Sports]

 

 

For more follow Kevin Krest on Twitter @KevinKrest and don’t forget to check out my new book, “Offsetting Penalties – A PK Frazier Novel” and my first two, “Illegal Procedure – A PK Frazier Novel” and “Roughing the Passer – A PK Frazier Novel”, available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and Smashwords.  Tune into www.WPFLRADIO.com at 8:40 am EST every Friday for my Beyond the Commentary segment on “Lou in the Morning” with Lou Vickery and Jonathan McMath.

Looking Ahead to College Football: Big Games in Week Three
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Looking Ahead to College Football: Big Games in Week Three

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