USA Today

Week Three College Football Viewing Guide

Sept. 18 -- There are several big games relevant to UCLA's interests on the slate this weekend...

FRIDAY


No. 9 Florida State at Boston College
5:00 P.M., ESPN
Florida State -7.5

It’s never too early to start watching games for the express purposes of rooting for teams to lose! Florida State, despite losing Jameis Winston and replacing him with Brian Kelly’s spit target, could pretty reasonably go undefeated this season because the ACC is basically terrible. Boston College is also an ACC team, of course, but BC has a much better chance of dropping several more games on the schedule than Florida State. We think the Seminoles win, but it would be far better for the Pac-12 if they lost.

Florida State 28, Boston College 21

New Mexico at Arizona State
7:00 P.M., Pac-12 Networks
ASU -28

Todd Graham’s Best. Team. Ever. went into the 4th quarter against Cal Poly all tied up last week, which means, obviously, that Cal Poly is probably better than 99% of FBS teams. New Mexico is legitimately dreadful and, legitimately, would probably lose to Cal Poly if the two teams played this year. ASU is probably better than the Sun Devils have shown so far, but the Buzzcut has his work cut out for him heading into conference play.

Arizona State 42, New Mexico 10

SATURDAY


UNLV at Michigan
9:00 A.M., Big Ten Network
Michigan -34

Michigan is crazy obsessed with UCLA this season, with all four teams Michigan plays in the non-conference also playing UCLA this year. Michigan is favored by UCLA’s victory margin from last week, and the ideal would be for UNLV to show it’s considerably better than it looked last week, so as to make UCLA’s sleep-walking blowout look just a little bit better. As UNLV is a high school team that may or may not be helmed by a quarterback who has only a passing familiarity with how to throw a football, we don’t anticipate the Rebels putting up much of a fight, but if you wake up on Saturday with literally nothing at all to do, give this game a look.

Michigan 45, UNLV 10

Georgia State at No. 12 Oregon
11:00 A.M., Pac-12 Networks
Oregon -45.5

Vernon Adams has a broken finger, sure, but he could have two broken legs and still quarterback the Ducks to victory in this game.

Oregon 63, Georgia State 24

No. 14 Georgia Tech at No. 8 Notre Dame
12:30 P.M., NBC
Georgia Tech -2.5

Virginia played so well against top ten Notre Dame last week that we’re beginning to think the Cavaliers would be favored by a point or two over Arkansas State on a neutral field. The Cavaliers definitely gave Notre Dame a real scare, and probably crippled the Irish’s title hopes this season with the injury to quarterback Malik Zaire. Georgia Tech was probably going to run all over Notre Dame regardless, but now we’re expecting it to get a little ugly. Fearless prediction: at some point during the game, Brian Kelly’s angry red face will be hot enough to flash fry a whole chicken.

Georgia Tech 38, Notre Dame 24

No. 18 Auburn at No. 13 LSU
12:30 P.M., CBS
LSU -7.5

It’s another exciting matchup between two wildly overrated SEC teams with quarterbacks who cannot play the position at a high FBS level! LSU might have the worst offensive scheme and most conservative play-calling in modern college football, but Auburn has a defense that will probably be ranked somewhere in the bottom quarter of Power 5 defenses at the end of the season. We always have to err on the side of these games being supremely ugly, so we’ll say LSU’s offense asserts its mediocrity and makes Auburn’s defense look almost passable en route to a win that will vault LSU into the top ten for no apparent reason.

LSU 23, Auburn 20

Utah State at Washington
2:00 P.M., Pac-12 Networks
Washington -6

The immortal Chuckie Keeton almost led the Aggies to a win against Utah last week, and he looked to be much more comfortable in that game than he did in the opener against Southern Utah. Washington’s defense, though, has looked considerably better than we thought it would at the beginning of the season. Also, every aspect of this game is boring. Utah State is a boring opponent. Washington is a boring, unexciting team. The Huskies are favored by two field goals. This game is on at 2:00 P.M., after the last Washington home game was on at 11:00 a.m., which leads us to believe that Washington is so boring now that the Pac-12 officials literally forgot that it’s in the Pacific time zone. Expect boredom.

Washington 17, Utah State 10

Colorado at Colorado State
4:00 P.M., CBS Sports Network
Colorado -4

The Buffaloes beat up on mighty UMass last week, but this is still a team that lost to Hawaii, and the Rainbow Warriors were expected to be worse than Colorado State this year in the Mountain West. Until further notice, we’re probably not picking Colorado to win another game besides Nicholls State this year.

Colorado State 31, Colorado 24

Texas HC Charlie Strong (USA Today)

California at Texas
4:30 P.M., FOX
Cal -7

Here’s how close Charlie Strong is to getting fired in his second year: freaking Cal is favored by a touchdown at Texas! Cal went 1-11 two years ago! And to be honest, the line seems way too low. Texas looked awful against Notre Dame two weeks ago, and only marginally better last week against a really bad Rice team. Cal, on the other hand, looks like it might even win eight or nine games this year. The over/under on passing touchdowns for Jared Goff in this game is set at “all of them”.

California 45, Texas 21

Stanford at No. 6 USC
5:00 P.M., ABC
USC -10.5
Last year in this matchup, David Shaw famously turned what should have been a 21-point blowout win into a three-point loss through a combination of miserable, conservative play-calling and even more miserable, conservative play-calling. USC has significantly more offensive firepower than the Trojans had a year ago, while Stanford, at this juncture, appears to be a significantly worse team than a year ago. That’s not a good combination for the Cardinal.

USC 38, Stanford 21

San Jose State at Oregon State
5:00 P.M., Pac-12 Networks
Oregon State -7.5

Gary Andersen coached that game against Michigan like he thought he had a chance to win it on a field goal, which is such an absurd miscalculation of Oregon State’s place in the world that we’re beginning to think he mixed up Oregon State and Oregon when he decided to leave Wisconsin. The Beavers were pretty close with Michigan through the midway point of the second quarter, but then a couple of very conservative punting decisions from Andersen let Michigan gain all of the momentum. That’s a worrying sign for the Beavers. San Jose State is a winnable game, and we’ve liked what we’ve seen from Oregon State’s defense, but Andersen didn’t impress us at all last week.

Oregon State 24, San Jose State 17

Wyoming at Washington State
5:30 P.M., Pac-12 Networks
Washington State -24.5

We haven’t analyzed every college football team, but we still feel confident in saying this: Washington State has the worst special teams of any FBS program. We’ll also just leave this here: Mike Leach is a bad head coach who made a name for himself with a kooky personality and a one-note offensive scheme that he hasn’t adjusted in six years. That said, Wyoming is probably one of the five worst teams in FBS this year (UNLV is going to be right there as well). The Cowboys are probably worse than the Portland State team that Washington State lost to in week one. Washington State will win, but it will be just as ugly and disappointing as you’d expect.

Washington State 34, Wyoming 20

No. 15 Ole Miss at No. 2 Alabama
6:15 P.M., ESPN
Alabama -6

This will actually be a good SEC game that’s worth watching, so naturally it’s almost directly opposite the UCLA game that all of you should probably watch as well. Ole Miss is probably under-ranked at No. 15, as most advanced stats measures have the Rebels considerably higher. Thanks to what we’ll refer to as “effective” recruiting, Ole Miss has a good deal of talent on both sides of the ball, and actually beat Alabama last year. Chad Kelly, the Rebels’ quarterback, actually looks like one of the few competent quarterbacks in the SEC through the early going. Alabama, if you’ll remember, also still employs Lane Kiffin.

Ole Miss 24, Alabama 21

No. 21 Utah at Fresno State
7:30 P.M., CBS Sports Network
Utah -14

Fresno State is pretty bad, but Utah will probably be without Travis Wilson in this game, who sprained his shoulder last week against Utah State, which leaves him with approximately three joints that have not been injured at one point or another in his college career. Kendal Thompson, who ran variations of basically two plays to beat UCLA last year, will likely get the start against Fresno State. We’re just happy that after this week, we don’t have to preview another game against a Mountain West opponent until bowl season.

Utah 31, Fresno State 14

No. 19 BYU at No. 10 UCLA
7:30 P.M., Fox Sports 1
UCLA -16.5

We’ve analyzed the film, and the punch was definitely directed at the dude’s junk.

UCLA 31, BYU 21

Northern Arizona at No. 20 Arizona
8:00 P.M., Pac-12 Networks
No line

Who cares? The Pac-12 should air this on tape delay Sunday at 3 AM so the only people who accidentally watch are drunk insomniacs.

Arizona whatever, Northern Arizona way less than whatever

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