Key clashes in the PAC-12 and SEC highlight the week 3 college football slate as our panelists take you through the big matchups and offer their predictions, including Auburn vs LSU.
#8 Notre Dame vs Vanderbilt (Saturday at 2:30 P.M. in Notre Dame, IN) Line: Notre Dame by 14.5
Steen Kirby: A game with upset potential, SEC fans would love for a regular bottom dweller in the conference to knock off mighty Notre Dame on the road. The Fighting Irish have been up and down through 2 games, the win against Michigan was great, but squeaking by Ball State won’t inspire confidence. Vanderbilt looks set to be bowl eligible this year, but that alone probably won’t be enough to get this win, as the Irish should pull it together. Notre Dame 27, Vanderbilt 17
Mike Loveall: Notre Dame is coming off a sluggish win against Ball State. This will be Vandy’s first real test of the season. It’s been 23 years since Vandy has been to South Bend. Expect Notre Dame to bounce back and have their efficient offense against a Commodore defense that isn’t quite as good as last season. Notre Dame 35, Vanderbilt 17
Yesh Ginsburg: Notre Dame looked awful last week against Ball State. Vanderbilt has been solid in its two wins so far. I’m not quite going in on the upset here, but two touchdowns is just too high a spread. Notre Dame 34, Vanderbilt 28
Lukas Weese: Notre Dame is looking to go 3-0 for the first time since 2015 as they take on undefeated Vanderbilt. What has been most impressive with the Fighting Irish to start has been their defence. It has forced eight three-and-outs on 27 defensive series – an impressive 29.6 percent success rate – heading into the third week. I like Notre Dame to dominate to their third straight victory. Notre Dame 35, Vanderbilt 10
John Bava: This is a tough game to gauge. Notre Dame looked like a CFP contender against Michigan in Week One but didn’t exactly impress in an eight-point win over Ball State last week. Meanwhile, Vanderbilt comes into this contest having won its first two games, against Middle Tennessee and Nevada, by a combined 59 points.
Commodores quarterback Kyle Shurmur has played reliable, mistake-free football so far, throwing four touchdowns to zero interceptions. That hasn’t been the case with ND signal caller Brandon Wimbush, who threw three picks against Ball State. Vandy’s shown a knack for forcing quarterback miscues as well, as they’re tied for 15th in the nation in interceptions. Notre Dame will likely rely on their ground game to come out on top and go 3-0 for the first time since 2015. Notre Dame 31, Vanderbilt 20
#12 LSU vs #7 Auburn (Saturday at 3:30 P.M. in Auburn, AL) Line: Auburn by 9.5
Steen: A massive game early in the season, LSU has pundits and fans believing again after an early win against Miami, but Auburn are the favorites and at home they look to be in good shape. Their offense and a tough defensive unit are solid, and I’m not sold on LSU’s quality overall even if Joe Burrow is the real deal at QB. Auburn 24, LSU 14
Mike: Auburn takes on LSU after a hot start for both teams. This one features two great defenses. This is a unique rivalry, and cost Les Miles his job two years ago. This game will come down to the team that gets better production from their offense, and that’ll be the Tigers. Of Auburn. Auburn 21, LSU 13
Yesh: LSU’s scoreline over Miami was impressive, but the game wasn’t particularly. That was a combination of turnover luck, one or two big plays, and Miami generally not playing well. Auburn didn’t look particularly better against Washington, but Washington is a much better team than Miami. The Tigers from Alabama are more talented up front, and they’ll win easily. Auburn 31, LSU 17
Lukas: A battle between two physical defenses. Auburn had a big running day last week, where they rushed for 400+ yards. LSU will rely on their running game led by Nick Brosette. This game will be close early but I like Auburn to take control late to have an advantage in the SEC. Auburn 24, LSU 14
John: It’s not often you have a game with SEC title implications in September. But that’s the situation at hand with Saturday’s clash on the plains between LSU and Auburn. Both teams opened the season with impressive wins against ranked opponents, then blew out an FCS cupcake in Week Two. Given LSU’s dominating win over what was then a top 10 Miami Hurricanes team, it’s kind of puzzling that Auburn’s favored by more than a touchdown here.
The home Tigers seem to have the advantage at quarterback with Jarrett Stidham one of college football’s top NFL Draft prospects. And though Ohio State transfer Joe Burrow was reliable against Miami, he wasn’t asked to do much. The run game will ultimately determine who wins this one. Auburn gets it done on the ground with more of a committee that includes freshman tandem JaTarvious Whitlow and Shaun Shivers. For LSU, senior Nick Brossette is finally getting his chance after sitting behind Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guice. The road Tigers will keep it close but the home ones pull out a W in the end. Auburn 24, LSU 20
#17 Boise State vs #24 Oklahoma State (Saturday at 3:30 P.M. in Stillwater, OK) Line: Oklahoma State by 3
Steen: A real opportunity for either team, the Broncos are looking to make their case for the CFB playoff, and must win to do so, while Oklahoma State wants to be far more respected than they are right now. While this is a home game for the Cowboys, Boise is the more experienced team and that experience should translate to a win against a quality P5 opponent. Boise State 38, Oklahoma State 35
Mike: Oklahoma State entered the season under the radar after the loss of Mason Rudolph and some other key pieces of the offense. But they’ve looked solid early in the season. So has Boise State, who might challenge UCF as the best of the Group of 5. If this game was played on a blue field, it might be different. Oklahoma State 31, Boise State 24.
Yesh: I have no idea how Oklahoma State is favored in this game. Have the oddsmakers seen Boise play? The Cowboys will be lucky if this isn’t a blowout. Boise State 42, Oklahoma State 21
Lukas: This is a close game featuring two teams that could make some noise towards the end of the season. Both teams have prolific offences, where Boise State has a record 818 yards last week. Oklahoma State is leading the nation in offence with 674.5-yard offensive average. I like Boise State QB Brett Rypien making some critical plays late to give the Broncos the victory. Boise State 38, Oklahoma State 33
John: This is the first-ever meeting between these two schools. But Boise State has experience against Big XII schools from the state of Oklahoma. Who can forget their epic Fiesta Bowl win over the Sooners, capped off by a “Statue of Liberty” trick play in overtime?
#4 Ohio State vs #15 TCU (Saturday at 8:00 P.M. in Dallas, TX) Line: Ohio State by 12.5
Steen: TCU would move into the CFB playoff discussion early if they can upset Ohio State in this neutral site game. KaVontae Turpin and the Horned Frogs have the speed and talent to pull off an upset, but Ohio State looks like a buzzsaw team this year, alongside Alabama. Look for the Buckeyes to wear down TCU in the second half and earn a win. Ohio State 42, TCU 30
Mike: Ohio State finishes the Urban Meyer sideline suspension with a trip to Fort Worth. The Frogs have been solid against inferior opponents early, even with some slow starts. But they aren’t the team that Ohio State is. The Buckeyes still have a bad taste in their mouth from an out-of-conference loss last season to a Big 12 team and they look to exact revenge and get out some frustration against TCU. Ohio State 38, TCU 20
Yesh: The Buckeyes look unstoppable in just about every facet of the game, with the exception of the secondary. It looked better against Rutgers than against Oregon State, but it was Rutgers. TCU doesn’t have the horses to beat Ohio State, but it has the speed to score a bunch of points. Ohio State 45, TCU 34
Lukas: The final Urban Meyer-less game takes place against a tough out of conference opponent as Ohio State takes on TCU. Sophomore QB for the Buckeyes Dwayne Haskins has been off to a great start, completing 20 for 23 passes for 233 yards and four TDs last week. The offence is prolific and I see it having a big week against TCU. Ohio State 31, TCU 17
John: This is the final game OSU will play without Urban Meyer patrolling the sidelines. They haven’t missed a beat without him, ranking second nationally with 64.5 points per game and boasting an average margin of victory of 47.5 points through their first two contests. On Saturday, they return to the site of their Cotton Bowl victory over USC on December 29 of last year.
Buckeye quarterback Dwayne Haskins has successfully taken the reins from J.T. Barrett. Early in the season, he ranks top four nationally in completion percentage, touchdown passes, and passing efficiency. But he’s in for his stiffest test yet against a TCU team that leads the Big XII in pass defense. That said, OSU possesses two dynamic running backs in Mike Weber and J.K. Dobbins. Ultimately, their offensive weapons prove too much for the Horned Frogs. Ohio State 45, TCU 31
#10 Washington vs Utah (Saturday at 10:00 P.M. in Salt Lake City, UT) Line: Washington by 5
Steen: An intriguing contest that could reshape the PAC-12 and put Utah into the conversation as a contender. Washington is the better team on paper, but a trip to Salt Lake isn’t easy, and Utah has been upset minded in the past decade against quality opposition. Washington has been sluggish on offense, and Utah is tough on defense, but I’m not sold on the Utes offense either, and thus Washington should win a low scoring contest. Washington 17, Utah 10
Mike: At some point, the Huskies have to live up to expectations. A great defensive line, a talented quarterback and weapons on offense. They had a rough road trip to Atlanta in Week One and will have another test on the road this week against Utah. Chris Petersen is still a coach to bet on and has established a level of consistency in Seattle. Washington 31, Utah 20
Yesh: I like Utah here. Washington couldn’t finish drives against Auburn. The Utah offense struggled on the road against Northern Illinois, but I’m guessing the Utes will be a little less vanilla with the play calling in this game. Utah 24, Washington 21
Lukas: Washington is looking to snap the undefeated streak for Utah. Utah’s defence has been special thus far, including a 40 yard pick six by linebacker Chase Hensen. The Huskies need to do a better job in the red zone as miscues cost them in their lone loss of the year against Auburn. It’ll be close but I like Washington to secure a victory. Washington 27, Utah 20
John: “Pac-12 After Dark” in Week Three is highlighted by an intriguing clash between Washington and Utah. Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City is among the tougher places to play in the conference, with the Utes having pulled off quite a few upsets in recent years. They’ll be looking to do the same against a Huskie team trying to rebound from their season-opening defeat to Auburn.
For either of these teams to emerge victorious, they’ll have to be better at making the most of their forays into the red zone. Utah is currently tied for 89th nationally in red zone touchdown percentage while Washington is even worse, currently sitting 115th. Huskies running back Myles Gaskin has endured a rough start to the season and may struggle against Utah who’s giving up just 81.5 rushing yards per game. This feels like an upset special. Utah 21, Washington 17