Week 3 Non-SEC College Football Games to watch
Thursday: Boise State vs. New Mexico, ESPN
By virtue of losing to Washington State on the road in triple-overtime, we no longer need to give a flip about Boise State this season. However, a run through the Mountain West could make the Broncos a threat for the coveted Group of Five spot in the New York Six Bowls.
It took quite some time but head coach Bob Davie turned New Mexico into a regular in the bowl circuit. The Lobos are a run-heavy team and led the Mountain West in rushing yards per game with 350. They returned most of their offense but had to completely replace their defense, which showed in losses to
It’s either this or Thursday Night Football on NFL Network.
Friday: Arizona at UTEP, ESPN
It didn’t take long for Arizona fans like myself to realize just how terrible the Wildcats were last year. It may not take long to come to that same realization this season if they lose to UTEP this week. The Miners couldn’t do a thing on the ground against Oklahoma or Rice, averaging less than 50 rushing yards per game. Against Oklahoma is one thing, but Rice?
UTEP 4-8 last season and look like they’re on their way to doing the same this season. Last year, the Miners made only five field goals. Only two other FBS teams have made less. In two weeks, UTEP has yet to make a field goal.
Arizona’s special teams aren’t that good either. A missed field goal in the second half proved to be the difference between an overtime game and a three-point loss. Much of the blame was placed on a poor snap from the backup long snapper because the starter, Nick Reinhardt, was unavailable due to an injury.
UTEP returns five starters on defense while filling the rest of the lineup with sophomores. The Miners were third in the C-USA in pass defense and that was before defensive coordinator Tom Mason switched his system from 3-4 to a 4-2-5 to better play to the strengths of defensive backs like senior leader Devin Cockrell.
That means nothing to the Wildcats, who’s fans now brag about blowing out Arizona State last year in a game in which they didn’t even attempt a pass in the second half.
Brandon Dawkins does not look like a quarterback. How can he when against Northern Arizona, he amassed more yards running the ball than passing? He scored more touchdowns on the ground than through the air last season. He has the body and speed of a wide receiver. He’s not really a quarterback but he’s playing one on TV, thanks to head coach Rich Rodriguez.
Nepotism is frowned upon when it comes to the NBA and the state of the Los Angeles Clippers, but at this point I’ll happily take a jump start to the Rhett Rodriguez era behind center.
The Wildcats looked unwatchable against Houston last week in a 19-16 loss, but if they lose to this team? It may count as a fireable offense for Rich Rodriguez.
Friday: Illinois vs. South Florida, ESPN
This matchup is your typical early season put up or shut up game. Illinois came off a dreadful season last year under Lovie Smith but seem to turn it around now. The Illini came off a suspect win over Ball State in Week 1 but handled Western Kentucky with ease in Week 2. A ranked South Florida team provided them their first real test of the season.
South Florida looks like a real team. It’s amazing with Charlie Strong can do in USF that he seemingly wasn’t able to do in Texas. Quinton Flowers looks like a true dual threat quarterback and a big part behind the Bulls winning 11 games last year and Willie Taggart parlaying that into Oregon.
South Florida has an easier schedule down the line than Illinois but the outcome of this game says a lot about both teams.
Saturday: Oklahoma State vs. Pittsburgh, ESPN
Oklahoma State didn’t fall for the trap this season that befell them last year against Central Michigan. Pittsburgh fell to Penn State and were later insulted by Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin when he said it was like beating Akron.
Well it better be like beating Akron for the OSU Cowboys. They are in full strength. Mason Rudolph has climbed atop the list of all-time passing leaders in school history. His connection with senior wide receiver James Washington rivals that of Brandon Weeden to Justin Blackmon. Their running game will balance out the offense that should go on to be the best in the Big 12.
This is the best chance for OSU to reach the playoffs and they should show it against Pitt.
Other things to look out for in Week 3
- Wake Forest has a chance to start 3-0 with a win against Utah State. The Demon Deacons started last season 4-0 but limped to 6-6, salvaging their season with a Military Bowl victory.
- SMU and TCU enter their rivalry game at 2-0. This game should pack as much hype as Mayweather-McGregor but the outcome should prove to be no surprise.
- Central Michigan crushed Kansas last week and go advance to 3-0 with a win at Syracuse. The Orange lost to Middle Tennessee State at home in Week 2 so another upset is possible.
- Boston College and Notre Dame meet in the battle of the golden helmets. May the shiniest dome win.
- At some point, Lane Kiffen has to finally win a game for Florida Atlantic. If not against Bethune-Cookman, then who?
- We’re back on the Lamar Jackson hype train. He and the Louisville Cardinals will truly be tested at home against No. 3 Clemson.
- How Arizona State keeps up with Texas Tech offensively can decide the direction of the Sun Devils’ season.
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