2019 NCAAF Week 3 Weekend Preview

September 13, 2019

Week 2 lived up to the hype, with the best games providing plenty of excitement. In the process, a serious contender for the College Football Playoff emerged (hello, LSU). Alabama fans, take note.

This weekend there are no matchups between two ranked teams, but plenty of lesser known “gems” being played across the country. Additionally, conference play kicks off in the Big Ten and Big 12.

My buddy Phil will look to make in two in a row for the guests in the head-to-head prediction game after Matt managed a perfect 5-0 record in Week 2. Overall, the standings look like this:

K. Becks – 9-2

Guests – 7-4

Let’s take a look at the top games for Week 3.

5 Games to Watch This Weekend

#21 Maryland at Temple (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

One of the surprise early season stories, Maryland currently leads the country averaging 71 points per contest. Much of the success is thanks to Josh Jackson, who has shot out of the gate with his new team, throwing for seven touchdowns already in 2019. The Terrapins have a chance to prove that the hot start is more than a fluke this weekend, as Temple is allowing just 12 points per contest defensively (albeit with just one game under its belt).

There was a lot of excitement surrounding this Maryland program before the season began, but the hype didn’t really extend far beyond the greater College Park area. Big Ten fans saw flashes of it in 2018, but with Jackson behind center and Mike Locksley making the most of that, the Terrapins offense is likely for real. Temple’s defense may be a bit stiffer than what Syracuse offered last weekend, but it won’t be able to stop both Jackson and a Maryland running game that is averaging 335 yards per game.

My Pick: 34-19 Maryland

Phil’s Take: Maryland is averaging 71 PPG so far this year, and the line here is still only Maryland -7. Temple is averaging 56 PPG. We could have a shootout in Philly. Take the points and the Terps, though.

Kansas State at Mississippi State (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

It’s no real surprise that these two teams head into this matchup at 2-0, but how each has managed to do it has been impressive. It was a bit of a mystery how the Wildcats would fare without Bill Snyder roaming the sideline, but Chris Klieman has installed a bruising rushing attack that is currently third in the country (347 YPG) and has amassed 10 touchdowns through two games. One of the best in the country at stopping the run last season, Mississippi State’s new guard on the defensive line will have a stiff test ahead of it on Saturday.

The Bulldogs have a stud of their own at the running back position in junior Kylin Hill, who stands to play an important role in this football game. Assuming Hill gets at least 20 carries, both the Bulldogs and Wildcats will look to control the pace and milk the clock. Don’t expect Kansas State to get near its season average in rushing – the Bulldogs are far better than the previous competition Klieman’s team has faced and will force Skylar Thompson into throwing the football. That’s the key to victory for Mississippi State.

My Pick: 24-17 Mississippi State

Phil’s Take: I feel like both of these teams have had the same QBs for the last 10 years. Collin Klein, Nick Fitzgerald. What’s the difference! They’re all Kroger brand Tebows. This has all the makings of a 21-17 Bulldog win.

#24 Southern Cal at BYU (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

A wild end to the fourth quarter against Tennessee last Saturday saved BYU from beginning the season 0-2, and the Cougars now return to Utah for their home opener, welcoming a Trojans squad that surprised most of the country with its offensive outburst against Stanford a week ago. The surprise portion is because Clay Helton’s team was led by a true freshman at quarterback who a year ago was still slinging the ball around on a high school field. Kedon Slovis was ready for the spotlight, however, completing 82 percent of his passes and tossing three touchdowns against the Cardinal. Slovis already has fans in Los Angeles saying “JT who?”

If BYU wants to avoid dropping its second game against Pac-12 competition, containing Slovis is crucial. The pass defense has been strong so far this season, but neither Tyler Huntley nor Jarrett Guarantano was particularly impressive and that can’t be entirely attributed to BYU’s secondary. Slovis, unlike those two, will come after the secondary and there is very little tape on him. A week ago most pundits thought Southern Cal’s season was over with the loss of JT Daniels, but a Kedon Slovis may be the unlikely savior.

My Pick: 30-17 Southern Cal

Phil’s Take: BYU just took down Tennessee in Knoxville, which I guess is like meeting your childhood sports hero when they’re fat and washed up – you can always say you did it. USC dismantled Stanford last week, and they’ll be riding that emotion coming into Provo. With Daniels out, Slovis has stepped in and taken control of the Trojan offense. Take USC, and to cover the -4, too.

#19 Iowa at Iowa State (Saturday, 4 PM ET)

College GameDay travels to Ames, Iowa for the first time ever for the Battle for the CyHawk Trophy, a hotly contested piece of hardware that normally doesn’t get the attention it deserves. The Hawkeyes come into the 2019 edition of the rivalry riding a four game winning streak, and two times during that span the Cyclones have failed to score a single touchdown. But even with the loss of two key offensive skill players from last season, sophomore quarterback Brock Purdy has the chops to end the losing streak for Iowa State. Purdy isn’t flashy, but is accurate and doesn’t force things. Iowa will punish the opposition with takeaways, but that won’t happen against the Cyclones.

On the other side, Iowa’s Nate Stanley has developed into one of the Big Ten’s better quarterbacks, but he lost two of his favorite targets from last season as well. There may not be a lot of offensive fireworks in this one, which makes this game a solid candidate to be decided by one solid drive late in the fourth quarter. This year, that should come from the home team, which is led by the quarterback less susceptible to folding in big games.

My Pick: 17-14 Iowa State

Phil’s Take: Iowa has won 4 in a row, but Ames can be a tough spot to grab a win. However, this isn’t a Friday night in Ames so I think the Hawkeyes take the game on the back of a strong defense and a sure fire NFL QB in Stanley.

#9 Florida at Kentucky (Saturday, 7 PM ET)

It had been 31 years since Kentucky beat Florida in football before last season, but many experts saw last year’s “upset” coming from a mile away. Led by do-it-all talent Benny Snell Jr. on offense and one of the SEC’s best overall defenses, the Wildcats were a truly solid football team. This season was thought to be more of a rebuilding year, but Mark Stoops and his squad took care of business against two MAC schools and is primed to make it two in a row against the ranked Gators. Dan Mullen’s team appeared to shake off the rust on the offensive side of the ball last weekend, but a performance like the one against Miami a few weeks ago would give Kentucky a good shot of pulling off the upset.

The play of Feleipe Franks, whose development in 2018 was brought into question after the season opener against the Hurricanes, will be very important in this game. If Franks can take advantage of a Kentucky secondary that had to replace a lot of pieces from last season’s squad and showed signs of weakness against Eastern Michigan last weekend, Florida may have too much on offense for the Wildcats to keep up. But if the Kentucky defense can force Franks into a multiple turnover outing, this one may get ugly for the Gators even without Terry Wilson at quarterback for the Wildcats.

My Pick: 31-17 Florida

Phil’s Take: Kentucky was a one year wonder with Benny Snell and Josh Allen. The spread has the Gators -8.5 Florida by 10+.

5 Games to Flip To

Pittsburgh at #13 Penn State (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

Just when you think this game is over, something crazy will happen, making you flip back to watch. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Arizona State at #18 Michigan State (Saturday, 4 PM ET)

A surprise victory at home last year against the Spartans set the tone for a surprising first season under Herm Edwards, but the Sun Devils will have their hands full against a revitalized Michigan State offense.

North Texas at California (Saturday, 4:15 PM ET)

Cal’s defense was good enough to beat what appeared to be a very solid Washington squad, which is not a good sign for Mason Fine and the Mean Green’s potent offense.

Florida State at #25 Virginia (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET)

You’re not going crazy – Virginia is the team that is ranked in this matchup, and unless Florida State’s defense shows major improvement over the previous two weeks, the Cavaliers will win this game.

#1 Clemson at Syracuse (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET)

If not for the Orange’s humbling defeat at the hands of Maryland last weekend, this would have been one of the top games to watch this weekend. Unfortunately for Syracuse, the Tigers can move the ball just like the Terrapins.

In the past, I’ve asked readers to let me know if they’d like to be guests on Around The Corn to make weekly college football picks. And while that invite still stands (email kbecks@aroundthecorn.com or message me on Facebook or Twitter if interested), the truth is that I’m basically asking friends and family on a weekly basis. Writing is a passion of mine, as is commenting on sports. But sharing those two passions with others are what has always made this worthwhile. So tell me what you think of the site and let me know what could be done better, or what would make you come back without prompting. I’d really appreciate it.

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