Week 3 Of College Football Schedule Packs A Little Bit Of Everything
Delivers Conference Play, Regional Rivalries, Cross-sectional Battles and Fewer FCS Teams In The Mix
The 3rd week of the college football kicks off on Thursday with conference openers leading the charge.
A trio of battles that night has Sun Belt, Conference USA and Big 12 teams going toe-to-toe within their respective ranks. Two-time defending Sun Belt champ Arkansas State hosts Troy as a 10.36-point favorite. Louisiana Tech, a Conference USA transplant from the defunct WAC, hosts Tulane as a 3-point computer underdog. And Texas Tech is a 6.22-point computer choice at home over TCU in a Big 12 showdown. The computer's picks favoring Tulane and Texas Tech are taking the outright opposite side of the opening sportsbook lines.
The computer, of course, is my Congrove Computer Rankings which have Stanford holding the top spot and favored to win the BCS National Championship Game.
The football week features a slimmed down 61-game schedule with 15 FBS-FCS matchups. 75 games were played in each of the first two weeks, including 31 and 35 contests, respectively, against lower classified schools.
One of the more interesting tales of the FCS schools involves Nicholls State, which will face a team from the FBS for the 3rd straight week. The Colonels are coming off a 1,000-mile trip to Western Michigan where they won 27-23 this past weekend. They opened the season with a 2,500-mile journey to Eugene where they bowed 66-3 to Oregon. The trip for this week's game is considerably shorter. The Louisiana school is located in Thibodaux, about an hour west-southwest of New Orleans. This week's trek only requires a 75-mile bus ride west-northwest up U.S. Highway 90 to Lafayette to face the Ragin' Cajuns. Nicholls State is 3-19 alltime vs. FBS teams.
Meanwhile, the big boy battles on Saturday include a titan matchup of Alabama at Texas A&M. The computer had the Aggies favored by less than a point (0.63) in its preseason forecast, but now has Alabama winning by 1.05. It's a game with huge SEC, and of course, national title implications. And it doesn't hurt for marquee value to have a couple Heisman Trophy candidate quarterbacks going toe-to-toe with last year's winner, Johnny Manziel of A&M, slinging it out with A.J. McCarron of Alabama.
Another SEC fight this week sends Mississippi State to Auburn where the Tigers can start 3-0 with a win. Auburn won just 3 games all of last season, but brought in Gus Malzahn to replace Gene Chizik. It was a "What have you done for me this month" situation with Chizik who coached the school to the 2010 BCS championship. This week, the computer projects the Bulldogs to win by 4.05.
The SEC also gives us South Carolina at Vanderbilt with the Gamecocks predicted to win by just 6.67.
Georgia Tech visits Duke in an ACC game, Utah hosts Oregon State in a PAC-12 affair, and South Alabama entertains Western Kentucky in another Sun Belt bash.
As for regional rivalries, Iowa and Iowa State meet for the 61st time while Purdue and Notre Dame meet for the 85th time. The Cyclones are hosting the Hawkeyes as a 0.73-point computer pick while the Boilermakers are forecasted 19.09-point losers at home to the Irish.
Kentucky and Louisville hook-up for the 26th time with the visiting Cards given an 18.02-point advantage by the computer. The 'Cats lead the series 14-11 but Louisville has won the last two.
Tulsa last beat Oklahoma in 1996 and has lost 6 straight to the Sooners since then, but the Golden Hurricane will give it the old college try again this Saturday as a 15.99-point computer underdog. It will be the 26th meeting between these schools, as well, with most taking place in Norman. The series has only been played twice in Tulsa in the last 9 renewals.
Fun cross-sectional battles this week include Wisconsin-Arizona State, Boston College-USC, Ohio State-Cal, Nevada-Florida State, Washington-Illinois at Soldier Field in Chicago, UCLA-Nebraska, Ole Miss-Texas, and Tennessee-Oregon.
The Ball State-North Texas collision is also an intriguing matchup.
FBS vs. FCS:
FBS teams were 32-3 vs. FCS schools last week and are now 55-11 on the year (.833) and 791-76 (.912) since 2003. FCS teams won just 10 games all season a year ago.
106 FBS schools will play a total of 110 games against FCS foes in 2013. Clemson and Georgia Tech each face two such schools while FBS newcomer Georgia State will play 3 FCS teams.
Here are the results of the FBS losses to FCS schools this season:
8/29: Towson 33, Connecticut 18
8/29: Southern Utah 22, South Alabama 21
8/30: Samford 31, Georgia State 21
8/30: North Dakota State 24, Kansas State 21
8/31: Northern Iowa 28, Iowa State 20
8/31: Eastern Washington 49, Oregon State 46
8/31: Eastern Illinois 40, San Diego State 18
8/31: McNeese State 53, USF 21
9/7: UT-Chattanooga 42, Georgia State 14
9/7: Maine 24, Massachusetts 14
9/7: Nicholls State 27, Western Michigan 23.
Eastern Washington, McNeese State and North Dakota State also had wins vs. FBS teams last year.
Ohio State - Won 14 straight overall. At California on Saturday.
Northern Illinois - Won 21 straight at home and 17 vs. conference foes. At Idaho on Saturday.
LSU - Won 43 straight regular season nonconference games. Hosts Kent State on Saturday.
Michigan - Won 16 straight home games. Hosts Akron on Saturday.
Oregon - Won 16 straight road games. Hosts Tennessee on Saturday.
Southern Miss - Lost 14 straight overall. At Arkansas on Saturday.
Akron - Lost 27 straight road games, 23 straight FBS games and 16 straight conference games (MAC). At Michigan on Saturday.
Kansas - Lost 21 straight FBS games, 21 straight conference games and 19 straight road games. At Rice on Saturday.
UNLV - Lost 23 straight road games. Hosts Central Michigan on Saturday.
Of the 31 head coaching changes since the start of last season, Wisconsin has arguably looked the best with Gary Andersen patrolling the sidelines. The former Utah State head coach has the Badgers at 2-0 and unscored upon after rolling over lightweights Massachusetts and Tennessee Tech 48-0 and 45-0. His team will get a much stiffer test this week when Wisconsin travels to Arizona State as a projected 4.94-point loser.