Preview: Week 3 Features Some Early-Season Rivalries

September 5, 2018 by Dave Congrove

All but 3 FBS teams will hit the field this weekend in a jam-packed 78-game schedule, 77 of which will be played on Saturday. It's also a schedule filled with some of the longest-running rivalries in college football.

Louisiana's Ragin Cajuns, the Ohio Bobcats and the Toledo Rockets are the only idle schools this week.

The Thursday schedule is empty as the NFL opens play that night, but Friday gives us the Iron Skillet Battle in the 98th meeting of TCU and SMU in the Dallas Metroplex. This year's confrontation takes place in Dallas where the homestanding Mustangs will try to end a 6-game losing skid to the Horned Frogs. The Congrove Computer Rankings at have TCU listed as a 20.77-point favorite. SMU lost 46-23 at North Texas last weekend as Sonny Dykes, who debuted as the head coach in last year's 51-10 loss to Louisiana Tech in the Frisco Bowl, fell to 0-2.

Among Saturday's rivalry games is the 123rd meeting of Cincinnati and Miami (Ohio) in the NFL Bengals' Paul Brown Stadium. The Bearcats have won the last 12 meetings to close the gap in the all-time series to 56-59-7, but the RedHawks are a 10.15-point computer choice this week to win The Battle for the Victory Bell.

The 99th edition of the Penn State-Pittsburgh rivalry will take place at Heinz Field. The Nittany Lions escaped a monumental upset loss at home to Appalachian State last week, but are still a 12.15-point favorite on Saturday to extend their series lead which currently sits at 51-43-4.

It will also be the 99th meeting of USC and Stanford when their rivalry moves back to the Silicon Valley this week. The Trojans have a substantial lead in the series, 63-32-3, but the Cardinal are a 2.24-point favorite on "The Farm".

Georgia and South Carolina will meet for the 71st time when the SEC east division rivals collide in Columbia.  The 'Dawgs have dominated the Gamecocks 50-18-2 and are 10-point sportsbook favorites to win a 4th straight, but the computer is taking South Carolina by 1.82 in an outright upset.

Iowa leads its series with Iowa State 43-22, including the last 3 in-a-row. The Cyclones were one of three FBS teams that saw their season-opener get canceled by weather last weekend. Iowa State was set to host FCS member South Dakota State when lightning strikes wiped that contest off the schedule, as well as the Akron-Nebraska game. Iowa was able to get its game in against Northern Illinois and won 33-7. This week, the computer likes the Hawkeyes to win by 3.09.

Week of the Wildcat?

If the computer is correct with its picks of Arizona-Houston, Duke-Northwestern, and Kentucky-Florida, this will be the 'Week of the Wildcat".

Kevin Sumlin's 'Zona Cats are 15.95 point favorites at Houston, the Evanston Wildcats are favored by 12.16 points at home versus Duke to get payback for their loss in Durham last year, and the Lexington Wildcats are an unbelievable 2.82-point computer pick to end 31 straight years of futility against Florida. Kentucky hasn't won in Gainesville since 1979.

Also Worth Watching

Michigan State is potentially set up for a trap game at Arizona State on Saturday. While the Sun Devils rolled 49-7 over UTSA in Herm Edwards' debut as head coach, the Spartans were struggling to knock off heavy underdog Utah State 38-31. Still, Mark Dantonio's team is a 12.81-point computer pick this week.

Jimbo Fisher's head coaching debut at Texas A&M was successful last week as the Aggies cruised past Northwestern State (La.) 59-7. The opponent gets just a bit tougher this week when the mighty Clemson Tigers invade College Station. The computer gives A&M more of a chance than Vegas does, suggesting that Fisher's team is only a 5.20-point underdog, well under the established 12.5-point line.

Memphis is at Navy in an early clash of American Conference west division teams. The Tigers are 13.37-point favorites to send the Midshipmen to an 0-2 start after their 59-41 loss at Hawaii last weekend.

UCLA, which was an upset loser at home to Cincinnati in Chip Kelly's debut as head coach, now has to face Oklahoma on the road and no one expects this one to be close. The Sooners get a 31.71-point nod from the computer.

Some other games of interest include Mississippi State (-8.84) at Kansas State, Air Force at FAU (-17.58), Georgia Tech (-12.48) at USF, and Virginia at Indiana (-2.29).

Please Don't Hurt 'Em

Some of the top teams are playing seriously out-manned opposition in both conference and non-conference games. Alabama hosts Arkansas State, Ohio State entertains Rutgers, Notre Dame welcomes Ball State, Wisconsin hosts New Mexico, Auburn faces FCS member Alabama State,


107 FBS teams will play 110 games vs. FCS members this year. That represents a sharp increase from last year's totals of  98 FBS teams playing 98 such games. However, it's not as many as the all-time high set in 2016 when 110 FBS schools played 113 games vs. FCS squads.

So far in 2018, the FBS is 38-5 (.884) vs. the FCS. Since 2003, the FBS is 1,257-122 (.912) vs. the FCS.

There were 41 FBS vs. FCS games last week and there were 5 FCS upset wins.

August 30: UC Davis 44, San Jose State 31
September 1: Villanova 19, Temple 17
September 1: Northern Arizona 30, UTEP 10
September 1: Nicholls State 26, Kansas 23 (OT)
September 2: North Carolina A&T 28, East Carolina 23

There are 29 FBS vs. FCS games scheduled this week.


UCF - Won 14 straight overall (FBS longest), Won 10 straight conference games (FBS longest). Hosts FCS member South Carolina State on Saturday.

FAU - Won 9 straight conference games (tied for FBS longest). Had 10-game overall winning streak snapped in 59-14 loss at Oklahoma last week. Hosts Air Force on Saturday.

Alabama - Won 19 straight home games (FBS longest). Hosts Arkansas State on Saturday.

Oklahoma - Won 16 straight road games (FBS longest). Hosts UCLA on Saturday.

UTEP - Lost 13 straight overall (FBS longest). Visits UNLV on Saturday.

Ball State - Lost 13 straight conference games (FBS longest). Visits Notre Dame on Saturday.

Kansas - Lost 46 straight road games (FBS longest). Visits Central Michigan on Saturday.