Week 3 College Football Preview - Low on Marquee Matchups, But Still Big On Fun

September 13, 2023 by CollegeFootballPoll.com Staff

A 75-game slate kicks off on Thursday with Navy at Memphis and Bethune-Cookman at Miami (FLA), while Friday's 3-game schedule includes Army at UTSA. Saturday's lineup presents a strange road date for Alabama at USF, and we get the Backyard Brawl with Pitt at West Virginia.

There isn't a single Top 25 matchup this week and there have only been three AP Top 25 matchups this season. We had LSU-Florida State in week 1, followed by a pair of week 2 collisions when Texas visited Alabama and Ole Miss trekked to Tulane.

However, there are some interesting and long-lasting rivalry games.

3rd Week In September Rivalry, and Other Interesting Games

(ALSO SEE: Schedule, Picks, Odds)

Tennessee at Florida: The SEC eastern division rivals are a regularly featured betting game and the sportsbooks have listed Tennessee as a 7.5-point favorite. The Vols are also a 13.69-point pick in the Congrove Computer Rankings at CollegeFootballPoll.com for this year's game in Gainesville where the Vols haven't won since 2003, and have only won twice since 1976. in fact, Florida has only lost 8 times to Tennessee since 1976 and has won 29 of the last 37 meetings.

These teams have met on the third Saturday of September in almost every year since 1992, minus the 2001 September terror attacks and the 2020 season when the schedule was altered by the Covid pandemic.

It really wasn't much of a rivalry until then-head coaches Steve Spurrier and Phil Fulmer made it a public one. The Gators won the national title in 1996 and the Vols followed in 1998. The SEC title was won by either Florida or Tennessee in 9 of 11 seasons from 1990 to 2000 with the Gators taking 6 of those while the Vols won 3 and Alabama took the other two.

The game became less of a rivalry in the 2000's when Florida won 11 straight from '05 to '15, and 16-of-17 until last year's Tennessee victory in Knoxville.

South Carolina at Georgia: It's not Auburn-Georgia, and it's not Georgia-Florida, but this border war first took place in 1894 and has been played 75 times. The Bulldogs lead the series by a large margin of 54-19-2 and have won each of the last three by no fewer than 27 points.

The 'Dawgs are favored by 27.5 while the computer puts the margin at 20.03.

Pitt at West Virginia: The "Backyard Brawl" was renewed last year after a 10-year hiatus that came about when each school left the Big East. Pitt leads the series 62-40-3 after last season's 38-31 comeback win, but West Virginia has taken 14 of 21 since 1992.

The Panthers were listed by the oddsmakers as a slim 1.5-point favorite on Tuesday morning, and a 1-point pick by the computer.

Miami (O) at Cincinnati: The longest non-conference rivalry is the "Battle For the Victory Bell". These teams first met in 1888 with the Bearcats gaining a slim 60-59-7 edge, thanks to a current 16-game winning streak against the RedHawks. Miami hasn't hosted the game at its on-campus Yager Stadium since 2017 as it only holds 25,000 fans. This year's game will be played at Cincinnati's Nippert Stadium for the third time in the last four meetings..

The Bearcats are a 14.5-point favorite, but only an 11.57-point computer choice.

Colorado State at Colorado: The Buffaloes are the hottest team in the land for grabbing eyeballs after a 2-0 start in Deion Sanders' first season as head coach. 'Coach Prime' may have been the initial drawing cared, but it has been the play of his son, Shedeur, along with that of two-way player sensation Travis Hunter and freshman running back Dylan Edwards that are drawing the attention now.

Can Colorado stay hot and cover the big spread? The Buffs are a 22.5-point favorite, but only a 3.93-point pick by the computer which, like a lot of humans, had Colorado projected in the preseason to be 0-2 at this point.

This is the 92nd meeting between the two schools which has come to be known as the "Rocky Mountain Showdown", but it's the first since 2019. Colorado has won the last five and is 67-22-2 all-time

New Mexico State at New Mexico: This will be the 113th meeting of a rivalry that the Lobos lead by a lot, 73-34-5, though they have split the last six Rio Grande Rivalry games. New Mexico was listed as a mere half-point favorite while the computer has the visiting Aggies favored by 4.06 points.

Sacramento State at Stanford

We highlight this game for three reasons.

1) It pits Stanford head coach Troy Taylor against the Sacramento State program he just left.

2) Taylor has to face his former defensive coordinator Andy Thompson.

3) The computer has the FCS member Hornets projected to win by 6.31 points. As of Tuesday morning, a sportbook line had not been issued on the game.

Michigan State's Mel Tucker Suspended

Amid an investigation into a sexual harassment allegation, Michigan State on Sunday suspended head coach Mel Tucker indefinitely and without pay.

Without regurgitating the explicit details that have been admitted by Tucker, let us just move on to report that Harlon Barnett, the secondary coach, will assume the duties of interim head coach while former head coach Mark Dantonio (2007-2019) will serve as the team's interim coach.

The 2-0 Spartans will play one of their toughest games of the season this Saturday as a 16-point home underdog against Washington. The Huskies are currently No. 4 in the computer rankings, and No. 8 in the Super 16, AP, and Coaches' polls.

This Week's Schedule for Super 16 Ranked Teams:

1. Georgia hosts South Carolina
2. Michigan hosts Bowling Green
3. Florida State at Boston College
4. Texas hosts Wyoming
5. USC - idle.
6. Ohio State hosts Western Kentucky
7. Penn State at Illinois
8. Washington at Michigan State
9. Notre Dame hosts UCF
10. Alabama at South Florida
11. Tennessee at Florida
12. Utah hosts Weber State (FCS)
13.Oregon hosts Hawaii
14. LSU at Mississippi State
15. Kansas State at Missouri
16. Colorado hosts Colorado State

25 New Head Coaches - 3 Looking For First Win

(SEE: Coaching Changes)
There were 25 teams in the FBS that kicked off the season with a different head coach than the one they had at the start of the 2022 season. Only three are still searching for their first win as five more snagged their initial victory this past weekend.

Kent State: Kenni Burns. Hosts FCS member Central Connecticut
Nebraska: Matt Rhule. Hosts Northern Illinois
North Texas: Eric Morris. Visits Louisiana Tech


This season has 117 of the 133 FBS schools facing one FCS opponent, and Army playing two such games for a total of 118 FBS-FCS matchups.

Of the 16 FBS schools that do NOT play a FCS program, 7 are in the B1G (Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Purdue, Wisconsin). 6 more are evenly split between the Big 12 (Houston, Oklahoma, Texas) and Pac-12 (Colorado, USC, Washington). The other three are Liberty (CUSA) , UTSA (American), and Virginia Tech (ACC).

FBS schools were 35-3 this past weekend and are 77-3 this year against the FCS schools.

There are 21 such games this week.

Over-all, the FBS is a collective 1,763-151 (.921) since we began tracking this in 2003.

Here are the FCS wins in 2023, so far:
September 9: Idaho 33, Nevada 6
September 9: Southern Illinois 14, Northern Illinois 12
September 9: Fordham 40, Buffalo 37

Here are the FCS wins in 2022 when the FBS was 112-8 (.933):
September 2: William & Mary 41, Charlotte 24
September 3: Delaware14, Navy 7
September 10: Weber State 35, Utah State 7
September 10: Incarnate Word 55, Nevada 41
September 10: Holy Cross 37, Buffalo 31
September 10: Eastern Kentucky 59, Bowling Green 57 (7 OT's)
September 17: Southern Illinois 31, Northwestern 24
September 24: Sacramento State 41, Colorado State 10

Streaks - Current FBS Longest

GEORGIA - Won 20 straight home games, 19 straight over-all, and 11 straight true road games.
Last: 45-3 home win over Ball State on Saturday, September 9.
Next: Hosts South Carolina on Saturday, September 16.

ALABAMA - Had won 21 straight home games, but lost to Texas on Saturday.
Last: 34-24 home loss to Texas on Saturday, September 9.
Next: Visits USF on Saturday, September 16.

MICHIGAN - Won 15 straight conference games.
Last: 35-7 home win over UNLV on Saturday, September 9.
Next: Hosts Bowling Green on Saturday, September 16.

NORTHWESTERN - Had lost 12 straight over-all, and 8 straight at home before defeating UTEP on Saturday.
Last: 38-7 home win over UTEP on Saturday, September 9.
Next: Visits Duke on Saturday, September 16.

NEVADA - Lost 12 straight over-all, and 6 straight home games.
Last: 33-6 home loss to FCS member Idaho on Saturday, September 9.
Next: Hosts Kansas on Saturday, September 16.

NORTHERN ILLINOIS - Lost 6 straight home games.
Last: 14-11 home loss to FCS member Southern Illinois on Saturday, September 9.
Next: Visits Nebraska on Saturday, September 16.

USF - Lost 13 straight conference games, 17 straight FBS games, and 19 straight road games.
Last: 28-14 home win over FCS member Florida A&M on Saturday, September 9.
Next: Hosts Alabama on Saturday, September 16.