College Football Games of the Week – Week 3: BYU-Oregon, Penn State-Auburn, Miami-Texas A&M, + more

There is a sense of pride when the games selected for Games of the Week turn out to be spectacular. 

Last week, Alabama-Texas turned out to be a thriller, BYU triumphed over Baylor in double overtime, Florida’s hype train came to a slow down against Kentucky, and the Vols downed Pittsburgh.

Even the honorable mentions turned out to be fun, with Washington State winning over a then-ranked No. 19 Wisconsin team. That was the Cougars’ first regular season game against a ranked non-conference opponent since 2009, but it was their first regular season win over a ranked non-conference opponent since downing No. 17 Colorado 19 years ago this week. 

This Saturday will still be action packed, albeit with games not as appetizing – but hey, we can’t have superstar matchups every week. 

Welcome to Week 3 of the college football season, picks out the games to keep an eye on.

One of our games of the week sees Penn State become the 1st Big 10 school to travel to Auburn

Honorable Mentions

  • Florida State Seminoles @ Louisville Cardinals (Friday @ 7:30 ET / ESPN / Cardinal Stadium, Louisville, KY)  The Cardinals suffered a demoralizing upset to Syracuse in Week 1 and followed that up with a close win over Central Florida. The Seminoles are already coming off a bye week after playing a ‘Week Zero’ game against Duquesne. It’ll be interesting to see how that break affects their play.
  • No. 6 Oklahoma Sooners @ Nebraska Cornhuskers (Saturday @ Noon ET / Fox / Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, NE  It’s one of the more classic rivalries in college football, being played for only the second time since 2010. Nebraska scorched the earth after realizing nothing was growing under head coach Scott Frost. The school decided that waiting until October, when his buyout would drop from $15m to $7m, was too long a wait and pulled the trigger last weekend. Now, tune in to see a top-10 team roll into Lincoln to put more hurt on the ‘Huskers.
  • California Golden Bears @ Notre Dame Fighting Irish (Saturday @ 2:30 ET / NBC / Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame, IN)  Sorry to Cal grads and fans, but this game is more about whether or not the Fighting Irish can overcome their embarrassment at the hands of Marshall last week. Talent-wise, they should be beating Cal at home. But then again, the same was said before last week’s loss to the Thundering Herd. A win over UNLV should give the Bears confidence going into South Bend, but all eyes will be on the Irish to see if they can get back on track.

Game 1: No. 11 Michigan State Spartans @ Washington Huskies

  • Saturday @ 7:30 ET (ABC) / Husky Stadium, Seattle, WA

Neither team has faced a tough opponent going into their Week 3 matchup. 

Coming into this game, the Huskies have the third best total yards-per-game average in all of college football. Defensively, they are top-15 in yards-allowed-per-game, giving up under 200 yards in each of their first two games. They did this because they played Kent State and Portland State.

With all respect to the MAC and Kent State, the Golden Flashes were outclassed by the Huskies as Washington QB Michael Penix Jr. threw for 345 yards and four TDs. He put on a repeat performance the next week throwing 337 yards and two TDs against the Vikings of Portland State.

So when Sparty rolls into the always loud Husky Stadium, Washington will face its toughest test so far. However, the Spartans – who enter ranked, but aren’t favorites – also haven’t really faced adversity.

Coming into this game, the Spartans are in the top-25 in rushing yards-per-game in all of college football. Defensively, they have the sixth best scoring defense in the country, allowing only 6.5 points-per-game. They did this because they played Western Michigan and Akron.

With all respect to the MAC and Western Michigan, the Broncos were also outclassed by their in-state rivals as Michigan State QB Payton Thorne threw for 233 yards and four TDs. Thorne didn’t have nearly as good a performance in their next game against Akron, but RB Jalen Berger made up for it with 17 carries for 107 yards and three TDs on the ground.

If it sounds like I’m trying to say these teams seem very similar, that’s exactly what I aim to do. Both programs are talented, but they haven’t proven that against similarly talented opponents. They get to do that this Saturday.   

Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr.

Michigan State quarterback Payton Thorne

Despite being ranked in the top-15, Michigan State travels to Washington as underdogs

Game 2: No. 22 Penn State Nittany Lions @ Auburn Tigers

  • Saturday @ 3:30 ET (CBS) / Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, AL

As surprising as this sounds, this is the first time a team from the Big 10 has travelled to play at Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium (that’s pronounced JUR-den for those not from central Alabama).

Penn State has been more battle-tested than the Tigers, starting their season with wins over Purdue then Ohio. QB Sean Clifford completed 20 passes for 282 yards, four TDs and a pick in a close 35-31 win over Purdue. When facing Ohio, Clifford took a back seat to RB Nicholas Singleton, who averaged 17.9 yards-per-carry with 179 total yards and two TDs in the win over the Bobcats.

With two threats on offense, Tigers coach Brian Harsin will need to prepare for anything headed his way if he wants to move off the hotseat and improve last year’s 6-7 record.

The running game seems to be Auburn’s preferred method of offensive production. Across two games, QB T.J. Finley has thrown for only 279 yards. That was met with 495 yards of combined rushing yards. 

RB Tank Bigsby already has a game with 147 rushing yards and two TDs, while freshman dual-threat QB Robby Ashford got more yards on the ground against San Jose State than he did in the air. Unfortunately, they run up against a Penn State defense ranked just outside the top-25 in rushing yards allowed per game.

A win over the Nittany Lions remains the safest bet for Auburn to finish better than last season and for Harsin to keep his job. A daunting SEC schedule awaits them.

Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford

Auburn running back Tank Bigsby

Auburn will rely on RB Tank Bigsby for offense, while Penn State will lean on QB Sean Clifford

Game 3: Texas Tech Red Raiders @ No. 16 North Carolina State Wolfpack

  • Saturday at 7:00 (ESPN2) / Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh, NC

We’re keeping an eye on this one as the Red Raiders are poised for an upset in the ACC. It’ll also give eyes to a quarterback battle worth tuning in for.

NC State QB Devin Leary has gotten off to a flying start. He only holds a 56 percent completion rate, but his nearly 450 yards of passing, 146.9 QB rating and TD-INT ratio of 5:1 is impressive through two weeks. The team hasn’t done much rushing, but with Leary throwing darts, they don’t need to.

Enter Texas Tech, who ‘upset’ No. 25 Houston last weekend. Tech was favored at -4 going into this match, but it was a chaotic ending all the same. 

The Red Raiders needed double overtime to down the Cougars with seven lead changes throughout the game. That included three in the fourth quarter and four in both OT periods. Tech won on a walkoff touchdown run from QB Donovan Smith.

Smith (571) has more passing yards than Leary (449), has a higher completion percentage (67.6%), and a better QBR (151) than Leary (146), but a worse TD-INT ratio (6:3). 

Defensively, NC State has an advantage. The Wolfpack are better than Tech so far, with more tackles (119) and takeaways (four INTs, one fumble recovered) than their counterparts (117 tackles, one INT, one fumble recovered).

However, all eyes will be on the offense – and on Tech, to see if they can improve to 3-0 while downing their second straight ranked opponent.   

Texas Tech quarterback Donovan Smith

North Carolina State quarterback Devin Leary

A great QB battle is ahead as Texas Tech’s Donovan Smith tries to upset NC State’s Devin Leary

Game 4 : No. 12 BYU Cougars @ No. 25 Oregon Ducks

  • Saturday @ 3:30 ET (Fox) / “The Autzen Zoo”  Autzen Stadium, Eugene, OR

Imagine making a statement to your new conference that you’re here to compete like the one the Cougars made last weekend. 

A top-10, reigning Big 12 champion Baylor Bears team strolls into LaVell Edwards Stadium as underdogs as BYU looked for a statement win.

Baylor was playing catchup for most of the game. They took the lead once, off a late second quarter touchdown run, but BYU took the lead just on the doorstep of halftime.

The Cougars never trailed again. Despite multiple efforts to break a 20-20 deadlock in the fourth quarter, none were successful. A missed BYU field goal with eight seconds to go sent the game to overtime.

Two more missed field goals in the first OT period led to another. The Cougars then scored a touchdown in the second OT period to take the lead. After eleven plays of their own, Baylor couldn’t tie the game.

Insert a massive rush of the field here, as BYU knocked off their first top-10 opponent since downing No. 6 Wisconsin back in September of 2018.

Now, with BYU in the top-15, they travel to the Pacific Northwest to another one of the loudest buildings in college football – Autzen Stadium in Oregon. The Ducks were embarrassed week 1 against Georgia but won a morale booster last weekend against Eastern Washington.

As of now, Oregon doesn’t play a ranked opponent again until week 12 against Utah. A statement win here, coupled with a soft Pac-12 schedule should improve their bowl chances greatly.

BYU stormed the field after a double overtime upset over a then top-10 Baylor Bears team

BYU stormed the field after a double overtime upset over a then top-10 Baylor Bears team

They travel to Oregon, and one of the loudest venues in college football, to take on the Ducks

They travel to Oregon, and one of the loudest venues in college football, to take on the Ducks

Game of the Week: No. 13 Miami (FL) Hurricanes @ No. 24 Texas A&M Aggies

  • Saturday @ 9:00 ET (ESPN) / Kyle Field, College Station, TX

Talent wise, Texas A&M should be ranked in the top-5 in the country. The team loaded up with quality high school recruits this past season, earning them the title of No. 1 recruiting class in the nation.

That team did not show up last weekend when the Aggies lost 17-14 at home to Appalachian State in College Station. 

A&M was held to only one offensive touchdown and a paltry 180 total yards of offense. Their first TD came from a 26-yard run and the second came from a kickoff returned all the way.

Of the nine times the Aggies had the ball, four drives ended in punts, two ended in scores, one ended in a fumble, and their final drive ended when they missed the field goal that would have tied the game. Following the miss, App State drained over three-and-a-half minutes of clock in eight plays to win.

A&M face a Miami Hurricanes team that has played two easy games and won both under new head coach Mario Cristobal. Canes RB Henry Parrish Jr. claimed over 100 rushing yards in both games and has a total of four rushing TDs to his name. 

QB Tyler Van Dyke operates silently as one of the more underrated signal callers in college football with a completion rate of 73 percent and has a QB rating of 175.6.

This is a matchup between two very talented teams seemingly poised to break out. For A&M, this win could set them up well for the tough SEC West schedule they have ahead – in what’s being called a ‘must win’ for Aggies coach Jimbo Fisher. For Miami, this win in College Station could be the start of something special leading them through the ACC and potentially to a playoff spot. 

Miami head coach Mario Cristobal

Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher

Mario Cristobal has done well in return to his alma mater, but can they beat Fisher and Aggies?