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Week 3 Viewer's Guide: Good Games Galore

There's a couple big matchups in the SEC (and neither of them are against Toledo or Jacksonville State!) and out west to highlight college football's week three.

Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday Night

Favorite Underdog Venue Time (ET) Network Line
Clemson Tigers Louisville Cardinals Papa John's Stadium (UL) 7:30 ESPN -6

This game looked much better in the offseason before Louisville dropped their opener to Auburn and followed it up with another loss to Houston. Despite Louisville's poor start, this game still worth watching if only to get a good look at future Irish opponent, Clemson. QB Desaun Watson is the player to watch for the Tigers, and is considered an All-American and Heisman contender. Since Clemson opened with FCS Wofford and another cupcake in Appalachian State, this will be the first look at the Tigers against real competition.

Friday Night

Favorite Underdog Venue Time (ET) Network Line
Florida State Seminoles Boston College Eagles Alumni Stadium (BC) 8:00 ESPN -7.5
Boise State Broncos Idaho State Bengals Albertsons Stadium (BSU) 9:00 CBSSN N/A
Arizona State Sun Devils New Mexico Lobos Sun Devil Stadium (ASU) 10:00 P12N N/A

Friday night starts with an ACC matchup between former Irish QB Everett Golson's FSU and future Irish opponent Boston College. The Eagles have blown out two FCS opponents in their first two games, and their box score against Howard last Saturday was particularly humorous. Florida State struggled early last week against USF, but was bailed out by Dalvin Cook's 266 yard, 3 TD afternoon. This game was close last season in Tallahassee where FSU hung on to win 20-17, and Steve Addazio will have BC ready to take it to the Noles. Elsewhere Friday night, Boise will try to recover from a heartbreaking loss to BYU, and Arizona State welcomes former Irish HC Bob Davie to Tempe.

Early Shift

Favorite Underdog Venue Time (ET) Network Line
Michigan State Spartans Air Force Falcons Spartan Stadium Noon ABC -26.5
North Carolina Tar Heels Illinois Illini Kenan Memorial Stadium (UNC) Noon ESPN2 -10
Oklahoma Sooners Tulsa Golden Hurricane Gaylord-Family Stadium (OU) Noon FS1 -29.5
Duke Blue Devils Northwestern Wildcats Wallace Wade Stadium (Duke) 12:30 ACCN -3.5

Like most weeks, there's not a ton of action during the noon slate, but there's still a few interesting options. First, two teams coming off big wins have potential trap games at home. The Air Force's triple option offense can give any defense trouble, and Michigan State should be no exception. While Connor Cook and the Spartan offense should be able to outscore the Falcons without too much trouble, this one could be a close game for much longer than the spread indicates that it should. Likewise, Oklahoma coming off their win over Tennessee has Tulsa coming to Norman. The Golden Hurricane have yet to score fewer than 40 points this season in wins over FAU and New Mexico. They have two dynamic WRs that are both averaging more than 100 yards and six catches per game. UNC-Illinois is an interesting matchup of two somewhat disappointing P5 teams. North Carolina completely outplayed South Carolina on the opening night of the season, but had multiple red zone turnovers and lost 17-13. On the other side, Illinois memorably fired their coach right before the season, but sits at 2-0 with wins over FCS and MAC opponents. To round out the early window, Northwestern travels to Duke in a more interesting private school version of the UNC-Illinois game above. Despite the win over Stanford and a top-25 ranking, the Wildcats are an underdog on the road against the Blue Devils.

Afternoon Shift

Favorite Underdog Venue Time (ET) Network Line
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Notre Dame Fighting Irish Notre Dame Stadium 3:30 NBC -2.5
LSU Tigers Auburn Tigers Tiger Stadium (LSU) 3:30 CBS -7.5
Miami Hurricanes Nebraska Cornhuskers Sun Life Stadium 3:30 ABC -3

There's two interesting matchups during the Notre Dame game this week, but neither should draw your attention away from the Irish. Down south, fresh off escaping in overtime against Jacksonville (that's Jacksonville State, not the Jaguars), Auburn travels to Baton Rouge to face LSU. Auburn blew out the LSU Tigers last year, but considering the struggles first year starter Jeremy Johnson has had at QB, Auburn might be in for a rough trip on offense. Luckily for Auburn, the other Tigers looked very limited throwing the ball last week against Mississippi State (RB Leonard Fournette ran for more than double LSU's passing output). With how bad these two offenses have looked, this one could offer little to the neutral viewer in terms of entertainment. In Miami, Al Golden could help cool his hot seat with a win over the Huskers. Nebraska's coach could use a big non-conference win, too. Mike Riley's first game for the Huskers was a heartbreaking loss to BYU on a Hail Mary, and a win over DA U would improve morale in Lincoln.

Night Shift

Favorite Underdog Venue Time (ET) Network Line
Georgia Bulldogs South Carolina Gamecocks Samford Stadium (UGA) 6:00 ESPN -17
California Golden Bears Texas Longhorns DK Royal Stadium (UT) 7:30 FOX -6.5
Southern California Trojans Stanford Cardinal LA Coliseum (SC) 8:00 ABC -10
Alabama Crimson Tide Ole Miss Rebels Bryant-Denny Stadium (UA) 9:15 ESPN -7
UCLA Bruins BYU Cougars Rose Bowl (UCLA) 10:00 FS1 -16.5

There's a ton of interesting games Saturday night, so have your remote ready to go. First, Georgia hosts South Carolina in a game that's given Georgia trouble almost every year. This game was expected by many to determine the eastern division champion, so look for the winner to blow a game they shouldn't (in South Carolina's case, this may have already happened last week against Kentucky) to allow Mizzou to win the division. Texas, fresh off firing their AD Steve Patterson hosts Cal in Austin. The Longhorns benched QB Tyrone Swopes and changed play callers since their trip to South Bend, and the changes led to a blowout win over Rice last week. We'll see if the changes lead to real improvement against a solid California team that's a sneaky pick to finish behind Oregon in the PAC-12 North. In LA, two Irish PAC-12 opponents face off in the Coliseum. Southern Cal has looked good against a vanilla schedule thus far, but will face a tough Cardinal defense. Stanford's offense looked terrible in week one against Northwestern, but QB Kevin Hogan had a much better game last week. The game of the week in the SEC pits Alabama against Ole Miss from Tuscaloosa. Both teams have blown out their non-conference opponents. Ole Miss looked more impressive doing so having scored more than 70 in both of their games, but the Tide had no problem with a solid Wisconsin team in their opener. Bama still has some questions at quarterback with Jacob Coker currently listed as the starter, but the matchup to watch is the Bama rushing attack against the Rebels' defensive front. All-Everything defensive lineman (and occasional fullback) Robert Nkemdiche will be tasked with slowing down Derrick Henry (unless Bama OC Lane Kiffin does the job for him). To close out the night, two ranked 2-0 teams face off at the Rose Bowl. New BYU starting QB and Hail Mary extraordinaire Tanner Mangum will face off against UCLA. In Westwood, Bruins freshman QB Josh Rosen is currently leading the race for the September Heisman with two fantastic performances in his first two games. If Rosen can get it done against a tough Cougars defense, it may be time to remove the "September" part of that label and to consider UCLA a viable playoff contender.