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College Football ’18: Week 3 Top 25 previews

Top 25

Each week, The Game Haus will preview every college football game featuring teams in The Associated Press Top 25. We’ll also give an expanded look at three Top 25 matchups especially worth watching.

This week, three games – No. 18 UCF at North Carolina, No. 13 Virginia Tech hosting East Carolina and No. 14 West Virginia at North Carolina State – have been postponed because of Hurricane Florence.

Here we go with those Top 25 games still set for Week 3 (all times Eastern):

Key Games

No. 12 LSU (2-0) at No. 7 Auburn (2-0), 3:30 p.m.

Scouting the LSU Tigers: This will be another challenge for quarterback Joe Burrow and running back Nick Brossette against an Auburn defense that has yielded 25 points through the first two games. LSU gave up 17 points to Miami and blanked Southeastern Louisiana.

Scouting the Auburn Tigers: In winning the last two home games in this season, Auburn has outscored LSU 59-20. Auburn also has won 13 consecutive contests at home, which gives it the advantage this time around.

Winner: Auburn

No. 17 Boise State (2-0) at No. 24 Oklahoma State (2-0), 3:30 p.m., Saturday

Scouting the Broncos: Boise State has won five of its last six non-conference road games, so it has that to draw from. The Broncos have an aggressive, opportunistic defense that won’t be intimidated by any opponent, anywhere.

Scouting the Cowboys: It’s somewhat of a rebuilding year in Stillwater, yet Oklahoma State expects to have a say in the Big 12 title race after breaking into the Top 25. This will be the Cowboys first real test on the young season and one that might end up too difficult to pass.

Winner: Boise State

No. 4 Ohio State (2-0) vs. No. 15 TCU (2-0), 8 p.m., Saturday
Top 25
Dwayne Haskins (Photo by cleveland.com)

Scouting the Buckeyes: Ohio State has been downright nasty while rolling over Oregon State and Rutgers. The task gets tougher this weekend in Arlington, Texas for the Buckeyes, but quarterback Dwayne Haskins, running back Mike Weber and their physical defense should prevail.

Scouting the Horned Frogs: TCU might have the quickness to give the Buckeyes fits at times, but the pressure will fall on the shoulders of first-year starting quarterback Shawn Robinson. Whether or not he’s able to handle it could be the key to the outcome.

Winner: Ohio State

The Rest

No. 5 Oklahoma (2-0) at Iowa State (0-1), Noon, Saturday

The Skinny: While the Sooners must overcome the loss of running back Rodney Anderson, they should have more than enough talent to remain a fixture in the College Football Playoff scene. Oklahoma’s 16-game road winning streak is the longest active run in the nation, but the Cyclones won at Norman last season.

Winner: Oklahoma

Kent State (1-1) at No. 11 Penn State (2-0), Noon, Saturday
Top 25
Photo by pennlive.com

The Skinny: The Nittany Lions had an easier time taking down rival Pitt last week than they did a week earlier against Appalachian State. This contest should not be as close considering Penn State has outscored the Golden Flashes 123-23 while winning the last four meetings.

Winner: Penn State

 

Georgia Southern (2-0) at No. 2 Clemson (2-0), Noon, Saturday

The Skinny: Clemson has moved the kickoff up from 3:30 p.m., in preparation for Hurricane Florence’s arrival in the Carolinas. The Tigers should have little trouble extending their home winning streak against unranked, non-conference opponents to 28 games.

Winner: Clemson

No. 21 Miami, FL (1-1) at Toledo (1-0), Noon, Saturday

The Skinny: Miami trailed Toledo at home in last season’s matchup before blowing things open in the final two quarters. The Rockets lost some key contributors from last year’s Mid-American Conference championship squad, but they should still give the Hurricanes all they can handle while thinking about a Top 25 upset.

Winner: Toledo

UC Davis (2-0) at No. 9 Stanford (2-0), 2 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: With wins over San Diego State and USC, the Cardinal might be the Pac-12’s best team at the moment. That probably won’t change against this FCS opponent even though Bryce Love won’t play because of an undisclosed injury. However, UC Davis receiver Keelan Doss is a definite NFL prospect.

Winner: Stanford

Vanderbilt (2-0) at No. 8 Notre Dame (2-0), 2:30 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: This could end up being a serious challenge for the Irish. Quarterback Brandon Wimbush, who has been sacked six times and thrown four interceptions to one touchdown, needs to improve. This could come down to the Notre Dame defense making a key late stand.

Winner: Notre Dame

SMU (0-2) at No. 19 Michigan (1-1), 3:30 p.m., Saturday
Top 25
Photo by freep.com

The Skinny: A rout of Western Michigan is just what the Wolverines needed after that frustrating defeat to Notre Dame. Michigan could be in for another lopsided affair against an SMU program which has lost 30 of its last 33 games against Top 25 opponents.

Winner: Michigan

BYU (1-1) at No. 6 Wisconsin (2-0), 3:30 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: If Wisconsin sophomore Jonathan Taylor (FBS-leading 398 rushing yards, five touchdowns) is not considered the Heisman favorite at the moment, he should be. BYU allowed 313 rushing yards in its first two games.

Winner: Wisconsin

San Jose State (0-2) at No. 20 Oregon (2-0), 5 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: For a third straight week, Oregon is in line for a blowout. It’s just a matter of how many points the Ducks will score this week after totaling 120 against Bowling Green and Portland State. However, after this week things get tougher with Stanford up next.

Winner: Oregon

No. 1 Alabama (2-0) at Mississippi (2-0), 7 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: The Crimson Tide will go for a third consecutive victory in the series after Ole Miss won back-to-back contests. The Rebels are better than they were a season ago and will have Oxford ready for this one, but Alabama’s elite talent remains the big difference.

Winner: Alabama

Middle Tennessee (1-1) at No. 3 Georgia (2-0), 7:15 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: Georgia’s victory last weekend over South Carolina was an example of how great teams are supposed to handle an opponent – on the road – that is thinking upset. The Bulldogs defense is poised to be just as stout as last season while the offense continues to flaunt its depth – as it will this week.

Winner: Georgia

Louisiana (1-0) at No. 16 Mississippi State (2-0), 7:30 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: Mississippi State has outscored its first two opponents 94-16 after doing a number on Kansas State at home. The dominance should continue as the Bulldogs set their sights on being a serious contender within the SEC. Running back Kylin Hill is someone to keep an eye on.

Winner: Mississippi State

No. 22 USC (1-1) at Texas (1-1), 8 p.m., Saturday
Top 25
Photo by hookem.com

The Skinny: The Trojans won a double-overtime thriller between the two at home last year, but duplicating the feat in Austin this time might be even tougher. Both teams have their issues, but Texas at home might be the difference as USC tries to bounce back from last weekend’s 17-3 loss to Stanford.

Winner: Texas

 

No. 10 Washington (1-1) at Utah (2-0), 10 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: The Huskies open Pac-12 play with a doozy, but they’ve won four of five since Utah joined the conference in 2011. It won’t be easy, but Washington’s balance is likely to prevail in the end against a Utah squad which has trailed in each of its first two games.

Winner: Washington

No. 23 Arizona State (2-0) at San Diego State (1-1), 10:30 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: A fourth-quarter rally to beat then-No. 15 Michigan State over the weekend has Herm Edwards’ Sun Devils in the Top 25. Hardly a cakewalk to celebrate the ranking, especially not after San Diego State won at Tempe last season. Don’t think ASU will allow that to happen again.

Winner: Arizona State

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