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Bold predictions for Week 3 in college football  1 Week ago

Source:   USA Today  

What surprises or unexpected outcomes are coming this weekend?

The USA TODAY Sports college football staff — Jace Evans, Paul Myerberg, George Schroeder, Erick Smith and Eddie Timanus — weighs in with some bold predictions for Week 3 of the college football season:

Vanderbilt will improve to 3-0 by upsetting No. 8 Notre Dame. Notre Dame is not nearly as good as its ranking suggests, and it has had one glaring problem: it can’t run the ball. At least not compared to last year. With offensive line stalwarts Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey gone as well as top 2017 back Josh Adams, the Fighting Irish have crawled along at 2.8 yards per attempt. Notre Dame averaged 6.3 per attempt in 2017 and nearly 270 yards per game. Ball State had more rushing yards and nearly 10 more minutes of possession than Notre Dame in their Week 2 contest.

The running woes this season have greater highlighted Brandon Wimbush’s limitations as a passer; he currently sports a 54.1 percent completion rate and has just one touchdown to four interceptions. On the Vanderbilt side, they’ve played very good defense (currently No. 8 in the country in scoring) in cruising to easy wins over Middle Tennessee and Nevada. They’re only allowing 2.5 yards per rush, so don’t expect Notre Dame’s ground game to get going this week.

As for the Commodores’ own offense, QB Kyle Shurmur has paced an efficient attack, completing 67.3 percent of his passes with 4 touchdowns and no interceptions. The ground game has been steady, too, averaging 4.9 yards per rush. Notre Dame brings an excellent defense, so this game won’t be pretty, but the prediction is that Vanderbilt will make less mistakes and walk out of Notre Dame Stadium with a huge victory.

No. 17 Boise State will win at No. 19 Oklahoma State to cement its place at the front of the early New Year’s Six bowl race. We’ve already seen what the Broncos can do in blowouts of Troy and UConn. While the Cowboys are a different sort of test, Boise has what it takes to win in a tough road environment. Even after just three games, a win would paint this year’s team as the best of Bryan Harsin’s tenure.

Last week, Arkansas came from ahead in spectacular fashion, blowing an 18-point lead midway through the third quarter to lose at Colorado State. Up next, North Texas in Fayetteville. North Texas’ playmaking quarterback Mason Fine will carve up Arkansas’ defense. A second consecutive loss to a Group of Five opponent will confirm the worst fears of Razorback fans before SEC play even begins: Chad Morris’ first season as coach is going to be very painful.

If anybody knows the recipe of how to beat Alabama, it is Mississippi. There have been epic games between the schools the last two times the Rebels have hosted the Crimson Tide. 

So is there any chance for an Oxford trilogy? It's possible with the way the Ole Miss has been humming on offense. The Rebels are third in the country in scoring at 61.5 points per game behind the stellar play of quarterback Jordan Ta'amu. And this will be the first real test for the Alabama secondary that still has inexperience at several key positions. A.J. Brown and Braylon Sanders will be difficult to contain, especially if the Tide front isn't getting pressure on Ta'amu.

It will be key for Mississippi to get off to a fast start. That will keep the home crowd in the game and allow the Rebels to keep Alabama off balance. Their defense will also benefit, which is huge because Ole Miss hasn't exactly been stopping opponents with regularity. 

So don't be surprised if this one is close early, it is close late.

Love lots of points? Then Houston at Texas Tech is the game for you.

Scoring has never been an issue for the modern-day Red Raiders. That’s the case for this year’s version as well, which has amassed 104 points through their first two games. They’re probably going to need to hit the half-century mark again, however, to compensate for their less-than-stellar defense. Houston has put up 45 in each of its first two games and could easily surpass that number this week.

The thinking here is that the Cougars, who have one of the best defensive players in the country in the person of nose tackle Ed Oliver, will make a few more plays on that side of the ball to prevail. But there should be enough big plays by both teams to keep everyone entertained. Enjoy.


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