By Brad Carroll
Week 3 of the college football season is upon us, and while there is just one matchup featuring two ranked teams playing each other, there are a bunch of intriguing matchups that should make this an exciting Saturday.
In addition to the blockbuster of No. 6 Georgia at No. 24 South Carolina, there is also Central Florida at Missouri, Purdue vs. Notre Dame, Tennessee at Oklahoma, USC at Boston College and UCLA vs. Texas as must-watch games. We preview the nine biggest games of the day overall and our college football experts pick each against the spread right here. All four of our experts are over .500 for the season against the spread. As always, follow us on Twitter for our latest previews and picks.
East Carolina at No. 17 Virginia Tech, 12 p.m., ESPN
The Spread: East Carolina +11; Virginia Tech -11
Brad's Breakdown: Virginia Tech had its biggest victory in years last week, beating Ohio State on the road 35-21. While that win provides the Hokies with a ton of momentum early in the season, it also sets up the perfect opportunity for a letdown as unranked East Carolina comes into town Saturday. If the Hokies take East Carolina lightly, they could get upset. East Carolina is better than most might think, with an offense that averages 517 yards per game. The Pirates lost 33-23 at South Carolina last week. The Pirates also stuck with Virginia Tech last year before losing 15-10. But this is a different Hokies team, one that hasn't tasted success in a long time and most likely won't fall for a trap game just yet. With Virginia Tech still trying to prove themselves to the nation, and playing in front of a raucous home crowd, there should be no letdown.
Brad's Score: Virginia Tech 31, East Carolina 17
Craig's Score: Virginia Tech 24, East Carolina 20
Glenn's Score: Virginia Tech 30, East Carolina 17
Matt's Score: Virginia Tech 30, East Carolina 20
Central Florida at No. 20 Missouri, 12 p.m., SECN
The Spread: Central Florida +10; Missouri -10
Brad's Breakdown: Missouri is coming off two straight victories to start the season, including a 49-24 win over Toledo as four-point favorites last week. Central Florida lost its season opener in Ireland on a last-second field goal against Penn State, then was idle last week, so it had two weeks to prepare for the host Tigers. Missouri is in much better shape, however, as the Tigers have quarterback Maty Mauk, the SEC player of the week. The Knights will have a new starter in Justin Holman, who came in to play the second half against Penn State and nearly led a comeback. Missouri isn't getting a lot of respect this season, but that could start to change quickly, especially after it beats Central Florida.
Brad's Score: Missouri 27, Central Florida 14
Craig's Score: Missouri 34, Central Florida 21
Glenn's Score: Missouri 45, Central Florida 13
Matt's Score: Missouri 35, Central Florida 20
No. 6 Georgia at No. 24 South Carolina, 3:30 p.m., CBS
The Spread: Georgia -6.5; South Carolina +6.5
Brad's Breakdown: South Carolina had a terrible two-week stretch to open the season, even though it got a victory last week. In the opener, the Gamecocks were destroyed by Texas A&M at home, then last week, they barely beat East Carolina at home, winning by 10 points. Georgia, on the other hand, had an impressive start to the season, beating Clemson 45-21 in the opener. Todd Gurley rushed for 198 yards and three touchdowns and also had a 100-yard kickoff return for a score in that game, which vaulted the Bulldogs to national title contender status. Georgia can run the ball with anyone, but this could be a game to focus on the pass, as South Carolina has allowed a total of 832 passing yards in two games. Georgia continues its charge to the College Football Playoff.
Brad's Score: Georgia 41, South Carolina 31
Craig's Score: Georgia 38, South Carolina 28
Glenn's Score: Georgia 24, South Carolina 17
Matt's Score: South Carolina 31, Georgia 30
Arkansas at Texas Tech, 3:30 p.m., ABC
The Spread: Arkansas +1; Texas Tech -1
Brad's Breakdown: Arkansas is 1-1 on the season, losing to then-No. 6 Auburn 45-21 in Week 1 and then beating Nicholls State 73-7 a week ago. Texas Tech is 2-0 after beating Central Arkansas and UTEP, but the wins have been anything but impressive, as they've been by a combined 11 points. Arkansas likes to run the ball, which is a bad sign for a porous Texas Tech defense, which needs to play better to have a chance in this game. The Red Raiders like to pass the ball, which was a problem for Arkansas against Auburn, as it allowed almost 300 passing yards in a blowout loss. It's going to be a close game with home field making the ultimate difference.
Brad's Score: Texas Tech 35, Arkansas 31
Craig's Score: Arkansas 31, Texas Tech 28
Glenn's Score: Texas Tech 38, Arkansas 28
Matt's Score: Texas Tech 35, Arkansas 27
Purdue vs. No. 11 Notre Dame at Indianapolis, 7:30 p.m., NBC
The Spread: Purdue +28; Notre Dame -28
Brad's Breakdown: Notre Dame has looked better than anyone could have imagined this season, putting the exclamation point on that with a 31-0 blasting of Michigan last week. Quarterback Everett Golson has the Irish thinking big this year and rightfully so. The tremendous ride should have no chance of ending against Purdue, which is one of the Big Ten's worst teams. And with how the Big Ten has played so far, that's a pretty bad place to be. Purdue lost to Central Michigan last week, 38-17. There's always the threat of a letdown for Notre Dame, but so far the Irish have done nothing but blow teams out. Let's add another blowout to the list.
Brad's Score: Notre Dame 42, Purdue 10
Craig's Score: Notre Dame 45, Purdue 14
Glenn's Score: Notre Dame 38, Purdue 17
Matt's Score: Notre Dame 56, Purdue 17
Tennessee at No. 4 Oklahoma, 8 p.m., ABC
The Spread: Tennessee +21; Oklahoma -21
Brad's Breakdown: This is a statement game for Oklahoma, not so much because of who it is playing, but the conference they are affiliated with. Sooners coach Bob Stoops has made it no secret he doesn't like the god-like treatment the SEC receives, and he was even more upset when his team beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl only to have Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban say it was hard for his team to get mentally ready to play that game. Oklahoma took a big swing and connected against the Tide last season, now they get to take another shot against Tennessee, which is nowhere near the same level as Bama, but that won't make a difference to the Sooners. Both teams are 2-0 this season, with Oklahoma looking like a national title contender. The Sooners defense is tremendous and the offense is good enough to put up a ton of points. Oklahoma should make a statement, especially at home, and put a beating on the Vols.
Brad's Score: Oklahoma 45, Tennessee 14
Craig's Score: Oklahoma 35, Tennessee 20
Glenn's Score: Oklahoma 52, Tennessee 28
Matt's Score: Oklahoma 40, Tennessee 17
No. 9 USC at Boston College, 8 p.m., ESPN
The Spread: USC -17; Boston College +17
Brad's Breakdown: Southern Cal has made a huge leap into national title contender status with two big victories this season, the first a blowout of Fresno State and the second a win over Stanford that ended the nation's longest home winning streak. It wasn't all positive, as athletic director Pat Hayden made national headlines by sprinting from the press box down to the field to argue a call in support of coach Steve Sarkisian. The scene overshadowed a bit the great win by the Trojans. Against Boston College Saturday, everything points to an easy win for the Trojans. But there are several reasons why this game could be closer than most think. First, there is USC having to travel cross-country to play a game, not the easiest thing to do. Second, Boston College plays solid defense, and USC did struggle on offense against Stanford last week. Third, Boston College will be honoring former lacrosse player Welles Crowther, who died in the Sept. 11 attacks, by wearing red bandannas. Crowther went back into the Twin Towers on that day in 2001 to save others and ultimately gave his own life. The people he rescued knew him as the "man in the red bandanna." It should be an emotional start for the Eagles. Southern Cal could easily win this game in a rout, but Boston College will make this a fight to the finish.
Brad's Score: USC 31, Boston College 28
Craig's Score: USC 42, Boston College 24
Glenn's Score: USC 35, Boston College 20
Matt's Score: USC 49, Boston College 10
No. 12 UCLA vs. Texas at Dallas, 8 p.m., FOX
The Spread: UCLA -8; Texas +8
Brad's Breakdown: UCLA came into the season with high expectations. The Bruins were title contenders and quarterback Brett Hundley was a Heisman favorite. Two games into the season, however, and both of those lofty expectations have vanished. UCLA wasn't impressive in either of its first two games, tight wins over Virginia and Memphis, while Hundley has played so poorly he wouldn't get a single vote on anyone's Heisman ballot if the season ended today. The Bruins are still in better shape than Texas, which is coming off a 41-7 loss to BYU. The Longhorns will be without starting quarterback David Ash again, who is sitting out with concussion symptoms. Top receiver Jaxon Shipley also might miss the game for Texas with a head injury, while four other players, including two offensive tackles, should miss the game due to suspension. This could be a long season for Texas and coach Charlie Strong.
Brad's Score: UCLA 28, Texas 14
Craig's Score: UCLA 32, Texas 17
Glenn's Score: UCLA 28, Texas 17
Matt's Score: UCLA 27, Texas 20
Rice at No. 7 Texas A&M, 9 p.m., ESPN2
The Spread: Rice +32.5; Texas A&M -32.5
Brad's Breakdown: Texas A&M is averaging 62.5 points and more than 650 yards per game on offense this season. Forget about Johnny Football, Kenny Hill has this Aggies offense humming better than it was all of last season. This week, Texas A&M gets another opportunity to put up a ton of points as Rice comes into town. This is the same Rice squad that allowed 48 points to Notre Dame in its season opener. The Aggies could very well score 70 points in this home game. Needless to write, A&M rolls.
Brad's Score: Texas A&M 56, Rice 10
Craig's Score: Texas A&M 56, Rice 20
Glenn's Score: Texas A&M 64, Rice 20
Matt's Score: Texas A&M 56, Rice 20