By Brad Carroll
Week 3 of the college football season is where things truly kick into high gear, as there are four matchups featuring ranked teams playing each other, all with College Football Playoff implications, plus two other top 10 teams facing conference rivals in primetime. It sets up what should be an exciting, and season-defining, day
We preview and our college football experts offer their picks against the spread on the early Saturday games below, including Tulsa at No. 16 Oklahoma, Connecticut at No. 22 Missouri, Northern Illinois at No. 1 Ohio State, No. 14 Georgia Tech at No. 8 Notre Dame and No. 18 Auburn at No. 13 LSU. Read our late Saturday night game previews and picks here.
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Tulsa at No. 16 Oklahoma, 12 p.m., FS1
The Spread: Tulsa +30.5; Oklahoma -30.5
Brad's Analysis: Oklahoma was well on its way to having its season destroyed last week against nationally-ranked Tennessee on the road, trailing by 14 points with under nine minutes to play in the game. But quarterback Baker Mayfield, who struggled greatly for three quarters, went off in the final stretch, throwing for 103 yards and three touchdowns to first complete the comeback and then win the game in double overtime, 31-24. It was a season-saving win for the Sooners, who kept their College Football Playoff hopes alive with the comeback win. Things should be a lot easier this week when Tulsa comes to the Sooners' house Saturday afternoon. In the last eight meetings, Oklahoma has beaten Tulsa by an average of 38.3 points. Last year, Oklahoma beat Tulsa, 52-7, on the road. The Golden Hurricane might not be ready to beat Oklahoma just yet, but they are 2-0 this season and have gained at least 600 yards of total offense in each game. Quarterback Dane Evans has 745 yards passing in the two wins, including 321 in a 41-20 win over New Mexico last week. Oklahoma's defense, however, is sixth best in the nation against the pass. With history on its side, and the momentum of beating the Vols fresh in the Sooners' minds, this game should finish in yet another rout.
Brad's Score: Oklahoma 56, Tulsa 21
Craig's Score: Oklahoma 42, Tulsa 7
Glenn's Score: Oklahoma 48, Tulsa 20
Matt's Score: Oklahoma 56, Tulsa 17
Connecticut at No. 22 Missouri, 12 p.m., ESPN
The Spread: Connecticut +21; Missouri -21
Brad's Analysis: Missouri barely survived last week on the road against Arkansas State, winning 27-0. Quarterback Maty Mauk, who returns for another season as the team's starter, threw three touchdown passes but also tossed two interceptions and completed just 16-of-36 passes. Mauk is as streaky as they come, with more bad than good being typical. Missouri hasn't had the full services of star running back Russell Hansbrough, who won't play against UConn at home. That will put more pressure on Mauk to run the ball. He did have 75 rushing yards against Arkansas State. UConn is off to its best start in seven years, beating Villanova (20-15) and Army (22-17) to start the year 2-0. The Huskies have NC State transfer Bryant Shirreffs at quarterback. He completed 19-of-25 passes for 270 yards against Army, but didn't throw a touchdown pass. UConn is 2-22 against top 25 teams since becoming a Division I college football program. The Huskies won't improve on that number here.
Brad's Score: Missouri 42, UConn 10
Craig's Score: Missouri 31, UConn 14
Glenn's Score: Missouri 38, UConn 14
Matt's Score: Missouri 35, UConn 17
Northern Illinois at No. 1 Ohio State, 3:30 p.m., ABC
The Spread: Northern Illinois +35; Ohio State -35
Brad's Analysis: Ohio State may be 2-0 and coming off a 38-0 victory over Hawaii, but those in Columbus are already worrying about the chances their team can repeat as national champions. That thought process comes after Buckeyes quarterbacks Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett both struggled against the Rainbow Warriors, combining for zero touchdown passes, with Jones throwing for 111 yards and Barrett 70. Jones is still the starting quarterback, but Barrett will see action as well under center. The uneven play might be the case of neither quarterback knowing exactly where he stands in the offense, or it could simply be a drop-off from last season, but either way, the Buckeyes are heavily favored to move to 3-0 Saturday against Northern Illinois. And, remember, the Buckeyes still have running back and Heisman favorite Ezekiel Elliot to lead the offense. Northern Illinois, the defending MAC champions, scored 57 points against Murray State last week in an easy win. The Huskies beat UNLV 38-30 in the season opener. Northern Illinois has little chance to win this game, but giving five touchdowns is always scary when deciding to pick a big favorite.
Brad's Score: Ohio State 45, Northern Illinois 17
Craig's Score: Ohio State 38, Northern Illinois 13
Glenn's Score: Ohio State 42, Northern Illinois 31
Matt's Score: Ohio State 70, Northern Illinois 17
No. 14 Georgia Tech at No. 8 Notre Dame, 3:30 p.m., NBC
The Spread: Georgia Tech -3; Notre Dame +3
Brad's Analysis: Georgia Tech runs the offense everyone fears, as it's incredibly difficult to plan for and then stop. This year, Alcorn State and Tulane found out quickly how difficult stopping the triple option is. The Yellowjackets averaged 67.5 points in the two games, averaging 457.5 rushing yards per contest. There will be a giant step up in competition and atmosphere Saturday afternoon in South Bend, however. Georgia Tech is 6-27-1 all-time against Notre Dame, but has won two of the last three meetings. Tech coach Paul Johnson also owns a win over Notre Dame while he was coaching Navy. The Irish looked like championship contenders in their season-opening rout of Texas, but couldn't keep that momentum the following week, needing a final-seconds touchdown pass to slip past Virginia. The Irish also lost starting quarterback Malik Zaire for the season after he broke his ankle against the Cavs. Plus, the defense was completely out of sync against Virginia, which is of great concern going against the Yellowjackets unusual offense. But backup quarterback DeShone Kizer did throw the biggest pass of the young season for the Irish, hitting Will Fuller in stride for a 39-yard touchdown pass with 12 seconds left to remain undefeated. Notre Dame is the underdog, but playing in front of the home crowd should lead it to the upset.
Brad's Score: Notre Dame 27, Georgia Tech 24 (upset pick)
Craig's Score: Georgia Tech 24, Notre Dame 20
Glenn's Score: Georgia Tech 30, Notre Dame 20
Matt's Score: Georgia Tech 28, Notre Dame 14
No. 18 Auburn at No. 13 LSU, 3:30 p.m., CBS
The Spread: Auburn +7; LSU -7
Brad's Analysis: There might not be a bigger decline in the perception of an undefeated team in recent college football history than Auburn. Just three weeks ago, the Tigers were considered a serious contender for the College Football Playoff. Now, after two victories, nobody is giving Auburn a chance to make a run at an SEC title, let alone the national tournament. First, the Tigers beat Louisville by a touchdown, which was made more suspicious after the Cardinals lost to Houston. Then, the Tigers nearly lost to Jacksonville State last week, needing a touchdown with 39 seconds left and then winning the game in overtime to survive what could have been the biggest upset in college football history. Not surprisingly, Auburn is a touchdown-underdog at LSU, which came into the season with much less hype than their Tigers counterpart. LSU has played just once this season, a 21-19 win at Mississippi State, where it had to hold off a late charge by the Bulldogs to win. LSU got a big performance from running back Leonard Fournette, who had 159 yards and three touchdowns against Mississippi State. Auburn did beat LSU 41-7 at home last season, but has lost seven in a row in Baton Rouge. Make it eight in a row, as the Auburn slide continues out of the top 25.
Brad's Score: LSU 33, Auburn 24
Craig's Score: LSU 27, Auburn 17
Glenn's Score: LSU 28, Auburn 13
Matt's Score: Auburn 31, LSU 28 (upset pick)