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 late Saturday games below, including South Carolina at No. 7 Georgia, Stanford at No. 6 Southern Cal, No. 15 Ole Miss at No. 2 Alabama and No. 19 BYU at No. 10 UCLA. Read our early Saturday game previews and picks here.
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South Carolina at No. 7 Georgia, 6 p.m., ESPN
The Spread: South Carolina +16.5; Georgia -16.5
Brad's Analysis: South Carolina and Georgia both have question marks at quarterback, but the Gamecocks are hurting a bit more, as former walk-on Perry Orth will make his first career start on the road Saturday night. Orth ascended to the starting spot after quarterback Connor Mitch suffered a shoulder injury last week. Orth came on in relief against Kentucky, throwing a touchdown, but also an interception that ended the Gamecocks' comeback bid in a 26-22 defeat. That loss followed a 17-13 victory over North Carolina in the season opener. Obviously, the Gamecocks have trouble scoring points. On the opposite sideline, Georgia quarterback Greyson Lambert has been underwhelming since winning the starting job before the season, throwing for just 116 yards in a disappointing 31-14 win over Vanderbilt last week. Lambert transferred to Georgia after losing the quarterback battle at Virginia, which again raises red flags of why is he starting for the Bulldogs, a national title contender, and couldn't with the Cavaliers, who aren't even contenders for a conference title. Luckily for the Bulldogs, the offense goes through running back Nick Chubb, who has 309 yards in two games. The Bulldogs are superior to the Gamecocks, but the 17-point win over Vanderbilt proved they aren't ready just yet to run away from solid teams.
Brad's Score: Georgia 35, South Carolina 20
Craig's Score: Georgia 35, South Carolina 20
Glenn's Score: Georgia 28, South Carolina 17
Matt's Score: Georgia 35, South Carolina 13
Stanford at No. 6 Southern Cal, 8 p.m., ABC
The Spread: Stanford +10.5; Southern Cal -10.5
Brad's Analysis: Stanford was embarrassed in its season opener, losing 16-6 at Northwestern, but bounced back to beat Central Florida, 31-7, last week. Quarterback Kevin Hogan, who will never be confused for former Cardinal Andrew Luck, actually played well in the win over UCF, throwing for 341 yards and three touchdowns. Still, Stanford had scored just 17 points heading into the fourth quarter. Hogan has struggled in his two starts against USC, throwing for 412 yards and no touchdowns. He also fumbled last year on a potential game-winning scoring drive. The last five games between the rivals have been decided by eight points or less, but these are very different teams than the recent past. Stanford has taken a major step back, while the Trojans have worked their way into championship contention on the power of a running game that features some huge playmakers. Stanford allowed 225 rushing yards against Northwestern. USC has averaged 234.5 yards on the ground so far, although it was against Arkansas State and Idaho. The Trojans, however, will prove just how far apart these teams have grown in a year's time.
Brad's Score: Southern Cal 38, Stanford 24
Craig's Score: Southern Cal 38, Stanford 21
Glenn's Score: Southern Cal 35, Stanford 20
Matt's Score: Southern Cal 49, Stanford 7
No. 15 Ole Miss at No. 2 Alabama, 9:15 p.m., ESPN
The Spread: Ole Miss +7; Alabama -7
Brad's Analysis: Of all the huge matchups this week, Ole Miss at Alabama is the biggest. Alabama has been impressive in both of its victories, including a 35-17 win over Wisconsin. Ole Miss is off to an amazing start, outscoring its opponents 149-24 ... in just two games. The Rebels beat Tennessee Martin 76-3 and followed that up with a 73-21 win over Fresno State, which is anything but a cupcake opponent. But playing Alabama on the road is clearly a completely different story, and the Rebels haven't won in Tuscaloosa in their last 12 tries. Ole Miss, however, came through with one of the biggest victories from a year ago, beating Alabama 23-17. Of course, the Tide still made the College Football Playoff, while the Rebels fell apart late, losing four of their last six games after starting 7-0. If Ole Miss could pull off another great upset of Alabama, it would be favored in every game remaining on the schedule, putting it in position to make the College Football Playoff. This is the first of many challenges for Alabama, with road games against Georgia, Texas A&M and Auburn and a home matchup with LSU still to come. The Tide would likely be favored in all of those games as well, if they can beat Ole Miss. While it would be great for the Rebels to pull off another upset of the Tide, shaking up the college football landscape in the process, Alabama won't let it happen, especially at home. But it will be a close, exciting game.
Brad's Score: Alabama 31, Ole Miss 27
Craig's Score: Alabama 31, Ole Miss 17
Glenn's Score: Alabama 31, Ole Miss 21
Matt's Score: Alabama 20, Ole Miss 10
No. 19 BYU at No. 10 UCLA, 10:30 p.m., FS1
The Spread: BYU +16; UCLA -16
Brad's Analysis: BYU is the most exciting team in the country, winning both of its games this season, against Nebraska and Boise State as underdogs, on a pair of final-minute long touchdown passes. First, it was a Hail Mary completion to beat the Huskers on the road, 33-28. Then, it was a 35-yard touchdown pass with 45 seconds to go to beat the Broncos on the road. Crazy yet, the Cougars won both games on the arm of backup quarterback Tanner Magnum, who was pressed into duty after starter Taysom Hill broke his foot in the opener and was lost for the season. UCLA has had big expectations pinned on it the last few seasons, but has never lived fully up to the hype. This year, the Bruins are back in that same conversation, but this time, they are already off to a better start. UCLA beat Virginia and UNLV, led by freshman quarterback Josh Rosen, who threw for 351 yards and three scores against the Cavaliers. He could be in for another big day against BYU, which allows an average of 344 passing yards per game. BYU is already having a special season, and another upset of UCLA could put it in position to make the College Football Playoff. But UCLA has designs on making the playoff as well and could be the team to finally derail the Cougars magical ride. The Bruins win the game, but BYU won't go down easily.
Brad's Score: UCLA 42, BYU 35
Craig's Score: UCLA 38, BYU 21
Glenn's Score: UCLA 38, BYU 28
Matt's Score: BYU 35, UCLA 34 (upset pick)