By Brad Carroll
After a couple weeks full of gigantic college football matchups to start the season all over the country, the third week takes a bit of a step back in terms of mega-showdowns, but there are plenty of games and teams to get excited about watching. The big game is obviously No. 3 Clemson at No. 14 Louisville Saturday night, but there are solid games with playoff implications all over the schedule.
Below we preview and our four college football experts pick the biggest games of the day against the point spread. Below is our previews and picks for the late games Saturday and here are our previews and picks for the early games. Check out our Friday night preview and pick here.
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Colorado State at No. 1 Alabama, 7, ESPN2
The Spread: Alabama -29
Brad’s Breakdown: Colorado State is averaging 33 points per game in starting the season 2-1, but the bigger number to look at is 3. That is the number of points it scored against Colorado in a 17-3 loss. Nick Stevens may make some plays at quarterback for the Rams, but nowhere near enough against an Alabama defense that should shut him down for most of the night. Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts is playing well, and if he continues to play at that level Saturday night, the Tide will roll to a big home victory.
Brad’s Final: Alabama 42, Colorado State 10 (Alabama)
Craig’s Final: Alabama 41, Colorado State 10 (Alabama)
Glenn’s Final: Alabama 62, Colorado State 20 (Alabama)
Matt's Final: Alabama 46, Colorado State 20 (Colorado State)
No. 12 LSU at Mississippi State, 7, ESPN
The Spread: LSU -7
Brad’s Breakdown: Both teams enter SEC play with a pair of impressive victories against mediocre competition. LSU, as always, will be carried by its defense, which has allowed 10 total points and just under 170 yards of total offense a game. Mississippi State is right there, too, allowing 10.5 points and 174.5 yards per game on defense. It’s going to be a defensive showdown, so expect a low-scoring game. Mississippi State has beaten LSU once since 1999, and that total is not likely to change in 2017.
Brad’s Final: LSU 23, Mississippi State 20 (Mississippi State)
Craig’s Final: LSU 27, Mississippi State 12 (LSU)
Glenn’s Final: LSU 28, Mississippi State 17 (LSU)
Matt's Final: LSU 30, Mississippi State 10 (LSU)
No. 3 Clemson at No. 14 Louisville, 8, ABC
The Spread: Clemson -3.5
Brad’s Breakdown: This is the marquee matchup of the college football weekend. For Louisville, its two victories this season haven’t been all that impressive, although quarterback Lamar Jackson has been, especially last week. Louisville won by just seven over Purdue and then beat North Carolina by 12 last week, not exactly what the Cardinals were expecting. For Clemson, after a beatdown of Kent State in the opener, the Tigers held off then-No. 14 Auburn 14-6. The defensive effort was impressive in the latter game, but the offense’s lack of punch is worrisome, especially against Louisville. If Clemson can keep Jackson in check, a victory will follow on the road. But that’s a big if. Louisville, backed by what should be a raucous crowd, might not have enough to pull off the upset, but they will make it very interesting.
Brad’s Final: Clemson 27, Louisville 24 (Louisville)
Craig’s Final: Clemson 31, Louisville 20 (Clemson)
Glenn’s Final: Louisville 28, Clemson 24 (Louisville)
Matt's Final: Clemson 28, Louisville 17 (Clemson)
Texas at No. 4 USC, 8:30, FOX
The Spread: USC -15.5
Brad’s Breakdown: You may have heard the buzz about USC claiming it’s 4-0 against Texas leading up to this game, discounting the loss in the 2006 national championship game because, the Trojans say, the NCAA said the games they forfeited don’t count. It probably wasn’t a good idea, and can really only benefit the underdog Longhorns, but here we are with something other than the game to talk about. The game, however, has the potential to be a good one, despite what the point spread will tell you. USC quarterback Sam Darnold has thrown four interceptions in two games, and if that trend continues, Texas will stick around. The Longhorns won’t have enough to win, but they should have plenty to keep this within two touchdowns.
Brad’s Final: USC 45, Texas 31 (Texas)
Craig’s Final: USC 38, Texas 21 (USC)
Glenn’s Final: USC 42, Texas 24 (USC)
Matt's Final: USC 56, Texas 31 (USC)
Ole Miss at California, 10:30, ESPN
The Spread: Ole Miss -3.5
Brad’s Breakdown: Neither team is ranked; both teams have put up a ton of offense in the first two weeks; and both defenses have also let up a giant amount of points, which should all add up to a high-scoring game to close out the night. Ole Miss won’t play in a bowl game this season and faces two huge matchups following this, at Alabama and at Auburn. So, this could be the Rebels’ last chance to get a victory for a while. Ole Miss has a quarterback, though, in Shea Patterson, who could lead the Rebels to the road victory. California started the season with a nice win over North Carolina and followed it up with a letdown performance against Weber State, winning 33-20. Whoever wins, this game should be close.
Brad’s Final: Ole Miss 35, California 34 (California)
Craig’s Final: Ole Miss 24, California 17 (Ole Miss)
Glenn’s Final: Ole Miss 24, California 13 (Ole Miss)
Matt's Final: California 35, Ole Miss 28 (California)