Last week we saw a number of ranked teams go on the road and lose to unranked opponents.
No. 12 LSU went to Mississippi State and got throttled 37-7. No. 18 Kansas State lost 14-7 at Vanderbilt. No. 19 Stanford lost at San Diego State, and No. 25 UCLA lost at Memphis 48-45 in a shootout.
This week may be no different.
In fact, it includes six top 10 teams going on the road to face unranked teams.
Don’t expect those six teams to go undefeated.
There are a number of other important games, as well. Some of which will be analyzed tremendously well down below.
Friday September 22
Teams: #23 Utah (3-0, 0-0) at Arizona (2-1, 0-1)
Time (TV): 10:30 pm (FS1)
Cheer For: Arizona
You’re rooting for Arizona because you’ve been a Rich Rodriguez fan going way back to his Michigan days. No comedian has ever been more original. Who could ever forget his bit where he lost to Toledo? Or the routine about going 0-9 against Ohio State, Michigan State, and Penn State? Interestingly, his legendary Michigan career began with a home loss to Utah, and the laughs didn’t stop for three whole years.
Utah 31 – Arizona 20
Saturday September 23
Teams: North Carolina State (2-1) at #12 Florida State (0-1, 0-0)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ABC)
Cheer For: North Carolina State
This is an opportunity for North Carolina State to right the wrong of their opening-week loss to South Carolina. Since then they have looked good against Marshall and Furman, which carries about as much weight as your chiding emails to me that I definitely don’t print out and put in a revenge book. Junior quarterback Ryan Finley is playing well for NC State, as he has already thrown for 987 yards and six touchdowns (and no interceptions) this season. The Wolfpack defensive line needs to step up if they are going to win this game, however. Due to Hurricane Irma, the Seminoles have not played since the first week of the season, and when they do finally take the field on Saturday, they’ll be doing it with true freshman James Blackman at quarterback. The good news is that they’ve had plenty of time to get him ready. Florida State is still favored by 12.5 points, but that seems like a lot for a team that is going to be rusty. A true freshman quarterback will always cost you at least one game, and this could be that one game for FSU.
North Carolina State 28 – Florida State 23
Teams: Texas A&M (2-1, 0-0) vs. Arkansas (1-1, 0-0) (Arlington, TX)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: Texas A&M
You’re rooting for the Aggies here because you want Bret Bielema to be fired after the season so that Illinois can hire him and then we can all bask in the Big Ten squabbles between Bielema and Jim Harbaugh. Also, I’ve heard that in order to increase ticket sales for this game they will be showing Smokey and the Bandit on the jumbotron.
Texas A&M 37 – Arkansas 34
Teams: West Virginia (2-1, 0-0) at Kansas (1-2, 0-0)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ESPNU)
Cheer For: Kansas
Imagine being a beat writer for West Virginia football and having to travel to Lawrence, Kansas to cover a game. Now imagine that game taking place in late November. Yeah, that s*** is scarier than a movie about some clown in the sewer.
West Virginia 42 – Kansas 21
Teams: UNLV (1-1, 0-0) at Ohio State (2-1, 1-0)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (BTN)
Cheer For: Ohio State
You’re cheering for Ohio State because you are a Buckeye fan and I really shouldn’t have to explain all of this to you again, but I guess I will. See, way before you were born, your family settled in Ohio to avoid persecution for their religious beliefs. They were lifelong members of the Church of Elvis. Now, don’t be confused, this church had nothing to do with Elvis Presley, it was instead based on teachings from some guy named Elvis who lived in the 1910s. There is really nothing known about him, other than some dirty limericks he wrote down on a bar napkin to which he signed his name. Your great-great grandfather was so taken by these limericks that he decided to live his life by the very words he read. As you can imagine, basing a religion off of limericks wasn’t exactly welcomed back in those days, so your family was chased from state to state until they found a place that would just leave them be. They settled in western Ohio, which nobody even knew existed at the time, and they became tremendous Buckeye fans. They then passed down their love for OSU and limericks to following generations. That’s also why your family’s prayers have always ended with, “There once was Amen.”
Ohio State 63 – UNLV 14
Teams: UCF (1-0, 0-0) at Maryland (2-0, 0-0)
Time (TV): 3:00 pm (FS1)
Cheer For: Maryland
This is actually a sneaky good game. UCF hasn’t played since the first week of the season, having their last two games canceled due to weather. They should bring some rust into this game, but they’ll also be excited to get back on the field. Maryland had the week off in preparation for UCF, but if they simply play as well as they did against Texas (51-41) and Towson (63-17), they should be okay. This game will provide us some more data as we all wonder if the Terps will be able to unseat Michigan as the division’s No. 3 program.
Maryland 38 – UCF 27
Teams: #5 USC (3-0, 1-0) at California (3-0, 0-0)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (ABC)
Cheer For: California
Here’s one of those top 10 teams on the road for you. The Trojans are favored by 17 points, which seems like a lot when you consider the fact that USC had to hold on for dear life to beat Texas last week. Their other two wins — Western Michigan and Stanford — have been by 18 points, so maybe Vegas is on to something here. Quarterback Sam Darnold has thrown two interceptions in each game this season, and he may do that again in this one as Cal has intercepted five passes this season. They won’t stop him, however, because they’re allowing 338 yards passing per game, which should put Darnold near 400 yards passing in this one. California will have to win a shootout and I don’t know if they can. They have wins over North Carolina and Ole Miss, but those are just ACC and SEC teams. USC is from a real conference.
USC 38 – California 27
Teams: #1 Alabama (3-0, 0-0) at Vanderbilt (3-0, 0-0)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (CBS)
Cheer For: Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt will keep this one close for a while, but rather than chastise Alabama for a poor performance, the national media will laud the Commodores for staying with the unstay-withable. “You know Vanderbilt is good if they just did the impossible!”
Alabama 31 – Vanderbilt 17
Teams: #16 TCU (3-0, 0-0) at #6 Oklahoma State (3-0, 0-0)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: TCU
You want TCU to win so that Oklahoma State can get a loss and then beat Oklahoma in Bedlam later on. TCU will eventually lose at Kansas State or Oklahoma or Texas Tech, so you don’t have to worry about them just yet. Pokes senior quarterback Mason Rudolph has thrown for 378.3 yards per game this season with 11 touchdowns and just one interception. Quarterbacks are only completing 45.3% of their passes against TCU, so this could be a strength vs. strength thing here. Of course, “strength vs. strength” is a very odd thing to say when speaking of a Big XII defense. Both teams are averaging over 49 points per game, but the over/under is only set at 71. That seems low. Maybe TCU’s defense is back?
Oklahoma State 42 – TCU 35
Teams: Boston College (1-2, 0-1) at #2 Clemson (3-0, 1-0)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (ESPN2)
Cheer For: Boston College
Clemson is going to roll. I am only writing enough words to make this preview look like other previews. I don’t want it to stand out and be noticeable because it only has one or two lines. I know nobody is going to read this one, they’re just going to skip past it once they see “Boston College.” Hell, I’m skipping past it right now and I’m the one writing it. There is a fine line between writing just enough to not be noticed and writing too much. I have never crossed the line to the latter. It’s simply too much work.
Clemson 45 – Boston College 10
Teams: Duke (3-0, 0-0) at North Carolina (1-2, 0-1)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (ESPNU)
Cheer For: North Carolina
I wish Dick Vitale and Jay Bilas were calling this game so that I could ignore four birds with one stone.
Duke 30 – North Carolina 24
Teams: Rutgers (1-2, 0-0) at Nebraska (1-2, 0-0)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (BTN)
Cheer For: Rutgers
You ever think that we’re all just part of some alien simulation or experiment where advanced beings are trying to see how much we’ll put up with before we start questioning things? We would have never noticed anything odd about it, except one day some alien got drunk and said, “Hey, I’ve got an idea.” And now we’ve got Rutgers at Nebraska and no memory of how it got here.
Nebraska 38 – Rutgers 17
Teams: Georgia Southern (0-2) at Indiana (1-1, 0-1)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (BTN)
Cheer For: Indiana
Do you think the “Southern” in Georgia Southern is a geographical reference or a just a descriptor to let people know that their university is really southern. Like other schools in the south aren’t southern enough for them. Maybe it’s a Southern Orthodox school? I bet they’re really strict about their sweet tea.
Indiana 37 – Georgia Southern 20
Teams: Toledo (3-0) at Miami (1-0, 0-0)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (FSGO)
Cheer For: Toledo
You’re cheering for Toledo because you always want to see Toledoans do well in Florida.
Toledo 400 – Miami 0
Teams: #8 Michigan (3-0, 0-0) at Purdue (2-1, 0-0)
Time (TV): 4:00 pm (FOX)
Cheer For: Michigan
I honestly don’t know if there will be a single Buckeye fan cheering for Michigan, but my educated assumption is hell no, no way, not a chance, a thousand times no. The Wolverines are favored by 10.5 points, but this is not your slightly-older brother’s Purdue. New head coach Jeff Brohm already has Purdue looking better than Darrell Hazell ever did. Since the 35-28 loss to Louisville in the season opener, the Boilers have blown out Ohio and Missouri. Now they’re looking to prove themselves against a legitimate defense. Purdue is in the middle of the pack when it comes to yards per play on offense (6.0), so I really expect them to have difficulty scoring on Saturday. That being said, 21 points might be enough to win this game. Michigan’s offense has been pretty bad of late, but Purdue is pretty average in every defensive category except for rush defense, where they are near the bottom, and that’s where the Wolverines will pull away in this one.
Michigan 27 – Purdue 17
Teams: #3 Oklahoma (3-0, 0-0) at Baylor (0-3, 0-0)
Time (TV): 6:30 pm (FS1)
Cheer For: Oklahoma
Sorry, I can’t tell anybody to root for Baylor.
Oklahoma 62 – Baylor 13
Teams: #17 Mississippi State (3-0, 1-0) at #11 Georgia (3-0, 0-0)
Time (TV): 7:00 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: Mississippi State
Georgia’s schedule is pretty easy, even with a freshman quarterback at the helm now. As such, you’ll want to root for Mississippi State in this one. The Bulldogs are favored over the Bulldogs by 4.5 points. What ever made bulldogs so popular in the late 19th-early 20th century when all of these sports teams were named Bulldogs? It’s probably a good thing it happened back when it did, because if we were to rename teams today, half of the SEC would be Corgis. Mississippi State is coming off of a 37-7 road win at LSU, so this shouldn’t be too intimidating for them. Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald might be the most important player in the conference, and he’ll get another opportunity to show it this weekend.
Mississippi State 27 – Georgia 24
Teams: #4 Penn State (3-0, 0-0) at Iowa (3-0, 0-0)
Time (TV): 7:30 pm (ABC)
Cheer For: Penn State
This is very similar to the Michigan game, as I know there is no way Buckeye fans will be rooting for Penn State. The winner of this game is in the driver’s seat for Big Ten coach of the year. The Nittany Lions are favored by 13 points. They have only been scored on in one game this year, and that was their 33-14 win over Pitt. They won their other two games (Akron, Georgia State) by a combined score of 108-0. Iowa’s defense is near the bottom of the Big Ten in yards allowed per play (5.4), but they are only giving up 335 yards of total offense per game. They will attempt to shorten the game, but they can’t shorten it too much — they have to remember to score. Hawkeyes quarterback Nathan Stanley leads the B1G with 10 touchdown passes, but the running game hasn’t gotten started yet. Running back Akrum Wadley is averaging only 4.3 yards per carry. He needs some big hits in this one if Iowa is going to win. I’m not sure it’s going to happen. I’m also not sure if it’s okay to buy into Penn State yet.
Penn State 30 – Iowa 23
Teams: #20 Florida (1-1, 1-0) at Kentucky (3-0, 1-0)
Time (TV): 7:30 pm (SECN)
Cheer For: Florida
Every year is the year that Kentucky is going to make a run. What they are making a run at, I don’t know, but every year they’re trying. Last week, the Wildcats got a win on the road at South Carolina, so this weekend they’ll be trying to get a win against the South Carolina of Florida schools. The Gators are favored by 1.5 points because who the hell knows why. It took a miracle for Florida to get a win over Tennessee last week, but there’s no reason to believe that Kentucky will make the same stupid mistakes that Tennessee made last week. Florida has won 30 in a row over Kentucky, if you’re keeping score. Kentucky certainly is. Or at least trying.
Kentucky 20 – Florida 17
Teams: Notre Dame (2-1, 1-0) at Michigan State (2-0, 0-0)
Time (TV): 8:00 pm (FOX)
Cheer For: Michigan State
This used to be one of my favorite games every year, but the dip in quality of play has really soured it for me. Perhaps they can get back on my good side this weekend, but I doubt it. There will be a pair of play-making quarterbacks to watch, which is always a plus. Brian Kelly will get mad, which is always even more of a plus. It’s just that the win won’t mean anything for either team, and that saddens me. Or at least as sad as I can be being so close to almost having the Tip Sheet completely written. Sparty has had a week off to prepare for the Irish offense, which could be fun to watch this year. I really want to take Michigan State here. It’s time for MSU quarterback Brian Lewerke to announce his presence on a national stage, and he has the kind of running ability to make that happen. So many people will be talking about Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush and running back Josh Adams, but don’t be surprised if Lewerke and Sparty running back L.J. Scott shine instead. I’m taking MSU because I couldn’t bring myself to type “Notre Dame 48 – Michigan State 20.”
Michigan State 31 – Notre Dame 27
Teams: #7 Washington (3-0, 0-0) at Colorado (3-0, 0-0)
Time (TV): 10:00 pm (FS1)
Cheer For: Colorado
Now here is a pretty interesting game. Washington has won the last five over Colorado, and none of those wins were by fewer than two touchdowns. The Huskies are favored by 11.5 in this one, but the Buffs are 3-0 and looking pretty good. Granted, they have only played Colorado State, Texas State, and Northern Colorado, but…actually, there is no but here. That’s a terrible schedule and it means nothing to this point, but a win here would change everything for Colorado and any teams that might be on the outskirts of the playoff picture. Washington’s closest game this season was the 30-14 opener against Rutgers. This is Colorado’s chance to shake up the Pac 12, and they have enough offense to get it done.
Washington 31 – Colorado 30
Teams: #24 Oregon (3-0, 0-0) at Arizona State (1-2, 0-0)
Time (TV): 10:30 pm (P12N)
Cheer For: Arizona State
Oregon is scoring 742 points per game this season, which is bad news for Arizona State. Of course, teams that field more than seven players to a side are bad news for Arizona State. The Sun Devil football program is at a crossroads right now, and every direction they turn looks the same as any other. Wait, that’s not the crossroads, they’re still in their garage. That explains why they always fail to show up in big games.
Oregon 45 – Arizona State 24