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Friday, March 1, 2024
The Observer

Top 5 college football games to watch in week 3

Last week was another amazing week of college football full of upsets and extremely fun matchups. Texas gave Alabama a big run for their money. BYU got a marquee win over Baylor. Washington State got a shocking upset in Big 10 country against Wisconsin. Nebraska lost to Georgia Southern, resulting in the firing of head coach Scott Frost. Texas A&M fell victim to another monumental upset by Appalachian State. Notre Dame was stunned by Marshall. The slate this weekend provides us with a ton of action, so let’s get into the top five.

5. No. 6 Oklahoma at Nebraska (Oklahoma -11.0) noon, FOX

The former Big 8 rivalry is coming to Memorial Stadium for the first time since 2009. Oklahoma is at the beginning of the Brent Venables era, looking to contend for a playoff berth. However, there have been some hiccups already. The Sooners led by a score of just 7-3 at halftime against Kent State before a 24-point third quarter put the game away. Venables, the former defensive coordinator at Clemson, will surely be looking for a better performance against a big rival.

Nebraska is currently wandering in the wilderness after firing head coach Scott Frost on Sunday. Even though Nebraska could have waited until October 1st for Frost’s contract buyout to go from $15 million to $7.5 million, they decided to pull the trigger anyway. Interim head coach Mickey Joseph inherits a Husker team with talent but a penchant for falling short time and time again. Last week, the Huskers gave up 642 yards in a 45-42 upset by Georgia Southern.

Emotions are running high in this rivalry game. Last year, Nebraska struggled to a 3-9 record. But they played 11-2 Oklahoma extremely tight, ultimately losing by a touchdown. This one could be closer than records would predict.

4. No. 13 Miami at No. 24 Texas A&M (TA&M -6), 9 p.m., ESPN

This game would have had a great case for number one if not for the events of last week. If the Aggies took care of business against the Mountaineers, it would have been a colossal showdown with College Gameday in town. One has to wonder if the Aggies weren’t looking ahead to their marquee matchup this week against the Hurricanes. They shouldn’t have been, considering A&M is paying head coach Jimbo Fisher 75 million dollars over 10 years.

What is even more infuriating to Aggie fans is that Fisher is 35-15 in his first 50 games, whereas the man he replaced (Kevin Sumlin) was 36-14. A&M’s offense has been concerning, scoring just 14 points against Appalachian State, who allowed 63 points to North Carolina the week prior.

Miami comes in with two wins against inferior competition in Bethune-Cookman and Southern Miss. However, the Hurricanes were beating the latter just 10-7 at halftime. New head coach Mario Cristobal is looking for a big win to set a potential campaign for the ACC title. In order to win, both teams need to put together what they haven’t been able to do so far: a complete game.

3. No. 12 BYU at No. 25 Oregon (Oregon -3.5) 3:30 p.m., FOX

The other matchup between two ranked squads is in Autzen Stadium, where the Oregon Ducks face surging BYU. The Cougars are coming off an impressive 26-20 win over a ranked Baylor team in double overtime. Their defense came in clutch, making plays down the stretch to win the game. The Cougar offense was hurting, literally. Starting receivers Puka Nacua and Gunner Romney were injured, which ended up leading to a breakout game from Chase Roberts. Roberts caught eight passes for 122 yards, including a highly acrobatic catch for a touchdown.

BYU certainly grinded out an impressive win. But now they face an Oregon team looking to reassert themselves. Oregon took good use of their get-right game against FCS opponent Eastern Washington, winning by a score of 70-14. After getting shut down at every level in a 49-3 drubbing by Georgia in week 1, quarterback Bo Nix and the Oregon offense responded by amassing over 600 yards. Nix made much better decisions in his second game, crucially avoiding a turnover as well. Are the Ducks ready to get back on track and derail a BYU team that is riding high? Or can the Cougars keep their momentum rolling?

2. No. 11 Michigan State at Washington (Washington -3) 7:30 p.m., ABC

The Spartans go out west to face a Washington team that has a lot to prove. Michigan State is looking to continue its resurgence under head coach Mel Tucker, finishing 11-2 and ranked No. 9 in the country in Tucker’s second season behind the helm. Although the Spartans lost star running back Kenneth Walker to the NFL, new transfer running back Jalen Berger has filled his shoes admirably in routs of Western Michigan and Akron. Defensive end Jacoby Windmon has 5.5 sacks in two games for the Spartans, making him a player to watch.

Washington is in the third game of the Kalen DeBoer era. DeBoer came to the Huskies by way of Fresno State, after the Huskies fired Jimmy Lake. The Huskies finished 4-8 last season but have convincingly beat two inferior schools in Kent State and Portland State to open the year. The new quarterback for the Huskies, Indiana transfer Michael Penix Jr., has experience beating the Spartans (back in 2020).

The Vegas line favoring Washington is a bit of a surprise. But they do have a tremendous home-field advantage. A win for DeBoer and the Huskies would be a major shift in the program. But Tucker and the Spartans need the win for national implications.

1.  No. 22 Penn State at Auburn (Penn State -3) 3:30 p.m., CBS

Big Ten and SEC powers clashing in non-conference play: I love it! The Nittany Lions are 2-0, coming off of an easy win vs. Ohio which was preceded by a barnburner against Purdue. Quarterback Sean Clifford has been busy fending off incoming freshman Drew Allar for the job. His game-winning drive against Purdue seems to have locked it up for the time being. But it will be interesting to see if head coach James Franklin pivots to the freshman if Clifford struggles.

Auburn also enters at 2-0 under head coach Bryan Harsin. The Tigers opened with a 42-16 win over Mercer and won 24-16 over San José State last week. The latter game was a bit of a wake-up call, as Auburn was actually losing at halftime. Although the Tigers have had struggles, they have been lights out in the red zone. Every trip to the red zone for Auburn has led to a touchdown.

Last fall, Auburn went up to Penn State and played at Beaver Stadium for the annual White Out game. The Nittany Lions came out on top by a score of 28-20. This year, both schools want to send a message that they are here to contend for their respective conferences. A win for either would be a major boost.

The views in this Sports Authority are the views of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer. Contact Joseph Tunney at