What can college football do for a callback after a wild weekend that saw two shocked top-10 teams at home and a coaching change at one of the sport’s top programs after just three games? The table is set for another round of drama with a pair of interesting non-conference showdowns.
The leading confrontation is No. 13 Miami (Florida) going to No. 22 Texas A&M. The Aggies were one of those aforementioned teams that were upset last week — a loss to Appalachia State. They’ll be looking to bounce back at home against the Hurricanes, who face their first big test under new coach Mario Cristobal.
The other ranked opponents clash sees No. 24 Oregon hosting No. 14 Brigham Young. The Cougars just beat so-No. 8 Baylor but must take the road and could again do without its two best receivers. The Ducks were blown away against Georgia in their opener. They now have a chance to regain their footing and avoid a second loss.
Other important games see No. 6 Oklahoma visit Nebraska in the second game of successive seasons between the former Big Eight and Big 12 rivals; Washington hosts No. 9 Michigan State for an important showdown between the Big Ten and the Pac-12; and no. 23 Penn State heads south for a game against Auburn.
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For Nebraska, Saturday’s game will somehow show whether players are bought into the program as a whole. Former Husker quarterback Mickey Joseph succeeds Scott Frost on an interim basis and is the first black head coach in any sport in school history.
Joseph pointed out that this transition period is for players to make sure they’re focused on the game. The Huskers are 11-point underdogs in Oklahoma, but expect an inspired team that still has the rest of the game. the season to play. The match will be tight throughout and will not be decided until the end of the fourth quarter.
Don’t be surprised if Nebraska upsets Oklahoma. Yes, it’s been a bumpy week for the Cornhuskers after Scott Frost was fired. But maybe, just maybe, his departure is exactly what this team needed. Frost went 5-22 in one-scored games at his alma mater, an astonishing number that speaks to two things: his team had a knack for hanging on in nearly every game; and Frost himself was clearly doing something wrong multiple times to keep his team from making the leap. A cloud has been hanging over Frost and this program for a while now, but with it removed, the team may be playing looser and can challenge a Sooners team that struggled to get off the ground last week against. Kent State.
Brigham Young defeats Oregon as a slight underdog for a second straight victory over the Power Five competition. A week after beating Baylor in double overtime, this road win would raise the possibility that BYU could lead the table and make the case for the college football playoffs. The Cougars have been terrific on defense against the Bears and have one of the most overlooked quarterbacks in the nation in Jaren Hall.
At first glance, you might just want to check No. 9 Michigan State as the winner this week in Washington. After all, the Spartans won 11 games last year and comfortably won their first two games of the season. But trips to Washington are never easy and the Huskies will play with great emotion given this is the first major game under coach Kalen DeBoer. Washington, like Michigan State, is 2-0 and in those wins has scored 97 points, a sign that recent offensive struggles may be a thing of the past under the new regime. Look for an upset here as the noisy environment plays a vital role in a tight game.
Wake Forest is arguably a week away from the most anticipated on-field opportunity in the history of the football program, well, not exactly history when Clemson comes to Winston-Salem. Although the Tigers’ iron grip on the ACC slipped last season, they are still considered the team to beat. The 18th-ranked Demon Deacons, who are also aspiring to get back into the conference title game, are hoping to achieve that.
Before that, however, Wake has a date with a 2-0 Liberty side looking for a major upset. The Flames are 0-2 in their previous meetings with Wake Forest, but those meetings in 2006 and 2012 came before Liberty transitioned to the Bowl Subdivision. Considering what’s on the horizon, this looks like a classic trap game for deacons.
But it won’t be that way. Wake is not a program that takes its footballing success for granted. Quarterback Sam Hartman, in his second game after missing time with a health issue, won’t let his offense go through the stages. Deacons win, and win big.
Although Penn State is a Top 25 team, technically it’s hard to see why the Nittany Lions are road favorites against Auburn. Penn State was lucky to escape Week 1 with a win at Purdue, driving down the field for the game-winning touchdown with less than a minute to go. Auburn is a better team than Purdue, and while the Tigers haven’t looked very impressive at the start of the season either, it will be a tall order for Penn State to get to Jordan-Hare Stadium and play against a fairly physical team. Auburn wins a very low-scoring game and solidifies Bryan Harsin’s employment status, at least through next week.