Week 3 Must See: Preview and Props

Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald (CC License)

We’re into the meat of the season, and Week 3 gives us a stacked Saturday afternoon schedule. Last week we told you to watch the Boise State/Wazzu game, and I’m not sure if I should apologize.

Oklahoma State at Pitt, 12:00 PM ET

Pitt travelled to Penn State last week and got torn apart by the second-most aggressive quarterback in the country. Trace McSorley and Saquon Barkley combined for four touchdowns and generally did whatever they felt like. This week, Pitt hosts Oklahoma State, and the most aggressive quarterback in the country, in a game that’s sure to go well for Pitt.

Tune in for Mason Rudolph throwing seven hundred touchdowns and the game of football being ever so briefly broken. Or Pitt learning from Penn State and clamping down on the Cowboys. Either way, should be a fun game.

  • Odds Mason Rudolph throws more touchdowns than Trace McSorley did against Pitt (3): 2/3

LSU at Mississippi State, 1:00 PM ET

A good, important game. LSU has pretensions to challenging Alabama in the SEC West, but first they’ll have to beat Mississippi State. It’ll be a good test of the LSU offense against a similarly talented opponent; wins over BYU and Chattanooga are all well and good but not on quite the same level as the Bulldogs. Mississippi State is the first conference opponent the Tigers have faced, and their last until Florida in early October.

It’ll also be fun to watch! Mississippi State is also coming off a soft out-of-conference schedule, having defeated LA Tech and Charleston Southern handily, but is now staring down the barrel of a fiendish run of games against LSU, Georgia, and Auburn. How this game goes will set the tone for Mississippi State’s next three.

Fun fact: Derrius Guice has yet to play in the fourth quarter of a game this season. He’s rushed for four touchdowns and 5.3 yards a carry though, so he hasn’t needed to.

  • O/U Derrius Guice rushing yards: 120

Louisville at Clemson, 2:00 PM ET

Here’s a scary thought: Lamar Jackson appears to be evolving as a passer. Louisville seems to be keeping him in the pocket more, where he’s making passes all over the field, and his ability to make passes on the run has visibly improved. He’s sitting at a 65% completion rate in 2017, and putting up production that would be remarkable for anyone but the Heisman Trophy winner.

The two known quantities in this game are Clemson’s defense and Louisville’s offense. That’s the unstoppable force/immovable object dynamic you’re going to want to tune in for. The other side of the ball, however, is almost more interesting. How you feel about Louisville’s defense depends on how you feel about UNC and Purdue’s offense. Are they actually good, or is Louisville just that shaky. Is Clemson’s offense, lacking Deshaun Watson but so far not hugely struggling against Auburn and Kent State, still an elite unit?

  • O/U Lamar Jackson sacks: 3.5
Photo: EricR (CC License)

Texas at USC, 2:30 PM ET

Remember the 2006 Rose Bowl? Cool. This game won’t be like that. If you want to watch that game, tune into the Longhorns network; they play it on repeat.

This game’s looking to be a little more lopsided than the 2006 game, with USC overmatching Texas on both sides of the ball. Some injuries are going to hamper the Trojans, particularly their run defense, as they lose starting linebacker Porter Gustin and defensive tackle Marlon Tuipulotu. Still, the Trojans outmatch the Longhorns, who started the season with a home loss to Maryland and didn’t fool anyone playing San Jose State.

It’ll be interesting to see what Texas does at quarterback: since Shane Buechele sat last week and Sam Ehlinger shined, a combination of Ehlinger and QB-turned-WR-turned-back-to-QB Jerrod Heard could be what the Longhorns need to move the ball against USC. They’ll all be available, and it’s possible we see all three behind center. We know what USC is going to do at quarterback, and have for a while.

  • O/U number of quarterbacks to take a snap for Texas: 2.5
  • O/U number of times Vince Young is mentioned or shown during the broadcast: 12.5

Tennessee at Florida, 3:30 PM ET

I’m not sure which fanbase is excited for this game, but Tennessee’s rivalry with Florida never fails to produce a top-to-bottom stupid game that usually ends with some head-scratching and the away crowd wondering why they made the trip. That’s why it’s fun; it’s like watching a family argument, or a nervous performer flounder in front of a big audience, or some combination of both. I’m also not sure how Florida plans to move the ball, with a handful of players still suspended and no clear offensive structure.

Tennessee managed to break Florida’s 11-year win streak in the 2016 game, and while Florida is favored in this game, I’d hesitate to give them a clear advantage. They’ve been just that lost with the ball, to the point where punting and hoping for a defensive touchdown isn’t a totally ridiculous idea.

  • O/U number of Florida punts: 5.5