Breaking down Week 3 of the 2017 college football schedule

By Amy Daughters -

Week 3’s college football schedule is jam-packed with 65 games, down 11 from the total number offered in Week 2. What’s also down is FBS vs. FCS action, slashed from 46 in the opening weekend (53% of the total), to 26 last week (34%) and all the way to 14 this week (21%).

Though there’s one game on tap for Thursday night and three on Friday, the cream of the crop is among Saturday’s 61 contests – including all 14 of the Power 5 vs. Power 5 meetings slated for Week 3.

While Saturday night won’t come near matching last week’s dose of shock and awe, don’t forget that Texas at (4) USC is airing at 8:30pm EST on FOX. It’s an ideal alternate for your remote control during commercial breaks of (3) Clemson at (14) Louisville, which gets started 30 minutes earlier at 8pm EST on ABC.

In addition to the eight scheduled byes this week, the following games have been postponed/canceled due to Hurricane Irma: (17) Miami (Fla.) at (11) Florida State (postponed until Oct. 7), Georgia Tech at UCF (canceled), and FIU at Indiana (canceled).

RANKED vs. RANKED (2)

  • (23) Tennessee at (24) Florida – Saturday, 3:30pm EST, CBS
  • (3) Clemson at (14) Louisville – Saturday, 8pm EST, ABC

OFF THIS WEEK (8)

  • American: Navy
  • Big Ten: Maryland, Michigan State
  • MAC: Eastern Michigan
  • Mountain West: Hawaii, UNLV
  • SEC: Arkansas
  • Sun Belt: Georgia Southern

FIRST-EVER MEETINGS (7)

  • Army at (8) Ohio State
  • Coastal Carolina at UAB
  • Georgia State at (5) Penn State
  • Illinois at (22) USF
  • Iowa State at Akron
  • Ole Miss at Cal
  • Tulane at (2) Oklahoma

REUNITED…And it feels so good.

  • Baylor at Duke (last played in 1958).
  • Tulsa at Toledo (last played in 1964).
  • Purdue at Missouri (last played in the 1980 Liberty Bowl).
  • (18) Kansas State at Vanderbilt (last played in 1984).
  • (19) Stanford at San Diego State (last played in 1988).

STREAKERS

6: (24) Florida has won 6 straight home games vs. (23) Tennessee (last loss there in 2003).

8: (12) LSU has won 8 straight AT Mississippi State (last loss there in 1999).

11: Marshall has won 11 straight over Kent State (last loss in 1978).

11: Cincinnati has won 11 straight over Miami Ohio (last loss in 2005).

12: Arizona has won 12 straight over UTEP (last loss in 1970).

NEVER-LAND

  • (14) Louisville has NEVER beaten (3) Clemson (0-3 all-time).
  • Northwestern has NEVER beaten Bowling Green (0-2 all-time).
  • Kansas has NEVER beaten Ohio (0-2 all-time).

PERFECT STORMS

(25) UCLA at Memphis (Saturday, 12pm EST, ABC/ESPN 2)

Both teams’ weaknesses have the potential to be exposed in this one. Tune in to watch UCLA’s No. 5 ranked passing attack light up Memphis’ No. 95 ranked pass defense. On the flip side, it’s the Bruins’ No. 128 ranked rush D taking on the Tigers’ No. 8 ranked ground game.

Keep an eye on UCLA’s junior quarterback Josh Rosen (#3), the No. 3 passer in the FBS who’s already thrown for nine TDs – this game could be another notch in his Heisman belt. For Memphis check out sophomore running back Darrell Henderson (#8), with 169 yards per game he’s the No. 5 rusher in college football.

Arizona State at Texas Tech (Saturday, 8pm EST)

It’s no surprise that Texas Tech owns the No. 2 ranked passing attack in the FBS – racking up 449 yards in its opener vs. FCS Eastern Washington. That’s 10 more passing yards than Michigan’s thrown for in two contests. It sets the stage for loads of potential vs. Arizona State’s No. 79 ranked pass D. Though the ranking isn’t dismal, the Sun Devils gave up 398 yards through the air to New Mexico State in Week 1.  They improved last week by allowing a mere 73 passing yards to San Diego State, but the Aztecs only threw the ball 18 total times vs. the 58 the Aggies did the opener.

Check out Texas Tech senior quarterback Nic Shimonek (#16), the No. 6 ranked passer in the FBS who completed 86.7% of his passes in Week 1. While he and his fellow offenders ought to dial up the yards, the bigger question is if the Red Raider D can do its part.

(19) Stanford at San Diego State (Saturday, 10:30pm EST, CBSSN)

While it’s difficult to imagine San Diego State having an advantage to take vs. heavyweight Stanford, statistically speaking this game sets up well for the Aztecs. SDSU’s top running back, senior Rashaad Penny (#20), is also the No. 1 rusher in the nation. In two games, he’s piled up 413 yards and three scores, averaging 10.59 yards per carry. On the flip side, mighty Stanford has coughed up 453 ground yards in two games, earning them a dismal No. 117 rank in the FBS.

If Penny can do his thing vs. the Cardinal defense, coming even close to the 216 yards he hung up on Arizona State last week, he should get some Heisman love. Penny was SDSU’s No. 2 back in 2016, eclipsing the 1000-yard mark despite playing second fiddle to Donnel Pumphrey who rushed for 2,133 yards, the most in the FBS.

Ole Miss at Cal (Saturday, 10:30pm EST, ESPN)

Ole Miss has amassed a whopping 918 yards through the air in 2017. That’s the most of any team in the FBS. Usher in Cal’s pass defense, which has given up 652 yards in two games, and you get the picture. Yes, it’s early days, but still it’s the No. 1 ranked passing attack vs. the No. 120 ranked passing defense.

Keep an eye on Ole Miss sophomore quarterback Shea Patterson (#20), the No. 1 quarterback in the land who is tied with UCLA’s Josh Rosen with nine TD passes apiece. Also of note is A.J. Brown (#1), the No. 1 wide receiver in the FBS with 16 catches for 389 yards and four scores. He’s averaged a cool 24.31 yards per reception.

HARDWARE UP FOR GRABS

The Bayou Bucket – Rice at Houston – series started in 1971 – Houston leads 29-11 and has won the last three.

Once an annual affair, the Bayou Bucket is awarded to the winner of Houston vs. Rice, a rivalry game played consecutively from 1971-95 and 1999-2013. The two schools are located a mere five miles apart in Houston, also known as the Bayou City. The first game between the two, in 1971, was also Houston’s first-ever league game as a member of the Southwest Conference. The 1995 contest was the final SWC game in history.

The trophy itself is a gold bucket attached to a large wooden base, it was first awarded in 1974.  Houston has captured the Bucket 27 times vs. Rice’s 10. The two have future dates planned in 2018, 2020 and 2021.

The Frank Leahy Memorial BowlNotre Dame at Boston College – series started in 1975 – Notre Dame leads 13-9 and has won the last four.

One of college football’s two “Holy Wars” (the other is BYU/Utah), the rivalry game between Notre Dame and Boston College is also referred to as “The Vatican Bowl” and the “Jesuit Invitational” as it pits the only two Catholic institutions in the FBS against one another. Frank Leahy served as the head coach at both schools – amassing a 20-2 record at Boston College from 1939-40 (including a share of the 1940 national title) and a 107-13-9 record at Notre Dame from 1941-1953 (including national titles in 1943, 46, 47 and 49). The award itself is a large crystal-cut bowl.

The Iron Skillet – SMU at (20) TCU – series started in 1915 – TCU leads 49-40-7 all-time and has won the last five and 15 of the last 17.

According to Louis Ojeda Jr. at Fox Sports Southwest, “The tradition of the ‘Battle for the Iron Skillet’ began in 1946 to prevent vandalism by fans a year after more than $1,000 in damage had been done to both TCU and SMU campuses. But why a piece of cookware? There’s a myth that it was sparked by an SMU fan who was frying frogs’ legs in a skillet at a tailgate. The tradition died over the years, but it was revived in 1993 with the introduction of a new Iron Skillet.” TCU has had the pan in its kitchen 18 times vs. SMU’s five.

The Victory Bell – Cincinnati at Miami (Ohio) – series started in 1888 – Miami leads 59-55-7 but Cincinnati has won the last 11.

One of seven bells played for at the FBS level, Cincinnati and Miami’s rivalry bell is tied with North Carolina and Duke’s for the oldest such prize. According to legend, the original bell was taken from Miami’s campus in Oxford, Ohio by Cincinnati fans in the 1890s (the two schools are only 40 miles apart), establishing the tradition of the winning team retaining the bell. Today, the original bell is back on display at Miami with a replica awarded to the winner of the annual game.

The two schools have plans to play through 2029.

MIND-BLOWER

Air Force’s game vs. (7) Michigan on Saturday at noon EST in combination with Army’s visit to (8) Ohio State at 4:30pm EST marks the first time since 1981 that the Wolverines and Buckeyes have both played one of the three major service academies during the same year.

Thirty-six years ago, on Sept. 26, then No. 7 Michigan hosted Navy and won 21-16. At the end of that same season (15) Ohio State edged the same Midshipmen team 31-28 in the Liberty Bowl.

The Wolverines finished 1981 at 9-3, ranked No. 12 in the final AP after beating (19) UCLA in the Bluebonnet Bowl in Houston. The Buckeyes also posted a 9-3 that year, but finished at No. 15 despite beating Michigan 14-9 in Ann Arbor.

As for Navy, it went 7-4-1, picking up additional loses to Yale and Notre Dame. The tie came vs. Army – a 3-3 draw in Philadelphia.

Historical data courtesy of Sports Reference-College Football. Statistics courtesy of CFBStats.com.

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