ACC: No. 18 Virginia at No. 10 Notre Dame
The Virginia Cavaliers are still undefeated after surviving a scare from Old Dominion last week, while the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are coming off a narrow loss to the Georgia Bulldogs. This all the makings of a great game, but it will be the first true test for the Cavaliers.
Virginia did get a huge win to open the year, beating Pittsburgh, who just snapped UCF’s 27-game regular season winning streak. They also beat Florida State, which is a good win despite the Seminoles being down this year. But if they can score a win over a top ten Irish team in South Bend, they could be looking at the top ten themselves.
The Irish looked much better against Georgia than I thought they would. This bodes well for them the rest of the season. This should be a great game, but I don’t see Notre Dame dropping two in a row, especially at home.
Prediction: Notre Dame 21, Virginia 16
American Athletic: Georgia Tech at Temple
Okay, I know Georgia Tech is coming off an embarrassing loss to The Citadel two weeks ago and they likely won’t win more than a handful of games this year, but hear me out. The Yellow Jackets go up to Philadelphia to face the Temple Owls, where new head coach Geoff Collins previously coached. This has the makings of a great story and heated battle.
The Owls are coming off a questionable loss to Buffalo last week as well, so both of these teams will be wanting redemption. Georgia Tech has not yet found its footing with their new offense, but this could be a breakout week for them. The Yellow Jackets are still led by a strong defense including David Curry and Tariq Carpenter, so expect Collins to lean heavily on them.
Temple has a good quarterback in Anthony Russo and he has helped the Owls soar out to a 2-1 start, despite the disappointing loss last week. Jadan Blue and Brenden Mack are both dangerous receivers that can go for big plays. This should end up being a pretty good defensive battle, but Georgia Tech comes out on top to get momentum going into conference play.
Prediction: Georgia Tech 27, Temple 13
Big 12: No. 24 Kansas State at Oklahoma State
The Oklahoma State Cowboys have been impressive this year and they are coming off their first loss, a 36-30 shootout against then-number 12 Texas. Kansas State is undefeated and has quietly been moving up rankings and has been a major surprise so far this year. This game should be another shootout, as most Big 12 conference games have been in the past.
The Wildcats are a different breed this year and they could easily contend for a Big 12 title this year. They have one of the better defenses in the conference, which admittedly isn’t saying much, but that could help tremendously, especially against Cowboy running back Chuba Hubbard and quarterback Spencer Sanders. Hubbard sits at 642 yards on the ground while Sanders has 840 through the air and another 328 on the ground.
This could be another entertaining shootout between two talented teams. However, the Wildcats should have just enough juice on defense to win the game and stay undefeated.
Prediction: Kansas State 33, Oklahoma State 24
Big Ten: No. 12 Penn State at Maryland (FRIDAY)
If this game was being played on Saturday, I would be very surprised if College GameDay didn’t make the trip to College Park. But alas, it is a big game between two Big Ten teams on Friday night and Maryland certainly wants to prove themselves worthy. A win over Penn State would do exactly that.
Before meeting up with Temple, Maryland was on track to be one of the highest-scoring offenses in the country. After a week off, they might just be ready to take the next step in the Big Ten. The Penn State Nittany Lions nearly let Pitt pull off a huge upset two weeks ago and they have also had a week off to get back in line.
The Terrapins have the ever-explosive Josh Jackson leading their offense while the Nittany Lions have an incredible linebacking corps in Micah Parsons, Jan Johnson, and Cam Brown. This could be a great matchup, but I think we are in for a huge upset Friday night. It’s been the best night for upsets anyway.
Prediction: Maryland 31, Penn State 20
Conference USA: Cincinnati at Marshall
The Cincinnati Bearcats bounced back last week after a big loss to Ohio State. The Marshall Thundering Herd got a big win over Ohio University to move to 2-1 after just barely missing the upset bid against Boise State. With a week off, expect both of these teams to be ready to go Saturday.
Isaiah Green has played exceptionally well for Marshall at quarterback while Cincinnati has gotten a boost at running back from Michael Warren II and Tavion Thomas. The Bearcats have also been nearly perfect up front, recording eight sacks in three games.
If Cincinnati can control the ball and keep it out of Green’s hands, they should have a pretty good day. Marshall would love to get a win over the Bearcats, one of the top teams in the AAC, but I just don’t think it is their week. The Bearcats win and could easily start a winning streak going forward.
Prediction: Cincinnati 35, Marshall 17
Mid-American: BYU at Toledo
It is certainly slim-pickings in the MAC this week, but this should be the best matchup. BYU pulled off a huge upset of USC two weeks ago and this week they play at Toledo. The Rockets are 2-1 and have won two straight after opening the season with a road lost to Kentucky.
The Rockets get some good production defensively and they will certainly need that against the Cougars this week. However, they have lacked any kind of offense so far this year, with Michael Guadagni only throwing for 500 yards in three games.
BYU gets much better offensive productions as Zach Wilson has doubled Guadagni’s yardage total in just one more game. Defensively, Kavika Fonua and Dayan Ghanwoloku should be big reasons why the Cougars will get the win over Toledo this week.
Prediction: BYU 38, Toledo 13
Mountain West: San Jose State at Air Force (FRIDAY)
The San Jose State Spartans are coming off possibly the biggest win in program history, despite Arkansas being a cellar dweller. This could give them a huge boost going into their first conference game of the season.
The Air Force Falcons fell to Boise State last week, despite fighting hard in the early stages of the game. They will look to get back on track and avoid a big upset against the Spartans. They know just what they should do: stay true to their game and pound the rock. They have nearly 1,000 total yards on the ground in three games, which is par for the course for Air Force.
The Spartans will have a ton of momentum coming into this game, but Air Force should be too much for them. As long as they don’t get too fancy and try to change things up too much, the Falcons should send the Spartans back to NorCal with a loss.
Prediction: Air Force 22, San Jose State 10
Pac-12: Arizona State at No. 15 California (FRIDAY)
Anyone watching this game will have a late night on Friday, but it will certainly be worth watching. The Cal Golden Bears have looked pretty impressive so far this year and certainly look like a contender in the Pac-12. The Arizona State Sun Devils have also looked much-improved compared to previous seasons.
Both teams have great quarterbacks who have both been on fire so far this year. Arizona State’s Jayden Daniels has thrown for over 1,000 yards in four games and Cal’s Chase Garbers is over 800 in four games. The Golden Bears have an advantage on the ground with Christopher Brown Jr. racking up over 300 yards in four games.
On defense, the Bears have 11 sacks and Evan Weaver has been electric with already recording 62 tackles on the year. Cal should be able to win this game and get to 5-0 for the first time since 2015.
Prediction: California 34, Arizona State 27
SEC: Mississippi State at No. 7 Auburn
It seems every year the Mississippi State Bulldogs are buried under the Alabamas and the Georgias of the SEC and they don’t really get recognition until they pull off a huge upset. This could very well be the week they rise to the top as they travel to the Plains to take on the Auburn Tigers.
The Bulldogs have looked very impressive over than a seven-point loss to undefeated Kansas State two weeks ago. A two-quarterback system with the traditional Tommy Stevens and the speedy Garret Schrader has worked very well so far for them this year while Kylin Hill continues to impress as he boosts his draft stock.
Auburn has also looked equally as impressive this year and Bo Nix has certainly lived up to the hype. The running back committee is scary for the Tigers anytime they take the field and Nix can fire it up whenever he feels like. However, this just feels like the weekend for a big upset in the SEC and it is certainly not coming from the OTHER Mississippi team playing a school in Alabama this week.
Prediction: Mississippi State 28, Auburn 24
Sun Belt: Coastal Carolina at Appalachian State
It took a couple of seasons, but it finally seems that Coastal Carolina is coming into their own in the FBS. The team is 3-1 and got a huge win over a Power Five school, despite it being the lowly Kansas. The Appalachian State Mountaineers also proved why they are the favorite in the Sun Belt after they scored a big win over North Carolina for the first time in almost a century last week.
The Chanticleers have scored 108 points the last two weeks and running back CJ Marable has been unstoppable as of late. For Appalachian State, Darrynton Evans has continued to impress as well with him being a big reason for their win over the Tar Heels last week.
The Mountaineers have recorded nine sacks on the season so far and the Chanticleers have given up five. If Appalachian State can pressure Fred Payton, it could be a long day for Coastal Carolina. Appalachian State gets the win and stays undefeated.
Prediction: Appalachian State 41, Coastal Carolina 24