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College football week 3: Picks and preview

Week 3 doesn't offer marquee matchups with The Associated Press Top 25, but there could be intrigue. Here are previews and predictions for teams within the Top 25. All times Eastern. 

 
1 of 25

No. 20 Washington State (2-0) vs. Houston (1-1), (at NRG Stadium, Houston) 9:15 p.m., Friday, ESPN

No. 20 Washington State (2-0) vs. Houston (1-1), (at NRG Stadium, Houston) 9:15 p.m., Friday, ESPN
James Snook/USA TODAY Sports

Led by new quarterback Anthony Gordon (884 passing yards, nine touchdowns, one interception), Washington State has scored 117 points against weak competition. The Cougars should be tested this week against the University of Houston in the NFL Texans home stadium. Washington State must contain talented Houston quarterback D'Eriq King.

Prediction: Washington State 45, Houston 31

 
2 of 25

Arkansas State (1-1) at No. 3 Georgia (2-0), Noon, Saturday, ESPN2

Arkansas State (1-1) at No. 3 Georgia (2-0), Noon, Saturday, ESPN2
Dale Zanine/USA TODAY Sports

It's been business as usual for the Bulldogs during the first two games of the season. That should not change this weekend, as Georgia looks to improve to 58-1 against unranked, non-conference home opponents since September 1996. Coach Blake Anderson, whose wife died from cancer last month, guides Arkansas State.

Prediction: Georgia 42, Arkansas State 10

 
3 of 25

No. 6 Ohio State (2-0) at Indiana (2-0), Noon, Saturday, FOX

No. 6 Ohio State (2-0) at Indiana (2-0), Noon, Saturday, FOX
Joe Maiorana/USA TODAY Sports

Buckeyes quarterback Justin Fields (76 percent completion rate, six touchdowns, no interceptions) is a serious Heisman Trophy contender. The Ohio State defense, meanwhile, blanked Cincinnati in Week 2. Indiana, which last beat Ohio State in 1988, has dropped 13 in a row against Top 25 opponents.

Prediction: Ohio State 40, Indiana 20

 
4 of 25

Pittsburgh (1-1) at No. 13 Penn State (2-0), Noon, Saturday, ABC

Pittsburgh (1-1) at No. 13 Penn State (2-0), Noon, Saturday, ABC
Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports

The 100th installment of this storied rivalry will also be the last for the foreseeable future. Looking for a third straight victory in the series, Penn State is off to a strong start after outscoring Idaho and Buffalo 124-20. The Nittany Lions dropped 51 on the Panthers last season and could be in that neighborhood again.

Prediction: Penn State 50, Pittsburgh 16

 
5 of 25

No. 21 Maryland (2-0) at Temple (1-0), Noon, Saturday, CBS Sports Network

No. 21 Maryland (2-0) at Temple (1-0), Noon, Saturday, CBS Sports Network
Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps the biggest story on the young season is Maryland. Under new coach Mike Locksley, the Terrapins have scored 142 points and ripped then-No. 21 Syracuse 63-20 last weekend. This will be the first road game for the Terps, who lost to Temple at home last season. The Owls will have had two weeks to prepare for this matchup.

Prediction: Maryland 27, Temple 21

 
6 of 25

New Mexico (1-0) at No. 7 Notre Dame (1-0), 2:30 p.m., Saturday, NBC

New Mexico (1-0) at No. 7 Notre Dame (1-0), 2:30 p.m., Saturday, NBC
Matt Cashore/USA TODAY Sports

Health issues will keep Lobos coach Bob Davie from the sideline to face the program he once guided. It likely won't make a difference against an Irish squad that needed some time to put away Louisville. Expect Notre Dame, which rushed for 230 yards against the Cardinals, to keep the ball on the ground. 

Prediction: Notre Dame 38, New Mexico 10 

 
7 of 25

No. 24 USC (2-0) at BYU (1-1) 3:30 p.m., Saturday, ABC

No. 24 USC (2-0) at BYU (1-1) 3:30 p.m., Saturday, ABC
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

It's doubtful Lynn Swann's resignation as athletic director will have any bearing on the mental state of the Trojans. USC is back in the Top 25 following a 45-20 win over then-No. 23 Stanford. Freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis is 34 of 41 for 434 yards since replacing the injured JT Daniels. It's the first time in 15 years that USC and BYU will meet. The Cougars won at reeling Tennessee last week, but this would be a much bigger upset.

Prediction: USC 24, BYU 13  

 
8 of 25

No. 2 Alabama (2-0) at South Carolina (1-1), 3:30 p.m., Saturday, CBS

No. 2 Alabama (2-0) at South Carolina (1-1), 3:30 p.m., Saturday, CBS
John David Mercer/USA TODAY Sports

Alabama might need to rely on its stars, at least early on, in this one. The then-No. 1 Crimson Tide lost 35-21 the last time they faced South Carolina, in 2010 in Columbia. The Gamecocks have lost 10 straight against Top 25 teams.

Prediction: Alabama 38, South Carolina 16    

 
9 of 25

Stanford (1-1) at No. 17 UCF (2-0), 3:30 p.m., Saturday, ESPN

Stanford (1-1) at No. 17 UCF (2-0), 3:30 p.m., Saturday, ESPN
Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports

This should be about the quarterbacks. UCF'S Darriel Mack Jr. has been cleared to play, but it's uncertain how much time, if any, he'll see. Stanford, meanwhile, should have K.J. Costello available. This was one game college football fans should have circled during the preseason, But it could be another relatively comfortable win for the Knights considering how rough the Cardinal offense has looked.

Prediction: UCF 23, Stanford 13
 

 
10 of 25

No. 19 Iowa (2-0) at Iowa State (1-0), 4 p.m., Saturday, FS1

No. 19 Iowa (2-0) at Iowa State (1-0), 4 p.m., Saturday, FS1
Reese Strickland/USA TODAY Sports

Iowa has won the last four meetings with rival Iowa State. The Cyclones, ranked to begin the season, will have had two weeks to prepare for this game. Iowa State survived a triple-overtime scare against Northern Iowa in its opener. Home field might not be enough for Iowa State to end its series slide.

Prediction: Iowa 27, Iowa State 17

 
11 of 25

Arizona State (2-0) at No. 18 Michigan State (2-0) 4 p.m., Saturday, FOX

Arizona State (2-0) at No. 18 Michigan State (2-0) 4 p.m., Saturday, FOX
Mike Carter/USA TODAY Sports

After Maryland, Michigan State might be the biggest surprise in the Big Ten. Putting up 51 points against a decent Western Michigan team out of the Mid-American Conference was encouraging. But Sparty is all about defense. Michigan State's defense has held opponents to minus-6 yards rushing through two games. That does not bode well for ASU star running back Eno Benjamin (171 yards, zero rushing touchdowns), who is off to a relatively slow start behind a suspect offensive line.

Prediction: Michigan State 30, Arizona State 10

 
12 of 25

Idaho State (1-0) at No. 11 Utah (2-0) 4:15 p.m., Saturday, Pac-12 Network

Idaho State (1-0) at No. 11 Utah (2-0) 4:15 p.m., Saturday, Pac-12 Network
Jeff Swinger/USA TODAY Sports

Utah, the Pac-12's best team, boasts major talent offensively, and its defense has scored two touchdowns and allowed only 159 rushing yards. The Utes should be even stingier against this FCS opponent.

Prediction: Utah 35, Idaho State 9

 
13 of 25

Kent State (1-1) at No. 8 Auburn (2-0), 7 p.m., Saturday, ESPN2

Kent State (1-1) at No. 8 Auburn (2-0), 7 p.m., Saturday, ESPN2
Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports

Somewhat hard to believe, but Auburn aims to open 3-0 for the first time since 2014. Kent State needed overtime to beat FCS Kennesaw State last weekend, so the Tigers should win easily. Auburn running back JaTarvious Whitlow is off to a decent start with 206 rushing yards.

Prediction: Auburn 30, Kent State 10 

 
14 of 25

No. 9 Florida (2-0) at Kentucky (2-0), 7 p.m., Saturday, ESPN

No. 9 Florida (2-0) at Kentucky (2-0), 7 p.m., Saturday, ESPN
Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky snapped a 31-game losing streak in the series with its 27-16 win at Gainesville last season. The Wildcats are not as complete a team as they were last season but still present a serious road test for the Gators. Florida has already recorded 15 sacks.

Prediction: Florida 24, Kentucky 16

 
15 of 25

Lamar (2-0) at No. 16 Texas A&M (1-1) 7 p.m., Saturday, ESPNU

Lamar (2-0) at No. 16 Texas A&M (1-1) 7 p.m., Saturday, ESPNU
Joshua S. Kelly/USA TODAY

Texas A&M showed it's not in the same class as Clemson with last weekend's 24-10 loss, which was not as close as the score indicated. It also didn't help that leading rusher Jashaun Corbin suffered a season-ending hamstring injury. But the Aggies should cruise against an FCS opponent.
 

Prediction: Texas A&M 31, Lamar 12

 
16 of 25

Northwestern State (0-2) at No. 4 LSU (2-0) 7:30 p.m., Saturday, SEC Network

Northwestern State (0-2) at No. 4 LSU (2-0) 7:30 p.m., Saturday, SEC Network
Ronald Cortes/USA TODAY Sports

The Tigers looked impressive, certainly from an offensive standpoint, against Texas. Things should not be nearly as close in this contest. LSU fans will likely get the chance to see their talented team's depth. LSU has won 51 of its last 52 against unranked, non-conference opponents at home.

Prediction: LSU 55, Northwestern State 7 

 
17 of 25

No. 1 Clemson (2-0) at Syracuse (1-1), 7:30 p.m., Saturday, ABC

No. 1 Clemson (2-0) at Syracuse (1-1), 7:30 p.m., Saturday, ABC
Joshua S. Kelly/USA TODAY Sports

Clemson's last regular-season defeat came at Syracuse in October 2017. The Orange hope they can do it again, if they aren't still shell-shocked from last weekend's 63-20 loss at Maryland. Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence has thrown more interceptions (3) than touchdowns (2). Clemson's defense (24 points allowed) might be the best in the country.

Prediction: Clemson 35, Syracuse 14

 
18 of 25

Florida State (1-1) at No. 25 Virginia (2-0) 7:30 p.m., Saturday, ACC Network

Florida State (1-1) at No. 25 Virginia (2-0) 7:30 p.m., Saturday, ACC Network
Amber Searls/USA TODAY Sports

Virginia entered the Top 25 after convincing wins over Pitt and William & Mary. Bryce Perkins is a solid dual-threat quarterback who could have his way with a Florida State defense that allowed 80 points to Boise State and Louisiana-Monroe. These teams last met in 2014; Virginia's most recent home win in the series came in 2005.

Prediction: Virginia 32, Florida State 20 

 
19 of 25

Hawaii (2-0) at No. 23 Washington (1-1) 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Pac-12 Network

Hawaii (2-0) at No. 23 Washington (1-1) 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Pac-12 Network
Jennifer Buchanan/USA TODAY Sports

Is it too early to sound the alarm bells after Washington fell again to California? The Huskies' offense has been inconsistent -- it  has scored fewer than 20 points five times since the start of the 2017 season. Hawaii beat  Arizona and Oregon State, but it allowed 66 points in those victories. That offers the Huskies a good chance to bounce back.

Prediction: Washington 30, Hawaii 17 

 
20 of 25

No. 12 Texas (1-1) vs. Rice (0-2), (at NRG Stadium, Houston), 8 p.m., Saturday, CBSSN

No. 12 Texas (1-1) vs. Rice (0-2), (at NRG Stadium, Houston), 8 p.m., Saturday, CBSSN
Scott Wachter/USA TODAY Sports

Texas should have a relatively easy time bouncing back from last week's loss to LSU. The Longhorns showed plenty of resiliency against the Tigers but also demonstrated they still might not be ready for prime time. Texas and Rice last hooked up in 2015, when the Longhorns won their 13th straight in the series, 42-28.

Prediction: Texas 50, Rice 14

 
21 of 25

No. 5 Oklahoma (2-0) at UCLA (0-2), 8 p.m., Saturday, FOX

No. 5 Oklahoma (2-0) at UCLA (0-2), 8 p.m., Saturday, FOX
Mark D. Smith/USA TODAY Sports

We know the Sooners can score, and their defense seems vastly improved. The Bruins scored 14 points in each of their first two games, totaling 479 yards overall. Oklahoma Jalen Hurts, who has completed nearly 83 percent of his passes, should pad his stats.

Prediction: Oklahoma 35, UCLA 20

 
22 of 25

Portland State (1-1) at No. 22 Boise State (2-0) 10:15 p.m., Saturday, ESPN2

Portland State (1-1) at No. 22 Boise State (2-0) 10:15 p.m., Saturday, ESPN2
Brian Losness/USA TODAY Sports

While freshman quarterback Hank Bachmeier is a work in progress (689 passing yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions, sacked seven times), the Boise State defense does not seem to be. That unit has not allowed any second-half points through the first two games. Portland State hung tough at Arkansas last month but might not in this one.

Prediction: Boise State 31, Portland State 7  

 
23 of 25

Montana (2-0) at No. 15 Oregon (1-1) 10:45 p.m., Saturday, Pac-12 Network

Montana (2-0) at No. 15 Oregon (1-1) 10:45 p.m., Saturday, Pac-12 Network
Jaime Valdez/USA TODAY Sports

Montana is one of the better FCS teams in the country but not good enough to beat Oregon. While the Ducks might not run roughshod over the Grizzlies like they did in last week's 77-6 win over Nevada, they should not have too much trouble. It seems quarterback Justin Herbert and Co. are back on track after the loss to Auburn two weeks ago.

Prediction: Oregon 44, Montana 14

 
24 of 25

Kansas State (2-0) at Mississippi State (2-0), Noon, Saturday, ESPN

Kansas State (2-0) at Mississippi State (2-0), Noon, Saturday, ESPN
Scott Sewell/USA TODAY Sports

Under former North Dakota State coach Chris Klieman, Kansas State is looking for its first 3-0 start since 2015. The Wildcats routed Bowling Green, 52-0, last weekend but now face a tougher test.  Mississippi State could be without injured quarterback Tommy Stevens (shoulder). Running back Kylin Hill (320 rushing yards) ran for 211 yards and two TDs on 17 carries in last season's 31-10 win at KSU.

Prediction: Mississippi State 20, Kansas State 14

 
25 of 25

Texas Tech (2-0) at Arizona (1-1), 10:30 p.m., Saturday, ESPN

Texas Tech (2-0) at Arizona (1-1), 10:30 p.m., Saturday, ESPN
Michael C. Johnson/USA TODAY Sports

Expect plenty of scoring. The Red Raiders and Wildcats have combined for 186 points through two weeks. Texas Tech has not been tested but should be here.  Arizona has allowed 86 points and just over 800 yards passing through two games.

Prediction: Texas Tech 41, Arizona 21

Jeff Mezydlo has written about sports and entertainment online and for print for more than 25 years. He grew up in the far south suburbs of Chicago, 20 minutes from the Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting, Ind. He’s also the proud father of 11-year-old Matthew, aka “Bobby Bruin,” mascot of St. Robert Bellarmine School in Chicago. You can follow Jeff at @jeffm401.


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