Connelly's Week 3 preview: 27 games, 54 teams and everything you need to know

Connelly’s Week 3 preview: 27 games, 54 teams and everything you need to know

The games seem closer. The crowds seem louder. The energy is palpable. The ratings are evidently up.

The first two weeks of the 2022 college football season have been an absolute blast. We always grade chaotic periods on the “How does it compare to 2007?” scale, and while it would have felt a lot more 2007ish if Alabama had managed to lose to Texas last week, I’ll give it a 4 out of 5 rating on that scale thus far.

Can college football keep it up, or are we due a more stolid week? Nonconference games in SEC land and out west will tell the tale. Here’s everything you need to follow in Week 3, including in-depth breakdowns on five of the week’s biggest games, plus my favorite bets and 19 more games you should keep an eye on.

Tyler Van Dyke’s big moment and massive anxiety in College Station

No. 13 Miami at No. 24 Texas A&M (9 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN App)

Texas A&M’s loss to Appalachian State was one of the stories of Week 2, and justifiably so. The Mountaineers forced A&M’s Haynes King to beat them, knowing he probably couldn’t, and they seemingly won every big play in the game (while seemingly losing just about every first and second down). It wasn’t an incredibly sustainable recipe, but it did the job.

For a while, it looked like A&M’s opponent this week, Miami, was going to suffer the same fate against a different Sun Belt visitor. Southern Miss led Mario Cristobal’s Hurricanes 7-3 heading into the final minute of the first half. Quarterback Tyler Van Dyke began the game just 7-for-14 for 70 yards and an interception, and second-quarter sacks and a fourth-down interception stalled drives.

Miami assuaged fears by scoring five times in six possessions and ended up cruising 30-7. Van Dyke completed 13 of his last 15 passes, and Henry Parrish Jr. rushed for 102 yards, but the drought created some doubt. Southern Miss’ defense might turn out to be quite improved in 2022, but it’s safe to say that Texas A&M’s defense is better. Much better. “Second in defensive SP+ at the moment” better. App State converted just enough third downs to control the ball against A&M, but after the Mountaineers put up 61 points at 8.0 yards per play against North Carolina, the Aggies held them to just 17 and 3.8, respectively. Van Dyke will have to take on this defense without his most reliable receiver, too: Xavier Restrepo is out for a while with a foot injury. The return of blue-chip sophomore Jacolby George from suspension could turn out to be important.

Saturday night’s big contest, which will be played at an almost certainly semi-frantic Kyle Field, will likely come down to chunk plays and easy points. You can say that about a lot of big games, obviously, but while A&M’s attack has been bereft of consistency thus far, a lack of big plays has held Miami back as well. FBS teams averaged 4.8 gains of 20-plus yards in Week 2; Miami had only four such plays, and A&M had two. And again, both were playing against Group of 5 defenses. Miami’s offense is infinitely more efficient than A&M’s (the Canes rank second in overall success rate to A&M’s 89th), but it’s really hard to drive the length of the field on the Aggies.

From a pure narrative standpoint, this game is enormous. An A&M win would get Jimbo Fisher’s Aggies back on track and unleash the latest round of the ever-popular “See? I told you Miami is always overrated!” narrative. But a Miami win would be even more significant, likely pushing the Hurricanes back into (or near) the AP top 10 while introducing the prospect of a 1-5 start for A&M. (The Aggies’ next three games after Miami: vs. Arkansas at Jerry World, at Mississippi State, at Alabama. Yikes.)

Current line: A&M -5.5 (down from -6.5 on Sunday) | SP+ projection: A&M by 6.2 | FPI projection: Miami by 1.2

Did the light bulb just come on for Nicholas Singleton and Penn State?

No. 22 Penn State at Auburn (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

When I visited Penn State this past spring, I talked to offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich about his new five-star prospects, running back Nicholas Singleton and quarterback Drew Allar. Allar was expected to sit behind sixth-year senior Sean Clifford, but Singleton’s path to early playing time seemed wide open. PSU’s run game stunk last year, and it seemed Singleton could quickly seize the starting job if he was up for the challenge.

Naturally, I asked Yurcich questions that writers tend to ask: How do you manage expectations for a young player? How do you keep pressure off of him and keep his development on an appropriate keel?

He scoffed initially. “That’s interesting,” he said. “You’ll never hear us in a staff meeting, ‘Yeah, let’s talk about how we’re gonna meet a high expectation.’ That doesn’t exist. Let me go into a meeting — ‘Hey, guys, we’ve got this guy, next big thing, five-star guy. We’ve gotta run the ball and meet these expectations that all these journalists have.’ Ridiculous!”

He was having fun with this, but he knew what I was getting at. Guys develop at different speeds, and there was going to be major pressure on Singleton to thrive immediately. “We’ve seen guys develop differently over the years. If they have the right mentality, and there’s gotta be an athletic component within it … but I’d rather just get the five-star guy,” he said after trailing off for a moment. “As high a star as we can get. Out-recruit everybody and be as athletic and big and strong and fast as anybody.”

Singleton is big, strong and fast, and dealing with big expectations for great-looking prospects is a problem Penn State wants to have as frequently as possible.

After a middling debut performance as part of a heavy rotation of backs against Purdue, Singleton gained 11 yards on Penn State’s first rush of the game against Ohio, three on his second and burst down the right sideline for a 70-yard score on his third.

That’s a 219-pounder exploding past FBS-caliber defensive backs.

Late in the third quarter, with PSU up big, he scored again from 44 yards out. He finished the game with 179 yards on 10 carries; PSU’s other backs rushed 10 times for 37 yards.

Allar also looked great in garbage time, which means that the next time Sean Clifford goes through a Clifford-esque rough stretch — which strikes semi-frequently, but from which he always rebounds — the message-board vultures will circle. But Singleton’s moment is now. And now comes a much harder test.

Auburn head coach Bryan Harsin is dealing with his own vultures at the moment — he survived a booster coup attempt last winter with his job intact, but his Tigers struggled far more than expected in a 24-16 win over San Jose State in Week 2 (and his athletic director just left) — but he has still got sturdy line play to lean on. Auburn backs Tank Bigsby, Jarquez Hunter and Damari Alston combined to average 6.3 yards per carry against Mercer and SJSU, and Auburn has allowed just one 10-yard carry in two weeks.

If the Tigers can contain Singleton and put the game back on Clifford’s shoulders, that’s step one toward scoring a slight home upset. Steps two and three would be actually stopping Clifford and a diverse PSU receiving corps — when they struggled to stop Chevan Cordeiro and the SJSU passing attack last week — and then actually making plays with their own struggling QBs. We don’t know if that will come to pass. But if Singleton is running wild, the realistic paths toward an Auburn win vanish awfully quickly.

Current line: PSU -3 (up from -2.5 on Sunday) | SP+ projection: PSU by 1.5 | FPI projection: PSU by 4.0

Does Oregon rebound, or does BYU’s romp continue?

No. 12 BYU at No. 25 Oregon (3:30 p.m. ET, Fox)

Despite suffering quite a bit of turnover from its brilliant 2020 team, BYU enjoyed a lovely 2021 campaign, beating five Pac-12 opponents and going 6-1 overall against power conference teams. (It avenged its lone loss, to Baylor, last weekend.) After going just 27-25 over his first four seasons in charge, head coach Kalani Sitake has established a sturdy and sustainable program and has won 23 of 27 games since the start of 2020. This growth has come just in time to join the Big 12 in 2023, too.

Oregon’s Dan Lanning, meanwhile, is still trying to figure out what he’s got. His Ducks responded well to their Week 1 shellacking against Georgia by manhandling Eastern Washington 70-14. It was a nice performance against a good FCS opponent, but it didn’t ease the biggest concern I have: Where in the world are the big plays?

Auburn transfer Bo Nix has done a remarkable job of staying on script and getting the ball out of his hands quickly; he’s completing 70% of his passes, and combined with excellent work from a trio of Oregon backs (Sean Dollars, Mar’Keise Irving and Byron Cardwell), the Ducks rank fifth nationally in success rate — despite having played Georgia! Even against the Dawgs, they stayed on schedule well, but there were no chunk plays to be found; even while scoring 70 points against EWU, the Ducks enjoyed only four gains of 20-plus yards. That gave them five for the season, more than just four FBS opponents. (One of those four is Iowa, which doesn’t really count.)

BYU has allowed only three such plays, and all three came when it was already up by 30-plus against USF in Week 1. The Cougars are creating disruption with a bend-but-don’t-break approach — they rank 120th in blitzes per dropback but 15th in sack rate — and according to Sports Info Solutions data, they have missed only two tackles all season. Can Oregon dink and dunk its way to another rebound win? And will it matter if the Oregon defense can’t push back against the physical Cougars?

BYU quarterback Jaren Hall has been rock solid, completing 68% of his passes, albeit at only 10.9 yards per completion. Redshirt freshman Chase Roberts enjoyed a breakout game against Baylor (eight catches, 122 yards and a gorgeous touchdown) in the absence of star receivers Puka Nacua and Gunner Romney, and it appears either or both could return this week. Oregon has left two very conflicting impressions, and on Saturday we’ll learn which one was more accurate.

Current line: Oregon -3.5 (no movement) | SP+ projection: Ducks by 1.2 | FPI projection: Ducks by 1.5

The first big test for Kalen DeBoer’s Washington

No. 11 Michigan State at Washington (7:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

Twenty-five years ago, I was a freshman in college, just as likely to be playing EA’s NCAA Football as going to class; Kalen DeBoer was a student assistant at NAIA’s Sioux Falls, having just wrapped up a record-breaking receiver career there; Mel Tucker was a graduate assistant at Michigan State, having only recently turned to coaching after a failed pro career; and Jim Lambright’s Washington Huskies pummeled Nick Saban’s (and Tucker’s) Spartans 51-23 in the Aloha Bowl.

On Saturday, the two teams will play again, for just the fourth time ever. Saban’s done all right for himself elsewhere, Tucker’s in charge in East Lansing, and after winning three national titles as head coach at Sioux Falls and going 12-6 in charge at Fresno State, DeBoer is in his third game as UW’s head coach. (And I’m looking forward to the return of the video game next year. Not everything changes.)

Coming off of last year’s disastrous 4-8 campaign, Washington has beaten Kent State and Portland State by a combined 97-26. The offense, so moribund in 2021, has found life by reuniting DeBoer, a former Indiana offensive coordinator, with former Hoosier quarterback Michael Penix Jr.

Penix is 12th in Total QBR, Virginia transfer Wayne Taulapapa is averaging 6.6 yards per carry and sophomore blue-chipper Jalen McMillan has caught nine passes for 214 yards. Everything has worked according to plan, but now the competition level ratchets up considerably. Washington might rank third in the nation in points scored per drive, but Michigan State ranks fifth on defense against a similar caliber of competition.

This is a massive test for both teams, one the oddsmakers trust Washington to pass. The computers favor the Spartans (especially SP+), but the line has stuck at UW -3.5 for most of the week.

It wouldn’t be a surprise if DeBoer got things turned around quickly. He’s been great at almost every job he’s ever had, and UW was very good as recently as 2019. But I’m still quite surprised by the line. MSU has suffered some injury issues — linebacker Darius Snow is out for the season, safety Xavier Henderson could also be out, and star receiver Jayden Reed is still recovering from a hard fall into the sideline last week. But SP+ rarely disagrees this significantly with the line without quarterback injuries or a run of suspensions involved. Can the Huskies repay the faith?

Current line: UW -3.5 (up from -3 on Sunday) | SP+ projection: MSU by 7.4 | FPI projection: MSU by 1.2

And now, a word about turnovers luck

Fresno State at No. 7 USC (10:30 p.m. ET, Fox)

One thing advanced stats can do is bring clarity to some of the more general thoughts we have watching our team play football. “We blew too many chances!” can be pretty definitively measured by looking at stats like points per scoring opportunity or red zone touchdown rate, for example. “We fell behind schedule too much!” is a perfect use case for the wonders of success rate. And USC’s incredible current run of sticky fingers gives us good reason to have a quick conversation about turnovers luck.

Fumbles: While odds shift a bit based on where a fumble happens and how many of each team’s players are near, your team can generally expect to recover 50% of all fumbles over a longer period of time.

In two games, USC recovered both of its own fumbles and both of its opponents’ fumbles.

Interceptions: While odds can shift based on how much zone or man defense you play (and, therefore, how many defenders you have either facing the QB or close to the ball), you can generally expect to end up with a ratio of about one interception to every four pass breakups.

In two games, USC has intercepted six passes and broken up seven, while opponents have broken up one and intercepted zero.

Compare the average output to what USC has generated thus far, and you see that USC’s expected turnover margin should be about +2.5 — opponents should have committed about 3.7 turnovers on average to USC’s 1.2. That’s good! There’s randomness baked into the turnovers cake, but generating turnover opportunities isn’t totally random. Alex Grinch’s USC defense wants to be aggressive, and this is a good sign that it’s working to a degree.

On the other hand, USC’s actual turnover margin right now is +8, far better than expected.

Based on field position value, turnovers are generally worth around four to five points. The differences in last week’s 41-28 victory over Stanford alone (+1.6 expected turnover margin, +4 actual) were worth about 10 to 12 in a 13-point win.

This is a long way of saying that, while USC’s transfer-heavy offense has been every bit as good as advertised — Caleb Williams is second in Total QBR, Jordan Addison and Mario Williams have 18 catches for 343 yards, and Travis Dye and Austin Jones are averaging 6.8 yards per carry — the Trojans have also been absurdly lucky.

Despite playing two teams that ran the ball horribly in 2021, they rank 119th in rushing success rate allowed and are allowing 6.8 yards per carry (not including sacks). Turnovers and a surprisingly excellent pass rush have bailed them out through two weeks, but when the turnovers luck dries up, USC is going to find itself having to win quite a few 49-45 games without immediate improvement.

Fresno State ranks seventh in rushing success rate, by the way. Jordan Mims and Malik Sherrod are averaging 5.9 yards per carry. This would be a very good time for USC to find some push up front.

Current line: USC -12 (down from -14 on Sunday) | SP+ projection: USC by 7.3 | FPI projection: USC by 18.7

My favorite bets

After going 3-2 in week 2, we’re at 6-3-1 (65%) for the season. Here are this week’s picks.

Ole Miss (-16.5) at Georgia Tech (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC): The Rebels are dealing with some QB uncertainty — Jaxson Dart was uninspiring in a season-opening win over Troy, and Luke Altmyer looked good but got banged up last week against Central Arkansas. Despite this, the Rebels beat Troy by 18 and UCA by 56. They’ve allowed 13 total points, and I’m not sure Georgia Tech’s offense is that much better than either Troy’s or UCA’s. SP+ projects a 43-15 win, and even if Rebel QB play makes that more like 34-15, that’s still a cover.

Michigan State (+3.5) at Washington (7:30 p.m. ET, ABC): As I said above, Washington could turn out to be excellent this year; I just need to see a bit more before I believe the Huskies are better than Michigan State.

New Mexico State at Wisconsin: under 46 points (3:30 p.m. ET, BTN): Simply based on national averages and projected regression to the mean, SP+ tends to project most games with really low listed point totals to go over and most games with really high totals to go under. The exceptions can be profitable. In games that are (a) listed at 48 total points or fewer and (b) projected under by SP+, SP+ is 4-1 so far this year. With the tweaks I recently made to SP+, it would have been at 57.5% last year on those games, too. It’s not projecting this one FAR under 46 points (44.8), but that’s a pretty good trend.

Western Kentucky (+6.5) at Indiana (noon ET, BTN): Indiana has left mixed impressions this year. Scoring 23 points on Illinois: more impressive than it sounds. Trailing Idaho 10-0 at halftime before winning by 13: not great. WKU, meanwhile, has performed about as SP+ projected in wins over Austin Peay and Hawai’i, and SP+ projects a 3.4-point advantage over the Hilltoppers. Good enough for me.

Notre Dame (-10.5) vs. California (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC): I feel like I’ve had a decent read on Notre Dame this year. It covering against Ohio State was one of my best bets, and I felt like Marshall could severely test its offense last week (even though I by no means had the Thundering Herd winning). So I’m following both my gut and SP+ projections this week — SP+ says the Irish have a nearly 20-point advantage, and I think Cal’s offense is much worse than Marshall’s. So go Irish.

Week 3 playlist

In addition to everything above, here are some more games you should pay attention to if you want to get the absolute most out of the weekend, from both information and entertainment perspectives.

Friday night

Florida State at Louisville (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). Louisville’s season-opening two-game road trip featured a valley (loss to Syracuse by 24) and a peak (six-point rebound win over UCF). Now comes the home opener against an FSU team that hasn’t finished in the SP+ top 50 since 2017 but currently ranks 35th. Betting trends very much favor the Noles.
Current line: FSU -2.5 (a big movement from UL -1 on Sunday) | SP+ projection: FSU by 3.3 | FPI projection: FSU by 1.7

Air Force at Wyoming (8 p.m. ET, CBSSN). Air Force nearly tripled Colorado from a yardage perspective (443-162) in a 41-10 in-state romp last Saturday. The Falcons have won 12 of their past 15 and might not be an underdog for the rest of the regular season. Can they bring their A-game on a Friday night in Laramie, though?
Current line: Air Force -16 (no movement) | SP+ projection: Air Force by 18.8 | FPI projection: Air Force by 14.3

Early Saturday

No. 6 Oklahoma at Nebraska (noon ET, Fox). Nebraska had to pony up an extra $7.5 million to fire Scott Frost immediately instead of waiting until Oct. 1. If the Huskers play a solid, free-wheeling, game against Oklahoma, I’m guessing it’ll be deemed worth it. But after allowing 500-plus yards to Northwestern and 600-plus to Georgia Southern, it’s hard to imagine Nebraska making enough stops to pull off an upset, isn’t it?
Current line: OU -11 (way down from OU -17 on Sunday) | SP+ projection: OU by 13.9 | FPI projection: OU by 9.5.

No. 1 Georgia at South Carolina (noon ET, ESPN). South Carolina seemed to find a desperately needed offensive rhythm in the second half of last week’s loss against Arkansas. That’s pretty faint praise, but on the bright side, if it scores even six points, it’ll have more than doubled what UGA’s first two opponents produced. Current line: UGA -24.5 (down from -27 on Sunday) | SP+ projection: UGA by 24.7 | FPI projection: UGA by 19.9.

Purdue at Syracuse (noon ET, ESPN2). With home games against Virginia and Wagner on deck, 2-0 Syracuse could have an intriguing path to 5-0 if the Orange pull off a slight upset here. Purdue’s offense remains anti-Big Ten, passing nonstop, but Aidan O’Connell has been solid, and Iowa transfer Charlie Jones has more receiving yards (286) than the entire receiving corps he left behind in Iowa City (201).
Current line: Syracuse -1 (flipped from Purdue -1 on Sunday) | SP+ projection: Purdue by 5.2 | FPI projection: ‘Cuse by 2.8

Saturday afternoon

California at Notre Dame (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC). As bad as Notre Dame has looked offensively, the computers still think the Fighting Irish are far superior to a 2-0 Cal team that has looked far from spectacular. With quarterback Drew Pyne taking over for the injured Tyler Buchner, there could be even more offensive woes on the way, but that’s not guaranteed … and it might not take too many points to win this one comfortably anyway.
Current line: ND -11 (down from -12.5 on Sunday) | SP+ projection: Irish by 19.9 | FPI projection: Irish by 19.8

Kansas at Houston (4 p.m. ET, ESPNU). This game is so much more intriguing than it probably seemed at the start of the season. Houston has disappointed slightly, playing overtime games against both UTSA (win) and Texas Tech (loss). Kansas, meanwhile, can’t defend just yet but has found its quarterback (Jalon Daniels) and its offense. The numbers still favor the Coogs, but Kansas is legitimately dangerous for the first time in years.
Current line: UH -9 (up from -9 on Sunday) | SP+ projection: UH by 15.8 | FPI projection: UH by 11.1.

Saturday evening

It’s hard to tell you which game will be the most exciting on Saturday evening, but there are tons to choose from. This is the perfect evening to have one of those four- or six-screen setups.

Texas Tech at No. 16 NC State (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2). Man, oh, man, what a perfect test for NC State. The Wolfpack nearly fell to East Carolina in Week 1, and Texas Tech is basically a more extreme and more talented ECU. Both quarterback Donovan Smith and the Red Raiders’ all-or-nothing defense did countless great and terrible things in Tech’s overtime win over Houston last week. Quarterback Devin Leary and a stellar State defense will need to dodge some haymakers.
Current line: NC State -10 (up from -8 on Sunday) | SP+ projection: NC State by 8.7 | FPI projection: NC State by 6.3

Mississippi State at LSU (6 p.m. ET, ESPN). This one’s dead even on paper, but we’ll find out if LSU is more ready for a nip-and-tuck battle than it was two weeks ago against Florida State. Mike Leach and MSU have a defense that is every bit as antisocial and hard to prepare for as the famous air raid offense; LSU still has LSU talent. Which ends up mattering more?
Current line: MSU -2.5 (up from -1 on Sunday) | SP+ projection: LSU by 0.6 | FPI projection: LSU by 2.3

SMU at Maryland (7:30 p.m. ET, FS1). From a pure aesthetics standpoint, this is my favorite game of the week. Rhett Lashlee’s SMU outscored North Texas and Lamar by a combined 93-26, producing both high-level efficiency and nonstop big plays (and, as you would expect from Lashlee, lots of tempo). Maryland hasn’t been quite as sharp defensively but has put up similar offensive numbers. You could do a lot worse than spending your evening watching quarterbacks Taulia Tagovailoa (UM) and Tanner Mordecai (SMU) trading blows.
Current line: Maryland -2.5 (up from -2 on Sunday) | SP+ projection: SMU by 1.3 | FPI projection: Maryland by 6.2

UTSA at No. 21 Texas (8 p.m. ET, LHN). Apparently UTSA, like Houston, has decided to play only nail-biters this year. It wouldn’t be a shock if the Roadrunners threw a scare into a Texas team hung over from last week’s thriller against Alabama, but if UT quarterback Hudson Card is healthy enough to run around a bit, I don’t think a miserable UTSA defense can make enough stops to keep it close.
Current line: Texas -12.5 (down from -13 on Sunday) | SP+ projection: Horns by 15.1 | FPI projection: Horns by 21.3

No. 23 Pitt at Western Michigan (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU). Last year, WMU earned honorary ACC champion status by taking down the eventual champion Panthers 44-41. Now Pitt has to go to Kalamazoo, and it’s possible that quarterback Kedon Slovis might miss the game because of injury. Can backup Nick Patti do enough for Pat Narduzzi’s squad to avoid an upset?
Current line: Pitt -10 (no movement) | SP+ projection: Pitt by 18.9 | FPI projection: Pitt by 13.6

Toledo at No. 3 Ohio State (7 p.m. ET, Fox). Ohio State’s going to win this one, but you should keep up with it for two major reasons. First, OSU star receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba is expected to return to action after getting hurt early against Notre Dame in Week 1. We get only so many more college games with him, and you should watch him while you can. Second, Toledo’s defense was excellent last year (35th in defensive SP+) and gave up only 10 points in two cupcake games. The Rockets have a genuinely nasty pass defense that could trouble C.J. Stroud and the Buckeyes for a bit.
Current line: OSU -32 (up from -31.5 on Sunday) | SP+ projection: Buckeyes by 26.9 | FPI projection: Buckeyes by 30.9

Missouri State at No. 10 Arkansas (7 p.m. ET, ESPN+). Arkansas is obviously a big favorite over Bobby Petrino’s Bears, but MSU’s offense is sharp and could do a little damage, and … PETRINO BOWL.
SP+ projection: Hogs by 29.1 | FPI projection: Hogs by 41.1

Jacksonville State at Tulsa (7 p.m. ET, ESPN+). Petrino’s not the only former marquee coach thriving at the FCS level. Rich Rodriguez took over a JSU team that had fallen off pace last season, going 5-6 and forcing John Grass’ resignation. He has instantly made the Gamecocks awesome again. They’ve outscored three FCS opponents by a combined 111-37, and they’ve rocketed up to fifth in SP+. Do they have a shot at an FBS upset?
SP+ projection: Tulsa by 0.4 | FPI projection: Tulsa by 16.2

Late Saturday

North Dakota State at Arizona (11 p.m. ET, FS1). For the first time in six years, NDSU, the preeminent FCS program — and a better producer of NFL quarterback talent than most programs at any level — takes on an FBS team. Arizona has left confusing impressions thus far, walloping San Diego State but fading against a high-quality Mississippi State; NDSU is probably closer to MSU than SDSU in quality, and the Bison are as physical as ever. An Arizona win would probably be an upset. SP+ projection: NDSU by 5.2 | FPI projection: Arizona by 2.5.

Smaller-school showcase

As always, let’s save a shout-out for football at levels below FBS. Here are three huge games you should crack open the laptop for this weekend. (I hope you were watching one of last week’s big games — Wisconsin-Whitewater knocked off defending Division III national champion Mary Hardin-Baylor with a 99-yard touchdown drive in the final minutes and scored the game-winning TD with 19 seconds left.)

Including JSU-Tulsa, MSU-Arkansas and NDSU-Arizona above, Week 3 has a distinct FCS flavor to it.

FCS: Grambling at No. 11 Jackson State (2 p.m. ET, ESPN3). Hue Jackson’s G-Men began their FCS season by pummeling Northwestern State, but does that make them ready for a Jackson State team that is still inconsistent on offense but has allowed six points in two games?

FCS: Yale at No. 12 Holy Cross (2 p.m. ET, ESPN+). The Ivy League season begins this weekend, and a game between a potentially dynamite Yale offense and a stout Holy Cross defense is quite the headliner, especially after Holy Cross’ Hail Mary win over Buffalo last weekend.

FCS: No. 10 Delaware at No. 14 Rhode Island (2 p.m. ET, FloFootball). Delaware has enjoyed a delightful start to 2022, knocking off Navy, blowing out in-state rival Delaware State and allowing a total of 16 points in the process. But URI has scored 35 in each of its first two games behind the big arm of former Maryland and Tennessee QB Kasim Hill. This is a huge early game in the Colonial Athletic Association.

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