EL PASO, Texas – Three full weeks of the 2018 college football season are in the books and we are starting to get a clearer picture of which teams are real contenders for playoff spots and bowl games. For most teams, conference play begins this week, although there have been a few teams to take on conference opponents already, such as Stanford and USC, who faced each other in week two.
There weren’t many surprising results this past week in the Pac-12. Teams like Washington, Stanford, Oregon, and Washington State all came away with victories and kept their momentum going in the right direction. The biggest surprise came with USC’s loss to Texas 37-14, though many people are high on Texas. Arizona State lost its first game under coach Herm Edwards, 28-21 to San Diego State. UCLA continued its early season struggles, losing 38-14 to Fresno State dropping the Bruins to 0-3.
Here’s some games to keep an eye on this week:
Washington State at USC
One of the more intriguing games this week, sees Washington State traveling to Los Angeles to take on USC, Friday night. The Cougars bring a 3-0 record in to face off against a Trojan team that has struggled early and holds a 1-2 record. USC was held to minus-5-yards against Texas last week and may find it challenging to run the ball against a Cougar team that is allowing 96.3 rushing yards per game.
Arizona State at No. 10 Washington
Arizona State suffered its first loss of the season and will be challenged to find a way to rebound against No. 10 Washington on the road. The Huskies are coming off a victory over Pac-12 opponent Utah, 21-7, a game in which Washington allowed just 261 offensive yards to the Utes. Arizona State will have a big test to attempt to get its third will of the season this week.
No. 7 Stanford at No. 20 Oregon
ESPN’s College Gameday will be live from Eugene, Oregon, to preview No. 7 Stanford against No. 20 Oregon on Saturday. The Cardinal will be on the road for the first time this season and it will be worth keeping an eye on how they react in front of the crowd of over 54,000 people packed into Autzen Stadium. The Ducks are averaging 503 yards, and 51.7 points per game, while the Cardinal are allowing 7.7 points and just 301 yards per game.
Other Pac-12 Games (Saturday):
Arizona (1-2) @ Oregon State (1-2)
Like the Pac-12, there weren’t many surprises in the previous week for ACC teams. Clemson continued winning and Miami is heading in the right direction after a loss in the opener against LSU. Florida State looks shaky after two early season losses while Duke continues to look impressive and it may enter conference play with a 4-0 record if it handles business this week.
Many of the ACC teams have been playing out-of-conference games the past few weeks, so it’s exciting now that many of them will begin playing their tough conference schedules in the next few weeks.
Here’s a few games to watch this weekend:
No. 23 Boston College at Purdue
Yes, Purdue is 0-3, but they’ve lost those games by a combined eight points. Don’t let the Boilermakers record fool you into thinking this team is done. The Boilermakers are close to picking up their first win of the season, and they’d love to do it against a ranked opponent this week. Boston College heads into the weekend 3-0, including wins over Massachusetts and Holy Cross. You beat who are scheduled, and the Eagles have done that, but this may prove to be their biggest test of the early season, and it won’t help that it’s on the road.
NIU at Florida State
The Seminoles are sitting at 1-2 overall on the season under first-year coach Willie Taggart. The Seminoles will try to get back to .500 on the year this Saturday against Northern Illinois (1-2) as they are favored by 9.5 points. NIU averages 12.3 points per game, while FSU averages 15.3, so it might not be a high-scoring affair this weekend.
Louisville at Virginia
A team that is popular among Sun Bowl participant predictions is Louisville. The Cardinals stand at 2-1 and travel to take on conference opponent Virginia (2-1). Last season the Cardinals handled the Cavaliers, 38-21, but that was with quarterback and former Heisman winner Lamar Jackson. This year, Malik Cunningham, who replaced Jawon Pass in the second quarter of the Western Kentucky game, will get the start on Saturday.
No. 8 Notre Dame at Wake Forest
Wake Forest enters this week at 2-1, after losing to Boston College 41-34 last week. The Demon Deacons will host No. 8 Notre Dame, in what is the Fighting Irish’s first road game of the season. Notre Dame looks to remain undefeated after an impressive showing against Michigan in week one, and an eight-point win over Ball State, 24-16, which was followed by a five-point victory over Vanderbilt, 22-17.
Florida International (2-1) @ No. 21 Miami (2-1)
Pittsburgh (2-1, 1-0 ACC) @ North Carolina (0-2)
No. 3 Clemson (3-0) @ Georgia Tech (1-2, 0-1 ACC)
No. 13 Virginia Tech (2-0) @ Old Dominion (0-3)
North Carolina Central (1-1) @ Duke (3-0)
NC State (2-0) @ Marshall (2-0)
UConn (1-2) @ Syracuse (3-0)
Visit www.sunbowl.org for a chance to win tickets to the 2018 Hyundai Sun Bowl. A team from the ACC/Notre Dame will take on a team from the Pac-12 on Dec. 31, 2018 at noon in El Paso, Texas.
By Michael Lujan on behalf of the Hyundai Sun Bowl Sept. 19, 2018
Sun Bowl Association
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