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Weekly college football viewing guide: Week 3

What games should you be watching this weekend?



Michigan State football
© Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

While Week 2’s college football slate may have been more intriguing, there are still plenty of games to look forward to in Week 3.

There’s a nasty narrative going around that this weekend’s slate of college football games is awful. Nonsense. Any college football Saturday is beautiful. We only get about 15 of these days every year. Cherish them – regardless of who’s playing.

Keep in mind, this is college football. Crazy things happen when you least expect them.

Here’s where your attention should be this weekend.

Friday, Sept. 15

  • Virginia at Maryland – 7 p.m. ET on FS1

Before the season, there was some noise around this Maryland team. Many people thought this could be the year when it finally took down one of the three giants in the Big Ten East. They played a very sleepy half at home last week against Charlotte. Virginia is terrible. Maryland is at home again as a two-touchdown favorite. If they struggle with the Cavaliers, it might be time to sound the alarm in College Park.

Saturday, Sept. 16

Noon window

  • Penn State at Illinois – 12 p.m. ET on FOX
  • LSU at Mississippi State – 12 p.m. ET on ESPN
  • Kansas State at Missouri – 12 p.m. ET on SEC Network
  • Louisville at Indiana – 12 p.m. ET on Big Ten Network

If things are going to get weird on Saturday, it’s going to start at noon. Three of these four games feature ranked teams favored on the road against other Power Five teams.

Illinois has looked terrible and is lucky to be 1-1. Penn State has been as good as advertised. James Franklin a heavy favorite on the road against Bret Bielema? What could possibly go wrong here? In Starkville, Mississippi State gets a shot at an LSU team that we all think is good. So far, they’ve done very little to live up to those preseason expectations. Now they’re supposedly 10 points better than a conference opponent on the road? It’s a shame this game between Kansas State and Missouri is on the SEC Network. Most people won’t get to see it. Kansas State might be the biggest threat to Texas in the Big 12. Missouri brings a strong defense and they’re at home. This game should be close.

A rare neutral site game in Indianapolis will be taking place between Louisville and Indiana. It’s been assumed that Indiana is an automatic win for everyone else in the Big Ten. Thus far, they’ve looked better than expected. This is another test. If they can hang around with Louisville, it might be time to reassess the Hoosiers.

Afternoon window

  • South Carolina at Georgia – 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS
  • Minnesota at North Carolina – 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
  • Washington at Michigan State – 5 p.m. ET on Peacock

We’ll finally get a look at the defending national champions against a team with a pulse. South Carolina might not be able to put up much resistance, but it’s worth checking in on Georgia to get an idea of what they look like against a conference opponent. A huge contrast in play style will be happening in Chapel Hill between Minnesota and North Carolina. The Gophers want to play at a snail’s pace and shorten the game. North Carolina wants to score as much as possible. Minnesota defensive coordinator Joe Rossi is one of the best in the Big Ten. What kind of plan will he have for star quarterback Drake Maye?

The afternoon wraps up with the biggest game of the day. Washington travels east as a heavy favorite to take on Michigan State. The Spartans will be ecstatic to kick this one off and temporarily get away from the distractions surrounding their program. Because of the week they’ve had, Michigan State is must-see television this weekend. Can Mark Dantonio and Harlon Barnett muster up some magic out of nowhere? For Washington, this is another opportunity to show the country that they are legitimate college football playoff contenders.

Evening window

  • Tennessee at Florida – 7 p.m. ET on ESPN
  • Syracuse at Purdue – 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC
  • Pittsburgh at West Virginia – 7:30 p.m. ET on ABC
  • Georgia Tech at Ole Miss – 7:30 p.m. ET on SEC Network

One of the SEC’s best rivalries installs a new chapter in Gainesville on Saturday night when Tennessee visits Florida. These are two teams seemingly moving in opposite directions. Tennessee blew the doors off Florida in this game last year. At home, the Gators will be a desperate team with revenge on their minds. In these last two games, there aren’t a lot of big-picture narratives at stake. But both games were really fun and close last year. I expect the same this season.

The Backyard Brawl is one of the best rivalries that was lost due to conference realignment. It’s just great to see these teams play again. I’m not sure if Purdue or Syracuse are any good. At the very least, they should give us an entertaining game that has the potential to get downright silly – just like it did a year ago.

Is Ole Miss the best team in the SEC East? It’s certainly possible. This is a tricky potential letdown spot after a nice win on the road last week against Tulane. Georgia Tech has improved from where they were a year ago.

Late night

  • Colorado State at Colorado – 10 p.m. ET on ESPN

Even as a big favorite at home, Colorado makes the list because they are the biggest story in the sport. Colorado State head coach Jay Norvell poked the bear earlier this week with some of his comments directed towards Deion Sanders. That could prompt a response from the Buffaloes. Colorado should win comfortably against their in-state rival. Travis Hunter and Shedeur Sanders remain two of the most dynamic players in the sport. Even if this game is only entertaining for a half, it’s appointment television until somebody slows these two down.