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Week Three College Football Preview

Tallysight helps the CRFF staff preview the college football weekend.

NCAA Football: Nebraska at Oklahoma Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Two weeks of the 2021 college football season are in the books and week three has arrived. There is a full slate of Big 12 games to preview, and we will also run through some of the top games from around the country. Let’s get to it!

Oklahoma State @ Boise State

We have a whole preview post for this game, so I won’t spend too much time on it. However, both teams have been committed to running the ball through two games this season and neither team has had much success doing so. This game, from Oklahoma State’s perspective, comes down to how much the team has adjusted and improved over the last week. That includes the play-calling.

I picked this game operating off the assumption that OSU hasn’t improved much from last week. I could be proved wrong big time on Saturday and I hope it happens. Coach Mike Gundy acknowledged the play-calling had to get better. The offensive line needs to have a much better game. If those two things happen OSU could win this game by two scores. I am taking an “I will believe it when I see it” approach with the Cowboys this week. I have Boise State over OSU 24-20 and most of the staff has the Broncos defending the Blue Turf with a win. Here are our staff predictions for Oklahoma State’s first road trip to Boise State:

Nebraska @ No. 3 Oklahoma

Nebraska and Oklahoma will wear helmet decals honoring the 50th anniversary of the “Game of the Century” between the two schools. Saturday’s showdown in Norman will be the exact opposite of the “Game of the Century.” It won’t even be the game of the 11 a.m. slate on Saturday, September 18th.

Nebraska suffered an embarrasing loss to Illinois to open the season before beating Fordham 52-7 and Buffalo 28-3. Oklahoma should have no problem putting Nebraska away. This game will likely be over by the 5:00 minute mark in the first quarter. Spencer Rattler will have 250+ passing yards and four touchdowns by halftime. Caleb Williams will get to captain the ship in the second half. It will be a long afternoon in Norman for the Cornhuskers.

It’s been all downhill for Nebraska since it left the Big 12. Meanwhile, Oklahoma has turned itself into one of the best five programs in all of college football since Nebraska left for the Big Ten. I have Oklahoma over Nebraska 56-14 and the entire staff, except for Phillip Slavin, has OU to cover a 22.5 point spread.

No. 15 Virginia Tech @ West Virginia

Speaking of another old rivalry, Virginia Tech will travel to West Virginia to take on the Mountaineers in what will be a much closer game than Nebraska- Oklahoma will be. Virginia Tech got an impressive 17-10 win over North Carolina to open the season. Defense has been a calling card in Blacksburg for decades now and it appears to be the strength for the Hokies once again. Virginia Tech beat Middle Tennessee State 35-14 last week.

VT quarterback Braxton Burmeister has completed 26 of 43 passes for 311 yards and two touchdowns with an interception. He also leads the Hokies in rushing yards with 94 and a touchdown.

West Virginia beat Long Island 66-0 after losing to Maryland on the road 30-24 to open the season. Jarret Doege passed for 277 yards and a score but two interceptions in the loss to Maryland, and Leddie Brown rushed for 73 yards and two scores on 17 carries. I have Virginia Tech winning this one 27-17. Here’s who our staff thinks will go home with the Black Diamond Trophy:

Nevada @ Kansas State

Kansas State will be without starting quarterback Skylar Thompson this week. The Wildcats will turn to backup Will Howard against Nevada. Howard struggled last week, completing just eight of his 17 passes for 76 yards and an interception against Southern Illinois. It will likely be a heavy dose of Deuce Vaughn again this week.

Nevada is 2-0 and has a win over California, a team that nearly beat TCU in Fort Worth last week. The Wolfpack beat Cal 22-17 behind 312 yards and two touchdown passes from quarterback Carson Strong. Nevada will have the edge at quarterback against Kansas State. Receiver Tory Horton is another player to watch for the Wolfpack on offense as a big play threat. Horton has 149 yards on six receptions so far this season.

Howard will have to play much better against Nevada than he did against Southern Illinois if Kansas State is going to win this game. The Kansas State offense will need to keep up with Nevada. I am not sure Howard is up to the task and I have Nevada winning 28-20 in Manhattan.

Baylor @ Kansas

Baylor and Kansas square off in the first Big 12 conference game of the year. Baylor beat Texas State 29-20 in the opening week of the season while Kansas edged South Dakota 17-14. Baylor rebounded for a big win over Texas Southern 66-7 last week while Kansas lost to No. 17 Coastal Carolina 49-22.

If Kansas can score 22 on Coastal Carolina and Texas State can score 20 on the Baylor defense, I think Kansas can manage to score 20 points against Baylor at home. Jason Bean passed for 189 yards and rushed for 102 yards and two scores against Coastal Carolina. I think he will give the Baylor defense enough trouble to hang 20 points on the board.

Baylor’s rushing attack with Trestan Ebner and Abram Smith should power the Bears past Kansas by a few scores. Quarterback Gerry Bohanon is good enough to steer Baylor clear of a potential loss to the worst team in the Big 12. I have Baylor over Kansas 38-20 and the entire staff has Baylor covering the 17.5 point spread.

Florida International @ Texas Tech

Texas Tech should win this game easily, but I also wouldn’t put it past the Red Raiders to lose. The Matt Wells era has seen Texas Tech almost lose a game to Houston Baptist (2020) and Stephen F. Austin (2021). The 2021 season is off to an interesting start for Texas Tech with an impressive 38-21 win over Houston and an embarrassing 28-22 win over SFA.

Florida International is 1-1 and lost to Texas State 23-17 in overtime last week. That’s the same Texas State team that lost to Baylor by nine. Tyler Shough passed for 174 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions. Most of Texas Tech’s yards came on a 75 yard Erik Ezukanma reception, a 67 yard Tahj Brooks run, and a 52 yard Xavier White run. Texas Tech was out-gained by SFA 375-364.

Wells and the Red Raiders need a good performance this weekend before conference play begins to rebuild some of the momentum the program had after the Houston win. I have Texas Tech winning this one, but I will keep a close eye on how the Red Raiders perform.

Rice @ Texas

Texas is looking to rebound from a stunning loss at Arkansas last week. The game might have had a different outcome had Hudson Card not overthrown multiple receivers. He won’t get that chance this weekend as coach Steve Sarkisian promoted Casey Thompson to QB1.

This game probably won’t be close, and Card will get some playing time at some point in the game. His chance likely won’t come until the game is well in hand in the second half, unless Thompson plays terrible to start the game. Bijan Robinson figures to have a big night along with receivers Xavier Worthy and Jordan Whittington. This game probably won’t tell us much about Texas and if the Longhorn have taken a step forward after the loss to Arkansas. I have Texas 50-7 over Rice in Austin.

No. 14 Iowa State @ UNLV

Iowa State is another Big 12 team looking to rebound from a tough loss last week. Veteran quarterback Brock Purdy was actually benched against Iowa after a rough performance. Purdy completed 13 of his 27 passes for 138 yards and three interceptions. The Cyclones lost to Iowa 27-17. Breece Hall still hasn’t had a great performance this season, rushing for 69 yards in each game.

UNLV hasn’t had an ideal to start to its season either. The Rebels dropped their season opener to Eastern Washington 35-33 in overtime and followed that with a 37-10 loss to No. 23 Arizona State last week. This weekend’s game will likely play out closer to the Arizona State score from last week. I have Iowa State getting a bounce back 45-10 over UNLV with a big performance for Hall.

Top Games

No. 1 Alabama takes on No. 9 Florida in Gainesville for the SEC on CBS afternoon game. College Gameday will be live from No. 10 Penn State vs No. 22 Auburn. Penn State’s White Out game is always loud and always a fun time. The best late game will be No. 19 Arizona State at No. 23 BYU with kickoff set for 9:15 CST on ESPN. Future Big 12 member No. 8 Cincinnati hosts Indiana at 11 a.m. on ESPN. Here are our staff picks for other games from around the nation: