Burning questions for CFB’s biggest Week 3 games

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After treating fans to some exciting ranked-versus-ranked battles in Week 2, this week’s slate of college football action offers a flurry of rivalry battles and potential upsets.

The third week will also be telling for several programs that will find themselves facing disastrous starts and coaches questioning their job security if the losses keep racking up. Meanwhile, a few programs on the rise will encounter some of their toughest games this season.

Here are the most burning questions for college football’s biggest Week 3 games.

Can Purdue win without QB Elijah Sindelar?

While head coach Jeff Brohm is hopeful that Sindelar might play on Saturday, he hasn’t practiced all week and the Boilermakers may exercise caution given its a concussion. The pressure will be on backup quarterback Jack Plummer if Sindelar isn’t cleared to play.

TCU’s defense can bring some intensity and is undoubtedly familiar with facing explosive playmakers. Given Purdue’s absent running game to open the season and injuries on the defensive side, it will need a strong game at quarterback to stay in the ball game on Saturday. The Boilermakers offense will be golden if Sindelar plays, but a backup with zero collegiate experience would make things far more challenging.

Will Chip Kelly’s Bruins find any positives vs. No. 5 Oklahoma?

UCLA went 46 years without an 0-3 start to the season before the Bruins dropped three straight under Chip Kelly in 2018. Now the program is on the verge of consecutive 0-3 starts in Kelly’s second year.

The Bruins are a 23-point underdog at home against Oklahoma and it would be a stunner if they stayed within two scores. Kelly’s offense must show some sign of life because 28 combined points against Cincinnati and San Diego State won’t cut it. If Dorian Thompson-Robinson continues to struggle and the offense remains an embarrassment, Kelly’s hot seat will turn into a five-alarm fire.

How will Kedon Slovis fare in his first road game?

Slovis took the field against Stanford as a relative unknown and he delivered a breakout performance. Now the freshman must prove himself again in his first major road test at the collegiate level.

LaVell Edwards Stadium is a hostile environment for a young quarterback and BYU’s fans are riding high after the program’s upset win over Tennessee. Slovis enters the matchup with an 82.9 completion rate and a 191.9 quarterback rating. If he brings that same ability against BYU’s defense, USC might have its next star.

Who will win the Cy-Hawk Trophy?

An in-state rivalry dominated by Iowa in recent years could finally see fortunate change for Iowa State. The Hawkeyes have won the Cy-Hawk Trophy in four consecutive seasons, eight of the past 11 and enter Saturday as two-point favorites.

Iowa State and head coach Matt Campbell are coming off a narrow win over Northern Iowa with two weeks to prepare for the Hawkeyes. Specifically, Campbell’s offense will need to always keep an eye out for defensive end A.J. Espenesa. The junior, a future top-10 pick, is a force off the edge and capable of stopping the Cyclones.

Is Central Florida ready for the big stage?

The Knights are 25-1 in the past two seasons but always find themselves outside of the College Football Playoff. A weak schedule is their biggest problem, but Saturday finally provides them with their best opportunity yet. While Stanford might not be the powerhouse of old, it’s still a high-profile program that puts UCF on ESPN.

UCF is the favorite at home, and a dominating performance against a Pac-12 opponent in front of a national audience could vault it into the top-15. However, the Knights can’t pick one starting quarterback and K.J. Costello will rejoin Stanford’s lineup on Saturday. This is UCF’s most important game in the regular season and the result will dramatically impact how this team is viewed nationally moving forward.

Will Florida avoid another Kentucky upset?

Plenty went wrong for the Gators in 2018, but it all started with their stunning loss to Kentucky. Given how loaded the SEC is at the top this season, Florida can’t afford another heartbreaking upset given the outlook for the conference.

The Wildcats playing without quarterback Terry Wilson Jr. makes things easier for the Gators. However, Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks is inconsistent, and that presents problems if Kentucky dominates early with its run game. If Franks makes too many mistakes and the Wildcats control the time of possession, Kentucky can win at home.

Can Florida State’s defense finally show up in its biggest test?

Florida State came dangerously close to an 0-2 start, and even escaping with the win exposed potentially crippling issues for this program. While there are a few issues with the offense, the defense and this team’s lack of discipline are the glaring issues.

Florida State surrendered 81 points in two games and allowed 37 points in the second half to UL Monroe. Now the Seminoles face No. 25 Virginia and an offense that scored 82 points in its first two contests. If quarterback Bryce Perkins throws and runs all over the Seminoles, Florida State won’t even get a chance to compete on Saturday and Willie Taggart’s tenure might receive another nail in its coffin.