Most compelling matchups in college football Week 3

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The college football Week 3 schedule is short on big-time matchups, and it is completely devoid of ranked-versus-ranked games. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some compelling contests worth tuning in to watch.

Looking ahead to Saturday’s action in Week 3, we’re focusing on five matchups in particular that have the potential to provide some answers for programs, and plenty of entertainment value for fans.


Clay Helton and the Trojans have answered the bell with two early wins at home against Fresno State and Stanford. What we saw from USC in Week 2 was particularly encouraging as Kedon Slovis had a huge first game as the starter in place of JT Daniels, who was lost for the season due to a knee injury. Leading his team to a 45-20 blowout over a fierce rival, Slovis passed for 377 yards and three touchdowns.

Now the true freshman will get his first road test. BYU is coming off a thrilling road win against Tennessee and has been very good defending the pass through two games. Slovis will need to be on his Ps and Qs in this road matchup. He’ll also need help from USC’s ground game, which has the potential to shred BYU’s front seven.

Iowa vs. Iowa State

This rivalry has been a bit one-sided in recent years, with the Hawkeyes claiming the Cy-Hawk Trophy four times running. Still, we’re anticipating a tightly contested game Saturday in Ames, and oddsmakers agree. Iowa is favored to win by less than a field goal.

There is plenty of uncertainty surrounding both programs entering Week 3. The Cyclones eked out a win at home against Northern Iowa in Week 1 and had a bye in Week 2. The Hawkeyes won convincingly in both of their first two games, but neither of the victories came against good teams.

Can Matt Campbell’s Cyclones get off to a hot start? Can Brock Purdy and Deshaunte Jones build on their strong first game? Will Iowa State’s defense stiffen against Mekhi Sargent and the bullies up front on Iowa’s offensive line? It’s a game that should answer some big questions for both teams.

Florida vs. Kentucky

Just over a year ago, the Wildcats stunned the Gators with a 27-16 victory in Gainesville, silencing The Swamp with a potent mixture of dominant defense and an electric rushing attack. Now, Florida hopes to return the favor on the road in Lexington, with revenge on the mind.

The Gators eked out a win over Miami in Week 0, thanks to an underwhelming performance from Feleipe Franks (two interceptions) and the run game (1.8 yards per attempt). Kentucky’s defense isn’t quite as fierce this season now that Josh Allen is in the NFL. However, the Wildcats have put up 38 points in each of their first two games and feature a balanced offense that can win both on the ground and through the air.

Both teams are currently undefeated. Both need to stay undefeated to have any chance of hanging with Georgia in the SEC East. Fans should be prepared for a physical, highly competitive game featuring plenty of big hits and impact plays.

Clemson vs. Syracuse

Some of the luster has already been knocked off this ACC matchup, as the Orange were utterly humiliated by Maryland last Saturday. Yet things can change swiftly in the realm of college football.

Dino Babers will not let his team sulk. It’s also worth noting that the last time these two programs faced off at the Carrier Dome, the Orange pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the 2017 college football season. It’s also worth noting that the Orange nearly beat Clemson last year, melting down in the fourth quarter.

Anyway. This one may not be as one-sided as it appears on paper. Then again, Clemson is so darn good on both sides of the ball and has the potential to run any program off the field on any given Saturday.

Florida State vs. Virginia

We’ll be watching this game with a sense of morbid curiosity because at this point Willie Taggart’s tenure at the helm of Florida State’s program has been like watching the end of a slow-motion speed test — everything is a wreck.

One week after a second-half collapse against Boise State, the Seminoles needed a minor miracle to beat UL Monroe in overtime. The fan base is already revolting, and if FSU ends up losing big on the road against Virginia, Taggart may find his seat too hot to handle.

The Cavaliers appear quite formidable, as well. They’ve won two games in blowout fashion so far, and in particular their defense has been dominant up front. If Cam Akers gets thwarted early in this coming game, it’s not hard to envision a lopsided win for Virginia at home.