CFB Week 3 Staff Picks
By the WZBC Sports Writers
In what we hope to make a weekly tradition throughout the season, here are some staff picks for this weekend’s top games.
#22 Texas A&M at #1 Alabama
Scott Sullivan: Texas A&M 17 – Alabama 41:
Number one ranked Alabama enters their fourth game of the season against an A&M squad which has lost their past 5 games against the Crimson Tide. Heading into Tuscaloosa, I see the potential of a blowout by Alabama.
Bryan Bruwer: Alabama 45 – Texas A&M 13
This matchup has provided some magical moments over recent years, particularly A&M’s stunning upset of the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa back in 2012. However, there is no reason to expect such magic this time around. Tua Tagovaloa is the best quarterback Alabama has had in years, and Alabama’s offense has been humming, averaging an insane 56 points per game so far this season. Despite this being a vastly improved A&M team, expect the Tide to roll to victory in this one.
JD Biagioni: Alabama 30 – Texas A&M 17
The Aggies garnered a lot of national respect with their hard-fought loss to Clemson two weeks ago. But Alabama, in Tuscaloosa, is a completely different test. The Tide’s splits are simply otherworldly: 56.7 PPG and 9.3 points allowed per game. Of the first 8 games (before LSU on 11/3), this would be the marquee matchup circled on Bama’s calendar, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be a tight one.
Nic Ferreira: Alabama 34 – Texas A&M 17
It’s been three full years since Bama lost at home. They’re averaging over fifty points per game this season. Roll Tide.
Charlie Whitney: Alabama over Texas A&M
For a top 25 matchup, this one will not be close. I don’t see anyone coming within 20 of Bama this year now that their offensive is as explosive as their defense is stingy.
Owen Marino: Alabama over Texas A&M
Though they look promising under new leader Jimbo Fisher, the Aggies are in for their toughest test yet with Saturday’s trip to Tuscaloosa. This could be Nick Saban’s most prolific offense in his tenure with the Tide. Alabama takes this one.
#14 Mississippi State at Kentucky
Scott: Mississippi State 24 – Kentucky 14
Mississippi State and their 5th best rushing offense in the nation(311.7 YPG) face a Kentucky team who allows over 100 YPG on the ground. Look for Mississippi State to pound the rock to victory.
Bryan: Mississippi State 27 – Kentucky 16
Two weeks after knocking off Florida for the first time since the Reagan administration, Kentucky enters this matchup at 3-0. Although an upset may very well be in the cards, Nick Fitzgerald and the #1 rushing attack in the nation have what it takes to get the job done in what should be a raucous environment.
JD: Kentucky 35 – Miss. St 20:
The 2018 Kentucky season is all about exorcising demons. The Wildcats finally knocked off Florida after 31 long years. Next up on the hauntings list is Nick Fitzgerald. The Mississippi State quarterback has rushed for over 100 yards in each of his two games versus Kentucky. But Kentucky’s new-look defense should contain Fitzgerald enough, and running back Benny Snell will neutralize State’s strong edge rushers.
Nic: Mississippi State 41 – Kentucky 21
Kentucky has allowed over 120 rushing yards per game and over 300 total yards per game. That’s not a recipe for success against the prolific Mississippi State offense.
Charlie: Mississippi State over Kentucky
It’s extremely hard to win on the road in the SEC which often makes it easy to overthink in-conference matchups. With that being said, Nick Fitzgerald is possibly the most underrated quarterback in the nation and should have no trouble disposing of the Wildcats.
Owen: Kentucky over Mississippi State
Kentucky has taken some big strides so far this year but I don’t expect them to be completely prepared for a stout Bulldog defense and dangerous dual threat QB in Nick Fitzgerald. State should handle this contest.
#7 Stanford at #20 Oregon
Scott: Stanford 28 – Oregon 14
Though Oregon has a top-10 scoring offense in the FBS(51.7 PPG), they have faced a cakewalk of a schedule. Stanford comes as their first true competition of the season, leading the FBS in scoring defense(7.7 PPG). Having beat Oregon in their past 2 matchups, I’d lean towards Stanford in this one.
Bryan: Stanford 24 – Oregon 20
This should be a very interesting game between the two of the best teams in the Pac 12. Although Oregon’s Justin Herbert is a special talent who will one day be playing on Sundays, a healthy dose of Bryce Love and Stanford’s talented defense should be enough for the Cardinal to prevail in this one, albeit by a slight margin.
JD: Stanford 21 – Oregon 17:
This matchup doesn’t have quite the same hype surrounding it as in the early 2010s. But it still has the classic Stanford-Oregon storyline: Oregon’s mighty offense versus Stanford’s stout defense. The Ducks’ Justin Herbert leads all Power 5 QBs in touchdown passes (12), and Stanford’s defense has only allowed 2 touchdowns on the young season. This is a clear power-versus-power matchup. The difference-maker? Stanford’s offensive dynamo Bryce Love who is due for a big game.
Nic: Stanford 38 – Oregon 31
The Oregon defense has its first real test this week, and it comes in the form of Bryce Love. Love will look to build on last week’s performance against USC, and I think he’ll do so up in Eugene.
Charlie: Oregon over Stanford
The Stanford offense’s inability to get Bryce Love going will finally catch up to them in Week 3. I don’t think KJ Costello can win a conference rivalry game on the road with his arm, especially when the opponent is ranked. This will be Justin Herbert’s first statement win that starts to push him up draft boards.
Owen: Oregon over Stanford
This one’s a toss up for me. Look for Bryce Love to have a big night, but I think potential first-round pick Justin Herbert and Oregon’s offense will show out in this primetime matchup. Ducks in a close one.
#18 Wisconsin at Iowa
Scott: Wisconsin 17 – Iowa 27
A matchup between two top-15 defenses in the country has the makings of a possible upset. Wisconsin comes off an upset by BYU, and Iowa comes in undefeated in their past 3. I have a feeling Iowa can upset the Badgers.
Bryan: Wisconsin 23 – Iowa 10
Wisconsin should be playing angry after losing to BYU at home last week, and although Iowa is typically a tough place to play for many Big Ten teams (Ohio State was blown out and Penn State barely escaped Kinnick Stadium with a win last season), expect Jonathan Taylor and Wisconsin to take care of business in a physical game.
JD: Wisconsin 20 – Iowa 10:
Kinnick Stadium is one of the toughest places for visiting favorites to play. Last season, Iowa throttled then-#6 Ohio State. The year before, the Hawkeyes knocked off then-#2 Michigan. But the Badgers haven’t lost back-to-back games against unranked teams since 2012. Iowa will give Wisconsin a scare, no doubt, but Jonathan Taylor will do just enough to keep Wisconsin’s playoff hopes alive.
Nic: Wisconsin 28 – Iowa 24
Both teams start conference play trending in opposite directions. Wisconsin is reeling after last week’s loss to BYU while Iowa has looked strong in its early performances. Look for Wisconsin’s offense to get back on track after only mustering 190 passing yards last week.
Owen: Wisconsin over Iowa
Look for the Badgers to bounce back on Saturday from their close defeat to BYU a week ago. Wisconsin should control the trenches against a physical Hawkeye line.
#23 BC at Purdue
Scott: BC 45 – Purdue 21
BC, led by AJ Dillon and Anthony Brown, are the 11th best offense in all of FBS with 577.3 YPG. Purdue allows 475 YPG, 6 more yards on average than UMass. I’d be surprised if BC doesn’t put up another 40 spot.
Bryan: BC 38 – Purdue 20
BC is ranked for the first time in nearly a decade, and there is more buzz around the program than there’s been in a long time. Don’t bet on a letdown, at least not yet. AJ Dillon should roll through a Purdue defense that has been gashed on the ground so far this season.
JD: Boston College 35 – Purdue 17:
This has gone from a game that BC should win to one that it has to win. Purdue sits at 0-3, and Purdue QB Elijah Sindelar lost his starting job to senior David Blough, who threw for 572 yards against Missouri last week. He will test BC’s defense, but a repeat performance isn’t likely. Besides, he’s squaring off against Anthony Brown, the most efficient quarterback in the nation.
Nic: BC 38 – Purdue 14
The Eagles passed an early road test last week at Wake Forest. Anthony Brown has played out of his mind, and look for that to continue against a Purdue pass defense that has allowed 319 yards per game.
Charlie: BC over Purdue
Assuming this is the same Purdue team that lost to Eastern Michigan (spoiler alert: it is) then the Eagles should have no trouble making quick work of the Boilermakers. Expect big days from AJ Dillon and Anthony Brown.
Owen: BC over Purdue
Purdue is winless, but don’t underestimate a hungry Boilermaker squad that racked up over 600 yards on offense a week ago. BC should stay undefeated, but it won’t be a cakewalk.