College Football Week 3: Best Games to Watch

Texas Longhorns

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If patience, as theologian Lyman Abbot said, is “passion tamed,” then college football fans’ wild restlessness for mid-to-late season drama is understandable. Sensible, even.

As the great machinery of college football winds up in early autumn each year, fans generally find themselves counting down the days until the tumult of conference play begin. But this year’s first two weeks treated early-season devotees to several exciting on-field displays. Kenny Hill emerged as Johnny Football reincarnate. Unranked Oklahoma State nearly toppled a frail Florida State. Oregon’s Marcus Mariota led a second-half rally against Michigan State. Texas was again obliterated by BYU. And so on.

 

While the third week of college football has most of the AP Top 25 playing unranked opponents, a handful of compelling matchups could mean fireworks. Here are the top three games – and where to watch them – this weekend.
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1. No. 6 Georgia at No. 24 South Carolina

WATCH: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS

 

Clemson vs Georgia | 2014 ACC Football HighlightsClemson traveled to Georgia to open the season and fell to the Bulldogs 45-21 Saturday night. Cole Stoudt got the start at quarterback but freshman Deshaun Watson also took snaps and threw his first career touchdown pass in the loss. Georgia RB Todd Gurley was incredible rushing for 198 yards and collecting 4 total touchdowns. SUBSCRIBE: http://bit.ly/Oqg3iE The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) is a collegiate athletic conference in the United States in which its fifteen member universities compete in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA's) Division I, with its football teams competing in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), the highest levels for athletic competition in US-based collegiate sports. The ACC sponsors competition in twenty-five sports with many of its member institutions' athletic programs held in high regard nationally. ACC teams and athletes have claimed dozens of national championships in multiple sports throughout the conference's history. Generally, the ACC's top athletes and teams in any particular sport in a given year are considered to be among the top collegiate competitors in the nation. The ACC is considered to be one of the six collegiate power conferences, all of which enjoy extensive media coverage and automatic qualifying for their football champion into the Bowl Championship Series (BCS). With the advent of the College Football Playoff in 2014, the ACC will be one of five conferences with a contractual tie-in to an "access bowl", the successors to the BCS. Founded in 1953 in Greensboro, North Carolina, by seven universities located in the South Atlantic States, the conference added additional members in late 1953, 1979, 1991, 2004, and 2013. The 2004 and 2013 additions extended the conference's footprint into the Northeast and Midwest. The most recent expansion in 2013 saw the additions of the University of Notre Dame, the University of Pittsburgh, and Syracuse University. In 2012, the University of Maryland's Board of Regents voted to withdraw from the ACC to join the Big Ten Conference. On November 28, 2012, the ACC's Council of Presidents voted unanimously to invite the University of Louisville as a full member, replacing Maryland. Connect with the ACCDigitalNetwork Online: Visit the ACC WEBSITE: http://theacc.com Follow the ACCDN on Twitter: https://twitter.com/theACCDN Follow the ACCDN on Instagram: http://instagram.com/theACCDN http://www.youtube.com/user/ACCDigitalNetwork2014-08-31T02:14:18.000Z

A pivotal contest in the battle for the SEC East this Saturday pits a peaking Georgia against an underwhelming South Carolina squad. The Gamecocks, entering the season with three consecutive bowl wins in as many years, hope to put their season-opening 52-28 loss to Kenny Hill’s Aggies behind them. The Bulldogs, rolling from their 45-21 win over Clemson, will head to Columbia, South Carolina as the slight favorite.

Heading into the matchup, the preseason script for each team has morphed. South Carolina entered the first week at number nine in AP’s Top 25. But a failure to handily beat East Carolina following the A&M route has the Gamecocks’ ranking its lowest since September 2010. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs have vaulted to sixth after rushing for 328 yards against Clemson. A win in Columbia would establish Georgia as the SEC East favorite.

But a road victory for coach Mark Richt’s Georgia squad will not come easy. It’s been six years since the Bulldogs have won in South Carolina’s notoriously raucous stadium. And that win was against a weak team that would go on to finish their season 7-6.

Nevertheless, Georgia will feel confident in covering the 3.5 point spread behind the experience of standout running back Todd Gurley and an experienced Hutson Mason under center. (Check out the video above for a glimpse of their offense.)
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2. Tennessee at No. 4 Oklahoma

WATCH: Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, ABC

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(Getty)

The Tennessee Volunteers head to Norman in what will be the first regular season tilt between the two teams. While the Vols possess a justified optimism after victories in their first two games this season, an away game against the Big 12 favorite will be a significant challenge. The question marks for Tennessee notwithstanding, the matchup gives them the opportunity to play spoiler to Oklahoma’s expected appearance in the inaugural College Football Playoff in January.

Last year, the Sooners’ defense led the Big 12 in first downs, passing yards allowed and yards allowed while finishing second in sacks, third down conversion percentage and points allowed. Facing such a defense this Saturday, the Vols would have hoped to manage more than 3.3 yards per carry against the weak front sevens of Utah State and Arkansas State. Tennessee coach Butch Jones will have to rely on the arm of senior quarterback Justin Worley if his squad is to beat the 21-point spread.
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3. UCF at No. 20 Missouri

WATCH: Saturday, 12 p.m. ET, SEC Network

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(Getty)

A nine-point spread between the two teams has the casual fan understandably skeptical of UCF’s chances. But to think UCF will not contend against Mizzou would be a mistake. The UCF Knights overcame the largest point spread in BCS history (17 points) only eight months ago in their 52-42 defeat of Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl.

UCF cynics will insist that January’s historic defeat of Baylor – and the success of the Knights’ entire 2013 season – was made possible only by quarterback Blake Bortles. Bortles, a backup with the Jacksonville Jaguars after an impressive NFL preseason, did play a pivotal role in UCF’s one-loss season last year. And, to be sure, Bortles’ early departure is a significant loss. But Knights coach George O’Leary has ten players returning on defense to protect sophomore quarterback Justin Holman.

After their impressive 12-2 season last year, this matchup is crucial for Missouri to put their 2012 SEC-debut season (5-7) behind them and prove that they are a legitimate threat in the SEC gauntlet.