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Non TCU Game of the Week: Week 3

Two top 25 nonconference matchups headline this weekend’s slate

Eastern Washington v Oregon Photo by Tom Hauck/Getty Images

The Headliner:

#11 BYU at #25 Oregon (-3.5) - Saturday, September 17th 2:30 pm Fox

Coming off of a big time win at home against Baylor last week, the Cougars travel to Eugene to face Bo Nix and the #25 Oregon Ducks.

Quarterback Jaren Hall has had a very impressive start to the 2022 season with 522 yards and 3 touchdowns through two games to just one interception. Hall’s performance against Baylor was especially impressive considering he was facing one of the best defensive coaches in college football in Dave Aranda. Hall had 261 yards and a touchdown through the air last Saturday averaging 6.7 yards per completion. The leading receiver for the Cougars so far this season has been freshman Chase Roberts with 11 receptions for 163 yards and a touchdown. Roberts had a big time game against the Bears as well with 8 receptions for 122 yards and a touchdown. The offensive line was expected to be a strong suit for the Cougars coming into the season with a very good left tackle in Blake Freeland anchoring the unit. They have not been bad by any means to start the season and faced a tough matchup with a very solid defensive line a week ago in Baylor but will need a strong performance Saturday against the star studded linebacking corps for the Ducks. Linebacker Max Tooley is off to a great start to the season leading the the team in tackles with 18 through two games and a pick six week 1 against USF. Tooley along with the rest of the linebackers make up the best position group on the defense with Ben Bywater having a solid first two games as well. Bywater is second on the team in total tackles with 16 and he also had a sack against Baylor. The secondary is led by returning starters at both cornerback spots in Kaleb Hayes and D’Angelo Mandell. The pass defense was excellent agaisnt Baylor holding quarterback Blake Shapen to only 137 yards passing.

Bo Nix and the Ducks will try and have a better game in their second top 25 matchup this year after an embarrassing 49-3 opening weekend loss to Georgia. Nix did not have a good game against the Bulldogs but he showed much more ability while at Auburn and should play much better against BYU. One of the questions about Oregon coming into the year was who the playmakers were going to be at the skill positions. So far, Troy Thompson has been the best receiver as the only receiver with over 100 yards receiving through two games. Thompson has 12 receptions for 118 yards and a touchdown and appears to be Nix’s favorite target. Sean Dollars and Mar’Keise Irving have been the two leading running backs for Oregon both with 13 carries on the year. Dollars has 91 yards for an average of 7 yards per carry while Irving has averaged 6.7 yards per rush for a total of 87 yards and a touchdown. The Ducks have a very deep running back group with 4 backs with over 10 carries and have the ability to keep their backfield fresh throughout the game. The defense for the Ducks when they aren’t playing the defending national champions should be very good. Justin Flowe and Noah Sewell are arguably the most talented linebacking duo in the country and both have the potential to be very high picks in the 2023 NFL draft. Flowe leads the team in tackles so far and continues to show why he was ranked as a top 10 recruit in his class before two season ending injuries in 2020 and 2021. Sewell is in the argument for LB1 in the draft after a 114 tackle season in 2021 with freakish athleticism and solid processing as well. I think Flowe and Sewell force BYU to be one dimensional and the Oregon secondary with Colorado transfer Christian Gonzalez hold up on the back end for a Ducks win. I also expect Bo Nix to have a bounce back game against a weaker defense than his first big game at Oregon.

My pick: Oregon wins (-165) Oregon covers (-3.5) Full game under (58)

The Undercard:

#13 Miami at #24 Texas A&M(-6.0)- Saturday, September 17th 8:00 pm ESPN

Tyler Van Dyke and the Hurricanes will look to secure a big win at the always loud Kyle Field against the Aggies who are looking to bounce back after an embarrassing loss to App State last week. Jimbo Fischer wasted no time making a change after the loss announcing the LSU transfer Max Johnson will start over Haynes King. King did not look good in either of A&M’s first two games and a change was needed to try something to jumpstart what has been a stagnant offense this season. The Aggies have playmakers at the skill positions with speedster Ainias Smith at wide receiver and Devon Achane at running back. Smith is explosive with the ball in his hands with breakaway speed, great vision in the open field, and a deep bag of moves to make defenders miss. Achane is extremely dangerous in space as a running back and a returner and took a kickoff 95 yards to the house against App State. Max Johnson should be an immediate upgrade at quarterback after a solid 2021 season for LSU. Johnson had over 2,800 yards through the air last year and a solid touchdown to interception ratio of 27/6. The matchup to watch on Saturday will be if A&M can slow down potential first round pick Tyler Van Dyke. Van Dyke has elite talent and solid pocket mobility fitting the traditional big bodied, strong armed pro style quarterback. Van Dyke is by no means a statue in the pocket and has decent speed once he gets going in the open field as well. The Hurricanes will be without their leading receiver Xavier Restrepo on Saturday due to injury and Van Dyke will be forced to spread the ball around to a receiving corps now lacking a player with over 6 receptions on the year. I think Mario Cristobal and the Hurricanes find a way to get it done regardless and secure a big road win in a hostile environment over the Aggies.

My pick: Miami wins (+180) Miami covers (+6.0) Full game over (44.5)

Upset Watch:

#11 Michigan State at Washington (-3.5) - Saturday, September 17th 6:30 pm ABC

Mel Tucker and the Spartans travel to one of the loudest stadiums in the country in Husky Stadium to face a Washingon team looking for a bounce back year after a tough 2021 season. Michigan State is coming off of an 11-2 season with a Peach Bowl victory and a win over rival Michigan and are off to a 2-0 start so far this season. They did have to replace All American running back Kenneth Walker III as he was picked in the second round of the 2022 NFL draft by the Seahawks. Wisconsin transfer Jalen Berger has taken over the lead running back responsibilities and has been excellent through two games with over 200 yards and 4 touchdowns on just 33 carries. The running game has had to make up for a very mediocre passing attack led by quarterback Payton Thorne. Thorne has struggled to start the season with a completion percentage of 57.7 and 4 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Thorne had a much better year in 2021 with over 3,000 yards through the air and 27 touchdowns to just 10 interceptions and the first two games feel more like outliers than the new norm. Washington on the other hand picked up Indiana transfer Michael Penix Jr. to be their starting quarterback and he has had a good start to the season throwing for 682 yards and 6 touchdowns. Penix led Indiana to their best season in recent memory in 2020 going 6-2 in the COVID shortened season and finishing ranked as the number 12 team in the nation. Penix and sophomore receiver Jalen McMillan have been on the same page to start the year as McMillan has 214 yards and 3 touchdowns on 9 receptions. McMillan had a solid 2021 season with 470 yards receiving and 3 touchdowns and is benefiting greatly from the upgrade at quarterback. Vegas has the Huskies pulling off the upset at home and I agree as the atmosphere in Seattle with a top 25 team coming into town will be electric.

My pick: Washington wins (-178) Washington covers (-3.5) Full game over (56.5)

Group of 5 Showcase:

UTSA at #21 Texas (-12.5) Saturday, September 17th 7:00 pm LHN

UT is coming off of a very impressive performance against the Crimson Tide last week but will be without starting quarterback Quinn Ewers. Hudson Card played well in relief but got banged up as well and was noticeably less mobile late in the game. The defense was the real suprise for the Longhorns a week ago as they shut down the Tide offense for most of the game. The receivers for Alabama struggled to create separation against the Texas secondary and the coaching staff did a good job scheming up pressures to make Bryce Young uncomfortable in the pocket. The Texas defense was a question mark coming into the year but looked like a top unit in the country a week ago. The Roadrunners are coming off of a 3 point win over Army at West Point after a heartbreaking loss in week 1 at home to Houston. UTSA has an explosive offense led by senior quarterback Frank Harris who has had an impressive start to the season with almost 700 yards passing and 6 touchdowns. Senior wide receiver Zakhari Franklin has had a great start to the year as well with 222 yards and 2 touchdowns on 20 receptions already. I think the Longhorns win this game in the end but I don’t think they play as well as they did a week ago and the Roadrunners keep it pretty close.

My pick: Texas wins (-480) UTSA covers (+12.5) Full game over (58)

Others receiving votes:

#22 Penn State (-2.5) at Auburn - Saturday, September 17th 2:30 pm CBS:

Sean Clifford and the Nittany Lions travel to Jordan-Hare stadium to face new starting quarterback and former LSU tiger TJ Finley. How Penn State defends the rushing attack of Auburn and Tank Bigsby could be the deciding factor in the game.

Texas Tech at #16 NC State (-10) - Saturday, September 17th 6:00 pm ESPN2:

Fresh off of a very close win over Houston at home, Joey McGuire and the Red Raiders travel to Raleigh to face Devin Leary and the Wolfpack. This was very close to being my upset watch game and I think Tech keeps it very close at least.