Air Force @ #7 Michigan | 12 noon Eastern | Big Ten Network
The Wolverines like to pound the rock, senior Ty Isaac has put up 100 yard efforts in each of the first two games, but the Falcons defense likes to play against the run. Their down linemen are going to be outweighed considerably by the Michigan OL, but active and smart linebackers are the key to the Air Force defense. If they can shed blocks they have a chance for some early success against the run.
The problem they will run into is that Coach Harbaugh and his players keep coming and no matter how good the four starting LBs are, sooner or later they will wear down. That is when Michigan will really dominate.
What will make things interesting is if the Falcons triple option can find early success and frustrate the defense. If they can do that then Air Force can have a credible showing against a top echelon school. If not, it will be a long day on the gridiron.
#9 Oklahoma State @ Pittsburgh | 12 noon Eastern | ESPN
The Cowboys head east to wrangle Panthers this weekend. Last year in Stillwater provided a barn-burner of a game with OSU winning by a touchdown. Should Pitt figure out a way to elevate its beleaguered pass defense they have a shot at taking a measure of revenge on the visiting team.
When the offense has the ball you can look for Pitt to pound the pigskin forward. Last year they had two backs in around the 100-yard mark against the Cowboys and thanks to a veteran offensive line, they stand poised to run rampant again this year.
#25 UCLA @ Memphis | 12 noon Eastern | ABC
The Bruins find themselves barely in the rankings and they will pay a social call on a team that has the horses to knock them down a few notches.
Memphis QB Riley Ferguson threw for 3,698 yards and 32 touchdowns for the Tigers in 2016. This week he will face a team whose pass defense is traditionally tough. They do not allow many scores through the air, typically one per game over the past couple seasons. Memphis will have to find a way to generate scoring opportunities via other options if the want to knock off their guests.
Josh Rosen, the QB for the Bruins, should find his task easier. The Tiger secondary is not nearly as stout. That being said, the two teams are fairly even over all. If Memphis gets off to a good start and the crowd gets into the game this contest should be the best of the early games.
#10 Wisconsin @ BYU | 3:30 Eastern | ABC
BYU has not announced a starting quarterback for this contest. Well, offensive coordinator Ty Detmer did but nobody really believes that one of his offensive linemen will be lining up under center.
Who actually does start could impact the type of game we will see. Tanner Mangum, the junior starter, left last week’s contest with an injury. Sophomore Beau Hoge fits into an entirely different mold than does Mangum. With the Cougar offense struggling to get on track, if Detmer is going to change things up, now would be a good time to do a in season revamp.
No matter which passer gets the nod, the Wisconsin Badgers have a tough defense. They can pretty much do it all from stuffing the run and getting heat on the passer to playing tight coverage downfield.
#16 Virginia Tech @ East Carolina | 3:30 Eastern | CBS Sports Network
The two teams are headed in opposite directions. The Hokies are climbing the rankings while ECU has fallen on hard times. Virginia Tech has faced some issues getting into rhythm offensively and they will be looking to regain form against a Pirate defense who has not proven that it can slow down either the run or the pass.
What ECF does have is an offense that can get it done, led by former Duke QB Thomas Sirk. They have put up over 400 yards of offense in each of their first two outings. If all holds to form, both squads will move the ball at will and this could turn into a shootout.
SMU @ #20 TCU | 3:30 Eastern | ESPNU
A prolific SMU offense that has broken the 50-point mark in each of its first two outings will run into a equally dominating TCU defense that has allowed 330 yards of offense in two combined games this season.
Something is going to have to give in the battle for Metroplex college football superiority.
The horned Frogs have owned the Mustangs in recent years, and they are favored to retain the Iron Skillet, which serves as the trophy in this series, but if the Mustangs can explode this battle could get interesting.
#23 Tennessee @ #24 Florida | 3:30 Eastern | CBS
This is the game of the afternoon. Rocky Top is becoming a factor again in the SEC and the Volunteers are looking to go into the Swamp and prove themselves by taking a second straight game from the Gators.
One thing that could play a role in this contest will be if the impact of Hurricane Irma takes a toll on the Gators. They could be drained from what they have been through; they could be motivated by it. You cannot tell until the game starts.
Army @ #8 Ohio State | 4:30 Eastern | Fox
This Army team is one of the better, if not the best, Black Knights squad in recent memory, but nobody really expects them to beat the Buckeyes.
This is the game where you tune in to see high level pro prospects display their skills and to see how the Buckeyes rebound from a disappointing performance against Oklahoma.
Colorado State @ #1 Alabama | 7:00 Eastern | ESPN2
Another mismatch, but it is the final non-conference tune up for the Crimson Tide. Expect that the current freshman class will get an opportunity to impress the coaching staff in this contest because it will be out of reach early.
The Rams are not that bad of a team, really, they are not, but they are totally out classed by the best team in college football.
#12 LSU @ Mississippi State | 7:00 PM | ESPN
The Tigers and Bulldogs get down to business in the SEC West. Expect this one to get physical as the two schools jockey for position in the conference. Both schools like to line up over the football and smack the other guy in the mouth.
One thing that might have an impact on the outcome of the contest will be the status of several players on the LSU side. The team does not make any information available about eligibility or disciplinary issues, but several of the Tigers have be conspicuously in and out of practices over the past few weeks.
It is anyone’s guess what is going on, but with players being unaccounted for for stretches at a time, something is going on and it cannot be good for the program.
#3 Clemson @ #14 Louisville | 8:00 Eastern | ABC
With #11 Florida State idled due to the impact of Irma, Louisville and Clemson will look to assert their own influence in the ACC. The victors will emerge from this contest in a good position to start making an impact on not only the conference but potentially in the national championship battle as well.
Football is a game of inches, and in last year’s contest it all came down to the Tigers stopping Lamar Jackson 36 inches short on fourth down at the end of the game. That yard made all the difference in Clemson securing a national title.
There is no reason to expect any different this time around.