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College Football Week 3 Preview: Pressure on #17 UCF vs. Power-5 Stanford team down on their luck

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Week three doesn’t offer too many marquee matchups but there are some storylines if you look hard enough.

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NCAA Football: Central Florida at Florida Atlantic Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

This is an open thread for college game chat.


#6 Ohio State @ Indiana: Can the 2-0 Hoosiers break a 23-game losing streak to the Buckeyes in the early game? - 12 pm ET FOX

That’s right, the Buckeyes have beaten Indiana 23-straight times and the Hoosiers haven’t pulled out the ‘W’ since their 41-7 rout in 1988. Both teams are currently 2-0 but are from two different worlds of college football that happen to play in the same conference. Justin Fields gives the Buckeyes a huge edge at quarterback and if the Hoosiers are to have a chance, they must limit OSU’s big-play abilities:

If IU is going to keep up in this game the offense is going to need to Make Things Happen. The Hoosiers will need Whop Philyor to turn a quick hitter into a 20+ yard pickup, they’ll need Michael Penix Jr. to hook up with Donavon Hale, Nick Westbrook and Peyton Hendershot for large chunks of yards, they’ll need the special teams to make a difference at least once if they want to win.

If you want to beat a more talented team, it starts with a big play (or two or three or…) that’ll help level the playing field. More importantly, it’s probably guaranteed that the Buckeyes will make a few big plays considering the weapons they have.

Prediction: The Buckeyes are favored by 14 points and I do see Indiana hanging around until halftime. However, give me Ohio State by three scores in the end.

Stanford @ #17 UCF: If the Knights have staying power in the AP Poll, they can’t let down against struggling Cardinal - 3:30 pm ET ESPN

Stanford just got smoked by the USC Trojans 45-20 and David Shaw cannot be too happy about that performance. Despite that blowout taking some of the steam off this one, UCF has all the motivation to get the job done. The last time these two played was a 31-7 loss for UCF as they were 0-12 on the 2015 season, UCF went 6-7 in 2016. Since then, the Knights have been on a 27-1 run. They need to notch this win versus a Power-5 school in worst way and must rely on that offense to get there:

KEY MATCHUP

UCF’s high-powered offense against a Stanford defense that yielded 492 yards in its Pac-12 opener against USC. True freshman Dillon Gabriel threw for 245 yards and two touchdowns in his first start last week. Former Notre Dame star Brandon Wimbush, who started at QB in the Knights’ opener against Florida A&M, could be active, too, after sitting out last week due to an undisclosed injury.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Stanford: Leading rusher Cameron Scarlett has carried it 39 times for 179 yards and one touchdown in two games. Wide receiver Conner Wedington has 12 catches for 136 yards and one TD.

UCF: Running back Greg McCrae spearheads a ground attack that has gained over 300 yards rushing each of the past two weeks. When Gabriel and/or Wimbush take to the air, the Knights have capable receivers in Gabriel Davis and Tre Nixon.

Prediction: Give me UCF by four in a close game against a motivated Stanford squad

#19 Iowa @ Iowa State: Who wins the CY-HAWK TROPHY on the biggest stage when Gameday rolls into town? 4 pm ET FS1

Over the past few years, the Cyclones have played spoiler in the BIG-12 where they pulled out wins against heavyweights like OU among the notable victories. Can they now turn attention and do the same to their in-state rivalry that has a 44-22 series edge over them? Prior to the season kickoff, many experts were worried that the Hawkeyes lost too much talent for Nate Stanley to succeed but they were wrong:

The biggest question mark facing the Iowa Hawkeyes to start the season was if the play of Nate Stanley could survive the loss of NFL pass-catching talent that surrounded him in 2018. Stanley has exceeded expectations, boosting his passing grade by 18 points to start 2019. He has the ninth-best accurate plus throw percentage in the FBS. As a unit, the Hawkeyes have an 83.4 offensive grade and have put up at least 30 points in their first two contests. Iowa State has only had one contest where they underachieved but emerged victorious against Northern Iowa. Both quarterbacks in this contest have 120 passer ratings when kept clean.

Prediction: Hawkeyes add their 45th victory though the Cyclones have enough firepower on offense to contend

#1 Clemson @ Syracuse: After Maryland squeezed all the juice out the Orange, will they have enough to give Clemson a third-consecutive nail biter? 7:30 pm ET ABC

Much like the UCF-Stanford matchup, this game doesn’t have nearly the amount of sizzle it had prior to last week’s results. Maryland just absolutely dominated Syracuse in an ugly afternoon that won’t be forgotten anytime soon. However, for some reason, Syracuse gets up for these matchups with Clemson. Syracuse actually beat #2 Clemson 27-24 in 2017 and last season lost to the Tigers by only four points. It was the toughest game all year for Clemson, so can the Orange make this one an exciting thriller for the third straight year?

“We’ll see if Syracuse can keep up that second half success on Saturday night. It may sound cliche, but keeping the Clemson defense guessing could open up the types of big plays that the Orange will need to pull off the upset.

Though we’ve yet to see a ton of consistency from Syracuse there this season, previous seasons have shown just how much first down success means for this offense. In SU’s best offensive games since Babers took over, the Orange have typically had 12 or more first down plays of five yards or more — and at the peak, it’s been somewhere between 15 and 18.

Before the season started, we knew the potential for DeVito at quarterback, but were also hoping he wouldn’t be forced into being the Orange’s primary playmaker on offense. So far, that’s largely been the case, and it’s why he’s been put into spots where mistakes can happen. This offense needs balance in the way of having options, but it ultimately needs to be an attack that leans on the run first and foremost.

The longer they can stay in it against Clemson, the more that becomes a reality (and the more that increases their chances of pulling an unlikely upset there — or beating any other opponent, for that matter).”

Prediction: Clemson keeps the train rolling as they defeat Syracuse rather handily by three touchdowns.