What surprises or unexpected outcomes are coming this weekend?
The USA TODAY Sports college football staff — Jace Evans, Paul Myerberg, George Schroeder, Erick Smith and Eddie Timanus — weighs in with some bold predictions for Week 3 of the college football season:
Texas-El Paso will end the longest losing streak in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The Miners have not won since Nov. 26, 2016, a streak of 15 games. But with 0-4 New Mexico State coming to the Sun Bowl, UTEP has one of its best opportunities to get in the win column this season. One of these teams literally has to win this game, and with UTEP’s other best statistical shots coming on the road (the Miners are both at Rice and at Texas-San Antonio), the team should be up for this game and celebrating once again – finally – in El Paso.
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Nebraska gets its first win under Scott Frost by knocking off Michigan in what would be a pretty significant upset. It helps that Michigan’s offense has still looked unimpressive even with Shea Patterson under center.
Nebraska has a ton to work on and a long way to go before it hits on what Frost envisions for the program, but the Cornhuskers are capable of getting the road win if they can get out to an early lead and make Patterson and the Wolverines play catch up.
Mississippi State has been getting plenty of attention, going back to the offseason, for its potential as a dark horse in the SEC West, and there’s been nothing in the first quarter of the season to dampen the idea. But most folks probably still aren’t sure what to make of Kentucky. Led by a quarterback catalyst in Terry Wilson, the Wildcats finally snapped a losing streak to Florida that stretched back to forever. After they upset Mississippi State in Lexington this week, we’ll see Mark Stoops might have the SEC’s most pleasant surprise of the season.
Texas is back!
How many times have we heard that refrain? But it might actually be true this season despite the slow start by the Longhorns. They looked improved against Southern California and now have the opportunity for consecutive wins against ranked opponents when No. 17 TCU comes to down on Saturday.
The Horned Frogs are fresh off their difficult game against Ohio State, and it is a concern how much that game took out of them. It’s the perfect situation for Texas. Now the Longhorns just have to go out and avoid mistakes and the upset will return them to the rankings and put them in the thick of the Big 12 title race.
Saturday’s noon television window will provide viewers an opportunity to see two quarterbacks who might not be getting much in the way of Heisman buzz but who definitely have the attention of NFL scouts. One will win. One will not.
We’ll begin with the latter. Missouri’s Drew Lock is rated at the top of the list by some analysts in this year’s QB draft class. He has the size at 6-4, 225, and the arm strength that next-level evaluators like to see. Lockx also has the numbers, though he’s only three games into his senior campaign. He’s already thrown for 1,062 yards with a 69% completion rate and 11 TDs with just one pick. He’ll probably hit a big throw or two on Saturday, but not enough to overcome third-ranked Georgia.
Then there’s a guy you likely haven’t heard much about unless you’re a close follower of the Mid-American Conference. Tyree Jackson, a redshirt junior at Buffalo, is also getting attention. It helps that his Bulls are off to a 3-0 start, including a big league victory against Eastern Michigan. At 6-7, 240, he stands tall in the pocket and has a rocket for an arm. His last two seasons have been cut short by injuries, but thus far in 2018 he’s accumulated 789 passing yards with 12 touchdowns and also just one interception. He has a chance for a big day on a somewhat bigger stage as the Bulls visit Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights have the 98th-ranked defense in the bowl subdivision, which certainly bodes well for their MAC visitors.