CFB uk tv game previews: week three
By Joshua Edwards
Another 6 live CFB games this weekend for UK viewers and though there are no ranked matchups for the first time since 2007, there’s plenty to get stuck in to on BT Sport ESPN. Josh Edwards takes a look at the games in a quick-fire preview article for week three:
North Carolina @ Wake Forest
Friday Night Lights again for Wake Forest, who play their third Friday game in a row to open the season. The 2-0 Demon Deacons are 3pt favourites at home to a resurgent Tar Heels team which has already found a strong identity under returning head coach Mack Brown. UNC are also 2-0, upsetting South Carolina on a neutral site in week one and then Miami at home in week two. This is UNCs first true road game of the season and they’ll again put their trust in freshman QB Sam Howell, who has led the Tar Heels to two fourth quarter, game winning drives in his first two starts without throwing a pick.
Wake Forest were rampant on offense against Rice last week, wide receiver Scotty Washington gaining ACC receiver of the week honours after his 7 catch for 158 yards and two touchdown performance. UNC will need to keep Washington and his position room teammate Sage Surratt in check; Surratt won the same award in week one against Utah State.
Momentum is real: I’m siding with the Tar Heels on Friday night and if Howell can continue to play mistake-free football I like them to win their third straight game as underdogs, albeit in close fashion against a Wake Forest team with a lot of talent at the skill positions.
Prediction: North Carolina 31 – 27 Wake Forest
(20) Washington State @ Houston
The battle of the Cougars. A 2-0, 20th ranked Washington State travel to the lone star state to face a 1-1 Houston team in the primetime Friday night slot. Under former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach Washington State employs an Air Raid offense which is thriving this year, putting up 117 points in their first two games (albeit against lowly opposition in New Mexico State and Northern Colorado). Their defense has been complimentary too, with four turnovers last week. Quarterback Anthony Gordon has 9 touchdowns and just one interception thus far.
Houston lost to Oklahoma in week one but bounced back against Prairie View A&M, leading 34-3 at half time before easing off somewhat and finishing up 37-17. This week they’ll face their second ranked team of the season, and dual threat QB D’Eriq King could definitely cause Washington State some problems – Mike Leach’s team have struggled to contain running quarterbacks in the past and King is one of the best in the open field – he had 25 rushing touchdowns in his first three seasons.
All things told I doubt Houston’s defense can deal with Washington State’s Air Raid, as it certainly wasn’t up to the task against Jalen Hurts in week one. Look for Washington State to go 3-0 and continue to climb the AP poll in spite of a strong D’Eriq King performance.
Prediction: Washington State 45-17 Houston
Pittsburgh @ (13) Penn State
Pitt’s issue thus far in their 1-1 start has been their offense, which didn’t get off the ground against Virginia in the opener and wasn’t on song despite bouncing back in a 20-10 win over Ohio last week. Penn State on the other hand have gone 2-0 on the back of balanced, complete football. The Nittany Lions lead the league in sacks (8) and have been all over the run (21 tackles for a loss). On offense they’ve put up 124 points (79 in week 1 and 45 last week) and QB Sean Clifford has been excellent.
The only caveat to Penn State’s fantastic start is their less than impressive opposition – Idaho and Buffalo. Pitt will take some solace from their strong pass rush and the fact that their opening day loss was against a now ranked Virginia, but they’ll need to find more rhythm on offense under first year OC Mark Whipple if they’re going to challenge in their first road game of the season.
In the 100th meeting between the two Pennsylvania colleges I like Penn State to put another marker down and roll to a perfect 3-0 start, setting up a barnstormer of a Friday night road trip to Maryland, the Big 10’s surprise package so far, on the 27th.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 13-40 Penn State
(2) Alabama @ South Carolina
South Carolina were still reeling from their upset loss to North Carolina in Charlotte in week one when they took to the field in Columbia last Saturday. Unfortunately for Charleston Southern, the Gamecocks channelled that frustration into a raging week two performance which ended in a 72-10 blowout. With starting QB Jake Bentley out for the season after breaking his foot in the opener freshman backup Ryan Hilinski stepped in and played well, completing 24 of 30 for 282 yards, two scores and a pick. South Carolina did well to make the most of last week – they have the toughest schedule in all of college football and host 2nd ranked Alabama on Saturday afternoon.
The Crimson Tide are yet to be tested this season and it remains to be seen as to whether South Carolina will provide much opposition for Nick Saban’s team. Bama open up as 25 point favourites on the road, and Nick Saban won’t have forgotten Alabama’s last trip to Chapel Hill in 2010, when the Gamecocks stunned the Crimson Tide 35-21. On that day receiver Alshon Jeffery led the way for South Carolina with a stunning performance (7 catches for 127 yards and two touchdowns) but the best receiver on show on Saturday will be in red. Jerry Jeudy has been electric thus far in 2019 and is on track to be drafted in the first round in the spring.
That game back in 2010 was the last time Saban lost to an SEC East team and he won’t allow lightning to strike twice. Expect Alabama to come out swinging and land a knockout blow early.
Prediction: Alabama 56-17 South Carolina
(9) Florida @ Kentucky
The Gators are 2-0 after a tight, week zero win over Miami and a 45-0 shutout of UT Martin last week. Despite the unbeaten start Florida are on a lot of people’s watch list for a slide down the AP poll – they weren’t convincing in their win against Miami, especially QB Feleipe Franks. Franks will be particularly keen to put in a strong showing on Saturday as last season he became the first Gators quarterback to lose to Kentucky in three decades.
The Wildcats are 2-0 to start the season too after wins against Toledo and Eastern Michigan, but lost starting signal caller Terry Wilson to a knee injury. Wilson is out for the season and is replaced by Troy transfer Sawyer Smith. Smith faces a tough task against Florida’s secondary, even with CJ Henderson out at corner for the Gators. Kentucky’s key will be how well they can control the clock by running the football, and taking the pressure off Smith in his first Wildcats start. For Florida, the formula might be to throw the football more than usual in an effort to get ahead of Kentucky and force them to throw.
Florida are probably too good for Kentucky anyway and now that the Wildcats are starting their backup I can’t see them winning their third straight game at Kroger Field to open up the season. Look for Florida to pull away in the second half and cover the spread.
Prediction: Florida 35-14 Kentucky
Texas Tech @ Arizona
A pick-em game to finish the TV slate with Texas Tech travelling to Arizona as just 2pt favourites on the road. The Red Raiders are 2-0 after wins against Montana State and UTEP and will be desperate to be 3-0 before they travel to Oklahoma on the 28th. Quarterback Alan Bowman has been exceptional so far with a 71.4% completion percentage, 5 touchdowns and just 1 pick.
Arizona are 1-1 after a loss to Hawaii in week zero but bouncing back against Northern Arizona last week. Dual threat QB Kahlil Tate might be the beating heart of the Wildcat offense but it’s their defense which has held them back thus far this season – in just two games they’ve given up 809 passing yards and conceded 86 points. Sumlin’s seat is warming up and a 1-2 start in what has become a competitive conference (Utah, USC, Colorado and Arizona State) would be a disaster for the Wildcats and a big knock on Tate’s supposed Heisman credentials.
Did you know that the Red Raiders and Wildcats were rivals back in the day? Despite not playing since 1989 the two teams faced off 17 times in the old Border Conference between 1932 and 1955. Texas Tech dominated then (15-1-1), and I like them to do the same on Saturday night with a convincing win on the road behind the arm of Alan Bowman.
Prediction: Texas Tech 34-24 Arizona
The season so far for each of the teams, previous matchups, rivalries etc.