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Week 3 of the 2022 college football season might not have many marquee matchups, but plenty of big-time programs are looking to bounce back from an upset or close call.
Here are our previews and predictions (point spreads courtesy of DraftKings, and current at the time of publication, while subject to change) for those games involving teams ranked in The Associated Press Top 25. Plus, other interesting matchups.
All times Eastern. Statistics in parentheses are from 2022 unless otherwise noted.
1 of 25
Texas State (1-1) at No. 17 Baylor (1-1), Noon, Saturday, FS1
Gabriel Mayberry/USA TODAY Sports
This sets up a nice bounce-back opportunity for Baylor following last weekend’s 26-20 double-overtime road loss at then-No. 21 BYU. The Bears are 8-0 all-time against Texas State, a university that sits roughly 130 miles from the Baylor campus. Despite last weekend’s defeat, Baylor’s defense has been pretty strong early on, especially while allowing just 170 yards against the run. Texas State recorded -12 rushing yards during its opening 38-14 loss at Nevada on Sept. 3.
Prediction: Baylor (-30)
2 of 25
Youngstown State (2-0) at No. 9 Kentucky (2-0), Noon, Saturday, SEC Network
Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports
Maybe Kentucky really is a football school? OK, too soon. The Wildcats started 2-0 last season, then trailed in the fourth quarter before beating perennial FCS power Chattanooga 28-23 in Week 3. Fast forward one season, and it’s the same time of year against another FCS opponent. Listening to these Wildcats, though, they won’t take anything for granted, especially not with a defense that’s held quality teams in Miami (Ohio) and then-No. 12 Florida to 29 points.
Prediction: Kentucky (OFF)
3 of 25
Connecticut (1-2) at No. 4 Michigan (2-0), Noon, Saturday, ABC
David Reginek/USA TODAY Sports
It appears J.J. McCarthy (15-for-16, 259 yards, three touchdowns) will be Michigan’s quarterback going forward. Making Cade McNamara (13-for-24, 162 yards, one touchdown, one interception) the country’s top backup. However, both could see time against UConn, which allowed 79 points in its two FBS losses to Utah State and Syracuse. Though it might not matter in this contest, the health of versatile Wolverines running back Donovan Edwards is worth watching.
Prediction: Michigan (-47 1/2)
4 of 25
No. 6 Oklahoma (2-0) at Nebraska (1-2), Noon, Saturday, Fox
Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports
When the season kicked off, did we think each of these long-time rivals would have a new head coach? But after Scott Frost was fired followed Nebraska’s 45-42 home loss to Georgia Southern last Saturday, that’s where things stand. Interim coach Mickey Joseph will guide the Cornhuskers against a Sooner squad that’s thriving while outscoring its opponents 78-16 in the first two games under Brent Venables. Oklahoma struggled to a 23-16 home win against Nebraska last season, but we don’t see it being that close again.
Prediction: Oklahoma (-11)
5 of 25
No. 1 Georgia (2-0, 0-0 in SEC) at South Carolina (1-1, 0-1 in SEC), Noon, Saturday, ESPN
Dale Zanine/USA TODAY Sports
Following Alabama’s close call at Texas, Georgia vaults into the No. 1 spot in the Top 25. The reigning national champs have picked up where they left off, allowing just a field goal and 441 total yards of offense in their first two games while scoring 82. That likely doesn’t bode well for the Gamecocks, who have lost three straight home games in this series, and will be without defensive starters linebackers Jordan Strachan and Mo Kaba, who each suffered a season-ending ACL injury last week.
Prediction: Georgia (-24)
6 of 25
No. 22 Penn State (2-0) at Auburn (2-0), 3:30 p.m., Saturday, CBS
Matthew OHaren/USA TODAY Sports
The Nittany Lions make their 2022 Top 25 debut, and now have to travel to Auburn. Last season, Penn State pulled out a 28-20 home victory over the then-No. 22 Tigers. This year, Sean Clifford (495 passing yards, five touchdowns, and one interception) will put his early season success to the test against an Auburn program that believes coach Bryan Harsin is still the right man for the job, and has allowed 16 points in each of its first two contests.
Prediction: Auburn (+3)
7 of 25
No. 20 Mississippi (2-0) at Georgia Tech (1-1), 3:30 p.m., Saturday, ABC
Matt Bush/USA TODAY Sports
Michigan isn’t the only big-name school to alternate quarterbacks. USC transfer Jaxson Dart started Mississippi’s opener, and sophomore Luke Altmyer got the call against Central Arkansas last weekend. As of Tuesday, coach Lane Kiffin had not named a starter. Regardless of who is under center, or both, could be in for a big day against a Georgia Tech defense that’s allowed 530 passing yards and four touchdowns on the young season.
Prediction: Georgia Tech (+16 1/2)
8 of 25
No. 12 BYU (2-0) at No. 25 Oregon (1-1), 3:30 p.m., Saturday, Fox
Troy Wayrynen/USA TODAY Sports
BYU has an opportunity to make a massive statement this weekend. Sure, beating then-No. 9 Baylor in double overtime last weekend was a big deal, but that came at home. Oregon is a West Coast foe that the Cougars tend to be in the shadow of when it comes to football recognition. The Ducks managed to bounce back from that rough opening loss to Georgia, but even though they are at home, know what’s at stake in another potentially grueling showdown. This is the first time these programs have met since 2006 and at Eugene since the Ducks’ 32-16 victory in 1990.
Prediction: Oregon (-3 1/2)
9 of 25
Louisiana-Monroe (1-1) at No. 2 Alabama (2-0), 4 p.m., Saturday, SEC Network
Scott Wachter/USA TODAY Sports
Is there reason to panic after the Crimson Tide’s near upset at the hands of Texas? Yes, Bryce Young proved why he’s still the best player in college football, but Alabama committed a whopping Nick Saban-era record 15 penalties and totaled just 374 yards against the Longhorns. We don’t expect the Tide to be in danger of losing this weekend, but there are long-term questions surrounding the program at the moment. However, Saban will do all he can to ensure his team isn’t spooked again.
Prediction: Alabama (-49 1/2)
10 of 25
Liberty (2-0) at No. 19 Wake Forest (2-0), 5 p.m., Saturday, ACC Network,
Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports
Looking healthy, Wake’s Sam Hartman didn’t skip a beat while throwing for 300 yards and four touchdowns without an interception in his 2022 debut at Vanderbilt last weekend. With 26 wins over the past three seasons, Liberty is no slouch. But, with Hartman back under center for the Demon Deacons, the program is ready to resume rolling toward challenging for another ACC Atlantic Division title.
Prediction: Wake Forest (-16 1/2)
11 of 25
Missouri State (2-0) at No. 10 Arkansas (2-0), 7 p.m., Saturday, ESPN+/SEC Network
Nathan Papes/Springfield News-Leader/USA TODAY NETWORK
Arkansas has scored 75 points in two games, and quarterback KJ Jefferson totaled 514 yards, so this is expected to be a one-sided FBS-FCS matchup. However, that’s almost secondary to Bobby Petrino’s return to Arkansas, where he was fired following a motorcycle accident that opened the door to more controversy 10 years ago. Petrino has rebounded to build Missouri State into a top-five FCS program, but he likely won’t receive a warm welcome back to Fayetteville, thus providing plenty of intrigue.
Prediction: Arkansas (OFF)
12 of 25
Texas Tech (2-0) at No. 16 North Carolina State (2-0), 7 p.m., Saturday, ESPN2
Rob Kinnan/USA TODAY Sports
Texas Tech beat then-No. 25 Houston 33-30 in double-overtime at home. The Red Raiders have never taken down multiple Top 25, non-conference foes in any regular season. And they’ll have to do it on the road, against an N.C. State program that’s won 11 consecutive home contests. Plus, the Wolfpack held East Carolina and Charleston Southern to a combined 533 total yards and forced five turnovers through their first two games.
Prediction: N.C. State (-10)
13 of 25
Toledo (2-0) at No. 3 Ohio State (2-0), 7 p.m., Saturday, Fox
Barbara J. Perenic/Columbus Dispatch/USA TODAY NETWORK
The Buckeyes are expected to have star Jaxon Smith-Njigba (hamstring), but is Marvin Harrison Jr. (12 receptions, 240 yards, three touchdowns) blossoming into the Buckeyes’ best receiver? Or what about an inspired Ohio State that’s allowed 22 points in two games? Toledo is expected to challenge for a Mid-American Conference title, but since 1998, are 0-4 against ranked Big Ten opponents. Three of those games were against Ohio State.
Prediction: Ohio State (-32 1/2)
14 of 25
Arkansas-Pine Bluff (2-0) at No. 8 Oklahoma State (2-0), 7 p.m., Saturday, Big 12 Network/ESPN+
Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman/USA TODAY NETWORK
After Oklahoma State’s defense got a little careless during that season-opening 58-44 win over Central Michigan, it buckled down during last weekend’s 34-17 victory over Arizona State. The Cowboys have s chance put on a truly dominant defensive display against this FCS opponent. Since 1983, Oklahoma State is 26-0 against FCS opponents and won the last three meetings with teams from that subdivision by at least two touchdowns.
Prediction: Oklahoma State (OFF)
15 of 25
Akron (1-1) at No. 15 Tennessee (2-0), 7 p.m., Saturday, ESPN+/SEC Network
Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports
Tennessee made a sizable statement by winning at Pittsburgh in overtime last weekend. Now, the Volunteers must avoid a letdown at home. We don’t really see that being a problem, but stranger things have already happened this season. Tennessee hasn’t started 3-0 since 2016, so there should be plenty of motivation for Josh Heupel’s group to stay focused. If college football fans don’t know about Tennessee receiver Cedric Tillman (15 receptions, 230 yards), remember the name.
Prediction: Akron (+47 1/2)
16 of 25
South Florida (1-1) at No. 18 Florida (1-1), 7:30 p.m., Saturday, SEC Network
Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports
Two weeks into Florida’s season, and we’re back to where we began when it comes to deciphering how good the Gators can be. What we do know is Florida will likely play in many close games in 2022. A three-point win over then-No. 7 Utah and a 10-point loss versus then-No. 20 Kentucky (in a game the Gators led 16-7) proved that. Though that might not be the case Saturday. Florida’s Anthony Richardson threw for two touchdowns and ran for 115 yards with a TD, on just four carries, during last season’s 41-20 victory over USF.
Prediction: Florida (-24 1/2)
17 of 25
No. 11 Michigan State (2-0) at Washington (2-0), 7:30 p.m., Saturday, ABC
Junfu Han/USA TODAY NETWORK
Consider this to be one of the more intriguing matchups of Week 3. This will be the Spartans’ first true test of the season, and quarterback Payton Thorne is completing just 57.7 percent of his passes and has thrown four touchdowns, but has already been intercepted three times. Meanwhile, Washington has allowed 26 points to Kent State and Portland State, but this will also be the first real challenge for the Huskies in 2022.
Prediction: Washington (-3)
18 of 25
No. 23 Pittsburgh (1-1) at Western Michigan (1-1), 7:30 p.m., Saturday, ESPNU
Michael Longo/For USA Today Network/USA TODAY NETWORK
As of Wednesday, Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi had not named a starting quarterback to lead the Panthers’ attempt to bounce back from last weekend’s overtime home loss to Tennessee. Regardless of who is healthy enough to be under center, the Panthers might have a sneaky challenge on their collective hands at Western Michigan, a program that won 44-41 at Pitt last season. The Broncos, however, have allowed 65 points while losing by 22 to then-No. 15 Michigan State and pulling out a three-point win at Ball State.
Prediction: Western Michigan (+10 1/2)
19 of 25
Louisiana Tech (1-1) at No. 5 Clemson (2-0), 8 p.m., Saturday, ACC Network
Ken Ruinard/USA TODAY Sports
Clemson has allowed 22 points through its first two games, but coach Dabo Swinney still expects his defense to be better than it’s shown. Louisiana Tech put up 24 points in a 28-point loss at Missouri to open its season, but the task is far greater this weekend at Death Valley. The Bulldogs also yielded 323 rushing yards in that loss. So, perhaps Clemson’s Will Shipley (20 carries, 110 rushing yards, four touchdowns) could be in for a big day.
Prediction: Clemson (-34)
20 of 25
UTSA (1-1) at No. 21 Texas (1-1), 8 p.m., Saturday, Longhorn Network
Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman/USA TODAY NETWORK
The Longhorns fell short of upsetting then-No. 1 Alabama and lost starting quarterback Quinn Ewers (clavicle) for possibly four weeks, but coach Steve Sarkisian won’t give an official timetable. Even so, they earned a spot in the Top 25. However, quarterback Hudson Card (ankle) and star running Bijan Robinson (shoulder) are also ailing. Throw in the fact that UTSA nearly knocked off then-No. 24 Houston in Week 1, has totaled 76 points through two games, and features stud quarterback Frank Harris (696 passing yards, six touchdowns, one interception; 93 rushing yards, one TD), an upset loss is not out of the question after the Longhorns gave their all against the Crimson Tide.
Prediction: UTSA (+12 1/2)
21 of 25
No. 13 Miami, Fla. (2-0) at No. 24 Texas A&M (1-1), 9 p.m., Saturday, ESPN
Maria Lysaker/USA TODAY Sports
This should be a fun one. Miami has allowed 20 points under Mario Cristobal through two games. Meanwhile, Texas A&M managed just 186 total yards during last week’s stunning 17-14 upset loss at the hands of Appalachian State. Aggies coach Jimbo Fisher isn’t ready to make changes or give up calling plays, and their defense is still relatively stout. Though, the Hurricanes have scored 100 points and totaled 1,050 yards this season. Hurricanes running backs Henry Parrish Jr. and Thaddius Franklin Jr. have combined for 340 yards and seven rushing touchdowns. These storied programs last met in 2007 and ’08, with Miami winning both meetings.
Prediction: Miami (+5 1/2)
22 of 25
San Diego State (1-1) at No. 14 Utah (1-1), 10 p.m., Saturday, ESPN2
Rob Gray/USA TODAY Sports
It’s payback time for the Utes, who fell 33-31 at San Diego State last season. Each team bounced back from being upset in Week 1. But, this time around, the series shifts to Salt Lake City, where Utah has won 27 consecutive games against non-conference opponents. The potential for a game is here, but Utah likely learned a serious lesson after falling to Florida. The Utes are the better team on paper and must show it on the field.
Prediction: Utah (-21)
23 of 25
Fresno State (1-1) at No. 7 USC (2-0), 10:30 p.m., Saturday, Fox
Stan Szeto/USA TODAY Sports
Two games into the 2022 season, and USC is living up to the hype. Under the direction of quarterback Caleb Williams (39-for-49, 590 passing yards, six touchdowns), the Trojans totaled 107 points versus Rice and Stanford. However, USC’s defense still has some kinks, and Fresno’s Jake Haener (65-for-87, 737 passing yards, three touchdowns) might be the best Group of Five quarterback in the country. USC should remain undefeated, but the scoreboard operator could get a workout in the process.
Prediction: USC (-12 1/2)
24 of 25
Purdue (1-1) at Syracuse (2-0), Noon, Saturday, ESPN2
David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports
Here’s a nice under-the-radar, non-conference matchup to keep an eye on. Syracuse is trying to go 3-0 for just the second time in five years. Led by quarterback Garrett Shrader (524 passing yards, five touchdowns), the Orange have totaled 79 points in beating Louisville and UConn. Now, another serious test awaits. The Boilermakers have a special quarterback of their own in Aidan O’Connell (567 yards, five touchdowns). Not to mention receiver Charlie Jones, who leads the country with 21 receptions — plus 286 yards and four TDs. This is the first meeting between the programs since Purdue’s 51-0 rout in 2004.
Prediction: Syracuse (-1 1/2)
25 of 25
California (2-0) at Notre Dame (0-2), 1:30 p.m., Saturday, NBC/Peacock
Matt Cashore/USA TODAY Sports
Including last season’s 37-35 loss to Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl, Marcus Freeman is the first Notre Dame coach to lose his first three games on the job. Adding injury to the insult of the Irish’s 26-21 home loss to Marshall last weekend, quarterback Tyler Buchner looks to be out for the season with a shoulder injury. Drew Pyne will now guide an offense that’s totaled 30 points in two games. Cal, which last started 3-0 in 2019, yielded 27 points in beating UC Davis and UNLV. At this point, Notre Dame’s 2022 path seems uncertain, and another upset loss is possible.
Prediction: Cal (+11)
Jeff Mezydlo has written about sports and entertainment online and for print for more than 25 years. He grew up in the far south suburbs of Chicago, 20 minutes from the Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting, Ind. He’s also the proud father of 11-year-old Matthew, aka “Bobby Bruin,” mascot of St. Robert Bellarmine School in Chicago. You can follow Jeff at @jeffm401.