I don’t like to tell you that I told you so, buuuuut I told you so. Remember when I said that when the weekend looked like a hot pile of garbage that there was a more than likely chance for the college football world to turn in a few gems? Well, you should’ve remembered that because that’s exactly what happened.

Jacksonville State took Auburn to the final gun in a tete-a-tete no one saw coming.

Toledo, without stud RB Kareem Hunt, upset Arkansas in Little Rock, a scant few days after head coach Bret Bielema threw jabs at Ohio State as it pertained to its supposed weak schedule. He should have worried more about the other Ohio team on HIS schedule.

Notre Dame woke up the echoes with a stirring last second win when backup QB DeShone Kizer launched a moon rocket to WR Will Fuller for the game winner over Virginia on the road.

There were no Hail Mary passes to win games last weekend but it was a wonderful weekend, as they all are in the college football atmosphere. Here are some keys to the biggest games of week three and of course, my predictions for all games in FBS this weekend.

Ole Miss at Alabama

When Ole Miss has the ball…Alabama’s defense must keep it out of Laquon Treadwell’s hands, no matter what. It must force someone other than Treadwell to beat them and that could lead to a hugely important game for TE/Joker Evan Engram. Now healthy, he’s a rough matchup for S Eddie Jackson and company. If Engram is detached from the tackle, I’d think about putting my nickel corner on him the majority of the time in the passing game. If he’s attached, I might use Jackson, a former cornerback, but NEVER a linebacker in the passing game. Ole Miss put the Crimson Tide challenged the Tide secondary down the field, especially so by putting its backs out in the pass routes. Alabama’s front has power but little quickness off the edge, so QB Chad Kelly should get ample time to test the Tide downfield.

Ole Miss Offensive Player to Watch

LT No. 74 Fahn Cooper (if Laremy Tunsil is held out again) (Sr., 6'5", 306 lb.)

Alabama Defensive Player to Watch

ILB No. 19 Reggie Ragland (Sr. 6'2", 252 lb.)

When Alabama has the ball…play action, draws, screens, misdirection…anything that Alabama can use to slow Ole Miss down, it must use. Alabama OC Lane Kiffin used some run-pass option packages last week and that wrinkle, along with using screens to RB Derrick Henry, can be enough to slow the Ole Miss defense’s charge. Similarly to Ole Miss using Engram, Kiffin must involve O.J. Howard even more in the passing game. Force Ole Miss safety Tony Conner into coverage instead of floating near the box and making plays v. the run game. The Ole Miss defense won’t sit back, but it must be responsibility sound, especially so on first down. Put Alabama in second/third and long repeatedly and see if QB Jake Coker can beat them throwing to intermediate/deep areas of the field.

Alabama Offensive Player to Watch

TE No. 88 O.J. Howard (Jr., 6'6", 242 lb.)

Ole Miss Defensive Player to Watch

DE No. 27 Marquis Haynes (Soph., 6'3", 220 lb.)

2016 NFL Draft Player Matchup to Watch

Ole Miss WR No. 1 Laquon Treadwell v. Alabama CB No. 5 Cyrus Jones

Alabama C No. 70 Ryan Kelly v. Ole Miss DT No. 5 Robert Nkemdiche

Alabama TE No. 88 O.J. Howard v. Ole Miss S/Bandit No. 12 Tony Conner

Alabama RB No. 2 Derrick Henry v. Ole Miss ILB No. 10 C.J. Johnson

Conclusion

Many people that I’ve read or listened to have put their chips all in on Ole Miss winning this one. If Ole Miss is going to win in Tuscaloosa, this seems like this is THAT year, but I’m sorry, I just have a hard time going against Nick Saban at home, one year after a loss. The only team to beat Alabama in consecutive years was LSU in 2010 & 2011. They haven’t lost much in Saban’s tenure at Alabama and when the Crimson Tide have lost, they haven’t repeated that the following season. I don’t think the Alabama offense is where it’s going to be by the end of the season, but it does have some layers and it does have Derrick Henry. This could be a showcase game pounding on the Ole Miss front seven. I’m rolling Crimson Tide dice on the percentages, Saban, Tuscaloosa and Henry.

Alabama – 26 v. Ole Miss – 21

Other Key Games

Auburn v. LSU – The Plainsmen escaped while the Bayou Bengals survived last week. Regardless, both teams won last week to set up a battle of 2-0 teams in Baton Rouge. Auburn QB Jeremy Johnson needs to find consistency and he seems to be battling a confidence problem at the moment. But, RB Peyton Barber was magnificent in the narrow OT win over Jacksonville State. LSU’s Tigers held on for a 21-19 win over Mississippi State in Starkville. Similar to prior years, LSU handed, tossed or pitched the ball to its star running back who ran for a ton of yards and it bludgeoned an opponent to death. Same sentence I’ve written for years; it’s just that it’s Leonard Fournette’s year to be That Guy. Although watching LSU’s offense is a little like watching paint dry, I just don’t think Auburn is playing well enough to beat them in Baton Rouge.

LSU – 23 vs. Auburn – 20

Georgia Tech at Notre Dame – I love this game for a number of different reasons. First, I love option football and seeing how Notre Dame’s athletic and talented defense handles Paul Johnson’s option scheme is worth the price of admission. Second, I can’t wait to see how Mr. Calm DeShone Kizer handles the spotlight in this one. In case you missed it, here’s my breakdown for the Washington Post on Kizer and the loss of Malik Zaire

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/sports/wp/2015/09/16/the-most-pivotal-factor-in-notre-dames-quest-for-a-nationl-title/

Third, I could really see either of these teams being a thorn in the side of the playoff committee and being a real tough out in a playoff situation. Both coaches have experience in playoff settings, but it won’t matter much if they leave this one with an L. The key is going to be Notre Dame RB/Ath C.J. Prosise. I’d imagine Georgia Tech will work to take away WR Will Fuller, but Prosise can line up anywhere on the field. His offensive duality may be enough to put Notre Dame over the top at home against the pesky Yellow Jackets.

Notre Dame – 30 vs. Georgia Tech – 28

BYU at UCLA – The Bruins were my surprise pick to make the College Football Playoff and after the debut of true freshman QB Josh Rosen to start the season, I feel even better about that proclamation. That probably means BYU upsets the Bruins in the Rose Bowl, but I like what Jim Mora Jr. has done with this program, even if I’m not a huge fan of his. BYU has been tested, lost QB Taysom Hill and still survived. They have some speed on defense and the pass rush, led by OLB/DE Bronson Kaufusi, but opponents, Nebraska and Boise State, have scored 52 points on them over the past two weeks. UCLA’s offense is better than either one of those two teams and its defense will make QB Tanner Mangum’s life miserable for those three and a half hours.

UCLA – 35 vs. BYU – 20

Predictions for All Games involving FCS teams (Home team in bold)

Friday September 18, 2015

Florida State – 26 vs. Boston College – 22

Boise State – 49 vs. Idaho State – 13

Arizona State – 56 vs. New Mexico - 17

 

Saturday September 19, 2015

Akron – 54 vs. Savannah State – 6

Maryland – 23 vs. USF – 21

Michigan – 31 vs. UNLV – 17

Michigan State – 34 vs. Air Force – 19

Minnesota – 35 vs. Kent State - 10

FAU – 26 vs. Buffalo – 21

Texas A&M – 49 vs. Nevada – 17

North Carolina – 35 vs. Illinois – 31

Missouri – 41 vs. U Conn – 10

Wake Forest – 23 vs. Army – 20

Oklahoma – 42 vs. Tulsa – 16

Syracuse – 24 vs. Central Michigan – 19

Duke – 28 vs. Northwestern – 23

Oregon – 73 vs. Georgia State – 21

Ohio – 49 vs. SELA – 14

Rice – 29 vs. North Texas – 17

Temple – 24 vs. U Mass – 17

Eastern Michigan – 31 vs. Ball State – 28

Memphis – 47 vs. Bowling Green – 41

Kansas State – 34 vs. La. Tech – 17

Wisconsin – 42 vs. Troy – 20

Ohio State – 56 vs. No. Illinois – 17

Cincinnati – 38 vs. Miami (OH) – 24

Navy – 29 vs. East Carolina – 27

Marshall – 63 vs. Norfolk State – 13

Oklahoma State – 45 vs. UTSA – 20

Virginia – 38 vs. William & Mary – 16

Virginia Tech – 27 vs. Purdue – 13

Miami (FL) – 28 vs. Nebraska – 27

Mississippi State – 56 vs. Northwestern State – 7

Vanderbilt – 41 vs. Austin Peay – 16

Western Kentucky – 38 vs. Indiana – 31

Wofford – 29 vs. Idaho – 27

Washington – 26 vs. Utah State – 21

Georgia – 35 vs. South Carolina – 20

Georgia Southern – 41 vs. The Citadel – 17

UCF – 27 vs. Furman – 13

FIU – 49 vs. NC Central – 14

MTSU – 34 vs. Charlotte – 17

Texas State – 31 vs. Southern Miss – 30

Western Michigan – 42 vs. Murray State – 13

Arkansas State – 34 vs. Missouri State – 17

Arkansas – 41 vs. Texas Tech – 29

Tennessee – 56 vs. Western Carolina – 12

NC State – 41 vs. Old Dominion – 27

Colorado State – 24 vs. Colorado – 22 (Denver)

Kentucky – 23 vs. Florida – 21

Texas – 35 vs. Cal – 34

Penn State – 23 vs. Rutgers – 21

New Mexico State – 23 vs. UTEP – 20

Tulane – 51 vs. Maine – 21

San Diego State – 34 vs. South Alabama – 19

Iowa – 25 vs. Pitt – 23

USC – 29 vs. Stanford – 20

Oregon State – 26 vs. San Jose State – 20

TCU – 56 vs. SMU – 24

Toledo – 30 vs. Iowa State – 27

Washington State – 38 vs. Wyoming – 13

Utah – 37 vs. Fresno State - 20

Arizona – 45 vs. Northern Arizona – 17

Hawai’i – 41 vs. UC Davis - 20

 

 

 

 

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