Written by: John Stocco
After a pretty awesome week of College Football, week 3 is kind of a let down. Now that I said that it’s probably going to be the best week of the entire season. This weekend our spotlight games have some consequences when you start looking into the depth of the power five conferences. We have some rivalry games on our hands, interesting matchups, and under the radar draft prospects to keep an eye on in the third week of the college football season.
Pittsburgh @ #13 Penn State
I’ve been super impressed by Penn State this year. Sure the competition hasn’t been up to par, but what Penn State is doing isn’t a joke. James Franklin has built a sustainable program up there and they have put themselves in a tier with the likes of Wisconsin, Michigan State, Texas A&M, and Auburn. It’s a tier that you’re not expecting to be in the National Championship hunt, but it’s a tier where teams in it will always be relevant. Penn State stumbled a bit out of the gates against Buffalo but came out in the second half with their heads on fire ready to put their mark on Buffalo. No, Tommy Stevens? No problems. Tommy Stevens was supposed to be the man at quarterback but transferred out last minute to Mississippi State. Sean Clifford has ran with the opportunity and he hasn’t looked back. The sophomore quarterback has looked sharp in the first two weeks of the season, even though it was against lesser opponents. Clifford has thrown for 559 yards, 6 TD’s, 0 INT’s, and has completed 66% of his passes. This is a Penn State team that is in a rebuild mode. Over the last two seasons they have lost a lot of talent to the NFL. I’m not talking just bodies, I’m talking stars of the program. Saquan Barkley, ever heard of him? Miles Sanders, Trace McSorely, Connor McGovern, Mike Gesicki, DaeSean Hamilton, Shareef Miller, and Amani Oruwariye. Surprise surprise they have another player who’s getting a lot of love at the next level, and that’s edge rusher Yetur Matos-Gross. Those are key players on both sides of the ball that needed to be replaced. James Franklin has done a great job of keeping the program moving forward and changing up his style. What do they have now? Young players looking to put themselves on the map. The Sophomore Trio. Quarterback Sean Clifford is one of them, and two stud receivers in KJ Hamler and Jahan Doctson. It’s a young Penn State squad ready to test themselves against a Pittsburgh defense that is no laughing matter. They pummeled the Ohio Bobcats last week with defensive tackle Jaylen Twyman leading the way with 3 sacks. In an intense rivalry game I’m expecting this game to be intense, and getting a little chippy at times. Whenever that happens a team with inexperience can struggle.
#19 Iowa @ Iowa State
Another in-state rivalry week 3 of the season. This one is a rivalry that is the most annoying and it’s not even close. It’s not that I hate Iowa, nor is it that I hate Iowa State. I don’t really care for both teams. I just hate that I follow a lot of their fans on both sides, mostly because they’re Cubs fans, and they flood my timeline with some of the most annoying trash talk I’ve ever seen, and if you show just a little bit of criticism of their team they’re like an army that wants to do everything in their power to end your existence. Listen, both teams are good, just not good enough to beat the elite teams in their conference, so let’s all pipe it down a bit and live with it. Anyways, this is setting up to be one hell of a football game. First, Iowa State has a lot to prove in this game. They almost lost to Northern Iowa in week one, after that they couldn’t have asked for a better bye week and it was only week 2. Matt Campbell has been a rising star in the college coaching ranks for quite some time now, and I wouldn’t rule him out of any big game. Under Campbell, the Cyclones are 5-4 against ranked teams, three of those wins were against top 6 teams, and they’re riding a seven-game win streak at home. Campbell is building a solid foundation at Iowa State with their leaders, defensive end, JaQuan Bailey, and senior wide receiver Deshaunte Jones. Iowa State has the talent to pull off the upset this Saturday, but it starts and finishes with sophomore quarterback Brock Purdy. For Iowa, they need to win this game. Coming up on their schedule are games against Michigan, Penn State, and Wisconsin. A big win against Iowa State, and a win against 2 of those 3 teams, Iowa can put themselves in contention for a Big Ten Title game. Nate Stanley growing as a deep-ball passer, the protection up front, and the best edge rusher in college football AJ Epenesa, the Hawkeyes can have a few shocking wins this season, and it could all start with a convincing win against their rivals.
#5 Oklahoma vs. UCLA
I’m not expecting a miracle upset from Chip Kelly’s UCLA Bruins. A lot of people are quick to give up on a coach, especially in college, but when you have a scheme like Chip Kelly’s scheme, it takes time to develop the talent, and also bring the talent in. UCLA is going to be fine, people just have to give it time. Why is this a spotlight game for week 3? My eyes will be locked in on Jalen Hurts. I don’t wanna look at the statline, I don’t want to see the big flashy highlights, I want to see how he’s developed strictly as a quarterback. I want to see how he’s improved his vision, his accuracy, reading defenses, and how he can get himself out of trouble if he faces any trouble. Look at some of these names heading into draft season. Tua Tagovailoa, Jake Fromm, Justin Herbert, Jordan Love, Jacob Eason, Joe Burrow, Nate Stanley, and now Jalen Hurts. Now I know not all of them are going to pan out at the next level. Maybe 2 of them will end up being anything special in the NFL, but has there ever been this many names at the quarterback position in college that are getting hype as we approach draft season? With the history of quarterbacks and Lincoln Riley, I wouldn’t rule out Jalen Hurts.