The USA TODAY Sports college football staff — Nicole Auerbach, Paul Myerberg, George Schroeder and Dan Wolken — weighs in with some bold predictions for Week 3 of the college football season:
Both Lamar Jackson and Dalvin Cook remain in the Heisman race after Saturday’s showdown. Normally, we as a college football community like to write off the star of a losing team, particularly in a big early-season matchup.
But not only will this game live up to its top-10 hype, it will also give us two spectacular performances that will cement both Louisville’s dynamic quarterback and Florida State’s explosive running back as legitimate Heisman contenders and appointment TV the rest of the season.
At least three ranked teams will lose at home. Several games could qualify. Louisville hosts Florida State. Mississippi hosts Alabama. Notre Dame takes on Michigan State. Oklahoma must find a way to handle Ohio State.
It’s well within the realm of possibility that all four home teams lose, in fact — not including the odds that a ranked home team loses to an unranked opponent, which we’ve seen a few times already this season.
It’s more than a little odd, the idea that a quarterback who wasn’t exactly spectacular at Purdue is the guy who’s going to resuscitate (or just suscitate, to make up a word) LSU’s offense. But junior transfer Danny Etling replaced Brandon Harris last week when the Tigers were struggling again, this time against Jacksonville State. He wasn’t close to great, but he was solid and provided a spark.
But if there’s at least a case to be made that a quarterback doesn’t have to be quite as good surrounded by talent at LSU as at, say, Purdue … that feels like so much spin. This is not an especially bold prediction, sorry. Etling was better last week than Harris has been. He might be better, period.
But if the expectation remains winning the SEC West (and from there, the SEC, and getting to the College Football Playoff) — and make no mistake, that’s exactly the expectation — then Etling isn’t the answer. As has become usual in Baton Rouge, there apparently is no quarterback answer on campus.
Everyone dumps on Oklahoma after the Sooners lose a big game, which has happened frequently the last few years. But just when you're ready to write the Sooners off, they have a knack for bouncing back in a big way, and Bob Stoops will do it again this week with a win at home as the underdog.
Ohio State is getting all the buzz right now, which is probably well-deserved coming off two blowout victories. But this is still a young team going into a very hostile environment, and Oklahoma already has played a top-10 opponent in Houston while Ohio State was beating up on nobodies. Obviously, the Sooners looked awful against Houston, causing everyone to jump off the bandwagon, but you have to think they have learned some things and spent the last couple weeks addressing the areas where they were exposed.
There's no better way to prepare for playing a good team than playing a good team. Oklahoma has done that, and Ohio State has not. Edge to the Sooners at home as they reclaim their reputation as a top-10 team.