Once again, there is no Thursday night game for reasons beyond my comprehension. It sucks, but for now we’ll just skip ahead to Friday night.
Give It A Rest, Ramona. This Is A League Game Shift
In one of the weirder quirks in recent college football memory, North Carolina will play conference mate Wake Forest in Winston-Salem at 6:00 local time on ESPN in a game...that isn’t a conference game. It doesn’t make any sense, but here we are. UNC has been pleasantly surprising in their first two games, springing big-ish wins over South Carolina and Miami to kick off Mack’s return to Chapel Hill. Shitty time slot aside, this should be a sneaky good game.
If you want to look in on the Les Miles trainwreck at Kansas, the Jayhawks will play at Boston College an hour and a half later on the ACC Network.
The Pirate In The Bayou Shift
Washington State travels down to play Houston, but not in TDECU. This game will instead be held in NRG, which is honestly so completely unnecessary. I’m not saying Washington State won’t travel well but it won’t be like Texas or A&M is coming to town. Add to the fact that this game is happening on a Friday night in Texas? We’re looking at MAYBE a 60% capacity lmao. As for the actual game, Houston’s offense hasn’t been quite the same offense we’ve come to expect from the Cougars, ranking 37th in SP+. Add to the fact that their defense is sitting at 99th, it doesn’t bode well for the Coogs.
The Keystone Shift
The Joe Moorhead offense has been been working at peak Moorhead in the first two week of the season behind former Nittany Lion Tommy Stevens, ranking third in offensive SP+. Of course, their opponents to date have been ULL, who scored 28, and Southern Miss. The Ragin’ Cajuns are terrible on defense and the Golden Eagles are better, but the Kansas St Wildcats will bring the first top-50 defense to the Bulldog’s plate. (Also Stevens may be hurt and might not even start, along with an unknown number of still suspended Mississippi St players. Suspense!)
Speaking of Penn State!
Pitt and Penn State enter the fourth year of the reborn rivalry, and after the Panthers won the first meeting in 2016, it looks like the Nittany Lions are in position to win their fourth in a row. I’m not going to say Pitt has a strong chance of using the rivalry chaos card, but if Buffalo could keep it close, then so can Pitt. The problem is that their offense is...not great.
A week after their curb stomping over Syracuse, Maryland heads over to Philly to play Temple in a game that...the Owls are favored in. Narrowly, but still favored. I’m not sure why the numbers say that, but I personally think the Maryland O vs. Temple D matchup is more favorable for the Terps than the Temple O vs. Maryland D. But I’ve been wrong before, many times in fact.
ALSO: NC State-West Virginia, Ohio State-Indiana.
¡EL ASSICO! Shift
Gameday will visit Ames, Iowa for the first time in ever for the annual early-ish season meeting of in-state rivals Iowa and Iowa State. Take all of the numbers with a liberal amount of salt because this game (along with Red River, the Iron Bowl, and The Game) have developed a reputation for going off-script and it usually ends up a convoluted, unpredictable mess of a game.
It rules, basically.
Over on the mothership, UCF welcomes Stanford and their #bodyclocks. Both offenses are off their normal paces so far, but the Golden Knights defense has been holding up surprisingly well thus far, ranking 23rd in SP+. That matchup against the Cardinal’s 94th ranked offense should be enough to swing the game in UCF’s favor before you factor in the timezones and Florida heat + humidity. Of course, the Knights have only played Florida A&M and Florida Atlantic, so...
Bad news for people who love bad news: USC appears not to be a sinking ship after all, JT Daniels injury and all. The Trojans are 2-0 and are favored by a touchdown ahead of an out of character road game in Provo against BYU. Of course, things can go south with a backup quarterback pretty fast and BYU is known for playing a certain brand of aggressive football.
If you’re a fan of great defenses who is tired of offense running around unregulated, then hooooo boy is Arizona State-Michigan State for you. The Spartans have the 12th ranked defense and 67th ranked offense while the Sun Devils have the #7 defense and #109 offense. This has strong 9-6 potential, if that’s what the heart desires.
ALSO: Oklahoma State at Tulsa.
GRUDGE MATCH Shift
Last year, Kentucky snapped a THIRTY-ONE (31) YEAR losing streak to Florida with a 27-16 victory in Gainesville. That one of the better Kentucky teams in recent memory and a Florida team that was rather disappointing at the time of the game. This year it looks like things miiiight bounce back to normal. But I struggle to commit to that because so far, the Wildcats offense is pretty good, ranking 20th in SP+. Granted the Gators are ranking 6th in defense, but the Wildcats are going to get theirs. Just keep a close eye on that if you’re not in Tiger Stadium.
The real stud of the stable is TCU-Purdue, the meeting of the minds that pits Gary Anderson’s defense (16) against Jeff Brohm’s offense (28). I think the Brohmfense is still a work in progress this year, but if they can figure it out then this game could get REAL interesting.
Florida State came dangerously close to getting upset by ULM, needing overtime to top the Warhawks. This week they travel to Charlottesville, and I cannot believe that I am going to say this, in a pretty great matchup between the Seminoles #9 offense and the Cavaliers #19 defense. The difference in the game might come down to the Noles’ defense and their vulnerability to get violated.
After winning two games against PAC-12 opponents on the islands, Hawaii goes for broke with a trip to Seattle to play Washington. The run probably ends here, but Cole McDonald is the most Dr. Bo player we’ve had in college football since Dr. Bo himself, and that itself is worth the price of admission. The only issue is that the game will air on the PAC-12 Network, and good luck finding a legal way to watch that.
Desert Sunset Shifts
Really the only notable game of the late night shift is Texas Tech-Arizona. This is the first real look we’ll get of Matt Wells’ Texas Tech against a power five opponent after they beat Montana State 45-10 and UTEP 38-3. What’s notable about those scores isn’t the points that the Red Raiders scored but rather the lack of points they allowed. Adjust heavily for the opponent, but only allowing one touchdown in two weeks is a marked improvement for TTU.
...on the other side of the ball is the Kevin Sumlin-lead Arizona, who lost their opening game against Hawaii in Week Zero 45-38 before beating Northern Arizona last week. Now that we have established that Arizona won the game, here is the kicker: they allowed 41 points to Northern Arizona. They were up 51-13 at half, but regardless, 41 points to Northern Arizona realllllllly shouldn’t happen. If the Wildcats lose, things could get REAL hot for Kevin Sumlin in a hurry.
ALSO: Portland State-Boise State, Montana-Oregon.