Games to Watch: Week Three

Steve Helwick

No. 25 UCLA at Memphis

Saturday, 11 a.m., ABC

Memphis last played in August, after the team’s conference match against UCF was canceled. But the upset-hungry Tigers host a home game against junior quarterback Josh Rosen and the UCLA Bruins. Two years ago, Memphis convincingly downed Mississippi and climbed as high as No. 15 in the AP poll. The Tigers’ competition, UCLA, has already rolled over Hawaii in week two this year, just one week after stunning the country with a 45-44 over Texas A&M. Rosen, with 491 yards and four touchdowns, fought back down 44-10 to beat the Aggies, completing the second-largest comeback in FBS history for the Bruins. As a result, UCLA is ranked after a disappointing 4–8 record last season, but it faces a feisty Memphis team Saturday.

No. 23 Tennessee at No. 24 Florida

Saturday, 2:30 p.m., CBS

Both SEC East contenders sit on the ledge of the Top 25, with the loser likely dropping out of the rankings. After 11 straight wins by the Gators from 2005-2015, Tennessee finally claimed its long-awaited victory last September, roaring back from a 21-3 halftime deficit. The Volunteers can attribute their undefeated record to their defense, halting Georgia Tech’s potential game-winning two-point conversion in Week One. Tennessee has become accustomed to comebacks under head coach Butch Jones and overthrew the Yellow Jackets in overtime after trailing by 14 in the fourth quarter. Florida has not seen the field since a Week One loss to Michigan, as a result of a Hurricane Irma game cancellation. The Gators have scored 17 points this season but every touchdown has come by way of head coach Jim McElwain’s unforgiving defense.

No. 12 LSU at Mississippi State

Saturday, 6 p.m., ESPN

LSU has won 16 out of the last 17 in this SEC West showdown, but Mississippi State is off to a promising start in 2017. Dual-threat junior quarterback Nick Fitzgerald weaved through the Louisiana Tech defense last weekend, running for 111 yards and two touchdowns in the lopsided 57-21 victory — a game in which the defense forced a third-and-93 in a viral play. In Ed Orgeron’s first year as the team’s head coach, LSU started off in an authoritative manner, stomping on BYU in a 27-0 victory. Mississippi State has fallen just short in the past two years against the Tigers, but Bulldog head coach Dan Mullen’s team will attempt to rally around the cowbells and the home fans.

No. 3 Clemson at No. 14 Louisville

Saturday, 7 p.m., ABC

Louisville has cast its eyes on this game ever since falling one-yard short on a fourth down conversion by the goal line in last season’s edition. Both teams finished 7–1 in ACC play, but Clemson won the conference as a result of the head-to-head victory. The reigning national champions have lost Deshaun Watson at quarterback, but junior quarterback Kelly Bryant has fulfilled the role smoothly, rushing for three touchdowns in Clemson’s two victories this season. But Louisville has the edge at quarterback, with electrifying playmaker Lamar Jackson once again proving why he won last season’s Heisman Trophy. The junior has thrown for over 375 yards and rushed for over 100 in both of the Cardinals’ contests this season.