Ellis: College football predictions for Week Three

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While Michigan State recovers from its early loss in a bye week, there’s still college football to be played. Hurricane Florence made its presence known in the college football world, nixing a potential marquee game this weekend in West Virginia at N.C. State, but there’s still some juicy games on the slate in Week Three.

All times Eastern

No. 5 Oklahoma (-17.5) at Iowa State, Noon, ABC

For the people (including myself) unwilling to buy into the Sooners, in their post-Baker Mayfield era, picking up right where they left off with Kyler Murray at the helm, Lincoln Riley can simply point to his ninth-ranked scoring offense in the country, which is averaging an absurd 56 points in its first two games. Losing Rodney Anderson for the year hurts, but sophomore Trey Sermon and JUCO transfer Marcelias Sutton seem ready to handle the load. The Sooners have arguably the nation’s best wide receiving duo in CeeDee Lamb and Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and I just don’t see the Cyclones having enough in their arsenal to slow down this offensive juggernaut. Oklahoma 45, Iowa State 17

No. 21 Miami (-10.5) at Toledo, Noon ET, ESPN2

The Hurricanes have looked less than stellar in 2018 after reaching the ACC title game and the Orange Bowl a season ago. Senior quarterback Malik Rozier, who got booed last week even in the Canes’ 77-0 rout of Savannah State, will have his hands full with one of the better, well-coached mid-majors in the nation. Jason Candle’s team gave them fits last year before the ‘Canes pulled away in the second half. I won’t be surprised to see the Rockets battle them right down to the wire, but the Hurricane defense should wear them down in a close one. Miami 24, Toledo 14

No. 12 LSU at No. 7 Auburn (-10.5), 3:30 p.m., CBS

I think 10 and a half points for Auburn, considering the start that LSU is on seems a bit generous. This is the game we’ll learn a lot more about LSU than we will with Auburn. Dave Aranda has a legit defense this year, a unit which should be able to keep the Tigers in this one, even against Jarrett Stidham and his explosive offense. This could be a coming-out party for Ohio State transfer Joe Burrow, who could notch his second signature win in three weeks. I give the offensive edge to Auburn and with the game in Jordan-Hare Stadium, a place which has seen 13 straight wins, I like Auburn in this one. Auburn 31, LSU 17

No. 1 Alabama (-21.5) at Ole Miss, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN

The over/under in this one is 71, and if I’m a betting man, I’m taking the over. Expect this one to be an offensive slugfest, with Tua Tagovailoa and co. looking to score at will against this Rebels defense. Ole Miss quarterback Jordan Ta’amu has three of the top-five leading receivers in the SEC in A.J. Brown, Braylon Sanders and D.K. Metcalf, so this offense should be able to find some soft spots in this Alabama defense which is far from a finished product. Alabama’s new-look offense should be too much to handle for this Rebel defense over the course of 60 minutes. The Tide keeps on rollin’. Alabama 51, Ole Miss 21

No. 17 Boise State at No. 24 Oklahoma State (-2.5), 3:30 p.m., ESPN

I’m a bit surprised to see that it’s the Cowboys, and not the Broncos, who are favored in this one. Boise has looked better than expected, rolling Troy (in Troy) and whomping UConn last week in a blowout. Mike Gundy has yet again one of the more explosive offenses in the nation, but I haven’t seen enough from their defense to think they can slow down Brett Rypien and the Broncos. Boise State gets a huge résumé-booster in Stillwater, quickly closing the gap on UCF as the best Group of Five team in the country. Boise State 31, Oklahoma State 27

No. 4 Ohio State (-12.5) at No. 15 TCU (Arlington, Texas), 8 p.m., ABC

This game is without a doubt the best game of the weekend. Ryan Day has had two brilliant showings in his interim head coaching debut, helping the Buckeyes average 65 points per game in their first two contests, which ranks second in all of the FBS. Gary Patterson has one of the better defenses in the Big 12 and has the speed and talent to hang around with Ohio State’s talented offense.

This will be the first major start in the spotlight for first-year starters Dwayne Haskins and Shawn Robinson, but I’m not sure how in the heck the Frogs can give Robinson any sort of time when they’ll have Nick Bosa, Chase Young and the rest of that tenacious Buckeye D relentless coming downhill all evening. Ohio State looks as good as anyone, boasting one of the more dynamic Buckeye offenses we’ve seen since Cardale Jones’ magic in 2014. Ohio State wins big in its last game without Urban Meyer on the sidelines. Ohio State 44, TCU 21

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