At first glance, this upcoming weekend’s slate of games lacks the prestige of college football’s first two weeks. No two ranked teams will meet, and, admittedly, following the highly emotional victories for Auburn and LSU in the season’s early going… it’s easy to look across the country and feel a certain loss of anticipation.
But in the words of Lee Corso… not so fast, my friend.
This weekend is all about the games we might be overlooking - and if there’s one thing about college football, we know that even the best teams can’t get caught looking ahead towards bigger games down the line.
So, which games have the potential to shock us with unforgettable classics? Here are my picks...
Game of the Week:
Iowa State vs. (19) Iowa
Saturday, September 14 | 4:00PM EST
Jack Trice Stadium
ESPN Spread: Iowa -2.5
Quietly, Matt Campbell has built the Iowa State Cyclones football program into one of the most consistently solid squads in the country. In the four years prior to his arrival in Ames, the Cyclones went 14-35. Since Campbell took over, they’re 20-19. In 2017 and 2018 they posted their first back-to-back winning seasons since 2005, and their first back-to-back seasons of 8 wins or more since 1978.
But Campbell has left one particularly pertinent box unchecked: a victory over Iowa for the Cy-Hawk Trophy. The Cyclones are 0-3 in the yearly match-up since his arrival, but there’s a feeling that, with ISU getting their shot at home tomorrow, this could be the year...
It will be a tall order - 2018’s breakout QB Brock Purdy returns, but ISU loses perhaps its two most important skill players in RB David Montgomery and WR Hakeem Butler. Meanwhile, Iowa’s senior QB Nate Stanley will be far from content to lose his final Cy-Hawk game as the Hawkeye’s man under center - and their star power on defense makes them the clear favorites heading into this one.
Still, this game has produced some classics in recent years - including a 44-41 thriller in 2017 when this game was last held in Ames. So if you’re choosing one game to watch this weekend - I’d say make it this one.
Game Where a Top 10 Team Is Most Likely to Lose:
Kentucky vs. (9) Florida
Saturday, September 14 | 7:00PM EST
ESPN Spread: Florida -8.5
It’s rare, in this day and age, to be able to reasonably say we’re just one year removed from a team’s biggest win in program history. But if Kentucky’s win over Florida last season - their first win over the Gators in 31 years - wasn’t the most notable in program history, it’s certainly up there. At the very least, it was the win that legitimized the Wildcats’ meteoric rise in 2018 behind star RB Benny Snell Jr. - and signaled the special year to come in Lexington.
Of course, Snell is gone - as are four of the Cats’ five top receiving targets on the offense and most of their secondary.
So… why am I putting Florida on upset watch? Because despite the fact that I predicted the Gators would land in the playoff by year’s end… they haven’t really looked overwhelming thus far. An unconvincing (and sloppy) performance against Miami was saved by some big plays, and while they looked better last week against UT Martin - all can’t be assuaged by one win over an FCS team.
Now, they’ll arrive for a road game against Kentucky as a team that’s yet to show its firepower against a top defense. And even granting their losses in the secondary (along with the fact that QB Terry Wilson is out for the remainder of the year), the Wildcats return all but weakside linebacker Jordan Jones in the front seven, so you can bet they’ll be putting Feleipe Franks and this inexperience offensive line to the test from the opening whistle.
And if they protect QB Sawyer Smith long enough to make a few plays? Who knows? We could end up having a low scoring thriller on our hands near the end...
Game for College Football Nerds to Geek Out Over:
Houston vs. (20) Washington State
Friday, September 13 | 9:15PM EST
ESPN Spread: Washington State -8.5
Houston may have missed their shot at a program-defining upset a few weeks back when they got absolutely thumped against Oklahoma - but they’ll have another shot at a Power Five victory this weekend when they play host to Mike Leach’s Washington State Cougars. The game will pit Leach against his former assistant, Dana Holgorsen - and will feature two of the most exciting offenses in the country squaring off, against two defenses with little chance of slowing them down.
The result? Points, folks. Lots and lots of points.
Washington State has averaged 58.5 points and 606 yards per game through two games, while QB Anthony Gordon has already surpassed 800 yards through the air to land 2nd in the country in total yards passing thus far.
And for Houston - though their match-up with Oklahoma slowed their stats down, D’Eriq King is still the QB that ended 2018 with nearly 3,000 yards passing to go with 36 touchdowns. Even with pedestrian stats in 2019 thus far… at home against a defense that ranked 107th in big play rate a year ago (and has lost serious experience in the secondary), this could be the breakout game we’ve been waiting for.
College football is well underway, and NOW is the time to get your team into the game!
Still planning a trip to see your favorite team in action? Now is the time to book!
Fans like you are booking their game day getaways all across the country, so don’t miss your chance to get your group on the way to an unforgettable football weekend...