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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

10 college football teams that need to make a statement in Week 3

Tom Herman

Week 3 of the college football season is nearly upon us, and it could be a big week for several teams. In fact, a handful are headed into their games with a whole lot to prove. It could be that they’re off to a surprisingly good start and are aiming to show everyone that they’re legitimately as good as they’ve looked. It may be the opposite, and the team needs a win to get on track and show what they’re capable of. It could even be a team that is about to face their stiffest competition yet and need a win to show that they need to be taken seriously as potential heavyweights as well.

As Week 3 of the college football season looms, here is a look at ten teams that may be feeling that they must make a major statement of their intentions on Saturday.

10) Oklahoma State

The Cowboys have put up two impressive results so far, but the opposition of Missouri State and South Alabama hasn’t really tested them. 17th-ranked Boise State certainly will. Oklahoma State wasn’t expected to be a frontline contender for the Big 12 this season, but a home win over a ranked opponent such as the Broncos on Saturday will lead to a few people to sit up and take notice.

9) Arizona State

In the minds of many, Arizona State already made their statement with a 16-13 win over Michigan State last week. However, coach Herm Edwards will know as well as anyone that such a result won’t matter as much if the Sun Devils can’t carry the momentum forward with them. Facing San Diego State on the road could be a tricky game, and a good opportunity for an Arizona State team that looks to be on the rise to prove that they’re no fluke.

8) UCLA

Chip Kelly is still seeking his first win as UCLA head coach. While everyone involved will be happy to exercise patience with one of the sport’s most accomplished coaches, things will grow even more frustrating if he starts 0-3 before entering the tough conference slate. A home game against Fresno State looks like it could, in theory, go either way, but it offers Kelly a fairly decent opportunity to grab his first victory. He just has to sort out his starting quarterback first.

7) Purdue

Purdue looked like a program on the rise a year ago, but things have clearly changed. An undisciplined Boilermaker team lost to Northwestern in its opener and then suffered a more inexcusable defeat at home to Eastern Michigan last week. The heat is on for Week 3, and a home game against Drew Lock’s high-powered Missouri offense is not an ideal way to get things going. Coach Jeff Brohm has promised to really hold his players accountable going forward. We’ll see how much it helps.

6) Arizona

High hopes have given way to frustration and anger for Arizona, which has to be asking serious questions about where they’re at after being dismantled by Houston to fall to 0-2 on the season. The good news is that their game against Southern Utah at home should be an easy win. In fact, it needs to be an easy win. If this stays close, the questions for coach Kevin Sumlin will only get louder even with a win. Quarterback Khalil Tate needs a big game as well. A dark horse preseason Heisman candidate, he’s gotten off to an awful start and needs to be let loose. Is he still bothered by an ankle injury?

5) Washington

The dream of an unbeaten run to the playoff ended with a season-opening defeat to Auburn, but Washington can now focus on rolling through the Pac-12 and putting themselves in great position for a bid anyway. That run starts with a tricky away game against Utah. The Huskies cannot afford a second loss, and if they’re as good as they’re capable of being, they won’t suffer one here. A convincing performance would go some way toward establishing them as an early playoff favorite.

4) Ohio State

The Buckeyes have been wildly impressive in two games, but they also haven’t really played anyone. That changes when they play in Arlington, Texas against Gary Patterson’s TCU Horned Frogs. The environment should be hostile and the Horned Frogs are no pushover. They won’t have Urban Meyer on the sideline either, although Patterson isn’t necessarily convinced about that. If the Buckeyes can claim a solid win here, the hype machine will be in full force, and we’ll begin talking about them as a potential national champion with some seriousness.

3) Florida State

Willie Taggart really needs a decent win. Yes, he got a victory last week, but it came against FCS side Samford in deeply unconvincing fashion. It did look for a while like the Seminoles would lose that game. A trip to unbeaten Syracuse should favor Florida State on pure talent, but this is a team that has desperately underachieved all season long. Taggart and the Seminoles very badly need this win, or the questions will really get loud.

2) LSU

So how good are these LSU Tigers? It’s hard to say. Ed Orgeron’s team was viewed as a team to be ranked between 20 and 30 or so before the season. Now they’re 12th thanks largely to an impressive win over Miami. Now we’re about to find out what the Tigers are made of. The grind of the SEC begins for them with a trip to seventh-ranked Auburn, a hostile environment against one of the country’s elite teams. Win here and we can start talking about the Tigers as a legitimate SEC contender. A loss, especially an ugly one, will quickly swing the pendulum in the other direction.

1) Texas

Tom Herman is still lacking a signature win at Texas. His most impressive so far was a road victory at then-ranked West Virginia last season, but in total, Herman went 0-4 against ranked opponents in his first year at the helm. He can change that Saturday with a matchup against old foe USC. The Trojans haven’t looked particularly sharp this season, so it’s a good chance for the Longhorns to make a statement win. Fall short and the grumbling will surely get louder in Longhorn Nation.



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