Week 3 Preview: ‘Bama, Baylor out to avoid more Sun upsets
Two more Sun Belt teams get their shots at ranked teams Saturday, a week after two top-10 teams lost to Group of Five programs on the same day for the first time in the College Football Playoff era. Both winners came from that same fun conference.
There is probably no reason, however, to put No. 2 Alabama and 17th-ranked Baylor on upset alert. Even after those Sun Belt shockers in Week 2.
Alabama (2-0) slipped out of the No. 1 spot in the AP Top 25 after escaping Texas with a 20-19 victory, but is listed as a nearly seven-touchdown favorite for its home game against Louisiana-Monroe (1-1).
Louisiana-Monroe’s 21-14 win at Tuscaloosa in 2007 was part of a four-game Tide losing streak late in coach Nick Saban’s first season there. The team is coached by Terry Bowden, who was Auburn’s coach from 1993 until midway through the 1998 season.
Texas State (1-1) is a more than a four-touchdown underdog going to Baylor (1-1). Since becoming an FBS team in 2012, the Bobcats are 0-9 against Top 25 teams and lost those games by average margin of nearly 34 points.
SEC teams Kentucky and Arkansas each play FCS opponents after big jumps to round out the latest top 10. The ninth-ranked Wildcats, who rose 11 spots in the Top 25, play Youngstown State. The No. 10 Razorbacks jumped six spots before hosting Missouri State and former coach Bobby Petrino, who will be coaching his first game in Fayetteville since getting fired 10 years ago.
The What to Watch rundown for this week of college football, presented by Regions Bank:
No. 12 BYU at No. 25 Oregon
After playing without two starting receivers in its overtime win over Baylor, BYU will try to get consecutive wins over ranked teams for a second straight season.
In their final season as a football independent before going to the Big 12, the Cougars could put themselves in a strong position with a win, especially with potential showcase games in October against Notre Dame and Arkansas.
The Ducks have the opportunity to really bounce back before Pac-12 play. While they scored 70 points last week, that was in a win over Eastern Washington. Oregon opened with a 49-3 loss to now-No. 1 Georgia.
As a true freshman at Oklahoma midway through last season, Caleb Williams unseated preseason first-team AP All-America quarterback Spencer Rattler, who had also been considered one of the early leading Heisman candidates.
This past offseason, Williams followed coach Lincoln Riley to Southern California, where he is second in the Pac-12 with 331 total yards a game. He has completed 39 of 49 passes (79.6%) for 590 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions, and run for 72 yards.
NUMBERS TO KNOW
15 — Defending Sun Belt champion Louisiana-Lafayette’s winning streak, the nation’s best.
80 — Consecutive AP poll appearances for Notre Dame since Sept. 17, 2017, before the Fighting Irish fell all the way out of the rankings from ninth this week after its 0-2 start. Marcus Freeman is the first Irish coach to open his career 0-3, counting last season’s Fiesta Bowl.
1,349 — Games the Texas Longhorns will have played in their history come Saturday. That is 10 times more than UTSA, its opponent, which will play its 135th.
UNDER THE RADAR
UTSA at No. 17 Texas
After its near-upset of future SEC foe Alabama, the Longhorns play their third consecutive home game to start the season in a first-time meeting against UTSA, a school in the same university system and less than 90 miles away.
The Roadrunners, in only their 12th season of football, got in the Top 25 for the first time last year. They have gone to overtime in both games this season (a loss to Houston and a win over Army). Sixth-year senior UTSA quarterback Frank Harris is the national leader with 394.5 total yards per game.
Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher isn’t anywhere near losing his job, not when he is making $9 million a season and signed through 2031. But there is certainly some concern among Aggies faithful about this season, Fisher’s fifth, potentially going off the rails.
After being stunned at home last week by Appalachian State, Texas A&M hosts 13th-ranked Miami in its final home game until the last Saturday in October. After that, the offensively challenged Aggies play No. 10 Arkansas in suburban Dallas then have trips to Mississippi State and No. 2 Alabama.
Could the Aggies go into their open date at the end of that stretch, at the midpoint of their season, with a 1-5 record?
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By STEPHEN HAWKINS
AP Sports Writer