This weekend’s slate of games will be a fun one, with two top-25 matchups and even a couple of instances where a ranked team could fall to an unranked one. Two such games appear in this week’s upset watch, where I’m calling for Group of Five teams to upset ranked Power 5 ones. As for my third game, I can’t help but predict the demise of my alma mater as I dream of better days and the parade of first-round draft picks Missouri used to produce on defense. And with that, I’ll return to my mourning of Mizzou defenses and present to you Week 3’s best chances at mayhem:
Illinois over USF: The Illini shocked college football—and by that, I mean the two dozen of you who were paying attention so late at night—last week when they beat Western Kentucky at home despite being sizeable underdogs. So far this year, Lovie Smith’s team is 2–0, and the 20–7 win over the Hilltoppers on Saturday was especially impressive. Illinois may have a truly formidable defense, and No. 22 USF has looked unsteady so far this season. Plus, it’s coming off an unexpected bye week after Hurricane Irma postponed its matchup last Saturday against UConn. While bye weeks can be nice, having one so out of the blue and so early, before the team has hit its stride and amid a ton of stress at home, probably didn’t help the Bulls much.
San Diego State over Stanford: This will be the biggest home game the Aztecs have hosted since 2013, when No. 15 Fresno State came to town. Stanford, the country’s No. 19 team, will likely be Rocky Long and company’s toughest test this season as they shoot for their third straight year of 11 or more wins. If San Diego State’s future schedule—which includes multiple Pac-12 opponents per season—says anything, it’s that this Mountain West program wants to prove it can beat the best in its region, and Stanford will be a solid test on the heels of the Aztecs’ win over Arizona State last week. Both teams anchor their offense to the running game and are also geared defensively toward run-stopping, but Stanford looked a bit shaky on defense last week against USC. San Diego State certainly has a shot here to deal a blow to the Pac-12 for the second straight week.
Purdue over Missouri: I’m not sure if this pick makes me a traitor to my alma mater or if I’m just in denial about propagating a reverse jinx through journalism. What I do know is that I have no confidence at all in the Tigers' defense, even after they fired coordinator DeMontie Cross this week. Missouri said the firing was a result of philosophical differences rather than on-field performance, which makes sense considering head coach Barry Odom is the one calling the Tigers’ plays. Losing Cross won’t amount to some kind of sweeping change defensively, which is what Missouri needs after allowing 43 and the 31 points the past two weeks. Meanwhile, 1–1 Purdue put up a fight against Louisville in Week 1, eventually losing 35–28, and then defeated Ohio last Friday, 44–21. The Boilermakers have a potent offense, and that could be too much for Missouri to contend with.