The second week of the 2020 college football season didn't disappoint, as the stars of the Power 5 got off to a flying start with Spencer Rattler looking like the next great Oklahoma quarterback and Trevor Lawrence once again showing us why he'll likely be the No. 1 overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Now, it's time to look ahead to Week 3. There are numerous must-watch games on the slate this week, with former Notre Dame quarterback Phil Jurkovec making his Boston College debut against Duke, Miami and D'Eriq King facing Louisville and PFF's highest-graded quarterback going up against one of the best outside cornerback duos in the country.
With the help of PFF grades and advanced statistics — which are now available to PFF's CFB Premium Stats+ Subscribers — we will give you everything you need to know ahead of this week's games. Please note that any picks and predictions made here are not reflective of PFF Greenline or our expert betting analysts. For this week's college football betting advice, click here!
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Friday, September 18 — 7:30 PM ET ESPN
Campbell gave Georgia Southern a run for its money last week and will now go up against a Coastal Carolina team that is fresh off an upset win over Kansas.
There was really only one standout performer from Campbell that day, and that was cornerback Levi Wiggins. He only played 18 coverage snaps due to Georgia Southern pounding the rock the entire game, but he locked down his side of the field by breaking up three of the four passes thrown into his primary coverage.
Coastal Carolina has a couple of standout outside cornerbacks themselves in D'Jordan Strong and Derick Bush. The two effectively shutdown the Jayhawks' passing attack last week, as they combined to allow just four catches and 15 yards from 10 targets in coverage. None of these catches went for a first down, and they combined for four plays on the ball.
The star of this Chanticleers defense, however, is edge rusher Tarron Jackson. After producing a 90.7 pass-rush grade in 2019, Jackson started 2020 right where he left off and had a career day. He earned a 93.4 pass-rush grade, totaled up eight pressures and won on 41.7% of his 48 reps. That right there is dominance, and I would expect Jackson to have another monster day against a Campbell tackle duo that played poorly in pass protection against Georgia Southern.
Treash's prediction: Coastal Carolina.
Seth's prediction: Coastal Carolina. What a waste it would be for them to pull off the big upset only to lose against Campbell a week later.
Saturday, September 19 — 12:00 PM ET ESPN3
As we mentioned earlier, transfer quarterback Phil Jurkovec will be making his debut for Boston College in Week 2. And even though the former four-star recruit saw little to no playing time with Notre Dame, it'll still be fairly easy for him to surpass the quarterback play Boston College has produced in recent years. Since 2014, no starting Eagles quarterback has produced a single-season passing grade above 70.0.
Wide receiver Jaelen Gill will also be making his debut after transferring from Ohio State. Gill didn't see much playing time either, but he displayed the same speed and change-of-direction ability that made him the 30th-overall recruit of the 2018 class on the few reps he did have. All told, he broke four tackles on seven touches. He will be a dynamic weapon for Jurkovec and the Eagles.
Duke had transfer quarterback Chase Brice make his debut last Saturday against Notre Dame, and it certainly could have gone better. His accuracy was abysmal — just 38% of his total passes were deemed accurate, according to PFF's QB-charting process. Brice earned just a 56.2 passing grade on the game, but fortunately for him, Boston College's defense isn't remotely close to the level of Notre Dame's. If he can't get the job done in this one, I would be concerned.
The Blue Devils defense was strong in 2019, but it didn't have its best day against the Irish, particularly against the run, as they finished Week 2 as the lowest-graded run-defense unit in the country.
Like most members of the defense, edge defender Chris Rumph II will be looking for a bounce-back day. He had to go up against the best offensive line in college football last week and consequently had the worst game since his first year in 2018. While Rumph had a couple of nice reps, we are used to him being a game-wrecker — not one who posts a PFF grade of 46.3 in a game. It's not going to be much easier this week, though, as the Boston College offensive line came in ninth of the 130 schools in our preseason rankings.
Treash's prediction: I'm going with an upset here and taking Boston College. Duke's passing attack is worrisome, and I think the Eagles offense will surprise some people.
Seth's prediction: Boston College. I'm praying for a Jurkovec miracle.
Saturday, September 19 — 12:00 PM ET ACCN
Syracuse's lowly passing attack has a tough matchup against a daunting Pitt defense.
The Orange produced just -0.39 EPA per pass play against North Carolina in Week 2, the third-worst mark of the week. Quarterback Tommy DeVito was charged with inviting in four sacks and also produced the fourth-worst rate of uncatchable throws, and while he did uncork four big-time throws (two of which fell incomplete), that kind of efficiency just won't get the job done.
On the bright side, their secondary is a really good one and played well against a potent passing attack last weekend. Safety Andre Cisco and cornerbacks Ifeatu Melifonwu and Garrett Williams all earned coverage grades above 75.0.
Meanwhile, Pitt's defense has talent at every position on the field — they were our 12th-ranked unit prior to the season, and it showed last week against Austin Peay.
Just 21% of Austin Peay's pass plays resulted in positive EPA last week, the lowest rate among teams, and in the second half — when it was mostly backups on the field — that rate dropped even lower to 13%. Syracuse's offense is obviously better than that of an FCS team, but if you can only put 6 points on the board against a good-not-great UNC defense, I'm not so sure we will see them do much better against one of the top defenses in the country.
Treash's prediction: Hail to Pitt.
Seth's prediction: Pitt. It's the same thing every week with Syracuse; I'm not picking them until they find a quarterback.
Saturday, September 19 — 12:00 PM ET ESPN
Tulsa does return some great talent on both sides of the ball this year. Firstly, linebacker Zaven Collins has top-notch coverage ability and has nine combined pass breakups and interceptions since 2018. In front of him, Jaxon Player is one of the best run-stuffing nose tackles in the country and posted the best run-defense grade among players at the position last year. The offense, meanwhile, returns wide receiver Keylon Stokes, who recorded the fifth-most 15-plus-yard receptions from the slot in 2019, with 26. That's just about where the positives end, though.
Oklahoma State's Chuba Hubbard is one of the best running backs in the country. If you give him a hole, he's gone — last year, he busted off 15 30-plus-yard runs, four more than anyone else in the FBS.
Wide receiver Tylan Wallace also finds himself among college football's finest. He can fly by defense backs for an open ball, win in contested-catch situations and even create a highlight-reel play after the catch on a screen. Wallace has the 13th-best receiving grade at the position since 2018.
We are a little bit lower on Spencer Sanders than the public is, and it's mostly because of his downfield passing. He finished just 60th in big-time throw rate last year while falling below the FBS average to 70th in the percentage of accurate passes thrown 20 or more yards downfield. Sanders can move the ball on the ground, but his deep ball is something to monitor.
Treash's prediction: Oklahoma State. I'm expecting BIG things from Tylan Wallace as he makes his return from a torn ACL.
Seth's prediction: Oklahoma State. Get onboard the Chuba 4 Heisman bandwagon with me.
Saturday, September 19 — 12:00 PM ET ESPN+
Last week, I mentioned how concerned I was about Austin Peay's offensive line holding up against Pitt after they got destroyed by the Central Ark pass rush. To no surprise, it got ugly for Austin Peay, and it won't get much easier for them against Cincy.
The Bearcats' pass rush came in sixth in our preseason pass-rush rankings, while three of the four first-team defensive line spots on the PFF Preseason All-AAC team were occupied by Cincinnati linemen in Curtis Brooks, Myjai Sanders and Elijah Ponder. The player to watch, though, is cornerback Ahmad Gardner. Gardner produced a 90.2 coverage grade (eighth-best) as a true freshman last year. He's a sticky corner and difficult to beat at the catch point.
Treash's prediction: Cincy.
Seth's prediction: Cincy.
Saturday, September 19 — 12:00 PM ET ESPN2
Louisiana's upset win over Iowa State may have been more about a couple of fluke special teams plays and quarterback Brock Purdy playing the worst game of his career, but this Ragin' Cajuns team is still among the best in the Group of 5.
The offensive line had a surprisingly bad game from a run-blocking perspective (fourth-to-last in run-block grade) against the Cyclones last weekend, but the dynamic running back duo of Elijah Mitchell and Trey Ragas overcame that to make Louisiana the second-highest-graded rushing attack of Week 2.
Quarterback Levi Lewis didn't play badly either, but the receiving did not have a great outing in Week 2. As a team, Louisiana caught only 76.5% of its catchable targets (sixth-worst) and combined to produce a 56.9 receiving grade.
Treash's prediction: I think some might be overhyping Louisiana just a little bit after their upset win, but they'll have no issue handling this Georgia State team.
Seth's prediction: Louisiana. The Cajuns can't have a letdown; their defense is too good for that to happen.
Saturday, September 19 — 12:00 PM ET ESPNU
The player to watch on the Flames is running back Joshua Mack, who earned an 89.5 rushing grade last season, seventh in the FBS and first among non-Power Five backs with at least 100 carries. Mack is, however, pretty much a one-man show.
Western Kentucky, on the other hand, has a lot of talent on the defensive side of the ball. The unit did get carved up by Louisville last week, but don't count them out after that one game. Edge rusher Deangelo Malone was impressive despite the result, as he earned a 90.8 pass-rush grade for his efforts and has been a consistently effective pass-rusher throughout his college career. He is bound to be a force against Liberty.
I'm also looking for a bounce-back game from safety Antwon Kincade, who had perhaps the worst game of his career last week. He made multiple mistakes in coverage and finished at a PFF grade of 46.8, a far cry from the standard he set for himself last year.
Treash's prediction: The Hilltoppers are bouncing back this week. Western Kentucky.
Seth's prediction: WKU.
Saturday, September 19 — 12:00 PM ET ABC
I'm not going to sugarcoat it. Navy was horrible in Week 1 against BYU — in every single facet of play.
Navy produced -0.71 EPA per play on offense — the worst they have ever recorded in a single game in the PFF College era by a good margin (-0.52 was next worst). The team also surrendered 0.47 EPA per play on the defensive side of the ball, which was also the worst they have recorded in the PFF College era.
Considering how great Tulane's defensive front is, this could be another ugly one.
Treash's prediction: Green Wave.
Seth's prediction: Tulane. Option vs. Option — the thing you love to see.
Saturday, September 19 — 2:30 PM ET USA
Ian Book's box score didn't look all that bad thanks to a bunch of short, easy throws, but once that depth of target increased, things got ugly.
Book had the second-worst grade of the week on those intermediate to deep throws, and two of those throws were deemed turnover-worthy. He's fortunate to have the best offensive line in college football protecting him, but Book just could not take advantage of it last week, as he ended the game with a 50.4 passing grade when he was kept clean from pressure.
USF went up against a rush-heavy Citadel team last week, so we didn't get to see their talented secondary go to work, but they've already proved to be a great unit. Cornerback K.J. Sails produced the third-best coverage grade in the AAC last year (82.1), and Mike Hampton, who starts opposite Sails, produced a 32% forced incompletion rate (fifth in FBS) back in 2018. Safety Nick Roberts rounds out the group and has combined for 12 pass breakups and interceptions since 2018.
The mismatch, however, is USF's offense versus Notre Dame's defense. The Bulls come in at 111th in our Massey ranking and have an uninspiring set of receivers, while the Irish defense is stout at every single position on the field.
Cornerback TaRiq Bracy made our Week 2 Team of the Week after not allowing a single yard to Duke, and safety Kyle Hamilton is a star in the making. Hamilton has supreme instincts and athleticism, which have helped him come down with nine pass breakups and interceptions in his 2019 true freshman season. Hamilton recorded an 88.5 coverage grade and had a couple of pass breakups against Duke.
Treash's prediction: Notre Dame. USF's offense doesn't stand a chance against Notre Dame's defense.
Seth's prediction: Notre Dame.
Saturday, September 19 — 3:00 PM ET ESPN3
UTSA is coming off an upset overtime win over Texas State. Their offense was conservative, relying on the run game and taking just a few shots downfield, but it clearly worked for them as they put up 51 points. Of all the teams to play against an FBS defense in Week 2, no one produced more EPA per rush than UTSA (0.3). Whether it was running back Sincere McCormick or quarterback Frank Harris on a designed carry, UTSA ran all over Texas State and will look to do the same against Stephen F. Austin.
Treash’s prediction: UTSA.
Seth’s prediction: UTSA.
Saturday, September 19 — 3:30 PM ET ABC
Georgia Tech’s upset win over Florida State says more about the current shape of Florida State than it does about Georgia Tech.
Quarterback Jeff Sims was inaccurate downfield and made some horrible decisions at times — he had four turnover-worthy plays and recorded a 29.6 passing grade from a clean pocket. I know it was his true freshman debut and that he could put everything together down the road, but I don’t see him rapidly improving after that performance.
I’m really excited to see the jump UCF quarterback Dillon Gabriel makes in Year 2; he was unbelievable as a true freshman last year and earned a PFF grade of 81.4. First-year quarterbacks typically all share one common issue: bad ball security and decision-making. However, this was not the case for Gabriel, as he produced a 1.6% turnover-worthy play rate that ranked fourth in the FBS last year. He also recorded an FBS-high 21 big-time throws on 30-plus-yard passes — Gabriel is the real deal.
Treash’s prediction: Give me UCF. They are legitimately better in every single facet of play, and Gabriel is a star in the making.
Seth’s prediction: UCF.
Saturday, September 19 — 3:30 PM ET CBS
This would have been the game of the week if it weren’t for Miami versus Louisville.
Marshall starting quarterback Grant Wells was nearly perfect in his CFB debut a couple of weeks ago against Eastern Kentucky. He recorded a 95.2 passing grade for the game, displaying sharp accuracy and touch downfield while uncorking an FBS-high five big-time throws. This time around, however, he won’t get an FCS defense. Instead, he gets arguably the best cornerback unit in the Group of 5.
App State’s Shaun Jolly played so well last year that it landed him on the 2020 PFF College 50. He earned a 91.4 coverage grade in 2019, ranking second in the entire FBS, while he also came down with 15 combined interceptions and pass breakups. Jolly had a relatively average game against Charlotte last week, as he gave up three catches for 48 yards, but it’s only a matter of time before we see the elite player from last season.
While Jolly didn’t have an eye-popping game, the player starting opposite him, Shemar Jean-Charles, had a career day. He posted a 91.1 coverage grade and allowed just four catches on 11 targets with four pass breakups and a forced fumble mixed in. He was the PFF Defensive Player of the Week.
Treash’s prediction: I still believe that we will continue to see Grant Wells break out this year. Because of that, I’m rolling with the Thundering Herd.
Seth’s prediction: App State. Is Wells for real or not?
Saturday, September 19 — 4:00 PM ET ACCN
The Citadel will have to endure getting destroyed in every single facet of play against Clemson, but at least they’ll be able to say they played against one of the best quarterbacks in the history of college football.
Trevor Lawrence picked apart the Wake Forest defense on Saturday, looking as sharp as ever. He earned a 93.0 passing grade for the game, tying for the best single-game performance of his collegiate career.
This game is a guaranteed blowout, but I’m excited to see true freshman Bryan Bresee get more reps. The 2020 No. 1 overall recruit was our True Freshman of the Week in Week 2, as he totaled up two pressures (one sack) and two defensive stops on 36 snaps.
Treash’s prediction: Clemson.
Seth’s prediction: Lol, Clemson.
Saturday, September 19 — 4:00 PM ET ESPN2
Middle Tennessee quarterback Asher O'Hara really could not have had a worse game in his team's Week 1 loss to Army.
O'Hara's calling card is his mobility, but he did virtually nothing in the run game in Week 1. Combine that with the fact that he had two turnover-worthy plays on just 16 dropbacks and that he didn’t complete a single pass beyond 10 yards downfield, and you get a 35.6 PFF grade. Last year, his lowest-graded game of the season wasn’t even close to that (58.0), so there’s a good chance we will see a bounce-back game this week.
Outside of off-ball linebacker Carlton Martial, this Troy defense is of huge concern. I wouldn’t be surprised if Martial ends up winning the Butkus Award in 2020, given that he has earned 90.0-plus PFF grades in two career seasons at Troy. He will need a lot more help, though, and this young secondary just won’t cut it.
Treash’s prediction: O’Hara’s Week 1 was an outlier. I think he will come back and look like his 2019 self against Troy and lead MTSU to an upset victory.
Seth’s prediction: MTSU.
Saturday, September 19 — 6:00 PM ET CBSSN
SMU only just got by against a bad Texas State team. And while they avoided the upset and came away with a W, it should not have been nearly as close as it was.
The SMU coverage unit was good, but the side let Texas State run all over them — and it’s not going to get much easier against North Texas. The Mean Green backfield is loaded with talent, but the player to watch in this one is redshirt freshman Oscar Adaway III. He only had five carries against Houston Baptist, but he turned three into 10-plus-yard gains while breaking four tackles.
SMU does have a potent passing attack with Shane Buechele leading the way. He had the third-most big-time throws on 20-plus-yard passes in 2019 (29) and delivered five such passes in Week 1.
Treash’s prediction: SMU.
Seth’s prediction: SMU.
Saturday, September 19 — 7:30 PM ET ABC
This game is full of athletes.
The year of D’Eriq King kicked off last week, and he looked just as good as he did in 2018. His mobility was on full display when under duress, as he made a big-time throw on the run after being forced out of the pocket and also turned four of five scramble runs into 10-plus-yard gains. Simply put, King can make plays other quarterbacks cannot.
King has tight end Brevin Jordan at his disposal, and he has the kind of raw speed that makes him dangerous after the catch. We saw this against UAB with his slide-route that resulted in an explosive play.
Louisville had the third-most-efficient passing attack last week thanks to Micale Cunningham’s four deep completions, but the quarterback didn’t play too well outside of that. He matched his three big-time throws with three turnover-worthy plays and gained less than 5 yards on eight of his nine designed carries. Consistency was a bit of an issue with Cunningham, but he is capable of stringing together elite-graded performances.
The Louisville offense as a whole is loaded with explosive weapons, but we didn’t quite see them go to work against Western Kentucky. Tutu Atwell didn’t have many opportunities to show off his wheels, but he did add another strong performance to his grading profile in Week 2, as he earned a 79.5 receiving grade for his seven-catch, 78-yard day.
Treash’s prediction: As much as I like the slew of weapons Louisville has on offense, I have to take the better quarterback here. Miami.
Seth’s prediction: Miami because of King Magic.
Saturday, September 19 — 7:30 PM ET ESPN2
Southern Miss has had a wild start to the season, as head coach Jay Hopson resigned shortly after the team's opening-game upset loss to South Alabama.
The defense was the issue in that loss, as they surrendered 0.38 EPA per play, the third-worst mark of Week 1. The tackling, in particular, was especially bad, as they combined to miss 18 attempts on the day. And while we weren’t extremely high on Southern Miss’ defense, it’s certainly not as bad as they made it out to be that day. They still rank sixth in our C-USA defensive Massey rankings.
Louisiana Tech is set up for regression after a 10-3 year in 2019, as they lost eight of their 10 most valuable players from that squad. Our big concern is the secondary, as safety Bee Jay Williamson is the only returning defensive back who played over 150 snaps last year, but even he earned a coverage grade of just 42.1.
Treash’s prediction: While the upset loss and coaching change is a bit of a concern, Southern Miss has the better quarterback and more experience across the board. Southern Miss.
Seth’s prediction: LA Tech.
Saturday, September 19 — 7:30 PM ET ESPNU
We finally get to see Corey Straughter try and replicate his incredible 2019 season after seeing only two coverage snaps against Army’s triple-option offense last week.
Straughter was the definition of a lockdown cornerback last year, as he allowed just 12 catches on 43 targets while combining for 11 interceptions and pass breakups. On the offensive side of the ball for UL-Monroe, they have a great tight end in Josh Pederson, who produced a 79.9 receiving grade in Week 1.
Texas State, as expected, has struggled on both sides of the ball. They have produced -0.21 EPA per pass and have had some of the worst pass protection in the FBS.
Whether it be against the run or the pass, the Texas State defense has been well below average relative to their league counterparts, surrendering 0.1 EPA per pass and rush. Consequently, they come in 10th in our Sun Belt Elo ranking.
Treash’s prediction: UL-Monroe.
Seth’s prediction: Texas State.
Saturday, September 19 — 8:00 PM ET ACCN
On the defensive side of the ball, they have a great nose tackle in Alim McNeil. He was one of two Power Five defensive linemen to produce 75.0-plus grades both against the run and as a pass-rusher when lined up at heads-up nose.
Wake Forest had the great misfortune of having to go up against the Clemson Tigers in Week 1, and, as expected, they got torched. Quarterback Sam Hartman didn’t look too bad when free from pressure (85.3 passing grade), but he took a couple of bad sacks and had errant throws under duress. The good news is that he will face a much easier secondary in Week 2.
Edge rusher Boogie Basham also couldn’t get anything cooking against Jack Carman and Jordan McFadden, finishing the day with a 47.6 PFF grade. He will have favorable matchups this week, though.
Treash’s prediction: Wake Forest.
Seth’s prediction: Wake, just barely, but they have a game under their belt at least.
Saturday, September 19 — 9:00 PM ET ESPN3
UTEP was on the wrong side of a beatdown last week against Texas. But on the bright side, they might not have a complete liability at quarterback.
Gavin Hardison isn’t an accurate passer, but he has taken good care of the ball with only one turnover-worthy play in two games while also putting up four big-time throws. He's earned a very respectable 75.8 passing grade thus far. Having the wide receiver duo of Jacob Cowing (75.4 receiving grade in 2020) and Justin Garrett (68.4 receiving grade in 2020) helps him out, as well.
Treash’s prediction: UTEP.
Seth’s prediction: UTEP.
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