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Dane Miller’s 2022 Week 3 SuperWest Football Previews

Saturday is filled with nonconference matchups from the morning until midnight

Posted on September 15, 2022


  By Dane Miller, SuperWest Sports

Two marquee matchups highlight Week Three in the SuperWest, with No. 12 BYU taking on No. 25 Oregon in Eugene and No. 11 Michigan State battling Washington in Seattle.

Televised on Fox and ABC, the two games figure to draw the top ratings out of the 16 teams we cover.

Two other matchups are on national television as well, when California plays Notre Dame on NBC and No. 7 USC hosts Fresno State on Fox.

The day is filled with nonconference matchups from the morning until midnight, producing wall-to-wall coverage that promises to entertain.

All 12 games are previewed below, and the picks of our Senior Writers and Broadcasters appear at the bottom. Be sure to check out our Week 3 SuperWest Power Rankings as well.

South Alabama v. UCLA

Saturday, September 17
11:00 am PT, Pac-12 Network

Arguably facing their toughest opponent of the season to date, the Bruins start the Saturday action with a mid-morning kickoff.

For unknown reasons, Dorian Thompson-Robinson didn’t play much last weekend and Zach Charbonnet was held out of the game.

Dorian Thompson-Robinson | UCLA Athletics

That probably won’t be the case against a South Alabama team that’s 2-0 with a win over Central Michigan.

The matchup with the Jaguars is somewhat of a proving ground for Bill McGovern’s defense. The team out of the Sun Belt is averaging 43.0 points per game and nearly 500 yards of total offense.

Chip Kelly’s system figures to score plenty of points on South Alabama’s defense, once again making the play of McGovern’s unit the storyline to watch.

California at Notre Dame

Saturday, September 17
11:30 am PT, NBC

Without the services of quarterback Tyler Buchner due to injury, Notre Dame is reliant on inexperienced backup Drew Pyne.

The third-year player has attempted just 38 passes in his career and could be in for a baptism by fire against Cal’s secondary.

If ever there was an opportunity for the Bears to beat Notre Dame in South Bend, Saturday is the day.

Cal coach Justin Wilcox | David Zalubowski/AP

Justin Wilcox’s team has looked shaky through two games but has a budding freshman star at running back and a veteran under center.

If California can consistently put Pyne under pressure, its secondary should come up with enough turnovers to provide its offense an opportunity to secure the upset.

Oregon Ducks Logo Pac-12No. 12 BYU at No. 25 Oregon

Saturday, September 17
12:30 pm PT, Fox

In a matchup that could prove pivotal to both team’s Playoff aspirations, the Cougars and Ducks face off in the West Coast’s version of Big Noon Saturday.

Fairly balanced on paper, the battle in the trenches could be the deciding factor.

Oregon has been efficient on third down through two games, converting 58.6 percent of the time compared to BYU’s 37.0 percent.

Oregon QB Bo Nix | Naji Saker for The Oregonian/OregonLive

The conversion rate implies the Ducks have the advantage up front, arguably tipping the scales in UO’s favor.

Doubling the likelihood of an Oregon win, the crowd at Autzen Stadium figures to be rowdy for the midday kickoff.

With the fan support behind him and a superior line in front of him, Bo Nix could slice and dice the Cougar defense with his arms and legs.

But if BYU shuts down the Ducks’ rushing attack to make Dan Lanning’s offense one-dimensional, Jaren Hall has enough talent around him to beat Oregon at home.

Colorado at Minnesota

Saturday, September 17
12:30 pm PT, ESPN2

The calls for the termination of Karl Dorrell are growing louder after the Buffs were embarrassed by Air Force in Colorado Springs.

The rainy weather may have played a role, but J.T. Shrout didn’t effectively lead the offense. The poor performance brings Brendon Lewis back into the mix, stoking the fires of the quarterback controversy.

And making matters worse, CU faces a Minnesota team that’s outscored its opponents 100-10 to start the year.

Colorado quarterback J.T. Shrout vs Air Force | David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Their foes have been weak, yet the Gophers are averaging 582 yards per game and converting on third down 68.0 percent of the time.

Substantially outmatched, the only silver lining the Buffs have is that they are seasoned after playing two challenging games to open the year.

If Colorado’s defense can generate turnovers in the first half, its offense must take advantage with touchdowns to keep the game within reach.

Tennessee-Martin at Boise State

Saturday, September 17
1:00 pm PT, FS1

Playing their first game at home this season, the Broncos have another opportunity to work out their quarterback controversy.

Andy Avalos questionably kept Taylen Green on the bench against New Mexico, showing confidence in Hank Bachmeier’s command.

But Boise State didn’t blow out the Lobos the way some expected and the questions under center remain.

BSU’s Taylen Green vs Ore St | Boise State Athletics

Tennessee-Martin has an offense capable of putting up points, skewed towards passing the ball more often than keeping it on the ground.

The matchup should provide a barometer of where BSU stands after the opening-week loss to Oregon State.

If Bachmeier plays the entire game and the final score is closer than it should be, the calls for Green could only grow louder.

Colorado State at Washington State

Saturday, September 17
2:00 pm PT, Pac-12 Network

Fresh off the surprise upset of Wisconsin, Cam Ward gets an opportunity to show why the Coug Raid is to be feared.

The offense stalled against the Badger defense, but the step-down in talent on the Rams roster should result in WSU’s strongest offensive output of the year.

Yet, if Ward struggles against the CSU defense, the lingering questions will remain. At the same time, Jake Dickert’s defense should shut down Colorado State’s attack.

WSU QB Cam Ward vs Wisconsin | Draft Wire/USA TODAY

Unable to run the ball through two games, the Rams could be in for a long day on the Palouse.

The Cougar faithful figure to come out in force, too, making this matchup a potential blowout.

The storyline to watch is the timing of the Coug Raid’s plays and whether or not Ward can execute it at the speed of the FBS level.

Washington football pac-12No. 11 Michigan State at Washington

Saturday, September 17
4:30 pm PT, ABC

With a chance to return to relevancy, Washington pits its new offense against what might be a formidable Big Ten defense.

The Spartans haven’t been tested through two weeks, but linebacker Jacoby Windmon has posted 5.5 sacks and cornerback Chester Kimbrough has three passes defended on top of two sacks of his own.

Washington QB Michael Penix Jr. vs Portland State | Dean Rutz/The Seattle Times

Facing a tough defense, Michael Penix Jr.’s execution of DeBoer’s system could be what decides the game.

On the other hand, Michigan State quarterback Payton Thorne has thrown three interceptions against inferior opponents.

The Dawg secondary could have a field day against the redshirt junior and provide their offense extra possessions down the stretch.

Montana State at Oregon State

Saturday, September 17
5:00 pm PT, Pac-12 Network

After a gauntlet to open the year, Oregon State faces Montana State in Portland.

The neutral site matchup is an odd location against the FCS school that made the championship of FCS Playoffs last year.

It may not seem like it, but this game arguably isn’t going to be a cakewalk. The Bobcats are averaging 51.5 points per game and 563 total yards of offense per night.

OSU’s Jack Colletto vs Fresno State | Mountain Wire/USA TODAY

Looking to avoid a shocking loss, the Beavers must be ready to play.

Montana State’s offense is a run-first attack, pitting two similar offensive philosophies against each other. Time of possession might turn out to be vital.

But as long as Chance Nolan takes care of the ball and seizes opportunities in play-action the Beavers should end up with the win.

San Diego State at No. 14 Utah

Saturday, September 17
7:00 pm PT, ESPN2

Sucess is the best revenge.

The loss to San Diego State last season kicked off a series of events that eventually led to Utah’s first Rose Bowl appearance. Charlie Brewer left the program after the loss, setting the stage for Cam Rising to take over.

The team rallied behind Rising all the way to the New Year’s Six Bowl, but the UU roster undoubtedly has this matchup circled.

Utah freshman linebacker Lander Barton vs Southern Utah | Rick Bowmer/Herald Journal

And after SDSU struggled against Arizona in Week One, Morgan Scalley’s defense should be champing at the bit.

Slowing down the Aztec’s run game is Priority No. 1 for Utah. If Braxton Burmeister is able to gash the Utes on the ground, the flood gates to the traditional run game could open.

That could double the potency of the passing attack, as well, snowballing into a double-edged sword.

But if Utah shuts down San Diego State’s offense on its first drive, Kyle Whittingham’s team should run up the score at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

usc logoFresno State at No. 7 USC

Saturday, September 17
7:30 pm PT, Fox

In the nightcap on Fox, No. 7 USC has another chance to show the nation its powerful offense.

Lincoln Riley’s scheme dominated Stanford, putting up 35 points in the first half while scoring on every possession. The Trojans didn’t punt the ball until the fourth quarter.

But the storyline to watch against Fresno State is the play of Alex Grinch’s defense.

USC defensive back Max Williams | Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The shotgun spread passing attack the Bulldogs utilize is the toughest offense USC has faced to date. If Grinch can contain Jake Haener and the Fresno State scheme, the sky is the limit for the Trojans’ season.

Look for SC to generate turnovers that are converted into touchdowns by Caleb Williams and his arsenal of receivers. And if Grinch’s defense continues to shine, the Trojans could win by a landslide.

Eastern Michigan at Arizona State

Saturday, September 17
8:00 pm PT, Pac-12 Network

In a game it should win by a substantial margin, Arizona State takes on Eastern Michigan. The Eagles have made a bowl game three of the last five years but were blown out by Louisiana Lafayette in Week Two.

Almost exclusively moving the ball through the air, EMU must deal with linebackers Kyle Soelle and Merlin Robertson. The duo figure to be all over the field on Saturday night.

ASU QB Emory Jones vs Oklahoma State | Brody Schmidt/Associated Press

Yet, the key to watch is Arizona State’s third-down offense. Struggling to convert through two games, the success rate should go up against the Eagles’ weak defense.

If that’s not the case, ASU will have a glaring hole for opposing coordinators to exploit once conference play begins.

Arizona football Pac-12North Dakota State at Arizona

Saturday, September 17
8:00 pm PT, FS1

Lining up against the top team in the FCS, Arizona has a chance to gain some respect.

North Dakota State has won six-straight games against FBS opponents and secured the FCS Championship last season. The Bison operate a run-based power offense that effectively moves the ball on the ground.

Arizona QB Jayden de Laura vs Miss St | Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports

Yet, UA’s defensive scheme lends itself to stopping the run. Johnny Nansen’s 4-2-5 system was effective against San Diego State’s rushing attack and traditionally has schematic advantages against running offenses.

On the other side of the ball, Arizona should have the athletes to put up points on NDSU’s defense. Jayden de Laura’s decision-making promises to take center stage, but Jacob Cowing could go off if fed the ball.

The effectiveness of UA’s running backs might be the turning point of the game.


Game Picks from our Senior Writers and Broadcasters




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