Week 3 of the 2018 college football season arrives Saturday with plenty of big games to keep an eye on throughout the day. Last week was a bit of a downer, at least as far as potential upsets were concerned, but there are a number of top-tier matchups ahead that could affect the College Football Playoff aspirations of a number of the nation’s powerhouse programs.
Let’s take a look at the biggest games on the schedule Saturday along with our predictions for what will transpire in those contests. Our CBS Sports college football experts have picked every game both straight up and against the spread, giving you ample opportunity to decide how to make your picks ahead of kickoff.
All times Eastern
No. 5 Oklahoma at Iowa State (+18.5) — Noon on ABC: An early kickoff in Ames, Iowa, has “catch Oklahoma napping” potential, but the early evidence strongly suggests the visiting Sooners can handle this game. They’ve handled business against FAU and UCLA already. You have to score a lot of points to beat Oklahoma, so can the Cyclones get into the 30s, at least? Otherwise, Oklahoma might run away with another one. Pick: Oklahoma -18.5 — Ben Kercheval
No. 12 LSU at No. 7 Auburn (-9.5) — 3:30 p.m. on CBS: Let’s be real — both of these defenses are lights out, and both offenses will be hard-pressed to establish a consistent running game. Because of that, it comes down to the quarterbacks. LSU’s Burrow hasn’t shown the ability to win a game with his arm, while Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham has done so in both of his seasons as the starting quarterback for Auburn coach Gus Malzahn. Stidham has success against the LSU secondary, gets a boost from the home crowd and leads Auburn to a win and cover. Pick: Auburn (-9.5) — Barrett Sallee
No. 17 Boise State at No. 24 Oklahoma State (-3.5) — 3:30 p.m. on ESPN: Boise State is no pushover, but Oklahoma State’s work through two games on the offensive side has been very Mike Gundy-ish. As in, it keeps on cranking no matter how many stars move on. brett Rypien and Co. will hang, and the Boise State defense — which is as fundamentally sound as any in the country — will keep this low-scoring for a while. But the depth and athleticism the Cowboys have will allow them to pull away late. Pick: Oklahoma State (-3.5) — Barrett Sallee
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No. 1 Alabama at Ole Miss (+21) — 7 p.m. on ESPN: I picked this to be Alabama’s one stumbling block prior to the season, and I’m sticking with it. Simply put, we didn’t learn anything about Ole Miss last week that we didn’t already know. The defense is a problem. But the offense isn’t and will have success against a Tide secondary that, because it’s new, will have some coverage busts that allow the Rebels to execute big plays deep. It will be close, it will be high-scoring and the Rebels will out-score the Tide in the first big upset of the 2018 season. Pick: Ole Miss (+21) — Barrett Sallee
No. 4 Ohio State at No. 15 TCU (+12.5) — 8 p.m. on ABC: Picking against a Gary Patterson team that’s getting nearly two touchdowns and is basically the home team (AT&T Stadium is a 20-minute drive from TCU) is a strategy that often makes one look like a fool, but I just can’t take the Horned Frogs in this matchup. Ohio State has looked like a team that could prove to be the best in the country so far, and it just might have a little too much talent for the Frogs. Pick: Ohio State -12.5 — Tom Fornelli
No. 22 USC at Texas (-2.5) — 8 p.m. on FOX: On paper, Texas has a better chance of pulling off a win against this USC team than the one a year ago. What really gives the Trojans the edge, though, is their defensive front seven. It’s loaded with veteran players and the linebacker unit is a notable advantage. Variables are tough to predict, but a defense like that usually travels well. Until Texas actually notches that big win, it’s understandable to be incredulous. Pick: USC +2.5 — Ben Kercheval
No. 10 Washington at Utah (+6.5) — 10 p.m. on ESPN: Washington’s defense prides itself on being able to tighten up and out-execute its opponents in the red zone, so Utah is going to have be ready to be lights-out in the kicking game. Luckily that’s Utah’s specialty, and senior Matt Gay is one of the best kickers in the nation. The 2017 Lou Groza Award winner led the country in field goals attempted (34), field goals made (30) and 50+ yard field goals last season. I think he’s the tiebreaker in a toss-up game that sees Utah cover the spread and potentially pull off the upset. Pick: Utah +6.5 — Chip Patterson