Palmetto State Schools Prepare for Tough Week 3 Tests

There are flood warnings in Columbia as the Tide gets ready to roll into the Midlands. Photo Courtesy – Ryan Bethea, 247Sports

Week 3 is fast approaching and the schools here in South Carolina are gearing up for some big tests, both here at home and on the road. The first two weeks of the college football season has given South Carolinians joy and heartbreak. Clemson keeps showing why they are the top ranked team in the country after two strong showings against Georgia Tech and Texas A&M. Just down the road in Columbia, the Gamecocks have had a weird roller coaster of emotions through two weeks. From pre-season hype and excitement, to sheer heartbreak and disgust after losing to UNC, to being back to hype and excitement after pounding poor Charleston Southern.

Clemson is on the road this week for the first time this season as they travel to New York to face a Syracuse team that is still trying to stop Maryland from scoring. The Orange defense gave up 63 points and over 650 total yards to the Terps a week ago, while Clemson’s defense played lights out against a really good Texas A&M team. While the score doesn’t necessarily reflect it, Clemson dominated the Aggies. The Tigers have had their struggles against Syracuse, though. Two years ago, it was the Orange knocking off the Tigers in the Carrier Dome. And last year, Syracuse gave Clemson all they could handle again as they nearly beat Clemson in Death Valley. I expect Saturday night to be a different outcome. The Tigers are hot and Syracuse is reeling after last week’s butt whooping. This thing could get very, very ugly.

In 2010, it was South Carolina that sat on the dock and watched the Tide roll away after a 35-21 upset at home. It’s nine years later and the Tide is getting ready to roll back into Columbia. This time, South Carolina doesn’t have Steve Spurrier, or the plethora of talent they had back then. Alabama has a high powered offense that can score a bunch of points and score quickly. The South Carolina defense has several weaknesses, especially in the secondary. Watch for Tua to have a huge day against the Gamecock defense. South Carolina has a True Freshman QB starting in just his second game for the Cocks. Ryan Hilinski is very talented and I think he could actually play a good game, but it won’t be enough to keep up with Alabama. The Tide is not rolling out of Columbia with a loss this year.

The only other FBS program here in the “Palmetto State” is Coastal Carolina and they are still riding high after beating Kansas a week ago. A big win for the Chanticleer’s football program, they look to keep the momentum going with an easier game this week against FCS opponent Norfolk State. The Spartans finished 4-7 a year ago and are picked to finish somewhere in the middle to bottom of a weak MEAC conference. The Chants should have the easiest test of any South Carolina school this week.

At the FCS level, two South Carolina schools have tough games on the road against ACC Coastal teams. Furman has to travel to Blacksburg, VA to take on the Hokies. And The Citadel takes on Georgia Tech down in Atlanta. Personally, I think these are two very interesting match-ups to watch. Both SoCon schools actually match-up very well against their opponents and both are talented enough to win these games. Both are also coming off really close, heart-breaking losses on the road. How do they respond? The weather could be a factor in Blacksburg and Virginia Tech’s poor play on offense, early on this season, could help keep Furman in the game. The same thing could be said for the game in Atlanta as Georgia Tech is currently under a rebuild and trying to play under a new offensive scheme. The Yellow Jackets have been awful so far on the offensive side of the ball. Can The Citadel capitalize on that?

And finally there’s Wofford. The Terriers had a very ugly loss in Week 1 to South Carolina State. They had last week off, and are back home in Spartanburg for this week’s SoCon match-up with Samford. Samford has looked just awful early on this season. We know the Bulldogs can score, but their defense has been their Achilles Heel, giving up a combined 104 points in the first two games. However, the Bulldogs have had Wofford’s number for the past several years as Samford currently has a five game winning streak going against Wofford. Can Wofford’s offense get back to running the football like we know they can and can their defense stop Samford’s high powered offense? Is this the year Wofford ends the streak?

With all of that being said, here are my picks this week for these games, plus a few other games taking place nationally.

North Carolina @ Wake Forest (-3) – Tonight – 6:00 PM – ESPN

A really good ACC conference game on Friday night, both schools have really surprised people this year with their early success. North Carolina is really feeling themselves right now after beating South Carolina and Miami. Wake Forest won a close one in Week 1 over a good Utah State team and then pounded Rice last week. Neither team is really great on defense, but their offense’s have been able to make up for it. This game could very well end up in a shoot-out in Winston-Salem. And because Wake is at home, I’m going to take the Demon Deacons.

Wake Forest – 38, North Carolina – 31

Stanford @ #17 UCF (-8.5) – 3:30 – ESPN

We will see if Stanford QB K.J. Costello is healthy and ready to go for this game. He was out last week and backup Davis Mills had a rough game against USC. Stanford has an alright defense, but their offense is bad. The Cardinal have a lot of trouble moving the ball and scoring. On the flip side, their opponent, UCF, has no problems moving the ball and scoring as the Golden Knights are averaging 55 ppg and 634 total yards of offense per game. And their defense has been really good, granted they’ve played Florida A&M and FAU. This will be the first test for this UCF team, but QB Dillon Gabriel has been playing lights out and I think the Knights win big.

UCF – 48, Stanford – 24

#2 Alabama (-25.5) @ South Carolina – 3:30 – CBS

I talked about it earlier, this game probably won’t be close. South Carolina might be able to keep it close for a quarter or even a half, but ultimately, I think Alabama is just too good and rolls over South Carolina. It wouldn’t surprise me if Freshman Ryan Hilinski plays well and think the offense will score some points, but I just think Tua and the Alabama offense is world’s better than the defense that Will Muschamp will put out on the field. This is the first test for the Tide, so we will get a glimpse of just how good Alabama is.

Alabama – 42, South Carolina – 17

East Carolina @ Navy (-7.5) – 3:30 – CBSSN

It’s been hard to watch the past couple of years as Army has become the better military academy (in football) over Navy. Ever since joining the American Conference in 2015, it has been kind of a rough road for the Midshipman. They’ve had some success, but nothing like before when they were still playing as an Independent. Navy looked really good in their opener two weeks ago in a blow out win over Holy Cross. East Carolina is still rebuilding and comes in with a 1-1 record. I’m hoping this is a rebound year for the Midshipmen, so I’m picking them to win at home against the Pirates.

Navy – 27, ECU – 20

#19 Iowa (-2) @ Iowa State – 4:00 – FS1

Ah, the Battle for the Cy-Hawk Trophy. This may just be the best game to watch on Saturday. College Gameday makes it’s first visit to Ames, IA for the morning pre-game show. A classic early season in-state rivalry game between two teams that are Top-25 caliber. Iowa State did start the season ranked, but after a close overtime win to Northern Iowa, an FCS team, they dropped out after the first week. Iowa has had no problems through their first two games as they disposed of Miami (OH) and Rutgers by a combined 68-14 margin. However, Jack-Trice Stadium in Ames is a tough place to play and Iowa State is notorious for beating Top-25 teams at home, plus it’s been five years since they won the Cy-Hawk Trophy. This should be a very physical, close football game, but I’m sticking with the Hawkeyes.

Iowa – 31, Iowa State – 28

Florida State @ #25 Virginia (-7.5) – 7:30 – ACCN

Florida State leads this ACC rivalry with a 15-3 all-time record against Virginia. These two teams haven’t met since 2014 and the Cavaliers haven’t won since 2011. But 2019 is not the years of old for the Noles. Florida State has a lot of problems, both on and off the field. Willie Taggart just can’t seem to get the Noles to focus as FSU should probably be 0-2 coming into this game, but squeaked out a one point win at home against UL-Monroe. The Noles are just awful and Virginia should be able to capitalize on that. Vrigina’s Bryce Perkins is a dual-threat QB that has Virginia in the Top-25 for only the second time in eight years. The Cavaliers are a touchdown favorite at home, but I think they win by an even larger margin than that.

Virginia – 45, Florida State – 27

#1 Clemson (-27.5) @ Syracuse – 7:30 – ABC

The Tigers roll into the Carrier Dome the heavy favorite. Trevor Lawrence hasn’t been overly spectacular through two weeks, but he did play a great game last week vs. Texas A&M. I just have a feeling that Trevor and the Clemson offense is going to feast upon a Syracuse defense that is still trying to pull themselves together after getting shellacked by Maryland. I think 28 points is about right, but this game could be even uglier. I like the Tigers to dominate the Orange on Saturday night.

Clemson – 41, Syracuse – 13

And now for this week’s SoCon action. There are a several really good games, but I’m going to pick three of the better match-ups.

Furman at Virginia Tech (-21.5) – Noon – ACCN

I get why the Hokies are the heavy favorite, but I believe that the Vegas odds-makers are underestimating the Paladins just a bit. Furman lost a tough one last week at Georgia State. This Paladin squad is really good on offense and has a solid defense that will help them once conference play starts. Virginia Tech on the other hand has some question marks offensively. They looked awful in the loss to Boston College and didn’t look all that great last week against Old Dominion. Watch out for the weather in Blacksburg, as possible showers and thunderstorms might play a factor in this game. I think Virginia Tech wins, but keep an eye on the Paladins to keep it closer than the experts think.

Virginia Tech – 24, Furman – 14

The Citadel @ Georgia Tech (-27.5) – 12:30

I find it interesting that Georgia Tech is nearly a 28 point favorite in this game when they have only scored 28 points so far through two games. The Yellow Jackets are still trying to find an identity on offense and struggle to move the ball at times. Their defense is really good and will be going up against a Bulldogs team that has lost their first two games by a combined 14 points. The Citadel is really good and lost to two really good FCS programs. This game may not be such a lock for Georgia Tech. This is the same Citadel team that was tied 10-10 at the half to Alabama last year. I’m taking the upset in Atlanta. Bulldogs win a nail-biter.

The Citadel – 24, Georgia Tech – 23

Samford @ Wofford – 6:00 – ESPN3

Both teams come into this game looking for their first win on the year, and what better way to get it than over a conference foe. Wofford has lost five straight meetings to the Bulldogs, but so far, this is not the same caliber Samford team of years past. The Bulldogs got spanked by Youngstown State in Week 0 and then lost a double-overtime game to Tennessee Tech, while Wofford lost to a mediocre South Carolina State team. Both teams are coming off a bye week last week. I honestly think Wofford is the better team, but they have to get back to doing what they do best, which is running the football.

Wofford – 31, Samford – 27

And those are my picks for Week 3. After the first two weeks of the year I am 12-10. Still above .500, but I am looking to increase my winning percentage this week. I’m looking forward to another great weekend of college football. Leave a comment below if you agree or disagree with my picks this week.

High School

Plenty of good High School football action taking place tonight around the State of South Carolina, but particularly here in the Upstate. Here are just a few games to keep an eye on tonight.

Southside Christian (3-0) @ Abbeville (3-0)

J.L. Mann (0-2) @ Greenville (2-1)

Daniel (3-0) @ Westside (0-2)

Mauldin (1-1) @ Greer (1-2)

Blue Ridge (2-0) @ Chapman (3-0)

Easley (1-1) @ Wren (1-1)

Pendleton (1-1) @ Berea (2-1)

T.L. Hanna (2-0) @ BHP (1-1)

Pickens (1-2) @ Travelers Rest (3-0)

It’s homecoming for my Devildogs and I will be in the stands tonight to cheer them on as they take on the Blue Flame. We Are TR!

NFL

I don’t even know what to say. The Panthers drop to 0-2 after last night’s head-shaking loss at home to Tampa Bay. The Panthers literally did everything but get in the endzone last night. I know it’s only two games, but so far, the outlook for 2019 is pretty bleak in the Queen City. Maybe next week Carolina, maybe next week.

There are some good games to watch on Sunday. Here are a few that I think are the best games to watch this weekend.

Minnesota @ Green Bay

Kansas City @ Oakland

Chicago @ Denver

New Orleans @ Los Angeles Rams

Philadelphia @ Atlanta

A full slate of football to watch this weekend. Check out the Week 3 Preview show on “The Spread w/ Cameron Tarrant” Soundcloud page. SoCon John and I had a great conversation last night looking ahead to this weekend. Like us on Facebook and on Twitter!

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