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Week 3 college football viewers guide: Games to watch, predictions and more

No. 1 Alabama takes its 16-game winning streak to Gainesville to play 11th-ranked Florida. At Oklahoma, the No. 3 Sooners and Nebraska renew a storied rivalry in a big weekend for the Big Ten.

Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams scores a touchdown against the Miami during an NCAA college football game in Atlanta on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021.
Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams scores a touchdown against the Miami during an NCAA college football game in Atlanta on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021.Read moreJohn Bazemore / AP

Week 3 of the college football season features a test for Alabama in Gainesville. It also could be a showcase weekend for the Big Ten. Five teams will be meeting ranked non-conference opponents, led by No. 10 Penn State hosting No. 22 Auburn. Nebraska, Michigan State, Indiana, and Purdue are the others, and all will be playing the underdog role.

No. 1 Alabama (-14 ½) at No. 11 Florida, 3:30 p.m., CBS3

The last time the Gators defeated the Crimson Tide — in the 2008 SEC championship game — Tim Tebow was their quarterback. Alabama won the last seven contests, including a 52-46 shootout last year that gave the Tide yet another SEC title.

The Gators (2-0, 0-0 SEC) may have drawn confidence from playing Alabama so close and will have a sold-out crowd at Florida Field behind them. But the Crimson Tide (2-0, 0-0) have won 16 straight games and own 31 consecutive victories over SEC East teams dating back to 2010.

But this Crimson squad does have new faces. Alabama quarterback Bryce Young will make his first career road start. Wide receiver Jameson Williams, who might become the next DeVonta Smith, had seven receptions for 157 yards and a pair of touchdowns in his first two games.

Florida has been starting Emory Jones at quarterback, but redshirt freshman Anthony Richardson has amassed 467 total yards — 275 of them on the ground — in limited action and could see playing time Saturday, although he has been dealing with a strained right hamstring.

Prediction: Alabama 48, Florida 31

Nebraska at No. 3 Oklahoma (-22), noon, Fox29

You can hear the great Keith Jackson’s introduction in your head: “OAK-la-homa versus Nuhh-BRASK-ah.”

This used to be one of the great rivalries in college football. Between 1970 and 2000, the programs combined to win nine national championships — five for Nebraska, four for Oklahoma. They played the “Game of the Century” 50 years ago, with the No. 1 Cornhuskers defeating the No. 2 Sooners, 35-31.

They’ll try to rekindle those old feelings in their first meeting since 2010. But the Cornhuskers (2-1) have fallen on hard times and need a victory to take the pressure off embattled head coach Scott Frost. The Sooners (2-0) have won 10 straight games and blasted Western Carolina last week, 76-0.

Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler threw for five touchdowns last week after an unspectacular opening game against Tulane. Nebraska’s Adrian Martinez is second in the Big Ten in total offense but needs to be more consistent to help the Huskers spring the upset.

Prediction: Oklahoma 51. Nebraska 20

No. 8 Cincinnati (-4) at Indiana, noon, ESPN

The Hoosiers (1-1), who had visions of being the No. 1 challenger to Ohio State in the Big Ten East, played poorly in their season-opening loss to Iowa and want to show the world they can live up to the lofty expectations with an upset of the Bearcats (2-0), a team with playoff aspirations.

The Bearcats have some weapons on offense. Quarterback Desmond Ridder, the 2020 AAC player of the year, is fourth in the nation in passing efficiency. Alabama transfer Jerome Ford already has two 100-yard games to his credit and averages 7.8 yards per carry.

Indiana broke a 42-game losing streak against Top 10 teams last year with its victory over Penn State and would like to spring another upset. Quarterback Michael Penix Jr., the hero of that win, suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament last November and his numbers to date (224 yards, two touchdowns, three interceptions) have not impressed.

Prediction: Cincinnati 38, Indiana 28

Michigan State at No. 24 Miami (-6), noon, 6ABC

The Spartans (2-0) have been the early surprise in the Big Ten, scoring at least 38 points and topping the 500-yard total-offense mark in their first two contests. Wake Forest transfer Kenneth Walker III has rushed for 321 yards in just 30 carries.

After an opening-week loss to No. 1 Alabama, the Hurricanes (1-1) struggled last week to defeat Appalachian State on a late field goal. Quarterback D’Eriq King is leading an offense that averages only 320.5 total yards and 4.6 yards per play.

Prediction: Miami 27, Michigan State 24

Purdue at No. 12 Notre Dame (-7), 2:30 p.m., NBC10

A Fighting Irish victory will be the 105th of coach Brian Kelly’s career, tying him with the legendary Knute Rockne for first place all-time in program history. But they have struggled in victories over Florida State (overtime) and Toledo and have dropped four spots in the polls.

Quarterbacks Jack Coan of Notre Dame (2-0) and Jack Plummer of Purdue (2-0) have thrown six touchdown passes, but Coan has been sacked 10 times. This is the first meeting of the in-state rivals since 2014.

Prediction: Purdue 24, Notre Dame 21

No. 19 Arizona State (-3 ½) at No. 23 BYU, 10:15 p.m., ESPN

The Cougars (2-0) already have wins over Arizona and Utah, so a victory over the Sun Devils (2-0) would make them 3-0 against the Pac-12. The turnover differential will be worth watching — BYU has not turned the ball over this season, while the Sun Devils have forced 38 turnovers over their last 13 games dating back to 2019, the most in the country over that span.

Prediction: Arizona State 37, BYU 31