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SportsPulse: Our university football experts will debate who will come at the beginning of the season on top of this big SEC clash.
USA TODAY

The slate of week 3 on college football has been somewhat shortened, because hurricane Florence threatens to wash over most of the southeast. There will still be a number of meaningful games, although some games can be played in humid conditions.

These are the five most impactful matches this weekend in the race for the Playoff competition of the college.

No. 13 LSU at No. 7 Auburn

Saturday, 3.30 pm ET, CBS

The battle for supremacy in the hypercompetitive SEC West begins with this all-Tiger affair. A loss is not a play-off killer, but the winner will clearly be in a much better position to challenge Alabama's opposing expectations on the road.

Like some earlier meetings in this series, the version of this year has the characteristics of a classic defense that could turn into one big game. After a low-scoring flight against Washington, Auburn was able to work out some attacking nods against the state of Alabama last week. However, QB Jarrett Stidham is unlikely to receive much ground support against LB Devin White and the solid LSU front.

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The Bayou Bengals have not used much of their offensive playbook so far, but QB Joe Burrow will have to take more opportunities this week. Protecting him was a problem, even against FCS member Southeast Louisiana, and Auburn DT Dontavius ​​Russell is more than capable of lowering the bag.

No. 4 Ohio State vs. No. 14 TCU

Saturday, 8 pm ET, ABC

As far as the playoff photo is concerned, the Big 12 looks like a one-sooner pony at the moment. That perception will change in the blink of an eye if the horned frogs can draw a stunner in their own backyard. The Buckeyes, however, remember how the bid of last season was derailed in part by a loss for a Big 12 opponent. They will be determined not to repeat that piece of history themselves.

This de-facto road game in Arlington, Texas, appeared as the most significant of the three contests for which Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer would be suspended. But apart from a few late points that were surrendered to the state of Oregon with the outcome long ago determined, it is hard to see how the first two outings of Ohio State without him on the sidelines could have gone much better. The horned frogs have not looked so nice in their warm-up games and they will have to be almost flawless here. Like Alabama, the added dimension of an in-depth game by QB Dwayne Haskins has made an already strong Ohio squadron game even more dangerous. TCU will have to hope that its swarming defense, with senior LB & # 39; s Arico Evans and Alec Dunham, can limit big games. Horned Frogs QB Shawn Robinson will need all his mobility to stay away from Buckeyes DE Nick Bosa. Senior WR KaVontae Turpin is the most dangerous escape threat of TCU, which can also cause damage in the return match, but the Buckeyes have not raced often.

No. 12 Washington in Utah

Saturday, 10 pm ET, ESPN

The Huskies must hope that their headwind of week 1 against Auburn was indeed not an insurmountable obstacle to their playoff chase. With the margin for errors gone, they now start their search for the Pac-12 crown with which figures are a challenging cross-divisional tilt. For their part, the Utes hope to be in the mix in the south.

Utah was not flashy during its 2-0 start, but the defense has allowed a total of 16 points. LB Chase Hansen and Co. are unlikely to keep all that stinginess against the veteran backfield duo of Washington QB Jake Browning and RB Myles Gaskin, so the Utes will need QB Tyler Huntley to offer some fireworks in the downfield game. Huskies DT Shane Bowman will take the lead to prevent him from doing so.

Vanderbilt at no. 8 Notre Dame

Saturday, 2.30 pm ET, NBC

After their triumph over Michigan in week 1, this seems to be the type of game that the Fighting Irish would have to deal with relatively easily if they were in fact a top 10 team. But is it? The Commodores are not expected to compete for the SEC title, but they treated a few overvalued opponents with little drama to build some speed.

Although Notre Dame struggled last week to clear Ball State, his defense, steadily by LB Te & # 39; von Coney and S Alohi Gilman, will still be the biggest test that Vandy senior QB Kyle Shurmur has faced this season. TE Jared Pinkney could be prominently present in the Commodores ball-control plan. The Vandy defense, anchored by LB Josh Smith, has also been tough and Notre Dame QB Brandon Wimbush has a disturbing ratio of one TD pass to four picks by two games. He needs some long gainers from RB Jafar Armstrong.

No. 17 Boise State at No. 19 Oklahoma State

Saturday 15:30 ET, ESPN

Around for an amusing rodeo while the Cowboys and Broncos try a quality win at the lasso. At first sight, this is the first real measuring stick game for a few top 20 teams. But there is more to it. Oklahoma State has more opportunities for meaningful wins in the Big 12 schedule, but this competition will show the young Cowboys whether they are ready for those future tests. For the Broncos, the Mountain West favorites who compete with every other Group of Five competition contender for a spot in the big-money bowl spin, this is their only shot on a power-five opponent.

So far, against opposed opposition, both offensive units have done what they wanted. The only reason for concern for Cowboys QB Taylor Cornelius could be his three interceptions. Broncos DE Durrant Miles will take the trouble to harass him, but RB Justice Hill will be there to help. Veteran Boise State signal buster Brett Rypien has been free of his two outings this season and he will need all his gaming experience in the hostile environment in Stillwater. His main goals are WRs Sean Modster and John Hightower, but he will have to avoid Cowboys de Jordan Brailford.

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