Week 3of the 2022 college football season has arrived and so has our weekly look at Anxiety Games across the country. For those new here, we’re keeping tabs on games where the fans and/or coaching staffs of specific programs may feel a bit uneasy about the possibility of things going downhill with a loss.
We have plenty of these games to look at this week, including a potential turning point on the Plains. Let’s dive in.
Florida State at Louisville, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN (Friday)
We’re kicking things off with a Friday night ACC showdown at Cardinal Stadium with Florida State hitting the road to face Louisville.
In one corner, you have a 2-0 Florida State team coming off a bye week and is looking to establish some momentum as conference play opens. The last time we saw the Noles, they escaped the Superdome by the skin of their teeth in a wild late-night win over LSU. In the other corner, you have a Louisville team that’s playing the second game of a three-game stretch against Florida opponents. Following an embarrassing season opener against Syracuse, the Cardinals went down to Orlando last Friday and took down UCF for a second year in a row.
Both FSU head coach Mike Norvell and Louisville head coach Scott Satterfield need victories here to keep the momentum moving forward. A loss here and the questions surrounding their respective tenures will come flooding back.
Western Kentucky at Indiana, Noon ET, Big Ten Network
This would be a good spot to do a vibe check on Tom Allen and Indiana, who struggled early against Idaho last Saturday. The Hoosiers are 2-0 for the season so far but the Connor Bazelak-led offense has been pedestrian and that doesn’t bode well for them with the rest of their Big Ten schedule on the horizon. And that certainly won’t bode well for them against a WKU offense that can light up the scoreboard real quick.
Coming off a dreadful 2-10 season a year ago, the Hoosiers would like to get back to bowl eligibility and need to rack up these winnable games to make that goal possible. Matchups against Cincinnati, Nebraska, and Michigan are next up on the docket and if they fall to Western Kentucky here, they could be in a bad way for the next several weeks.
Colorado at Minnesota, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2
The Karl Dorrell tenure at Colorado is not going well and the Buffaloes were shredded by Air Force in a 41-10 road thrashing last week. The defense could not get off the field as the Falcons ran the triple option to perfection, holding possession for over 38 minutes of game time.
Buffs fans are already calling for Dorrell’s job and the team will hit the road to Minneapolis for a tough test at Minnesota. Another embarrassing loss here and those calls will only grow even louder.
Penn State at Auburn, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
This is an Anxiety Bowl that has been circled on the calendar since before the season with Penn State heading down south to Jordan-Hare Stadium to face Auburn. So, where do we begin here?
Second-year Auburn head coach Bryan Harsin famously survived a very public and very nasty coup attempt by some of the program’s power brokers in the offseason. Harsin has been a marked man since his hiring in December of 2020, when former athletic director Allen Greene took control of a chaotic coaching search from the boosters to bring Harsin in from Boise State. With his contract not being renewed, Greene “resigned” from his post last month, leaving Harsin’s future at the mercy of a booster class who didn’t want him in the first place.
So yeah, many people like Secret Base’s Steven Godfrey have prognosticated for months that a loss to Penn State at home will be the beginning of Harsin’s undoing on the Plains. It also doesn’t help that the Tigers were sleepy in an unimpressive 24-16 victory over San Jose state last Saturday. An embarrassing home loss here where the Tigers might debut orange uniforms and Harsin may join Scott Frost on the unemployment line very soon.
But hold on a second there Penn State, don’t think you’re out of the anxiety loop in this one. The Nittany Lions did what they had to do in rolling Ohio 46-10 last week, but there are still questions over why James Franklin hasn’t moved on from quarterback Sean Clifford in favor of five-star freshman Drew Allar. Another subpar Clifford performance in a loss and the calls to start Allar will increase as PSU’s status as a top-tier team in the Big Ten will continue to wane under James Franklin.
UCF at Florida Atlantic, 7:30 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network
Similar to Houston-UTSA a few weeks ago, you have a team in UCF that’s leaving for the Big 12 next year taking on an in-state opponent in FAU that will be effectively replacing them in the AAC. Both programs will have extra motivation to come out on top for those very reasons.
UCF in particular is coming off the aforementioned Friday night loss to Louisville, a game where the John Rhys Plumlee-led offense struggled to remain consistent throughout the night. Knights fans would like to see a bounce back performance on Saturday and a loss to a Conference USA program on their way up to the Big 12 wouldn’t be a good look. There’s also the added element of facing Willie Taggart, where there’s no love lost going back to Taggart’s time as the head coach of USF. A second straight loss for UCF here would have some questioning the direction of Gus Malzahn’s program in Orlando.