Saturday, September 20, 2008

This Weekend in College Football: Week 4

Welcome to week four of the college football season! Only 11 more to go!

For anyone happening on this from Facebook, this is pretty much what I do here. Each of the following is a game featuring at least one DI-A team from a BCS conference on national television, with additional exceptions for games that are interesting but only on regionally (read: the Raycom ACC and SEC "Games of the Week"). My idea of national is mostly based on what Comcast carries because that is what I currently have - so you'll see the national Big Ten Network game of the week but not the ESNPU game unless I want to talk about it.

As usual, all times are Eastern and all predictions wrong.

  • East Carolina @ North Carolina State (ESPN): NCSU has scored 9 offensive points against DI-A teams this year, losing in blowouts to South Carolina and Clemson. Granted, those were both on the road, but I've seen nothing to make me thing that NCSU has any idea what they're doing. Meanwhile, the Pirates needed a touchdown in the last two minutes to beat lowly Tulane, though that was their first road game of the year. I'm looking for ECU to win, though it may be closer than many think.
  • Iowa @ Pittsburgh (ESPN2): If this weren't on an ESPN, I wouldn't write about it. I can't think of anything positive to say about either team. Iowa is 3-0, but all three teams are decidedly worse than them (Maine, FIU, and Iowa St.). Pitt, meanwhile, lost to Bowling Green and hasn't played for two weeks since beating Buffalo. (Which I don't think I've seen before - a two week break, that is.) I hate to pick another road team here, but I'll go with Iowa so at least I can be mildly interested in this game.
  • Troy @ Ohio State (BTN): Do I want Troy to win? Yes. Do I think they will? No.
  • Mississippi State @ Georgia Tech (Raycom/Gameplan): This is an intriguing matchup for the Jackets. And not because of conference pride. Miss St. is terrible offensively (see the 3-2 debacle last weekend), and the Jackets had 3 fumbles last week in Blacksburg. Outside of just the fumbles, though, there is plenty of room of improvement for the Jackets. In what I suspect may be an issue all year, the middle of the offensive line has to get better blocks coming off the snap - with as often as VPI was in the backfield, it's surprising there weren't more fumbles lost. I say this because GT never established the first option in the triple option - the dive up the middle. B-back Dwyer had 10 carries for only 28 yards as VPI stacked the the middle-of-the-line. The other Tech then sold out on the 2nd option, the pitch-man on the outside. The result? A very banged up Josh Nesbitt, who ran 28 times for 151 yards. 5.4 yards per carry is nice, of course, but you don't really want your QB getting banged up like that, and he is also prone to fumbling the ball. The good news for GT is that their best WR is back, which opens up the downfield pass even more. Anyway, I'll be up early for this one.
12:30: Alabama @ Arkansas (Raycom/Gameplan): Alabama is 3-0! Which makes me very glad I'm not there last now, because I'm sure the press and fans are insufferable. We'll ignore that they have 1 legit victory out of that (Clemson). Of course, we know about as much about Arkansas. Well, except that they needed last minute touchdowns to beat both DI-AA Western Illinois and annual DI-A punching bag UL-Monroe. I will reluctantly go with 'Bama here.

3:00: Arizona @ California-Los Angeles (FSN): Yeah, I picked UCLA last week. Then they got shut out and embarrassed by the Stormin' Mormons. Luckily for UCLA, this game is in, well, LA and against annual Pac-10 doormat Arizona, who has already lost to decidedly-worse-than-BYU New Mexico. Goin' with Slick Rick and the Baby Blues here.

  • Florida @ Tennessee (CBS): SEC East football! Woo! Tennessee is looking to restore its reputation as the loss to UCLA now looks kind of bad. Florida, meanwhile, just got Percy Harvin back, this restoring the other 1/3 of Florida's offense that isn't Tim Tebow. Florida's defensive secondary is still suspect, but so is Tennessee's quarterback. Since Tebow plays for the Gators, I give them a slight edge on the road.
  • Notre Dame @ Michigan State (ABC/ESPN): Michigan losing to ND says a lot more about Michigan than Notre Dame. Michigan State should win, but I'll hesitate on calling for the rout. Unfortunately, the is the ABC national game for everyone who not on the Atlantic seaboard, the Southeast, and the area East of New Mexico and south of Missouri. Except for Orlando, FL. Let's just move on.
  • Miami @ Texas Agricultural and Mechanical (ABC/Gameplan): Ugh. Both these teams are terrible. I think TAMU is worse, mostly due to losing to Arkansas State. At home. I expect a repeat of last year's 34-17 romp by Miami.
  • Virginia Tech @ North Carolina (ABC/ESPN/Gameplan): This is a game that a lot of people are saying will be closer than people think. Heck, Vegas even has the Hokies as an underdog, though it's only by 3 (essentially, they're saying they have no clue). I guess the perception among most is that VPI is a favorite anyway. If were betting on this game, I wouldn't take UNC and the 3, that's for sure. I'll even go ahead and pick VPI straight-up. Tyrod Taylor looked good enough against GT last week, and all the UNC-Rutgers game told me was that Rutgers isn't good anymore. Speaking of whom...
  • Rutgers @ Navy (CBS College Sports):
4:00: Utah @ Air Force (Versus): Both are 3-0, but Air Force's 3-0 is against a couple very bad teams. The Utes, meanwhile, have victories over Michigan and, for what it's worth, UNLV. I'll go with them.

  • Wake Forest @ Florida State (ESPN2): I have no idea what the line is and I'm too tired to look it up. What do I know is that if FSU is favored the oddsmakers are crazy. FSU's offense is just terrible.
  • Rice @ Texas (FSN): Finally, I can pick a home team to win! Old SWC foes face off for the 6th straight time. The last time Rice beat Texas was in 1994, when the SWC still existed. The last time Rice had consecutive victories over the Longhorns was in 1953 and 1954. Ouch.
  • Ball State @ Indiana (BTN): I don't have anything constructive to say about this game. Indiana should win.
7:45: Louisiana State @ Auburn (ESPN): Auburn will score more than 3 points in this game. However, I haven't seen anything to make me thing they will be able to score enough. Tentatively picking LSU.

  • Georgia @ Arizona State (ABC): Though it'd be almost everything I'd ever want or hope for, I can't pick ASU here.
  • Texas Christian @ Southern Methodist (CBS College Sports): TCU wins.

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