As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.
- Auburn @ Arkansas (ESPN): These are two of the SEC’s higher scoring offenses, but also two of the worst defenses. Auburn’s been a little more consistent with regards to both aspects, but scored “only” 26 against Tennessee. (It should be noted Tennessee is the best defense Auburn has faced to date.) Arkansas, to its credit, recovered from the UGA loss and the embarrassment against against ‘Bama to absolutely cream a terrible Texas A&M team. Again, I think this’ll be pretty high scoring, but in the end I think Auburn will get the ball last and probably win.
- Purdue @ Minnesota (ESPN2): That win over Toledo is starting to get a bit long in the tooth for the Boilermakers, losers of four straight including consecutive close losses to Notre Dame (understandable) and Northwester (less so). Except for the Cal game, Minnesota has rarely been outplayed this year (though the score against Wisconsin was probably closer than the actual game). That said, there’s not much reason to be optimistic about Purdue right now, so I’ll take the Gophers.
- Vanderbilt @ Army (CBSCS): Vandy’s turnover margin, while still positive, is down 0.8 turnovers a game so far this year. This year’s Vandy offense isn’t actually worse than last year’s, but when you go from the 112th ranked offense to the 83rd, well, there was really nowhere else to go. So a date with Army is probably just what the doctor ordered for the ‘Dores, who have beaten up on their out-of-conference opponents 81-17 but have only mustered 19 points against SEC foes.
- Eastern Illinois @ Pennsylvania State (ESPN Classic): Penn State.
- Michigan State @ Illinois (BTN): If you could look up “reeling” in the dictionary, the University of Illinois logo would probably right next to it. Provided Michigan State doesn’t get caught up in the fact they beat Michigan last weekend, they should be able to take care of business.
- Georgia @ Tennessee (SEC/Gameplan): Things UGA does well: score points. Things Tennessee does well: play some semblance of defense. What happen when these forces collide in Knoxville? Probably produce a result similar to what we saw last weekend: UGa puts up less than their averages but their ability to move the ball at all puts them past the Vols in the end.
- Boston College @ Virginia Tech (Raycom/Gameplan): I would like to take a moment to point out that the only ACC Atlantic teams with winning conference records are Boston College and Maryland. Let that sink in for a moment. Maryland, who has lost two straight to Middle Tennessee State and very nearly lost to James Madison in overtime. Boston College, who against Clemson not three weeks ago put up 54 yards and 4 first downs. (Since this is the ACC we’re talking about, I should clarify that BC did, in fact, lose that game.) Virginia Tech, by far the most consistent team in the conference since they joined, has done their usual thing and rolled off 4 straight, though they looked a bit lackluster against Duke last weekend. The logical pick here is VPI, and for the sake of my sanity, that’s what I’m going with.
- Oklahoma State @ Texas Agricultural and Mechanical (FSN): Oklahoma State is lacking their best player thanks to some off-the-field shenanigans involving “Neon” Deon “Prime Time” Sanders. Yes, I know TAMU is 3-1 and all, but against the only team they’ve played that isn’t chopped liver (sorry UAB fans) they laid an egg. I think OSU still wins this game, but not by as much as they should.
- Iowa State @ Kansas (Versus): Speaking of terrible teams that got 3 (or more) wins off terrible patsies, Iowa State should lose to Kansas.
- Houston @ Mississippi State (ESPNU): If you looked up “laid an egg after the most important win in school history”…. okay, I think you all get where I’m going with this. I will say that Miss State is a decent football team, however, they seem to have forgotten that putting the ball on the ground is a bad thing. Provided the Cougars can pick themselves back off the ground, I think they should be able to win this one. It would also probably help if they don’t allow Miss State to run up 581 total yards of offense (of which one player was responsible for 262 yards).
- Alabama @ Mississippi (CBS): Okay, Ole Miss isn’t as good as we thought. But they’re probably not that bad either. Will it be enough to stop the Alabama juggernaut? Probably not. (Unfortunately.)
- Oregon @ California-Los Angeles (ABC/Gameplan): UCLA didn’t put up much resistance last week in their loss to Stanford. On the flip side, Oregon has been rampaging, er, beating up, er, winning all their games since the debacle in Boise to open the season, and I don’t see why the streak will end in Pasadena.
- Wisconsin @ Ohio State (ESPN/ABC/Gameplan): Wisconsin kept up their habit of winning by 1 score or less in last week’s 31-28 win over UMN. Ohio State has done the opposite. Since playing it close to the sweatervest against USC, they’ve scored 30 or more points in every game since. I think Wisconsin will provide some resistance, but provided Ohio State is finally doing what it actually wants to on offense, I think they have the inside track to the Big Ten title.
- Baylor @ Oklahoma (Gameplan/ABC): This is an okay Baylor team. Of course, you could argue Oklahoma has proven absolutely nothing, but they will have Sam Bradford back and they should beat Baylor anyway.
- Connecticut @ Pittsburgh (Gameplan/ESPN/ABC): Pitt thrashed Louisville, but I don’t really take that as any sort of indicator of “quality”. I’m going to admit I’m completely guessing here and just with UConn because I think that’d be pretty funny.
- Navy @ Rice (CBSCS): I bet 10-3 seems really far away now for the Owls. Navy should cruise here. No pun intended.
4:00: Duke @ North Carolina State (ESPNU): It’s funny how, for all the wackiness of the ACC, the one terrible constant through all the years is Duke. For what it’s worth, both these teams have the exact same number of DI-A wins (one). That said, well, until they prove otherwise there’s not really any reason to favor Duke.
7:00: Stanford @ Oregon State (FSN): For the second week in a row, I’ll pick Stanford. I’m forced to wonder if that has ever happened before. I should go back and look. Though not right now.
7:15: Colorado @ Texas (ESPN): Unless something has happened since losing to The Bill Steward Experience, Colorado is still a terrible football team. Texas should handle them easily.
- Southern Mississippi @ Louisville (ESPNU): Well, I’ll say one thing: if Louisville loses this game, the odds of them having the same head coach against UConn next week have to be extremely slim. In fact, they’re currently 0-3 against I-A teams. USM, meanwhile, has experienced something of a let down since the win over Virginia (which, if trends hold, should get more valuable each of the next three weeks!) by losing to Kansas (understandable) and UAB (much less so). UL should still beat their old C-USA foe, but the emphasis on that is should.
- Texas Christian @ Air Force (CBSCS): TCU is the most legitimate of the remaining mid-major unbeaten teams, and they have to be on their guard against a pretty decent Air Force squad. They should win, though.
- Florida @ Louisiana State (CBS): Hooo boy. Well, here’s what we know. 1) We don’t know if Tim Tebow, the best player in college football, will play. 2) We know that in a haze of bourbon and butter, it will be very intense tonight in Baton Rouge. 3) Les Miles is crazy; Urban Meyer, not so much. And that, honestly, is what makes me think Florida will win regardless of Tebow’s presence. It’s not like the backup QB for Florida is some dude they got off the street two weeks ago. Will it change UF’s gameplan? Of course. But here’s what I know about LSU from their last two games. 1) They couldn’t stop Miss State for most of the game, except on a goal line stand at the end of the game that was probably Miss State’s fault as much as anything else. 2) They couldn’t score against UGA’s leaky defense for the first, oh, 57 minutes of the game last weekend. I think Florida, even without Tebow, has the talent to keep up with LSU and has a definite edge in coaching, and I think the Gators can, and should, win. Regardless, though, I think it’ll be close.
- Michigan @ Iowa (ABC): Michigan learned last week the ups-and-downs of having a freshman QB – saving your bacon one minute, throwing the game losing interception into the end zone the next. (Believe me, as a survive of the Reggie Ball Era, I know all about the perils of freshman QBs. The problem is when they don’t stop being freshman QBs.) Nonetheless, Iowa has failed to convince me of much of anything, and there’s the pesky fact they very nearly lost to Arkansas State last weekend. I actually like Michigan here.
- Georgia Tech @ Florida State (ESPN2): Hey, did you know Florida state is actually playing a game this weekend? Anyway, the drama around Bobby Bowden this week can amount to one of two things: 1) FSU is truly internally divided, with coaches and players fighting among themselves 2) the players have united behind Bowden and will come out motivated and ready to play. But here are some facts: Tech is looking bad on defense, and while we ended the overall losing streak to FSU last year, we’re still 0-6 in Tallahassee. Our last visit there was my freshman year back in 2003, where coming off the huge Auburn win we led 13-0 going into the 4th quarter only to lose, 14-13. We have to get this monkey off our back.
The offense looked pretty darn good last week. We took advantage of Miss State’s 5 (!) turnovers and Nesbitt’s good passing effort (11-14 for 266 yards), easily a career best. Dwyer still lacks a 100 yard game, but with the way the passing game was working last week we almost didn’t need to – and in fact, we had more total yards passing (266) than rushing (213). Which led Mickey Andrews to his award-worthy quote: “You can’t cover everybody and play the run like you need to and double cover (Demaryius Thomas). You can, but they’ll penalize you. We’ve got it figured out if they’d just let us play with that extra guy. And they ought to, we need it right now.”
On the opposite side of the ball, the defense was just not very good last week outside of forcing 5 turnovers. If nothing changes and the FSU that put 54 on BYU shows up, this could be a long day for us.