No time this week, so let’s get this going. As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.
- Notre Dame vs. Navy (@East Rutherford, NJ; CBS): For only the 2nd time since 1964, Navy has a chance to win consecutive games against Notre Dame. Will they do it? Probably not.
- Michigan State @ Northwestern (ESPN): This is a game that would be easy for the Spartans to overlook, but should otherwise be one where they should take care of business.
- Syracuse @ West Virginia (ESPN2): West Virginia is probably the best team in the Big East this year. Which, unfortunately for them, isn’t really saying much. But they should be able to beat Syracuse, even this rejuvenated edition. Key word there: “should”.
- Iowa State @ Texas (FSN): Iowa State has lost its last games (Utah and Oklahoma) by a combined 93 points. I don’t think it’s going to get any better against the Longhorns.
- Pennsylvania State @ Minnesota (ESPNU): Minnesota finally fired Tim Brewster, who definitely came into this season as, well, the most likely coach to get fired before the season ended. Note this was after the bizarre extension he got last winter. At any rate, even this astonishingly mediocre edition of Penn State should be able to beat them.
- Purdue @ Ohio State (BTN): Purdue is surprisingly 4-2 and 2-0 in the Big Ten. Well, surprising until you see that their 2-0 conference record is against the two worst teams in the conference. I think it’ll go to 2-1 in this game, unless Ohio State pulls a, well, “last year against Purdue” type game out of their hat after getting mauled by Wisconsin last weekend.
- Mississippi @ Arkansas (SEC): I’m going to guess that Houston Nutt probably checked into his hotel in Fayetteville under an assumed name. That aside, Arkansas should continue in its quest to stay relevant in the SEC West race with a win here.
- Duke @ Virginia Tech (ACC): Well, it looks like the Hokies are peaking just in time… to pound Duke in a pulp.
- Louisiana State @ Auburn (CBS): The first of a trio of huge 3:30 games, none of which I’ll probably watch due to our game being at the same time. But no matter! Folks other than me are starting to notice this similarities of this year to 2007, and, well, you know who got into the title game and won it that year? LSU-led Les Miles. The crazy continues in Auburn this weekend, where by rights Auburn should win. But that this point, I can’t pick against LSU until this lose. Yes, I know Auburn scored 65 points last week. LSU actually kind of does play defense, so they probably won’t do that again. But if they don’t bury the Lovecraftian horror that is LSU’s offense early, it will come back to haunt them.
- Wisconsin @ Iowa (ABC/ESPN): Game number 2! Sure, both these Big Ten hopefuls have a loss but they’re still two of the best four teams in the conference. If Iowa wins, they control their own destiny in the conference as they play both Michigan State and Ohio State. Wisconsin also puts itself at the likely top of the 1-loss heap, but they don’t play Michigan State so that would start to get interesting at the end of the year. At any rate, the Wisconsin offense is pretty good (they’re probably the textbook definition of a team that “runs downhill”) but Iowa probably has a better and more experienced defensive line than Ohio State. I’ll take the Hawkeyes at hom.
- Nebraska @ Oklahoma State (ABC): Here’s the third game. Nebraska suffered a huge let down against Texas last weekend, to the say the last. Meanwhile, Oklahoma State hopes to keep pace with the conference frontrunners by staying undefeated. Can Nebraska make another team suffer the same grief they just went through? Earlier this week I was high on the Cowboys but now I’m not so sure, as they’ve definitely given up a lot of points this year. This may be the kind of team Nebraska can regroup and get the offense back on track for. I’ll change my mind here at the last minute and take the Huskers.
- Georgia Tech @ Clemson (ABC/ESPN): I quote this stat every year for this game, but here goes again. Starting in 2004, Tech is 6-1 against Clemson. That “1” was a 31-7 blowout that I still remember – I was at a Buffalo Wild Wings in Chattanooga and Clemson was wearing those awful all-purple unis. The other 6 have all been Tech wins, yes, but but an average of 4.5 points. In fact, you have to go all the way back to 1989 to find the last time Tech beat Clemson by more than a single score. It’s rumored Clemson will be clad in purple once again, so let’s hope we don’t get a 2006-ish effort.
We played Clemson twice last year, so it’s tempting to compare this year to those efforts, especially the most epic conference championship no one watched. If I had to compare this year’s team to last year, it’s that a) we’re not scoring as much and b) we turn the ball over more. I think our turnovers are a direct result of poorer blocking along the line this year. While the offensive line doesn’t usually turn the ball over, if they’re not getting their blocks then you have a flood of defenders in your backfield too quickly to let anything develop. This leads to things like bad snaps (anxiety of the C to get his block) and missed pitches (timing is thrown off because the pitch man has to go around a defender). These are both mistakes we will have to continue to limit in order to be successful in this crucial stretch that starts up in up-state South Carolina.
- Arizona State @ California (FSN): Cal? Yeah. I have no clue what to think of them. Trying to figure this out would surely drive me mad, so I’ll take the easy way out and the Sun Devils.
- Connecticut @ Louisville (ESPNU): These are probably the two worst teams in the Big East. Louisville has somewhat better losses so I’ll pick them.
- Houston @ Southern Methodist (CBSCS): Houston just lost to Rice. Yeah. I’ll take the Mustangs.
- Alabama @ Tennessee (ESPN): Well, this October has 5 Saturdays so the 3rd Saturday in October… isn’t. Nonetheless, the Tide should, er, roll easily through Knoxville.
- Texas Agricultural and Mechanical @ Kansas (FSN): Don’t even get me started on Kansas. Ugh. TAMU rolls.
- Alabama-Birmingham @ Mississippi State (ESPNU): In days of yore, I probably would’ve been tempted to take UAB here but, well, Miss State is actually kind of good now. So not so much.
7:30: North Carolina @ Miami (ESPN2): Among other things, two teams have bedeviled Miami since their entry into the ACC: Georgia Tech and UNC. UNC has actually one three straight over the Canes, but even with their depleted defense back I think good Jacory makes a cameo and Miami wins.
- Oklahoma @ Missouri (ABC): While there’s a trio of good 3:30 games, with apologies to AF-TCU, this is the game of prime time right here. We’ll find out in a matter of hours which of these teams is “for real” and which isn’t. Despite the less impressive resume, I picked Missouri in my bowl predictions and, well , it’s too late to turn back now. (Well, as demonstrated above, it actually isn’t, but I needed a reason to pick the Tigers so there you go.)
- Air Force @ Texas Christian (CBSCS): I think this has a chance to be an interesting game, by which I mean there’s a chance TCU will win by less than 4 touchdowns. I’ll take the Horned Frogs here.
10:15: Washington @ Arizona (ESPN): Here’s your Pac-10 Nightcap. While last week’s Washington-Oregon State tilt wasn’t all that thrilling regulation, overtime was great until the Beavers decided to go for two in the second overtime for reasons I haven’t quite figured out. (The way I figure, if you’re going to go for two early, do it in the first overtime. In the second why not just get back out there on defense for the 3rd OT where everyone has to go for two anyway?) Anyway, I’ll thumb my nose at the transitive property once again (Oregon State is responsible for Arizona’s single loss) and take Arizona.
Look for bowl predictions once again late Sunday. Hopefully things will make even just slightly more sense this weekend. (Though if this season has proven anything, it’ll probably be the opposite.)