Saturday, September 14, 2013

This Weekend in College Football: Week 3

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

  • California-Los Angeles @ Nebraska (ABC): I’m still a bit boggled that either, much less both, of these teams are ranked, but that’s Week 3 for you. I’m going to roll with Nebraska in this one.
  • Louisville @ Kentucky (ESPN): I’m finding it incredibly easy to pick against the team that lost to Western Kentucky in Week 1. Hint: it wasn’t Louisville.
  • Tulsa @ Oklahoma (ESPN2): Maybe instead of conference moves I should’ve made a table of coaching moves because I keep forgetting that Derek Dooley is now the head coach at Tulsa. It should probably not be a huge surprise, then, Tulsa hasn’t been very good this year and that a potentially intriguing game is now likely to be a laugher.
  • Virginia Tech @ East Carolina (FS1): It’s difficult to really predict that VPI will lose this game, though exactly how they will score any points is unclear.
  • Bowling Green @ Indiana (ESPNU): This doesn’t happen very often, but, well, I’m going to pick a MAC team over a Big Ten team.
  • Stanford @ Army (CBSS): As noted in my Pac-12 out-of-conference scheduling preview, Army fans should enjoy the sights from Michie Stadium, as the action on the field likely won’t be as appealing as the scenic beauty of the Hudson River Valley.
  • Akron @ Michigan (BTN): I don’t really need a lot of convincing to pick Michigan here.
  • Southern Mississippi @ Arkansas (SEC): It looks like it won’t just be a one-year funk for Southern Miss. As noted elsewhere, their best bet for a win in the first two months of the season was against Texas State and they blew it. Their odds are not any better against the Razorbacks.
  • New Mexico @ Pittsburgh (ACC): Similarly, losing to Texas-San Antonio is also not a great sign, so I’ll take Pitt here.
  • Louisiana-Monroe @ Wake Forest (ACC): I have actually seen at least one person suggest that Jim Grobe is on the hot seat. I wasn’t aware that a Wake Forest football coach could ever even have a warm seat, but here we are. The problem is that I still have a tough time taking a Sun Belt team over an ACC team, so I’m going to stick with Wake.
3:00: Boston College @ Southern California (FS1): Look, I know Washington State is bad and all, but it’s hard to ignore that on paper USC out-classes Boston College so thoroughly I’m not sure how I could pick against them in this situation. So I won’t. But I won’t be surprised if they lose, either. (In fact, I’ll probably think it’s hilarious.)

  • Alabama @ Texas Agricultural and Mechanical (CBS): Well, here we are. The Game of the Week of the Year of the Century, for Week 3. All available evidence suggests that both these teams are really good. If anything, I still think that Alabama is slightly better, especially on defense. Looking back over last year’s game, the thing that stands out to me is A.J. McCarron’s uncharacteristic 2 interceptions. In addition, Alabama also had a fumble. In a five-point game, three turnovers is more than likely to be the difference. I don’t think Alabama will make those mistakes again, and come away with the win.
  • Tennessee @ Oregon (ABC): Apparently my worries were unfounded and Tennessee and Oregon fans get along just fine. Of course, Oregon should also notch a win here without much resistance, which may help.
  • Nevada @ Florida State (ESPN): Losing to UCLA by 38 does not bode well for the Wolfpack heading into Tallahassee.
  • Georgia Tech @ Duke (ESPNU): Few things make me feel older than, perhaps, the regular staff of writer for the only Georgia Tech blog I read, From the Rumble Seat. (As A5 often notes, the downside of not having a journalism school is that means GT doesn’t really turn out a lot of interesting bloggers, and trust me, I do not think I am interesting.) One such example was that in their pre-season previews, one of them mentioned that he couldn’t remember the last time Georgia Tech lost to Duke. Well, I can, because it happened my freshman year. And that’s when I remember that my freshman year was 10 years ago. And then I feel old.
    So, yes, in addition to feeling the inevitability of aging, there are some other things going on here. We, unhelpfully, had a bye in Week 2. I probably would’ve preferred to have that in the middle of conference play, but oh well. Other fun facts: Duke is by far Tech’s most-played ACC opponent (this will be their 81st meeting) and they have met every year since 1933. The last time the game was played in neither November nor October was 1996. Also, Duke will be without their first-choice quarterback, but from what I’ve read there wasn’t that much of a difference between the starter and the backup anyway. They both represent a departure from the Sean Renfree years, as apparently Cutcliffe is going toward more the read-option style and away from the classic NFL-style QBs that got him where he is today (read: the Manning brothers). This also means that what most people tabbed as one of GT’s strongest units – the pass defense – will be negated somewhat. Duke, unlike Tech, has played a FBS opponent this year, though it was Memphis and they only won by 14. Since otherwise the teams have only played FCS teams, there’s just no way to make any definitive judgments here.
4:00: Ball State @ North Texas (FSN): UNT is in C-USA now? Huh. Either way, Ball State looks better so far.

  • Iowa @ Iowa State (FS1): Well, at least Iowa beat the the FCS team they played. This could well be a trainwreck game, which in fairness is still a little interesting since it is a rivalry game and all. I’ll go with Iowa but I’m not sure why.
  • Washington @ Illinois (BTN): Perhaps one of the most surprising results of this young season was Illinois’s domination of a slightly well-regarded Cincinnati team last weekend. Washington’s dominant win over Boise State is probably still more impressive, and plus, I think everyone had this one as a walk-over for the Huskies so may as well stick with it.
  • Ohio State @ California (FOX): Seeing as how Cal already lost to Northwestern by two touchdowns back in Week 1, I don’t think I’m going out on a limb to pick the Buckeyes here.
  • Vanderbilt @ South Carolina (ESPN): I watched the South Carolina-Georgia game last weekend, and I have to say, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen an offense so dedicated to avoiding one particular defensive player like Georgia avoided Clowney in that game. I am pretty much convinced the call was always that the play-side would be the opposite of whatever side he lined up on. That said, while this is new and improved Vandy, the Gamecocks are still the superior squad and will be seeking to re-assert that in this game.
  • Mississippi State @ Auburn (ESPN2): I can’t really come up with anything nice to say about either of these teams, other than the score will probably not be 3-2 again and that I’m going with the Bulldogs.
  • Kent State @ Louisiana State (ESPNU): LSU.
7:30: Kansas @ Rice (CBSS): What’s worse than only having only two games of data? Only having one! But that’s what we have here. I guess I’ll pick Kansas and we’ll see what happens.

  • Notre Dame @ Purdue (ABC): I try to keep this joke in reserve and only use it once a week: <Team> Status: Still awful! So I think you can put the pieces together here.
  • Marshall @ Ohio (ESPNEWS): Still fascinated by the fact that ESPNEWS is showing live football games. Not so much by this game, though. Marshall’s… probably going to win?
9:00: Western Michigan @ Northwestern (BTN): Northwestern.

10:00: Oregon State @ Utah (FS1): I think this is probably a minor upset, but I’m going with the Utes here.

  • Wisconsin @ Arizona State (ESPN): This may be the most underrated game of the day, and is certainly a boon to those of us in the West. I mean, I think it’s still pending whether or not Arizona State is going to be any good, but the Badgers are at least a known, above-average quantity. There will definitely be a bit of fun in the contrasting style, with Wisconsin bringing the typical Midwestern cloud of dust offense and the Sun Devils supplying the West Coast aerial goodness. Which will prevail? Well, I’m going to go with the Badgers.
  • Texas-San Antonio @ Arizona (Pac12): Arizona.

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