Programming note: first bowl predictions of the year will go up on Sunday!
As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.
- Oklahoma vs. Texas (@Dallas, TX; ABC): Ah, the Red River Shootout, thank you very much. At any rate, I think this one will be worth me getting up early for, which as you may note by the time this is posted (and, most likely, the numerous grammatical and spelling errors) is no small feat, indeed. I also think it’ll be a small feat for OU to win this one, but it is also the last chance for them to salvage their national aspirations this season. That said, I think Texas proves their worth here.
- Iowa @ Wisconsin (ESPN): Iowa’s been winning in a very, well, Iowa-like fashion. The 30-28 win over Michigan was a downright barnburner – they’ve only scored more against Iowa State. Wisconsin, on the flip side, had been rolling offensively until they ran into Ohio State. Though they still outgained the Buckeyes by almost 200 yards, they also threw two interceptions returned for touchdown and allowed a kickoff return to go the distance. That said, I never quite trust Iowa, so I have to go with Wisconsin here to knock off the Big Ten’s last unbeaten.
- Northwestern @ Michigan State (ESPN2): I’d make more Kafka jokes, but Doc Saturday already beat me to the punch. I also agree with the Doc re: Northwestern’s chances, as this should be really high flying, especially for a Big Ten game. I’ll stick with Sparty, though.
- Ohio State @ Purdue (BTN): If it weren’t for Illinois trying to get Ron Zook fired, Purdue would be the worst team in the Big Ten this year. Ohio State should be able to get back on track offensively against the Boilermakers.
- Georgia @ Vanderbilt (SEC): As I recently explained to a friend of mine (who went to Vandy) last weekend when discussing Vandy’s loss to Army, “This is basically the same offensive Vandy had last year, and basically teams aren’t giving the ball to them for free anymore.” That said, they’re still +5 through 6 games, but the offense is just so bad: 18.8 points per game, 35% on third downs, etc. Meanwhile, in terms of ye ole schadenfraude full panic mode is on over in Athens after they made Jonathan Crompton look like Peyton last weekend in Knoxville. Unfortunately, I have to think the UGA defense will hold up slightly better against Vandy. Unfortunately.
- Wake Forest @ Clemson (Raycom/Gameplan): Since this is an ACC Atlantic game, I’m just going to flip a coin. Heads is Wake, tails is Clemson…… tails it is!
12:30: Mississippi State @ Middle Tennessee State (ESPNU): Well, I think MSU can beat MTSU. Right? I mean, Miss State is a little better than they were last year, aren’t they?
- Arkansas @ Florida (CBS): Somehow I just don’t see Arkansas hanging 30, much less 40, on Florida’s defense. Just no way. UF takes care of business.
- Southern California @ Notre Dame (NBC): Reports of optimism abound from South Bend. I don’t they’re well founded, though. Especially after the combined 57-9 beatdown USC has distributed the past two weeks, while Notre Dame hasn’t really shown they can do this “defense” thing. Also, this should give us a good clean transitive break, since Washington lost to Notre Dame but USC should beat Notre DAme.
- Minnesota @ Pennsylvania State (ESPN/ABC): I think Minnesota is very solidly in the middle of the pack of the Big Ten. The natural order of things should be returned with a PSU victory here.
- North Carolina State @ Boston College (Gameplan/ABC): Well, BC’s at home, which means their offensive might show up this week after not making the trip to Blacksburg. Meanwhile, with losses to Wake and Duke, I think it’s safe to say that NC State is one of the worst teams in the ACC. That said, that doesn’t necessarily mean anything (note that Virginia and Maryland still have conference victories), but I feel good enough about BC here to not have to resort to the ACC Atlantic coin flip.
- Texas Tech @ Nebraska (Gameplan/ESPN/ABC): Hard to get a read here, since they pretty much each have beaten teams worse than them and lost to teams that were better than them. (Yes, I remember Houston that beat TTU.) Nebraska’s last effort was the 27-point fourth quarter in a driving rainstorm in Columbia that led to their 27-12 victory over Mizzou last Thursday. Mean, TTU did their thing against K-State, throwing for 500 yards and scoring 66 points. I suspect this game will be somewhere in between, but a Nebraska victory.
- California @ California-Los Angeles (ABC/Gameplan): Well, we know now these are probably the two worst teams in the Pac-10 outside of Pullman. Both these teams have been struggling on offense, but Cal just has to have more talent offensively, right? Jahvid Best has to reassert himself at some point, doesn’t he? Cal can’t be this bad, can they?
- Houston @ Tulane (CBSCS): Houston should be able to name the score for this one.
- Colorado State @ Texas Christian (Versus): TCU has to come out ready for this game. Colorado State isn’t terrible, but they’re definitely an opponent TCU should be able to beat easily. They just can’t get caught looking forward to BYU next week, or else CSU is decent enough to take advantage.
- Virginia @ Maryland (ESPNU): It’s the ACC Atlantic Slap Fight of the Week! Ugh. If you hate football, you might like this game. I don’t know what else to say. Anyway, it’s back to the coin flip: UVA is head and UMD is tails…. tails.
6:00: Virginia Tech @ Georgia Tech (ESPN2): If I were less exhausted, I would have an extensive preview of this game. This is a must-win for GT, no two ways around it. With a loss, GT is pretty much eliminated from ACC title game contention, barring basically a repeat of, well, last year. My main worries in this game are: 1) VPI’s defensive line and 2) our defense. We haven’t played a team since Miami (and to a small extent, UNC) that was able to get a great interior rush and really disrupt what we’re trying to on the offensive. (That said, whenever a DT is constantly in your QB’s face, it doesn’t really matter which offense you run.) Miami did have another advantage as well in their speedy corners and linebackers, that were able to pretty much go outside because their defensive line was owning our offensive line all night. As a result – there was no where for the offense to go. I don’t know if VPI has the same type of talent on the edges, but if we allow their DTs to control the offensive line that is not good for Tech.
As for the defense, well, they’re not very good. Perhaps not coincidentally, Tech’s biggest problem is the lack of pass rush, which leads to QBs with all day to throw because they never have anyone in their face. At one point in the first half last week, we actually ran an all-out blitz and FSU still scored because it didn’t work. Tyrod Taylor is faster than anyone in our front 7 most likely, so forcing him out of the pocket is not necessarily a great thing. If our D-linemen do find themselves getting to him, they must make the tackle and not let him escape. He is throwing better this year and is now a competent passer. Therefore, it is imperative we show some semblance of a defense this week, because I don’t think we’ll put up 40 against VPI.
- Kansas @ Colorado (FSN): Colorado: still bad. KU: still scoring lots of points. This shouldn’t be hard to figure out.
- Illinois @ Indiana (BTN): The plan for Indiana has to be this. They sit at 3-3, having lost 3 straight including the inexplicable 40-point(!) loss to Virginia. (Seriously, how the hell did that happen?) Illinois and Purdue are the most winnable games left on the schedule, getting them to 5-3. The problem is, the other games are against Northwestern (competent), Iowa (uh-oh), Wisconsin (oh man), and Penn State (there goes that). So this is a must-win, in a game they should win.
- Alabama-Birmingham @ Mississippi (SEC): UAB does have a winning record in C-USA! Unfortunately for them, Ole Miss is not in Conference USA.
- Stanford @ Arizona (Versus): I got on the Cardinal bandwagon, and doggone it I’m going to go down with the ship.
- Kentucky @ Auburn (ESPNU): Well, you can’t win ’em all, Auburn, but Kentucky should help get that chin back up.
- University of Miami @ Central Florida (CBSCS): Yes, that’s “da U” up in Orlando. That said, they should do their thing and come out with a win. (This hast to be a 3-for-1 deal, right?)
7:45: South Carolina @ Alabama (ESPN): I’m running out of steam here. USC should suffer their second loss here. I hate to say it, but I think ‘Bama is just that good.
9:15: Missouri @ Oklahoma State (ESPN2): Welcome to the “lowered expectations” bowl! Both these teams have struggled in their own way, and the 1-loss records don’t really tell us much. If OSU gets Dez Bryant back, then the should win. Otherwise, it’s Mizzou.
10:15: Washington @ Arizona State (FSN): Arizona State just isn’t very good. I have to pick U-Dub here.