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Sorry about no postings last week folks.  We had a death in the family and it took a lot of time to get sorted out, so I just decided to let the week go, rather than rush through something that would be half done.

Weeks four and  five certainly gave us more surprises and more things to consider as the Top 25 bounces around and down and off the wall.  We’re seeing some teams exit and re-enter the list over periods of weeks just because their performance is wavering.  You might make a good case to just leave them out, but now we begin to have to look at record in addition to performance and it’s hard to leave a 1-loss team out of the mix just because they have one bad game.  Anyway, here’s the week’s Top 25 as we see it.  We’re also including the analysis here  in one post because there is a significant T25 game on Thursday night (Nebraska – Missouri).

#1 Florida (4-0) was idle. This week: At #4 LSU (5-0).

The Gator’s big showdown comes this week in Baton Rouge as they play the Bayou Bengals for quite possibly a shot at the National Title. A win by Florida would cement a title shot, seeing that they host the Razorbacks and Bulldogs later in the season and its really hard to beat Florida at home.  LSU will need to muster lots and lots of offense, which it’s just not been able to do.  LSU just escaped a mediocre Tennessee team last month, but put Kentucky in their place handily.  A win by the Tigers would certainly propel them into the top 3 and then set the showdown in three weeks with Alabama.  The big question will be if Florida QB Tim Tebow is able to start. He was back at practice on Monday and Tuesday, but has not been cleared to play on Saturday as of yet. He’s had 10 days to recover, more than enough time, and was in full pads and running options. Chances are coach Urban Meyer will keep Tebow’s condition  under wraps as long as he can.  Our guess will be he’ll not only play but it would probably take a small army to keep him from playing.  We’re thinking this game has great marquee value, but really should be just a significant bump for Florida.  With Tebow at the helm, this is a convincing 10-14 point victory for the Gators. Without him, it could be very interesting, but we’d still lean toward the Gators.  Florida by 12.

#2 Texas (4-0) was idle. This week: Colorado (1-3) at home.

There’s not a lot to say right now about the Longhorns, other than the fact that they are winning and winning well.  Colt McCoy’s only bad game this year came against Texas Tech, and they still won by 10.  They ace-in-the-hole is the Longhorn Defense.   Colorado won’t offer much resistance on Saturday, especially at Royal-Memorial.  The Buffs are slow on offense and defense, and have yet to muster any kind of consistent play.  The question could be if Texas will be so complacent that they might get ambushed.  OU is next and certainly there may be a tendency to de-emphasize Colorado.  We think this won’t make much difference.  Texas by 35.

#3 Alabama (5-0) defeated Kentucky (2-2) 38-20 at Kentucky.  This week: At #16 Mississippi (3-1).

Alabama proved its worthiness on the road against the Wildcats last week getting off to a 21-6 halftime lead and playing mostly defense in the second half. They were aided by a 45 yard fumble recovery for a TD. Alabama RB Mark Ingram ran for 140 yards and 2 TDs, but the Bama Defense gave up over 300 yards of total offense.  Mississippi is enduring talk of being overrated after a less than stellar performance over their first four games, including the loss to South Carolina.  Jevan Sneed just hasn’t lived up to the hype yet and has been, at best, inconsistent.  The Ole Miss defense hasn’t been at all bad, but because the offense has, it has put much more pressure on a Defense that  has to play more than it needs to.  We could see an upset, but everything would just have to come together for the Rebels for that to happen.  Alabama might have a harder time scoring, and their defense can be suspect.  We’re still figuring the Tide should prevail however, perhaps in a low scoring game.  Bama by 8.

#4 LSU (5-0) defeated Georgia (3-2) 20-13 at Georgia. This week: #1 Florida at home.

For most of the day, it was a defensive struggle. Then, with the clock winding down, LSU and Georgia started trading touchdowns as though the defenses weren’t even on the field.  A last minute interception sealed an hard fought victory for the Tigers. The Bulldogs had virtually no running game, allowing only 45 years, but gave up 229 yards in the air.  They’ll need that same rushing defense if they are to pull the upset of Florida on Saturday.  See the analysis above.  Florida by 12.

#5 Virginia Tech (4-1)  defeated Duke (2-3) 34-26 at Duke. This week: Boston College (4-1).

Duke had this game in hand except that it’s offense stalled three times inside the VT 30.  The Blue Devils also had an extremely unbalanced offense rushing for only 38 yards, but torching the VT defense for 359.   VT Junior QB Tyrod Taylor turned in an excellent performance, however, going 17/22 for 327 yards and 2 TDs.  BC can get on an offensive roll, but their offense has been suspect of late.  Going against a solid VT D, and the fact that the Hokies are at home, give a definite slant towards Tech. Hokies by 14.

#6 USC (4-1) defeated California (3-2) 30-3 at Cal.  This week: Idle.

In week one the USC-Cal game looked to be a real test for both teams, but the Trojans dominated the Bears  from the start, and defensively pressured the Cal offense all night long. Number one on USC’s list was to shut down Jahvid Best and the running game, which they did in spades allowing him only 47 yards on 14 carries, 14 of which came on one run.  That means outside of the one scamper they held him to 2.5 yards/carry.  The Trojans held Cal QB Kevin Riley to a 37.5% completion rate. In the meantime, USC QB Matt Barkley went 20/35 for 283 yards and a TD and Joe McKnight added 119 yards on the ground. The Trojans will get the week off to prepare for their big road game to South Bend on the 17th.

#7 Cincinnati (5-0) defeated Miami (OH) (0-5) 37-13 in Ohio.  This week: At #18 South Florida (5-0) (Thursday).

It was an easy game of sorts for Cincinnati against the cellar dweller in the MAC, and they took care of business. They jumped out to a 23-7 lead then banged the end zone twice in the final quarter to lock it away. RB Jacob Ramsey ran for 103 yards and three touchdowns, while QB Tony Pike threw for 270 yards and 2 TDs.  The Bearcats travel to South Florida on a short week, to take on the undefeated Bulls.  It should be a contrast of styles offensively. Cincinnati ranks 7th in the country in passing yards per game, while South Florida leans on its rushing game averaging 60 more yards per game than Cincy.  The key to the game will be the strength of the Bulls passing defense, which could be the Achilles heel.  In their previous two games against Florida State and Syracuse, South Florida has been tough against the run, but torched in the secondary, giving up  well over 250 yards to  both opponents.   We don’t see this as much different.  A note here, though, QB Tony Pike’s stock in the Heisman race has grown in the past weeks.  A big win, with big numbers would not only move Cincy up in the top 10, but would capture more mindshare. Cincy by 18.

#8 Boise State (5-0) defeated UC Davis (1-3) 34-16 at home. This week: Idle.

The Broncos earn a break until next Wednesday night by getting by UC Davis, an FCS team that put up a pretty spirited fight, staying within earshot most of the night.   They were only down by 10 in the 3rd quarter, before Austin Pettis scored with a little over 3 minutes left.  BSU’s last score was cosmetic with 38 seconds left, so the game wasn’t near as indicative as the score might show.  We’re not as excited about Boise State being in the top 5 as many pollsters, and they’ll suffer long term due to a weak schedule.  They’ll lace ‘em up again next Wednesday when they travel to Tulsa.

#9 Iowa (5-0) defeated Arkansas State (1-3) 24-21 at home. This week: Michigan (4-1) at home.

The Hawkeyes are off to their best start in 14 years — no matter how ugly it’s often been. QB Ricky Stanzi threw for a season-high 296 yards and three touchdowns, but somehow Sun Belt based Arkansas State hung around and made a late charge, down 21-7 to give Iowa a little consternation.  But their road win against Penn State showed they had the moxy to play hard and tough.  At home against Michigan, Iowa will need to rely on defense, and hope that Wolverine QB Tate Forcier has a Freshman-like day.  We’re pretty sure he’ll be pressure cooked most of the day.  Iowa by 11.

#10 Ohio State (4-1) defeated Indiana (3-2) 33-14 in Indiana. This week: Wisconsin (5-0) at home.

The Buckeyes had six possessions and score on four of them in the first half, building a 24-7 lead from which the Hoosiers could never recover. Ohio State’s sophomore signal-caller Terrelle Pryor came up big, throwing for 159 yards and 3 TDs and scrambling for 63 and another score. OSU’s defense only allowed 18 yards of rushing offense.  The Buckeyes will have a much tougher test this Saturday taking on the Badgers who, at 5-0, have gone largely undetected. They’ve disposed of Big-10 foes Michigan State and Minnesota, the last on the road.  If Wisconsin up and kicks OSU around and wins, they’ll certain be entering the Top 25 with two quality road wins back to back and a 6-0 record. By the way, take a snapshot now…Iowa and Wisconsin lead the Big-10 5 weeks in.   The line on the game is OSU by 16, but we’re thinking it’s going to be closer, and maybe even a possible upset.  OSU by 7.

#11 TCU (4-0) defeated SMU (2-2)  39-14 at home. This week: At Air Force (3-2).

The Horned Frogs are for real, as they continue to execute much more consistently on offense in addition to having a very stingy defense.  Against SMU, we’ll give the Game ball  to Jeremy Kerley, TCU’s junior WR  who returned a punt for a TD, rushed for another and led the team with four catches for 48 yards. TCU amassed over 400 yards total offense, while the defense destroyed SMU’s running game, posting a -16 yards.  The Mountain West heats up this weekend where Air Force hosts the Frogs, with both teams undefeated in conference play. Air Force will do it on the ground as the 2nd ranked team in the country in rushing offense (averaging almost 300 yards per game). TCU’s defense has held 3 of 4 opponents this year to under 60 yards of total rushing yards.  We’ll go with the Frogs in this one.  TCU by 12.

#12 Penn State (4-1) defeated Illinois (1-3) 35-17 at Illinois.  This week: Eastern Illinois (4-1) (FCS)  at home.

The Nittany Lions come off a solid rebound effort after their loss to Iowa. It was primary on the ground for PSU, with Stephon Green running for 120 yards and Evan Royster adding another 105. All in all, the PSU rushing attack gained 338 yards, 208 of which were in the 3rd quarter.  They’ll catch a breather this week facing FCS opponent Eastern Illinois of the Ohio Valley Conference.  The Panthers have allowed 2.7 yards per carry in its first five games, but the No. 25 team in the Sports Network’s FCS poll won’t have the luxury of facing another lower-tier opponent this week, so we’re pretty certain PSU gets a nice relaxed home victory.  PSU by 33.

#13 Miami (FL) (3-1) defeated #20 Oklahoma (2-2) 21-20 at home. This week: Florida A&M (4-0) at home.

We’re really perplexed at Miami’s inconsistent behavior, but when they play like the did against OU this past weekend, we’re convinced they are for real.  Consider that the Hurricane’s have played four games and all four were against ranked teams in the top 25, and they’ve won 3 of the 4.  If QB Jacory Harris can steer Miami the rest of the way, especially into the top 10, he has to be at least mentioned for the Heisman. Against a fast OU defense he threw for over 200 yards and 3 touchdowns. RB Javarris James ran roughshod over the Sooner defense for 150 yards on 15 carries.  Like Penn State, the Hurricanes will get a breather with a decent FCS team in the Florida A&M Rattlers. Miami’s defensive focus Saturday will be on Florida A&M quarterback Curtis Pulley, who is having an outstanding senior season.

Pulley threw for 315 yards and two TDs to lead the Rattlers to a 31-12 victory over Tennessee State on Sept. 26. He has passed for 846 yards, seven touchdowns and one INT while leading the team with 291 yards rushing. Miami should easily rule this one in their home stadium though.  Hurricanes by 24.

#14 Oregon (4-1) defeated Washington State (1-4) 52-6 at home. This week: At UCLA (3-1).

Way back in week one, the Ducks looked as if they might as well fold for the season they looked so bad against Boise State.  Since then, they’ve run off four straight wins, two over ranked opponents, destroyed at that time a #6 Cal 42-3.  Their defense is allowing an average of 11 points in their last 3 outings, the last two of which were in single digits.  Against WSU, Oregon rushed for over 300 yards and added almost 200 in the air, and got three turnovers.  UCLA hosts the Ducks this year, and offensively puts a very balance squad on the field. Senior QB Kevin Craft is more stable and consistent this year, but we don’t think he’ll be able to carry them past the Ducks this week.  Oregon by 13.

#15 Brigham Young (4-1) defeated Utah State (1-3) 35-17 at home. This week: At UNLV (2-3).

BYU has been somewhat of a paradox, like many schools in the Top 25.  They have played consistently great except for that ONE game.  Their nemesis was  Florida State that crushed them 54-28 in week three.  Last week though,  RB Harvey Unga helped himself to 118 yards on 21 carries and the defense caused two costly turnovers in Utah State’s end of the field to help the Cougars to victory.  The real trouble spot has been QB Max Hall’s tendency to throw interceptions, though.  Her threw 2 INTs in the game, and has thrown 2 or more in four of the five games played.  UNLV hosts the game this week, but defensively they must play above themselves. The Rebels gave up 773 yards in a 63-28 loss at Nevada last Saturday. It was the worst defensive performance by a Division I team this season, eclipsing the 663 yards Troy surrendered against top-ranked Florida on Sept. 12. This bodes no good for any chance of an upset. BYU by 21.

#16 Mississippi (3-1) defeated Vanderbilt (2-3) 23-7 at Vandy. This week: #3 Alabama (5-0) at home.

As alluded to earlier, Mississippi has been somewhat of a disappointed this year.  After a strong finish last year and a convincing thumping of Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl, hopes were so high that it earned them a pre-season top 10 ranking. But they have failed to impress.  They have struggled to win, and then lost their SEC opener on National TV against South Carolina. While the Rebs  defeated Vanderbilt handily, Jevan Sneed was again a mixed blessing.  He threw for 237 yards and three TDs, but also threw three picks. They’ll need to be MUCH better against #3 Alabama who brings the #2 defense in the country to town.  If Jevan Sneed can put together a consistent offensive game with no mistakes this one could be competitive, as Ole Miss does have a stellar defensive unit. But we’re thinking it won’t happen. Bama by 8.

#17 Oklahoma State (3-1) as idle. This week: At Texas A&M (3-1).

The Cowboys travel to College Station to take on an enigmatic Aggie team that showed last week that when they tried to put on the big boy pants, they didn’t fit. It’s the Big 12 opener for both Oklahoma State and Texas A&M when the teams meet at Kyle Field. Oklahoma State is 3-10 against Texas A&M since the Big 12 began play in 1996, including a 1-5 record in College Station. Texas A&M has lost 12 of its last 15 games at home against ranked opponents. So equally bad trends are going head on.  Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett, a sophomore transfer from Michigan who won a high school title in Texas in 2006, finished 17-of-27 for 271 yards and an interception, while throwing touchdowns to four receivers against a woeful A&M defense.  The Aggies were not without good performances however.  QB Jerrod Johnson was 30-of-58 for 345 yards and two touchdowns, with most of the numbers piled up mostly after the Aggies fell way behind. He also had two fumbles — one that was returned 85 yards for a touchdown (turning a potential go-ahead drive into a 21-10 deficit) and another in the closing seconds. OSU has major key players in QB Zac Robinson who sports a 155.33 QB rating and has thrown for over 7,000 yards and 57 TDs in his career, and WR Dez Bryant who is averaging 19 yards per catch this year.  The Cowboys also bring a potent running game with Senior RB Keith Toston (6.1 yds/carry) and Jeremy Smith (10.1 yds/carry).  We think this could potentially be a good game, with Johnson having the potential to torch a vulnerable OSU secondary much like Houston did so we’re putting this one on Upset Alert.  OSU by 4.

#18 South Florida (5-0) defeated Syracuse (2-3) 34-20 at Syracuse. This week: #8 Cincinnati at home.

South Florida keeps quietly building a solid program year after year, and this year is no different. The Bulls disposed of Syracuse last week with backup QB B.J. Daniels went 12/20 for 208 yards and two TD’s.  The Bulls defense held the Orangemen to just 75 yards rushing, and captured a whopping 5 interceptions.  As discussed above, they’ll need to be way on top of their game  when the Bearcats invade. Look for Cincy QB Tony Pike to have a field day if the Bulls can’t put pressure on him. Cincy by 18.

#19 Georgia Tech (4-1) defeated Mississippi State (2-3) 42-31 at MSU. This week: At Florida State (2-3).

Georgia Tech used an uncharacteristic balanced offensive attack of 469 yards to topple MSU last week.  The Yellow Jackets had 266 yards passing and 213 yards rushing. GT QB Josh Nesbitt completed 79 percent of his passes and finished with 1 TD and 322 total yards. We might be tempted to bill this one as the battle of the inconsistents. Both teams have impressed, but also disappointed. Tech’s running game is 6th in the country, while FSU’s passing game is 15th, so we’re stymied in thought.  This one will depend on which team on both sides will show up to play. We flipped a coin and took Georgia Tech.  Yellow Jackets by 3.

#20  Oklahoma (2-2) lost to #13 Miami (3-1) 21-20 in Miami.  This week: Baylor (3-1) at home.

For a team that lost its Heisman-winning QB, the Sooners have been impressive, despite their 2-2 record.   But at the same time,  we’re thinking that they have no more losses left to stay in the top 25. They have faltered twice against ranked teams this year, and the trend has to turn.  In the Miami game, they played well enough to win but couldn’t push the ball down the field in the closing moments to cash in.  With Baylor’s outstanding The Sooner D has to improve.  Though the unit ranks fourth in the nation allowing 8.7 points per contest and 10th by giving up 253.0 yards per game, the Sooners yielded 21 straight points against Miami. Baylor has lost 18 consecutive games against Top 25 opponents dating to a 35-34 overtime win over then-No. 16 Texas A&M on Oct. 30, 2004. They are also without their star QB Robert Griffin who is nursing a knee injury.  Playing at home, OU may want to make a statement, and it may mark the return of Sam Bradford.  Sooners by 27.

#21 Nebraska (3-1) was idle.  This week: At #25 Missouri (4-0).

It will be a battle for supremacy and the upper-hand in the Big-12 North when the Cornhuskers visit Missouri Thursday night in a nationally televised game.  Nebraska’s only blemish was  the result of a blown coverage at the end of the Virginia Tech game that allowed the Hokies to steal a 16-15 win in a game otherwise dominated by the Red and White. The Huskers and Tigers have been sizzling on offense, both ranking in the top 20 in total yards and points scored. Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert is yet to throw an interception this season. Nebraska has had little trouble shutting down opponents, while Missouri has been scoring with ease. Those trends seem unlikely to continue as the teams begin Big 12 play for keeps.  This one could go either way, but we’ll lean slightly toward Nebraska.  Cornhuskers by 3.

#22 Auburn (5-0) defeated Tennessee (2-3) 26-22 at Tennessee. This week: At Arkansas (2-2).

Very quietly, the Tigers have been going about their business disposing of opponents and waiting for people to notice.  Well, we did. Auburn met some resistance early from Tennessee’s defense last week, but slowly wore it down as they held the ball nearly 10 minutes longer than the Vols. Auburn’s third-ranked offense racked up 459 yards. This week, they travel to Arkansas who has a lot of talent, if they can keep from beating themselves.  They annihilated and undefeated Texas A&M team last week, but have been plagued with inconsistent play on both sides of the ball. Was last week a turning point?  Perhaps, but they’ll need a full effort to derail Auburn, which we feel isn’t likely.  Oh yeah. Home field advantage for the Razorbacks isn’t. The Tigers have won three straight at Fayetteville. Tigers by 6.

#23 South Carolina (4-1) defeated So. Carolina State (3-1) (FCS) 38-14 at home. This week: Kentucky (2-2) at home.

Steve Spurrier should probably be at least considered for Coach of the Year for what he’s putting together this year. His team’s only loss was to a ranked Georgia team by 4 points late in the game. QB Stephen Garcia threw two touchdowns, rushed for another score and South Carolina matched to its best start in the last five seasons.  Kentucky will bring a team that’s always capable of putting points on the board, but historically hasn’t fared well against the Gamecocks. Spurrier is 17-0 against the Wildcats spanning his 5 years at SC and 12 years prior.   This probably won’t change. Gamecocks by 13.

#24 Stanford (4-1)  defeated UCLA (3-1) 24-16 at home. This week: At Oregon State (3-2)

The Cardinal have been another team, like Auburn, running under the radar, and now take advantage of a topsy-turvy football year to sneak into the Top 25. They surfaced with a then surprise win over Washington the week after the Huskies knocked off USC.  Last week against then undefeated UCLA,  RB Toby Gerhart ran for three touchdowns (130 yards) and QB Andrew Luck passed for 198 yards and Stanford snapped a five-game losing streak to UCLA with a 24-16 victory Saturday to keep its hold on first place in the Pac-10.  That’s right FIRST PLACE.   However, a bit of a challenge is in store as Stanford must travel to Corvallis to face the Beavers. Stanford sports the 12th best rushing offense in the nation at over 220 yards per game, but Oregon State is putting up an average of over 270 yards passing per game with Senior QB Sean Canfield (134 QB rating).  We’re leaning toward Stanford, but this could easily go the other way with the Beavers at home.  So let’s put this one on Upset Alert.  Stanford by 2.

#25 Missouri (4-0) was idle.  This week: #21 Nebraska at home.

See above analysis. Nebraska by 3.

Here are your week 4 round up and predictions!

#1 Florida (3-0)  at  Kentucky (2-0)

The Gators have been hit with the flu-bug this week causing key people to miss practices. Urban Meyer is downplaying it but it’s a real issue among teams right now. Last year Florida trounced the Wildcats 63-5, but this is a better Kentucky team this year. It’s hard to think that this will be the rout it was last year, and in fact, at home, Kentucky will want to show something extra. However, it shouldn’t be close, unless all the Gators have the flu on game day.  Gators by 21.

#2 Texas (3-0) hosts UTEP (1-2)

Colt McCoy’s subpar performance last week against Texas Tech, might partly have been explained by the fact that he had the flu.  Fully recovered now, a more focused Longhorn team will set its sites on dominating another non-conference opponent. UTEP got its first win of the season last Saturday, scoring the first 31 points in a 38-12 rout of New Mexico State. Donald Buckram rushed for 113 yards and two touchdowns, and Vernon Frazier also ran for two scores as the Miners compiled 14 more points than they had in their first two games combined. But they’ll need pretty much of a miracle to make any difference this Saturday.  Longhorns by 36.

#3 Alabama (3-0) hosts  Arkansas (1-1)

Bama comes off of a gimme win against North Texas, while the Razorbacks come off of a well-fought loss against Georgia. Arkansas allowed GA QB Joe Cox to throw for 375 yards, so firming up a pass defense should be at the top of their list.  Conversely,  Arkansas passed for over 400 against a pretty decent Georgia defense, so the Tide will have their hands full.  However, we think that Bama offers too broad of an offensive punch, much more than Georgia, to make this too close.  However, the Razorbacks have been known to put it all together for a top 10 game, so if they jump up and beat Bama, don’t say we didn’t warn you.  Bama by 17.

#4 Penn State (3-0) hosts Iowa (3-0)

This will be the first important Big-10 showdown of the young 2009 season.  PSU has played creampuffs, but showed an excellent defense as well as a balance offense.  There has been a tendency to let up off the gas as the game has gone on however. A loss to the Hawkeyes spoiled Penn State’s otherwise perfect regular season in 2008,  so motivation shouldn’t be a factor.   On the other hand, Iowa hasn’t lost since it beat PSU last year, and as usual, they’ll do it with defense. Bad statistic here:  The Nittany Lions have lost six of their last seven games against the Hawkeyes.  We’re putting this one on Upset Alert, but  we’ll lean to the Happy Valley boys this time.  Penn State by 8.

#5 Mississippi (3-0) At South Carolina (2-1)

A key SEC matchup here, and the Rebels need to find a way to gel quickly. In their first three outings they’ve looked shaky and confused at times, especially in the passing game where Jevan Sneed has thrown for  5 TDs but 2 Interceptions. They will be trying to win their first SEC opener since 2003.  The Gamecocks, however, have shown good solid defense, but and inconsistent, error-prone offense.  This one might be closer than it should be.  Mississippi by 4.

#6 California (3-0) At Oregon (2-1)

Cal has certainly proven itself worthy of its ranking early in the 2009 campaign boasting a brutal running attack led by Jahvid Best and a more than adequate passing game led by Kevin Riley who is sporting a QB rating of 117.5. Oregon has improved two straight since their opening night loss to Boise State. It’s hard to think that the Ducks will find enough defense to hold either attack in check, so we’ll tilt this one significantly in favor of the Golden Bears.  Cal by 10.

#7 LSU (3-0) At Mississippi State (2-1)

On the surface this looks to be walk in the park for the Tigers, but not so fast. LSU is still struggling offensively as QB Jordan Jefferson seeks to raise his game.  One thing he has done is increased his accuracy (now in the mid to high 60s) and in 74 attempts he’s thrown only 1 pick and 5 TDs.  So they are going in the right direction.  The defense has given up only 12 points in the last two games.  Miss State has other hurdles. Coach Dan Mullen, who was the offensive coordinator for the Gators’ last two national title teams, has Mississippi State off to a strong start after going 4-8 last year and finishing at the bottom of the SEC West with a 2-6 mark. The Bulldogs won again last Saturday, surprising the Commodores 15-3 on the road as they allowed 157 yards — 33 on the ground.  Look for this to be tight early then LSU pulling away late in a relatively low scoring affair.  LSU by 13.

#8 Boise State (3-0) at Bowling Green (1-2)

We’ve sung accolades for the Broncos in the past touting their remarkable success in the WAC.  But that’s just it…it’s the WAC.  They don’t do themselves any favors this week going up against  a MAC-based Bowling Green. Boise State running back D.J. Harper likely will miss the rest of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. He is one of two tailbacks who share carries. However, this probably will make little difference.  Bowling Green is probably a play or two away from a 3-0 start. But notching that second win and the fifth upset of a nationally-ranked team ever in the school’s history won’t be easy against a Boise State team that averaging 39.3 points per game and has won its games by an average of 25.3 points.   Broncos by 17.

#9 Oklahoma (2-1) is Idle.

#10 Miami (2-0) At  #11 Virginia Tech (2-1)

The marquee matchup of the weekend takes place in Blacksburg where  both teams head into the game ranked for the first time since 2005. Miami is averaging 35.5 points and leads the ACC with 465.0 yards of total offense per game. The Canes are looking to win three consecutive games against Top 25 opponents for the first time since 2001. VTech has shown its schizophrenic offensive play under QB Tyrod Taylor, so its hard to judge exactly what’s going to happen with them on any given Saturday. The key here will be the continuation of the wide receiver play for Miami. The game could swing on a special teams play, but we think that the speed and versatility of Miami wins out.  Hurricanes by 6.

#11 Virginia Tech (2-1) hosts #10 Miami (2-0)  – see above.

#12 USC (2-1) hosts Washington State (1-2)

USC aims to rebound after falling in its Pac-10 opener against Washington when it hosts Washington State.  They fell last year to Oregon State in Corvallis, but still managed to put together an impressive season and a Rose Bowl berth. The Trojans will be trying to avoid losing consecutive games for the first time since dropping four straight in 2001. Washington State is 8-56-4 in the series, including 4-37-2 in Los Angeles.  No matter who the QB starter for USC will be, this one is a lock for USC.  The line is USC by 45, but we think that might be overzealous.  USC by 27.

#13 Ohio State (2-1) hosts Illinois (1-1)

QB Terrell Pryor came to life last week against Toledo throwing for 262 yards and pacing a 522 total yard day for the Buckeyes.   The OSU defense is also playing exceptionally well. The Buckeyes have outscored their opponents 151-40 in winning four straight conference openers, and have won four of the past five overall against Illinois. Starting Illinois LB Montez Wilson is out for the season with a herniated disk in his neck. Not much of a contest here. Buckeyes by 18.

#14 Cincinnati (3-0) hosts Fresno State (1-2)

Say what you want about Fresno State, but they play a tough schedule.  This will be the Bulldogs third top 25 team in a row and on the road to boot this week. Cincy has done nothing but just go out an annihilate their opponents by a combined score of 145-36 in three games. QB Tony Pike threw for over 330 yards in his last game alone. This one could turn into a shootout with both teams ranked in the top 10 in total offense. The Bulldogs are led by the nation’s leading rusher, Ryan Mathew, but have never beaten a top 15 opponent.  Chances are, that continues Saturday.  Bearcats by 17.

#15 TCU (2-0) at Clemson (2-1)

If you have access to this game on TV Saturday, tune in, it should be a heck of a contest. TCU looks to go 2-0 against the ACC when the Horned Frogs take a trip to Clemson. TCU already won easily at Virginia two weeks ago. After falling to Georgia Tech in its ACC opener, the Tigers bounced back with a win over Boston College. These teams haven’t met since Clemson won 3-0 in Death Valley in 1965, the Tigers’ second victory in three all-time matchups. TCU will most likely rely on its running attack, since Clemson allowed over 300 yards rushing against GT.  Statistically, it’s all in TCU’s favor, but don’t count on that.  We like the upset here. Clemson by 3.

#16 Oklahoma State (2-1) hosts Grambling State (2-1)

This is the first meeting of these two teams, as the Cowboys play host to FCS Grambling State.  We’re not really sure how to make this sound competitive, but to say that Grambling State has won its last two games after a narrow defeat in its season opener. The Tigers took a 20-3 lead into halftime of their 27-17 victory over Jackson State last Saturday,  OKST would nearly have to collapse to make this one even close. Cowboys by 40.

#17 Florida State (2-1) hosts South Florida (3-0)

South Florida isn’t the team it was a couple of years ago, but they still can make some noise.  They’ll be on the road at Florida State but it’ll feel like a home game for  Bulls QB B.J. Daniels, who starts his first game for the injured Matt Grothe, as he is from Tallahassee. The Seminoles are coming off their best game of the season, thrashing then-No. 7 BYU 54-28.  The Seminoles are a bit schizophrenic this year, but if QB Christian Ponder gets in a groove, this could get ugly, but in the past this has been competitive.  Florida State by 17.

#18 Georgia (2-1) hosts Arizona State (2-0)

Another cross-conference battle that could prove interesting. After scoring just 10 points in its opener, Georgia has rebounded nicely with 41- and 52-point performances in two SEC games. The Dawgs take a break from the SEC, but won’t get a breather this week when they host Arizona State. The Sun Devils rank No. 1 in the nation in total defense. ASU QB Danny Sullivan boasts a QB rating of 120.79, and that could play havoc with the Georgia pass defense.  Look for this one to be close, but then the Dawgs pull away.  Georgia by 13.

#19 Brigham Young (2-1) hosts Colorado State (3-0)

The Cougars were shocked last week when visited by Florida State and got ambushed by speed and a hot QB. This week the Cougars will have to rebound against Mountain West foe Colorado State, which is off to its best start in 15 years. BYU, which has won 12 consecutive conference games at LaVell Edwards Stadium, has won five straight over the Rams. The Rams are susceptible to the run, allowing 169 yards in last Saturday’s 35-20 win over Nevada.  Although Colorado State had trouble stopping the run, it forced five turnovers, setting up 28 points to help the Rams open a season with three straight wins for the first time since starting 7-0 in 1994. Still, we look for BYU to come back strong this week.  Cougars by 20.

#20 North Carolina (3-0) at Georgia Tech (2-1)

The Yellow Jackets fell out of the Top 25 last week with their poor showing against Miami, so they’ll be looking for redemption against a North Carolina team that is looking for offensive consistency. Georgia Tech’s triple-option spread offense ranks 16th in the country in rushing while the Tar Heels’ run defense checks in at No. 7. Something will give at Bobby Dodd Stadium, where the Tar Heels have lost five straight. The Yellow Jackets have won nine of the past 11 meetings with the Tar Heels. We like the upset here.  Ga Tech by 3.

#21 Kansas (3-0) hosts Southern Miss (3-0)

Quietly, the Jayhawks keep winning, despite a very suspect pass defense.  QB Todd Reesing is consistently throwing well guiding a high power offense, which it needs to make up for its defense. The Jayhawks are looking for their 20th consecutive nonconference home victory, but they’ll face a Golden Eagles team riding the nation’s second-longest winning streak. Kansas is third in total yards on offense, but the Golden Eagles are sixth in run defense. Perhaps more troubling for Kansas Golden Eagles sophomore quarterback Austin Davis has not thrown an interception in his last 128 passes. This actually has some upset potential, but we’re thinking that Kansas might have enough offense to run away.  Jayhawks by 14.

#22 Michigan (3-0) hosts Indiana (3-0)

The Wolverines will be looking for more poise and consistency from  freshman QB Tate Forcier this week as they host the Hoosiers. Michigan is 50-9 all-time against the Hoosiers and 34-7 at Ann Arbor. Indiana finished last in the Big Ten in 2008 with one win in conference play. The Hoosiers averaged 14.5 points against Big Ten opponents while giving up a league-high 41.0 points. They haven’t beaten a ranked team on the road in 6 years. This might be too much to overcome.  Michigan by 22.

#23 Nebraska (2-1) hosts Louisiana-Lafayette (2-1)

Nebraska’s game against Louisiana-Lafayette will mark Memorial Stadium’s NCAA-record 300th consecutive sellout. The next longest streak is Notre Dame’s 207. Nebraska faces its third Sun Belt Conference opponent of the season, both of which were obliterated.  Nebraska had all but beat Virginia Tech until a late  defensive lapse on one play allowed Tech to win the game. The Cornhuskers will have much to prove and would love to send the home crowd into a frenzy.  They probably will.  Cornhuskers by 30.

#24 Houston (2-0) hosts Texas Tech (2-1)

The scoreboard operator could be working overtime when Houston hosts Texas Tech. The Cougars are No. 1 in the nation in scoring, and the Red Raiders are 19th. Both teams have budding stars at QB. Tech’s Taylor Potts is No. 1 in passing yards per game and Houston’s Case Keenum is No. 3. Houston defeated a similar style team in then #5 Oklahoma State with good pass defense.  This is likely to be a close game, with both teams in the mid thirties, so in such games, Tech is  12-10 while Houston is a paltry  6-13.  We’re going to lean on the upset here, but either team could blow this wide open.   Red Raiders by 2.

#25 Washington (2-1) at Stanford (2-1)

Washington is off it’s biggest upset in years taking down a crippled USC team last week, which is significant seeing that last year the Huskies didn’t win a single game. QB Jake Locker sports rating of 138.69,  five TDs and only 1 interception.  The Cardinal won last year in Seattle, but QB Andrew Luck is overachieving with a rating of  153.44 and passing accuracy in the mid 70s.  This one is hard to call, as its hard to know whether Washington is real or not.  The line has Stanford by 7, but we’re tempted to buck that, giving coach Sarkesian the benefit of the doubt. Huskies by 4.

Week three saw a few upsets, but to be honest, it’s still early in the season to be thinking that they could make that much difference.

Both USC and BYU went down this week, but those of you that following college football know that it’s not real unusual to see USC lose to a Pac-10 opponent early in the year, recover and make the Rose Bowl.  However, USC certainly is in a rebuilding phase this year and Cal looks poised to make that a really competitive race.

BYU’s collapse (5 turnovers) against Florida State really was a bit of a surprise, and perhaps could have permanently hurt their chances for any BCS activity this year.  Anything can happen, but BYU’s schedule doesn’t look to be conducive to helping them out.

The big dogs won and that’s all that was really needed.  The top 10 is a bit rearranged and here comes Oklahoma charging back.  Texas showed vulnerability even in winning.  Thus we have our new Top 25.

#1 Florida (3-0) defeated Tennessee (1-2) 23-13 at home. Next week: At Kentucky (2-0)

Tebow had a rough day passing, and his string of 30 straight games with a TD pass came to an end, but it was a Gator rushing game that racked up over 200 yards that was the difference.  Tennessee managed only 93 yards passing and 115 rushing, a testament to the stingy Florida defense who finally gave up a TD with a little over 8 minutes remaining in the game.  One TD in 12 quarters ain’t bad folks.

#2 Texas (3-0) defeated Texas Tech (2-1) 34-24 at home. Next week:  UTEP (1-2) at home.

Texas again underperformed, and had it not been for a Taylor Potts fumble and generally poor coaching and discipline (14 penalties for 108 yards) on the Tech side of the ball, the Longhorns might have had to work a miracle. The Texas defense gave up 420 yards passing, which is to be expected, but held the Red Raiders to -6 yards rushing. It wasn’t one of Colt McCoy’s better efforts throwing for a little over 200 yards, but he had 2 interceptions.  Texas looked vulnerable, and Tech beat the spread.

#3 Alabama (3-0) defeated North Texas (1-2) 53-7 at home. Next week: Arkansas (1-1) at home.

Always nice to have a gimme game at home, but you have to put away those gimme games too.  The Crimson Tide did just that, throwing up 30 unanswered points in the first half alone.  Bama’s defense held UNT to under 200 total yards, while the offense rolled up 523.

#4 Penn State (3-0) defeated Temple (1-1) 31-6 at home.  Next week: Iowa (3-0) at home.

Another work-man type week for the Nittany Lions,  sporting a balanced offense of 186 yards rushing and 173 yards passing, combined with a smothering defense that held Temple to only 46 yards rushing and 2 field goals. PSU RB Evan Royster carried the ball 19 times for 134 yards and a TD.  Things get harder…much harder next week though.

#5 Mississippi (3-0) defeated SE Louisiana (2-1) 52-6 at home. Next week: At South Carolina (2-1).

QB Jevan Sneed finally got in a groove, going 15/28 for 209 yards passing and 3 TDs to pace a 500 yard offensive effort in the rout of the Lions.  The Rebel defense still looked vulnerably against the pass, however, allowing 216 yards.  The Lions turned the ball over 5 times, however, which pretty much dooms any team to a miserable night.

#6 California (3-0) defeated Minnesota (2-1) 35-21 in Minneapolis. Next week: At Oregon (2-1).

It was pretty much the Jahvid Best show on Saturday as he accounted for all 5 of the Golden Bears’ touchdowns while rushing for 131 yards on 26 carries. QB Kevin Riley was 16/25 for 252 yards.  The Golden Gophers made a game of it keeping the game tied at 21 mid-way in the final quarter, before Best  scored twice within 5 minutes to lock the game away.

#7 LSU (3-0) defeated Louisiana-Lafayette (2-1) 31-3 at home. Next week: At Mississippi State (2-1).

A good solid game for the Tigers all the way around.  The star was DB Chad Jones who had two interceptions, helping a dominating defense overwhelm the Ragin’ Cajuns. LSU has defeated Louisiana-Lafayette 22 times in as many meetings with a combined score of 988-25. Almost isn’t fair is it?

#8 Boise State (3-0) defeated Fresno State (1-2) 51-34 at Fresno.  Next week: At Bowling Green (1-2).

The Broncos needed all four quarters to put away a very pesky Bulldog team. The BSU defense gave up over 500 yards of offense to Fresno State (320 yards of that was on the ground), but used a couple of turnovers to gain the momentum they needed. It was a game of big plays. Jeremy Avery had three plays of  longer than 60 yards, while Fresno State had TD runs of 69, 60 and 68.  All told,  987 yards of total offense was generated by both teams.

#9 Oklahoma (2-1) defeated Tulsa (2-0) 45-0 at home. Next week: Idle.

Look out folks, OU fans are beginning to care less and less about Sam Bradford after a surprise blow out of Tulsa.   We had predicted that this might be a scary game for OU because of their susceptible pass defense, but that wasn’t the case at all.  It’s hard to say “backup” QB Landry Jones now, especially since he set a school record throwing six TD passes on his way to a 336 yard day, while the OU pass defense only allowed 153 yards in the air.

#10 Miami (2-0) defeated Georgia Tech (2-1) 33-17 at home. Next week: At #11 Virginia Tech (2-1).

Georgia Tech found that an option offense has to be able to do more than run if it is to survive and strong defensive front and fast secondary.  Miami’s Jacory Harris is emerging as a QB to watch now, after throwing for 270 yards and three TDs. Miami controlled the game through out and put it away late in the 3rd quarter and coasted in. The Hurricanes are for real, and they will get a chance to prove to everyone in the next two weeks when they go against top 25 opponent Virginia Tech and Oklahoma.

#11 Virginia Tech (2-1) defeated #23 Nebraska (2-1) 16-15 at home. Next week: #10 Miami (2-0) at home.

Credit the Hokies for just never giving up.  Their defense held Nebraska to only 5 field goals all day, and then QB Tyrod Taylor (12/27/192) found Danny Coale streaking down the right sideline for an 80-yard TD pass with 1:11 remaining to set up the winning TD moments later.  Nebraska QB Zac Lee threw two costly interceptions.

12 USC (2-1) lost to Washington (2-1) 16-13 in Washington.  Next week: Washington State (1-2) at home.

The Trojans passed for 110 yards,  the fewest by a USC team in the Pete Carroll era, due to the injury to starting QB Matt Barkley.  Washington QB Jake Locker was 21/35 for 237 yards and engineered a final game-winning drive using Chris Polk, who had 71 rushing and 22 receiving yards. He was instrumental in leading UW into FG range on the final drive.

#13  Ohio State (2-1) defeated Toledo (1-2) 38-0 at Toledo. Next week: Illinois (1-1) at home.

The game ball here goes to QB Terrelle Pryor who threw for a career-high 262 yards (17-of-28) and ran for 110 yards on the way to a 522 total offense day.  The Buckeye defense held Toledo to only 13 rushing yards. Enough said.

#14 Cincinnati (3-0) defeated Oregon State (2-1) 28-18 at Corvallis, OR.  Next week: Fresno State (1-2) at home.

QB Tony Pike completed 31 of 49 passes for 332 yards and two touchdowns, while also running for a TD. The Bearcat defense held down the Oregon State prolific running game to only 104 yards en route to the victory. Cincy snapped Oregon State’s streak of 26 straight nonconference victories at Reser Stadium, dating back to a 67-28 win over Northern Illinois on Nov. 16, 1996.

#15 TCU (2-0) defeated Texas State (1-1) 56-21 at home. Next week: At Clemson (2-1).

RB Joseph Turner ran for 129 yards and three touchdowns on 13 carries and Jerry Hughes had three sacks as the Horned Frogs won their home opener. A 21 point fourth quarter by the Frogs expanded14 point lead. The TCU defense held the Bobcats to a mere 30 yards rushing.\

#16 Oklahoma State (2-1) defeated Rice (0-3) 41-24 at home. Next week: Grambling State (2-1) at home.\

QB Zac Robinson was 14/20 for 227 yards and 2 TDs, becoming the QB with the most passing TDs in the team’s history. However, OSU’s passing defense is still a major concerned as it allowed 301 yards in the air. Also, the offense was a very meager 2/9 on third down conversions in the game.\

#17 Florida State (2-1) defeated #19 Brigham Young (2-1) 54-28 in Salt Lake City, UT. Next week: South Florida (3-0) at home.\

The Seminoles were far too fast for the Cougars in this game and scored every time they got inside the 20.  They also forced five turnovers crushing BYU’s BCS hopes.  QB Christian Ponder went 21-of-25 for 195 yards and two touchdowns and ran the ball for 76 yards on 11 carries and a TD. FSU’s offense had the ball 10 minutes longer than the Cougars, making the victory complete.

#18 Georgia (2-1) defeated Arkansas (1-1) 52-41 at Arkansas.  Next week: Arizona State (2-0) at home.

QB Joe Cox threw five touchdown passes, tying a school mark and leading the Bulldogs to a wild victory. Georgia turned the ball over three times in the first half but moved the ball at will in the second.  Arkansas QB Ryan Mallet had a big night also,  going 21/39 for 408 yards and 5 TDs, setting two school records.

#19 Brigham Young (2-1) lost to Florida State (2-1) 54-28 at home.  Next week: Colorado State (3-0) at home.

See above # 17 Florida State.

#20 North Carolina (3-0) defeated East Carolina (1-2) 31-17 at home. Next week: At Georgia Tech (2-1).

Erik Highsmith had six catches for 113 yards and a touchdown while Jheranie Boyd hauled in a 59-yard TD in the second quarter to pace a 433-yard offensive effort. Ryan Houston also ran for a pair of touchdowns, part of a balanced day from a young offense that had been plagued by dropped passes and bad blocking in its earlier games.

#21 Kansas (3-0) defeated Duke (1-2) 44-16 at home. Next week: Southern Miss (3-0 at home.

The star for KU was Dezmon Briscoe who had six catches for 117 yards and a 14-yard touchdown reception. QB Todd Reesing was 28/41 for 338 yards and three TDs.  The Jayhawk defense, however, allowed almost 300 yards passing, which needs addressing pronto considering the likes of Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Texas and Missouri are all on the schedule.

#22 Michigan (3-0) defeated Eastern Michigan (0-3) 45-17 at home. Next week: Indiana (3-0) at home.

After an amazing game against Notre Dame last week, freshman QB Tate Forcier had a typical freshman outing(7/13 for 68 yards) but got help in the running game from Carlos Brown who ran wild for 187 yards on 13 carries and 2 TDs, including a 90-yard run for TD in the second quarter. The Michigan offense was out possessed by twenty minutes in the game.

#23 Nebraska (2-1) lost to #11 Virginia Tech (2-1) 16-15 at Blacksburg, VA. Next week: Louisiana-Lafayette (2-1) at home.

See # 11 Virginia Tech.

#24 Houston (2-0)  was idle.

#25 Washington (2-1) defeated #12 USC (2-1) 16-13 at home. Next week: At Stanford (2-1).

See # 12 USC above.

Dropped from the T25: Georgia Tech, Utah, Oregon State

On the Bubble: Missouri, Auburn, Pittsburgh

Most Impressive: Cal, Oklahoma, Miami, Florida State.

Least Impressive: USC, BYU, Nebraska

Top 25 Composition: SEC: 5; Big-12: 5; ACC: 4;  Pac-10: 3;  Big-10: 3; MWAC: 2; Big East: 1; WAC: 1; C-USA: 1

For some, the season starts in earnest this week, as several top 25 teams begin conference play. Still, most of these match-ups aren’t particularly interesting.  But a couple of games could tell the difference in how early conference races may shape up.

Here is our week 3 analysis and predictions:

#1 Florida (2-0) hosts Tennessee (1-1).

Allegations of recruiting violations and big talk from Vols coach Lane Kiffin aside, Tennessee hasn’t won against the Gators since 2004, the year before Urban Meyer became head coach. Kiffin’s group lost last Saturday to UCLA, a team that went 4-8 last year.  Florida is a better team than last year’s National Champion version.  They won 30-6 last year in Knoxville, so we figure a bit more is in order.  Gators by 31.

#2 Texas (2-0) hosts Texas Tech (2-0).

Everyone knows the history here.  Texas is on their way to a National Championship and gets side tracked when Blake Gideon misses a sure interception and Michael Crabtree makes the catch of his life.  That was in Lubbock.  This year’s Longhorn team is better on both sides of the ball, and they are playing in Austin. Not to mention the payback factor. TTU QB Taylor Potts seems like the real thing and has a competent receiving core, but their unbalanced attack will probably prove the death blow.  The key is the Tech Defense and if they’ll be able to stop the Longhorn running game without having to dedicate secondary help to do so.  We doubt it.  This will allow Colt McCoy to  hone his passing  game. We’re being conservative, thinking that Tech might play well in the first half, but this could be really ugly.  Texas by 28.

#3 USC (2-0) at Washington (1-1)

The big news here is that Freshman QB Matt Barkley may miss the game due to a shoulder injury suffered in the Ohio State game.  That determination will be made later in the week, but Coach Carroll indicated that Aaron Corp will take most of the practice snaps. Corp was top on the QB list until he fractured a cracked fibula in camp.  Even with Corp, USC should be ok.  Wash QB Jake Locker looked poor against LSU in Week 1, but better in Week 2 against Idaho. The Washington D however, gave up 349 passing yards last week which seems foreboding.  Trojans by 24.

#4 Alabama (2-0) hosts North Texas (1-1).

We’re guessing that UNT must need some facilities upgrades so they scheduled a big cashed check going to play the Crimson Tide. Bama destroyed FIU 41-14 last week and we can’t see any possible reason it’s any better this week.  Bama by 40.

#5 Penn State (2-0) hosts Temple (1-0).

The only problem I’ve found with PSU this year is that they seem to have no desire to put teams away.  Not that any team has been close, but I keep forgetting that Joe Pa just doesn’t play the big numbers game.  Temple just can’t fire enough weapons and doesn’t have the sheer manpower on defense to stop the Nittany Lion offensive attack.  Penn State by 30.

#6 Mississippi (1-0) hosts SE Louisiana (2-0) at home.

With more than 30 players suffering from flu-like symptoms, Mississippi used its bye week to focus on getting healthy ( over 400 were affected on campus). Southeastern Louisiana is off to its best start in five years but hasn’t played an FBS opponent. The Lions opened with a 41-7 win over Division II Texas A&M-Commerce on Sept. 5 and followed with a 69-20 victory over NAIA-ranked Union (Ky.) College on Sept. 10. Even a pretty sick Mississippi team should cruise this week.  Ole Miss by 40.

#7 Brigham Young (2-0) hosts Florida State (1-1)

BYU will get another big test this week as the Seminoles come to town.  Bowden’s group is fighting underachievement of the worst kind, getting surprised by Miami in week one, and then struggling to get by lowly Jacksonville State last week.  The FSU secondary was torched for 386 yards passing the first week and almost 300 the second.  This doesn’t seem to be a good potion to bring against BYU QB Max Hall who has already toppled OU from the ranks of the unbeaten. We’re thinking that Coach Bobby will need some BC Powder on the plane ride home.  Cougars by 22.

#8 California (2-0) at Minnesota (2-0)

The Jahvid Best show goes on the road to the Gophers new stadium and it might not be a pleasing night in Minneapolis.  Cal has outscored their opponents 111-20 in the first two weeks, with big numbers in the running game (6th in the nation). Minnesota is averaging only 21 points per game so you have to wonder where they’ll find the defense to stop Cal, or an offense to keep up?  Nowhere.  Golden Bears by 28.

#9 LSU (2-0) hosts Louisiana – Lafayette (2-0).

LSU is beginning to find an offense with new QB Jordan Jefferson, but they’re still struggling  for consistency, getting into the red zone five times last week and scoring only 2 TDs.  The Tigers DO have a good defense however and are getting better each week. Louisiana-Lafayette has dropped 10 in a row to ranked opponents, so it’s hard to see this going any differently.  Tigers by 24.

#10 Boise State (2-0) at Fresno State (1-1) Friday night.

BSU will get its first WAC test this weekend, and it won’t be easy.  The Bulldogs took Wisconsin to overtime before losing by a field goal. And hung 468 yards of offense on them. Boise State is heavily favored to take the WAC again after outscoring opponents by an average of 31.1 points in winning all eight league games last year. They’ll rely on QB Kellen Moore who threw for over 300 yards last week in just three quarters.  This one could be really close.  Broncos by 10.

#11 Oklahoma (1-1) hosts Tulsa (2-0)

Even though OU never loses in their own stadium (well almost never) they will have their hands full this week against Tulsa. The Golden Hurricanes led the nation in total offense each of the past two seasons and is one of only 11 teams with at least 10 wins in both of those years, so this is no Idaho State coming to town. Tulsa has allowed only 23 points in two games also.  OU wins, but remember that last week a C-USA knocked another team from Oklahoma from the top 5.  Sooners by 15.

#12 Ohio State (1-1) at Toledo (1-1)

Here’s another one that we can’t take too lightly.  The Buckeyes concern should be a Rockets’ offense that’s scored 85 points in its first two games behind Aaron Opelt. The senior quarterback is third in the nation with 742 passing yards and has thrown seven touchdowns passes. Four of those came last Friday against Colorado in a 54-38 win. However, OSU did play the #3 team in the nation to within 3 points, moved the ball reasonably well and played stingy defense. Plus OSU still rules in Ohio.  Buckeyes by 18.

#13 Georgia Tech (2-0) at #22 Miami (1-0)  Thursday night.

Compared to a year ago, the ACC has quite a crowd in the Top 25 and two of them square off this week.  The Yellow Jackets jumped out to a sizeable lead last week against Clemson, but had to step up the defense to hold off a Tiger rally. Miami had the week off after knocking Florida State out of the Top 25 the first week.  As with most teams in the ACC, consistency seems to be the key.  GT seems to have it though, while we’re just not sure about Miami yet. QB Josh Nesbitt completed only 21% of his passes against Clemson last week, and that won’t cut it against GT. Miami has lost four straight against Georgia Tech, matching its longest skid in the series.  This probably won’t change.  Georgia Tech by 15.

#14 Virginia Tech (1-1) hosts #17 Nebraska.

This inter-conference game should be a fun one to watch.  Virginia Tech is the epitome of schizophrenia depending on the performance of its enigmatic  QB Tyrod Taylor. The last two years he’s at times been brilliant both  running and passing, but other times just plain awful.  Nebraska QB Zac Lee completed 27 of 35 passes for 340 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions in the Cornhuskers’ 38-9 win over Arkansas State last Saturday after throwing for 213 yards and two TDs in a season-opening 49-3 victory over Florida Atlantic. Virginia Tech has a  home winning streak over non-conference opponents of 31.  We’re picking an underdog win here.  Nebraska by 6.

#15 TCU (1-0) hosts Texas State (1-0)

TCU fields one of the pre-eminent defenses in the country each year and this year is no exception They held Virginia to only7 first downs and 177 yards of total offense last week, and a bunch of those came late in the game when the contest was decided. Texas State represents an FCS opponent that is still trying to establish their program. The Bobcats defeated Angelo State 48-28 at home in its opener Sept. 5. Bradley George threw for 328 yards and three touchdowns, while wide receiver Cedric Alexander scored on a 10-yard reverse and added a 48-yard TD reception.  The biggest question in this game will be how many points TCU will choose to put up.  Horned Frogs by 28.

#16 Utah (2-0) at Oregon (1-1)

Oregon started the year as a preseason Top 20 team in most polls and proceeded to drop off after dropped their season opener to Boise State in which they were held to their lowest yardage total in nearly 15 years. RB LeGarrette Blount was suspended for the year the next day for punching a BSU player in a post-game altercation. However,  they bounced back to beat Purdue 38-36 last Saturday, totaling 356 yards and stopping the Boilermakers’ two-point conversion with 1:01 left. Utah struggled last week, but extended its winning streak to 16 in a row, the longest such streak in the nation, and they still sport a tough, stingy defense.  Oregon seems poised to make this a game, especially playing at home.  Utah QB Terrance Cain and RB Matt Asiata will want to pound the ball at the Duck Defense which has been good against the run.  We’ll tip this slightly toward the Utes but this one is ripe for an upset.  Utah by 2.

#17 Nebraska at #14 Virginia Tech

See analysis above.  Nebraska by 6.

#18 Oklahoma State (1-1) hosts Rice (0-2)

After playing a stellar game on prime time TV against Georgia  in week 1, the Cowboys threw one away last week against Houston.  The OSU secondary must be giving Coach Gundy all kinds of heartburn allowing almost 400 yards against the Cougars.  Rice is in a re-building year and lost badly to unranked Texas Tech 55-10 last week allowing over 500 yards passing.  The OSU offense isn’t similarly suited to run those kinds of numbers, but using a decent running game along with the Xac Robinson to Dez Bryant combo, should allow OSU to get back on the winning track.  Look for this one to get ugly at the end.   Cowboys by 33.

#19 Georgia (1-1) at Arkansas (1-0)

It’s been a real struggle for Mark Richt’s  Bulldogs the first couple of weeks.  They lose to Oklahoma State then have to rely on a last second defensive tip to hold on and beat South Carolina. Georgia’s defense gave up 427 yards but stiffened in the red zone after allowing two first-quarter touchdowns. That was despite an exhausting day in which the Gamecocks ran 30 more plays than the Bulldogs. the Razorbacks, who set a team mark with 447 passing yards in a 48-10 victory over Missouri State on Sept. 5. Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett, who sat out last season after transferring from Michigan, completed 17 of 22 passes for 309 yards and a TD  and backup Tyler Wilson threw for 138 yards and two TDs. The Razorbacks’ 591 yards marked their highest total since they had 651 in a win over South Carolina on Nov. 3, 2007.  With a vulnerable defense, this could be another long night for the Dawgs.  We’re looking for the upset.  Razorbacks by 4.

#20 Cincinnati (2-0) at #25 Oregon State (2-0)

The Bearcats keep showing us some really good stuff, which makes it hard to place them in the Top 25 right now. Arguably we could have put them as high as 14th, but we need to see how they perform against another Top 25 opponent, and they get that chance this week against a good Oregon State team lead by RB Jacquizz Rogers. Rogers ran for 166 yards last week against UNLV and paced the Beaver offense to over 400 total yards.  Cincinnati though has been solid so far in their first two weeks scoring 117 points while giving up only 18. This won’t be a cakewalk, but seeing that Cincy has given up only a little more that 100 yards rushing in two games, we lean that way.  Bearcats by 10.

#21 North Carolina (2-0) hosts East Carolina (1-1)

The Tar Heels really had a tough time last week against UConn, needing a 4th quarter comeback to snatch a victory, relying on a 233 yard passing game.  The defense is for real however. C-USA opponent East Carolina has built a solid program under Skip Holtz, but the defense is suspect.  While this game makes for good rhetoric, North Carolina looks to have a big game.  Tar Heels by 20.

#22 Miami (1-0) hosts #13 Georgia Tech (2-0)

See above. Georgia Tech by 15.

#23 Kansas (2-0) hosts Duke (1-1).

Kansas has shown that its offense can certainly generate the yards, just as it did last year.   Last week against UTEP the Jayhawks generated 576 yards of total offense and almost half was on the ground.  The week before, they generated 528 and 328 of it was on the ground. With a quality QB like Todd Reesing, this seems really  odd, but this year’s version of the Jayhawk offense could be better than previous years.  Duke, known for its roundball and Medical School, and for not offering Reesing a scholarship, doesn’t look to have much of anything that can throttle the their opponent’s high-power offense.  Kansas by 35.

#24 Michigan (2-0) hosts Eastern Michigan (0-2)

Michigan QB Tate Forcier is coming of age quickly, showing play beyond his years in the upset of Notre Dame last week. He threw for 240 yards and 2 TDs against the ND defense, the last TD winning the game with 11 seconds left. The Wolverine defense has been bend-not-break in its first two games. Eastern Michigan scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to tie Northwestern last week with 2:40 left, but the Wildcats kicked a 49-yard field goal to escape with a 27-24 win. Barring a huge hangover from last week, this looks to be another Michigan win.  Wolverines by 22.

#25 Oregon State (2-0) hosts #20 Cincinnati (2-0)

See above.  Cincinnati by 10.

The Marquee game of the week was USC and Ohio State and it didn’t disappoint.  The game turned out to be much more of a defensive affair than anyone thought, but USC put together an outstanding drive at  the end of the game to pull the victory.  They did show, however, that they are mortal and certainly have a lot of work to do on both sides of the ball. However this will most certainly come.

Of particular note were two key upsets.  Houston went on the road to Stillwater and  toppled Oklahoma State soundly.  We had made a comment that it had been hard to tell if that OKST secondary had proved when the Cowboys beat Georgia last week.  Apparently it has not.  This certainly doesn’t bode well for them when they take on the likes of Texas and Texas Tech.

Michigan, coming off spirited win last week, showed both character and poise in their defeat of Notre Dame.  Despite what Lou Holtz was expounding on ESPN,  the Irish weren’t about to play for the National Championship, but now they’ll be out of the top 25 perhaps when the new polls are released.

Outside those little nuances, everything was mostly in line.

#1 Florida (2-0) defeated Troy (0-2) 56-6 at home.  Next week: Tennessee (1-1) at home.

No real surprise here. Florida managed to show up at their stadium and worse, so did Troy. The hosts took it easy in the first quarter, only leading 7-3, but then poured on 28 unanswered points and never looked back. Gators QB Tim Tebow threw four touchdowns and ran for another — the 45th rushing touchdown of his career, tying him for third in SEC history. Another day in the office.

#2 Texas (2-0) defeated Wyoming (1-1) 41-10 at home. Next week: Texas Tech (2-0) at home.

The was a bit of a surprise if you consider that the Longhorns led only 13-10 at halftime. But then, the Cowboys never scored another point. Colt McCoy got the offense in gear in the second half then finished 21/29 for 317 yards and two touchdowns. Jordan Shipley had another big week with 8 catches for 180 yards.  It’s pretty hard to see where Texas is going to lose a game this year.

#3 USC (2-0) defeated #12 Ohio State (1-1) 18-15 in Columbus. Next week: At Washington (1-1).

As mentioned above, this game was everything it was billed to be, except more defensively than anyone thought. USC drove 86 yards for  TD and got the two-point conversion with 1:05 remaining, then held OSU to gain the W.  A lot of kudos go to freshman QB Matt Barkley who merely went on the road to Columbus, fought through a shoulder injury and led the team in a come-from-behind win. The USC defense allowed only 88 total rushing yards to OSU.

#4 Alabama (2-0) defeated Florida International (0-1) 41-14 at home. Next week: North Texas (1-1) at home.

Not a lot to say here really.  FIU isn’t exactly the premier level football team, but Alabama struggled in the first quarter. They got on track behind QB Greg McElroy (18/24 for 241 yards and 1 TD) and RB Trent Richardson (15 carries/ 118 yards 2 TDs). The Tide Defense allowed ONE  yes UNO  yard rushing by FIU all night.

#5 Penn State (2-0) defeated Syracuse (0-2) 28-7 at home. Next week: Temple (1-0) at home.

Business as usual for the Nittany Lions, but somewhat unimpressive, even though they scored one TD in every quarter and held Syracuse to just 65 yards rushing and 200 overall. QB Daryll Clark paced a passing attack that was 20/31 for 240 yards and 3 TDs. However PSU again turned the ball over three times,  up one from last week. That’s a trend that they need to stop.

#6 Mississippi (1-0) was idle.  Next week: SE Louisiana (2-0) at home.

#7 Brigham Young (2-0) defeated  Tulane (0-2) 54-3 at the Superdome. Next week: Florida State (1-1) at home.

The Cougars ran and passed for 527 yards of offense while holding the Green Wave to 162 total yards. QB Max Hall was 24/32 for 309 yards, 2 TDs and 1 Interception. BYU took advantage of Tulane’s 3 fumbles and 1 interception to run away in the second half.

#8 California (2-0) defeated Eastern Washington (1-1) 59-7 at home. Next week: At Minnesota (2-0).

Division II teams don’t often match up well to their Div 1 opponents, and this was no exception. Cal used RB Jahvid Best (17 carries, 144 yards) to pace a 342 yard ground game. The Golden Bear defense limited the Eagles to just 14 yards rushing.

9 LSU (2-0) defeated Vanderbilt (1-1) 23-9 at home. Next week: Louisiana-Lafayette (2-0) at home.

The Tiger’s needed a late TD to put away a stubborn Vandy, but played outstanding defense holding them to 122 rushing and 88 passing yards on the game. The LSU offense was consistent, balanced and  had the ball 13 minutes more than the Commodores.

#10 Boise State (2-0) defeated Miami (OH) (0-2) 48-0 at home.  Next week: At Fresno State (1-1) (Friday night)

The Broncos never let the Red Hawks into the game running up 441 yards of total offense, paced by  QB Kellen Moore’s 16/26 for 207 yards and 4 TDs.  WR Austin Pettis was the leading receiver posting four catches for 115 yards and a TD.

#11 Oklahoma (1-1) defeated Idaho State (0-2) 64-0 in Norman.  Next week: Tulsa (2-0) at home.

After getting embarrassed on prime time TV by BYU and losing their starting QB, the Sooners reminded us that they have plenty of depth. The OU defense only allowed 6 first downs all night, while Oklahoma’s backup quarterback Landry Jones looked sharp in his debut, going 18-of-32 for 286 yards and three scores.  The telling statistic? Idaho had negative yardage on the ground and only 44 total yards of offense.

#12 Ohio State (1-1) lost to #3 USC (2-0) 18-15 at home. Next week: At Toledo (1-1).

For the Buckeyes, it was another big-game disappointment, maybe the toughest one yet. Ohio State has now lost six straight against top-five teams, including two national title games and last season’s 35-3 loss to USC in Los Angeles.

#13 Georgia Tech (2-0) defeated Clemson (1-1) 30-27 at home.  Next week: At #22 Miami (1-0) (Thursday).

Credit Clemson for a tough, hard fought game, which we should have remembered.  The last few games of this series have been very close and this one was no different. Yellow Jacket kicker Scott Blair threw a 34-yard TD pass in the first quarter, but his last-minute clinching field goal was what sealed the win for Tech. RB Anthony Allen rand for 127 yards on 5 carries, including an 82-yard TD in the first quarter.

#14 Virginia Tech (1-1) defeated Marshall (1-1) 52-10 at home. Next week: #17 Nebraska (2-0) at home.

VT literally ran away with this one chalking up 444 yards of their 605 on the ground. For the first time in school history, two Hokies rushed for 160 or more yards as Ryan Williams (169 yards) and David Wilson (160 yards) led the Virginia Tech rushing attack. Tyrod Taylor, largely ineffective the week before against Alabama, had a much better night going 9/16 for 161 yards and 2 TDs.  But it was hardly needed.

#15 TCU (1-0) defeated Virginia (0-2) 30-14  at Charlottesville, NC.  Next week: Texas State (1-0) at home.

TCU scored 30 unanswered points, while letting their defense dominate. Virginia managed just seven first downs,  three of them coming in the final quarter, and two on long touchdown passes after the outcome had long been decided. The Cavaliers finished with just 177 yards of total offense, and 83 of those came on Jameel Sewell’s late TD passes.

#16 Utah (2-0) defeated San Jose State (0-2) 24-14 at San Jose. Next week: At Oregon.

The Spartans, who lost badly in their season opener to USC 56-3, played much better and gave the Utes all they could handle. This game was knotted at 7-7 going into the final quarter, but two TDs within 4 minutes sealed the outcome for Utah. The Utes offense was impeccably balanced (251 rushing, 248 passing) but repeatedly had trouble finishing drives until the 4th.

#17 Nebraska (2-0) defeated Arkansas State (1-1) 38-9 at home.  Next week:  At #14 Virginia Tech.

Nebraska jumped out to a 24-6 lead in the first half and never looked back. The Huskers’ D allowed Arkansas State just one field goal in the second half. QB Zac Lee went 27-of-35 by spreading out the offense to 11 receivers. He threw for 340 yards and four touchdowns.

#18 Oklahoma State (1-1) lost to Houston (1-1) 45-35 at home. Next week: Rice at home.

After a brilliant first week performance that saw the Cowboy defense control Georgia’s running game, that same defense showed the same vulnerabilities it did in 2008. Despite a very decent 18/31 for 240 yards by Zac Robinson,  the defense allowed unranked Houston to pile up 512 yards of total offense, mostly in the air (366 yards). Baylor and Texas Tech could be licking their chops.

#19 Georgia (1-1) defeated South Carolina (1-1) 41-37 at home. Next week: At Arkansas.

LB Rennie Curran broke up Gamecock QB Stephen Garcia fourth-down pass from the 7-yard line with 22 seconds remaining, and the Bulldogs got away with the narrowest of victories. Georgia QB Joe Cox completed 70 percent of his passes for 201 yards and two scores. Oddly enough SC controlled the ball for nearly 10 more minutes and picked up 10 more first downs than the Dawgs.

#20 Cincinnati (2-0) defeated SE Missouri State (1-1) 70-3 at home. Next week:  At  #25 Oregon State (2-0)

What’s to say other than when Cincinnati was left off the preseason Top 25 polls, they might have been really upset.  The Bearcats have taken it out on their opponents, outscoring them 117-18 in two games. The offense racked up 578 yards of offense and the defense allowed 54 yards of rushing and 7 first downs. Ouch!

#21 North Carolina (2-0) defeated Connecticut (1-1) 12-10 at East Harford, CT. Next week: East Carolina (1-1)  at home.

Behind most of the game, the Tar Heels, Connecticut’s Dan Ryan was flagged for holding defensive end Robert Quinn in the end zone with 1:32 left in the game giving the No. 19 Tar Heels a safety and a 12-10 comeback win over the Huskies. The Huskies had led 10-0 going into the final quarter. North Carolina’s offense recorded 233 passing yards, compared to a mere 35 rushing yards.

#22 Miami (1-0) was idle.  Next week: #13 Georgia Tech (2-0) at home (Friday).

#23 Kansas (2-0) defeated UTEP (0-2) 34-7  at El Paso, TX.  Next week:  Duke (1-1) at home.

The Jayhawks accumulated 576 yards of offense, but what was surprising was that 255 of it was on the ground. QB Todd Reesing had his normal outstanding day going 25/41 for 260 yards and a TD, but RB Jake Sharp ran for 104 yards and scored three touchdowns. They also got two big punt returns from Daymond Patterson. UTEP managed only 4 yards rushing on the night.

#24 Michigan (2-0) defeated Notre Dame (1-1) 38-34 at home. Next week: Eastern Michigan (0-2) at home.

The Wolverines waited until the last possible second to put away the Irish. QB Tate Forcier’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Greg Mathews with 11 seconds left capped a game-winning drive that thwarted a 4th quarter comeback by Notre Dame.  Forcier was 23/33 for 240 yards and 2 TDs while RB Brandon Minor ran for 106 yards on 16 carries and a TD.

#25 Oregon State (2-0) defeated UNLV (1-1) 23-21 in Las Vegas. Next week: #20 Cincinnati (2-0) at home.

Beaver RB Jacquizz Rogers ran for 166 yards on 26 carries as Oregon State snuck by a pesky UNLV team. The Beaver offense generated almost 400 total yards, but the defense gave away 310.  Justin Kahut’s 33 yard FG with 0:07 on the clock completed the come back win.

Most impressive: USC, BYU, Cal, Cincinnati

Least impressive: Oklahoma State, Notre Dame, North Carolina.

Dropping out: Notre Dame, Missouri

On the Bubble: Missouri, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh

Top 25 Composition: SEC: 5, Big-12: 5; ACC: 4; Pac-10: 3; Big-10: 3; MWAC: 3; Big East: 1; WAC: 1.

Not much to get too excited about in Week 2.  An early season showdown will pit USC and Ohio State in Columbus, but plenty of time for either team to falter or recover no matter what the result.  LSU- Vanderbilt could be interesting seeing that LSU wasn’t exactly convincing in their opening game. Georgia-Tech- Clemson on Thursday night should be an early tell for the their respective ACC divisons.

Other than that, most teams in the T25 are either idle or have pretty easy opponents.

#1 Florida (1-0) hosting Troy (0-1).

Another scrimmage game for the Gators who dominated Charleston Southern last week.  Troy is a better team than  Charleston, but not by much. The Trojans have dropped eight straight against ranked opponents, and it will take a near miracle for that streak not to jump to nine. Gators by 45.

#2 Texas (1-0) At Wyoming (1-0).

Colt McCoy was 21/29 for 317 yards and 2TDs, while Jordan Shipley caught 8 passes for 180 yards against La-Monroe last week. The Longhorn running game added another 199.  It just works that way.  Which one will be established first is immaterial. The Cowboys’ offense sports a new, no-huddle spread that could present a challenge to the Horns’  D, but we seriously doubt it.  Texas by 40.

#3 Alabama (1-0)  hosts  Florida International (0-0)  at home.

The Tide’s offense was just good enough to beat Va Tech last week but will be much more than enough to take on Florida International.  Alabama wasn’t perfect last week by any stretch, but FIU won’t provide much threat. Look for the Bama D to want a good solid game after giving up plays to VT to keep them in the game.  It won’t take much.  Alabama by 32.

#4 USC (1-0) At #8 Ohio State (1-0).

Ohio State will definitely need to be better defensively than they were last week against Navy The Navy OL pushed the Buckeyes around the field all day long.  If it was that bad against Navy, it could be downright scary against USC. OSU will have to decide whether to put 8 in the box to stop McKnight and his fellow stable of RBs, and leave QB Matt Barkley to throw all day, or drop back and cover the pass, and see  USC do another Navy.  Barring major mistakes, this one could get out of hand. USC by 18.

#5 Oklahoma State hosts Houston (1-0) .

The Cowboys used a balanced offensive attack  and a stingy defense to dominate the Georgia last week.   But Houston amassed 538 yards of total offense last week, 447 of that was in the air.  OSU has a fast defense, but last year their secondary  was pretty suspect. They didn’t get much of a chance to show anything against ground-based Georgia team.  This shouldn’t be close, but watch out!  Cowboys by 24.

#6 Mississippi (1-0)  Idle.

#7 Penn State (1-0)  hosts  Syracuse (0-1).

The Nittany Lions didn’t get a lot of a test of their team against a pretty mediocre QB and defense at home against Akron.  They scored all their points in the first half and then cruised, in fact.  That might be a bit troubling.  Syracuse will be a better test.  They hung in all the way to overtime before losing to a pretty good Minnesota team by a FG.  Daryll Clark and company will have a tougher test this week.  PSU by 14.

#8 Ohio State (1-0) hosts #4 USC (1-0).

See above analysis.  USC by 18.

#9 California (1-0) hosts Eastern Washington (1-0).

California beat up Maryland in its season opener, and the Bears expect to do the same against Eastern Washington. The game will give Jahvid Best & Co. an opportunity to pad their stats before Cal’s conference schedule begins. Cal by 42.

#10. Brigham Young (1-0) At Tulane (0-1).

After upsetting Oklahoma last week, BYU’s biggest challenge in Week 2 will be avoiding the victory’s hangover.  If the offense can move the ball without turnovers, the Cougars’ defense shouldn’t have problems with a Tulane offense that managed just 16.7 points per game last season. BYU by 31.

#11 Boise State (1-0) hosts Miami (OH) (0-1).

Boise State survived the toughest part of its schedule, defeating Oregon 19-8 in Week 1 in an exceptional defensive effort. Miami (Ohio) was shut out by Kentucky 42-0. It doesn’t get easier for Mike Haywood’s team, as Boise State boasts the ninth-ranked rushing defense in the country. Broncos by 32.

#12 Oklahoma (0-1) hosts Idaho State (0-1).

Sam Bradford or no Sam Bradford, this should be a laugher.  Idaho State lost its first 11 games of 2008 before capping the season with a win over Sacramento State. It opened the 2009 campaign with a 50-3 loss at Arizona State last Saturday, committing five turnovers and managing 37 yards — zero in the first half.  That defeat was Idaho State’s 16th straight on the road. Oklahoma, meanwhile, has the nation’s longest active home winning streak at 24. The Sooners are one home win shy of the team record, a run that ended with a season-opening loss to Notre Dame in 1953.

#13 TCU (0-0) At Virginia (0-1).

After losing to William & Mary in Week 1, Virginia is looking to save face (W&M isn’t Div I). The good news is that the Cavs play at home. The bad news is that they’re hosting TCU in its season opener. The Horned Frogs have won their past six games and didn’t give up a touchdown in their past two.  Ouch.  TCU by 21.

#14 LSU (1-0) hosts Vanderbilt (1-0) .

LSU begins its SEC schedule by playing host to Vanderbilt.  LSU gave Tiger fans hope last week after showing signs of having an offense.  After finishing worse than .500 in conference play last season,  LSU hopes to make a statement. Vandy, on the other hand, had no offensive woes, running up 620 total yard in their season opening against Western Carolina, and their defense held them to only 115 total yards.  This might be a tough game with possible upset in the making.  LSU by 8.

#15 Notre Dame (1-0) At Michigan (1-0).

Both teams lived up to the hype against their less-than-stellar Week 1 opponents. The true test comes in this week. Irish QB Jimmy Clausen needs to show that he can throw 315 yards against a real defense like he did against Nevada. Michigan will need a solid offensive effort and a tighter defense.  The Wolverines gave up 301 total yards against Western Michigan.  Irish by 17.

#16 Utah (1-0) At San Jose State (0-1).

The nation’s longest winning streak is on the line at San Jose State, as the Utes go for victory No. 16.  The Utes showed a balanced offensive last week led by Matt Asiata’s  156 yards on 36 carries.  San Jose State on the other hand, was demolished by USC. Utah should have a relatively easy week.  Utes by 31.

#17 North Carolina (1-0) At Connecticut (1-0).

North Carolina beat up on The Citadel in Week 1, and if the Tar Heels’ defense plays as well against UConn, it could be a long day in East Hartford. The Huskies won their opener against Ohio, but the offense was ground oriented 259 yards of the 386. If UConn has any chance at an upset, it will need an improved performance from QB Zach Frazer. Tar Heels by 20.

#18 Virginia Tech (0-1) hosts Marshall (1-0) .

The Hokies offense was  pitiful against Bama last week managing only 155 total offensive yards. Herd QB Brian Anderson made a statement in Marshall’s win against Southern Illinois, completing 75 percent of his passes.  Marshall may make this one competitive, but Tyrod Taylor should have an easier defense to work against. Hokies by 18.

#19 Nebraska (1-0) hosts Arkansas State (1-0) at home.

Suspect for the Cornhuskers, was the fact that they gave up 358 yards of offense against Florida Atlantic. The Red Wolves posted a 61-0 victory over Mississippi Valley State, scoring 40 points in the first half, so Nebraska may have to work at not being embarrassed.  Huskers by 20.

#20 Georgia Tech (1-0) hosts  Clemson (1-0) Thursday.

After a sloppy performance against Jacksonville State that included five fumbles, Georgia Tech looks to prove it has the mental toughness to compete for a division title. With C.J. Spiller back in the lineup for Clemson, the Yellow Jackets’ defense will have to contribute.  Georgia Tech by 13.

#21 Kansas (1-0) At UTEP (0-1).

Todd Reesing was a one-man show  going 13/20 for 208 yards (2 TDS)  and carried the ball 13 times for 79 yards and 2 TDs.  UTEP will just have no answer for anything that Kansas does.  This one truly could get nasty. Jayhawks by 40.

#22 Cincinnati (1-0)  hosts Missouri State  (1-0).

With a  564 yards of total offense on the road at Rutgers, Cincy proved that they were ready to establish that they are the team to beat in the Big East.  Don’t look for Missouri State to even be a speed bump here.  Bearcats by 38.

#23 Georgia (0-1) hosts South Carolina (1-0).

In losing to Oklahoma State,  the Bulldogs managed only 95 rushing yards on the day. That’s going to have to change really fast.  SC’s defense is fast, but there isn’t much offensive punch.   Look for Georgia to establish the run, and get substantially more than 95 yards in their home opener.  Dawgs by 10.

#24 Miami (Fla) (1-0) Idle.

#25 Missouri (1-0)  hosts Bowling Green (1-0) at home.

Missouri trounced Illinois in Week 1, and the young Tigers shouldn’t have any problems with Bowling Green. Missouri is very young, but if sophomore quarterback Blaine Gabbert continues to manage the game well, the Tigers should even the series with the Falcons. Tigers by 21.

Week one of the 2009 campaign, resulted in a few interesting turns of  events, but it was largely punctuated by predictable wins (even predictable upsets), terrible officiating and some really bad broadcasting. I’m not sure if I’m just getting more critical in my old age, but my goodness, if you work for someone like ESPN you should be expected to speak distinctly, comment on games without using a list of clichés, and for heaven’s sake ask intelligent halftime questions to coaches! I digress…

Obviously the biggest story out of week one was the injury to Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford’s shoulder. Much speculation was going around about how serious it was and how long he would be out. ESPN was reporting that similar injuries called for 3-4 weeks of rest. The fact is that as of 9:00am Wednesday its unknown other than the fact that its a 2nd or 3rd degree sprain. Or so they are saying. What is known, is that Sam Bradford’s exit from the game was hardly a factor. While he WAS in the game the OU offense put up a whopping seven points. After his departure, they put up six… so…OU fans, quit whining.

Florida, Texas, USC, Penn State and Cal all had impressive first week wins, but only in the sense that they did what they were supposed to do. There were a few top 25 matchups and their results really don’t’ change things that much. A few disappointments and surprises dropped out a couple and we added a couple…such is the way of college football!

#1 Florida (1-0) defeated Charleston Southern (0-1) 62-3 at home. Next week: Troy (0-1) at home.

This one was over the moment that the Gators were allowed to take the field. They amassed 624 yards of total offense, 255 in the air and 369 on the ground. Florida ran by committee with eight different rushers carried the ball. The Gator D only allowed 228 total yards.

#2 Texas (1-0) defeated Louisiana-Monroe (0-1) 59-20 at home. Next week: At Wyoming (1-0).

Colt McCoy was 21/29 for 317 yards and 2TDs, while Jordan Shipley caught 8 passes for 180 yards. The Longhorn running game added another 199. Both teams were somewhat sloppy, committing 3 turnovers each, but, like Florida, this one was decided early.

#3 Alabama (1-0) defeated #18 Virginia Tech (0-1) 34-24 in Atlanta. Next week: Florida International (0-0) at home.

The Crimson Tide showed just enough offense to win, but the story of the game was the lack of same from Va Tech. The Hokies maintained a 17-16 lead into the 4th quarter but the Alabama running game took over. Mark Ingram had 150 yards rushing on 26 carries, while QB Greg McElroy was a respectable 15/30 for 230.

#4 USC (1-0) defeated San Jose St. (0-1) 56-3 at home. Next week: At #8 Ohio State (1-0).

For those that were wondering how Freshman QB Matt Barkley would do, the stats pretty much say it all: 620 yards of total offense, 15/19 for 233 yards, 1 TD, no interceptions. USC started slow, but kicked in into gear in the second quarter and never looked back. Joe McKnight had 145 yards on 14 carries.

#5 Oklahoma State (1-0) defeated #23 Georgia (0-1) 24-10 at home. Next week: Houston (1-0) at home.

The Cowboys used a balanced offensive attack (135 rushing / 172 passing), and a stingy defense to dominate the Bulldogs. OKST used their trio of Zac Robinson (11/22 for 135 and 2 TDs), Dez Bryant (3 catches, 76 yds and 2 TDs), and Kendall Hunter to keep Georgia’s offense off the field.

#6 Mississippi (1-0) defeated Memphis (0-1) 45-14 at Memphis. Next week: Idle.

For more than three quarters, Memphis kept it close, down only 24-14 with a little more than nine minutes to play. The Rebel defense was the key to the game, holding Memphis to 14 points and getting three interceptions. Jevan Sneed had a tough game going 12/22 for 175 yards and 2 TDs but also 2 INTs.

#7 Penn State (1-0) defeated Akron (0-1) 31-7 at home. Next week: Syracuse (0-1) at home.

If you left at half time, you didn’t miss much since all the scoring for PSU was done then. It was disappointing to see the Nittany Lions not finish the game out, but there was more than enough points to go around. QB Daryll Clark was 29/40 for 353 yards, 3 Yds and 1 INT. Evan Royster added another 61 on the ground. The defense held Akron to under 200 total yards.

#8 Ohio State (1-0) defeated Navy (0-1) 31-28 at home. Next week: #4 USC (1-0) at home.

It was touch and go for the Buckeyes against a Navy team that just didn’t know the meaning of the word quit. The game wasn’t decided until Brian Rolle intercepted a two point Navy try that would have tied the game. Disturbing was the OSU defense that gave up 342 yards of offense. Navy turned the ball over 3 times, otherwise, this might have been very bad for OSU.

#9 California (1-0) defeated Maryland (0-1) 52-13 at home. Next week: Eastern Washington (1-0) at home.

Jahvid Best ran for 137 yards on 10 carries and 2 TDs, while QB Kevin Riley threw 17/26 for 298 yards and four TDs. They amassed 542 yards of total offense helped along by WR Marvin Jones (3 catches/74 yards).

#10. Brigham Young (1-0) defeated #12 Oklahoma (0-1) 14-13 in Dallas. Next week: At Tulane (0-1).

In maybe the biggest shocker of the week, not only does BYU beat the then #3 in the rankings, but they knock out Heisman QB Sam Bradford for a few weeks with a sprained AC-joint. BYU did it mostly on the strength of its defense. Sam DID play the first half and managed to get only 7 points. This is the same offense that put up over 700 last year, an NCAA record. BYU QB Max Hall over came 2 INTs to finish 26/38 for 329 yards including the game-winning TD with 3:03 remaining.

#11 Boise State (1-0) defeated Oregon (0-1) 19-8 at home. Next week: Miami (OH) (0-1) at home.

It was a low scoring game, but the Broncos’ defense limited Oregon to 151 total yards and 6 first downs, while the offense played ball control, possessing the ball over 42 minutes of the 60 total minutes of  the game. Oregon RB LeGarrette Blount was suspended by the university for the rest of the season for throwing a post-game punch at a Boise State player.

#12 Oklahoma (0-1) lost to #10 Brigham Young 14-13 in Dallas. Next week: Idaho State (0-1) at home.

There was little to be happy about going back to Norman after losing to BYU. A Sam Bradford offense generated 7 points, then he’s knocked out of the game and his replacement leads them to 6. The pass defense looks worse than it did last year, which is saying something, and your tight end is out now for an unknown period of time. Holding BYU to 14 points might be something to build on, but giving up 329 yards passing is something to be scared of when you have to play Texas, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech.

#13 TCU (0-0) Did not play. Next week: At Virginia (0-1).

#14 LSU (1-0) defeated Washington (0-1) 31-23 at Seattle. Next Week: Vanderbilt (1-0) at home.

It wasn’t the run away that most thought it would be, but a road win is a road win for Les Miles’ crew. For a first game, LSU does show some sign of QB life with Jordan Jefferson going 11/19 for 172yds and 3 TDs. WR Terrance Tolliver was the star receiver picking up 4 receptions for 172 yards. Troubling for LSU was the fact that the defense gave up 321 passing yards. This bodes no good for SEC play.

#15 Notre Dame (1-0) defeated Nevada (0-1) 35-0 at home. Next week: At Michigan (1-0).

The Irish recorded their first shutout in seven years taking advantage of a uninspired Nevada team. QB Jimmy Clausen finally looks like the real thing going 15/18 for 315 yards and 4 TDs. WR Michael Floyd finished with 4 carries and 189 yards and 3 TDs. The ND defense also picked off 3 INTs on the day.

#16 Utah (1-0) defeated Utah State (0-1) 35-17 at home. Next week: At San Jose State (0-1).

This vintage of Ute football started with a balanced offensive punch of 286 yards in the air and 233 yards on the ground. Matt Asiata ran for 156 yards on an astonishing 36 carries. Of particular concern tho: three turnovers made this game closer than it should have been.

#17 North Carolina (1-0) defeated The Citadel (0-1) 40-6 at home. Next week: At Connecticut (1-0).

RB Shaun Draughn rushed for 118 yards on 20 carries while QB T. J. Yates threw for 2 TDs to lead the Tar Heels in their home opener. The Defense looked impressive holding The Citadel to 156 total offensive yards, 8 first downs and only 30 yards rushing.

#18 Virginia Tech (0-1) lost to Alabama (1-0) 34-24 in Atlanta. Next week: Marshall (1-0) at home.

Stat of the game: 498-155. The Crimson Tide ended the night with 498 total yards compared to the Hokies’ 155. QB Tyrod Taylor looked like he hadn’t learned much over the off-season going 9/20 for 91 yards.

#19 Nebraska (1-0) defeated Florida Atlantic (0-1) 49-3 at home. Next week: Arkansas State (1-0) at home.

It was a good news – bad news game for the Cornhuskers. Good news was that they open with a lopsided win at home where QB Zac Lee went 15/22 for 213 yards and 2 TDs. RB Roy Helu, Jr. rushed for 152 yards on 16 carries and 3 TDs. The bad news was the hopefully-improved defense allowed 358 total yards, but got 2 INTs.

#20 Georgia Tech (1-0) defeated Jacksonville State 37-17 at home. Next week: Clemson (1-0) at home.

Georgia Tech rushed for 335 yards and totaled 497 yards en route to an easy win. Twelve different players ran the ball for Georgia Tech. RB Jonathan Dwyer rushed for 95 yards on seven carries for the Yellow Jackets. Seventy four of those yards came on a TD run in the first quarter.

#21 Kansas (1-0) defeated Northern Colorado (0-1) 49-3 at home. Next week: At UTEP (0-1).

The star of the show was Todd Reesing who was 13/20 for 208 yards and 2 TDs, but he also carried the ball 13 times for 79 yards and 2 TDs. We wished we had fantasy players like that! Nuff said.

#22 Cincinnati (1-0) defeated Rutgers (0-1) 47-15 at Rutgers. Next week: SE Missouri State (1-0) at home.

The Bearcats generated 564 yards of total offense on the road with QB Tony Pike going 27/34 for 362 yards and 3 TDs. The Cincy defense was tough on the ground game allowing the Scarlet Knights only 30 total rushing yards in the game.

#23 Georgia (0-1) lost to #5 Oklahoma State (1-0) 24-10 in Stillwater, OK. Next week: South Carolina (1-0) at home.

Georgia lost its second consecutive regular-season game (lost to Georgia Tech last November) and fell to 30-5 in true road games under Mark Richt. While QB Joe Cox had a reasonably decent day (15/30, 162 yds, 1 TD), the Bulldogs managed only 95 rushing yards on the day.

#24 Miami (Fla) (1-0) defeated Florida State (0-1) 38-34 at Gainesville. Next Week: Idle.

Probably the best game of week one in terms of pure competition and enjoyment. There were 7 lead changes and the game wasn’t decided until the last play of the game which was reviewed. The Canes and Noles combined for 43 first downs and 880 yards in the shootout. QB Jacory Harris was 21/34 for 386 yards and 2 TDs in the mild upset.

#25 Missouri (1-0) defeated Illinois (0-1) 37-9 in St. Louis. Next Week: Bowling Green (1-0) at home.

Blaine Gabbert threw for 319 yards and three touchdowns and ran for a fourth in a stellar starting debut to lead a rebuilding Missouri Tiger team over the Illini. Danario Alexander led Tiger receivers with 10 catches and 132 yards.

Dropped: Oregon, Iowa

On the Bubble: Oregon State, Iowa, Michigan State

Performances of the Week: BYU, Oklahoma State, Alabama,  Boise State, Miami

Disappointments of the Week: Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, Oregon

T25 Composition: Big-12: 6, SEC: 5, ACC: 4; Big Ten: 2; Pac-10: 2, MWAC: 2; WAC: 2, Big East 1; Ind: 1

This is week 1 of the 2009 College Football Season and it couldn’t get here fast enough!  Be sure to check out the post just before this one that highlights our Preseason Top 25!

As usual, most teams are in smoothie mode the first few weeks, which usually means big mismatches and a chance for the premium teams to test talent and roll up points at the expense of lesser teams. However a few games this week pit presesaon top 10 and top 25 foes  which could set the tone for everything to follow.

#1 Florida  (0-0)  vs. Charleston Southern (0-0). Gainesville, FL.

Florida will begin the defense of their National Championship Saturday hosting the Buccaneers from Charleston Southern.  The Bucs were  7-5 last year in the Big South Conference (FCS),  winning their final four games.  The Gators probably will work this game much like a scrimmage, giving a lot of players time on the field, and allowing Tebow to work a little, then rest. Just because they’re expected to, the Gators will win big:  Florida by 43.

#2 Texas (0-0) vs. Louisiana-Monroe (0-0). Austin, TX.

The Warhawks from La-Monroe come to town and will, as usual, field a very athletic team. With all that talent, they’ve yet to really put a competitive team on the field, however.  Look for Texas RBs Fozzie Whittaker, Vondrell McGee and Cody Johnson to have a lot of chances early especially to get some work for the Offensive Line. With this successful, LA-Monroe will most likely throw more men in the box, which should open the flood gates for McCoy.  Because Florida will win big, Texas will too. Texas by 45.

#3 Oklahoma (0-0) vs. #21 Brigham Young (0-0). Norman, OK.

This is will a nice test for both teams. OU will be forced to test out the pass defense that tended to let them down in big games, and BYU will be seeing how their new offensive line holds up.  Look for Max Hall to test the secondary.  Look also for OU to try to get out to a quick start. Sooners at 60-2 at home, so it’s pretty easy to choose them.  How much is the question.  Sooners by 24.

#4 Alabama (0-0) vs. #6 Virginia Tech (0-0).  Atlanta, GA (Georgia Dome)

This will perhaps be the most interesting game of the week and most important to these two teams.  Virginia Tech is a defensive machine that also has a knack for special teams. Alabama will be testing out whether they cane replace key offensive players.  This is liable to be a low scoring affair, and perhaps a game of turnovers.  Look for both QBs (Tyrod Taylor for VT and Greg McElroy) to be the key to the game’s flow.   Alabama by 3.

#5 Ole Miss (0-0) vs. Memphis (0-0). Memphis, TN (Liberty Bowl) (Sunday)

Hard to believe that Houston Nutt won’t have his Rebels ready to play, but history tends to prove out that Memphis does very well against ranked teams, especially with a big audience.   The Tigers will employ a tough defense, but it’s very hard to fathom that Mississippi won’t run wild.  Rebels by 27.

#6 Virginia Tech (0-0)  vs. #4 Alabama (0-0).  Atlanta, GA (Georgia Dome)

See above under #4 Alabama. Alabama by 3.

#7 Ohio State (0-0) vs. Navy (0-0). Columbus, OH.

The Navy ground game averaged almost 300 yards/game in 2008 and there’s not much reason to believe that that will change in 2009, however, the Navy defense was scored on at will by just about anyone that showed up. While Navy will probably get themselves another bowl game this year, it won’t start well.  Ohio State by 28.

#8 USC (0-0) vs.  San Jose State (0-0). Los Angeles, CA.

The Trojans are 28-1 straight up against WAC conference opponents all-time, but the Spartans of late have overachieved .  In 2000 they only lost 21-10, and in 2001 only  lost 31-21. This might be another opportunity for Pete Carroll to run through lots of people.  USC by 24.

#9 Oklahoma State (0-0) vs. #14 Georgia (0-0). Stillwater, OK.

The OSU Cowboys play host to a very tough opening day opponent in the Bulldogs.  A new Quarterback and RB tandem is needed with Matt Stafford and Knowshon Moreno safely entrenched in the NFL.   OSU brings back Zac Robinson and Dez Bryant for a repeat of 2008, but with a much improved defense.  Expect that the Dawgs will test that 110th ranked Cowboy defensive secondary to see how improved it really is.  Cowboys by 14.

#10 California (0-0) vs. Maryland (0-0).  Berkeley, CA.

The Golden Bears are again set this year to be the team that knocks off USC, and they’ll try to do so with a new QB (Kevin Riley) and returner Jahvid Best at RB.  The Bears are hoping for a much better passing efficiency  than last year’s 51%, and a better defense.  The Terps look to  re-establish their passing game, so this shouldn’t be a blow out, but should be comfy.  Cal by 21.

#11 LSU (0-0) vs. Washington (0-0).  Seattle, WA.

With the offense scheduled to improve, and the defense in familiar form, the Tigers take a formidable team to Seattle to battle the Huskies, who are fighting a string of four consecutive losing seasons under Ty Willingham (11-25). Huskie QB Jake Locker (Soph)  will attempt to right the ship, but with a shallow OL and DL it will be challenging.  This game will be interesting to watch how far the LSU offense has come.  Tigers by 24.

#12 Oregon (0-0) vs. #15 Boise State (0-0). Boise, ID (Thurs)

Another good game for week 1 as both teams get a good test to see where they are.  Oregon looks to pickup from last year with Masoli at QB and Blount at RB, but the question will be the offensive line, so this will be a good tell for 2009.  The key to the game will be if Oregon’s pass defense has gotten any better. It will be a good test for both clubs, as BSU has a lot of new faces in the lineup.  Keep in mind that BSU holds the best home field advantage of any team over the last 10 years. This will be a fun one to watch.  Oregon is the favorite, but this could easily be an upset.  Ducks by 6.

#13 Penn State (0-0) vs. Akron (0-0). State College, PA.

Penn State always chooses creampuffs for their non-cons, so having the Akron Zips come in for an opener is not surprising.  Even if they didn’t have Darryll Clark and Evan Royster returning, and even if they graduated their top four receivers in school history, this shouldn’t be anything but a nice check to Akron for coming in and having a scrimmage.  Nittany Lions by 30.

#14 Georgia (0-0) vs. #9 Oklahoma State (0-0). Stillwater, OK.

See above.  Cowboys by 14.

#15 Boise State (0-0) vs. Oregon (0-0). Boise, ID. (Thurs)

See above.  Ducks by 3.

#16 TCU (0-0) Idle.

#17 Utah (0-0) vs. Utah State (0-0). Salt Lake City, UT (Thurs)

The Utes look to try to build on the momentum of an undefeated season last year that included a Sugar Bowl victory against Alabama.  They’ll be testing out a lot of new players on Offense, but will still have the tough, fast defense.  Utah State?  Well,  the Aggies are 6-29 for coach Brent Guy, and he got a vote of confidence.  Enough said.  Utah by 24.

#18  Notre Dame (0-0) vs. Nevada (0-0). South Bend, IN.

Notre Dame looks to be vastly improved this year under Charlie Weiss, and the defense should be faster.  Nevada has one of the premier QBs in the country in Colin Kaepernic who sported a 132.10 rating last year and threw for almost 3000 yards. While we’re willing to say this won’t be a blow out,  the Irish should prevail well enough to get the home folk excited.  Notre Dame by 14.

#19 North Carolina (0-0) vs. The Citadel. Chapel Hill, NC.

With a much improved offense, and another strong defensive year, the Bulldogs should be on the run most of the evening.  Look for a big game from QB T. J. Yates and not much from The Citadel.  Tar Heels by 30.

#20 Iowa (0-0) vs. Northern Iowa (0-0).  Iowa City, IA.

The last time Iowa lost to  Northern Iowa was in 1898. It’s the first meeting between the two schools in 14 years.  Northern Iowa however advanced to the FCS semifinal championship game and won a share of the Missouri Valley Conference title last year, so the Panthers aren’t exactly a push over.  Sr. QB Pat Grace is returning from a 2700 yard season and Iowa will be without starting tailback Jewel Hampton.  Still this looks like a mismatch.  Hawkeyes by 28.

#21 BYU (0-0) vs. #3 Oklahoma (0-0). Norman, OK.

See above.  Sooners by 24.

#22 Nebraska (0-0) vs. Florida Atlantic (0-0). Lincoln, NE.

FAU loses eight starters this year from a defense that ranked #92 nationally last year.   However their starting QB, Rusty Smith, threw for over 3000 yards last year,  so getting pressure on him will be a key. Nebraska has won 23 straight season openers, and shouldn’t have any problem making it 24.  Huskers by 27.

#23 Georgia Tech (0-0) vs. Jacksonville State (0-0).  Atlanta, GA.

Remember Ryan Perrilloux, the dismissed QB from LSU?  Well he won’t be playing  because of a, surprise, suspension due to team rules. So the  Gamecocks will be hard pressed to score much.  GT is quicker and more versatile on offense, but there may be work to do on Defense.  In any case, bank on an easy win.  Tech by 35.

#24 Kansas (0-0) vs. Northern Colorado (0-0).  Lawrence, KS.

Kansas could be in a very good position to challenge Nebraska for the Big-12 North title this year, especially with returning QB Todd Reesing. This will be the first ever meeting between the two teams, but there should be no problem in handling the FCS foe.  Keys to watch will be how well the Kansas defense is introducing a new 4-2-5 scheme.  Jayhawks by 30.

#25 Oregon State (0-0) vs. Portland State (0-0). Corvallis, OR.

OSU has won its past 25 nonleague home games at Reser Stadium without a loss in Mike Riley’s eight previous seasons as head coach.  They have played PSU twice and won 51-14 and 41-14.  That should continue this week.  Beavers by 35.

Well folks we’re back again for another college football season!  This is the third year that we’ve published our weekly blog and analysis each week.  Those of you that followed us in the past, welcome back.  Those of you that are new, please bookmark us and return each week where we’ll review the weekend’s games, publish a new Top 25, and then hit the upcoming games of the week.

The 2009 season should be a real interesting one.  Many teams are looking to build on last year’s successes while other are trying to hold on to past successes.   With that, we present our Pre-Season Top 25 Kathman-Patton Rankings1.

1. Florida

The first thing that jumps out at you about the 2009 vintage of the Florida Gators is their list of starters that are returning.  The second is their schedule. Both make it easy to put the Gators as the odds-on favorite to return to the Championship game in January, 2010.

Heisman winner Tim Tebow returns as arguably the most important player to his team in the NCAA.   Losing Percy Harvin will be a blow, but  Riley Cooper, David Nelson, and Deonte Thompson will join developing senior WR Carl Moore to provide a top notch WR crew.  What does strike you as daunting is the return of every single defensive player.  Last year this defense posted 26 interceptions which led the NCAA and posted a +22 turnover margin.  They were 4th in the nation in scoring defense and 9th in total defense. And they are faster.

But this year Florida has a much easier schedule than last. Only three preseason top 25 teams are on their schedule: LSU, Georgia and Florida State.  The LSU game on 10/10 will be the challenge as its on the road.  There’s no Old Miss this year to ruin a perfect season and the rest of the schedule is pedestrian at best.

Key games: Tennessee (9/19),  @LSU (10/10), Georgia (Jacksonville)(10/31), Florida State (11/28).

2. Texas

By all means, had it not been for Michael Crabtree’s tiptoes and body control with moment’s left in the game, UT’s fortunes would have undeniably changed.  They would have won the Big-12 and gone on to play Florida in the National Championship. As it was, Texas Tech pulled the upset, and the Big-12’s ridiculous tiebreaker went into effect and hardly anyone was happy except OU, who lost in the title game to Florida. Texas didn’t even go to the Big-12 title game despite beating Oklahoma AND Missouri by double digits. Something was definitely wrong.

Texas has no such threat this year outside it’s Red-River companion, who they play on 10/17.  Colt McCoy, who came in second behind Sam Bradford at OU, is back after an NCAA Division I single-season record 76.7 percentage completions, 34 TDs and almost 4000 yards.  What people don’t realize is the McCoy also led the team in rushing Even without WR Quan Cosby, Texas shouldn’t lose a beat. Jordan Shipley, who led the Longhorns with 1060 eards and 11 TDs will return and so is RB Cody Johnson who lead the team in rushing TDs with 12. There were key defensive losses however in Brian Orakpo and Rashad Bobino. But the defensive backs are unmistakably great.  The Texas D led the Big-12 in points allowed and Total Defense in 2008.

Key games: Texas Tech (9/19),  Oklahoma (in Dallas) (10/17), @Oklahoma State (10/31).

3. Oklahoma

The perennial bridesmaid of the NCAA Oklahoma Sooners sneaked into the Championship game yet again last year through the sheer will of the pollsters and the fact that they had scored 60 or more points five weeks in a row.  Heisman winner Sam Bradford was close to perfection throwing a NCAA leading 50 TD passes  and passing for 4720 yards. He also threw more than 300 yards in every game he played, which is pretty amazing. Chris Brown returns from his 1220 yards rushing in 2008, along with DeMarco Murray. However, the trouble area for the Sooners will be their offensive line which has only one returning starter, so it’s likely that the OU offense won’t be able to match their 2008 stats, but there’s no reason why they’ll not contend for the Big-12 championship again, especially since their defense has 8 starters back from a year ago when they were 3rd in the Big 12 in total defense and 2nd in points allowed.  Still, the defense could be the weakest link.

Schedule wise they have only 3 challenging games, and only one is on the road, Nebraska.  The Sooners are a whopping 60-2 at home under Bob Stoops.

Key games: Texas (at Dallas) (10/17),  @Nebraska (11/7) Oklahoma State (11/28)

4. Alabama

A humbling loss to a non-BCS Utah Utes team, who wholeheartedly deserved the bid, ended an otherwise impressive season for the Crimson Tide.  Under coach Nick Saban, Alabama, 8-0 in SEC play, made it all the way to the SEC title game before losing to Florida, so 2009 should hold great promise, if they can plug seven starters into the offense, including a QB.  Greg McElroy and Star Jackson will compete for the starting job there. Either will enjoy throwing to returning WR Julio Jones who should be on the radar for All-American. Mark Ingram will take over the starting RB job from Glen Coffee who made the jump to the NFL.  What’s good news is that 9 of 12 are back on defense which was #1 in total Defense in the SEC in 2008 and #3 in the nation. After the opening weekend against Virginia Tech, Alabama cruises until LSU at home on 11/7, which could again be for the SEC West title and a berth in the SEC Championship.

Key games: Virginia Tech (in Atlanta) (9/5), LSU (11/7)

5. Ole Miss

Houston Nutt for years has been a miracle worker and Ole Miss was no different in 2008,  going from winless  in SEC play to a 9-4 season including a shellacking of Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl. Junior QB Jevan Snead comes off a 2008 performance that included 26 touchdowns and a passing efficiency that ranked him 3rd in the SEC.   Dexter McCluster will be a potent back as well as receiver.  The defense, led by Greg Hardy and Kendrick Lewis should be improved also.  The Rebels also are the beneficiary of a very kind schedule having only two top 25 teams to worry about: Alabama and LSU, and both are home games.

Key games: Alabama (10/10), LSU (11/21)

6. Virginia Tech

A lot of pundits will look at the 2008 statistics for junior QB Tyrod Taylor and see that he threw for 2 TDs and 7 interceptions, then promptly write VT out of any chance to do much better this year.  In fact the VT offense in the past three years has ranked 103rd, 100th and 99th in the nation.  That’s not saying much.  However, the Hokies were 9-4, ACC Champions, and winners of the Orange Bowl over a perceived superior opponent, Cincinnati.  As usual it was the defense that sparkled and that should not be any different this year.  But offensively Darren Evans, who gained 1265 yards last year and scored 11 times, returns and the freshman wide receivers that Taylor threw to, are a year older and year wiser.  VT did aggressively pursue a tough non-conference schedule that includes an opener against Alabama in Atlanta and home against Nebraska two weeks later. If they can come through those unscathed, VT might be looking at moving up into a title contender role.

Key games: Alabama (Atlanta)(9/5), Nebraska (9/19), @Georgia Tech (10/17),  North Carolina (10/29).

7. Ohio State

The Buckeyes will again be one of the big 2 in the Big 10 this year, and will again compete against Penn State for bragging rights, but both will have to prove themselves on a national stage.  For OSU that starts week 2 when they host USC in Columbus.  For Jim Tressel it will be the biggest game of the year most likely.  Sophomore QB Terrelle Pryor returns from an up and down year in 2008, where he showed brilliance at times (especially when running) but was disappointing when he succumbed to pressure and an inability to push the ball downfield with an effective passing game. Beanie Wells is gone,  and they will need replacements for seven offensive starters, but the defense will be largely in tact,  less last year’s stars James Laurinitis and Marcus Freeman. The Buckeyes  sported the #3 defense in the Big 10 and #6 overall in the country in Points allowed.

Key games: USC (9/12), @Penn State (11/7), Iowa (11/14)

8. USC

With the departure of Mark Sanchez to the NFL, the Trojans will need to  break in a new quarterback this coming year one way or another.  USC has three ready to take over the reigns, including Senior Mitch Mustain, the former Arkansas QB.  Also vying for the position are Junior Aaron Corp and Freshman Matt Barkley.  They will also be  trying to find replacements for a quartet of linebackers and recasting the front four, so it’s unlikely they’ll be heading into games like rock stars. For the first time in a while, USC has something to prove. People may sneer at our analysis, given the annual parade of talent through the gates, but the huge backlash that followed last year’s loss to the Beavers, which pollsters treated as if it were a 50-point defeat at the hands of Columbia, was enough to prove to the Trojans that mistakes can’t be tolerated. It’s either perfection or nothing at USC.

However, they will have a host of returning talent also, in the form of a killer trio of  running backs: Joe McKnight, C.J. Gables and Stafon Johnson. Senior WR Damien Williams might be the go-to receiver. Senior All-America safety Taylor Mays leads a defense that has a long way to go to match last year’s model, which held 10 teams to 10 or fewer points.

Schedule-wise, USC gets an early test in week 2 at Columbus against Ohio State and it doesn’t get easier.  The Pac-10 looks to be very strong this year, so if USC gets by Oregon, Cal, Oregon State, Arizona and then takes care of  Notre Dame, their strength of schedule could propel them into the National Championship, especially since their biggest games are all on the road.

Key games: @Ohio State (9/12),  @ Cal (10/3), @Notre Dame (10/17), @Oregon (10/31), Arizona (12/5).

9. Oklahoma State

The Cowboys can no longer fly under the radar. After a successful 2008 campaign that came up short against key opponents,  a target is now painted on their collective chest, so the pressure becomes greater and the expectations are larger. This means head coach Mike Gundy will still have to prove he is a man, and at age 42, he is ready for the challenge. This will be the first time in a very long time that OSU will carry these types of expectations. You’ll notice that OSU is our third Big-12 South team to be ranked in the top 10.  Make no mistake however, when a team such as this returns the likes of Zac Robinson, Kendall Hunter, Dez Bryant and six other returning starters to the nation’s seventh ranked offense, a lofty preseason ranking has to be warranted. The  biggest question remains however – can the defensive backfield solve its horrific problems (Ranked 110th nationally) with a group that lost most of its composition? Only senior Perrish Cox is back in the fold.

With the downgrading of the Tech defense and possibly their offense this year, the title of  offensive juggernaut could soon rest with Robinson and the boys. The QB continues to define the true essence of “dual-threat”. Over the past two seasons he has racked up 1,355 yards rushing and 5,559 yards passing. Through his prosperity, others such as young RB Kendall Hunter and WR Dez Bryant have drawn big attention nationally (All-American candidates). Defensively the front seven remains in place. They held their own stopping the run, and their aggressive style of play is a refreshing concept for the Big 12.  Their schedule is a typical nightmare having to play all the Big-12 South teams,  but outside of the games against Texas and OU, the Cowboys might just be making lots of noise it they manage to upset one of them.

Key games: Texas (10/31),  Texas Tech (11/14), @Oklahoma (11/28)

10. California

Each year in the Pac-10 the question is always who is going to give USC the hardest time.  The answer for 2009 will be Cal. The Golden Bears are still a far cry from being able to wrestle away a conference crown from the Pac Ten bully Trojans, but  there should be adequate cause for concern.  Coach Tedford is noted as a developer of quarterbacks, but it is the running back that has been the hallmark of his Cal teams of late.  First Team All-Conference back Jahvid Best literally rushed onto the national scene and became Tedford’s seventh-consecutive 1,000-yard ground gainer. His quality backup Shane Vereen gives Cal a legitimate one-two punch. QB Kevin Riley survived a mid-season benching, but he won’t be looking over his shoulder so much now that Nate Longshore has moved on. Riley is not a bad scrambler, but he is not the type of Golden Bear signal caller that is going to beat other teams solely with his arm (51% completion rate). His best arm may be the one handing off the ball. What could be a problem offensively will be trying to fill the big shoes up front. The Bears moved from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defensive alignment this past season had to do with the wealth of quality linebackers. This is the one area that is going to need more work. Strength in numbers up front and could force another move back to the four-man line. The secondary should be fine; Senior Syd’Quan Thompson heads a speedy group capable of shutting down many of the conferences’ better passing games. The corner spot is well stocked and the group as a whole is full of veterans.  The schedule for Cal is challenging, seeing that the Pac-10 is chock full of possibilities this year.  They’ll need to pull some upsets to get to a BCS bid though.

Key games:  @Oregon (9/26), USC (10/3),  Arizona (11/14)

11. LSU

We need to be honest.  LSU could have been a dominating football team in 2008, if for only one thing: They had a very poor offense.  QB Jarrett Lee just didn’t measure up.  They found a worthy replacement albeit late in the season from Jordan Jefferson who was the star in the Tigers’ thrashing of Georgia Tech in the Chik-Fil-A Bowl.  He’ll be the starter, but will be up against some very big odds.  However returning RB Charles Scott, who proved a pleasant surprise last year, will tandem with two other returners, Keiland Williams and Trindon Holliday to provide for what is sure to be major fireworks.  LSU lost talented OLs  Herman Johnson and Brett Helms, but filling these posts to add to Barksdale, Hitt and Black should be a non issue. They’ll be huge too, all between 285 and 325, so look for a solid running game and good protection.   They’ll be loaded at WR with three returners (Brandon Lafell, Chris Mitchell and Terrance Tolliver). So if Jefferson matures even a little, the offense is bound to be orders of magnitude better.  Defensively they’ll need to fill some key positions vacated by Tyson Jackson and  Darry Beckwith, but D-coach John Chavis thinks that Chancey Agahayere and Jacob Cutrera will be just those guys. There are still are some questions in the secondary, but over all they should also be better than the 2008 edition.   But perhaps the most challenging barrier this year will be their schedule. The Tigers must play four preseason top 15 teams: Georgia, Florida, Alabama and Ole Miss, and only the Florida game is at home. OUCH.

Key games: @Georgia (10/3),  Florida (10/10), @Alabama(11/7), @Miss (11/21)

12. Oregon

The Ducks come off a successful 10-win season, capped off by a bowl win over Oklahoma State.  The good news is that they return some very talented skill players on both offense and defense, but there are many unresolved questions.  The first of which is new coach Chip Kelly who takes over from Mike Bellotti who not only defined the new era of Oregon Football, but has stepped up to the AD spot and handpicked Kelly for the successor.  That’s some immense pressure, even if Kelly was the former offensive coordinator. The offense, meantime is loaded with QB Jeremiah Masoli and RB LaGarrette Blount, but they’ll be operating behind a largely unproven and young offensive line. The defense last year was mediocre at best, and absolutely terrible against the pass, which can be deadly in the Pac-10.  Walter Thurmond III is healthy again though and should help the secondary, and the linebackers look to be one of the best groups in the conference. Schedule wise, it’s the Pac-10 which means any title hope go through USC. But this year add Cal, Arizona and Oregon State as hurdles. Add to this that they have to play both Boise State and Utah as non-conference games and you have a heck of a schedule challenge!

Key games: @Boise State (9/3), Utah (9/19), Cal (9/26), USC (10/31), @Arizona(10/21), Oregon State (12/3)

13. Penn State

There are lots of things to be excited about in State College for 2009.  The Nittany Lions are coming  off an 11-2 season.  All Big-10 QB Darryll Clark and RB Evan Royster are both returning. They sport one of the softest non-conference schedules in the country, and the two biggest Big-10 foes, Ohio State and Iowa, must come to Happy Valley to play.  But after that it gets really iffy.

PSU has only five returning offensive starters, and four defensive starters. They lost three of their top four receivers in school history, graduating Deon Butler, Jordan Norwood and Derrick Williams.  This spells an extra load for Royster, but in back of a largely new and untested offensive line.  Defensively PSU will have a strong LB corps but will need to replace the two starting defensive ends (on was Aaron Maybin who went to the NFL). While the Nittany Lion’s schedule isn’t a pass through the SEC, they’ll have trips to Illinois, Michigan and Michigan State, not to mention Minnesota (they return 18 starters from a 7-win season last year).

Key games: Iowa (9/26), Illinois (10/3), Minnesota (11/17), Ohio State (11/7).

14. Georgia

The Bulldogs seem to have the “always a bridesmaid never a bride” syndrome.  They won 10 games last year and in the last 8 years they’ve won 82.  Yet, they can’t seem to get to that elusive conference title game. Well, possibly because Florida and LSU seem to always tie it up.  This year will prove even more challenging without the likes QB Matthew Stafford and RB Knowshon Moreno leaving early for the NFL (both 1st round draft picks)

So, this year the offense will need to find someone to fill those shoes and they aren’t really any certainties.  Joe Cox will likely take over the helm at QB and be backed by a stable of RBs including Sophomore Caleb King.  The good news is that Georgia will again be blessed with an awesome offensive line anchored by OT Trinton Sturdivant (Soph) and Clink Boling, Jr.  WR A.J. Green will probably be the go-to receiver.  Defensively Junior LB Rennie Curran leads a very talented linebacking corps. Strong safety Reshad Jones should also be a decent playmaker.

Schedule for the Dawgs is tough but not overbearing. In fact it might not be enough to help them in any kind of title chase. They open against our #9 Oklahoma State on the road and then have a reasonably light SEC schedule. They’ll probably get their 10 wins, but they may struggle in doing it.

Key games:  @Okla St (9/5), LSU (10/3),  @Tenn (10/10) Florida (Jacksonville) (10/31),  @Ga Tech (11/28)

15. Boise State

Boise State qualifies as the top contender for the Rodney Dangerfield “I Don’t Get No Respect” award.  After ten years, 108 wins, three unbeaten regular seasons in the last five,  the nation’s best home-field record over the last ten years, the nation’s highest winning percentage over the last decade and a 2007 Fiesta Bowl win over OU, you would have thought they might get a little more hoopla. Well apparently not. And it sucks.

There is a lot of rebuilding to be done this year but there is lots of talent to ready to step up.  They’ll sport easily the best defense in the WAC and one of the best in the country with the likes of CB Kyle Wilson, DE Ryan Winterswyk and FS Jeron Johnson. They will be in need of filling some holes at WR but Austin Pettis and Titus Young seem poised to do well.  They may also have the best special teams in the country.

BSU will again need to excel highly, but doing that didn’t help them last year when Ohio State got the Fiesta Bowl bid instead of them.  Their schedule admittedly won’t be title quality, but they do open against Pac-10 contender Oregon, which could set the tone for the rest of the season.

Key games: Oregon (9/3),  @Fresno State (9/18), Nevada (11/27).

16. TCU

Gary Patterson has forged a tremendous defensive program at TCU over the years, but last year was exceptional.  Of the 14 games they played in 2008, only two teams scored more than 14 points against them: Oklahoma (35) and Boise State (16). They won the latter.  Had TCU been able to make a FG in their game against Utah, they might have been BCS bowl hunting instead.  Consider also that the offense last year averaged 220 rushing yards per game and 201 passing…a near perfect balance. TCU has five double-digit win seasons in the last 8.

The Frogs should be even more explosive on offense this year. Andy Dalton will be throwing to a group of very fast receivers headed by Jimmy Young and Jeremy Kerley and have the benefit of a big talented O-Line.  Defensively there are challenges with holes to be filled at DT LB and safety. But Jerry Hughes, Daryl Washington and Tejay Johnson should be more than adequate replacements.

There’s not much reason to think TCU won’t go 11-1 this year and possibly 12-0 if they can get by BYU on the road.

Key games: @Virginia (9/12), at BYU (10/24), Utah (11/14)

17. Utah

The Utes come off, arguably, their best season ever, going 13-0 including a 31-17 smashing of Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. If nothing else, the country took notice that a non-BCS team could, in fact, throttle and dominate a BCS team, and deserved to be in the bowl game.  However, it’s unlikely that Utah will be able to repeat their massive success this year with 11 starters gone, including kicker/punter Louie Sakoda.  But, Utah has been building over the past five years under Kyle Whittingham (37-14) and sources close to the club say that the talent level has never been higher and indeed this year could be as good or better.

Offensively, Junior QB Corbin Louks will need to step up and fill the big shoes of Brian Johnson, but on his heels will be National JUCO Offensive Player of the Year Terrance Cain.  In either case, both are styled to be a dual threat to pass and run.  Louks will probably get the nod early, but leadership wise he’ll need to really step it up. Senior RB Matt Asiata, the team’s leader rusher is back, but he’ll be the main workhorse this year instead of sharing that duty with Darrell Mack, so the question here will be if he can manage more than 20 touches per game, something he didn’t do last year. Alona Key, another JUCO superstar transfer is a 6’4”, 195-pound Senior and former  Boise State Bronco. WR David Reed will also make a major impact. The O-line get’s enough people back to be solid, lead by Zane Beadles. Defensively,  Utah seems in decent shape with All-America quality Senior LB Stevenson Sylvester returning.  The DL will be fast and strong with Koa Misi and Lei Talamalvao anchoring a solid line.  Questions do arise at CB and the ability to get an interior pass rush.

The Utes will have a crucial game early at Oregon to see where they are on the National scale, and then must navigate a tough road schedule in the MWAC games to see if they can repeat what they did last year.

Key games:  @Oregon (9/19),  Air Force (10/24),  @TCU (11/14),  @BYU (11/28).

18. Notre Dame

It got pretty ugly at ND last year and it almost ended with the firing of Charlie Weiss.   He’s is in his 5th year and barely above  water, thanks to a couple of BCS-caliber years.  This  has to be the breakout year for Weiss, or he’ll be looking, as the Irish are loaded with talent,  and blessed with a favorable schedule.

While the offense in 2008 wasn’t bad, it should have been better,  especially seeing that most were Weiss’ recruits.  Junior QB Jimmy Clausen will return off a respectable 3172-yard, 25-TD year. Leading rusher Armondo Allen is back (134 carries/585 yards) and their leading receiver, Junior Golden Tate is a returner (58 catches/1060 yards/10 TD). With only one big hole to fill at left tackle (Paul Duncan), they should be in great shape, if Clausen can step up his game.  TE Kyle Rudolph  could be a unsung hero.  Defensively,  they are experienced and fast. Senior SS Kyle McCarthy might be All-American, and Junior DT Iam Williams is already an NFL-quality lineman.   They’ll need to improve on the pass russ and concentrate on not giving up big plays, like they did last year.

A relatively easy schedule blesses the Irish, even getting USC at home this year.  If ND is able to put up big numbers, look for a BCS bowl.

Key games: @Purdue (9/26),  USC (10/17), UConn (11/21).

19. North Carolina

Butch Davis and John Blake have done wonders the last few years showing that roundball isn’t the only sport at UNC. In the past two seasons, the Tar Heels have gone bowling and there’s no sign that will change.  Much will depend on an offense that was inconsistent in 2008, but has tremendous potential.  QB T.J. Yates and Junior WR Greg Little will provide great excitement, while Dwight Jones, Joshua Adam, Rashad Mason and Todd Harrelson could be major contributors. Defensively, though, this is a strong team.  The pass rush is loaded with strength and speed. DT Marvin Austin and LBs Quan Sturdivant and Bruce Carter anchor a star studded defense along with CB Kendric Burney and S Daunta Williams in the secondary.

UNC has a tough ACC schedule, as usual, with road games at Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech.

Key games:  @Georgia Tech (9/26), Florida State (10/22),  @Virginia Tech (10/29).

20. Iowa

In its first six games of the 2008 campaign, Iowa was 3-3 and fans began looking forward to 2009 and a possible regime change.  However, they won 6 of their last 7 games including wins over Wisconsin, Penn State, Purdue and Minnesota.  A 31-10 Outback Bowl win over South Carolina completed a come back season and a 9-4 mark. Furthermore, in games decided by 5 points or less, Iowa was 2-4 and were in the running in all 4 of the losses. In essence they were 12 points away from an undefeated season.

Iowa returns a solid set of veterans, and most experienced teams tend to win those close ones. RB Shonn Greene is gone, but Jewel Hampton brings a new kind of back behind a good O-line.  While Greene was more of a power runner, Hampton, a sophomore, has more speed and quickness.  Greene ran the ball 307 times last year and Hampton won’t be able to do that, so it could be that returning Junior FB Brett Morse will need to step up. WB Marvin McNutt looks to make an impact, and will need to.  On Defense, LB Pat Angerer is the spotlight player. Iowa will field a strong run defense, but lack of pass rush due to DT’s size may play havoc.

Iowa has a brutal Big-10 road schedule have to travel to Penn State Ohio State, and Wisconsin.  That could be their undoing, but look for them to win at least one of those.

Key games: @Penn State (9/26), @Wisconsin (10/17), @Ohio State (11/14).

21. BYU

You have to love a team that has a head coach named “Bronco”.  Mendenhall is in his 5th year (38-13) and would love to have a better ending  than last year’s loss to Arizona in the Las Vegas Bowl.  Losses to conference rivals TCU and Utah, were the other two losses on the road to a 10-3 season.  Offensively only four starters are returning, but Senior QB Max Hall will be back after his 3957-yard, 35-TD season of a year ago. Junior RB Harvey Unga (240 carries/1132 yards,  11 TDs) returns also.  Dennis Pitta also is back after a respectable 1000+yard season in 2008.  The O-Line will need bolstering, but that should be no problem.  On Defense, Senior LB Matt Bauman led the team in tackles last year and with DE Jan Jorgensen, should anchor a very solid defense.

BYU should improve this year with the slight fall of Utah.  It will be between them and TCU, who they get at home, for the MWAC supremacy. An early home game test against Florida State in week 2 should provide a nice barometer of things to come.

Key games: Florida State (9/19),  TCU (10/24),  Utah (11/28)

22. Nebraska

People soon forget that the Cornhuskers improved mightily in 2008 going a very respectable 9-4 including a Gator Bowl win against Clemson.  Bo Pelini is finally in a position to make a difference in recruiting, and their nemesis the last two years, pass defense, looks to get upgraded in 2009.  It’s a veteran D that returns, with DT Ndamukon Suh and DEs Pierre Allen and Barry Turner putting the heat on opposing QBs.   SS Larry Asante and LB Phillip Dillard   (both seniors) will also add defensive strength.  The offense, which finished 15th in the country last year, has a few holes to fill on the line, but that should pose no problems.  Zac Lee will step in as the New QB replacing Joe Ganz,  and should provide as good or better production.  They’ll miss Nate Swift and Todd Peterson’s catches, so Junior WR Niles Paul will need to step up his game.  All skill players are gifted with exceptional speed.

Nebraska has an early test at Virginia Tech the third week of the season.  It won’t be a bad test, seeing that VT typically has a weak offense anyway.  If they somehow get by the Hokies,  they could be looking at  a Big-12 North Championship, but to do so, they’ll need to get by both Kansas and Missouri on the road. The season finale at Colorado won’t be a walk in the park either.

Key games: @Virginia Tech (9/19), @Missouri (10/8), @Kansas (11/14).

23. Georgia Tech

By all pre-season analysis last year, GT was supposed to be in a messy transition period.  The team went 9-4, including a season finale victory over Georgia.  If that was a transition year, what will 2009 bring with 17 starters returning?

Offensively there will be more passing opportunities, even though they’ll still be running the triple-option. The thought is that the long ball could be there as teams come up to shut down the running game.  Josh Nesbitt returns as QB and will need to cut down on costly mistakes over last year. Sophomore RB Roddy Jones could be an up and coming star. Junior RB Jonathan Dwyer will be the star of the offense though.  He comes off a 200 carry, 1395-yard season and 12 TDs.  The GT Defense lost three mega stars in their defensive line, Michael Johnson, Darryl Richard, and Vance Walker (all going NFL), so D-coach Dave Wommack will have his work cut out for him. The good news is that the defensive backfield, anchored by Junior S Morgan Burnett stands to be the strength, along with a great LB corps.

It’s pretty easy to see another 9-3 season given the schedule.  They’ll get Virginia Tech and North Carolina at home, but will have challenging road games against Miami, Florida State and Virginia. They’ll finish at home against Georgia.

Key games: @Miami (9/17), North Carolina (9/26), @Florida State (10/10) Virginia Tech (10/17), Georgia (11/28).

24. Kansas

It may surprise you that Kansas went 8-5 last year and won their bowl game against Minnesota in a run away 42-21.  But surviving last year with the brutal schedule they had, was a testimony to Mark Mangino’s coaching.  But one thing that has to improve, is their showing up for Big-12 South opponents.  Last year they were 0-3, losing to Oklahoma by 2 TDs, Texas Tech by 6 TDs, and Texas by 4 TDs.  Ouch.

Senior QB Todd Reesing is back at the helm after throwing for nearly 4000 yards and 32 TDs.  The same should be expected in 2009 especially throwing to Junior WR Dezmon Briscoe who will probably go pro after this year.  Senior WR Kerry Meier returns also, who led the team in catches..97 for 1045.  He also is destined for the NFL at 6-3/220.  The O-line will need to learn to pass protect quickly, since the interior of the line is relatively inexperienced.   But the main problem last year and this year will be the pass defense This doesn’t particularly bode well against their schedule.  The D-Line will be bigger and faster which can cause lots of havoc. The new 4-2-5 defense will have good stuff up front, issues at LB, and  possibilities in the secondary (led by Senior SS Darrell Stuckey)

The Jayhawks schedule  looks to be just as tough, again having to play Texas, OU, and Texas Tech (teams that they lost to by a combined 143-59). Worse, they have to play at Texas Tech and at Texas.

Key games: @Colorado (10/17), Oklahoma (10/24), @Texas Tech (10/31), Nebraska (11/14), @Texas (11/21)

25. Oregon State

Coach Mike Riley has the knack for making prognosticators look stupid. In the last three years, the Beavers have been predicted to finish 7th, 5th and 6th in the Pac-10.  The finished 3rd, 3rd and 2nd.  You’d think these guys would learn.

The offense, not surprisingly, will again focus on Jacquizz and James Rodgers, the former gaining over 1200 yards on 259 carries and 11 TDs. WR James wil be the returning WR threat.  Even better this year, the Beaves  will have a duo of Quarterbacks from which to choose, each with exceptional talent. Lyle Moevao  played well last season but sustained a shoulder injury which opened the door for Sean Canfield. The key to this year’s Oregon State’s offense will be how effective these two can be. Defensively, it proves to be a tougher year with the departure of eight starters including six all-stars.  However, LB Keaton Kristick, who led the team in tackles is back along with DT Stephen Paea, who won All-Pac-10 honors last year. There will be enough talent to fill the holes, and coach Mark Banker has coordinated a Phoenix-rising before.

The Beavers won’t get an early visit from USC this year, so the chance of surprise could be lessened. Both Cal and USC are road dates along with the finale at Oregon.

Key games: Arizona (9/26), @USC (10/24), @Cal (11/7), @Oregon (12/3)

ON THE BUBBLE

Other teams that we’re keeping on the radar:  Pitt, Michigan State, Arizona, Illinois, and NC State.

Thanksgiving Post #2

Well, its pretty much set now.

The BCS has placed OU above Texas, and by that action, sends OU to the Big-12 Championship game where they will almost assuredly destroy Missouri who got beat by Kansas this weekend.

USC beat Notre Dame, while Oregon State lost to Oregon.  This means that USC must only beat UCLA next weekend to lock up its berth against Penn State in the Rose Bowl.

Conference Championship games were decided this weekend also:

BIG-12:  OU vs. Missouri

ACC: Virginia Tech  vs. Boston College

SEC:  Alabama  vs. Florida

The BCS now is set as:  Alabama, OU, Texas, Florida, USC, Utah, Texas tech, Penn State, Boise State, Ohio State, TCU, Ball State, Cincinnati, Oklahoma State.

If Florida and Oklahoma win,  most likely, OU and Florida will be 1 & 2.  OU by virtue of winning, and Florida will jump Texas for beating #1 Alabama.  If Alabama manages to win, then the BCS stays the way it is now.

This means that its looking more and more like:

National Title: Florida-OU

Rose Bowl: USC – Penn State

Fiesta Bowl:  Texas – Utah

Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. Boise State or Ohio State

Orange Bowl: Cincinnati vs. Boston College

It’s also looking more and more like a Texas Tech – Mississippi Cotton Bowl.

The rest of the bowls we’ll examine at another time.  But this week, bids will begin to fly.