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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.

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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.

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Week 11 games find many crucial conference match-us that could begin to shape the BCS and Bowl Picture. Beginning next week, we’ll be starting to look at possible BCS Bowl alignments and who might have inside tracks.  In the meantime, lets take a look at the games!

#1 Alabama (9-0) at #13 LSU (6-2). We could make some major case of this being the “Battle of the Week”, but in all reality it really won’t be.  That’s not to say there isn’t something on the line however.  When you are #1, every game is an ambush, and this one won’t be any different.  It’s Saban-bowl 2008, which is certain to foster not-so-great feelings in Baton Rouge.  However, Bama has a commanding lead in a division that boast them and not much else. The Tide has played extremely well, and with relative consistency, though their resume this year boasts very little competition (Georgia and Clemson both have proven to be nothing of what was promised). LSU is the last partial test. But the Tigers haven’t fared well all season. The once touted LSU defense has proven to be overly pourous against ranked teams, allowing 50+ points against both Florida and Georgia. Granted a great deal of this is due to a poor, under-performing offense.  LSU does seem to fare well when they can control the ball on the ground. This happens when the O-Line can dominate the opponent’s D-line as they did against Tulane (231 yds rushing), South Carolina (164 yards), and North Texas (216 yards). LSU has struggled all season long with consistent QB play also.  Bama can put points on the board at times, but usually does so only when opportunity presents itself… the offense would rather play a steady ball-control offense, which plays against LSU here.  To beat Alabama, LSU will have to push the Bama line around, on both sides of the ball, which we think isn’t possible. Barring sloppy play by the Tide, we think this is a rather ho-hum game.  Alabama by 14.

#2 Texas Tech (9-0) hosts #8 Oklahoma State (8-1). Easily the game of the week in the country, not only for both teams, but for the top 10.  Tech showed a remarkable defense last Saturday against Texas, and against perhaps the best defense in the Big-12, was able to move pretty much at will, including taking only 1:29 at the end of the game to score the winning TD. However, let’s also remember that Texas didn’t play with usual intensity and came back and almost won the game.  The key to beating Tech is, and always has been, offensive ball control.  We’re pretty convinced that in a normal game situation, Tech can/will score when they have to. So, Oklahoma State’s key to this game is to buck with last year’s strategy (outscore TTU) and control the ball in large globs of time, to wear out the TTU defense and reduce the number of possessions. One thing that OSU brings to the table is a mobile QB in Zac Robinson, and a great running game.  Tech will need a huge game from their defensive tackles to shut down the running game, put pressure on Robinson, and get turnovers.  Tech MUST win this game to have any chance to get to a BCS game, since their next game is against Oklahoma IN Norman. The biggest question we have is if the Tech defense can put together 2 great games in a row, or will defensive coach Ruffin McNeil choose to play a loose, bend-but-not-break defense and tempt OSU to get out of a ball-control offense.  In their game against Texas in a losing effort, OSU held the Longhorns to 28 points.  They’ll assuredly mix up their defenses  and need turnovers.  On the basis of the uncertainty of the Tech defense, we have to put this game on Upset Watch, however, we like the play making ability of Graham Harrell, Michael Crabtree, and the TTU offense to win out in the end.  Red Raiders by 7.

#3 Penn State (9-0) at Iowa (5-4). The Nittany Lions got the week off, and found themselves down a spot. However, there’s little they can do, because of the relative ease of conference and non-conference opponents.  We think that while Iowa has the ability defensively to cause PSU trouble, the question is if they can muster the offensive punch to get it done against a very daunting PSU defense who allows only 11 points per game. Penn State’s lack of schedule forces their hand from here on out, and they’ll have to bury their opponents and hope for a miracle to get them in National Title Contention. So, look for PSU to run the score up when possible.  Penn State by 16.

#4 Oklahoma (8-1) at Texas A&M (4-5). Certainly on paper, this looks like a lopsided victory for the Sooners, and it may well be. However, We remind folks that A&M actually outperformed Texas Tech in the first half of their game earlier this season and led Tech at halftime. A&M has a powerful rushing game, and a decent passing game, when given time to throw. The A&M defense plays with intensity and at home in Kyle Field, its a perfect scenario for a trap game as OU might look past A&M to #2 Tech.  However, Bob Stoops is no fool, and he’ll instill the discipline needed.  OU QB Sam Bradford will just have too many weapons for the A&M secondary to keep up with.  This has the potential to get ugly. Sooners by 28.

#5 Florida (7-1) at Vanderbilt (5-3). The Gators have been perhaps the most consistently improving team of the 2008 campaign.  Since their week 4 loss to Mississippi, they have outscored their opponents 201-43 in those four ensuing games, which averages out to a 50-10 victory/game.  They’ve not only shown a potent offense, but an amazing defense that qualifies them as a front runner for a BCS or National Title game participant.  After starting 5-0, Vanderbilt has gone the other way, however, losing three straight and scoring no more than 14 pts/game.  This one probably will be a blow out.  Gators by 27.

#6 Texas (8-1) hosts Baylor (3-6). Alot has been made about the lack of Texas to play its game in the first half last week against Texas Tech, but let’s not forget that the Longhorn’s fought back and came within 1:29 of winning the game. All of this after a grueling slate of top 25 games. Now Texas can relax and watch everyone else beat up on each other as they get a bit of a break.  However, how big a break?  Baylor’s record might not be completely indicative of the quality of their team.  Last week, the Bears nearly straight-up beat Missouri, except for a last minute field goal. The Freshman QB sensation, Robert Griffin was 26/35 for 283 yards and 2 TD’s last week against the Tigers. There’s no reason why he can’t do the same against Texas, as Zac Robinson (OSU) and Graham Harrell (TTU) had absolutely no problem exploiting the Longhorn defensive secondary.  However, we’re pretty sure that since this game is in Austin, and Texas would like to wash the taste of last week out of its mouth, Baylor might be in for a long afternoon.  Longhorns by 31.

#7 USC (7-1) hosts #22 California (6-2). Almost stealthily, the Trojans have risen from the ashes, after their week 3 embarrassment to Oregon State, and have emerged, not as the offensive juggernaut of the past, but arguably the best defensive team in the country.  In the 5 games following the Beaver loss, USC has allowed 20 points, and recorded 3 shutouts.  Now folks, we don’t really care who those teams are, if you average giving up 4 pts a game over 5 games that’s really good. Now, if the offensive side could just gain a little composure and chemistry.  USC had chosen lately to go back to basics and get it done on the ground, and why not?  They have a stable full of backs, including C.J. Gables and Stafon Johnson who both average over 5 yds/carry. Mark Sanchez still needs some work with control. The Cal Bears have equally been quiet as they have worked their way into contention in the Pac-10. The Trojans are 24-0 in November under Pete Carroll. Cal has won four of its past five games, including a win over No. 24 Oregon last week. We love the former stat and think that continues.  USC by 10.

#8 Oklahoma State (8-1) at #2 Texas Tech (9-0). See above.  Tech by 7.

#9 Ohio State (7-2) at Northwestern (7-2). We must admit that we’re putting our necks on the line by ranking a 2-loss team so high in the rankings. This week will tell where  Ohio State really is. The Buckeyes have been consistently getting better, and sports a very fast, scary-good defense that held Penn State to only 13 points. In fact OSU has held opponents to around 7 pts/game in the past 3 games. The trouble with the Buckeyes has been putting together a consistent offensive attack. Freshman QB Tyrelle Pryor, has worked hard all season to lead the offense, and performed well in a come-back role against Wisconsin.  Northwestern, on the other hand, has been terribly inconsistent, splitting their last 4 games, losing to Michigan State (understandable) and lowly Indiana (not understandable).  The Wildcats stole the game from the Gophers last week on a last second interception return for a TD, so that, too, was a bit disconcerting. We think that the Buckeyes might be way too much for Northwestern on both sides.  Ohio State by 17.

#10 TCU (9-1) at #12 Utah (9-0). Most likely, this match-up will go a long way in deciding who the BCS Buster will be this year.  In the BCS, TCU actually sits 3rd behind Utah and Boise State, with Utah somehow making it to #8 in the country. Utah has played no ranked teams, and barely got by New Mexico last week.  There’s no doubt that the Ute offense can put points up, but the Frog defense doesn’t allow many of those. In the 5 games since their loss to Oklahoma, TCU has allowed 7 points in 4 of the 5, and just 14 last week on the way to a 44-14 romp.   This one is on Upset Watch, as we think that this one could be close, but that the TCU defense will be the deciding factor.  Frogs by 6.

#11 Boise State (8-0) hosts Utah State (2-7). BSU might find going undefeated wont be enough this year, especially if TCU beats Utah.  With no remaining ranked teams on their schedule, and the only ranked win was Oregon, who has since departed the T25, the Broncos have their work cut out for them to get to a BCS bowl this year  They’ll need to take apart their remaining opponents with big numbers and large win margins to overtake Utah/TCU.  Against Utah State, this should easy, especially at home.  Boise State by 23.

#12 Utah (9-0) hosts #10 TCU (9-1). See above.  TCU by 6.

#13 LSU (6-2) hosts #1 Alabama (9-0). See above.  Bama by 14.

#14 Missouri (7-2) hosts Kansas State (4-5). The Tigers are just trying to get through the remainder of their season, and gear up for a final challenge against the winner of the Big-12 South. Their remaining schedule will offer them little in the way of movement up, unless there is mass chaos above them. But at 14th in the BCS, that will be difficult to get to a BCS bowl unless they do win the Big-12. Kansas State should offer very little resistance, and may offer Chase Daniels a chance to pad his stats.  Look for an opportunity to run the score up to help in BCS points.  Missouri by 32.

#15. Georgia (7-2) at Kentucky (6-3). Next year, when we are tempted to YET AGAIN, put Georgia in the top 10, please remind us that every year they start there and end up around 15-16.  The Dawgs travel to Lexington to take on a pretty good Kentucky team that’s managed to do well overall, but is 2-3 in SEC East play meaning that while bowl eligible, they stand no change for anything in the SEC. Georgia needs Florida to lose twice to have any shot at the SEC Championship but that’s not likely. The Dawg defense has been thumped twice this year now, once by Florida and once by Alabama. However, the rest of the time, it’s held up quite well.  We think that this could be the deciding factor in the game. Kentucky gave up 63 to Florida, so we don’t have alot of confidence that it can stop Matt Stafford.  Georgia by 17.

#16 Brigham Young (8-1) hosts San Diego State (1-8). Not much analysis here. SD State’s defense is just dismal giving up 41 to TCU, 35 to Air Force, 38 to Colorado State, and 70 to New Mexico.  BYU QB Max Hall should have a field day.  Cougars by 35.

#17 Michigan State (8-2) hosts Purdue (3-6). Now here’s something to think about.  If the Spartans, Penn State and OSU all finish with one loss, MSU will take the Big Ten on a tiebreaker. Purdue, which has won its past two visits to East Lansing, needs to win its final three games to become bowl-eligible. To do this they will need to try to snap an 18-game losing streak to ranked opponents. Ouch. We’d take this a little more seriously, if they were playing at Purdue..but they aren’t.  Purdue is tough against the run, and thus Javon Ringer may find the going a bit tough. This will put a bit more pressure on QB Brian Hoyer who had only a 91.29 rating against Wisconsin last week.  We’re putting this one on Upset Watch, but are giving home field advantage to MSU.  Spartans by 3.

#18 Ball State (8-0) hosts Northern Illinois (5-3). The Cardinals have beaten the nation’s top-ranked rushing offense, the Indiana Hoosiers’ fast-paced, no-huddle strategy and everyone else’s attempt to play keep the ball away from their own potent attack. The next daunting challenge for Ball State comes Wednesday night, when the Cardinals face the Mid-American Conference’s best defensive team in Northern Illinois. Since by the time you read this, the game will be over,  our prediction might be a bit untimely, but we think that Ball State is really LOTS better than people think they are.  They will prove this against No Illinois.  Cardinals by 18.

#19. North Carolina (6-2) hosts #23 Georgia Tech (7-2). The two leading teams in the ACC Coastal meet to gain an inside track to the division title. A Tar Heels win would guarantee a winning season for the first time since 2001. The Yellow Jackets are 8-1 in the past nine meetings between the schools. This makes the meeting all the more interesting. It was thought that Tar Heels QB T.J. Yates might be able to return for the game (he fractured his ankle against Virginia Tech on 9/20), but he won’t be playing. Junior Cameron Sexton will remain at the helm. and perhaps that’s good. He went 19/30 last week against Boston College for 238 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Yellow Jackets are off a hard fought victory against Florida State last week 31-28. It should be a great game.  A game obviously on Upset Watch, our take on it is that GT probably has the better defense here and in close games its a good way to go.  Georgia Tech by 6.

#20 Maryland (6-2) at Virginia Tech (5-3). Another ACC battle, this time cross divisional. Maryland is in a tie with Florida State for the lead in the Atlantic Division, and has a tough row to hoe in the next few weeks: Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Florida State.  The Terrapins have gotten back on track since a 31-0 pounding 3 weeks ago by Virginia, while the Hokies are tying to stop a 2-game skid. Maryland is 3-0 against ranked foes this season but just 3-2 versus unranked schools. Defense, again, will play a pivotal role, and we think that at home, that makes the difference for VT, and so this one goes on Upset Watch also.  Hokies by 4.

#21 West Virginia (6-2) hosts Cincinnati (6-2). It’s a battle of quarterbacks in West Virginia, where Pat White hosts whomever Cincinnati has healthy. The Bearcats have gone through three quarterbacks, with Tony Pike playing the past two despite a broken non-throwing arm. West Virginia has won three straight against Cincinnati and leads the all-time series 14-1-1. There’s not much discussion here we think, as the Mountaineers should prevail easily. West Virginia by 17.

#22 California (6-2) at #7 USC (7-1). See above. Trojans by 10.

#23 Georgia Tech (7-2)  at #19 North Carolina (6-2). See above. Georgia Tech by 6.

#24 Northwestern (7-2) hosts #9 Ohio State (7-2). See above. Ohio State by 17.

#25 Pittsburgh (6-2) hosts Louisville (5-3). Ironically, Pittsburgh has played like a Top 25 team on the road this season, going 4-0 including a win over a top 10 opponent. However, inside Heinz Field,  it hasn’t looked nearly as comfortable. Pitt comes off a come-from-behind, 4-OT win over Notre Dame, but the week before got thumped by Rutgers 54-34. Louisville junior wide receiver Scott Long tore his right ACL in practice on Tuesday night and is out for the season, so call that a major blow before a big conference game.  We think Pitt is just playing better right now, and if they can put together enough defense, they’ll break the Heinz curse.  Pittsburgh by 4.

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Week 9 will be our first make or break week of the season. While we’ve had some key games already, this week tends to be a conglomeration of alot of pivotal games that quite literally could shape the rest of the season for all of CFB, as well as some teams.

So, lets get after it:

#1 Texas (7-0) hosting #9 Oklahoma State (7-0). After OKST “upset” Missouri, they turned alot of heads. We had pegged the Cowboys to be spoilers at least in the B12 this year, and they’ve certainly done that.  Now they’ll try to be even more  It’s safe to say that if OKST can beat Texas, that throws the whole B12-South into a mess. However, we don’t see this happening.  Why?  Well, all the things that went wrong for Missouri, just arent apt to happen at Texas. Colt McCoy isnt likely to be throwing 3 interceptions, and the Texas defensive line is apt to play a bit more havoc than Missouri’s did.  However, it might now be a runaway for once, and how Texas handles this aspect, could be interesting.  Texas does have a very vulnerable secondary that can be exploited.  The question is whether Zac Robinson will have time to throw.  OKST also relies on its running game to complement the pass, and Texas has good strong tackles to stop that. We look for a tight game, but in Austin, it’s nearly impossible to win in a close conference game.  Texas by 8.

#2 Alabama (7-0) at Tennessee (3-4). On paper this doesn’t look like much of a test for the Tide.  Nick Saban’s bunch has a habit of buckling down and winning, even if its not all that compelling. One thing we just hate though, is that Alabama is making a habit of playing down to the level of competition.  We’d like to think that Tennessee has a complete game in them somewhere, but they just haven’t proved it yet.  When the defense plays over its head, the offense just misfires and vice versa. So, we can’t really see much of a scenario of the Vols being competitive here, unless Tennessee plays the game of their life, and Bama is looking two weeks ahead to LSU…doubtful.  Alabama by 17.

#3 Oklahoma (6-1) at Kansas State (4-3). The Sooners have some issues to get by to get where they need to be.  The least of which is their special teams performance of late allowing WAY to many yards. The second, is the replacement of their LB Ryan Reynolds who fell victim to an season-ending knee injury. Thirdly, the team needs to get back to running the ball effectively, which they have failed to do in their last two outings. Lastly, they need to shore up what seems to be a very porous pass defense. Despite these things, OU has the talent and speed to contend. but they have to rely on two Texas losses between now and the end of the season…not likely. K-State has the capability to put up big numbers in the passing game with Freshman sensation Josh Freeman, but at the same time their defense gives up more than the offense scores. This isnt a real good situation, and should lead to an easy day for Bob Stoops’ crew.  Oklahoma by 24.

#4 Penn State (8-0) at Ohio State (7-1). Perhaps the game of the year with regard to bowl implications so far.  Penn State has been playing at a fairly high level all season, and performed up to expectations, if not exceeding them. However, this week’s game is without a doubt their toughest test. Ohio State has steadily improved each week since their thrashing by USC early on. Tyrelle Pryor has taken over the offense there and with a healthy Beanie Wells at RB, forged a very productive offense. However, at times they have been erractic…having to come from behind at the last minute to beat an underachieving Wisconsin, and only putting up 16 against a less than impressive Purdue. But then hanging 45 on a pretty good Michigan State team. The Nittany Lions lead with QB Daryll Clark who passes and runs effectively, and then pile on with RB Evan Royster.  They have a very balanced offense, and a really stubborn defense.  Its hard for us to pick one here, but with OSU #9 and PSU #2, we’re VERY comfortable to put this one on Upset Watch, tho we’re not sure that qualifies for the term.  Whoever wins this probably wins the Big-10 and at LEAST a trip to Rose Bowl. For Penn State, a victory could help them run the table to a possible title match. So what decides it?  Perhaps tradition? The Nittany Lions are looking to snap a 10-game road losing streak against ranked opponents and beat OSU in Columbus for the first time since 1978. The Buckeyes have won 12 of their last 13 conference home games against ranked opponents. With that on their side, we are edging toward the Buckeyes. Ohio State by 3.

#5 USC (4-1) at Arizona (5-2). The Trojans seem to have found their level against after their disastrous defeat at Oregon State. This is a top notch defensive team, but prone to allowing big runners to dominate them. The Trojans have outscored their opponents 141-10 since falling to Oregon State, while the Wildcats are riding high after taking out Cal last week. USC has won six straight over Arizona also.  We think this probably would be a rout if played in the Colliseum, but in Arizona, it might be another story. Against Cal. the Wildcat defense allowed 315 yards passing with simlar numbers in other games this year.  One thing that Arizona will try to do, is make USC one dimensional by stopping their running game, which they HAVE done well this year.  This game might be closer than everyone thinks, but we still like USC.  Trojans by 10.

#6 Texas Tech (7-0) at #20 Kansas (5-2). Heres maybe the biggest trap game for TTU this year. Next week they host Texas in what will probably decide the Big-12 South, so it might be easy to look past a #20 team. However, TTU has lots of problems that could come home to roost this week.  First, the defense has been allowing way to much yardage. They were much better last week against A&M, but turned the ball over twice and gave the Aggies 10 points. Secondly, the Tech defense must find a way to rush Todd Reesing or this game degenerates into an air show. What may decide the game is the kicking.  The Raiders have perhaps the worst T25 kicker, and maybe the worst in the country. Just this week Coach Leach actually pulled the winner of a kicking contest in for a tryout and decided to start HIM instead of his two scholarship players. Kansas has a very potent offense and an improving defense.  This one for SURE goes on Upset Watch, and we actually lean towards that upset. But, we’re hoping that the Raiders will prevail to set up the showdown with Texas.  Texas Tech by 7.

#7 Florida (5-1) hosting Kentucky (5-2). As much as we’d like to think this could be interesting, it probably wont. The Gators aim to continue their dominance of Kentucky and its at home in the Swamp. Florida, who comes off a bye week, has won 21 straight against the Wildcats. Kentucky, which is 3-24 in this series when the Gators are ranked, has not defeated a top-10 opponent on the road since beating No. 4 Penn State 24-20 in 1977. That kind of record bodes no good.  Gators by 18.

#8 Ohio State (7-1) hosting #4 Penn State (8-0). See above analysis.  Buckeyes by 3.

#9 Oklahoma State (7-0) at #1 Texas (7-0). See above analysis.  Texas by 8.

#10 Georgia (6-1) at #11 LSU (5-1). Here’s another huge game for both teams.  Both unexpectedly lost earlier in the season, and both humiliated.  Georgia has bounced back from the Alabama game, but LSU looks to find some face after being humbled by Florida two weeks ago. LSU has struggled all season with a consistent offense while Georgia has gradually improved. The loser of this game has a really tough hill to climb but certainly not out of it. A loss for LSU would be more catatrophic seing that Alabama is undefeated. Playing in Baton Rouge may make a difference, but we think that Georgia has too good an offense, and LSU doesn’t.  Edge to the Dawgs. Georgia by 9.

#11 LSU (5-1) hosting Georgia (6-1). See above analysis.  Georgia by 9.

#12 TCU (7-1) hosting Wyoming (2-5). Quite simply this is very good Horned Frog team, both offensively against a really bad Wyoming teams that averages less than 10 pts a game.  After TCU destroyed BYU last week, we can’t imagine what they’ll do against Wyoming.  Frogs by 31.

#13 Utah (8-0) does not play.

#14 Boise State (6-0) at San Jose State (5-2). BSU still is the cream of the WAC and they should have very little trouble disposing of SJS even though the Spartans are enjoying a very successful year. The key here will be defense. Points could be hard to come by for SJSU as they rank 94th in the country in scoring, while the Broncos rank 2nd in scoring defense.  Ouch.  Boise State by 17.

#15 Tulsa (7-0) hosting Central Florida (2-4). Tulsa quietly is building quite a name for itself this year. The game promises to be a contrast in offenses as Tulsa is No. 1 in the country at 56.6 ppg and UCF is No. 108 at 17.7. Tulsa QB David Johnson has one of the best passing rating in the country at 212.82 (266.5 last week against UTEP!) and 31 TDs this year!  Though UCF won twice last year, we’re pretty sure that won’t happen this year.  Tulsa by 14.

#16 Missouri (5-2) hosting Colorado (4-2). Two humbling losses by Oklahoma State and Texas have pretty much put Missouri out of any title chases, but they are still the name of the game in the Big-12 North. A loss to Colorado would necessiate drastic actions, but Colorado is only one game out.  Playing at home, its hard to think that the Tigers cant’ outscore an underperforming, inconsistent offense in Colorado. We like Missouri to get back on track this week, perhaps in a big way.  Tigers by 24.

#17 South Florida (6-1) at Louisville (4-2). This is a big game in the Big East. The Bulls’ only loss came at the hand of Pittsburgh, but both have 1 loss. UConn, Louisville, and West Virginia are all two-loss teams so USF doesnt want a part of that group right now. Playing in Louisville could certainly make things harder also since Papa John’s isn’t very cozy to visiting teams. The Bulls lead the all-time series with the Cardinals 3-2, winning the most recent matchup 55-17 at home Nov. 17. Both of South Florida’s losses to Louisville, however, have come on the road. These are the Big-East’s two best offenses, but we think that So Florida has the better defense.  Bulls by 6.

#18 Brigham Young (6-1) hosting UNLV (3-4). After being humiliated by TCU, the Cougars have to be feeling a bit down and out.  Fact was, they had been underperforming for a couple of weeks, and you could almost see the fall coming. Even so, there wont be much resistance when the Rebs come to town.  Look for BYU QB Max Hall to have a big day.  Cougars by 24.

#19 Florida State (5-1) hosting #23 Virginia Tech (5-2). Another pretty pivotal game at this point of the season. The ACC is the weakest we’ve seen in years, and to say these two teams make up the best might be close to true, but its hard to tell.  To be truthful, these two teams could switch place in the rankings and it might be just as right. FSU’s lone loss was to a now unranked Wake Forest, which VT has loses against ECU (remember them?) and last week at Boston College. So its anyone’s guess.  Last season the Hokies blew out the Seminoles, ending Bobby Bowden’s 15-0 run against Virginia Tech. The Seminoles lead the all-time series with the Hokies 21-11-1. We like FSU’s chances this year, but are putting this game on Upset Watch.  Seminoles by 4.

#20 Kansas (5-2) hosting #6 Texas Tech. See above (#6) for our analysis. Texas Tech by 7.

#21 Pittsburgh (5-1) hosting Rutgers (2-5). Pitt looks to strengthen their Big East standing by hosting the Scarlet Knights, in what should be a rather easy test.  Rutgers, from the git-go this season, just hasn’t found the success as in previous years.  They sorely miss a good running game and the defense has been humbled in almost every game.  There’s not much more to say.  Pitt by 21.

#22 Georgia Tech (6-1) hosting Virginia (4-3). GT has had a rejuvenation over the past few weeks and quietly here they are a 1-loss team leading the ACC Coastal. Virignia has no problem getting up for games and if they can play as well as the last three weeks (one of which was a 31-0 shutout of Maryland) then the Yellow Jackets will have their hands full.  This game also goes on the Upset Watch list, with us edging toward GT.  Georgia Tech by 3.

#23 Virginia Tech (5-2) at # 19 Florida State (5-1). See analysis above. FSU by 4.

#24 Michigan State (6-2) at Michigan (2-5). We can’t figure out why both polls dropped MSU in favor of unproven teams. They did get dominated by OSU, but dropping them out seems a bit ridiculous. Now going to Ann Arbor, won’t be a walk in the park, but MSU has plenty enough talent to take care of the Wolverines, unless there is a total breakdown somewhere. Michigan has been vulnerable against the run all year and with Javon Ringer doing those honors, this could mean a long day for Michigan.  Spartans by 10.

#25 Ball State (7-0) hosting Eastern Michigan (2-6). The Cardinals are led by QB Nate Davis, the nation’s 9th-leading passer. Eastern Michigan is 0-3 versus Top 25 squads since 2002. We’ll take Ball State in a runaway.  Cardinals by 18.

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Surprise surprise the pollsters didn’t take long to change their minds on their number one did they? They have anointed USC for that this week. We (my good buddy Steve and I) weren’t quite ready to do so, even after they beat Virginia. Its true that Virginia was a bowl team last year and had quite the defense.  Operative word here – HAD.  It seems that our national pollsters might not have delved under the covers on the Cavaliers. They lost too many players, including their two top defensive studs, one to the NFL and one to academic violations. Their O-line was devastated and they lost their starting QB to academics also.  Add to that a few that left for undisclosed reasons, and you have a team rebuilding.  So the trouncing by USC was of no huge surprise to us, and did not warrant a jump to #1.

While week one might have given a couple of insights on teams this year, don’t look for week two to offer much more. For the most part, it should business as usual, but as we all know…thats where things can get mighty uneasy sometimes.

#1 Ohio State (1-0) v. Ohio U (0-1)  at home. Well, with or without Chris Wells (probably without) the Buckeyes should have little problem with the Bobcats. Look for the 1st team to exit early. We’d be surprised if Beanie Wells suits up.  OSU by 40.

#2 Florida (1-0)  v.  Miami (FL) at home. Now here’s an interesting game. The Hurricanes look all revved up after trouncing Charleston-Southern 52-7 (no great feat we admit), and the Gators were equally impressive dispatching an equally unimpressive Hawaii 52-10. Tebow will at least see a decent defense this week. The Gator defense might also have to play a few more quarters.  Florida by 10.

#3 Oklahoma (1-0) v. Cincinnati (1-0) at home. On the surface this looks like another walk in the park for the Sooners, especially being at home. The Bearcats dismantled Eastern Kentucky 40-7 last week while the Sooners were 50-0 at halftime against something a little less than a Texas high school football team in Chattanooga.  I think this game at least makes Oklahoma break a sweat. If they’re up 50-0 at halftime against Cincy, then we’ll anoint them #1 next week. Sooners by 21.

#4 Georgia (1-0) v. Central Michigan (1-0) at home. The Bulldogs have to be madder than a Michael Vick Pit Bull that they dropped to #2 in the national polls, after shellacking Georgia Southern. And Central Michigan is in the way this week.  I think the Dawgs do everything they can to run up the score, since USC has the week off. Bulldogs by 40.

#5 USC (1-0) off this week. The Trojans earn a week off before having to host the Buckeyes in 2 weeks. Isn’t that fortunate! We’ll have no problems shooting USC to #1 if they beat OSU. But hey, that gives the media a week to hype it!

#6 LSU (1-0) v. Troy (1-0) at home. Late news here is that this game will be postponed until Nov 15, so the Tigers get a bye this week.

#7 Missouri (1-0) v. Southeast Missouri State (1-0) at home. The Redhawks must have gotten a huge payout to get this humiliated. Look for Jeremy Maclin to take the week off, and Chase Daniel to be listening to his iPod by half time. It would be BAD if the Missou defense allows a big passing day. Missouri by 50.

#8 West Virginia (1-0) v. East Carolina (1-0) at ECU. The Pirates outplayed and finally beat Virginia Tech last week, on sheer tenacity. ECU had just as good a defense, and moved the ball well against a pretty good VT defense. But lets not confuse VT’s offense with West Virginia’s either. ECU will make this close early, but physically I think the sheer athleticism and flexibility of the WV offense pulls away late.  West Virginia by 17.

#9 Auburn (1-0) v. Southern Miss (1-0) at home. Both teams are coming off a good offensive outing, and Auburn is prone to relax against some lesser opponents. The Golden Eagles had well over 600 yards of offense last week, so the Tigers do have their work cut out for them. We think that this might be a good pick for an upset, but we aren’t going that way.  Tigers by 10.

#10 Wisconsin (1-0) v. Marshall (1-0) at home. Wisconsin running back P.J. Hill single handedly won the game last week, and will go up against a Thundering Herd defense that allowed less than 100 yards rushing last week.  Still, we’re reasonably sure that the Badgers are a bit bigger and stronger than Illinois State.  Wisconsin by 31.

#11. Brigham Young (1-0)  v.  Washington (0-1) in Washington. Poor Washington looks to have a pretty long year, and BYU will be glad to help that along. Last week against Oregon, the Huskies gave up almost 500 yards of total offense. Lord knows BYU can do that in a half probably. Cougars by 35.

#12. Texas (1-0)  v. UTEP (0-1) in El Paso. UTEP lost miserably against Buffalo last week, 42-17, so its really hard to believe that they’ll improve astronomically to give the Longhorns a good game. We think that Texas at #10 is way over rated by the way. Longhorns by 45.

#13. Texas Tech (1-0) v. Nevada (1-0) in Nevada. TTU’s offense was in decent form but their defense was very confused and sloppy in the home opener. Nevada’s offense last week against Grambling rushed for 426 yards and added another 209 in the air. That kind of offense against a confused TTU defense either means a long, high-scoring game, or an early loss for the Red Raiders. Watch out for the upset here!  TTU by 8.

#14 Kansas (1-0) v. Louisiana Tech (1-0) at home. Kansas looked solid last week, and Reesing didnt seem to have missed a beat. La Tech triumphed over a tougher opponent Miss State, so this might be a sleeper that could surprise some people. Well, maybe not. Kansas by 28.

#15 Arizona State (1-0) v. Stanford (1-0) at home. A home game and a conference game. I can’t see ASU approaching this game flippantly. Stanford won their opener last week, and will be high as a kite with hopes of upsetting a top 20 team. It could happen, but we don’t think so this year.  Sun Devils by 18.

#16. Alabama (1-0) v. Tulane (0-0) at home. Alabama sure looked real last week in their domination of Clemson, so we sure don’t see much of anything that Tulane can bring to be a threat.  Alabama by 38.

#17 South Florida (1-0) v. Univ Central Florida (1-0) at UCF. Interstate games are always interesting and hard to call, especially early in the year when anything can happen. The Bulls should dominate in sheer physicality tho, and come away with a solid win. Bulls by 24.

#18 Oregon (1-0)  v.  Utah State (0-1) at home. The Ducks had a solid game last week, even with all the turmoil at QB. Justin Roper should be back at the helm for Oregon so they should have little problem with the the Aggies who have lost 19 straight games against ranked teams.  Ducks by 35.

#19 Penn State (1-0)  v.  Oregon State (0-1) at home. While the Beavers might feel at home in Beaver Stadium in State College, PA, they’ll surely not be accomplishing much against Paterno’s bunch. PSU is 22-11 against Pac-10 opponents in their history. Make that 23-11.  Penn State by 22.

#20 Illinois (0-1)  v. Eastern Illinois (0-1) at home. You have to give Juice Williams credit against Missouri in a losing cause, and we think he romps big against the state rival Panthers. Eastern Illinois is 4-22 against FBS teams.  Illinois by 32.

#21 Clemson (0-1)  v.  The Citadel (1-0) at home. If ever there is a team that would need a kick in the pants it was Clemson. Not only did they lose to Alabama, they looked totally disinterested.  Look for Coach Tommy Bowden to shake things up, and win huge, even though the Bulldogs ran dominant in a lop sided win last week. Tigers by 28.

#22 Fresno State (1-0)  has a bye week. They’ll be tuning up for the big cross country trip to Wisconsin in two weeks.

#23 South Carolina (1-0)  v.  Vanderbilt (1-0) at Vandy. (Thurs game). The Gamecocks struggled but pulled away late when last years QB Chris Smelly was reinstated. He’ll start this week. Last year, when South Carolina was ranked #6, they lost to Vanderbilt, so there may be some motivation for revenge.  They should get it too. Gamecocks by 14.

#24 Utah (1-0) v. UNLV (1-0) at home. Last year the Utes were shutout by UNLV, but after an inspiring performance against Big-10 Michigan, they’ll definitely have the momentum. Look for Utah to come out fast and finish strong.  Utes by 20.

#25 Wake Forest (1-0) v. Mississippi (1-0) at home. This could be a nice little matchup The Demon Deacons won on the road against Baylor last week (doo dah), and Mississippi took out Memphis 41-24. The WF defense should be the key to the game, and provide the margin of victory. Wake Forest by 7.

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Week five of the college football season is upon us and proves to be interesting only because two top ten teams face major challenges from top 25 teams trying to take it to the next step.  Oddly enough, this week sees the top 4 teams in the nation on the road. Anything can happen. Most other games offer only token interest, so lets review games in the top 10 and maybe couple of others.

#1 USC (3-0)  at  Washington (2-2)
The Trojans have certainly played the perfect #1 so far. Defeating opponents soundly enough to  prove dominance, without pouring it on ala Oklahoma style (something I truly hate about Bob Stoopes).  USC seems to be able to morph to being whatever they need to be: pass centric one week, run-centric last week against Wash St. If any weakness can be found, its the same ol USC complaint of a too bendy defense.  But they average around 460 yards of offense per game and give up around 6.  Not too bad.  Washington on the other hand is characterized by the Jake Locker show. There’s something weird when your QB is also your leading rusher.  In order to beat USC, you have to play flawless footbal and about 15% above yourself, while USC has to have a complete meltdown.  I think this doesnt happen too often. USC wins this one comfortably, but maybe not in a huge blowout.

#2 LSU (4-0)  at  Tulane (1-2)
Well any other week I’d say this would be a major blowout, and it still may be, but let me offer a little hunch. LSU wasn’t particularly impressive last week against South Carolina, needing a trick play to blow the game open, and it was a tough game too. Next week LSU has Florida for a potentially HUGE game with National Championship implications. So if you’re looking for a trap week this could very well be it. Now that means that LSU needs to be very flat and Tulane needs to be very hot.  But witness Syracuse last week against Lousiville,  and I rest my case.  However, LSU still has one of the best defenses in the country, and I think they certainly win this game probably more than comfortably.

#3 Oklahoma (4-0)  at  Colorado (2-2)
Oklahoma may go undefeated this season and still not make it to the National Championship. The Sooners have perhaps the easiest schedule of the top 10 teamsm and it wont serve them well. Outside Texas, they have only #19 Missouri on their schedule. Contrast this to USC or LSU’s schedule. So the huge score deficits mean very little when you are playing Our Lady of the Redeeming Albino College of the Southnorthwest. The stagecoach goes west to Colorado to probably romp again, which will mean nothing, again.  Colorado might have a reasonably decent defense but their offense has only managed token effectiveness.  I dont see the Buffaloes able to stop OU, nor outscore them.

#4 West Virginia (4-0)  at #19 South Florida (4-0) 
Kelly Clarkson once sung that “people wait a lifetime for a moment like this”, and such is the case for the Bulls of South Florida.  They have been gradually building their program much like their Big East opponent, and stand poised to challenge the heavyweight.  I’ve made no bones about the fact that this team is one of my favorites to watch, and after making a huge statement last year beating this same team. This year they are a ranked team trying to do the same. For WVU, they’ll need a concerted defensive effort. I dont look for this to be a blowout, and if I was to pick a big upset, this would be it.  Look for South Florida to be leading the Big East on Saturday.

Auburn (2-2)  at  #5 Florida (4-0) 
Florida is one of those teams that keeps getting better, and I can’t see that taking a U-turn this week.  Auburn has been a major disappointment so far, but here’s another trap week. Florida plays LSU next week, and could catch Auburn wanting to make a statement. This might be an upset watch all day, so dont be surprised if Florida has to do some heroics to pull this one out.

#6 California (4-0)  at  #10 Oregon (4-0)
Maybe the most interesting and most fun game of the week. This seems to be a very equal matchup, both sporting outstanding quarterbacks and running games.  Oregon QB Dennis Dixon has thrown for almost 1000 yards and run for almost 300. His mobility and capability to make big plays will be the target of the Golden Bear defense That offense averages 49 points per game and over 530 yds per game.  So formidable indeed.  While averging around only 430 yds per game, the Cal offense under Nate Longshore is averaging 41 points per game, so this game could be a whoever is left standing game. The special teams might play a huge role in this game, so watch DeSean Jackson on kickoffs and punt returns. I’m leaning toward Oregon in this one, but only because I think the Ducks have a slightly better defense. This one can go either way and dont miss it!

#7 Ohio State (4-0)  at  Minnesota (1-3)
Let’s dont beat around the bush. The Buckeyes just might be the best in the Big 10 this year. Certainly they are playing like it, and they seem to be the most consistent.  They will be way too much for the Gophers. This one is a blowout.

Kansas State (2-1)   at  #8 Texas (4-0)
The only thing good I can really say about Texas at this time is that the really good teams always find a way to win even when they play badly. K-State probably has enough moxy to give the Longhorns a fight, but cant really see a reason why the Longhorns wont, still again, find a way to win this one. I doubt it will be pretty. Look for Texas to pull away late.

Michigan State (4-0)  at #9 Wisconsin (4-0)
The Badgers are doing their impression of the Longhorns finding ways to win even though you arent on your game. Wisconsin is undefeatedm but they just dont feel or look like it.  The get a feisty, spirited bunch from unranked Michigan State thats managed to be comfortably undefeated yet unheralded.   I hope this game is available cuz I think it will be a really good one. I’m going to stick my neck out and go green with the upset, late in the game.

Illinois (3-1)  at  #22 Penn State (3-1)
Penn State just didnt get it done against Michigan as I predicted last week, so now they are looking at almost every game being a must win. That starts with the Illini, who sport a very similar team. Inconsistent offense with decent defense.  Morelli has to show some maturity and start taking control of the offense so their defense isnt worn out by the fourth quarter. I think they have more defense than Illinois so the Nittany Lions will eek out the victory, but watch out for a surprise.

Thats the roundup…enjoy the weekend!

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