Record after week one: 17-9, 15-10-1 AS
(19) North Carolina (1-0) at Connecticut (1-0) (+4.5)
No Donald Brown means the Huskies are in serious trouble offensively. They won last week, but played close with a much weaker team. Meanwhile, North Carolina was excellent defensively in its first game. I have a feeling there won’t be a whole lot of points scored Saturday in Storrs, but there’s no way UConn’s offense is getting many points on UNC’s defense.
Pick: North Carolina
Western Michigan (0-1) at Indiana (1-0) (- 1.5)
If Indiana loses this game, the Fire Bill Lynch campaign will go from grass-roots organization to national (ish) campaign. Everything about this game makes me a nervous Indiana fan. Western Michigan is coming off a loss to an apparently much improved Michigan squad, so they’ll be looking for redemption. Plus, Tim Hiller and the rest of the team weren’t really that bad to begin with. IU lost a game just like this to Central Michigan and Ball State last year. The MAC may start to own Indiana, which would be an even bigger disaster for IU, who is trying to get fans into the stadium. Rest assured, IU should win this game. They don’t play many of these types of games often, in which they’re the better team, but will have to play well to win. I’m not going to be comfortable on Saturday until this one is over.
Central Michigan (0-1) at Michigan State (1-0) (-14 .5)
CMU crapped the bed last week against Arizona and is probably going to continue its streak of bad losses against major-conference teams, IU notwithstanding. And I love me some Dan LeFevour, so I’m inclined to think he’ll bounce back and at least help his team beat the spread. That said, Michigan State looks very, very tough for a finesse MAC team to score on, so I’m a little worried about LeFevour’s chances at any kind of glory on Saturday. It could happen, but I think Michigan State has built itself back up to the point where they don’t blow games like this. And yes, that was a hex on MSU.
Pick: Michigan State
Stanford (1-0) at Wake Forest (0-1) (- 3)
You have to appreciate just how bad Washington State is. Stanford kicked the crap out of them last week while Wake lost, and Stanford is STILL a road underdog. I feel like Wake Forest can limit Toby Gerhart’s effectiveness. Jim Grobe knows how to stop the run, although Wake has had a tendency to be smallish along the defensive front sometimes. So Stanford is probably going to have to throw the ball if they want to win. I don’t know if I trust Andrew Luck.
I’ve said in the past I really love Wake’s offense because they run 90% of it out of the shotgun, yet they run the ball a lot more than they throw even though Riley Skinner is not a running quarterback. Wake threw 31 times in their loss to Baylor last week, which makes me wonder about their running game. The backs had good YPC averages, but none had even ten carries. Skinner also threw three interceptions against Baylor, and I’ve got to believe Stanford’s D is roughly as good as Baylor’s, right? I don’t trust Wake Forest this year. I think Stanford is finally going to take a step forward in the Jim Harbaugh era.
Fresno State (1-0) at Wisconsin (1-0) (- 8.5)
Boy, would I love to see Wisconsin go down to an underrated Fresno State squad. Once again, the Bulldogs’ weakness is their defense. I’m sure the O will be able to gain yards and score a few points, but the question is whether they can stop the Wisconsin offense. Not that the Badgers’ O is so wonderfully productive or anything.
Pick: Wisconsin wins, but Fresno State beats the spread
Pittsburgh (1-0) at Buffalo (1-0) (+10.5)
Wanny WOULD agree to a game that takes his BCS team to the home of the MAC champions. Nice move, mustache. Being from the Big East is really the only reason Pitt is the favorite by such a large margin. This is probably the biggest game of Buffalo’s year, since the MAC schedule is so unpredictable. The Bulls are gonna be fired up to play Pitt, and I really question what exactly the Panthers can do to win this game. I see an upset here, mostly because you should never, ever trust a Wannstedt team.
Pick: Pitt wins but Buffalo beats the spread
(18) Notre Dame (1-0) at Michigan (1-0) (+3.5)
I tried to pump them up a little last week, but Notre Dame ended up shellacking a defenseless Nevada squad. That was a big win for them, sure, but it’s not like they beat some one really good. Michigan beat Western Michigan, who probably isn’t much better than Nevada. Thus, we still have no idea what these teams have to offer each other Saturday afternoon.
Of the two, Notre Dame’s offense is the more likely to be able to function and score points in this game. The Domers’ defense will be much better than the WMU defense Michigan torched last week. I do know that Greg Robinson will be able to limit the Irish big plays, but I just can’t see Michigan outscoring Notre Dame. The Wolverines have taken a major step forward, but the Irish are still beyond them in terms of rebuilding their own programs. Fear not, Michigan fans, even this UM team can still be at least third in the Big Ten.
Pick: Notre Dame
Houston (1-0) at (5) Oklahoma State (1-0) (-15)
I think it’s funny that this series is tied 9-9-1, as though Houston is somehow competitive with the Cowboys. I have said from the beginning that OSU is going to drop a game to a team they should most definitely beat, and I even said Houston could be that game. Now that we’re here, and OSU beat Georgia handily, I still think the Cowboys will lose, but I’m not sold on the Cougars. I really like Case Keenum and the offense’s ability to score points, but it’s hard to see Houston’s defense doing much to stop OSU’s offense. The only way Houston stays in this game is if the Cowboys make several big mistakes along the way.
The offense didn’t look great for Oklahoma State last week against Georgia, but they still did enough to get the job done. Houston’s defense is way worse than Georgia’s, so even though OSU wasn’t able to pass the ball all that efficiently, the running game will probably be more than enough to get them going. Then it’s just a matter of Zac Robinson finding Dez Bryant for a couple of big plays, and then it’s game over.
This is definitely a trap game for Oklahoma State after a big win, and Houston is definitely the kind of team that could jump up and bite the Cowboys for slacking a little, but I don’t think a 17-point win is, like, out of the question for Oklahoma State.
I’m gonna kick myself for wussing out if Houston does what I think they’ll do to OSU though. Crap.
Pick: Oklahoma State
(16) Texas Christian (0-0) at Virginia (0-1) (+11)
It would take a major offensive implosion for TCU to lose this game. You know their defense is going to limit Virginia’s offense. Well, that and the fact that the Cavaliers look like crap on that side of the ball anyway. It’s just a question of whether the TCU offense can score a sufficent amount of points to get TCU the win. I’d say 17 should do it nicely. Virginia is a mess, and though there’s still time for them to improve, it’s hard to see Al Groh keeping his job much longer. Besides, I would much rather see another Mountain West insurgency into the BCS again, and it looks like TCU is that team.
(9) BYU (1-0) at Tulane (0-1) (+17.5)
I’m picking this game solely because it’s one of the biggest trap games of all time for a team coming off a huge win. BYU beat Oklahoma, but only scored like 14 points doing it, so it’s not as though their offense was cruising the whole time. What helps them here is Tulane is awful, so a slow BYU start won’t mean they’re going to lose. It’s just going to be a close first quarter. After that, the Cougars will dominate.
UC, LA (1-0) at Tennessee (1-0) (-8.5)
It’s weird that these teams are playing each other and neither one is ranked. Shows how far these two programs have sunk. And while Lane Kiffin is entering just his second game at Tennessee and Neuheisel is in his second year with the Bruins, the Vols have a hell of a lot more talent and reason to believe they’ll be better sooner rather than later. Sorry, Booter.
There is this, however: just because UCLA doesn’t look great doesn’t mean Tennessee is automatically going to cruise. The Bruins are far more gifted athletically than Western Kentucky is, so Tennessee will have a little more trouble making big plays. It’s just not going to be as easy as the first game, in which the Vols didn’t score in the first quarter. I see the two defenses feeling each other out for a half or so before Tennessee makes a couple of big plays and the UC, LA offense makes some key mistakes.
Pick: Tennessee wins but UC, LA beats the spread
South Carolina (1-0) at (21) Georgia (0-1) (-7)
This is a ludicrously big spread for a game between these two teams. When they play, no one scores because the offenses are so mediocre and the defenses are so good. Nothing has changed that pattern heading into this weekend either. I don’t trust either one of these offenes as far as I can throw them. I’d be surprised if the winner had 17 points.
That said, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, I trust South Carolina’s defense a lot more than Georgia’s. The Bulldogs have a tendency to get burned for the big play even though they may make a couple of stops beforehand. And while Stephen Garcia seems to have forgotten his balls in the locker room most games, it’s still possible the Gamecocks could make a play or two and score the necessary two touchdowns to win. Combine that with my general dislike of Mark Richt’s schemes, and you have yourself a major road upset for (the other) USC.
Pick: South Carolina
Vanderbilt (1-0) at (11) Louisiana State (1-0) (-14.5)
Go here for my LSU/Vandy preview at SECfootballblogger.com
Air Force (1-0) at Minnesota (1-0) (-3.5)
So Minnesota plays close with Syracuse, pulls it out at the last minute, and then is a 3.5-point favorite at home against a freaking service academy. Ouch. Okay, so they won, so it’s not the end of the world for Minny. I like them to make some noise in the Big Ten, and although Air Force is plucky and tough, you have to think Minnesota is gonna roll by way more than 3.5, right?
(3) Southern California (1-0) at (8) Ohio State (1-0) (+4.5)
I just watched LenDale White on Jim Rome is Burning tell the whole world Ohio State sucks, and you can go ahead and disagree with LenDale White, but I’m sure not gonna. Wait…lemme check and make sure Phillips isn’t typing this post for me real quick…Okay good.
USC has a speed advantage on both sides of the ball as well as better offensive and defensive lines. Ohio State supporters have to talk up the home field advantage for the Buckeyes, but USC didn’t destroy OSU last year because of the crowd at the Coliseum. They won because they were the better team. There’s a reason Ohio State lost to LSU a couple of years ago when there was no earthly reason that should have happened. USC ran that same gameplan to perfection and took advantage of Ohio State’s mediocre defensive line. The Buckeyes are trying to get faster, but they’re still slow and play Big Ten football when the rest of the world is moving beyond that.
I think Matt Barkley will be affected by the crowd noise, but the running game will be too good. Nothing much has changed since last year, and I’m only leaving out one thing: Terrelle Pryor.
Pryor is going to start this time, but the Buckeyes don’t use him as a runner enough for that to be a real threat to USC. Compounding the issues facing Ohio State, he’s not a big play threat in the passing game either. He’s efficient, but they rarely do real damage on every single drive through passing. Ohio State must be perfectly balanced between throwing, Pryor running, and the running backs running if they’re going to do anything to USC’s defense. And I just don’t think Jim Tressel is enough of a strategic mind to get the job done.
Purdue (1-0) at Oregon (0-1) (-12)
I find this spread very hard to believe given what we saw from both teams last weekend. Oregon wasn’t very effective against Boise State, and now they’ve lost LeGarrette Blount to stupidity for the season. Plus, their defense was okay, but certainly didn’t seem ready to deal with a multi-faceted attack. Don’t forget, Boise had the early lead, so they played it cagey for most of the game instead of opening things up. This could have been a much bigger blowout.
Okay, I’d like to think Purdue could come out and not embarrass itself in Eugene. But I feel like placing my faith in Indiana’s second-biggest rival, and biggest in-state rival, is probably a stupid thing to do. Oregon is a team in disarray, though, so picking this gets tricky, though there’s no way Oregon covers twelve points. No way.