It was another fine week in the world of college football. The Pac-12 made by far the biggest statement of any conference, pulling out victories from 3 home underdogs against ranked opponents. The SEC newbies showed that they will bring the requisite passion to their new conference, but both Texas A&M and Missouri came up short at home in their conference debuts, as their opponents made great halftime adjustments to win. As for my picks, I went 6-4 on the week and am really regretting not taking LSU after the praise I heaped on them. As for this week, we have another intriguing slate of games on tap. Kickoff for most of these games are later in the day, so don’t fret over going to bed at a responsible hour if you have plans that require being out an about until 4 AM or so.
12 PM – Wake Forest (+27.5) over #5 FLORIDA STATE
Truth be told, we don’t know anything about the Seminoles after two games. That’s what happens when you open the season with consecutive games against 1-AA schools (don’t freak out Noles fans, I know last week’s laugher against Savannah State was WVU’s “fault”). We do know FSU has a lot of experience on both sides of the ball, and E.J. Manuel is trying to become their third QB to win the Heisman in the last 20 years. Wake Forest, meanwhile, comes into this contest off of consecutive close victories at home against Liberty (terrifying) and North Carolina (encouraging). Wake head coach Jim Grobe has had some success against Florida State during his career, including last year’s victory in Winston-Salem. The Demon Deacons lack any semblance of a running game, however, to pose a serious threat in this one. That being said, Florida State’s will have to play four quarters for the first time this season, and Wake will generate enough offense thanks to QB Tanner Price to cover.
Final Score: Florida State Seminoles 41, Wake Forest Demon Deacons 20
12 PM – #12 OHIO STATE (-16.5) over California
The Buckeyes have not played a complete game in either of their first two contests. That will change on Saturday afternoon. OSU QB Braxton Miller will continue to grow on a weekly basis in Urban Meyer’s system. Speaking of coaches with much ballyhooed QB pedigrees, it sure has been a long time since Cal head coach Jeff Tedford has produced a signal caller of any notoriety. The Golden Bears have been on the back slide the last few years. A lackluster performance before starting a challenging Pac-12 conference slate will only turn up the heat on the man who should be commended for creating expectations in Berkeley, which led to a much-needed stadium renovation. Nonetheless, a cross country flight and early kickoff time spells trouble for the visitors in Columbus. Ohio State will make it look easy.
Final Score: Ohio State Buckeyes 42, California Golden Bears 17
3:30 PM – #1 Alabama (-20) over ARKANSAS
One week ago, this looked like it would be the marquee game on this week’s slate. Then UL-Monroe pulled off the shocker in Little Rock, which included some ballsy play calling and six forth down conversions. The Razorbacks future NFL signal caller was hurt in that one, and it showed with in a dismal second half performance. Arkansas will be without him for this one in Fayetteville. That spells big trouble for the home faithful. The Crimson Tide are going to dare the Hogs to throw the ball, and the results will not be pretty. Bama head coach Nick Saban was displeased with the play of his O line last week, so expect them to come through with their best performance of the season in a one-sided affair.
Final Score: Alabama Crimson Tide 45, Arkansas Razorbacks 14
3:30 PM – #19 LOUISVILLE (-3) over North Carolina
Football fans in Kentucky’s largest city better appreciate their head coach while he is still in the commonwealth, because Charlie Strong will be coaching in the SEC before too long (expect Arkansas to make a run at him this offseason, but here’s thinking he will wait until either the Georgia or South Carolina job opens up). As for this game, U of L’s strong defense will face its first real test of the season from the Tar Heels on Saturday afternoon. The Cards D will pass this test, and Teddy Bridgewater will outplay his QB counterpart Bryn Renner from UNC. Louisville will prevail by a touchdown.
Final Score: Louisville Cardinals 28, North Carolina Tar Heels 21
6 PM – #18 Florida (+3) over #23 TENNESSEE
I have gone back and forth on this one. You can’t help but be impressed by how the Vols passing game has performed so far. You also have to be amazed with the second half adjustments UF’s defense made in last week’s trip down to Aggieland. It will be strength versus strength on Saturday night, and it should make for some high drama on Rocky Top. In the end, the Gators will build on last week’s performance and pull out a second straight close one on the road in SEC play.
Final Score: Florida Gators 24, Tennessee Volunteers 20
7 PM – MISSOURI (-3.5) over Arizona State
Revenge must have been on the mind for Mizzou this week. Revenge not only for last week’s loss against Georgia, but also for last year’s fateful trip to Tempe on the second Friday of the season. The Sun Devils take their first road trip of the season on the heels of an impressive performance against Illinois. ASU has made a smooth transition to new head coach Todd Graham’s up-tempo system. The key in this matchup will be which team’s defense will be able to muster a stand when it matters the most. In the end, the Tigers may thank Georgia for last week’s defeat, as Missouri will have just enough on both sides of the ball for all four quarters and will pull this one out with a late stop to clinch the victory.
Final Score: Missouri Tigers 44, Arizona State Sun Devils 38
7:30 PM – #2 USC (-8.5) over #21 STANFORD
In the media coverage leading up to the game this week, it is obvious that Trojans QB Matt Barkley really wants this one. Last year’s contest between these two might have been the best game of the regular season. Southern Cal is also coming off a less-than-impressive performance last week against Syracuse. The Cardinal, meanwhile, played a much better game against Duke last Saturday than they did in their opener against San Jose State. Though Stanford played better in just about every facet of the game, their running game has been nothing near what was expected. If the Cardinal is to have any chance in this one, they need to get a superior performance out of their running backs so they can keep the Trojans offense off the field. Alas, that will not be the case down on the Farm, as USC will exploit Stanford’s questionable pass defense and safely cover the spread in this one.
Final Score: USC Trojans 38, Stanford Cardinal 18
8 PM – #20 Notre Dame (+5.5) over #10 MICHIGAN STATE
Notre Dame was push more than even I expected last week, while Michigan State rolled over hapless Central Michigan. This has been one of the more exciting series in recent years, with a number of see-saw battles coming down to the last possession (last year’s dominant performance by a desperate 0-2 Notre Dame being a notable exception). Michigan State brings another stout defense and ground churning running back, Le’Veon Bell, into this contest. The Spartans are also facing some questions about the strength of the play they have received from QB Andrew Maxwell. Notre Dame, meanwhile, will arrive at a hostile environment in East Lansing with its stable of ball carriers and some uncertainty behind center, as former starter Tommy Rees stepped in last week to lead the Irish to their game winning drive against Purdue. This one will come down to the last possession. While there won’t be another “Little Giants” ending in this one, I do expect the Spartans to pull out a nail biter at home.
Final Score: Michigan State Spartans 23, Notre Dame Fighting Irish 21
9:15 PM – #14 Texas (-10) over OLE MISS
Oxford is buzzing with anticipation for this matchup. At 2-0, Rebels fans want to know if their team is for real. Bo Wallace looks like a keeper, but the Ole Miss quarterback is going to need some serious help if his team plans to survive the Longhorn’s relentless D. UT has a bevy of running backs that will allow them to dominate the time of possession battle and allow that defense to continue bringing the heat every time they step onto the field. This game will show the limitations of a young Ole Miss squad. We might learn a little bit about the Longhorns in this one, but this game is more like one last hors d’oeuvres for this team before they hit a crucial three game stretch that will determine the success of their season.
Final Score: Texas Longhorns 35, Ole Miss Rebels 10
10 PM – #25 Brigham Young (-3.5) over UTAH
The Holy War generally brings out the best in both teams. Unfortunately for the Utes, they enter this game as a team in transition now that QB Jordan Wynn’s career has ended with an injury last week. Not only did Utah lose a veteran QB, but they also lost a heartbreaker last Friday to in-state rival Utah State. The Cougars make the trip to Salt Lake City riding a couple strong performances from Riley Nelson. BYU’s defense has played well in the early going as well, as they dominated Mike Leach’s offense in his debut at Washington State on August 30. Expect more of the same from the Cougars this week, as Utah looks to be facing a tough stretch that will run through October.
Final Score: Brigham Young Cougars 31, Utah Utes 14
Pic via Deadspin