ACC Game: Virginia at Boston College
Al Groh's boys got exposed as pretenders last week against Maryland. With all the great NFL-caliber talent he has brought in since his arrival prior to the 2001 season, one would think they would be an upper-echelon ACC team by now. As it is, in road games against winning teams under Groh (including last weeks loss) the Cavaliers are 3-13. Those wins came against Clemson (7-5) in 2001, Wake Forest (7-6) in 2002, and Georgia Tech (7-5) in 2004. As the records indicate, those were winning teams, but they were hardly dominant. Expect more of the same from the 'Hoos this weekend in Chesnut Hill. Boston College is not a great team, but they are well coached and play well at home. The Eagles DE Mathias Kiwanuka will spend so much time in the UVA backfield that he may have to pay property taxes.
Winner: Boston College
Big East Game: West Virginia at Rutgers
Rutgers is in position to take early control of the Big East race. I'll give you a moment to regain consciousness after reading that statement. This is both a testament to how far Rutgers has come and how far the Big East has fallen. If not for an Illini comeback in Champaign, the Scarlet Knights would be unbeaten heading into this game. As it is, they are 3-1 and in good position for their first bowl bid since 1978. West Virginia is coming off a home loss to Virginia Tech. The Mountaineers have been very inconsistent. They beat East Carolina (1-3) by only 5 points at home, but won by 12 at Maryland (3-2). Their offense is still a work in progress, so it will be up to the defense to win this game. Rutgers offense has come out strong in the early going, scoring 30 points or more in 3 of 4 games. Rutgers offense will prove too much for the Mountaineers and the Scarlet Knights will improve to 2-0 in the Big East.
Big 10 Game: Ohio St. at Penn St.
There is a buzz again in Happy Valley as the Nits are off to their best start since 1999. However, their Rose Bowl dreams will end on Saturday afternoon. Even though the offense put up 44 points against Minnesota, the passing game is still not up to par. Michael Robinson completed only 13 of 32 passes for 175 yards against the Gophers. He did not throw any interceptions, but that completion percentage is terrible. He did most of his damage on the ground running for 112 yards on 18 attempts. The Buckeyes with their talented linebackers will not let Robinson beat them with his legs. Penn St. will have to throw to win the game, and they won't be able to. Ohio St. held Vince Young of Texas to 18 completions in 29 attempts for 270 yards with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. He also only rushed for 76 yards on 20 carries (3.6 average) against the Buckeye defense. To borrow a line from Lloyd Benson, 'I've watched Vince Young. I've rooted for Vince Young. And you sir, are no Vince Young.' Ohio St. will win rather easily, with only Tressel's conservative nature (field goals instead of touchdowns) holding down the final margin.
Winner: Ohio St.
Big 12 Game: Texas vs. Oklahoma at Dallas
Can Texas and Mack Brown exorcise their demons and take out Stoops and the Sooners? Oklahoma's offense has been rounding into fine form in their last two games, but the key to their 5 consecutive victories in this series has been their defense. Game by game, Oklahoma has held Texas to 14, 3, 24, 13, and 0 points. Even in games where their offense has struggled (in 2002 they won 14-3 with one score being a defensive touchdown and last season they won 12-0) the defense has been there to bail them out. That won't be the case this year. So far this season, Oklahoma has given up 23.5 points per game. Texas will get at least 30 and win a game in this series for the first time since 1999.
Pac 10 Game: California at UCLA
Two undefeated teams battle for what they hope is the Pac 10 silver medal in southern california. UCLA struggled with a bad Washington team at home last week, needing a last minute touchdown to come from behind. Cal has beaten everyone they have played. Unfortunately, their best win is probably over Illinois. The schedule gets tougher starting with this game as they play Oregon St., Washington St., Oregon, and Southern Cal in their next 4 games. In analyzing this game, I'll go with the better coach as my winner. Jeff Tedford trumps Karl Dorrell.
SEC Game: Georgia at Tennessee
With Florida's loss at Alabama last week, Tennessee is right back in the SEC East race. Georgia is undefeated, but hasn't really shown what they can do as two of their primary scalps (Boise St. and South Carolina) have struggled in recent weeks. Tennessee has played about 2 quarters of good football (the second half and OT against LSU) so I'll go with the road dogs.
Close but no Cigar:
LSU at Vanderbilt: No I don't think Vandy can win, but they will come out inspired with a chance to upset a top 15 team at home. Emotion can only carry you so far, and LSU will pull away in the second half.
North Carolina at Louisville: Very quietly, North Carolina has won two in a row (at NC St. and at home against Utah). They won't win this game, but Louisville is not the juggernaut they seemed to be in the early going.
Minnesota at Michigan: Michigan comes out flat after their big road win over Sparticus and falls at home to the Gophers.
Texas Tech at Nebraska: Nebraska remembers the horror last season when the Red Raiders hung 70 on them, Nebraska's offense has been pretty horrible so far, but their defense has been superb. Texas Tech has beaten no one of note yet, and that will continue as Nebraska extracts some revenge for last season's debacle.
Enjoy the weekend.