Last Week: 12-2
Colorado at Missouri
Dan Hawkins probably wouldn't have drawn it up this way, but what is pleasure without pain? Conversely, this season is going about as well as Gary Pinkel could have hoped. The no-huddle offense has confounded opponents, and the defense has held three of four opponents to under 10 points. Alas, Missouri has the look, if you'll excuse the pun of being a paper tiger. A dearth of quality opponents has inflated Missouri's record so far. Fortunately for Mizzou, the Rockies have amore potent offense that the Buffs. If not for their solid defense, Colorado would struggle to make the Division III playoffs. That defense will keep them in this game, but the ineptness of the offense will consistently give Missouri good field position and the Tigers will roar out to a 5-0 start.
Wyoming at Syracuse
When Donovan McNabb roamed the Carrier Dome sidelines, this game would be over by halftime. Now a very dangerous Wyoming team has a chance for a season-altering win. Since opening the season with a 38-7 drubbing of Utah State, the Cowboys have lost 3 consecutive nailbiters (by 1 to Virginia, followed by a pair of 7 point defeats to Boise State and Air Force). Syracuse has already doubled last season's win total and is always tough at home (case in point the narrow loss to a top-10 caliber Iowa team). Wyoming will keep it close, but will be a hard luck 1-4 at the close of business on Saturday.
Purdue at Notre Dame
One of these teams is still undefeated and controls its own destiny in the race for the national title. One of these teams has scored at least 20 points in every game. One of these teams has not given up 40 points in any game. Those 3 characteristics all apply to Purdue. A bias in reporting information can drastically distort reality. Case in point, last Saturday night. Forget the great comeback, this Irish team has serious problems on defense. Purdue will gain some yards and score some points. Unfortunately, it won't be enough. Notre Dame will win, but for all the talking heads who proclaim that the Irish will not lose a game until playing the Trojans, well, lets not go licking our lollipops just yet.
Winner: Notre Dame
Alabama at Florida
Its payback time. Last season the Tide rolled over the Gators 31-3 in Tuscaloosa and ended Urban Meyer's honeymoon with a vicious lover's spat. This season, the Tide's defense is not as strong and the Gators offense appears to be much improved with Chris Leak running the spread to the best of his abilities. Still, Gator fans can only imagine what next season will be like with wunderkid Tim Tebow running the show. Florida won't win by 4 touchdowns, but they will make last year's game a distant memory.
Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech
The Hokies have looked very sluggish thus far needing a big 4th quarter to outlast Cincinnati two weeks after struggling in for the first half of their first road game against North Carolina. For those folks looking for a Yellow Jacket win, here are three reasons to think again.
1. The games in Blacksburg.
2. Its not November, the Hokies haven't entered their patented swoon.
3. Reggie Ball
Winner: Virginia Tech
Houston at Miami
Teams Houston has a better record than: Texas, Oklahoma, Miami, Florida State, Notre Dame, Penn State, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Clemson, Boston College, Nebraska, Texas Tech, Tennessee, Alabama, LSU, Arizona State, Cal, and UCLA (among others). If this game was in Houston, the Cougs would have a shot. Unfortunately, its in Coral Gables. In their only road game this season, the Cougars beat Rice by one point. Gulp.
Washington at Arizona
Congrats to Tyrone Willingham and the Huskies on their 3-1 start. However, according to team similarity scores (which still has lots of room for improvement) the Huskies are most similar to a pair of mid-level bowl teams from last season--Kansas and South Florida. Those teams finished a combined 13-11 and went 2-8 on the road. The Huskies hired the right man, but they're still in for some growing pains.
Oregon at Arizona State
The Ducks have had a week off to prepare for the Sun Devils and hear about how they shafted Oklahoma out of a win. They may have gotten some breaks from the officials (and Bob Stoops' play calling), but they still scored two touchdowns against the Sooners in the last 3 minutes. This one has all the makings of a Pac 10 shootout. The only offense Arizona State has held in check has been the anemic one in Boulder and some feisty lumberjacks in Northern Arizona. Oregon's defense has not exactly been lights out either, except against Stanford. Arizona State has the homefield advantage, but Oregon has the better coach.
Texas Tech at Texas A&M
Dennis Franchione has taken a page from the Mike Leach book on scheduling. His teams' scalps include wins against The Citadel, Army, and a pair of Lowsyana school (Tech and Lafayette). Despite writing the book on soft non-conference schedules, Mike Leach inexplicably took his Red Raiders on the road to TCU and UTEP. The result: an overtime win and an embarrassing showing against the Horned Frogs where the offense managed one field goal. That TCU team that looked so strong defensively--BYU put 31 on them Thursday night.
Winner: Texas A&M
Michigan at Minnesota
Last season Minnesota was content to go to overtime in the Big House before Gary Russell broke off a 63 yard run to turn the tide and help the Gophers win on a late field goal. The last 3 games between these teams have been decided by 3 points. Since the games in the dome, this one will probably be close too. Michigan is too talented to lose to a Minnesota team that may miss out on postseason play.
Navy at Connecticut
This is probably the toughest game on the board to pick. On the one hand you have a Huskie team thats 2-1, but is changing quarterbacks. On the other, you have a Navy team thats played and won one road game (terrible Stanford), and always seems to play everyone close. Paul Johnson has done wonders for the Navy program and they will be heading to their fourth straight bowl game come December. However, the Huskies will go to 3-1 after pulling out a nailbiter.
Bowling Green at Ohio
In his second season, Frank Solich has the Bobcats in great position to compete for the MAC title. His teams aren't talented enough to compete with the BCS schools yet (see consecutive losses to Rutgers and Missouri), but against conference foes they have all the right moves. This is the conference home opener for Ohio. Thats bad news for Bowling Green which needed 3 OTs to knock off Buffalo at home and fell 38-3 to Kent State last weekend. Ohio will move to 2-0 in conference play.
Ohio State at Iowa
The marquee game of the night. As much as I want the Hawkeyes to upset the Buckeyes, they have looked less than impressive in their first 4 games. Needing OT to beat Syracuse and starting slowly against Montana, Iowa State, Illinois is not what great teams do. The Buckeyes are a great team, and though they will be tested this weekend, they will pull away in the fourth quarter.
Winner: Ohio State
Boise State at Utah
For the non-BCS fans, this is the marquee game of the night. Boise is 4-0 and barring a Houston upset this weekend is the small timers best chance to crash the BCS party. In an ironic twist, they face the only school to ever do so. Boise is a different team away from the Smurf Turf. In three home games they have scored over 40 points in each game. In their one road test they managed 17.