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Notre Dame hosts Purdue; three key showdowns in SEC
College football's second weekend of action is highlighted by three key games in the SEC. Here's a prediction on every game this weekend.
No. 32 Utah at No. 85 Utah State
Utah has won 12 straight over its in-state rivals from Logan, and only two games have been decided by 10 points or less. But it would be a surprise if this one got away from the Aggies, especially on their home field. Not sure if Utah State can win, but it should be close.
No. 102 Western Kentucky at No. 1 Alabama
They’ve won eight of their last nine games dating back to the 2011 season with the only loss coming against LSU. No, not Alabama. We’re talking about Western Kentucky, which was the only seven-win team last season that did not go to a bowl game.
No. 2 USC vs. No. 62 Syracuse (East Rutherford, N.J.)
Syracuse rolled up 596 yards of offense against Northwestern in Week 1 at home — and lost. Now, they head to the Meadowlands to face one of the elite teams in the nation. The Orange might have some success through the air against the USC defense, but they will have a very difficult time slowing down the dynamic — and balanced — Trojan attack.
No. 24 Washington at No. 3 LSU
Washington is embarking on a stretch that will feature three of its next five against teams currently ranked among the top four in the nation. In addition to this trip to the Bayou, UW travels to Oregon on Oct. 13 and hosts USC on Oct. 20. The Huskies are making strides under third-year coach Steve Sarkisian, but the program isn’t yet in position to seriously threaten any of the three looming superpowers.
No. 83 Fresno State at No. 4 Oregon
The most important thing that we learned in Oregon’s Week 1 win over Arkansas State? That the quarterback’s last name is pronounced MAR-ee-oh-tah.
Florida A&M at No. 5 Oklahoma
Florida A&M scored 14 points last week against Tennessee State. The Rattlers will probably need to score about 50 to win this game. Don’t see that happening.
No. 61 UCF at No. 6 Ohio State
UCF boasts some quality talent on offense. The Knights have an outstanding quarterback (Blake Bortles) and deep backfield that includes former Miami Hurricane Storm Johnson. This game could be interesting into the second half.
Ohio State 31-14
No. 7 Georgia at No. 29 Missouri
Missouri’s journey into the SEC begins Saturday in Columbia, Mo., when the Tigers host Georgia, the defending champs of the East. Both teams won their respective openers with ease, though Georgia couldn’t have been thrilled about allowing 347 total yards (199 on the ground) in its 45–23 win over Buffalo.
Savannah State at No. 8 Florida State
Savannah State’s march of death continues. Last week, the Tigers fell behind Oklahoma State 35–0 after one quarter en route to an 84–0 loss that could have been much, much worse. This week, Savannah State makes the short trip to Tallahassee. This, too, will get very ugly.
Florida State 58-0
No. 116 New Mexico at No. 9 Texas
The Bob Davie era got off to a nice start with a 66–21 win over Southern. Now, however, the real fun starts for the Lobos. They play five of their next seven on the road, beginning with Saturday’s trip to Austin.
No. 71 East Carolina at No. 11 South Carolina
Conner Shaw is questionable for Saturday’s home opener after suffering a bruise to his left (non-throwing) shoulder against Vanderbilt. If Shaw can’t go, sophomore Dylan Thompson would be the next man up. The South Carolina offense sputtered with Thompson in the game last Thursday. He went 0-of-3 (and didn’t come close) and was sacked twice. This could be a struggle if Shaw isn’t healthy.
South Carolina 28-10
No. 101 UL-Monroe at No. 12 Arkansas
Arkansas struggled a bit in the first half with Jacksonville State before pulling away for a 49–24 win. The Hogs had trouble, at times, stopping the Gamecocks’ passing attack. UL-Monroe features a solid quarterback (junior Kolton Browning) and some experienced playmakers at wide receiver. The Hogs’ secondary could be tested.
No. 13 Nebraska at No. 42 UCLA
It was no great surprise Nebraska beat Southern Miss with such ease — the final was 49–20. Nor that the Cornhuskers had 632 yards of offense. But what was surprising was the play of quarterback Taylor Martinez. The junior, who is known more for his running exploits, completed 26-of-34 passes for 354 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions. The Nebraska staff would be thrilled to get that type of production from Martinez on a consistent basis.
No. 104 Ball State at No. 14 Clemson
Andre Ellington played his way into some (very) early Heisman talk by rushing for 231 yards in the Tigers’ win against Auburn. He can remain in the conversation with a big game against the Cardinals.
No. 91 Air Force at No. 15 Michigan
The Wolverines need a get-well game after their humbling loss to Alabama at Cowboys Stadium. I’m guessing that Denard Robinson will have more than 27 yards rushing.
Austin Peay at No. 16 Virginia Tech
The Hokies’ secondary doesn’t figure to be threatened too much this weekend. Austin Peay threw for 11 yards in a season-opening 49–10 loss at Western Kentucky.
Virginia Tech 61-0
No. 17 Michigan State at No. 111 Central Michigan
Michigan State makes its first-ever trip to Central Michigan in a game that is expected to set an attendance record at Kelly/Shorts Stadium. The Chippewas’ coach, Dan Enos, was a starting quarterback at Michigan State in 1989-90.
Michigan State 38-10
No. 18 Oklahoma State at No. 51 Arizona
Somehow, Arizona only scored 17 points in regulation vs. Toledo last week despite rolling up 599 yards of offense through the four quarters. The Wildcats will need to be far more efficient this weekend against a powerful Oklahoma State team that puts points on the board in a hurry.
Oklahoma State 34-20
No. 53 Purdue at No. 19 Notre Dame
The matchup to watch in South Bend will be Purdue’s underrated defensive tackle tandem of Kawann Short and Bruce Gaston vs. Notre Dame’s interior offensive line.
Notre Dame 28-17
Grambling at No. 20 TCU
TCU begins its 2012 season after sitting out Week 1 with a bye. Grambling is 0-1 after losing at Alcorn State 22–21.
No. 21 Wisconsin at No. 59 Oregon State
Wisconsin’s 26–21 win over Northern Iowa was a little too close for comfort. Danny O’Brien played well in his debut at quarterback, but the Badgers did not run the ball as efficiently as usual. Montee Ball topped the 100-yard mark but averaged only 3.8 yards on his 32 carries. Oregon State is making its 2012 debut.
Missouri State at No. 22 Louisville
Louisville is feeling pretty good about itself after dominating rival Kentucky on Sunday afternoon. Teddy Bridgewater was terrific at quarterback, and two running backs (Senoris Perry and Jeremy Wright) ran for more than 100 yards.
Georgia State at No. 25 Tennessee
After an impressive Week 1 win over NC State in Atlanta,
the Vols return home to Neyland Stadium for what will be a stress-free Saturday. Georgia State poses absolutely no threat.
No. 33 South Florida at No. 26 Nevada
Cody Fajardo did his best Colin Kaepernick impersonation last week, throwing for 230 yards and rushing for 97 in the Wolf Pack’s 31–24 win at Cal. South Florida held Chattanooga to 151 total yards in a 34¬13 win last week.
No. 43 Miami (Fla.) at No. 27 Kansas State
Kansas State is looking for quarterback Collin Klein to be more of a threat throwing the ball this season. He should have a big game, both with his arm and legs, against the suspect Miami defense that gave up 542 yards to Boston College last week.
Kansas State 34-28
No. 28 North Carolina at No. 73 Wake Forest
Wake Forest struggled to beat Liberty last week, holding on for a 20–17 win in Winston-Salem. North Carolina, meanwhile, dominated Elon (62–0) with surprising ease.
North Carolina 34-21
No. 63 Duke at No. 30 Stanford
Duke posted a solid Week 1 win, rolling past FIU 46-26 in Durham. The Blue Devils broke open a close game with a 30-point second quarter. Stanford had some trouble in its first game of the post-Andrew Luck era, beating San Jose State 20–17. Josh Nunes threw for 125 yards on 26 attempts for a very un-Luck-like 4.8 yards per completion.
No. 34 Florida at No. 32 Texas A&M
Florida’s search for competent quarterback play continues. Jeff Driskel received the majority of the snaps in the Gators’ tougher-than-expected 27–14 win over Bowling Green. His numbers weren’t bad (10-of-16 for 114 yards and one TD), but Florida only had one pass play that went for longer than 18 yards. This offense must be more balanced if the Gators plan on being a factor in the SEC East.
Texas A&M 17-14
No. 35 Auburn at No. 47 Mississippi State
This a huge early season showdown between two teams that will be jockeying for position in the middle of the SEC West. Auburn remains a work in progress on defense under first-year coordinator Brian VanGorder. The Tigers, who gave up an average 421.1 yards in 10 games vs. AQ conference opponents in 2011, struggled to stop Clemson despite giving up only 26 points. Mississippi State, however, doesn’t have offensive weapons like Tajh Boyd and Andre Ellington at Clemson.
Presbyterian at No. 36 Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech returns home after a gut-wrenching overtime loss at Virginia Tech on Monday night. The Yellow Jackets’ option attack should have little trouble with the Blue Hose defense.
Georgia Tech 50-10
Weber State at No. 37 BYU
BYU was one of the most impressive teams in Week 1, holding the Mike Leach-coached Washington State Cougars to 224 total yards in a 30–6 win in Provo.
No. 57 Penn State at No. 38 Virginia
Penn State is fresh off a humbling loss at home to Ohio in the debut of coach Bill O’Brien. Now, the Nittany Lions take their show on the road against a Virginia team that threw for 361 yards in a 43–19 win over Richmond.
No. 115 New Mexico State at No. 40 Ohio
Ohio must avoid a letdown after its big win at Penn State last week. Frank Solich is a veteran coach who will make sure his team is ready to play.
No. 44 Illinois at No. 54 Arizona State
This would be a tough spot for Illinois at full strength, but the Fighting Illlini might be without starting quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase, who injured his ankle in the win over Western Michigan. Arizona State scored 63 points in the first showing of the Todd Graham Experiment. Now, we will see what happens against a quality defense.
Arizona State 30-24
No. 41 NC State at No. 48 UConn
UConn didn’t allow UMass to cross its own 40-yard line in a 37–0 Week 1 win over the Minutemen. Don’t expect a repeat of that dominant defensive effort, but also don’t be surprised if the Huskies pull off the mild upset.
No. 45 Vanderbilt at No. 48 Northwestern
Vanderbilt struggled to move the ball with consistency in a 17¬–13 loss to South Carolina last Thursday. The Dores picked up 276 total yards, but 28.7 percent of the yards came on one play, a 78-yard touchdown from Jordan Rodgers to Jordan Matthews. This week, they will face a Northwestern defense that gave up 596 yards to Syracuse in a thrilling 42¬–41 win at the Carrier Dome.
No. 46 Iowa State at No. 52 Iowa
The ’12 season got off to a good start offensively for Iowa State. The Clones, a surprising home underdog to Tulsa, rolled up 441 yards in a 38–23 win over the Golden Hurricane. This rivalry game often doesn’t go as expected. This is just a hunch, but I like the Clones on the road.
Iowa State 21-20
Howard at No. 49 Rutgers
Rutgers survived a mild scare from Tulane in the opener, holding on for a 24–12 win over the Green Wave in New Orleans. Now, it’s time for a tune-up before a difficult road swing through South Florida and Arkansas.
Southern Utah at No. 50 California
The Golden Bears should take out the frustrations from last week’s loss at home to Nevada by pounding a Southern Utah club that gave up 569 yards to Utah State last week.
No. 87 Texas State at No. 56 Texas Tech
Texas State was the biggest mover in the post-Week 1 Athlon 124, jumping from No. 121 in the preseason to No. 87 after its stunning win at Houston. The magical run will end in Lubbock.
Texas Tech 31-17
No. 60 Louisiana Tech at No. 100 Houston
Houston, meanwhile, fell from No. 70 in the preseason to No. 100 after losing at home, 30–13, to Texas State. This is a very important game for first-year coach Tony Levine.
Louisiana Tech 31, Houston 20
New Hampshire at No. 64 Minnesota
This won’t be a gimme for Minnesota. New Hampshire rolled up 531 yards of offense in a 38–17 win at Holy Cross last weekend.
No. 122 Memphis at No. 65 Arkansas State
Memphis lost at home to UT Martin last week in Justin Fuente’s debut as the Tigers’ head coach. This could get ugly. Gus Malzahn will be eager to score a ton of points in his first game in Jonesboro.
Arkansas State 56-10
No. 98 Maryland at No. 66 Temple
People who are surprised that Maryland is a 10-point underdog at Temple must have forgotten that the Terps lost at home to the Owls 38–7 last September.
No. 97 Kent State at No. 67 Kentucky
Perhaps no coach in American needs a win this week more than Kentucky’s Joker Phillips, who is 0–1 after losing badly to rival Louisville in Week 1.
No. 68 UL-Lafayette at No. 105 Troy
UL-Lafayette has an opportunity for a big early season road win in the Sun Belt. Troy played well last week in a win at UAB, but UL-Lafayette is a more formidable foe with a bunch of offensive weapons.
No. 80 UTEP at No. 70 Ole Miss
Ole Miss hosts a UTEP team that went toe-to-toe with Oklahoma into the fourth quarter before losing 24–7. The key to avoiding the upset for Ole Miss will be slowing down tailback Nathan Jeffery, who rushed for 177 yards on 21 carries vs. Oklahoma.
Ole Miss 17-14
No. 72 Toledo at No. 93 Wyoming
Toledo gave up 624 yards but only 24 points in a Week 1 overtime loss at Arizona. Wyoming isn’t as skilled as Arizona, but the Cowboys did manage 345 yards of offense last week against a very good Texas defense.
Wyoming 41, Toledo 34
No. 114 Rice at No. 74 Kansas
Rice ranked last in the nation among the 117 teams that played last week by giving up an average of 9.36 yards per play in its loss to UCLA. That is not good.
No. 113 Tulane at No. 76 Tulsa
Tulsa has won all seven meetings (by an average of 30 points) between these two teams since Conference USA formed in 2005. Don’t expect this game to be any different.
Eastern Illinois at No. 77 Western Michigan
Eastern Illinois scored 49 points and rolled up 522 yards vs. Southern Illinois last week. Western Michigan should win, but the Broncs will have to play well.
Western Michigan 38-17
North Dakota State at No. 78 Colorado State
Jim McElwain began his tenure in style, beating rival Colorado 22–17 in Denver. Now, he makes his debut at home against a North Dakota State team that outgained Robert Morris 495-to-88 in a 52–0 win.
Colorado State 24-14
Maine at No. 79 Boston College
Boston College opened the season with 41–32 loss at home to Miami, but the Eagles did show signs of significant improvement on offense, recording 542 total yards.
Boston College 34-10
Eastern Washington at No. 81 Washington State
The Mike Leach era opened with a six-point, 224-yard effort against BYU. Not exactly what the Cougar faithful had in mind. Wazzu will have an opportunity to pick up a W this week, but it might not be easy. Eastern Washington won at Idaho last Thursday night.
Washington State 27-10
Tennessee-Martin at No. 82 Northern Illinois
Northern Illinois came close to knocking off Iowa in Chicago despite picking up only 201 yards of offense (73 on one play). The Huskies should have more success in Week 2.
Northern Illinois 37-14
No. 124 Idaho at No. 84 Bowling Green
These are not good times for the Idaho Vandals. The team without a conference — the school recently declared its Independence — lost last week 20–3 at home to Eastern Washington.
Bowling Green 34-0
No. 119 Akron at No. 86 FIU
FIU has to be a bit disappointed after losing its opener by 20 points at Duke. The Golden Panthers will take out their frustrations on Terry Bowden and the Zips.
UC Davis at No. 88 San Jose State
The Spartans played well in their opener, falling 20–17 at Stanford. Last year, the lost to Stanford 57–3.
San Jose State 31-10
Sacramento State at No. 89 Colorado
Jon Embree’s second season at his alma mater didn’t start in fine fashion. The Buffs lost to rival Colorado State — and didn’t look good doing so.
No. 90 Indiana at No. 12 UMass
The Hoosiers avoided disaster by holding on for a seven-point win over Indiana State in Week 1. Now, they hit the road to play a UMass team that has yet to advance the ball past its own 40-yard line this year.
Western Carolina at No. 92 Marshall
Marshall had some trouble on the defensive end last week, getting torched by West Virginia for 69 points. The Herd will be eager to do the torching this Saturday.
Stephen F. Austin at No. 94 SMU
SMU did some good things on offense in a 59–24 loss at Baylor last Sunday. The Mustangs picked up over 500 yards of offense but were undone by some costly turnovers. This has a chance to be a good team.
No. 96 Army at No. 95 San Diego State
San Diego State played well defensively in its 21–12 loss at Washington last week, holding the Huskies to a total of 326 yards. Army is making its 2012 debut.
San Diego State 24-17
Southern Illinois at No. 103 Miami (Ohio)
The Red Hawks held their own early vs. Ohio State before being overwhelmed by the Buckeyes’ offense in a 56–10 loss. Zac Dysert threw for 303 yards to lead the one-dimensional Miami attack.
Miami (Ohio) 33-10
Texas Southern at No. 106 North Texas
Think the talent differential is great between North Texas’ first two opponents? First LSU. Now Texas Southern.
North Texas 33-10
Illinois State at No. 107 Eastern Michigan
Eastern Michigan needs to get out of this game as healthy as possible with trips to Purdue and Michigan State looming.
Eastern Michigan 30-17
Morgan State at No. 110 Buffalo
Buffalo can’t be too disappointed with its performance at Georgia. The Bulls picked up 347 yards of offense and only trailed 24–16 at the half.
Northern Arizona at No. 112 UNLV
UNLV missed a golden opportunity to beat a Big Ten team, losing to Minnesota in triple-overtime. The Rebels should improve to 1-1 against a Northern Arizona team that gave up 66 points to Arizona State in Week 1.
Nicholls State at No. 118 South Alabama
South Alabama dropped its first game as an FBS school last week, falling to Texas-San Antonio (another FBS newbie) 33–31 in Mobile.
South Alabama 31-10
No. 120 FAU at No. 121 Middle Tennessee
This game is depressing. Middle Tennessee lost at home to McNeese State last week, while FAU “escaped” with a 10–7 win over Wagner. Both teams desperately need a win.
Middle Tennessee 20-3
Last Week: 55-9