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Can Michigan State hold off Notre Dame? Can the Gators survive Rocky Top?
College football's third weekend of action is highlighted by Notre Dame’s trip to Michigan State and a huge showdown in the SEC East. Here’s a prediction on every game this weekend.
No. 78 Washington State at No. 115 UNLV
Mike Leach and the struggling Cougars take their show to Sin City this weekend. Wazzu likely will send out Connor Halliday at quarterback due to a knee injury to starter Jeff Tuel.
Washington State 27-13
No. 1 Alabama at No. 34 Arkansas
Arkansas’ loss to UL Monroe last week was a blow to the Razorbacks’ ego, but it’s important to remember that it was not a conference game. However, it’s very difficult to envision a scenario in which a team that lost a 28–7 lead at home (in Little Rock) to UL Monroe is good enough to challenge Alabama and LSU in the SEC West.
No. 2 USC at No. 24 Stanford
Matt Barkley has been nearly flawless through two games. The senior quarterback has completed 67.6 percent of his passes for 559 yards with an amazing 10 touchdowns — four more than any other player in the nation. It helps when Marqise Lee and Robert Woods are your primary targets, but Barkley is clearly playing the position at the highest level.
No. 124 Idaho at No. 3 LSU
Idaho is 0–2 with a 20–3 loss at home to Eastern Washington and a 21–13 loss at Bowling Green. The Vandals have scored one touchdown in eight quarters. They will have one touchdown after 12 quarters.
Tennessee Tech at No. 4 Oregon
Oregon is the far superior team, but the best wide receiver in the game will be wearing a Tennessee Tech uniform. Da’Rick Rogers, an All-SEC pick last year while at Tennessee, has caught eight passes for 163 yards and two touchdowns in his two games with the Golden Eagles.
No. 48 California at No. 6 Ohio State
Cal’s defense has been a disappointment through two games, giving up an average of 410.5 yards and 31.0 points against Nevada (loss) and Southern Utah (win). This was looking like a potential upset back in August. Not anymore.
Ohio State 28-14
No. 121 FAU at No. 7 Georgia
After an emotional win at Missouri last week, the Bulldogs return home to face one of the worst FBS teams in the nation. This will be an easy win.
No. 53 Wake Forest at No. 8 Florida State
The betting line, FSU by 24 points, seems a bit high considering that Wake Forest beat Florida State last season and played well last week in a 28–27 win over a well-regarded North Carolina team.
Florida State 30-17
No. 9 Texas at No. 72 Ole Miss
Ole Miss sophomore Bo Wallace has been a pleasant surprise at quarterback for first-year coach Huge Freeze. The junior college transfer has completed 76.1 percent of his passes for 438 yards with five touchdowns and one interception and has also rushed for 135 yards and two scores. Those stats, however, were accumulated against Central Arkansas and UTEP. Now, the Tennessee native will test his mettle against a ferocious Texas defense that has allowed a total of 17 points in two games.
James Madison at No. 10 West Virginia
James Madison has allowed only one touchdown in two games this season. West Virginia scored 10 touchdowns in its only game this season.
West Virginia 44-17
No. 109 UAB at No. 11 South Carolina
Steve Spurrier has been quick to point out that first-year UAB head coach Garrick McGee experienced a ton of success against South Carolina while the offensive coordinator at Arkansas. UAB, however, doesn’t have Tyler Wilson, Knile Davis, Greg Childs, Joe Adams, etc. on its roster.
South Carolina 38-0
Furman at No. 12 Clemson
Furman has lost its first two games by a total of five points, including a 47–45 triple-overtime thriller to Coastal Carolina last week. The Paladins won’t have to worry about a close loss this week.
No. 16 Notre Dame at No. 13 Michigan State
The key for Notre Dame will be its ability to slow down Le’Veon Bell and the Michigan State rushing attack. Andrew Maxwell is a talented quarterback, but the first-year starter made some key mistakes in the win over Boise State two weeks ago. Notre Dame must force Maxwell to make plays down field.
Michigan State 27-21
No. 123 UMass at No. 14 Michigan
UMass is an FBS team in name only. The Minutemen are 0–2 and have lost their two games by a combined score of 78–6. They are also one of two teams in the nation (joining Iowa) that does not have an extra point.
No. 15 Virginia Tech at No. 99 Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh’s season has been a disaster. The Panthers opened with a demoralizing loss at home to Youngstown State and then looked bad in a 34–10 loss to Big East rival Cincinnati last Thursday night. Paul Chryst needs something to go well this weekend.
Virginia Tech 27-17
No. 17 TCU at No. 84 Kansas
TCU ventures into Big 12 play with a trip to Lawrence to play the worst team in the league. The Jayhawks lost last week at home to a Rice team that gave up 646 yards to UCLA at home in a Week 1 loss.
No. 54 Louisville at No. 18 Louisville
The Cardinals are 2–0 after beating Kentucky and Missouri State at home. Sophomore Teddy Bridgewater has been terrific in both games. He’s completed 49-of-60 (81.7 percent) for 576 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Nobody expects him to continue to operate with that type of efficiency, but Bridgewater is emerging as one of the top young quarterbacks in the game.
No. 29 Florida at No. 19 Tennessee
A few months ago, when CBS was selecting its early season schedule, the network passed on the Tennessee-Florida game (for the first time since 1995) in favor of Alabama’s trip to Arkansas. Now, however, after Tennessee’s hot start, Florida’s win at Texas A&M and Arkansas’ shocking loss to UL Monroe, the Vols vs. Gators showdown in the marquee game of the day in the nation’s premier conference.
No. 100 Miami (Ohio) at No. 20 Boise State
Ready for a misleading stat? Boise State ranks 120th in the nation in total offense with 206 yards per game. The Broncos have played one game — on the road at Michigan State, one of the best defensive teams in the nation.
Boise State 40-17
No. 101 Houston at No. 21 UCLA
It’s arguably the nation’s most disappointing team (Houston) vs. the most surprising team (UCLA). The Bruins have been putting up Houston-like offensive numbers, ranking third in the nation in total offense (649.5 ypg) and 18th in scoring (42.5 ppg).
No. 103 North Texas at No. 22 Kansas State
K-State is fresh off one of the most impressive victories of the young college football season, a 52–13 win over Miami (Fla.) in Manhattan. The Wildcats will be 3–0 when they head to Norman next weekend.
Kansas State 31-10
No. 65 Arkansas State at No. 23 Nebraska
It should be noted that Arkansas State did a bunch of damage during garbage time in its Week 1 loss at Oregon, but the Red Wolves are averaging 574.5 yards per game. They will move the ball on Nebraska, which has given up over 900 yards total in its two games.
South Carolina State at No. 25 Arizona
The Wildcats can relax this week before a brutal six-game stretch that features road trips to Oregon, Stanford and UCLA and home dates with Oregon State, Washington and USC.
No. 70 UL Lafayette at No. 26 Oklahoma State
These teams met last September in Stillwater in a game that featured 986 yards of offense (666 by O-State) and 95 points (61 by the Pokes). The scoring might be down a bit this time around.
Oklahoma State 44-28
Portland State at No. 27 Washington
The Huskies need a get-well game after their humbling trip to Baton Rouge. They picked up a total of 183 yards in a 41–3 loss.
Northwestern State at No. 30 Nevada
Nevada would be 2–0 with wins over two AQ conference teams if it hadn’t given up two touchdown passes of 50-plus yards in the final three minutes in last week’s 32–31 loss to South Florida.
No. 31 Mississippi State at No. 105 Troy
The Bulldogs have struggled in recent years with some teams from so-called lesser conferences. They beat Louisiana Tech last season and UAB in 2010 by an average of 5.5 points and lost to Houston 31–24 in ’09 and Louisiana Tech 22–14 in ’08. Dan Mullen is well aware of what his team can accomplish this season and will do everything in his power to be sure the Bulldogs are mentally ready to take care of business at the venue formerly known as Movie Gallery Stadium.
Mississippi State 33-14
No. 46 Arizona State at No. 32 Missouri
Todd Graham might not be the most well-liked coach in America, but he’s done a terrific job early in his first season at Arizona State. The Sun Devils are 2–0 with wins over Northern Arizona (63–6) and Illinois (45–14). Now, Graham and the Devils take their show on the road to face a Missouri team that must bounce back — both physically and emotionally — from a 41–20 loss at home to Georgia in the school’s first-ever SEC game.
No. 33 Texas A&M at No. 94 SMU
The Aggies are no doubt disappointed with their loss to Florida in the school’s SEC debut, but they had to like what they saw from redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel. The Texas high school legend threw for 173 yards and added 60 on the ground and did not turn the ball over.
Texas A&M 38-20
No. 37 Virginia at No. 35 Georgia Tech
This is pretty much a must win for Georgia Tech if it hopes to compete with Virginia Tech for the ACC Coastal Division title. The Yellow Jackets are already 0–1 in the league after losing at Virginia Tech in the opener. Virginia is 2–0 but struggled a bit in last week’s 17–16 win over Penn State at home. The Cavs will have to play better to be a factor in the ACC.
Georgia Tech 28-21
No. 36 BYU at No. 62 Utah
Utah’s season hasn’t exactly gone as planned. First, the Utes had a 12-game winning streak vs. in-state rival Utah State snapped. Then starting quarterback Jordan Wynn announced that he was retiring from football after suffering another shoulder injury. BYU will be out for some revenge after getting pounded at home, 54–10, last season by its hated rivals from Salt Lake City.
Sam Houston State at No. 38 Baylor
Sam Houston State is 1–0 with a 54–7 win over Incarnate Word. I don’t think Incarnate Word is very good.
Western Illinois at No. 39 Iowa State
Iowa State will be halfway to bowl-eligibility after beating Western Illinois on Saturday. But then the fun begins — a stretch of nine straight Big 12 games.
Iowa State 37-7
No. 40 Ohio at No. 92 Marshall
There was no letdown for Ohio last week after its big win at Penn State on opening day. The Bobcats rolled past New Mexico State 51–24. Their third win should come this Saturday in Huntington.
No. 119 South Alabama at No. 41 NC State
NC State gutted out a 10–7 win at Connecticut last week, but the Wolfpack have to be a bit worried about an offense that picked up only 258 yards.
NC State 41-10
No. 61 Utah State at No. 43 Wisconsin
One team is fresh off one of its best wins in school history. The other must regroup after a surprising loss on the road. Utah State snapped a 12-game losing streak to hated rival Utah, knocking off the Utes, 27–20, in overtime Friday night. I smell upset.
Utah State 24-23
No. 66 UL-Monroe at No. 44 Auburn
This game Saturday features one of the nation’s hottest quarterbacks (Kolton Browning) vs. one of the most maligned (Kiehl Frazier). Browning, a former 3-star recruit (Scout) who had no BCS offers, threw for 412 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 69 more and one score in the Warhawks’ thrilling overtime win at Arkansas last weekend. Meanwhile, Frazier, a consensus top-100 national recruit two years ago, is struggling mightily in his first season as the starter.
No. 77 Boston College at No. 45 Northwestern
Northwestern in the only school from an AQ conference to open the season with three non-league games vs. AQ conference opponents. The Wildcats beat the first two, Syracuse and Vanderbilt, and should make it No. 3 on Saturday.
Delaware State at No. 49 Cincinnati
Munchie Legaux was outstanding in the Bearcats’ Week 2 win over Pittsburgh, throwing for 205 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 117 yards on only six carries. Expect more fireworks this week.
No. 116 New Mexico at No. 50 Texas Tech
Texas Tech’s soft early season schedule continues with a visit from New Mexico, which lost 45–0 at Texas last week. The Lobos completed only six passes vs. the Longhorns.
Texas Tech 41-14
Presbyterian at No. 51 Vanderbilt
The Commodores have held leads in the fourth quarter in both games this season but have nothing to show for it. They will break into the win column this Saturday.
Charleston Southern at No. 52 Illinois
Charleston Southern is 0–2 and has lost its two games by a total of 56 points. Illinois has some issues, but the Fighting Illini will roll.
Northern Iowa at No. 55 Iowa
Iowa is one of only three teams nationally that has played two games but scored only one touchdown. The Hawkeyes also rank in a tie for second with six field goals.
No. 111 Eastern Michigan at No. 56 Purdue
Purdue fell short last week at Notre Dame, losing 20–17 on a late field goal, but the Boilermakers will be a tough out in the Big Ten. This is team that is capable of winning eight games.
Bethune-Cookman at No. 57 Miami (Fla.)
The Hurricanes have given up 84 points in two games this season. The 2001 Canes, who won the national title, gave up 117 for the entire season.
No. 71 Navy at No. 58 Penn State
Bill O’Brien is still searching for his first win as the head coach at Penn State. He should find it this weekend.
Penn State 17-13
No. 59 Louisiana Tech at No. 83 Rice
Louisiana Tech gave up 693 yards last week yet still beat Houston thanks to an offense that scored 56 points and rolled up 598 yards. It will be a surprise if the Bulldogs don’t top 500 yards against Rice.
Louisiana Tech 44-20
Stony Brook at No. 60 Syracuse
Ryan Nassib has thrown for a total of 804 yards and six touchdowns in two games, but the Orange have yet to win a game. They lost to Northwestern 42–41 at home and then dropped a 42–29 decision to USC at the Meadowlands.
No. 63 UConn at No. 79 Maryland
It’s the highly anticipated Randy Edsall bowl. The not-so-popular head coach went 74–70 in 12 years at Connecticut before bolting for his “dream job” at Maryland. Things haven’t gone so well in College Park, where Edsall has a 4–10 record through the second week of the 2012 season.
No. 76 Western Michigan at No. 64 Minnesota
This is a good measuring stick for Minnesota. We think the Gophers are improved, but this will be a nice test. Western Michigan is good enough to win this game if Jerry Kill’s club doesn’t play well.
No. 102 Western Kentucky at No. 67 Kentucky
After losing its first two games in the series by an average of 36.5 points (in ’08 and ’10), Western Kentucky made the boys from Big State U sweat in last season’s opener played in Nashville. The final score was 14–3, but Kentucky didn’t put the game away until the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
No. 86 Bowling Green at No. 68 Toledo
Toledo bounced back from a tough overtime loss at Arizona to defeat a solid Wyoming club 34–31 on the road. Bowling Green unexpectedly struggled with Idaho (the Falcons won 21–13) after giving Florida trouble in Week 1.
No. 87 FIU at No. 69 UCF
FIU has been a disappointment through the first two games of the season. The Golden Panthers were blown out at Duke by 20 (and Duke went on to lose badly at Stanford) and then had to go to overtime to beat Akron at home.
North Carolina Central at No. 73 Duke
Duke expected to be a bit more competitive last week at Stanford, but the Blue Devils were soundly beaten (50–13) in Palo Alto. They threw for 363 yards but managed only 37 rushing yards.
No. 81 East Carolina at No. 74 Southern Miss
We still don’t know too much about this Southern Miss team. The Golden Eagles have only played once and gave up 632 yards en route to a 49–20 loss at Nebraska.
Southern Miss 34-28
Nicholls State at No. 75 Tulsa
Nichols State picked up a grand total of 118 yards in its only game this season, a 9–3 loss at South Alabama. This will get out of hand very early.
No. 82 Northern Illinois at No. 97 Army
Northern Illinois isn’t usually known for its defense, but the Huskies have only given up two touchdowns in two games this season — an 18–17 loss to Iowa in Chicago and a 35–7 win over Tennessee-Martin.
Northern Illinois 31-13
No. 110 Colorado at No. 85 Fresno State
The optimist points to the fact that Colorado has lost its two games — vs. Colorado State in Denver and Sacramento State at home — by a total of five points. The realist points to the fact that Colorado is not good at football.
Fresno State 30-17
No. 114 New Mexico State at No. 88 UTEP
UTEP is struggling to score points. The Miners have one offensive touchdown and are averaging 283.0 yards per game. It might be time to panic if they have trouble scoring this weekend.
No. 107 Colorado State at No. 89 San Jose State
Colorado State’s Week 1 win over rival Colorado was followed up by a sobering 22–7 loss at home to North Dakota State. San Jose State continues to improve under third-year coach Mike MacIntyre. This is a game the Spartans should win.
San Jose State 24-13
No. 104 Ball State at No. 91 Indiana
I realize that Ball State beat IU on a neutral field last year, but it has to be alarming for Kevin Wilson that his team is only a three-point favorite at home to a middle-of-the-pack (at best) team from the MAC.
North Dakota at No. 94 San Diego State
Ryan Katz, a former starter at Oregon State, is off to a solid start in his only season with the Aztecs. He has completed 24-of-40 passes for 343 yards and two scores and has added 86 yards rushing.
San Diego State 33-10
Cal Poly at No. 95 Wyoming
Wyoming let one get away last week in a loss at home to Toledo. Those are the type of games the Cowboys need to win to reach a bowl game.
Lamar at No. 108 Hawaii
Hawaii makes its home debut with native Hawaiian Norm Chow as the head coach. The Warriors lost in Week 1 at USC, 49–10.
Morgan State at No. 120 Akron
Akron showed significant improvement from Week 1 to Week 2. After losing at home 56–14 to UCF, the Zips took FIU to overtime before losing 41–38 on the road. This week, Terry Bowden’s club will break through.
No. 118 Middle Tennessee at No. 122 Memphis
For the second straight week, Middle Tennessee is involved in a game that features two of the worst 10 teams in the nation (according to our rankings). Unlike last week, the Blue Raiders won’t win.
Last week: 52–17
— By Mitch Light