College football is back, and the competition off the field is nearly as heated as the competition on game day.
The Athlon Sports College Football Experts Club presented by Nexium & Advil gives you the chance to compete with your friends and our experts each week.
Here are this week’s top picks from Athlon Sports senior writer David Fox:
USF at Florida State
USF won six total games in 2013-14 by a combined margin of 26 points. The Bulls beat Florida A&M in their opener by 48. They’re better, but not good enough to challenge Florida State.
Fox’s pick: Florida State 42–14
Oregon State at Michigan
The loss to Utah revealed Michigan still has a host of problems on offense. Oregon State is in even deeper trouble than Michigan.
Fox’s pick: Michigan 28-14
Buffalo at Penn State
Penn State’s offensive line can’t get much worse than last week’s 10-sack effort against Temple. Then again, we said that about the offensive line last season. Buffalo has a solid veteran quarterback who will make this closer than it should be.
Fox’s pick: Penn State 21–17
Wake Forest at Syracuse
Syracuse quarterback Terrell Hunt is out for the season with a torn Achilles. He’ll be replaced by a freshman. In a matchup of the two worst teams in the ACC, that’s huge.
Fox’s pick: Wake Forest 24–17
Notre Dame at Virginia
The start of Virginia’s schedule may be tougher than the Cavaliers anticipated as UCLA’s Josh Rosen and Notre Dame’s Malik Zaire quickly take charger of their respective quarterback positions. The Cavs will look to shut down Notre Dame’s weakened run game, but the Irish defense could be dominant.
Fox’s pick: Notre Dame 31–13
Hawaii at Ohio State
The Buckeyes get Joey Bosa, Jalin Mashall, Corey Smith and Dontre Wilson back from suspension. Good luck, Hawaii.
Fox’s pick: Ohio State 49–10
Tulane at Georgia Tech
Don’t overthink it: Georgia Tech won its opener 69–6. Tulane lost its opener 37–7.
Fox’s pick: Georgia Tech 41–14
Georgia at Vanderbilt
Georgia lost in its last road trip to Vanderbilt 31–27, a game that seems like it was eons ago. Derek Mason’s involvement on defense may have improved that side of the ball, but the offense can’t get out of its own way.
Fox’s pick: Georgia 31–10
Fresno State at Ole Miss
This isn’t a vintage Fresno State team, but the Bulldogs are still much better than the team Ole Miss beat by 73 last week. Fresno presents a tougher test for Rebels quarterback Chad Kelly, but one he should pass.
Fox’s pick: Ole Miss 42–7
Middle Tennessee at Alabama
Alabama demolished Wisconsin on both sides of the ball in the run game and the quarterback play was efficient. Oh no, says the rest of the SEC.
Fox’s pick: Alabama 42–10
Iowa at Iowa State
The rivalry game actually carries some weight for the respective futures of coaches Kirk Ferentz and Paul Rhoads. Iowa has a big-time defensive difference maker in Drew Ott and the makings of a competent offense. Edge: Hawkeyes.
Fox’s pick: Iowa 34–21
San Diego State at Cal
Rocky Long’s defense is always tricky for opposing quarterbacks — the Aztecs had five interceptions against San Diego in the opener. It’s an interesting matchup between the Aztecs’ D and quarterback Jared Goff, but Cal should come out on top.
Fox’s pick: Cal 41–24
Oklahoma at Tennessee
Tennessee’s looking to make a big-time statement, but the Volunteers might not have the depth in the secondary to pull it off. Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield was that impressive in Week 1.
Fox’s pick: Oklahoma 38–28
East Carolina at Florida
The Gators will face the Pirates for the second time in three games, winning the first matchup 28–20 in the Birmingham Bowl. This time around, Florida has a coach who hasn’t been fired and East Carolina doesn’t have Shane Carden or Justin Hardy.
Fox’s pick: Florida 38–14
Arizona at Nevada
Arizona’s defense was lost once Scooby Wright went down last week against UTSA. The Wildcats will need to learn to live without him for the next few weeks.
Fox’s pick: Arizona 35–24
Kentucky at South Carolina
The South Carolina defense would like to replicate last week’s key stats — three interceptions, four sacks — against Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles. The Wildcats, though, have the balanced attack that could give South Carolina trouble.
Fox’s pick: South Carolina 31–27
Oregon at Michigan State
Both defenses gave their fans reason to worry in matchups with directional schools — Oregon against Eastern Washington and Michigan State against Western Michigan. Michigan State over time has shown more reason for us to believe in the Spartans. New Ducks QB Vernon Adams had a nice debut, but Connor Cook is playing the part of a trusty veteran who has been in the system for four years.
Fox’s pick: Michigan State 31–21
LSU at Mississippi State
Dak Prescott dominated in this game a year ago and will need to do so again, given Mississippi State’s personnel losses on offense since last season. LSU’s opener was cut short and canceled. Is that an edge for Mississippi State or LSU? We say Mississippi State.
Fox’s pick: Mississippi State 24–17
Boise State at BYU
BYU moves on with Tanner Mangum at quarterback. Boise State may be the more complete team, but the Broncos can’t afford their offense to stall in the second half like it did last week.
Fox’s pick: Boise State 24–17
UCLA at UNLV
UCLA’s quarterback was in high school this time last year. So was UNLV’s head coach. Other than that, the two teams don’t have a ton of similarities.
Fox’s pick: UCLA 42–20
Last week: 15–5
Season to date: 15–5