Hello all, it's CFF back again for the 2010 season with more predictions for each week's games. I've had a lot of fun doing this the few times before and I hope to make this a weekly column posted each Wednesday.
With that said, it's time to get into my predictions for this week's games featuring Top 25 teams and a select few outside the Top 25 that are the most interesting to the general public and myself.
Thursday, September 9th
#21 Auburn (1-0, 0-0) at Mississippi State (1-0, 0-0); 7:30 PM ET/6:30 PM CT, ESPN (HD)
Point Spread: Auburn -2
The last time Gene Chizik's Tigers made the trip to Starkville, they won one of the ugliest games in the modern history of college football, a 3-2 slugfest in which the two teams combined to go 3-for-30 on third down conversions. Hopefully for all viewers of college football (and those of us who like defense but don't like it that much), this game will be somewhat different.
For myself, though, I see a tight, somewhat defensive game in which Auburn does end up on top. Don't expect it to be too pretty, but a win is a win.
Prediction: Auburn 23, Mississippi State 17
Friday, September 10th
#23 West Virginia (1-0, 0-0) at Marshall (0-1, 0-0); 7:00 PM ET/6:00 PM CT, ESPN (HD)
Point Spread: West Virginia -13
These two teams from the (occasionally) great state of West Virginia met for the first time in 92 years in 2007. The game is played for the Friends of the Coal Bowl Trophy, taking note of West Virginia's rich coal mining history.
While Marshall is a fantastic team at Joan C. Edwards Stadium (43-15 there over the past ten years), West Virginia has far too much talent for the Thundering Herd to pull off the upset. It might be close for a quarter or two, but the Mountaineers will have little trouble in this one.
Point Spread: West Virginia 35, Marshall 14
Saturday, September 11th
#22 Georgia (1-0, 0-0) at #24 South Carolina (1-0, 0-0); 12:00 PM ET/11:00 AM CT, ESPN2 (HD)
Point Spread: South Carolina -3
Upon reviewing this week's TV schedule for college football, I came upon this game, featured on ESPN2, and another game, San Jose State vs. Wisconsin, which, somehow, deserves to be on ESPN instead of the Big Ten Network.
My question: why?
You pick the surefire blowout to be on ESPN and leave a much better game in terms of opponents and quality for ESPN2? One plus comes out of it, though: I don't have to listen to Bob Griese.
Anyway, on to the game. I've been wondering if Mark Richt really needs this game to continue to satisfy Bulldogs fans. Steve Spurrier doesn't need it - he pretty much has an open invitation to coach at South Carolina until he retires. But is this a game Mark Richt has to win to get the ball rolling for his team?
I know I've got South Carolina racking up a good amount of points in this game. However, don't believe all of those are coming from Stephen Garcia's arm; Marcus Lattimore will have a good day and the defense should be able to contain Aaron Murray.
Prediction: South Carolina 31, Georgia 21
#15 Georgia Tech (1-0, 0-0) at Kansas (0-1, 0-0); 12:00 PM ET/11:00 AM CT, FOX Sports Net (HD)
Point Spread: Georgia Tech -14
Georgia Tech looks like they have another great team once again behind the work of a mad genius, Paul Johnson. Kansas, however, is a mess and quite a large one at that. Losing to North Dakota State (2009 NCAA Tournament revenge?) isn't exactly the best way to start off your tenure at Kansas if you're Turner Gill.
Will Kansas play better this week? Yes. Will they win this game? No. While Georgia Tech's offense might not be quite what it was last season, the defense is improved and will shut down a Kansas offense that had little life on the ground last week.
Prediction: Georgia Tech 27, Kansas 10
San Jose State (0-1, 0-0) at #11 Wisconsin (1-0, 0-0); 12:00 PM ET/11:00 AM CT, ESPN (HD)
Point Spread: Wisconsin -38
I just thought of San Jose State possibly reverting to 2006 form and playing Wisconsin well. Then I started laughing.
Prediction: Wisconsin 49, San Jose State 3
South Florida (1-0, 0-0) at #8 Florida (1-0, 0-0); 12:21 PM ET/11:21 AM CT, SEC Network
Point Spread: Florida -15
These two teams have faced a lot of uncertainty as of late: South Florida on how to move on after Jim Leavitt's firing and Florida's utterly awful showing against Miami (Ohio) last week. While USF has replaced Jim Leavitt with an excellent coach in Skip Holtz, Florida has a lot of questions to answer against the Bulls.
As long as Mike Pouncey doesn't screw up fifteen snaps again this week, Florida should be able to win this. However, anything can happen.
Prediction: Florida 42, South Florida 17
Idaho (1-0, 0-0) at #6 Nebraska (1-0, 0-0); 12:30 PM ET/11:30 AM CT, PPV
Point Spread: Nebraska -28
I think Robb Akey should've won the Coach of the Year Award last season. Idaho (the university, not the state) isn't exactly known for its football prowess; the Vandals had a total of nine wins in the previous four seasons before going 8-5 last year with a thrilling 43-42 Humanitarian Bowl victory over Bowling Green.
However, the team won't quite be what they were on offense last season. They only return four starters from an offense that scored 33 points per game last year. However, senior quarterback Nathan Enderle is back and so is an offense that is now full of seniority (only one starter on the offense is not at least a junior). The defense returns ten starters, which, depending on how you look at it, might not be so good, as the defense allowed 36 points per game last season.
All of this adds up to a team that may not return to a bowl game. However, don't put them down, even if they're going up against a Nebraska team that looks like it's finally found a quarterback in Taylor Martinez. Nebraska should be able to win this handily.
Prediction: Nebraska 44, Idaho 10
James Madison (1-0) at #13 Virginia Tech (0-1, 0-0); 1:30 PM ET/12:30 PM CT, ESPN3.com
Point Spread: No line
Snooze. Maybe Virginia Tech will take out their anger on poor James Madison.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 52, James Madison 7
Game of the Week: #12 Miami (FL) (1-0, 0-0) at #2 Ohio State (1-0, 0-0); 3:30 PM ET/2:30 PM CT, ESPN (HD)
Point Spread: Ohio State -9
Another questionable scheduling decision by ESPN: why isn't this on ABC instead of Florida State vs. Oklahoma? Come on, Bristol.
This is going to be a fantastic game, to say the least. The 2002 championship game between these two was an instant classic, even if it was fairly controversial.
This probably means more to Miami as, if they win, they would most likely jump into the top five or so of both major polls. Ohio State needs this win to continue their BCS National Championship dreams for 2010. I see them pulling this one out, but it'll be a high-quality matchup and it won't be easy.
Prediction: Ohio State 24, Miami 16
#17 Florida State (1-0, 0-0) at #10 Oklahoma (1-0, 0-0); 3:30 PM ET/2:30 PM CT, ABC (HD)
Point Spread: Oklahoma -7.5
Something is very, very wrong with Oklahoma's secondary. Giving up 341 yards to the arm of Utah State quarterback Diondre Borel proved this. Can all of the problems be fixed in one week? No. Can they be patched up enough to have a winnable game against Florida State? Possibly.
Christian Ponder is being looked at by many as a candidate for the Heisman Trophy this year; before his injury late last season, he was having a wonderful year. He should have a good day for FSU as they pull the slight upset in this one - one week isn't enough to repair what looks to be a bad Oklahoma secondary.
Prediction: Florida State 34, Oklahoma 28
UNLV (0-1, 0-0) at #20 Utah (1-0, 0-0); 4:00 PM ET/3:00 PM CT, MTN (HD)
Point Spread: Utah -22
In literally no way is this related to this game alone, but why is everyone treating Utah beating Pittsburgh as a major upset? ESPN seemed serious when they discussed whether Utah over Pitt or Jacksonville State over Ole Miss was a bigger upset. They do know Utah was a three-point favorite and Jacksonville State was a four-touchdown underdog, right?
Prediction: Utah 45, UNLV 17
#7 Oregon (1-0, 0-0) at Tennessee (1-0, 0-0); 7:00 PM ET/6:00 PM CT, ESPN2 (HD)
Point Spread: Oregon -12
Let's set this straight: I am a Tennessee fan. I wear orange (and Michigan blue/maize) every Saturday. I root nonstop for my team, regardless of if they're a 40 point favorite or a 30 point underdog.
But they're not going to win this game.
Oregon is too fast, too talented, and, essentially, too good for Tennessee to pull off the upset. Tennessee will keep it close because Justin Wilcox has Oregon's offense completely figured out, but Tennessee's speed isn't what Boise State's is.
Prediction: Oregon 27, Tennessee 17
#18 Penn State (1-0, 0-0) at #1 Alabama (1-0, 0-0); 7:00 PM ET/6:00 PM CT, ESPN (HD)
Point Spread: Alabama -12
Before the season, I personally predicted Alabama would win this by two touchdowns. Even with Mark Ingram out, they should be able to do this. I won't delve to deeply into this one, but it features two of the best coaches in college football (Joe Paterno and Nick Saban) and two schools rich in football history. If this was played last season, it would've been one of the best games of the year. Unfortunately, it's 2010, and Penn State probably won't be quite as good as usual.
Prediction: Alabama 24, Penn State 10
Louisiana-Monroe (0-0, 0-0) at #14 Arkansas (1-0, 0-0); 7:00 PM ET/6:00 PM CT, FOX Sports South/SUN Sports (HD)
Point Spread: Arkansas -34
What to make of the Arkansas Razorbacks? The way their fans talk, you'd believe they were the greatest team in the land; however, there's a giant hole in the defense called...well, their defense. It's just not good at all. None of this should cause a problem against an obviously overmatched Louisiana-Monroe team, though.
Prediction: Arkansas 54, Louisiana-Monroe 13
Wyoming (1-0, 0-0) at #5 Texas (1-0, 0-0); 7:00 PM ET/6:00 PM CT, FOX Sports Net (HD)
Point Spread: Texas -28.5
True story: I just can't bring myself to root for any team named the Cowboys. I've always hated Dallas because of the whole "America's Team" thing and all of the "How about them Cowboys!" garbage. Half of their fans are bandwagoners if not more. They haven't been America's "team" for twenty years.
Then there's the Oklahoma State Cowboys. One of the worst experiences as a fan thus far was watching Tennessee play like they had all season long and forget to play defense against what (to be fair) was a strong Oklahoma State team, losing on a last-second score. Go back to the previous year's team and Tennessee could've destroyed them. I don't need any reminders of that game.
Finally, the Wyoming Cowboys. The purveyors of one of the worst football-related experiences in my entire life. Listening (I wasn't going to pay 30 dollars to watch the second-worst Tennessee team in history play Wyoming) to Tennessee lose a game at home on homecoming in which they were four-touchdown favorites had me in a lousy mood for nearly a month afterwards.
Wyoming even fired Joe Glenn after that season. Ugh.
Prediction: Texas 49, Wyoming 10
#19 LSU (1-0, 0-0) at Vanderbilt (0-1, 0-0); 7:00 PM ET/6:00 PM CT, ESPNU (HD)
Point Spread: LSU -9.5
Good grief, could there possibly be two more depressed fanbases heading into Week Two? LSU fans, after watching their team have another late-game implosion under Les Miles, can't be too confident about the rest of the season. Many fans I've talked to see this season as a seven or eight win season now.
Vanderbilt fans got screwed out of what possibly could've been a good home win against Northwestern by a horrible officiating call. Sad to say, Northwestern was one of the highlights on their schedule. Who will they beat now? Eastern Michigan? Wake Forest? I can't see them beating UConn or Ole Miss. Probably not Tennessee? Kentucky would be a possibility, but they look like a potential bowl team this season.
Are there any real winners in this game? Vanderbilt could play a fantastic game and still lose this, just because Vanderbilt has found millions of ways to lose games. The Commodores usually get up for big games; they'll want this one badly, but LSU will find a way to hold them off.
Prediction: LSU 27, Vanderbilt 24
Tennessee Tech (0-1) vs. #4 TCU (1-0, 0-0); 7:00 PM ET/6:00 PM CT
Point Spread: No line
Prediction: TCU 55, Tennessee Tech 0
#25 Stanford (1-0, 0-0) at UCLA (0-1, 0-0); 10:30 PM ET/9:30 PM CT, ESPN (HD)
Point Spread: Stanford -6
Isn't it about time UCLA actually started to make progress under Rick Neuheisel? Yeah, they went to a bowl game last year, but they beat Temple. And this was after Temple blew a 21-7 lead because Bernard Pierce was lost to injury.
Stanford should win this, but I wouldn't rule out a surprise UCLA victory.
Prediction: Stanford 28, UCLA 17
Virginia (1-0, 0-0) at #16 USC (1-0, 0-0); 10:30 PM ET/9:30 PM CT, FOX Sports Net (HD)
Point Spread: USC -19.5
It's probably for the best that USC doesn't play anyone with a true pulse on offense until their game against Washington on October 2nd; they need all the help they can get after that Hawaii game.
Prediction: USC 38, Virginia 7
Games Outside the Top 25 You Should Watch
UTEP (1-0, 0-0) at Houston (1-0, 0-0); 10:15 PM ET/9:15 PM CT, ESPN (HD)
Point Spread: Houston -20
Neither team has a defense. Both teams have an offense, and great ones at that. Expect this to be a very high-scoring affair.
Prediction: Houston 48, UTEP 34
Colorado (1-0, 0-0) at California (1-0, 0-0); 3:30 PM ET/2:30 PM CT, FOX Sports Net (HD)
Point Spread: California -8.5
Both teams have a lot to prove this year. Dan Hawkins is fighting for his job. Cal will win this, but Colorado has to play a good game to feel good about the rest of their season. They won't.
Prediction: California 30, Colorado 14
Michigan (1-0, 0-0) at Notre Dame (1-0, 0-0); 3:30 PM ET/2:30 PM CT, NBC (HD)
Point Spread: Notre Dame -4
Finally, this rivalry matters again. This doesn't change the fact that I still hate Notre Dame, but at least Brian Kelly is a very likable coach. This will be high-scoring, and Denard Robinson will have another great game.
Prediction: Michigan 31, Notre Dame 28
BYU (1-0, 0-0) at Air Force (1-0, 0-0); 4:00 PM ET/3:00 PM CT, Versus (HD)
Point Spread: Air Force -1
This is probably a game for third place in the Mountain West. It may also be the last chance you'll get to see these two great programs play each other, though, as BYU is becoming an independent. Expect what could be a Mountain West classic as BYU squeaks out a close one on a late field goal.
Prediction: BYU 24, Air Force 23
Troy (1-0, 0-0) at Oklahoma State (1-0, 0-0); 7:00 PM ET/6:00 PM CT
Point Spread: Oklahoma State -13.5
Call me crazy. Call me insane. Call me stupid.
I just can't get past the fact that this game looks so much like Houston-Oklahoma State did last year to me. I'm going with Troy in an upset.
Prediction: Troy 27, Oklahoma State 24
Syracuse (1-0, 0-0) at Washington (0-1, 0-0); 7:00 PM ET/6:00 PM CT
Point Spread: Washington -13.5
This could be a huge letdown game at home against what looks like a Syracuse team on the rise. Syracuse might not be in a bowl game this season, but a five win season is very realistic and a bowl game could happen next year. Washington has to deal with the disappointment of not getting revenge and not picking up what could've been a quality road win against BYU.
The Huskies come out on top, but it won't be their best game.
Prediction: Washington 30, Syracuse 24
Locks of the Week
- Taking the under in the Penn State-Alabama game (44 might be low, but neither team will do much on offense)
- Houston's Case Keenum will be responsible for five touchdowns or more against UTEP on Friday.
- Bob Davie still saying "footbaw" instead of "football"
Upset of the Week
Troy (+13.5) over Oklahoma State on Saturday.
Top 25 Team That Will Wreck My Predictions This Week
#17 Florida State, because ACC teams never play like I want them to and Willie Martinez might actually learn the term "defense" by Saturday.
Prediction Sure to be Wrong
The mighty Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles will put up a respectable effort against TCU on Saturday, only losing by 30.
Comments and questions are always welcome.