College Football Predictions: Picking the Top 25 Games
Nineteen undefeated teams in the Top 25 remain unbeaten this week, and 16 of those teams will be putting their unblemished record on the line. In the first week of conference play, some teams have a chance to get a huge edge going into conference play.
We have huge rivalries (OU vs. Texas), sure blowouts (LA Monroe vs. Auburn), and multiple Top 10 matchups. Don't miss any of this weekend's actions, and here is a guide to who you can expect to win these games.
(25) Nevada @ UNLV
While the Running Rebels have played a tough schedule thus far, they didn't hang around in games against Wisconsin and Utah. They also lost to Idaho, and their only win is over winless New Mexico, so you can see why UNLV fans shouldn't expect much this week.
Nevada is one of the surprise teams of this young football season, and through four games they have looked fantastic. While Nevada hasn't played the toughest of schedules, it's always impressive to be sixth in the nation in rushing yards, averaging more than 286 per game. Nevada is also averaging an absurd 44.8 points per game, which is good for fifth in the nation.
Expect the Wolf Pack and the 1-2 Running back combo of Taua and Kaepernick that have combined to score 13 touchdowns to do more of the same as Nevada bowls over UNLV.
Final Score: Nevada 38, UNLV 17
Virginia Tech @ (23) North Carolina St.
Virginia Tech wants to prove itself after losing to James Madison earlier in the season, and not having a true test outside its loss to Boise State. Tyrod Taylor is one of the most exciting players in the country, and doubles at the Hokies leading passer and leader rusher for a total of five touchdowns, all of which are through the air.
The Virginia Tech defense, which didn't surrender a single point to Boston College last week, will have to step up big in this contest.
The Wolfpack are averaging just under 38 points in a game, in large part due to QB Russell Wilson. T.J. Graham has caught three of Russell's 11 touchdown passes, tripling Graham's total for his career. If North Carolina St. wants to be competitive in this game, they'll have to continue to take care of the ball and play tough defense.
Final Score: Virginia Tech 24, N.C. St 17
(19) Michigan @ Indiana
In a battle of undefeated teams Denard Robinson and Michigan come in with a much greater swagger than the Hoosiers. Robinson, who tweaked a knee in last week's win over Bowling Green. Through three games and a quarter, Robinson has been dominant, throwing for four touchdowns and rushing for six more. If Robinson continues his one man circus act, he'll lead Michigan to more W's and grab the Heisman.
The Hoosiers are undefeated but have faced a terribly weak schedule, playing only Towson, Western Kentucky, and Akron. The running game hasn't exactly been great, averaging only 113 yards per game, but the passing game has looked excellent. Ben Chappell has completed over 70 percent of his passes for nine touchdowns and no interceptions.
The Hoosiers aren't going to be able to keep up with Robinson's untied shoes and the Wolverines, so I don't expect much of a contest.
Final Score: Michigan 35, Indiana 14
Washington @ (18) USC
Jake Locker has been a huge disappointment so far this season, and so have the Washington Huskies. The Huskies are 1-2, but looked downright pitiful in a home loss to Nebraska two Saturdays ago. Jake Locker completed 4 passes in 20 attempts, unless you count the 2 that he threw to Nebraska defenders. If the Huskies want to stay in this game, then they will rely on Locker taking care of the ball.
The USC Trojans don't have much to play for outside of their own pride, as they are not allowed to go to a bowl game this year. USC is coming off a week in which they rolled over Washington St., and must make sure they don't look past this week to Stanford after that. The Huskies will be fresh and prepared for the Trojans as they come off of their bye week, but will that be enough to stop a team with more talent and better athletes?
The Huskies will come out ready to play, but they'll be able to do nothing more than keep it close. USC should stay undefeated for another week as they move on to play Stanford.
Final Score- USC- 31- Washington 24
(22) Penn State @ (17) Iowa
Joe Paterno will be leading his Nittany Lions into a hostile environment when they travel into Iowa City, Iowa. Penn State has only faced stiff competition one time and when they did, Alabama dominated them. Freshman QB Robert Bolden has thrown for only three touchdowns and five picks. If Penn State wants to win this one, its young QB needs to grow up and take care of the ball.
Iowa, which ranks fifth in points allowed, will have its work cut out with Penn State. In their biggest game of the year, the Hawkeyes came up short, losing to Arizona, 34-27. Adam Robinson has run 70 times, averaging 5.5 yards per carry and getting into the end zone six times.
In the battle of Top 10 defenses, we'll have to see which offense can elevate its game enough to carry there team to a win.
Final Score: Penn State 17, Iowa 14
(16) Miami @ Clemson
Which Jacory Harris is going to show up for The U? The answer to that question will determine the outcome of this game. If Harris comes out, takes care of the ball, and runs the Canes offense, then they'll be fine. However, if Harris plays at all like he did against Ohio State, he'll be throwing Miami right out of the game. There is a lot of pressure on his shoulders. The Canes defense has the ability to keep them in the game, holding the opposition to just 13 points per game.
Clemson is coming in off a bye week, after a tough loss to Auburn the week before. The Tigers should be prepared and know exactly what the Hurricanes will throw out them and how to give Harris fits. On offense, sophomore Andre Ellington is averaging 7.4 yards per carry and has scored four touchdowns through three games. The Tigers will no doubt be ready when the Canes come marching in.
With two weeks to prepare, I expect the Tigers, led by QB Kyle Parker to rattle Jacory Harris and snag a win in Death Valley.
Final Score: Miami 24, Clemson 27
Tennessee @ (12) LSU
The Volunteers have struggled mightily under first-year coach Derek Dooley, but have managed to stay at 2-2. After losing to Oregon and then Florida, the Vols snuck by UAB in overtime. For the Vols to win they'll need junior QB Matt Simms to play like he did against UAB, when he threw three touchdowns and no interceptions. He can't play like he did against Oregon and Florida, in which he threw a combined two touchdowns and three interceptions.
The Tigers are off to a hot 4-0 start including wins over a depleted North Carolina, and last week over West Virginia. The passing game has been anemic, throwing for only 110 yards per game, so the Tigers have had to rely on the run and their superb defense. The Tigers have seven touchdowns on the ground and the defense has six interceptions.
When the Vols roll into Death Valley, expect quarterback Matt Simms to be rattled by a great Tigers secondary. If LSU takes care of the ball it will be no contest.
Final Score: Tennessee 9, LSU 24
(11) Wisconsin @ (24) Michigan State
The Wisconsin Badgers could very well be the most dangerous team in the Big Ten this year. The Badgers look to have their starting receivers back out together for the first time this season, giving Scott Tolzien even more targets to throw to. The Badgers are 10th in the nation in rushing yards with over 250 a game, and have scored 14 touchdowns on the ground. If their running game keeps going, they'll be tough for anyone to beat.
The Spartans have given up an average of 85.3 yards per game on the ground, so something has to give. If the Spartans want to win, they'll have to keep their 17th ranked run game chugging, which has netted them 12 touchdowns. Quarterback Kirk Cousins has also played well, completing 67 percent of his passes for six touchdowns.
I'm calling for the upset in this Top 25 battle, and I think that Michigan State will pull out a W partially because of the home field advantage in East Lansing.
Final Score: Wisconsin 10, Michigan State 14
Louisiana Monroe @ (10) Auburn
ULM is 1-2 with its one win coming over Southeastern Louisiana. Kolton Browning, the Warhawks QB has thrown an equal number of touchdowns and interceptions, 4, and they've only punched it in two times on the ground.
Cam Newton has led this Auburn Tigers team to an electrifying start, winning close games over Mississippi State, Clemson, and South Carolina over the last three weeks. The Tigers quarterback is a duel threat, leading the team in passing and rushing for a combined 14 touchdowns.
This game won't even be close, and Cam Newton will run all over a weak Louisiana Monroe team.
Final Score: Louisiana Monroe 7, Auburn 42
(21) Texas Vs. (8) Oklahoma
The Longhorns come into the 105th edition of the Red River Rivalry after getting a big-time wake up call from UCLA. The Bruins threw just nine times total, but still managed to run past, through, and around the Longhorn D. If they want a chance to win this game, they'll have to play hard nosed defense, take care of the ball, and see a little improvement out of Garrett Gilbert, who has thrown four touchdowns and four interceptions.
The Sooners escaped with a win at Cincinnati, but outside of their rout of Florida State haven't looked overly impressive. They are 4-0, but need to improve drastically on defense. The Sooners have given up over 400 yards per game in every game except their beatdown of Florida State. The Sooners offense has been superb with Landry Jones throwing for nine touchdowns and DeMarco Murray running for seven more.
Look for the Longhorns to roll into Dallas and give the Sooners a wake up call of their own. I believe Garrett Gilbert will have his best game of the year, and sneak the Longhorns right past the Sooners.
Final Score: Texas 35, Oklahoma 28
(5) TCU @ Colorado State
TCU has looked like a Top Five team through four games this season, and that's exactly the ranking they've got. Andy Dalton has completed 69 percent of his passes and five touchdowns. Dalton, however, can beat you with his feet, also running the ball into the end zone three times, adding to the team total of 18 rushing touchdowns. TCU has outscored opponents 44.5 to 15.5 on average and look for that difference to grow this week.
Colorado St. has one win by a total of two points over Idaho, and there is no reason to think that will change this week. Quarterback Pete Thomas has thrown for bunches of yards, but also bunches of interceptions (seven). There isn't much else to say about Colorado State except they are completely outclassed in this one.
The Horned Frogs will move to 5-0 on their quest for another BCS bowl, and Colorado State will put up minimal resistance.
Final Score: TCU 52, Colorado State 13
(9) Stanford @ (4) Oregon
The Stanford Cardinal have gone from unranked afterthought to Pac-10 title contender. However, this week will be the toughest test that they have encountered. Quarterback Andrew Luck has put himself into Heisman contention by passing for nearly 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns. Luck also gets it done on the ground, averaging 9.6 yards per carry and scoring once on the ground. The rest of the Stanford backfield has done a great job filling in for Toby Gerhart, combining for 10 more touchdowns.
The Oregon Ducks are averaging an unheard of 57.8 points per game, which was brought severely down by their 42-point performance against Arizona State. The Ducks have a Heisman candidate of their own in rBack LaMichael James, who is averaging nearly eight yards per carry, and has scored four times. Look for James to get a ton of carries as the Ducks face their toughest challenge of the season.
The game being in Eugene is a great reason to go with the Ducks and that's exactly what I'll do. After Oregon wins this game they'll have a leg up in the race to the Pac-10 championship and a shot at the national title game.
Final Score: Stanford 27, Oregon 35
(3) Boise State @ New Mexico State
Boise State has survived its early season tests in Virginia Tech and Oregon State, and now on to a weak conference schedule. As the Broncos go to face New Mexico State, look for star quarterback and Heisman hopeful Kellen Moore to add to his total of eight touchdowns. Don't be surprised if many of Moore's TD passes go to one of his favorite targets Austin Pettis, who has caught four of the touchdowns Moore has thrown.
New Mexico State is 0-3, and they haven't even lost to anybody that is good. Their offense is downright pitiful only having scored six touchdowns through three games, and their defense isn't much better as they are giving up 41.7 points per game.
Boise State could look past the Aggies and come in and win this game based simply off athleticism and talent.
Final Score: Boise State 56, New Mexico State 13
(2) Ohio St. @ Illinois
Ohio State has looked dominant in its early schedule, sputtering a little when they hit Miami but ultimately marching right through. Terrelle Pryor looks better than ever as a junior, completing 66 percent of his passes for 10 touchdowns while running 269 yards and three more scores. Pryor has been a one man show and his leading target at receiver has been Dane Sanzenbacher, who has caught 20 passes for over 300 yards and five scores.
The fighting Illini are 2-1 coming into this matchup losing to the lone team they've played from another power conference. If they want to win this game against Ohio State, they'll have to eliminate what plagued them so badly in that game against Mizzou, which is turnovers. They have turned the ball over seven times on the year, and as Miami proved, you cannot beat this Ohio State team if you don't value your possessions.
Pryor will continue his rampage of opposing defenses leaving a trail of Illinois players in his wake. If Illinois doesn't take care of the ball early on then this game has all the makings of a blowout.
Final Score: Ohio State 38, Illinois 13
(7) Florida @ (1) Alabama
The post-Tim Tebow era has gone fairly well thus far for the Gators, but they'll face the best team in the nation as they march into Alabama. Urban Meyer will have his guys ready to go, and expect some trickery out of the Gators. After Trey Burton scored a school record six touchdowns last week, look for him to line up at QB and a little at WR. The Gators will have to maximize their every possession and make sure not to give the Tide any extra possessions.
Alabama came back in a thriller against Arkansas last week and will again play in the most high profile game of the week. Nick Saban will have his defense geared up and ready to go, and on offense they'll have no problems as long as Mark Ingram is in the backfield.
The 1-2 punch of Ingram and Richardson have combined for 664 yards and eight touchdowns while being a stabilizing force for the Crimson Tide's offense. Alabama will need Greg McElroy to take care of the ball, just like he did in the fourth quarter against Arkansas.
Ingram, Richardson, and the Alabama defense will be too much to handle as the Tide keeps on rolling.
Final Score: Florida 17, Alabama 27