College Football Picks: Week 6 Predictions for Every Game

Brian Pedersen@realBJPFeatured ColumnistOctober 8, 2015

College Football Picks: Week 6 Predictions for Every Game

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    Michigan and Northwestern have the two stingiest defenses in the country heading into Week 6.
    Michigan and Northwestern have the two stingiest defenses in the country heading into Week 6.David Banks/Getty Images

    Conference play brings out the best (and worst) in teams, as we saw last week, as many of the biggest upsets involved teams from the same league. And with the vast majority of games on this week's college football schedule of the intra-conference variety, expect more surprising results.

    Though maybe not as many, since the Week 6 slate isn't nearly as thrilling as what we witnessed a week ago.

    There are only two matchups of Top 25 teams on Saturday, one in the Big Ten and another wrapping up the night out in the Pac-12. League play does dominate the weekend, as 49 of the 57 games are conference clashes, including the first Tuesday night game of the year on Oct. 13 featuring a pair of Sun Belt teams.

    We've made predictions for every game, providing analysis and insight into how the action should pan out. Check them out and give us your picks in the comments section.

    Rankings reflect those from the Associated Press Top 25.

    Last week's record: 43-17 (.717)

    Season: 274-75 (.785)

Duke at Army

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    Rob Brown/Associated Press

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; noon ET

    Last meeting: Trent Steelman threw two touchdown passes and ran for another in Army's 35-21 win at Duke in September 2010.

    What to watch for

    Duke (4-1) is 2-0 in the ACC after beating Boston College last week, 9-7. It was the first time the Blue Devils had won a game without a TD since 1978, as they only gained 228 yards and struggled mightily to run the ball. The defense has buoyed this team all year, ranking ninth overall and allowing only 3.01 yards per carry against the run.

    Army (1-4) has the nation's 10th-best rushing offense, at 287.8 yards per game, gaining 261 yards last week against Penn State's strong run defense in a 20-14 road loss. The Black Knights have lost five of their last six home games, including this season to Wake Forest and FCS school Fordham.

    Duke has had success against run-heavy teams this year, holding Georgia Tech's triple-option to 2.88 yards per carry two weeks ago. It will have a similar performance this week in a solid road victory.

    Prediction: Duke 24, Army 14

    FINAL: Duke 44, Army 3

New Mexico State at No. 14 Ole Miss

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; noon ET

    Last meeting: None

    What to watch for

    New Mexico State (0-4) has the fifth-worst defense in FBS, giving up 544 yards per game including 606 in a season-opening 61-13 loss at Florida. The Aggies are particularly bad defending the run, allowing 275.5 yards per game, yielding 401 at New Mexico last week while dropping their seventh straight road game and 14th straight overall.

    Ole Miss (4-1) came crashing back to Earth last week with a 38-10 loss at Florida in which it was held to season lows in points and yards (328). The Rebels turned it over four times, including three fumbles, and have given the ball away 10 times this year.

    Chad Kelly is averaging 295.6 passing yards per game, but his yards-per-attempt total has taken a dip over the past two weeks. Ole Miss' run game has dwindled, which has forced him to throw more, leading to reduced efficiency.

    Expect Jaylen Walton and other ball-carriers to get a lot of touches against NMSU's woeful run defense, as Ole Miss works on improving this part of its game for the stretch run. 

    Prediction: Ole Miss 67, New Mexico State 13

    FINAL: Ole Miss 52, New Mexico State 3

UTEP at Florida International

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    Michael Hickey/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; noon ET

    Last meeting: Nathan Jeffery had 130 rushing yards and two touchdowns in UTEP's 33-10 home win over Florida International in November 2013.

    What to watch for

    UTEP (2-3, 0-1 Conference USA) lost 25-6 to UTSA last week, its worst offensive performance at home since 2012. The Miners offense is not the same without Aaron Jones to run the ball, yet his 209 yards in two games are still tops on the team.

    Florida International (2-3, 0-1) lost 24-14 at Massachusetts last week while gaining only 188 yards. The Golden Panthers have averaged 2.46 yards per rush during their two-game losing streak.

    Both teams are fringe candidates to earn one of C-USA's six bowl bids, and a win here will mean a lot. But UTEP hasn't won a game somewhere other than New Mexico or Texas since 2012 and won't end that skid here.

    Prediction: Florida International 27, UTEP 20

    FINAL: Florida International 52, UTEP 12

Middle Tennessee at Western Kentucky

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    Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; noon ET

    Last meeting: Ed'Marques Batties' 25-yard touchdown reception from Austin Grammer in the third overtime gave host Middle Tennessee a 50-47 win over Western Kentucky in September 2014.

    What to watch for

    Middle Tennessee (2-3, 1-0 Conference USA) allowed a TD with 1:12 left last week to fall 17-13 at home to Vanderbilt, its second straight late loss. The Blue Raiders average 16 points per game in their losses and 71.5 in their wins, though the constant has been the passing of freshman quarterback Brent Stockstill (301.4 yards per game, 13 TDs, 67.7 percent completion rate).

    Western Kentucky (4-1, 2-0) won 49-10 at Rice last week behind 409 passing yards and four TDs from Brandon Doughty. Doughty is averaging 400 yards per game with 15 TDs and an FBS-best 74.1 percent completion rate.

    In last year's triple-overtime game, Doughty set career highs in yards (593) and pass attempts (66). He could challenge those numbers this weekend.

    Prediction: Western Kentucky 48, Middle Tennessee 28

    FINAL: Western Kentucky 58, Middle Tennessee 28

Illinois at No. 22 Iowa

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    Matthew Holst/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; noon ET

    Last meeting: Jake Rudock threw two touchdown passes and ran for another in Iowa's 30-14 win at Illinois in November.

    What to watch for

    Illinois (4-1, 1-0 Big Ten) scored with 10 seconds left to beat Nebraska 14-13 at home last week, despite an officiating flub that cost the Fighting Illini a possession during their comeback. Being able to overcome that is one of many signs this team has rallied around interim coach Bill Cubit, who took over after the school fired Tim Beckman six days before the season.

    Iowa (5-0, 1-0) has had everything go its way to this point, getting tremendous offensive production in its first four games and then coming up big on defense in last week's 10-6 win at Wisconsin. The Hawkeyes forced four turnovers in that game and have 10 takeaways, including seven interceptions.

    The Big Ten West Division looks far deeper than originally projected, but it's also going to be a very tight race with plenty of close games. Home field gives Iowa the edge against an Illinois team that was blown out at North Carolina in its only away game.

    Prediction: Iowa 27, Illinois 16

    FINAL: Iowa 29, Illinois 20

No. 3 Baylor at Kansas

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    Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; noon ET

    Last meeting: Bryce Petty threw three touchdown passes in Baylor's 60-14 home win over Kansas in November.

    What to watch for

    Baylor (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) leads the nation in scoring and total offense and is second in rushing. It's been so explosive to this point that its backups have come close to outgaining opponents' starters.

    In all fairness, the Bears haven't faced anything close to a decent defense—all three FBS foes rank 112th or worse in yards allowed—and it's not going to this week.

    Kansas (0-4, 0-1) is, without question, the worst power-conference team in the country. The Jayhawks have lost by an average of 18.3 points per game while giving up more than 530 yards per contest. Injuries continue to decimate first-year coach David Beaty's roster, with true freshman Ryan Willis likely to be the quarterback for the rest of the season (assuming he doesn't get hurt).

    The Jayhawks have lost seven straight games, and there's no doubt that streak will rise to eight. The only question is how much mercy, if any, Baylor will take on them.

    Prediction: Baylor 59, Kansas 13

    FINAL: Baylor 66, Kansas 7

No. 10 Oklahoma vs. Texas (in Dallas)

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    Jackson Laizure/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; noon ET

    Last meeting: Oklahoma used scores on defense and special teams to offset a poor offensive performance in claiming a 31-26 win over Texas last October in Dallas.

    What to watch for

    Oklahoma (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) had its best wire-to-wire defensive effort of the year last week in a 44-24 win over West Virginia, using great pressure on the quarterback to register seven sacks and force five turnovers. The Sooners had two takeaways in their first three games.

    Baker Mayfield is throwing for 345.5 yards per game with 13 passing TDs and four rushing scores, pacing the No. 12 offense in the country.

    Texas (1-4, 0-2) is off to its worst start since the 1950s, and with each loss the rumbles about whether Charlie Strong is the right guy continue to get louder. Unlike losses to California and Oklahoma State that turned on late special teams miscues, the 50-7 blowout at TCU was over not long after it began.

    "Texas looks lost on the field and shows no signs of finding a map anytime soon," Bleacher Report's Bryan Fischer wrote.

    If there's a time for the Longhorns to turn it around, how about against Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry? The 2013 team had bad early losses to BYU and Ole Miss but then downed the unbeaten Sooners by 16, though in the two previous years Texas lost by 42 and 38, respectively.

    Prediction: Oklahoma 37, Texas 24

    FINAL: Texas 24, Oklahoma 17

Maryland at No. 1 Ohio State

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; noon ET

    Last meeting: J.T. Barrett threw four touchdown passes and ran for another in Ohio State's 52-24 win last October at Maryland.

    What to watch for

    Maryland (2-3, 0-1 Big Ten) has scored six points during a two-game losing streak and was shut out by Michigan at home last week, its first game without points since losing 63-0 to Florida State in 2013. The Terrapins had 105 yards of total offense last time out.

    Ohio State (5-0, 1-0) had to rally to take the lead at Indiana last week, then needed a fourth-down stop inside the 10-yard line to avoid going to overtime. The Buckeyes have won 18 straight games but haven't looked impressive for much of this season's victories, particularly on offense.

    Ezekiel Elliott broke off three long TD runs in the second half at Indiana and finished with a career-high 274 yards. He's averaging 7.29 yards per carry and has scored eight times but sometimes disappears from OSU's offense as it tries to focus on better quarterback play.

    Maryland has allowed 999 rushing yards this season, so Elliott should have another big game.

    Prediction: Ohio State 44, Maryland 16

    FINAL: Ohio State 49, Maryland 28

Indiana at Penn State

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    Chuck Burton/Associated Press

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; noon ET

    Last meeting: Bill Belton ran for 137 yards and a touchdown in Penn State's 13-7 win at Indiana in November.

    What to watch for

    Indiana (4-1, 0-1 Big Ten) lost 34-27 at home last week to Ohio State but led at the half and had a chance to tie it on the final play of the game. The Hoosiers lost both quarterback Nate Sudfeld and leading rusher Jordan Howard to injury during that loss, yet both are listed as the starters on the latest depth chart.

    Zander Diamont and Devine Redding played well filling in for the injured players and will give Indiana some nice depth if needed.

    Penn State (4-1, 1-0) slugged its way through a 20-14 win over Army last week and has injury issues of its own. The run game, which had 530 yards and six touchdowns in wins over Buffalo and Rutgers, has tallied only 180 yards on 68 carries the past two weeks, while leading rushers Saquon Barkley and Akeel Lynch have been hobbled.

    Christian Hackenberg threw for 296 yards against San Diego State, but last week he was sacked three more times and has been taken down 15 times.

    This is Penn State's last game in a five-game homestand before its showdown with Ohio State on the road. Indiana is not a team that should be overlooked, though, and the Hoosiers will pick up their first win in Happy Valley.

    Prediction: Indiana 23, Penn State 20

    FINAL: Penn State 29, Indiana 7

Tulane at Temple

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    Gretchen Ertl/Associated Press

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; noon ET

    Last meeting: P.J. Walker threw an eight-yard touchdown to Romond Deloatch midway through the fourth quarter in Temple's 10-3 win at Tulane in December.

    What to watch for

    Tulane (2-2, 1-0 American) scored 45 points in a home win over UCF last week to open conference play, the most it's scored in a game since November 2013. Tanner Lee threw four TD passes after tossing three in the first three games combined.

    Temple (4-0, 1-0) blew out Charlotte last Friday on the road in heavy rain, 37-3. The Owls have played their last three games on the road and were outgained in two of those, but enough big plays from Walker and running back Jahad Thomas have kept them perfect.

    The Owls will continue their best start since 1974.

    Prediction: Temple 30, Tulane 14

    FINAL: Temple 49, Tulane 10

Central Michigan at Western Michigan

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    Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; noon ET

    Last meeting: Zach Terrell threw three touchdown passes in Western Michigan's 32-20 win at Central Michigan in November.

    What to watch for

    Central Michigan (2-3, 1-0 Mid-American) knocked off defending league champion Northern Illinois last week to get an early boost in the West Division. The Chippewas were outgained and had their lowest yardage output of the season but forced four turnovers.

    Western Michigan (1-3) used an off week to regroup from a rigorous nonconference slate in which the Broncos lost to Michigan State, Ohio State and Sun Belt power Georgia Southern. Terrell threw six interceptions in those defeats after getting picked off only 10 times in 2014.

    The break will have done Western Michigan well, and it will row the boat to its first win over a non-FCS opponent since beating the Chippewas last year.

    Prediction: Western Michigan 29, Central Michigan 25

    FINAL: Western Michigan 41, Central Michigan 39

Virginia at Pittsburgh

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    Justin Hayworth/Associated Press

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; 12:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Kevin Parks ran for 169 yards and a touchdown in Virginia's 24-19 home win over Pittsburgh last October.

    What to watch for

    Virginia (1-3) got a week off after a very tough nonconference slate in which it lost at UCLA and home to Notre Dame and Boise State. The Cavaliers lost by 42 to Boise two weeks ago, managing a season-low 273 yards.

    Coach Mike London's seat has increased its warmth as the year has gone on, and four of his next six games are on the road. He might not survive that stretch without some major improvement, as well as a few wins.

    Pittsburgh (3-1, 1-0 ACC) held Virginia Tech to 100 yards in a road win last week, looking very much like a team coached by a defensive guru. Pat Narduzzi's Panthers are giving up 71.25 rushing yards per game, fourth-best in FBS, but at the same time their own offense has gone down in production each week.

    Receiver Tyler Boyd has team highs in catches (26) and yards (274) despite missing the first game on a suspension, but no other Pitt wideout has more than four receptions.

    Pitt will start 4-1 for the first time since 2009.

    Prediction: Pittsburgh 27, Virginia 12

    FINAL: Pittsburgh 26, Virginia 19

Miami (Ohio) at Ohio

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    Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; 2 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Josiah Yazdani's 28-yard field goal as time expired gave Ohio a 24-21 win at Miami in November.

    What to watch for

    Miami (1-4, 0-1 Mid-American) has dropped four straight, the last being a 20-14 setback at Kent State. The RedHawks have lost their last seven games against FBS opponents.

    Ohio (4-1, 1-0) opened league play with a 14-12 win at Akron last week despite only gaining 227 yards. The Bobcats have recovered six fumbles this season, which is tied for sixth-best in the country.

    Like most of the all-Ohio MAC games, this one figures to go down to the wire. Ohio has been solid if not spectacular all season.

    Prediction: Ohio 27, Miami 19

    FINAL: Ohio 34, Miami 3

Massachusetts at Bowling Green

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; 2 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: James Knapke threw for 443 yards and three touchdowns in Bowling Green's 47-42 win at Massachusetts in September 2014.

    What to watch for

    Massachusetts (1-3) ended a five-game losing streak with a 24-14 victory over Florida International last week to wrap up a nonconference schedule that included games against Colorado, Notre Dame and Temple. The Minutemen allowed 188 yards in the win, its best defensive performance in three-plus seasons at the FBS level.

    Bowling Green (3-2, 1-0 Mid-American) won 28-22 at Buffalo last week for its third road victory of the season. The Falcons have the nation's top passer in Matt Johnson, who averages 416.8 yards per game.

    UMass QB Blake Frohnapfel threw for 589 yards and five TDs in this matchup last year and is averaging 303.5 yards per game this season, so expect a lot of offense in another win for Bowling Green.

    Prediction: Bowling Green 55, Massachusetts 31

    FINAL: Bowling Green 62, Massachusetts 38

Rice at Florida Atlantic

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    Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; 2:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Darik Dillard scored on a 20-yard run with 3:35 left to give Rice an 18-14 home win over Florida Atlantic in September 2013.

    What to watch for

    Rice (2-3, 1-1 Conference USA) plays outside the state of Texas for the first time this season, bringing with it a two-game losing streak in which it was outscored 119-27 by Baylor and Western Kentucky. It has given up 513 yards per game against FBS opponents.

    Florida Atlantic (1-3, 1-0) was off last week but won 17-7 at Charlotte prior to the bye. Since scoring 44 points in a season-opening overtime loss at Tulsa, it has managed only 52 points.

    A struggling defense on a road trip facing a sputtering offense doesn't make for a great matchup. Look for Florida Atlantic to post its best numbers in a month and end a four-game home skid.

    Prediction: Florida Atlantic 29, Rice 21

    FINAL: Rice 27, Florida Atlantic 26

Wake Forest at Boston College

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    Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; 3 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Boston College led 17-0 at halftime and then hung on for a 23-17 win at Wake Forest last October.

    What to watch for

    Wake Forest (2-3, 0-2 ACC) lost 24-16 at home to Florida State last week, coming up short when Kendall Hinton's pass was intercepted in the end zone in the final minute. Hinton has started the last two games for John Wolford, who is nursing an ankle sprain, and Hinton has been the Demon Deacons' leading rusher each time.

    Boston College (3-2, 0-2) has scored 24 points in its past three games, losing two of them, including last week's 9-7 loss at Duke. The Eagles have the top-ranked defense in the country, allowing 140 yards per game, but against FBS opponents they're netting 275.3 yards per game on offense with very little production from the passing game.

    BC has recorded at least eight tackles for loss in each game this year and will use that aggressive front to get its first ACC win.

    Prediction: Boston College 20, Wake Forest 16

    FINAL: Wake Forest 3, Boston College 0

Akron at Eastern Michigan

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    Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; 3 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Kyle Pohl threw for 326 yards and two touchdowns in Akron's 31-6 home win over Eastern Michigan last October.

    What to watch for

    Akron (2-3, 0-1 Mid-American) managed only field goals in a 14-12 home loss to Ohio last week, the second time it's failed to score a TD this season. The Zips average only 277 yards per game against FBS opponents.

    Eastern Michigan (1-4, 0-1) has lost three straight, the last a 44-22 defeat at LSU in which it only trailed by eight points in the second half. The Eagles have lost six in a row at home.

    The Eagles showed some fight in Baton Rouge last week and will parlay that into their first league victory since last October.

    Prediction: Eastern Michigan 27, Akron 23

    FINAL: Akron 47, Eastern Michigan 21

Kent State at No. 24 Toledo

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    Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; 3 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Toledo built a 23-0 lead en route to a 30-20 win at Kent State last November.

    What to watch for

    Kent State (2-3, 1-0 Mid-American) led 20-0 after three quarters last week at home against Miami (Ohio) but then had to hold off a late rally and didn't clinch the victory until Juantez McRae intercepted a pass with 1:02 left. The Golden Flashes have already matched last season's win total.

    Toledo (4-0, 1-0) is ranked for the first time since November 2012 after its 24-10 victory at Ball State, the Rockets' seventh straight victory. It's only had top running back Kareem Hunt for one game this season because of injury and suspension, but the No. 7 run defense has helped pace Toledo's best start since 2001, which includes wins over Arkansas and Iowa State.

    The Rockets don't face a team that's currently at or above .500 until November, so expect them to continue to roll for a while.

    Prediction: Toledo 31, Kent State 14

    FINAL: Toledo 38, Kent State 7

Appalachian State at Georgia State

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    Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Marcus Cox ran for 250 yards and three touchdowns in Appalachian State's 44-0 home win over Georgia State last November.

    What to watch for

    Appalachian State (3-1) has allowed 13 points in its three wins, all of them coming last week in a 31-13 home victory over Wyoming. The Mountaineers have run for at least 200 yards every game, and for the season they rank 12th nationally in rushing at 286 yards per game.

    Georgia State (1-3, 1-0 Sun Belt) fell 41-33 to FCS school Liberty last week, its seventh consecutive home loss. The Panthers are 2-26 since moving up to FBS in 2013, allowing 40 or more points on 13 occasions.

    The Panthers play only slightly better in the Georgia Dome, despite only once drawing more than 20,000 fans. However, all that means is that they won't get blown out.

    Prediction: Appalachian State 39, Georgia State 26

    FINAL: Appalachian State 37, Georgia State 3

South Carolina at No. 7 LSU

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    Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Jeremy Hill ran for 124 yards and two touchdowns in LSU's 23-21 home win over South Carolina in October 2012.

    What to watch for

    South Carolina (2-3, 0-3) is off to its worst start in conference play since 2005, which was also the last time it had this overall record after five games. That was Steve Spurrier's first season in Columbia, and while that team ended up winning the next five SEC games, this year's Gamecocks don't seem capable of such a turnaround.

    The 10 points scored last week in the loss at Missouri were South Carolina's fewest since the 2010 Papa John's.com Bowl.

    LSU (4-0, 2-0 SEC) remains a one-man team on offense, but it's a pretty darn good individual. Leonard Fournette has topped 200 rushing yards in each of the past three games, the first SEC player to do so, and he's accounted for 11 of the Tigers' 16 offensive TDs while averaging an FBS-best 216 rushing yards per game.

    It's the rest of LSU's offense—or lack thereof—that's an issue. Brandon Harris has two TD passes in four games, completing only 54.1 percent of his throws, though he's rushed for three scores.

    All South Carolina had going in its favor in this matchup was playing at home, but because of heavy flooding in the Columbia area, school officials announced Wednesday that the game would instead be played in Baton Rouge, per Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman. 

    Prediction: LSU 27, South Carolina 17

    FINAL: LSU 45, South Carolina 24

Ball State at Northern Illinois

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    Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Cameron Stingily had 148 rushing yards and three touchdowns in Northern Illinois' 35-21 win at Ball State in November.

    What to watch for

    Ball State (2-3, 1-1 Mid-American) has dropped two in a row, the latest a 24-10 home setback to Toledo. All three of the Cardinals' losses are to unbeaten teams, the others coming last month at Northwestern and Texas A&M.

    Northern Illinois (2-3, 0-1) is riding a three-game losing streak, its longest since dropping four straight in 2009-10. Each came on the road, including losses by seven at Ohio State and three at Boston College. The Huskies' offense has averaged less than 300 yards and 16 points per game during the skid.

    Huskies quarterback Drew Hare hasn't thrown a TD pass since tossing four in Week 2. Ball State has given up 12 passing TDs this season.

    Prediction: Northern Illinois 33, Ball State 19

    FINAL: Northern Illinois 59, Ball Sate 41

Georgia Tech at No. 6 Clemson

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Georgia Tech returned two interceptions for touchdowns in a 28-6 home win over Clemson in November.

    What to watch for

    Georgia Tech (2-3, 0-2 ACC) has lost three in a row, as its run game has ground to a halt. The Yellow Jackets scored 15 rushing TDs in their first two games; since then, they have scored five times via the run but have averaged 3.88 yards per carry.

    Adding to the problems, Tech blew a large lead at home to North Carolina last week and has given up 10 rushing TDs during its skid. All of that has come together to turn what's normally one of the best option teams in the country into one that's forced to throw the ball, and not very effectively.

    Clemson (4-0, 1-0) scored a huge resume-building 24-22 win over Notre Dame last week, hanging on after building a 21-3 lead and then playing conservatively on a rain-soaked field. The Tigers defense gave up a lot of yards but forced four turnovers and stuffed a two-point conversion with seven seconds left.

    With that victory in tow, the focus will now move toward winning an ACC division title for the first time since 2011. Last year's loss at Tech was marred by a knee injury to Deshaun Watson, who since coming back has looked good but has still yet to have a breakout game.

    Watson had a season-low 84 passing yards but a season-high 93 via the run against Notre Dame. Watch for him to bust out after missing most of the last matchup with the Yellow Jackets.

    Prediction: Clemson 34, Georgia Tech 17

    FINAL: Clemson 43, Georgia Tech 24

No. 19 Georgia at Tennessee

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Todd Gurley ran for 208 yards and two touchdowns in Georgia's 35-32 home win over Tennessee in September 2014.

    What to watch for

    What before the season had the billing as a potential SEC East Division title game is now a game that neither team can afford to lose if either has any hope of meeting this year's expectations.

    Georgia (4-1, 2-1 SEC) must rebound from getting blown out at home by Alabama, losing 38-10 and looking really bad in the process. The Bulldogs couldn't move the ball on offense, with Nick Chubb only getting his school-record 13th 100-yard game in a row because of a long garbage-time TD run. Greyson Lambert went from hardly missing a throw to being benched in the second half.

    The defense that had seemed a step ahead of every opponent through the first month was unable to make any stops, giving up long runs and passes. A win would have set up Georgia for a magical season, but now it needs a victory here just to stay within reach of Florida in the division race.

    Tennessee (2-3, 0-2) is in an even worse predicament, facing the very real possibility of missing out on a bowl game if it doesn't get things turned around soon.

    "For sanity purposes on Rocky Top, head coach Butch Jones desperately needs to notch his first signature win since knocking off Jadeveon Clowney and South Carolina in Neyland Stadium in October 2013," Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee wrote.

    The first step is being able to hold a lead. Tennessee is one of six FBS teams to have led by at least 13 points in every game this season, and while the other five remain unbeaten, the Vols have blown three of those leads. That includes the past two weeks at Florida and at home against Arkansas.

    Don't expect the Vols to squander another big lead, but instead fight back from a deficit to win late.

    Prediction: Tennessee 28, Georgia 24

    FINAL: Tennessee 38, Georgia 31

Syracuse at South Florida

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    Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Ryan Nassib threw a one-yard touchdown pass to Alec Lemon with three seconds left to give Syracuse a 37-36 win at South Florida in October 2012, when both teams were in the Big East.

    What to watch for

    Syracuse (3-1) had last week off to allow the bruises to heal after getting run over by LSU's Leonard Fournette. Even while allowing 244 yards to the bruising rusher, the Orange held tough and lost 34-24, despite starting their fifth-string quarterback.

    Freshman Eric Dungey should be able to return after missing the LSU game because of injury. He's thrown five TD passes with zero interceptions since replacing Terrel Hunt early in Syracuse's opener.

    South Florida (1-3) lost 24-17 at home to Memphis last Friday, its fifth straight loss to an FBS opponent. During that stretch the Bulls have averaged 13.6 points per game and haven't gone for more than 20 points (outside of the 51-3 win against FCS Florida A&M) since Oct. 18.

    Bulls quarterback Quinton Flowers has shown flashes with his mobility, but their best weapon is running back Marlon Mack.

    South Florida put up a game effort last week against Memphis and is heading into its most winnable remaining stretch of games. If Willie Taggart wants to hang on to his job, he has to take this one.

    Prediction: South Florida 22, Syracuse 19

    FINAL: South Florida 45, Syracuse 24

Navy at No. 15 Notre Dame

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Everett Golson accounted for six touchdowns (three passing, three rushing) in Notre Dame's 49-39 win over Navy last November in Landover, Maryland.

    What to watch for

    Navy (4-0) is third in the country in rushing offense, at 339.75 yards per game, its triple-option attack netting 5.81 yards per carry and accounting for 17 of its 20 TDs this year. Quarterback Keenan Reynolds is four rushing scores shy of Montee Ball's FBS career record of 77, with nine of those coming this season.

    Notre Dame (4-1) nearly pulled off a miraculous comeback last week at Clemson, falling 24-22 after trailing 21-3 early in the second half. The Fighting Irish had four second-half turnovers that stifled their rally but scored with seven seconds left before failing on a two-point conversion try.

    DeShone Kizer is coming off his best game, tallying 376 yards of total offense and three total TDs, but Notre Dame needs to be balanced, with C.J. Prosise eating up yards. Prosise has 781 all-purpose yards and is just the second Irish player since 1970 (along with Rocket Ismail) to record both a 100-yard rushing and 100-yard receiving game in the same season, according to Bleacher Report's Mike Monaco.

    Navy's run game is the gold standard of the option teams, and last year it pumped out 336 yards against Notre Dame. But the Irish stifled a similar ground attack from Georgia Tech three weeks ago and should be geared up to do so again Saturday.

    Prediction: Notre Dame 40, Navy 23

    FINAL: Notre Dame 41, Navy 24

No. 13 Northwestern at No. 18 Michigan

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    David Banks/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Michigan's defense denied Northwestern's two-point conversion attempt with three seconds left to preserve a 10-9 road win last November.

    What to watch for

    A year after these teams played an offensively challenged game on their way to matching 5-7 records, Michigan and Northwestern tangle in a key Big Ten inter-division battle featuring the league's hottest teams and best defenses. Combined, they have shut out four opponents and have held another three to single digits.

    Northwestern (5-0, 1-0) has the top-ranked scoring defense in the country, allowing seven points per game, and last week it held Minnesota to 173 yards in a 27-0 home win. The Wildcats have wins over Stanford and Duke, allowing a combined 16 points in those games, while their own offense has been slowly coming along now that quarterback Clayton Thorson has become more accurate throwing the ball.

    Justin Jackson has helped Northwestern keep drives alive, gaining first downs on nine of his 12 third-down carries.

    Michigan (4-1, 1-0) has shut out its last two opponents, blanking BYU at home and Maryland on the road. The Wolverines are second nationally in scoring defense at 7.6 points per game, and one of their keys is preventing opponents from capitalizing on their own mistakes.

    The only one of Michigan's nine turnovers this season that has resulted in points for the opposition was an interception returned for a TD by Utah in the season opener. In all other cases, it has quickly stopped the opposition.

    Michigan averages 201.4 rushing yards per game and has 12 of its 17 offensive TDs on the ground.

    Though Jake Rudock has been very inconsistent, this could be the game he breaks out. He threw for 239 yards and a TD against Northwestern last season while playing for Iowa.

    Prediction: Michigan 21, Northwestern 13

    FINAL: Michigan 38, Northwestern 0

Wisconsin at Nebraska

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    BRADLEY LEEB/Associated Press

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Melvin Gordon ran for a then-FBS record 408 yards with four touchdowns in Wisconsin's 59-24 win over visiting Nebraska last November.

    What to watch for

    Wisconsin (3-2, 0-1 Big Ten) lost 10-6 at home to Iowa last week, victimized by four turnovers and poor rushing. The Badgers don't win if they fail to gain 100 yards on the ground, and last week they had 86 yards on 34 carries.

    Joel Stave has undergone a renaissance with his passing under coach Paul Chryst but can't be the focus of the offense. All four of his interceptions this season have come in games when he's thrown 30 or more times.

    Nebraska (2-3, 0-1) is off to its worst start since 1959, and what's made it even more painful is how the Cornhuskers have lost: a Hail Mary pass by BYU, an overtime field goal from Miami (Fla.) and then last week's 14-13 loss at Illinois, in which they gave up a TD with 10 seconds left.

    "All three of Nebraska's losses this year have come on their opponent's final play of the game," Bleacher Report's Bryan Fischer tweeted.

    Quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. looked good for the first month but was just 10-of-31 with 105 yards at Illinois. The Cornhuskers don't have the run game they've had in the past, and without Armstrong contributing, their offense stumbles.

    Mike Riley deserves a better debut than what he's had and will get back on track.

    Prediction: Nebraska 26, Wisconsin 23

    FINAL: Wisconsin 23, Nebraska 21

Minnesota at Purdue

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    Michael Hickey/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Ryan Santoso kicked a 52-yard field goal with 4:59 left to give Minnesota a 39-38 home win over Purdue last October.

    What to watch for

    Minnesota (3-2, 0-1 Big Ten) lost 27-0 at Northwestern last week, gaining 173 yards in the process. It was the first time the Golden Gophers had been shut out since 2011 and furthered a season-long issue with their offense.

    The Gophers average 15.4 points per game, second-worst in FBS, and have lost seven fumbles this season.

    Purdue (1-4, 0-1) lost 24-21 at Michigan State last week but trailed 21-0 and kept fighting. The Boilermakers have lost three in a row and have committed 13 turnovers.

    Despite its record, Purdue has been in nearly every game this year. Assuming it doesn't shoot itself in both feet, the home team will end its skid.

    Prediction: Purdue 28, Minnesota 20

    FINAL: Minnesota 41, Purdue 13

Iowa State at Texas Tech

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    Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Patrick Mahomes threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Williams in the fourth quarter to give Texas Tech a 34-31 win at Iowa State last November.

    What to watch for

    Iowa State (2-2, 1-0 Big 12) ended a nine-game conference losing streak with a 38-13 victory over Kansas, the first time the Cyclones have opened league play with a win since 2002. They had season highs in points and yards (512) while holding an opponent under 300 yards for only the seventh time in the last six years.

    Texas Tech (3-2, 0-2) has scored 87 points in its past two games but has nothing to show for it after falling 55-52 at home to TCU and then getting crushed 63-35 by Baylor in Arlington, Texas. There's nothing wrong with the Red Raiders offense, which ranks third nationally at 602.8 yards per game, but they're fourth-worst nationally in defense.

    Tech will take out its recent frustrations on a team that doesn't have the weapons to match scores.

    Prediction: Texas Tech 51, Iowa State 30

    FINAL: Texas Tech 66, Iowa State 31

Connecticut at UCF

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    Stew Milne/Associated Press

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; 3:45 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Connecticut claimed a 37-29 win over visiting UCF last November, a victory that prompted UConn coach Bob Diaco to create a rivalry trophy for the series after the fact.

    What to watch for

    The so-called "Civil Conflict" trophy is on the line when these teams meet, looking to end three- and six- game losing streaks, respectively.

    Connecticut (2-3, 0-1 American) hasn't been the same since opting to go for a fake field goal at the end of a 9-6 loss at Missouri, following that up with defeats to Navy and BYU. The Huskies rank 123rd nationally in total offense, gaining only 2.81 yards per carry in the run game.

    UCF (0-5, 0-1) is last nationally in yardage (266.4) and, despite scoring a season-high 31 points at Tulane last week, has been lethargic on offense. The Golden Knights have turned the ball over 13 times, including nine interceptions, with seven from freshman Bo Schneider in 102 pass attempts.

    George O'Leary has been through a winless season with UCF before and might be better off retiring before this one is completed.

    Prediction: Connecticut 22, UCF 19

    FINAL: Connecticut 40, UCF 13

Oregon State at Arizona

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; 4 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Sean Mannion threw a nine-yard touchdown pass to Connor Hamlett with 1:09 left to give Oregon State a 38-35 win at Arizona in September 2012.

    What to watch for

    Oregon State (2-2, 0-1 Pac-12) was off last week after getting handled at home by Stanford. The Beavers' losses to the Cardinal and at Michigan were by a combined 46 points, and in each they struggled to run the ball. Freshman quarterback Seth Collins is a far better runner than a passer, but in OSU's losses he's been held to 40 yards and a TD on 24 carries, compared to 266 yards and two TDs in the wins.

    Arizona (3-2, 0-2) has had to completely redo its offense since quarterback Anu Solomon suffered a concussion during the first half of a 56-30 home loss to UCLA. Jerrard Randall has played the last six-plus quarters, and his running (404 yards, four TDs, 13 yards per carry) is much more effective than when he throws the ball (44.7 percent completion rate).

    Solomon is practicing this week, according to Ryan Finley of the Arizona Daily Star, but regardless of who starts, Arizona will try to run as much as possible and get running back Nick Wilson back on track after he was held to a season-low 46 yards.

    Whichever team is better able to contain the opponent's quarterback will win.

    Prediction: Arizona 31, Oregon State 28

    FINAL: Arizona 44, Oregon State 7

Troy at Mississippi State

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    Bob Levey/Associated Press

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; 4 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Dak Prescott scored touchdowns passing, running and receiving (four total) in Mississippi State's 62-7 victory over Troy in September 2013.

    What to watch for

    Troy (1-3) lost 24-18 at home last week to South Alabama, and in doing so fell short of claiming the "victory belt" for which the teams are now playing. The Trojans have the fifth-worst offense in the country, averaging 299.8 yards per game, running fewer plays (238) than any other team in FBS.

    Mississippi State (3-2) fell 30-17 at Texas A&M to drop to 1-2 in the SEC, and like every game this season, Dak Prescott did a lot, but no one else contributed. The senior quarterback accounts for 68 percent of the Bulldogs offense, but his numbers are down from a year ago. And without any help from the run game—Prescott's 217 yards in four games lead the team—it's become easier for opponents to key on him and not worry about the rest.

    Prescott has managed to do his best in spite of the lack of run support, and he's thrown more passes (176) than any other quarterback in FBS without an interception. Troy is bad against the run, though, so look for MSU to focus on that area during this break from the SEC gauntlet.

    Prediction: Mississippi State 39, Troy 16

    FINAL: Mississippi State 45, Troy 7

Portland State at North Texas

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    Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; 5 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: None

    What to watch for

    Portland State (3-1) is ranked 23rd in the latest FCS coaches poll but is coming off a 19-17 home loss to No. 25 North Dakota. The Vikings began this season with a 24-17 win at Washington State, their third win in 26 tries against FBS competition.

    North Texas (0-4) has lost five in a row and 10 of its last 12, most recently a 49-14 loss at Southern Mississippi in Conference USA action. The Mean Green rank 121st nationally in total defense while scoring less than 17 points per game.

    Portland State's win at WSU in September was a shocker, but it was more a matter of WSU not taking its opponent seriously. This is one of only two or three winnable games on North Texas' schedule, so expect nothing less than a complete effort.

    Prediction: North Texas 23, Portland State 17

    FINAL: Portland State 66, North Texas 7

Washington State at Oregon

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    Brennan Linsley/Associated Press

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; 6 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Marcus Mariota threw five touchdown passes in Oregon's 38-31 win at Washington State in September 2014.

    What to watch for

    Washington State (2-2, 0-1 Pac-12) lost 34-28 at California last week in its conference opener, despite 389 passing yards from Luke Falk. Falk is fifth in the country at 364.8 yards per game and is completing 72.6 percent of his passes, but he's also been sacked 11 times and gets no help whatsoever from the run game.

    The Cougars rank second to last in rushing at 68.5 yards per game, but since gaining 104 yards in the season opener they've earned 170 yards in three games.

    Oregon (3-2, 1-1) avoided its first 0-2 start in the Pac-12 since 1997 with a 41-24 win at Colorado last week, a game in which backups Taylor Alie and Jeff Lockie split snaps at quarterback but served more as guides to a run attack that put up 361 yards and scored three times.

    Vernon Adams Jr. remains out with a broken finger on his throwing hand, and with neither Alie nor Lockie showing much in the passing game, the Ducks have turned to a more ground-based approach.

    Running the ball is a good way to keep Washington State's potent passing scheme off the field, and since Oregon's secondary has given up 16 TDs this year, this will be the Ducks' game plan.

    Prediction: Oregon 45, Washington State 23

    FINAL: Washington State 45, Oregon 38 (2 OT)

Louisiana-Monroe at Tulsa

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    Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; 6 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Tulsa scored a 35-17 win over Louisiana-Monroe in September 2007.

    What to watch for

    Louisiana-Monroe (1-3) has already played at Alabama and Georgia, but its worst defensive performance came last week in a 51-31 home loss to Georgia Southern. The Warhawks allowed 455 rushing yards, which is 152 more than they've gained themselves this season.

    Tulsa (2-2) began this year with a strong offensive balance, but in losses to Oklahoma and Houston the Golden Hurricane have leaned more on the arm of quarterback Dane Evans and his talented receivers to drive the offense. This has limited the value of running backs Zack Langer and D'Angelo Brewer, who have combined for 722 yards and nine TDs.

    The Hurricane run the same offense Baylor does, and first-year coach Philip Montgomery is making strides. Look for a return to the win column here, and a rather impressive one at that.

    Prediction: Tulsa 47, Louisiana-Monroe 28

    FINAL: Tulsa 34, Louisiana-Monroe 24

No. 25 Boise State at Colorado State

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    Loren Orr/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Jay Ajayi ran for 219 yards and two touchdowns in Boise State's 37-24 home win over Colorado State in September 2014.

    What to watch for

    Boise State (4-1, 1-0 Mountain West) recorded its second shutout of the year last week, a 55-0 win over Hawaii. Freshman quarterback Brett Rypien is getting better by the week, with six TD passes, no interceptions and a 73.9 percent completion rate.

    The Broncos also have one of the best scorers in the country in running back Jeremy McNichols, who has 12 total TDs (10 rushing, two receiving) on 97 offensive touches. Adding to their dominance is a defense that ranks seventh in yards allowed (260.2) and has an FBS-leading 11 interceptions.

    Colorado State (2-3, 0-1) lost 33-18 at Utah State last week, the second game in a row in which the Rams got beaten up on the ground. They allowed 298 rushing yards after yielding 279 the week before.

    Boise's only loss this season came on a last-minute TD pass at BYU, but since then it's been dominant and will continue trending upward.

    Prediction: Boise State 34, Colorado State 26

    FINAL: Boise State 41, Colorado State 10

Texas State at Louisiana-Lafayette

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    Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Elijah McGuire had a rushing and receiving touchdown in Louisiana-Lafayette's 34-10 win at Texas State last October in Sun Belt Conference play.

    What to watch for

    Texas State (1-3) is playing its first game since defensive coordinator John Thompson resigned, not long after the Bobcats lost 59-14 at Houston. They've allowed 50-plus points in all three losses and rank third-worst nationally in total defense at 585 yards per game.

    Louisiana-Lafayette (1-3) enters league play on a two-game skid, falling 43-14 at Louisiana Tech last week and suffering a shocking 35-14 home loss to Akron before that. The Ragin' Cajuns have been plagued by miscues, and their minus-eight turnover margin is among the worst in the country.

    Neither team can afford to lose a fourth game so early in the season and still hope to get into a bowl game. Lafayette was in this position last year, though, and ran off six straight wins.

    Prediction: Louisiana-Lafayette 43, Texas State 27

    FINAL: Louisiana-Lafayette 49, Texas State 27

New Mexico at Nevada

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    Norm Hall/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Cody Fajardo threw three touchdown passes and also ran for 186 yards in Nevada's 31-24 win at New Mexico in November 2012.

    What to watch for

    New Mexico (3-2, 1-0 Mountain West) has won two straight, the last a 38-29 victory over rival New Mexico State. The Lobos had a season-high 401 rushing yards in the victory, and for the year they average 290 yards on the ground with 19 TDs.

    Nevada (2-3, 0-1) fell 23-17 at home to rival UNLV last week, giving up the Fremont Cannon in the process. The Wolf Pack have a pair of running backs with at least 400 yards, but James Butler and Don Jackson only combined for 80 on 23 carries in falling to the Runnin' Rebels.

    New Mexico hasn't won more than four games in a season since 2007 but has something going this year.

    Prediction: New Mexico 30, Nevada 27

    FINAL: Nevada 35, New Mexico 17

Arkansas at No. 8 Alabama

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Blake Sims threw two touchdown passes and Alabama blocked an extra point to score a 14-13 win at Arkansas last October.

    What to watch for

    Arkansas (2-3, 1-1 SEC) rallied from a 14-point deficit to win at Tennessee last week, ending a three-game losing streak and giving Bret Bielema his first conference road win in three seasons on the job. The Razorbacks had their best run performance of the season thanks to the contribution of freshman Rawleigh Williams, who had 100 yards to go with 154 from Alex Collins.

    Collins has averaged 25.3 carries per game over the last four, and with Williams' complement, Arkansas can make better use of its offensive line's run-blocking rather than put too much emphasis on the pass. Brandon Allen only completed 11 of 24 passes at Tennessee, but he also didn't throw an interception for the first time since the season opener.

    Alabama (4-1, 1-1) showed just how "dead" it was by demolishing Georgia on the road last week, reminding everyone again who controls the SEC. Nick Saban, offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart worked up a game plan that clicked in all areas, and despite the loss to Ole Miss last month the Crimson Tide are right back in the hunt for the West Division.

    Derrick Henry let loose with career highs in carries (26) and yards (148), while Jake Coker had his best game yet despite only throwing for 190 yards. Even more promising, 'Bama completely neutralized Georgia's offense after looking shaky against Ole Miss.

    Alabama's defense looks best against pro-style teams, and Arkansas' offense is as basic as it comes.

    Prediction: Alabama 31, Arkansas 14

    FINAL: Alabama 27, Arkansas 14

Louisiana Tech at UTSA

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    Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Kenneth Dixon ran for 121 yards and a touchdown in Louisiana Tech's 27-20 home win over UTSA last October.

    What to watch for

    Louisiana Tech (3-2, 1-1 Conference USA) has won two straight, most recently a 43-14 victory over rival Louisiana-Lafayette. The Bulldogs are winless on the road in 2015 and have lost four straight road games dating back to last season, but the tandem of Florida transfer quarterback Jeff Driskel (1,461 passing yards, 10 TDs) and productive running back Kenneth Dixon (583 rushing yards, six TDs) has kept them in every game.

    UTSA (1-4, 1-0) pulled off a surprising 25-6 win at UTEP last week, its first road victory since August 2014. The rigors of facing Arizona, Kansas State and Oklahoma State during non-league play seems to have steeled the Roadrunners, while the emergence of junior running back Jarveon Williams, who has 303 yards and three TDs in the past two games, has provided something to build on.

    Tech is the defending C-USA West champ and will play like it.

    Prediction: Louisiana Tech 34, UTSA 20

    FINAL: Louisiana Tech 34, UTSA 31

No. 21 Oklahoma State at West Virginia

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    Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Wendell Smallwood ran for 132 yards in West Virginia's 34-10 win at Oklahoma State last October.

    What to watch for

    Oklahoma State (5-0, 2-0 Big 12) won its first two conference games by a total of five points thanks to late field goals from clutch kicker Ben Grogan. The Cowboys have combined an aggressive defense that leads FBS with 22 sacks and 51 tackles for loss with big-time passing from Mason Rudolph to get the job done.

    Rudolph had a career-high 437 passing yards last week and currently averages 334.8 per game, 10th-best in the country.

    West Virginia (3-1, 0-1) gave up seven sacks and quarterback Skyler Howard committed five turnovers (three interceptions, two lost fumbles) in last week's 44-24 loss at Oklahoma. The Mountaineers had allowed only 23 points in their first three games but couldn't overcome those mistakes against the Sooners.

    Howard has been sacked 13 times and could be running for his life against OK State. Making sure to get Smallwood his touches, particularly on draw plays, will help negate the Cowboys pass rush.

    Prediction: West Virginia 29, Oklahoma State 23

    FINAL: Oklahoma State 33, West Virginia 26 (OT)

No. 2 TCU at Kansas State

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    Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; 7:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Trevone Boykin ran for a career-high 123 yards with three touchdowns in TCU's 41-20 home win over Kansas State last November.

    What to watch for

    TCU (5-0, 3-0 Big 12) has scored at least 50 points in each of its last four games, most recently a 50-7 destruction of Texas at home in which it led 30-0 after the first quarter. Even in the face of injury attrition on both sides of the ball, the Horned Frogs seem to have a never-ending supply of playmakers, the latest being 5'9" freshman receiver KaVontae Turpin.

    Turpin had four TD catches against Texas and has scored six times on 14 receptions. Like the Frogs needed someone else besides superstar Josh Doctson (42 catches, 722 yards, 8 TDs) for Boykin to sling it to.

    Kansas State (3-1, 0-1) would just like to find some players to stay on the field for a full game. Last week, in a 36-34 loss at Oklahoma State, the Wildcats had to turn to a converted receiver (Kody Cook) who was essentially their fifth-string quarterback.

    It's to the point where defensive tackle Will Geary has volunteered to play the position if needed, according to Max Olson of ESPN.

    Joe Hubener came back after suffering a shoulder injury last week and should be ready to go. But even with a full array of offensive weapons, the Wildcats won't be able keep pace with TCU's attack.

    Prediction: TCU 45, Kansas State 24

    FINAL: TCU 52, Kansas State 45

No. 11 Florida at Missouri

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    Ed Zurga/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; 7:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Marcus Murphy scored touchdowns on kickoff and punt returns as the Tigers scored four defensive or special teams TDs in a 42-13 win at Florida last October.

    What to watch for

    Florida (5-0, 3-0 SEC) soared in the rankings after its dominant 38-10 home win over Ole Miss, a result that put the Gators back on the national map. Before that, their results had been met mostly with a grain of salt, as their offense was slowly coming along, but now redshirt freshman quarterback Will Grier appears to be the real deal.

    Grier threw four TD passes in the first half against the Rebels, the first Florida QB to do so since Chris Leak in 2005, according to ESPN. He was 24-of-29 in that game and is completing 67.2 percent of his throws with 10 TDs, despite splitting time with Treon Harris during the first two games. 

    Missouri (4-1, 1-1) has put its offense in the hands of true freshman quarterback Drew Lock, who started last week's 24-10 home win over South Carolina and will remain in that role after predecessor Maty Mauk was suspended indefinitely. It was only a matter of time before the Tigers would make a change, though, as Mauk had completed just 51.8 percent of his throws and had been intercepted four times.

    Lock was 21-of-28 with two TD passes, though only for 136 yards, but the return of Russell Hansbrough helped the run game produce a season-high 163 yards.

    Mizzou frankly doesn't need much offense thanks to yet another stellar defensive unit, one that is second in the country with 48 tackles for loss and has intercepted seven passes.

    Florida's only road game this season resulted in its worst performance, a 14-9 win at Kentucky. Missouri will be the site of the Gators' first loss.

    Prediction: Missouri 24, Florida 2

    FINAL: Florida 21, Missouri 3

East Carolina at BYU

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    Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; 7:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: None

    What to watch for

    East Carolina (3-2) has won two straight, most recently a 49-23 victory at SMU in which James Summers came off the bench to pace the Pirates' comeback. The Pirates trailed 23-7 when Summers—a converted receiver—replaced Blake Kemp and earned 238 yards of total offense with four total TDs, a week after he had 279 yards (including 169 rushing) in a win over Virginia Tech.

    BYU (3-2) ended a two-game skid with a Friday night home win over Connecticut behind Tanner Mangum's career-high 365 passing yards. The freshman has been all over the map this year, being the hero in late wins over Nebraska and Boise State but then struggling his next two outings, including a woeful 12-of-28, 55-yard performance at Michigan.

    Mangum doesn't have the scrambling ability that Taysom Hill possessed, and BYU's run game has been inconsistent overall. The Cougars defense has been susceptible to the run and pass as well, which will make dealing with Summers a major concern.

    This is East Carolina's fourth road game in five weeks, and combined with the elevation, it will fall short in what should still be an entertaining game for fans of offense.

    Prediction: BYU 34, East Carolina 30

    FINAL: BYU 45, East Carolina 38

Miami (Florida) at No. 12 Florida State

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    Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; 8 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Dalvin Cook's 26-yard touchdown run with 3:05 left helped visiting Florida State rally from a 23-7 deficit to win 30-26 at Miami last November.

    What to watch for

    Miami (3-1) heads into ACC play coming off its first loss of the season, a 34-23 defeat at Cincinnati last Thursday. That put renewed pressure on coach Al Golden that a 3-0 start did little to allay, though how his team performs in the Coastal Division will ultimately dictate his fate.

    Quarterback Brad Kaaya has only five TD passes despite leading an offense that's averaging 37 points per game, but he's done well not to make mistakes with just one interception in 140 pass attempts. Young running backs Joseph Yearby and Mark Walton have combined for nine rushing TDs, helping to keep the offense balanced.

    Florida State (4-0, 2-0 ACC) doesn't know if it will have Cook available for this game after he injured a hamstring not long after scoring on a 94-yard TD run early in last week's 24-16 win at Wake Forest. Without him available, the Seminoles offense did very little, though production has been a season-long problem.

    A lockdown defense has carried FSU this season, ranking 13th overall at 281.5 yards allowed per game. That and great care of the ball—one turnover in four games—has prevented the slow offense from being more of an issue to this point.

    Notre Dame transfer Everett Golson hasn't made the mistakes that earned him a bad reputation a year ago, but he hasn't been as explosive. FSU coach Jimbo Fisher believes his quarterback has "controlled the game a lot better" as the year has gone on, via Brendan Sonnone of the Orlando Sentinel, and with the run game a concern because of Cook's injury, this will be Golson's time to shine.

    Prediction: Florida State 30, Miami 17

    FINAL: Florida State 29, Miami 24

No. 4 Michigan State at Rutgers

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    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; 8 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Nick Hill and Jeremy Langford each scored two rushing touchdowns in Michigan State's 45-3 home win over Rutgers last November.

    What to watch for

    Michigan State (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten) has been one of the least impressive unbeaten teams in FBS the past three weeks, slogging through home wins over Air Force, Central Michigan and Purdue. Last week, the Spartans nearly squandered a 21-0 lead to win by three, seemingly showing no interest in collecting mythical style points or succeeding in the trendy area of game control.

    Running backs Madre London and LJ Scott have combined for 748 yards and seven TDs, enabling MSU to control the clock and grind out the wins. At some point, though, senior quarterback Connor Cook is going to have to produce more than his 195.4 yards per game, though so far he's thrown 10 TDs with just one interception despite a poor 59.7 percent completion rate.

    Rutgers (2-2, 0-1) was off last week after knocking off Kansas the week before. The Scarlet Knights continue to stay in the news for things other than football, with coach Kyle Flood in the midst of a three-game suspension for meddling in a former player's academics, while top receiver Leonte Carroo has been reinstated after an assault charge from mid-September was dismissed Tuesday. 

    With Carroo available, it gives quarterback Chris Laviano access to his best weapon. He has completed 72 percent of his passes for the year, though he threw four interceptions in the two games Carroo has missed.

    MSU is coming off its best performance against the pass this season, and though the Spartans are thin in the secondary, they will be able to handle Rutgers' attack.

    Prediction: Michigan State 33, Rutgers 20

    FINAL: Michigan State 31, Rutgers 24

San Jose State at UNLV

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    Michael Chang/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; 9 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Tyler Ervin ran for 133 yards and a touchdown in San Jose State's 33-10 home win over UNLV last October.

    What to watch for

    San Jose State (2-3, 1-1 Mountain West) lost 35-21 at Auburn last week, its third road loss this season and seventh loss in a row away from home. Ervin ran for 160 yards in defeat, following up a 300-yard effort the week before, and the senior ranks second in FBS at 160.2 rushing yards per game with 10 TDs.

    UNLV (2-3, 1-0) has won two in a row, the last a 23-17 victory at rival Nevada to claim the Fremont Cannon for the second time in three years. The Runnin' Rebels have already matched last year's win tally and are looking for their first win over San Jose since 1994. 

    San Jose has figured out its offensive identity, which means giving Ervin the rock as many times as possible. He'll carry the Spartans to victory.

    Prediction: San Jose State 28, UNLV 23

    FINAL: San Jose State 33, UNLV 27 (OT)

Colorado at Arizona State

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    Norm Hall/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; 10 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Taylor Kelly accounted for four touchdowns but suffered a broken foot in Arizona State's 38-24 win at Colorado in September 2014.

    What to watch for

    Colorado (3-2, 0-1 Pac-12) lost 41-24 at home to Oregon last week, getting run over by the Ducks rushers while watching its own ground game fall way short of previous output. The Buffaloes have three backs with 200-plus yards and who have combined for 10 rushing TDs, but as a team they had only 77 rushing yards last week.

    Arizona State (3-2, 1-1) scored a big 38-23 win at UCLA last week to jump back into the Pac-12 South race and save its season. The Sun Devils had already lost handily to Texas A&M and USC, but thanks to a great performance against UCLA's rushing attack and balance from their own offense, they avoided their worst start since 2010.

    The Devils have one of the best pass-catching backs in the country in Demario Richard, who has run for 508 yards and four TDs and also has 18 receptions for 240 yards and two scores. Combined with running back-turned-receiver D.J. Foster, ASU's offense thrives on having versatile players.

    Colorado struggled with Oregon's similarly varied approach last week and will do so again in losing its 13th straight conference game.

    Prediction: Arizona State 41, Colorado 21

    FINAL: Arizona State 48, Colorado 23

No. 23 California at No. 5 Utah

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    Steve Dykes/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; 10 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Reggie Dunn returned two kickoffs for touchdowns to give Utah a 49-27 home win over California in October 2012.

    What to watch for

    California (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12) is off to its best start since 2007, with a potent passing attack and a defense that has improved greatly from a year ago. The Golden Bears give up 23.4 points and 386.8 yards per game, far better than the respective 39.8 and 511.8 yielded in 2014, with 10 interceptions compared to 12 in all of 2014.

    This has taken pressure off Jared Goff to score on every possession, and as a result his accuracy is way up. The junior quarterback is completing 70.2 percent of his passes with 15 TDs and four picks in 178 attempts, averaging 326 yards per game.

    Utah (4-0, 1-0) had last week off, but before that it posted its most notable win since joining the conference in 2011 with a 62-20 blowout at Oregon. The victory helped the Utes earn first-place votes in the Associated Press poll, and Bleacher Report's Bryan Fischer noted that they "have started to appear in the national conversation for a semifinal berth thanks to their 4-0 start that began by topping Jim Harbaugh's Michigan squad in the much-publicized opener."

    Devontae Booker is Utah's offensive workhorse, with 106 rushing attempts (with four TDs), 15 receptions and a TD pass thrown at Oregon. But the key to handling Cal will be getting pressure on Goff, something that will be easier to accomplish with the return of defensive end Hunter Dimick from a knee injury.

    Washington State sacked Goff seven times last week, yet he still threw for 390 yards and four TDs. Utah will give him even less time to throw, and the Utah secondary will likely add to its seven interceptions this season.

    Prediction: Utah 33, California 27

    FINAL: Utah 30, California 24

Wyoming at Air Force

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    Al Goldis/Associated Press

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; 10:15 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Colby Kirkegaard's three-yard touchdown pass to J.D. Krill with 58 seconds left gave Wyoming a 17-13 home win over Air Force in September.

    What to watch for

    Wyoming (0-5, 0-1 Mountain West) has dropped eight in a row, its longest skid since losing 13 straight in 2001-02. The Cowboys haven't been able to pair a passing game with Brian Hill, who has two 200-yard games and averages 6.76 yards per carry.

    Air Force (2-2, 1-0) fell 33-11 at Navy last week to start its defense of the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy on a bad note. The Falcons rank fifth in the country in rushing at 326.25 yards per game.

    Wyoming has won the last two times it's played at Air Force, but don't expect a third straight.

    Prediction: Air Force 37, Wyoming 17

    FINAL: Air Force 31, Wyoming 17

Utah State at Fresno State

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    Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; 10:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Derek Carr threw for 404 yards and three touchdowns in Fresno State's 24-17 home win over Utah State to claim the 2013 Mountain West title.

    What to watch for

    Utah State (2-2, 1-0 Mountain West) scored a season-high 33 points last week in a home win over Colorado State. The Aggies had managed only 43 points the first three games but got 191 rushing yards, 137 passing yards and two total TDs from Kent Myers in his first start.

    Fresno State (1-4, 0-2) has dropped four in a row since opening the year with a victory over FCS Abilene Christian. The Bulldogs have lost six straight to FBS schools and have gone 7-13 since claiming the 2013 Mountain West championship.

    Utah State looked like a completely different team with Myers operating the offense, a trend which will continue on the road.

    Prediction: Utah State 28, Fresno State 24

    FINAL: Utah State 56, Fresno State 14

San Diego State at Hawaii

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    Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Oct. 10; 11:59 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Donnel Pumphrey ran for 182 yards and a touchdown in San Diego State's 20-10 home win over Hawaii last October.

    What to watch for

    San Diego State (2-3, 1-0 Mountain West) will probably be without top weapon Pumphrey for the trip to the islands after he sprained an ankle in last week's 21-7 home win over Fresno State. He had run for a season-high 124 yards before going down, but fellow rusher Chase Price went for 151 yards, so the Aztecs won't be completely adrift.

    Hawaii (2-3, 0-1) is glad to be back at home after being shut out at Boise State, Wisconsin and Ohio State in the past month. The Rainbow Warriors rank second-to-last in FBS in total offense at 271.4 yards per game, but at home this season they've averaged 37.5 points and 383.5 yards per game.

    This is Hawaii's only home game until Halloween, so it better make the most of it.

    Prediction: Hawaii 27, San Diego State 22

    FINAL: San Diego State 28, Hawaii 14

Arkansas State at South Alabama

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    Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Tuesday, Oct. 13; 8 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Fredi Knighten scored three total touchdowns in Arkansas State's 45-10 home win over South Alabama last November.

    What to watch for

    Arkansas State (2-3, 1-0 Sun Belt) averaged 338.5 rushing yards per game in its two wins, including 333 in last week's 49-35 home win over Idaho. The Red Wolves have averaged fewer than 96 yards on the ground in the three losses, and in those games their quarterbacks have thrown eight interceptions.

    South Alabama (3-2, 1-0) claimed the Victory Belt after winning 24-18 at rival Troy last week behind two TD passes from Cody Clements. The UAB transfer has struggled with his accuracy this season, completing no better than 57.5 percent of his passes in any game and throwing six interceptions.

    This is South Alabama's first time appearing in a Tuesday game, and it will represent the Sun Belt well.

    Prediction: South Alabama 27, Arkansas State 23

    FINAL: Arkansas State 49, South Alabama 31

Southern Mississippi at Marshall

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    Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

    When: Friday, Oct. 9; 7 p.m.

    Last meeting: Remi Watson had three of Marshall's seven rushing touchdowns in the Thundering Herd's 63-17 win at Southern Mississippi in November.

    What to watch for

    Southern Mississippi (3-2, 1-0 Conference USA) is off to its best start since 2011 and has matched last year's win total. Quarterback Nick Mullens has thrown for 1,691 yards and 14 TDs while completing 66 percent of his throws, while backs Ito Smith and Jalen Richard have combined for 730 rushing yards and eight scores.

    Marshall (4-1, 1-0) has won three in a row, but its offense is still far behind the pace set last year. The Herd's three quarterbacks have tossed six interceptions and have completed less than 57 percent of their passes, while the run game has struggled with Devon Johnson injured.

    Even with Johnson expected to return, Marshall will suffer a rare home loss as Southern Miss continues its resurgence.

    Prediction: Southern Mississippi 27, Marshall 24

    FINAL: Marshall 31, Southern Mississippi 10

North Carolina State at Virginia Tech

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    Michael Shroyer/Getty Images

    When: Friday, Oct. 9; 8 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Tyrod Taylor threw three touchdown passes and also ran for 121 yards in Virginia Tech's 41-30 win at North Carolina State in October 2010.

    What to watch for

    North Carolina State (4-1, 0-1 ACC) lost 20-13 at home last week to Louisville to open conference play, struggling all over on offense after being dominant during a weak nonconference schedule. Jacoby Brissett had 12 incomplete passes after missing on only 21 in the Wolfpack's first four games, while running back Matt Dayes failed to top 100 yards for the first time this season.

    Virginia Tech (2-3, 0-1) was held to 100 yards in a 17-13 home loss to Pittsburgh, its eighth loss in the past 10 games in Blacksburg against FBS opponents. The Hokies had only nine rushing yards thanks to the seven sacks on Brenden Motley, who backslid after three straight promising performances.

    Motley might be headed back to the bench, though, if Michael Brewer is able to play this week after missing the last four games with a broken collarbone.

    "That Brewer could come back on the short end of his 4-8 week recovery timetable, however, is a boon to a fanbase straining to find positives after the Hokies dropped to 2-3 for the first time since 1992," Andy Bitter of the Roanoke Times wrote.

    Prediction: Virginia Tech 27, North Carolina State 23

    FINAL: Virginia Tech 28, North Carolina State 13

SMU at Houston

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    Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Thursday, Oct. 8; 8 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Kenneth Farrow and Greg Ward Jr. combined for five rushing touchdowns in Houston's 35-9 win at SMU in November.

    What to watch for

    SMU (1-4, 0-1 American) has lost three in a row: the last two at home to FCS school James Madison and its conference opener against East Carolina. In both games, the Mustangs were unable to thwart a mobile quarterback who could also throw the ball effectively.

    Despite having their own dual-threat passer in Matt Davis (312.4 yards per game, 14 total TDs), the Mustangs have been plagued by a shoddy defense that ranks last in FBS.

    Houston (4-0, 1-0) has the No. 4 offense in the country, gaining 602.5 yards per game, and Ward has been the instigator of that attack. He's fifth nationally in total offense at 382.5 yards per game, including 472 rushing yards and seven scores on the ground.

    This has the makings of an all-out rout, but if it follows the track of the last few Thursday night games involving AAC teams, it will still be a wild one.

    Prediction: Houston 54, SMU 26

    FINAL: Houston 49, SMU 28

Washington at No. 17 USC

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    Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Thursday, Oct. 8; 9 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Silas Redd ran for 155 yards and a touchdown in USC's 24-14 win at Washington in October 2012.

    What to watch for

    Washington (2-2, 0-1 Pac-12) plays a second straight game against the league's top quarterbacks, giving up 342 yards and two TDs to California's Jared Goff in a home loss two weeks ago. The Huskies hadn't allowed a TD pass in their previous three games.

    The Huskies' own QB, freshman Jake Browning, has dealt with ups and downs that have corresponded with his team's wins and losses. He's completing 70.9 percent of his throws with all five of his TDs in wins, but in losses he's hitting 58.7 percent with three of his four interceptions.

    USC (3-1, 1-1) blew out Arizona State on the road its last time out, rebounding from a home loss to Stanford the week before. The Trojans' lone offensive issue this season has been converting on third down, but at ASU they were 10-of-16 after going 8-for-26 in the first three games.

    Cody Kessler threw his first interception in the ASU win, but that's the only mistake he's made this year. The senior has 15 TD passes and a 73 percent completion rate, third-best in FBS, with sophomore JuJu Smith-Schuster (27 catches, 537 yards, 6 TDs) by far his favorite target.

    USC's offense is such that you can't take away just one player, though, and it will win easily as coach Steve Sarkisian gets to beat what's left of the players he recruited to Washington during his five seasons running that program.

    Prediction: USC 39, Washington 17

    FINAL: Washington 17, USC 12

    Statistics provided by CFBStats.com.

    Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.