My apologies for not doing a Week Three writeup. That's on me, and hopefully my schedule won't force me to miss another writeup this season.
Viewing plans this week
Roadie to Iowa for UMD this week. I'm going to miss most of Saturday's action because of the game and the subsequent travel, so I'll be running blind next week. The only good thing that comes out of the just-announced Tennessee-LSU postponement is that I'll get to see the game (they're playing it Monday night in Baton Rouge). Well, that and we won't have to hear Fulmer whine about the travel issues when his team loses.
--> Air Force at Utah
--> Cal at New Mexico State
--> Michigan at Wisconsin (I'm taping this for viewing on Sunday or Monday)
--> Arizona State at Oregon State (if we get home from our game in Iowa early enough)
That's it. Like I said, I'm probably going to be running blind when it comes to actually breaking down what happens this weekend. So you all better post some good stuff in the comment thread here or in the weekend thread on MGoBlog. I'm relying on you.
Last week: 18-2
Saturday, September 24
Iowa at Ohio State--> The Buckeyes are presented with a challenge here. They have to find a way to score points against a real defense. Luckily for them, they have a real defense of their own, and Iowa hasn't shown any consistency running the ball. Sounds a lot like last year for them, but this time they have to play the Buckeyes in Columbus.
The pick: Ohio State
Michigan State at Illinois--> MSU has earned a lot of praise for their big win at Notre Dame a week ago. They have earned a lot of criticism for the dispicable behavior by some of their players after the game. Now we'll see if this team, which has had trouble beating unranked opponents away from home, can keep their focus and beat an improved Illinois team. Unless someone kidnaps Drew Stanton, I still like their chances.
The pick: Michigan State
Purdue at Minnesota--> The Boilermakers are strong on defense, which bodes well against the Gophers. This is the first big test of the seriousness of Laurence Maroney's H*i*m*n candidacy, as well as the first big test of this long-apathetic fanbase. Purdue has a good team, but the Gophers will pass at least one of those tests, as Maroney will have a big day.
The pick: Minnesota
Penn State at Northwestern--> Can Michael Robinson throw adequately against what is at least a reasonable imitation of a defense? Can Penn State improve to 4-0, virtually assuring a return to the bowl picture? With the defense Penn State has, I think they'll find a way to win on the road, something they've had issues with in recent years.
The pick: Penn State
Michigan at Wisconsin--> Michigan is a bit shorthanded, but so is Wisconsin. The Badger fans will be lubed up a great deal for this one, but unless the defense can muster a consistent pass rush without blitzing constantly, Wisconsin's unbeaten record is in serious danger.
The pick: Michigan
Boston College at Clemson--> Both teams suffered disappointing losses a week ago, with Clemson blowing a chance to beat Miami in come-from-behind fashion, while Boston College just flat-out didn't play very well in a big game against Florida State. I like the home team here, as Clemson rebounds and gets an important conference win.
The pick: Clemson
Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech--> Tech will win. Sorry. Had to do it. I like the Hokies. This team looks strong, and Marcus Vick is only going to get better as he gains experience and confidence. Georgia Tech will be a tough foe, but they're just not consistent enough.
The pick: Virginia Tech
Notre Dame at Washington--> Ty Willingham is trying to pass this off as "just another game". Yeah, right. With how much UW will struggle in Pac-10 play, this is a huge game for Willingham. He'd love to stick it to his former employer. Then again, he'd love a win more than anything else. So maybe it is just another game. It'll probably be another loss, too.
The pick: Notre Dame
USC at Oregon--> The Ducks look very comfortable in Gary Crowton's offense. Kellen Clemens appears to have had the light come on just in time for his senior year. But this isn't Fresno State. This is USC. And the Trojans are too strong for me to pick against. I'll believe this team can lose a game when they lose a game.
The pick: USC
Arizona State at Oregon State--> The Sun Devils have a strong attack, but their defense is hardly impregnable. Oregon State will score a good number of points in this game, and they can't be happy about the drubbing they took at Louisville last week. I'll call for a mild upset.
The pick: Oregon State
Monday, September 26
Tennessee at LSU--> Just as I was about to go to press, so to speak, this game was moved to Monday night thanks to Hurricane Rita, which will probably have some sort of impact on Baton Rouge, even though a direct hit is highly unlikely at this point. Good move. I gave away my pick a bit earlier, as I think an emotional LSU team is too much for the Volunteers, who would be smart to test LSU's discipline on defense with a lot of misdirection and play-action early. The Tigers may be too anxious to make plays and be prone to overpursuing the run as a result. Even that won't be enough, I don't think, to hold down the Tigers.
The pick: LSU