Not much on the docket for me, as I’ll be traveling to Mankato with the UMD football team. We have our conference opener against
--> Air Force at Colorado State
--> Pittsburgh at Rutgers
--> Notre Dame at Purdue (if we get home in time, I might see at least the fourth quarter)
--> Arizona at Cal (again, only if we get home in time)
I might tape the Gopher-Penn State game, but that’s undecided at this point. I’m leaning against it, only because I won’t have a lot of time to watch it.
Last week: 7-4
Saturday, October 1
Indiana at Wisconsin--> The Badgers are flying high after beating Michigan and gaining a national ranking as a result. In typical Mr. Negativity fashion, I tend to think the Badgers are overrated. Meanwhile, Indiana is somehow one of the Big Ten unbeatens, even though it’ll be October when this game is played. They will only be unbeaten for a few hours in October, though, as I believe Bucky will take care of business.
The pick: Wisconsin
Michigan at Michigan State--> I waited until the Illinois game to move Michigan State into my Top 25 on purpose. I didn’t trust them to get it done on the road after a big win. I also don’t trust them to beat their rival, even though the game is at home. Unlike last week, when I picked Michigan State despite my lack of trust, I can’t get around it this time. I’m picking the upset, probably for no good reason besides the fact that I think Michigan is too good to be 2-3.
The pick: Michigan
Illinois at Iowa--> The Illini looked downright pathetic against (Michigan) State. Iowa looked downright pathetic against (Ohio) State. With Iowa at home, I think they’ll rebound. Well, at least for a week.
The pick: Iowa
Minnesota at Penn State--> I’m a sucker. I was a sucker for the Gophers’ running game a week ago, and I was right. Now, I have to admit to being a sucker for the Nittany Lions’ run defense, especially against a team that I don’t think has sufficiently proven itself to be 1) a good road team, or 2) a balanced-enough offense to be a winner in the Big Ten.
The pick: Penn State
Notre Dame at Purdue--> This is a big game for both teams. The Fighting Irish have survived and thrived so far, despite a schedule that started with four of five on the road. This is their fifth game, and a 4-1 record would be great. Purdue, meanwhile, needs to win here. They were supposed to be the surprise team in the Big Ten, and they lost their first league game. I think you’ll see a well-played game, but Purdue will make one too many mistakes late.
The pick: Notre Dame
Texas at Missouri--> For all the talk about Missouri being finished after that loss to New Mexico, they have a chance to redeem themselves in a big way on Saturday. The Tigers have not beaten a top five team since 1978, and it doesn’t look good for them here. Brad Smith will need the game of his life just to keep his team alive, but it’s hard to see Missouri winning without a Stoopsian effort from their defense.
The pick: Texas
Iowa State at Nebraska--> Both teams are undefeated, but it’s pretty easy to forget that Nebraska is unbeaten, considering that their defense has more TDs than their offense thus far. The Cornhuskers know they can’t get away with that kind of performance against Big 12 teams. Iowa State was beaten badly in the first half against Army, and probably lucky to only be down 14-7. They played much better in the second half, and I think they’ll snap their long losing streak in Lincoln.
The pick: Iowa State
USC at Arizona State--> This is what I said last week: ”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.” It still stands this week. If being down 13-0 in a hostile environment doesn’t shake this team, I don’t know what will. Arizona State will move the ball and score points, but it won’t be nearly enough.
The pick: USC
Florida at Alabama--> The Gators won at Kentucky a week ago, and were able to stay relatively healthy heading into this big game. Alabama is unbeaten, but the resume isn’t very impressive. Florida has the win over Tennessee, but not anything else that jumps at you. Normally, I’d take the home team in a game like this, but I think Florida has a bit more ammunition on both sides of the ball.
The pick: Florida
Middle Tennessee at Vanderbilt--> Only because I want to type a funny sentence. Vanderbilt will win and move to 5-0. There. I’m not picking this game. It’s too easy. I just wanted to type that sentence.
South Carolina at Auburn--> Looks like Spurrier will need a little time to install everything and get the right people in place. I’m patient, and it’s not like South Carolina has any reason to rush him. Auburn gets a big conference win as they try to revamp their offense and prove the Georgia Tech game was a fluke.
The pick: Auburn
NCC BONUS PICK
St. Cloud State (5-0, 1-0) at North Dakota (5-0, 1-0)--> Last week's big game was a big joke, as South Dakota thrashed Nebraska-Omaha 59-14. This one won't be nearly that lopsided. St. Cloud has Harlon Hill candidate Matt Birkel, and North Dakota has a super LB in Digger Anderson, a kid that could find himself a job playing on Sundays soon. It'll be the St. Cloud front, which is big but largely inexperienced, against a very talented and experienced North Dakota front seven. Give the advantage to the better defense, especially playing at home in front of what could be a sellout crowd at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks.
The pick: North Dakota